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From April 2010, the commission will operate a new registration system based on regulations to be made under the 2008 Act. It is the content of these regulations we are now consulting on.

The draft regulations set out who needs to register with the new commission (scope of registration) and what they need to do to register and remain registered (registration requirements).

The new approach will mean that patients and people using services will have the same level of assurance of the quality and safety of their care and treatment, whether it is being provided by the NHS, local government or the independent sector.

The registration requirements are designed to address the concerns of people using health and adult social care services, covering the topics on which they want assurance. They provide clarity about the essential levels of safety and quality all providers must deliver for people who use their services, without being prescriptive about how providers run their services.

The registration system will operate alongside a wider quality improvement framework that encourages not just good care but excellent care. The commission will have a role in contributing to ongoing quality improvement as part of the wider quality framework, particularly through its publication of comparable information in periodic reviews, and its power to conduct special reviews into areas of particular interest.

Regulation plays a vital role within the Government's drive to make quality the organising principle of care. High Quality Care For All set out that vision for the NHS, but the underpinning ambition and principles apply equally across all forms of health and adult social care. The White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: A New Direction For Community Services (January 2006), which is available in the Library, described the framework that is now used for promoting quality in adult social care services and set out the seven key outcomes that adult social care should deliver.



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This publication will be of interest to anyone providing or working in health and adult social care, and to patients and people using services, who are interested in how the reforms are going to improve these services.

Today’s publication has been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.

Legal Aid

Statement

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

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has today published a consultation on best value tendering (BVT) of criminal legal aid services. This follows an initial LSC consultation published in December 2007 which set out the principles of how a market-based approach could be introduced for the procurement of criminal defence services, together with some broad design issues. This second consultation paper sets out a detailed model for the introduction of best value tendering (BVT) for police station and magistrates’ court work. It describes plans to pilot BVT in two criminal justice system areas (Greater Manchester, and Avon and Somerset) from autumn 2009. Following a review of the pilot, the intention is to roll out BVT across England and Wales on a phased basis during 2010 and 2011.

The proposed model takes as its starting point the recommendations of Lord Carter of Coles’s review of legal aid procurement, which identified the need for fundamental reform in the way legal services are procured. His report, published in 2006, recommended a market-based approach that defined best value in terms of quality, capacity and price. The Government accepted these recommendations and committed to the implementation of a quality-assured tendering process.

The proposed reforms aim to secure long-term sustainability for criminal defence services by allocating work to those providers who meet the required quality standards and offer best value for money. BVT will enable solicitors’ firms to offer their services at a price which they know is sustainable for them and reflects the costs of provision in their local area. It also offers firms of all sizes the opportunity to secure the volume of work that best suits their business model, and to expand should they wish to do so. The BVT proposals affect work undertaken at the police station and magistrates’ court only; any move to introduce BVT in the Crown court would be subject to a further consultation.

The consultation paper also describes the contracting process that will apply to firms wishing to undertake criminal defence work outside of the BVT pilot areas from July 2010.

The 12-week consultation closes on 19 June 2009. Copies of 2010 Contracts and Best Value Tendering: A Consultation have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The document can be downloaded from the consultation section of the LSC’s website at www.legalservices.gov.uk.



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NATO: Defence Ministerial Meetings

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (John Hutton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I attended an informal meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Krakow, Poland, on 19 and 20 February. It was in many ways a preparatory meeting for the NATO summit to be held in Strasbourg and Kehl next month. Ministers considered the progress being made on NATO's wide-ranging transformation agenda, including the UK/French helicopter initiative, reforms to NATO's command structures, ways of improving the way the headquarters in Brussels does its business, and work to make the NATO Response Force more sustainable. In the context of the latter, I introduced a proposal for a rapidly deployable Alliance Solidarity Force for collective defence. This proposal will now be taken forward in the wider work on the NATO Response Force.

There were two sessions on operations: one as allies, and a wider discussion on Afghanistan with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) contributing nations, Kai Eide (the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative) and General Wardak (the Afghan Defence Minister). Ministers welcomed the US announcement of increased force contributions to ISAF, reviewed ISAF's expanded role in counternarcotics, and agreed the need for a civil surge to accelerate development activities, and support for the Afghan Government. Ministers also welcomed agreement that another Standing NATO Maritime Group will contribute in the coming months to the wider international efforts to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Krakow concluded with meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the NATO-Georgia Commission, in which Defence Ministers were updated on Ukraine's and Georgia's progress against their annual national plans.

Prisons: Deaths in Custody

Statement

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

The Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody today publishes its final annual report. The forum has been independently chaired, and its policy positions have not always coincided with government policy. I nevertheless welcome this report.

Every death in custody is a personal tragedy for those left behind and I recognise that the numbers are still too high. Bringing about a reduction in the number of deaths in custody remains a priority for the Government, and that is why, in July 2008, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Maria Eagle) announced a radical overhaul of the

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machinery for dealing with this important issue, following an independent review (Official Report, Commons, 21/7/08; col. 75WS). The new Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody that was announced by my honourable friend will commence work in April 2009. I believe it will build on the good work of the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody, and will further contribute to our learning from deaths in custody across all custodial settings.

I also take this opportunity to record my gratitude to the forum’s outgoing chair, John Wadham. Mr Wadham was heavily involved in the forum’s inception in 2005, and he has chaired it since that time, latterly in a voluntary capacity. I believe he has made a significant contribution to the objective of ensuring the safety of those held in state custody, and to the solid foundations the forum has laid for the future.

Copies of the 2007-08 annual report of the Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are available from the forum’s website at www.preventingcustodydeaths.org.uk.

Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009

Statement

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.

I am today publishing the Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, appended to Circular 02/09. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

This direction, which comes into force on 20 April 2009, will require local planning authorities in England to consult the Secretary of State before granting planning permission for certain types of development for which they are minded to grant permission. It replaces all such existing directions, which are cancelled; and makes changes to the terms of some of them in the light of the consultation exercise undertaken during 2008 as explained in the accompanying government response.

In line with the commitment given in the planning White Paper in 2007, the changes will streamline the planning policy framework and give local planning authorities greater freedom in deciding their own planning applications. The changes also accord with the Killian Pretty recommendation to make the policy framework simpler and more user-friendly.

The new direction introduces a new requirement for local planning authorities to refer applications in circumstances where English Heritage is sustaining an objection on the grounds that a proposed development could have an adverse impact on the outstanding universal value, integrity, authenticity and significance of a World Heritage Site or its setting.



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Additionally, the shopping direction is cancelled without replacement, as are the three elements of the current departures direction relating to housing; land belonging to the local planning authority; and “any other development which would ... significantly prejudice the implementation of the development plan’s policies and proposals”. The current requirement to refer departures from the development plan which relate to proposals for more than 5,000 square metres of gross retail, leisure, office or mixed commercial floor space is extended to apply additionally to proposals for increases of existing floor space of over 2,500 square metres, where the total would then exceed 5,000 square metres. However, it will only apply to proposals on sites in edge or out of centre locations.

This new direction will not affect the Secretary of State’s power under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to direct that any particular planning application should be called in for her own determination irrespective of whether it falls within the terms of this direction. It will still be open to anyone to request that any application be considered for “call in”.

The direction, the accompanying impact assessment and the Government’s response to the consultation paper are available on the CLG website at www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/publications/consultations/.

At the same time, Communities and Local Government is cancelling a number of other planning circulars and other guidance documents which have become obsolete but have never been formally withdrawn. The details of the cancelled documents are available on the CLG website.

UK Atomic Energy Authority Ltd

Statement

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Mandelson): We are announcing today the commencement of a sale process to dispose of 100 per cent of UKAEA Ltd (offers will also be accepted for a partial offer), the commercial operations of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). The process will take the form of two stages, an initial stage which will allow bidders access to an information memorandum document written by Greenhill and Co and request first-round bids. Following this, a second stage will allow a smaller number of interested parties access to detailed due diligence and put forward a further more detailed bid. It is the intention for HMG to complete the transaction prior to the Summer Recess.

The sale is the next step in the development of the commercial business of UKAEA Ltd, which was first approved by Ministers in 2005. The sale is recognition of the work done by management in creating a commercially viable enterprise that has become an important repository of key nuclear skills that will help ensure that the UK will remain at the forefront of the nuclear services industry.

UKAEA Ltd principally undertakes nuclear decommissioning work under contract for NDA-owned sites in the UK (Dounreay and Harwell/Winfrith).

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The business also has a fledgling consulting services business within the nuclear decommissioning sector under which it operates tier 2 and tier 3 smaller scale contracts for both the NDA and other owners.

The principal site of operation for UKAEA Limited is Dounreay, located in the north-east of Scotland. The business also contains a pensions administration business which administers the pensions of several nuclear industry public sector operators.

The business plan of UKAEA Limited aims to grow revenues by principally growing the consulting services provided by the business. Within the UK and

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internationally there are a significant number of old nuclear facilities for which decommissioning services will be required.

UKAEA Limited's key decommissioning site at Dounreay will be completed in the next two years. The Government would like UKAEA Limited to be in a position to enter the competition with clarity and stability over the business's ownership.

This sale underlines the importance attached to the clean-up of nuclear waste. It will increase efficiency, competition and value for money for the taxpayer in the decommissioning and clean-up work of old nuclear power stations.


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