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The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Lord Chancellor and Secretary State for Justice, the Home Secretary, and I are today pleased to announce the appointment of Sara Payne MBE as victims’ champion.

The role of victims’ champion will be to:

listen to the views and concerns of victims and witnesses;represent the views of victims and witnesses to Ministers, government officials and in the media; and

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challenge criminal justice agencies to further reform their practices in relation to victims and witnesses.

The victims’ champion will be a new, time-limited appointment for one year to ensure continuing focus on victims’ issues while Parliament considers proposals in the Coroners and Justice Bill in relation to the separate office of Victims and Witnesses Commissioner. That Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 14 January.

After the murder of her daughter Sarah, Ms Payne started a campaign to change the way in which sex offenders were dealt with and supervised in the community. Ms Payne has since worked closely with the Home Office on increasing the right of public access to information about known sex offenders.

Ms Payne was also instrumental in establishing the multi-agency protection arrangement (MAPPA) which ensures that a risk management plan is drawn up for the most serious offenders.

Ms Payne currently delivers training to specially trained police family liaison officers and has recently been awarded an MBE for her services to protection and work with Phoenix.

Energy: Severn Barrage


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.

Further to the launch of the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study in January 2008, I am pleased to inform the House that the Government have today issued a public consultation on the conclusions of the first phase of the study.

The huge, renewable resource of the Severn estuary tides is a means of generating nearly 5 per cent of UK electricity. It can contribute to meeting the UK’s renewable energy targets and the progressive decarbonisation of our electricity supply. But Severn tidal power must be considered in the wider context of alternative options as well as its impact on the environment and the economy. Energy saving, and other low-carbon and renewable sources of supply are all means of achieving our goals. The consultation makes the comparison to these alternatives.

Tidal power development in the Severn estuary has benefits, costs and risks, and the consultation paper sets out a provisional assessment of these in order to promote an open public debate. Studies by external consultants are published today alongside the consultation paper, including technical and engineering assessments, advice on financing and ownership structures, an assessment of regional economic impacts, and initial studies on environmental impacts.

The consultation seeks views on:

the process used to move from a long list of potential schemes (following a call for proposals last summer) to a shortlist of feasible schemes;

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the proposed issues for further investigation by the feasibility study, including the scope of strategic environmental assessment; and

the proposed shortlist of

Shoots Barrage—(1.05GW scheme located downstream of the new Severn road crossing with an estimated construction cost of £3.2 billion);Beachley Barrage—(625MW scheme further upstream of the first Severn road bridge with an estimated cost of construction of £2.3 billion);Bridgwater Bay lagoon—(1.36GW impoundment on the English side of the estuary with an estimated construction cost of £3.8 billion); Fleming Lagoon—(1.36GW impoundment on the Welsh bank of the estuary with an estimated construction cost of £4.0 billion); andCardiff-Weston (Lavernock Point to Brean Down) Barrage—(8.64GW scheme, commonly known as the Severn Barrage, with an estimated cost of construction of £20.9bn).

The Government are keen to continue to consider other innovative schemes. However some of those that have been submitted to the feasibility study are not sufficiently developed at this point for more detailed evaluation. We hope to see these develop further with the benefit of government financial support and new public funding of £500,000 is being made available (in addition to existing support) to speed their development. The Government will consider their progress alongside shortlisted schemes before taking decisions on Severn tidal power generation.

Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries and are also available at: The consultation period is 26 January to 23 April 2009.

I expect to hold a further public consultation at the end of the feasibility study, probably in 2010, to seek public views on whether government could support a Severn tidal power scheme and if so on what terms. This will include considering the development of alternatives to the shortlisted scheme which are not currently sufficiently technically developed for further evaluation. The option remains open not to proceed with any scheme.

A meeting of the Severn tidal power Parliamentary Forum is being held at 5 pm this afternoon in the Large Ministerial meeting room.

Health: Cross-border Healthcare


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Ben Bradshaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee published its interim report The Provision of Cross—border Health Services for Wales on 10 July 2008. We are today laying before Parliament the Command Paper (Cm 7531) setting out the government response to the report.

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We have carefully considered the committee’s interim report. The Command Paper discusses the wider context of cross-border healthcare, including arrangements to co-ordinate service provision, the commissioning, funding and quality of services, and provides the additional information requested by the committee.

The Government agree with the committee that the border between England and Wales does not represent a barrier to the provision of healthcare. The core principles of the National Health Service continue to apply across the UK and an inevitable and healthy consequence of devolution has been some divergence in health policy between England and Wales.

The Government and the Welsh Assembly Government operate a protocol whereby responsibility for a patient who lives on one side of the border and is registered with a GP on the other can de determined. The protocol has been renewed annually and is currently in place until April 2009. It is supported by an annual transfer of funds from the Department of Health to the Welsh Assembly Government to cover the costs of providing secondary care for the greater number of patients who live in England but have a GP in Wales. Negotiations on the renewal of the protocol are almost complete.

Social Work


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) made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The 2020 Children and Young People’s Workforce Strategy, published last month, set out our ambition for significant reform in social work to be supported by a social work taskforce. Today we are announcing the full membership and remit for this taskforce.

The social work taskforce will undertake a nuts and bolts review of frontline social work practice and make recommendations for immediate improvements to practice and training as well as long-term change in social work. It will report to both the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and to the Secretary of State for Health.

Social workers carry out highly challenging work, often in extremely difficult circumstances. They have a vital role in protecting children and young people from harm and in supporting adults. Enabling social workers to deliver consistent high-quality practice and services is a key priority for this Government. Our ambition is for social work to be a high-quality, self-confident profession, with the support and esteem of the public.

The taskforce builds on the Government’s significant investment in the workforce over the past 10 years. It also builds on the current investment of over £73 million to improve social work training, induction, practice and recruitment.

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The taskforce will be chaired by Moira Gibb, chief executive of Camden Council. Andrew Webb, director of children's services, Stockport, and Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children's Society, will be the deputy chairs. The taskforce will be small and action-focused. It will include individuals with a range of backgrounds and experiences including service users’ perspectives, frontline social workers, social work leaders and academics. The taskforce will meet for the first time in early February 2009 and will publish findings in summer 2009.

The taskforce will root its work in a thorough review of evidence and will build on Lord Laming’s review of safeguarding. It will be crucial that the taskforce listens carefully to the experiences, needs and views of frontline social workers and service users. The taskforce will look at all of the factors that impact on frontline social work practice including a survey of workloads and pressures facing social workers. We have asked the taskforce, as an early priority, to look specifically at the integrated children’s system including how it helps to deliver quality support to children and families, procurement and IT issues, how well social workers are supported to use the system and its impact on social workers’ workloads.

The taskforce will also engage closely with stakeholders including delivery partners, social work employers, unions, providers of social work training and academics to identify the key issues affecting social work practice and to ensure that the taskforce’s recommendations will secure excellent frontline practice. It will work in close partnership with the key organisations delivering improvements in social work, including the Children’s Workforce Development Council, the General Social Care Council and Skills for Care.

We are very grateful to the people listed below for agreeing to be members of the taskforce and contributing to this important work.

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ChairMoira Gibb, CBE, Chief Executive, Camden Borough Council.Deputy ChairsAndrew Webb, Corporate Director, Children and Young People, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council; andBob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, the Children’s SocietyMembersCelia Atherton OBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Research in Practice;Anne Beales, Director of Service User Involvement, Together—Working for Wellbeing;Kim Bromley-Derry, Director of Children’s Services, Newham;Sue Butcher, Head of Children and Young People’s Services, Gloucestershire;Richard Jones, Director of Adult Services, Lancashire;Diane Mallett, Senior Social Work Practitioner, Barnsley Adult Social Services;Helga Pile, National Officer for Social Care, Unison; James Riley, Director of Adult Services, Hammersmith and Fulham;Bridget Robb, Professional Officer, British Association of Social Workers;Deidre Sanders, Agony Aunt: The Sun; Professor Sue White, Professor of Social Work, Lancaster University;Neil Wragg MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Youth at Risk; and Maxine Wrigley MBE, National Co-ordinator, Voice.

I am placing in the House Library copies of the list of the full membership and the remit for the social work taskforce.

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