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17 Dec 2008 : Column WS124

House of Lords: Black Rod

Statement

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Her Majesty the Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Lieutenant-General Sir Freddie Viggers KCB CMG MBE as the next Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, in succession to Sir Michael Willcocks, who will retire in May 2009.

Housing: Zero-carbon Buildings

Statement

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

Today I am publishing a consultation on the definition of zero-carbon homes and zero-carbon non-domestic buildings, and a supporting impact assessment on zero-carbon homes. These documents will be placed in the Library of the House.

In July 2007, following a full consultation, Communities and Local Government published the Building a Greener Future policy statement. This stated that all new homes would be zero carbon from 2016. In 2010 and 2013 building regulations would be strengthened to reduce carbon emissions by 25 per cent and 44 per cent as stepping stones towards that goal. Budget 2008 announced our ambition that new public sector non-domestic buildings would be zero carbon from 2018, and other new non-domestic buildings would be zero carbon from 2019.

The consultation being published today seeks view on:

a definition of zero-carbon homes which would significantly reduce carbon emissions while allowing for a combination of on-site, near-site and off-site solutions; andthe feasibility and timetable for achieving a similar standard for new non-domestic buildings.

Zero-carbon Homes

In Building a Greener Future, we described a zero-carbon home as having zero net emissions of carbon dioxide from all energy used to run the home, including an allowance for appliances, over the course of a year. We anticipated that this would be achieved through low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources installed on-site or directly connected to the development, although recognised that offsetting may be required in some developments. Industry called for early certainty as to the definition to enable it to plan. Meanwhile, technical work carried out for the 2016 taskforce, which oversees implementation of the policy, indicated that near-site and off-site solutions would be necessary to reach the zero-carbon standard in a larger number of homes.

The detailed definition proposed in this consultation document maintains the ambition in Building a Greener Future, and makes proposals for when and how near-site and off-site solutions may be used in achieving zero-carbon

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homes. The proposals recognise the potential for carbon emissions from energy use in homes to be tackled through community-scale heat and renewable energy generation, or exports of heat from a home to its surroundings. The aim of the proposals is to frame an ambitious but achievable objective that will greatly enhance standards of homes while promoting innovation and providing certainty to industry.

Under the proposals set out, a zero-carbon home will need to:

incorporate high levels of energy efficiency;achieve at least a minimum level of reductions in carbon emissions (compared to current building regulations) through a combination of energy efficiency, on-site low-carbon and zero-carbon energy supply and directly connected heat; andtackle remaining emissions from a menu of good quality “allowable solutions” such as community-scale heat or energy generation.

Significant issues for debate through this consultation include:

the overall level of ambition on energy efficiency—ie, how far regulations should push standards for the fabric of the home; the minimum level of carbon reduction to be achieved on-site (including through connections to heat networks); and the range of allowable solutions proposed and the maximum cost that it would be reasonable to expect to be spent, per tonne of carbon dioxide, on the allowable solutions in order to achieve the zero-carbon homes standard.

This maximum cost will inform a further review of the allowable solutions, which we propose to undertake in 2012, once we have a clearer picture on the extent and cost of allowable solutions that will be available by 2016.

Non-domestic buildings

Evidence on energy usage in non-domestic buildings is less developed than that for homes, but it is clear that it varies greatly from building to building according to their use. Office buildings, factories, shops and hospitals are all constructed differently and use energy in different ways, because of the very different purposes that they serve. The Government maintain their ambition that all new non-domestic buildings will be zero carbon from 2019 but recognise the need to improve the evidence base before determining the right way forward in order to realise this ambition. We are therefore taking this opportunity to set out our current thinking, inviting views and submissions of evidence to supplement our analysis. A more detailed consultation will be held during 2009.

Next steps

The consultation will close on 18 March 2009 and will be followed, in summer 2009, by a policy statement on zero-carbon homes and a further, in-depth consultation on zero-carbon non-domestic buildings. In early 2009, we will also be consulting, on the amendments to be made to the building regulations in 2010 in order to achieve an interim reduction of 25 per cent of emissions, as the first step along the way to the zero-carbon homes standard.



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Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007

Statement

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

Robert Whalley CB has submitted his first report as independent reviewer of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (the “2007 Act”). I have today arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report of the independent reviewer covers the operation of Sections 21 to 32 of the 2007 Act and the procedures adopted by the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland for receiving, investigating and responding to complaints. The report covers the period 1 August 2007 to 31 July 2008.

The report provides a positive assessment of the use of the powers under the 2007 Act and makes clear the need for their continued requirement. The report provides a valuable reassurance to both the public and government on the use of these powers, ensuring that they are exercised appropriately and proportionately.

The report paints a positive assessment of the procedures adopted by the GOC for dealing with military complaints. I welcome Mr Whalley’s undertaking to explore this issue in more detail in his next report.

I welcome the recommendations made by Robert Whalley and I will consider them carefully.

Legal Aid Reform

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Today the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) publish a consultation paper, Family Legal Aid Funding From 2010, which sets out proposals for legal aid payments for family work to apply from 2010.

Currently there are different advocacy payment schemes depending on the profession of the advocate and on whether they are a self-employed advocate, such as a barrister, or an in-house advocate, such as a solicitor or employed barrister. Self-employed barristers can be paid significantly more than in-house barristers or solicitors for the same work. The consultation paper proposes a new scheme that pays the same fee for the same work regardless of whether the advocate is a barrister or a solicitor by profession.

The proposed scheme recognises that some cases are more complex than others, and additional payments are available, for both barrister and solicitor advocates, for additional interim hearings, and for lengthy final hearings. Different fees are also available for advocates’ meetings in childcare or supervision proceedings in order to support the new judicial case management protocol: the public law outline.



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Particularly complex cases, such as child abduction or wardship proceedings, are outside the proposed scheme and will continue to be paid under existing arrangements. Very-high-cost cases will also be remunerated separately as is presently the case.

The consultation also includes proposals to remove from funding certain expert disbursements, in order that civil legal aid funds are better focused on clients. The consultation closes on 18 March 2009, and any changes would be implemented in 2010.

Expenditure on legal aid barrister family advocacy has risen from £74 million to nearly £100 million in the past five years. To address this, and to protect client services, the MoJ and the LSC consulted on changes to the family graduated fee scheme, which governs payments to barristers for family legal aid work, between 18 June and 10 September 2008. Our consultation was announced in a Statement made by my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 18 June (Official Report, col. WS 81). I will inform Parliament of my decision on this matter before the February Recess.

The consultation document Family Legal Aid Funding From 2010 is available on the LSC website at www.legalservices.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.



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Transport: Private Hire Vehicles

Statement

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Section 53 of the Local Transport Act 2008 allows the owners of private hire vehicles (PHVs or minicabs) to provide local bus services in the way that taxis (hackney carriages) are already able to do. This will bring benefits in extending the range of transport services available, particularly to those in rural areas.

I have today published a consultation paper seeking views on the draft regulations which are necessary to enable PHV owners to use their vehicles in this way.

The draft regulations will apply in England (outside London), Wales and Scotland. Transport for London is responsible for making any regulations governing PHV-buses in London.

Copies of the consultation—including the draft regulations and a consultation-stage impact assessment—have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The documents are also available on the Department for Transport’s website.

Those wishing to comment on the proposals have until 13 March 2009 to do so.


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