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Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit

The change in the resource element of the departmental expenditure limit arises from:

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(i) A budget transfer of £569,000 to the Ministry of Justice to fund training relating to the introduction of employment support allowance.

(ii) A budget transfer of £3,500,000 to the Ministry of Justice to fund expected increases in consent orders through the courts for child maintenance, following repeal of Section 6 of the Child Support Act 1991.

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(iii) A Machinery of government transfer of £1,030,000 from the Cabinet Office in respect of the Electronic Delivery Team. The Electronic Delivery Team is responsible for the Government Gateway.

(iv) A budget transfer of £45,000 to HM Treasury to support the work of the Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement.

(v) A budget transfer of £40,000 to the Cabinet Office to support the work of the Government Secure Zone.

(vi) A budget transfer of £376,000 from the Cabinet Office to enable the department to meet additional costs arising from the expansion of services provided by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

(vii) A budget transfer of £4,000,000 from the Department for Children, Schools and Families in respect of the costs of Caxton House, for which this department has taken over management responsibility and agreed the transfer of the property to Land Securities Trillium.

Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit

The change in the capital element of the departmental expenditure limit arises from:

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(viii) A Machinery of government transfer of £210,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Health and Safety Executive in respect of the Pesticides Safety Directorate. This transfer occurs as a result of the Hampton review on regulatory inspections and enforcement.

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(ix) Budget transfers of £2,000,000 from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and £1,000,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government relating to the work of Government Connect. Government Connect is a strategic partnership between national and local government that provides a secure IT infrastructure between central government departments and local authorities.

Administration costs

The movement in the administration cost limit arises from the changes to the resource departmental expenditure limit as noted in items (i) to (iv), (vi) and (vii) above.

Movements in non-voted expenditure

The reduction in non-voted resource expenditure is due to a reduction in the cost of administering national insurance fund benefit payments. This reduction is offset by an increase in voted resource due to an equivalent reduction in income from HM Revenue and Customs to meet the cost of administering National Insurance Fund benefit payments:

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(x) a reduction in non-voted resource expenditure of £32,415,000 offset by an increase in voted resource expenditure of £32,415,000.

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(xi) a reduction in non-voted resource expenditure of £25,448,000 offset by an increase in voted resource expenditure of £25,448,000.

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(xii) A reduction in non-voted resource expenditure of £19,444,000 offset by an increase in voted resource expenditure of £19,444,000.



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EU: Environment Council

Statement

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Ed Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Lord Hunt, Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation, and I will represent the UK at the Environment Council in Brussels on 4 December. Stewart Stevenson, Scottish Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, will also attend.

At the Environment Council, the French presidency will report on progress on the EU climate-energy legislative package. They will also provide briefing on the proposed renewable energy directive. The main outstanding issues on the climate and energy package include the redistribution of a proportion of allowances to the new member states for the purposes of solidarity; how to identify those sectors at risk of carbon leakage and what measures would be appropriate to reduce this risk; and the use of revenues from the auctioning of allowances. The door is still open for agreement on a financing mechanism for the demonstration of carbon capture and storage technology.

The presidency will also report on progress on the proposal for a regulation setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars (CO2 from cars) and on the proposal for a directive on industrial emissions—integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC Directive).

Furthermore, there will be a policy debate and adoption of council conclusions on the sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and sustainable industrial policy (SIP) action plan. The policy debate is likely to focus on next steps for delivering the plan, ecolabelling, lifestyles and behaviour, and carbon content display for products.

Following policy debates, Ministers are due to adopt council conclusions on addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and addressing the global mercury challenges in preparation for the 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council in Nairobi on 16 to 20 February 2009.

Under “Any other business”, the European Commission will present communications on: the dismantling of ships; the EU strategy on invasive alien species, the EU and the arctic region and the implementation of European Community environmental law. Additionally, the European Commission is likely to present a Green Paper on biowaste management in the European Union. Finally, the Irish delegation has asked for a discussion under “Any other business” on waste—the fall in demand for recycled materials.

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held in Brussels on 27 and

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28 November 2008. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith) and I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. The following issues were discussed at the council.

The council endorsed a statement condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Giles de Kerchove, the Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator, welcomed the council’s recent focus on counterterrorism. Radicalisation and recruitment were sensitive issues, but consensus has been reached on updating the action plan under the French presidency. It was important to encourage moderate Muslims to express their views. External work with the UN, Pakistan, the Sahel and the US was also critical. The commission highlighted efforts on explosives, critical infrastructure protection, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) terrorism.

The UK welcomed the work of de Kerchove and the presidency on counter-radicalisation and stressed that this area had to be the focus for the long-term effort. Important elements were countering ideology, strengthening mainstream voices, tackling spaces where radicalisation can happen, such as prisons and schools, and communications. The UK had undertaken extensive work in this area, and was keen to do more at EU level.

On civil protection, Ministers were shown a film of a recent CBRN exercise and conclusions were agreed on improving the Union's modular response, training and EU-UN co-ordination. Some additional measures needed to be taken, and this was the consideration behind the presidency's road map.

The council discussed a presidency paper on PNR. The incoming Czech presidency felt that the report was a good basis for future work and set out plans to work on the legal text at expert level, as well as to engage with other bodies such as the European Parliament and the Fundamental Rights Agency. The UK felt that the presidency's report showed that significant progress had been made, but that there was now a need to maintain the momentum.

During the Mixed Committee, including Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland, the presidency and the commission congratulated Switzerland on its readiness to join the Schengen area, with land borders to be lifted on 12 December 2008 and air borders on 29 March 2009.

The commission provided an update on the schedule for implementation of the second-generation Schengen information system (SIS II) programme. There had been some delays, but testing had resumed on 5 November and the results would be ready at the end of December. Every effort would be made to ensure that SIS II was fully operational before the end of 2009. The UK asked for the views of member states not presently linked into the SIS programme to be represented in the Friends of SIS II group looking at the SIS II programme. This was agreed.

The presidency reported on the second EU-Africa conference on migration and development, which took place in Paris on the 25 November. The commission supported the practical measures set out in the declaration from the conference and undertook to work hard with

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member states to take them forward. The council conclusions on the global approach to migration were agreed without discussion and will be formally adopted at the December General Affairs and External Relations Council.

The presidency reported on the EU ministerial conference on integration, which took place in Vichy on 3 and 4 November, and the council agreed the declaration as council conclusions.

The presidency congratulated the council on the progress made in negotiations on the draft directive establishing a single application procedure, a single permit and a common set of rights for third country nationals legally residing in the member states and on reaching political agreement on the blue card directive. The presidency declared that the directives demonstrated the EU was already delivering on commitments made on legal migration in the migration pact.

The council did not reach agreement on the draft directive extending long-term residency to beneficiaries of international protection—in which the UK does not participate. Reservations are still outstanding on whether to offer the same access to long-term residence rights to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection as to refugees.

During lunch, there was a discussion on Iraqi refugees and, on reconvening, the council agreed conclusions underlining the importance of resettlement as a protection tool for particularly vulnerable refugees. The council agreed to step up efforts to meet the target set by UNHCR of 10,000 Iraqi refugees to be offered protection in the EU over the next three years while taking into account member states’ individual reception capacities and efforts already taken in the field of resettlement.

The council discussed and agreed conclusions on how to take forward work dealing with abuse of the free movement directive, in particular by addressing the expulsion of criminals who threatened serious harm and the threat of illegal immigration. The commission will adopt their report on their evaluation of the implementation of the directive next week but will take forward further work on how member states should interpret the directive in respect of the issues raised in the discussion in early 2009.

The council agreed conclusions on child abduction alerts.

The presidency provided an update on work to amend the co-operation agreement between Eurojust and Europol.

Five legal instruments were adopted: the framework decision on racism and xenophobia; the framework decision on data protection; the framework decision on mutual recognition in probation matters; the framework decision on terrorism and the framework decision on mutual recognition of judgments in criminal matters.

The council reached a general approach on the proposed decision amending the existing arrangements for the European judicial network in civil and commercial matters. The European Parliament is due to vote on the final text on 17 December 2008.

The council conclusions concerning the common frame of reference in contract law were formally adopted.

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The presidency recalled that member states wanted a non-binding common frame of reference which was voluntary, and confirmed that the council was not in favour of harmonising contract law in member states.

The e-justice action plan was adopted. This provides a structure and plan to take forward and deliver the proposed e-justice projects.

Portugal and Estonia provided a demonstration of a practical example of e-justice, showing how citizens in each of the two countries can now rapidly create a company in the other state online.

Agreement was reached on the setting-up of a network for legislative co-operation, which will facilitate information about legislation in the various member states passing among Ministries of Justice. The presidency said that the first meeting of the network would take place in the first half of 2009.

The council agreed a general approach on the European supervision order. The UK welcomed the instrument, which would enhance public protection by enabling the supervision of suspects awaiting trial when they returned home, while also ensuring people were not held unnecessarily in detention.

The UK congratulated the presidency on the conclusion of the negotiations on the regulation on mutual recognition of family maintenance obligations. The UK did not opt in to this measure when it was proposed; however I announced that the UK would notify the commission of our wish to participate in this measure when it has been formally adopted.

EU: Telecoms Council

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Further to the Written Statement concerning the positions I intended to take at the Telecommunications Council, held on 27 November 2008, I am pleased to be able to report back on the main conclusions and topics of discussion.

The Telecommunications Council took place on the 27 November 2008 under the chair of the French presidency. I represented the United Kingdom. As expected, the review of theEU regulatory framework from electronic communications networks and services was the focus of much of the discussion.

After introduction by the presidency, Commissioner Reding gave a presentation of the commission’s views. While praising the presidency for its efforts she criticised the council text as making very little progress from earlier drafts and therefore she noted that the commission could not agree to it. Of particular concern, she felt that the proposals on spectrum and on commissioner powers did not go far enough. Following this, there was a full round exchange of views. The majority of member states endorsed the text that had been put forward by the presidency, although concerns on certain aspects were noted by Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland.

In my intervention I agreed with the compromise text for the citizens directive and the European Telecoms Authority. However, I opposed, in line with Sweden,

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the text that was being put forward on the better regulation directive, expressing particular concern with the proposals for functional separation, NGA access and the inclusion of references to ITU radio regulations in the proposals on spectrum.

As a result of the commission's opposition, for this item to achieve political agreement member states had to give the proposal unanimous support. I was thus able, along with Sweden, to use this leverage to secure improvements to the text on functional separation and on access to networks. A break from the formal proceedings allowed detailed negotiations to take place, bilaterally between the attendees, to develop compromise text that everyone could live with. It was not, though, possible to reach agreement on the text associated with the ITU radio regulations.

In a second table round the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands abstained on the better regulation directive, and I (with Sweden) subsequently released a declaration explaining that on a number of issues, including the ITU radio regulations issue, we would be looking for further improvements to the package. As a result, even with the commission having expressed a negative opinion, the framework review package did gain political agreement by the council.

The lunch discussion concentrated on the digital dividend and on how member states were planning to allocate spectrum following the switchover to digital TV. During an interesting discussion, which both touched on member states experiences and the benefits of further co-ordination between countries, I took the opportunity of outlining our own plans, highlighting how we anticipated further opportunities for innovative wireless services to be introduced.

Following lunch, council resumed with discussion on amending the regulations on roaming on public telephone networks. Commissioner Reding was pleased that previous councils had given broad agreement to this item, though it was recognised that some states may wish to go further, especially in terms of data regulation, than the commission had proposed. In the exchange of views that followed there was majority support for the proposal, though with a few member states expressing concern on the effect on investment and innovation it may have. I supported the amendment, saying that in essence the need for regulation represented a failure of responsible pricing by operators. However, I said that this measure should be short term in nature and that there was no case for long-term retail price controls.

The next item discussed was the second periodic review of the scope of universal services. This opened with the commission presentation giving some statistics for broadband penetration and stressing the need for funding of universal services to be transparent and made within an appropriate framework.

Member states gave an overview of their own experiences on this issue. There was some concern expressed over possible market distortions being created and difficulties associated with trying to implement a unified approach in a diverse set of markets; however, there was general support for the proposal that a

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debate on broadband as a universal service should take place. I stressed the importance of this topic and that as we move from narrow band to broadband we should get away from the stress on obligations and instead concentrate on universality. The major problem tends to be one of uptake of services rather than supply. I thus stressed the need to communicate the potential of broadband to the public. It will also, I stressed, be necessary for Europe to consider content provision and how content providers can utilise the internet for profit.

The commission concluded this item by summarising that the market alone will not be able to bring broadband to all consumers. Discussions on how this can be achieved will need to continue.

The final substantive item on the agenda concerned the council conclusions on future networks and the internet. This opened with an introduction delivered by the presidency. Very few comments were made by member states and the conclusions were adopted unanimously with two small amendments, relating to IPV6 made by Poland.

No issues of substance were raised by attendees under “Any other business”.

Government: Legislative Programme for Northern Ireland

Statement

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The fourth Session UK legislative programme unveiled in the Queen’s Speech on 3 December contains measures of relevance to the people of Northern Ireland.

The following is a summary of the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech and its impact in Northern Ireland. It includes both new Bills that will be introduced in the next Session and Bills carried over from the last Session. It does not include draft Bills.

The list also identifies the lead government department.


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