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Written Statements

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Broadcasting: Listed Events


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today appointed David Davies OBE as the independent chairman to carry out a review of the listed events regime and to make recommendations to me about the future and content of the UK’s list. The chairman will lead an advisory group, whose membership will be broadly drawn and include sporting, broadcasting and wider business expertise. The group will also have a perspective from the devolved nations. The chairman and advisory group will be supported by a project team within my department.

I have agreed that the review should cover three main areas:

the principle of having a list;the criteria against which events may be listed; andthe content of any list itself.

The review process will include consultation with broadcasters, rights holders and the public as appropriate. The review will also take account of relevant research.

The advisory group will bring forward recommendations to me in the second half of next year.

Children: Children's Plan


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Fun and exciting opportunities to play are at the heart of a happy, healthy and enjoyable childhood. Better outdoor play opportunities are good for children, good for families and good for communities.

Time and space to play safely is integral to delivering our Children’s Plan ambition to make England the best country in the world for children and young people to grow up—it is vital to children’s physical, emotional, social and educational development.

Today, with Andy Burnham I am delighted to publish the first national Play Strategy for England, backed by the Children’s Plan investment of £235 million. This investment will mean that every residential area has a variety of high-quality places for all children to play safely, and free of charge.

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An accelerated roll-out of our new investment will mean that children across the country will be able to benefit sooner from improved play sites. £30 million due to be spent in 2010-11 will now be brought forward to 2009-10, as part of government action to support the country during the economic downturn. This means that every local authority will have been offered at least £1 million capital funding by April 2009, which they can begin spending in line with local plans and supported by our national delivery partner, Play England.

The strategy sets out in more detail how we will deliver our capital investment programme from 2008 to 2011 so that up to 3,500 new and refurbished play sites and 30 large, staffed adventure playgrounds, will be built to reflect the needs of children, parents and the local community.

The Government’s action is a direct response to demands from children, young people and their families for better play facilities in every area. In April, our Fair Play consultation set out an ambitious range of proposals to make a reality of our vision for world-class play opportunities.

This consultation attracted an overwhelming response, with 9,400 children and young people letting us know how they would like Government to support their play. Twelve per cent of these responses came from disabled children, reinforcing the need to do even more to make sure that we make play accessible for all children, regardless of their circumstances.

The enthusiastic support for our proposals in the Fair Play consultation underpins the Play Strategy. The Play Strategy sets out government’s commitment to:

put children and young people’s views at the heart of the design and development of local neighbourhoods—and their consultation as a central requirement of new investment in local play areas; help local authorities deliver the exciting play spaces that children want; inform parents and children about local play opportunities; improve access for disabled children so that they can benefit fully from our investment in play facilities; put in place clear requirements on school capital programmes around outdoor play and recreational spaces; put children’s play needs at the heart of new residential and social housing developments; ensure children are safe when they travel around and play in their neighbourhoods, including by working with the third sector and community policing to improve the supervision of children playing; invest in the workforce who support and supervise play—enabling 4,000 playworkers to achieve a level 3 playwork qualification by 2011; invest £1.5 million in third sector-run adventure playgrounds and provide funding to help build third sector infrastructure; and introduce a new national indicator for play from 2009 for local authorities, which will measure children’s satisfaction with parks and play areas.

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The first new outdoor play areas are already being built across the country. We want to maintain this momentum, making sure that every local authority works to improve levels of satisfaction that communities have with their local provision.

As a result of our investment and the implementation of this Play Strategy, led locally by children’s trusts, we want at least 100,000 more children to tell us every year that their local play areas and parks are good or very good. Increasing levels of satisfaction in every local authority will show us that we are successful in developing more child-friendly communities, which value children’s play and provide better environments for children and young people to enjoy.

We know that we can only achieve our vision for play in 2020 by working in partnership with local and national delivery partners, including the third sector, and by putting children, young people and their parents at the heart of the design and development of neighbourhood provision.

We hope to build on the huge interest and engagement with our consultation earlier this year to deliver the improvement in local facilities that every family wants.

Annex: 89 new local authorities will be offered funding for play from April 2009

The final 10 play pathfinders who will commence in April 2009 are:

Blackpool, Cornwall, Kirklees, Lambeth, Luton, Merton, Newcastle, Oxfordshire, Sandwell, and Wigan.

Play pathfinders receive approximately £2.5 million funding over the period 2009-11, with which to develop a minimum of 28 play spaces and also a new staffed adventure playground. They were selected by a competitive bidding process over the summer.

The other local authorities being offered funding from April 2009 are:

Wave 2

Barking and Dagenham, Barnsley, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Buckinghamshire, Darlington, Durham, Ealing, Greenwich, Haringey, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hull, Kingston-upon-Thames, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Medway, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, North Somerset, Oldham, Salford, Sheffield, Shropshire, South Gloucestershire, South Tyneside, Southwark, Stockport, Sutton, Swindon, Torbay, Warwickshire, Westminster, Wirral, Wokingham, and York.

Previously wave 3, now brought into wave 2 through acceleration of capital programme:

Barnet, Bedford Borough, Bexley, Bracknell Forest, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bromley, Central Bedfordshire, City of London, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Doncaster, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Wight, Kent, Leicestershire, Newham, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire,

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North Yorkshire, Poole, Redcar and Cleveland, Richmond-upon-Thames, Rutland, St Helens, Stoke-on-Trent, Surrey, Telford and Wrekin, Trafford, Wakefield, Walsall, Waltham Forest, Warrington, West Berkshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Criminal Justice: Women


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Maria Eagle) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government’s response to the report by Baroness Corston of a Review of Women with Particular Vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System (Cm 7261) was published on 6 December 2007. This was followed by a Written Ministerial Statement and a progress report I issued on 24 June 2008 (Official Report, col. 7WS) outlining developments made over the past six months.

A year on since the Government’s response was published, I am today updating Parliament and publishing a report on significant progress made since June 2008, detailing our continued commitment to bring about real improvements for women offenders. I have placed copies of the progress report in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

My new role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Government Equalities Office alongside my continued role with the Ministry of Justice has created further synergies to strengthen the cross-government joint working that is fundamental to the success of this agenda. I am pleased to report on the significant actions which we have been able to deliver against the commitments made in the Government’s response and the wider work we are undertaking to take this agenda further forward beyond the Corston commitments:

the Ministry of Justice is committed to providing additional resourcing in the New Year to divert vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, from custody. We plan to reduce the number of women in prison and to provide additional services in the community for women offenders and women at risk of offending. The resources will be used to build capacity of one-stop-shop services and to further develop bail support services to better meet the needs of women. Baroness Corston was convinced that one-stop-shop services delivered through women’s centres provide the radical new women-centred approach her review called for. The Ministry of Justice has been working with regional offender managers (and directors of Offender Management) and the Griffins Society to map existing provision and develop a picture of where there is potential to develop capacity. It is proposed to invest in existing third sector providers to enable them to work with courts, police, probation and other statutory agencies to provide support and services to vulnerable women in the criminal justice system;

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pilots on a conditional caution specifically for women developed in joint co-operation between the Government, local police, prosecutors and Together Women centres and presenting a chance for diversion at an early stage, were launched in September 2008. The pilots are running in Leeds, Bradford, Keighley and Liverpool for a period of six months and early indications are positive. The condition attached to the caution commits the woman to attend a Together Women centre for a full needs assessment, providing them with an opportunity to address the causes of their offending;following successful pilots, using the new model women’s full search, the National Offender Management Service is now implementing the introduction of the new arrangements for full searching (as set out in Prison Service Instruction 38/2008) in all women’s prisons. The new arrangements do not require the removal of underwear unless there is intelligence or suspicion at any stage that an item is concealed. To date, this has taken place at HMP Downview, HMP Send, HMP Morton Hall, HMP Styal, HMP East Sutton Park, HMP Peterborough, HMP Bronzefield and HMP New Hall. All women’s prisons will be on stream by 1 April 2009;in October 2008, a probation circular providing guidance for greater use of female approved premises was issued. This encourages greater use of capacity in female premises by introducing flexibility into the admissions criteria to include women who may not necessarily present a high risk of harm to others. Such women could also benefit from the supervised, structured and supportive environment available. We are expecting to see an increase in numbers of women accessing them in the near future;in July 2008, the independent Sentencing Advisory Panel published its consultation paper on the overarching principles of sentencing. The panel was asked by the Sentencing Guidelines Council to review the definitive guidelines, Overarching Principles: Seriousness and New Sentences: Criminal Justice Act 2003. The consultation paper contains an important discussion of the principles of sentencing of women offenders. Further work needs to be done to understand current sentencing practice but we welcome the steps the panel has taken; Lord Bradley’s review into the diversion of offenders with mental health problems or learning disabilities is due to report to Government early in the New Year. The review considers women offenders and the ongoing programme of work from the Corston report has formed part of the evidence Lord Bradley is considering. The Government welcome Lord Bradley’s review and accepted recommendations will be taken forward in the offender health and social care strategy, currently being developed by government for publication in the summer; andthe cross-departmental Criminal Justice Women’s Strategy Unit now includes representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, Government Equalities Office and the Department of Health, and we are

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continuing to negotiate with other departments to contribute resources. The unit informs the work of the ministerial sub-group on implementation of the Government’s response to Corston, which has recently expanded its membership to include Ministers from both the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Department for Children, Schools and Families.

EU: Education Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education (Siôn Simon) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I represented the UK at Education Council, on behalf of DIUS and DCSF.


The council adopted resolutions on multilingualism and on lifelong guidance. The council also agreed conclusions on co-operation on schools; vocational education and training; and youth mobility. The texts of all the dossiers adopted are in line with UK national priorities.


A resolution was adopted on multilingualism which recognises the value of multilingualism both in terms of personal development and to the economy. The UK agrees with these overall goals, but has worked to ensure that the definition of multilingualism is as wide as possible, including world languages and less widely used European languages.

Ministers agreed conclusions on enhanced co-operation in vocational education and training. These conclusions form the latest review of the Copenhagen process which was designed to improve European co-operation on vocational education and training. Commissioner Figel noted that their communication New Skills for New Jobs (to be published on 16 December) would have a key role to play in linking VET to the labour market.

A resolution was adopted on guidance in lifelong learning. This resolution aims to strengthen the role of guidance within countries’ national lifelong learning strategies and to strengthen European co-operation in this field. A ministerial debate flagged the wide range of approaches under way in different countries. I highlighted the new Apprenticeships Bill and the Adult Advancement and Careers Service as examples of the work the UK is doing.

Ministers adopted conclusions on European co-operation on schools, which propose areas of focus for future co-operation at a European level on schools through the open method of co-ordination. The conclusions acknowledge that the responsibility for organising school systems and education policy lies entirely with member states. All who spoke welcomed the text and agreed that, although this was an area of member state competence, the EU had a useful

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co-ordination role in helping countries to meet their 2010 goals in education and training under the Lisbon strategy. By the end of this year, the Commission would also publish their draft priorities in the area of education and training for the period up to 2020.

Ministers adopted conclusions on youth mobility, which seek to increase the numbers of young people spending a period of time abroad through undertaking part of their studies participating in EU mobility programmes. Ministers discussed the importance of mobility both for the development of individuals and also for the labour market. I highlighted our increasing numbers of Erasmus participants, the aim to widen participation to less advantaged groups, and the increased language learning among teachers.

The presidency presented updates on the adoption of a new credit system in vocational training, quality assurance in vocational training, and the next phase of the Erasmus Mundus programme. The Commission presented information on the Europa Diary, Learning to Learn, collaborative working with India and Israel, and on the Euroskills event held in Rotterdam in September. Portugal and Poland announced their bids to host the 2010 Euroskills event. I welcomed the Rotterdam event and noted that we would host Worldskills in London in 2011.

The Czech Minister presented the Czech Republic’s presidency priorities in the field of education. These comprised the future strategy in education and training post-2010; encouraging partnerships between education and employers; and pressing for progress in higher education via the Bologna process.

EU: Vocational Training and Education


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further Education (Siôn Simon) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The meeting was chaired by the French Minister for Education, Xavier Darcos. Win Harris, director of the DCSF/DIUS/DWP Joint International Unit represented the UK. The meeting focused on co-operation in vocational education and training for 2008-10.

Ministers adopted the Bordeaux communiqué which laid out the vocational training objectives for Europe up to 2010. Based on conclusions adopted at the 21 November Education Council, it outlines four priorities in this field:

implementing the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET), together with the future European quality assurance reference framework;attracting students into vocational training;improving links between vocational training and the labour market; andimproving European co-operation in this field, in particular by increasing peer-learning activities.

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The full communiqué is available at education/news/news1087_en.htm.

Ministers noted the Copenhagen process launched in 2002 had resulted in the development of the tools outlined in the communiqué. Such tools enabled comparability of vocational education qualifications, and flexible learning through credit transfer. As a consequence, many education systems now measured learning outcomes rather than inputs, and the numbers of vocational education students were rising.

An exchange of views on future skills requirements in Europe highlighted the challenges of long-term changes to employment structures, the increased mobility of individuals, and demographic change. Better anticipation of skills needs would allow both education systems and employers to respond effectively to the needs of the labour market.

The afternoon session of the meeting was chaired by Valérie Pécresse, French Minister for Higher Education. Following discussion, Ministers endorsed the European Universities Association’s Charter on Lifelong Learning—a publication outlining ideas for universities and Governments to increase universities’ contribution to lifelong learning.

Housing: Disability


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Iain Wright) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are today announcing the local authority allocations for the disabled facilities grant programme, making available £157 million for the disabled facilities grant programme in England for 2009-10, an increase of 7 per cent on the amount for 2008-09. Over 230 local authorities will receive an increase in their allocation. A table detailing the funds provided to individual authorities has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The disabled facilities grant programme has seen successive increases in funding in recent years, increasing from £57 million in 1997 to £146 million in 2008-09. The disabled facilities grant programme helps around 37,000 disabled and older people each year to live as comfortably and independently as possible in their own homes through the provision of adaptations. The disabled facilities grant programme provides mandatory grants for housing adaptations including improving access to a home and to the basic facilities within a home such as the provision of ramps, door widening, stair lifts and level access showers.

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