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In addition to the central target to pay 100 per cent of invoices within 30 days, the Government have also instructed departments and agencies to maximise levels of payment of undisputed invoices within eight days.

Iraq: Coalition Regional Commands

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 should like to make a Statement on the restructuring of coalition regional commands in southern Iraq.

The House will be aware from my Statement of 25 November 2008 (Official Report, col. 57WS) and the Foreign Secretary’s Statement of 25 March 2009 (Official Report, col. 326) that coalition forces providing support to the Iraqi security forces in the area south of Baghdad have to date been organised into two multinational areas: Multi-National Division-South East (MND-South East) under UK leadership covering Basra province, and MND-Centre under US leadership, covering the other eight Iraqi provinces. As indicated in those two Statements, in future only a single multinational divisional headquarters will be required south of Baghdad.

Due to the improved security situation and the continued demonstration by the Iraqi security forces that they are able to deliver security in southern Iraq with only minimal coalition assistance, the anticipated change in coalition command structures has taken place today. MND-South East and MND-Centre have been merged to create a new Multi-National Divisional area, MND-South. The headquarters for MND-South will be located on the site of the contingency operating base outside Basra, and will provide support to the Iraqi security forces under US leadership across all nine provinces in southern Iraq.

UK forces from 20 Armoured Brigade will complete their remaining military tasks in southern Iraq as part of MND-South and then withdraw before the end of July. We have also deployed logistics specialists in order to support the withdrawal. US forces in southern Iraq will continue to focus on their training of the Iraqi police and Department of Border Enforcement and on supporting the overall coalition mission in Iraq, including through the protection of key supply routes.



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We are currently discussing with the Government of Iraq the precise scope of the military training that they would like the UK to provide as part of the enduring, broad-based bilateral relationship with Iraq, which the Prime Minister outlined on 18 December 2008 (Official Report, cols. 1233-35). On current plans, this would see fewer than 400 UK service personnel remaining in Iraq beyond 31 July 2009. Details of the specific military units that will be involved will be made available in due course on the MoD’s website at www.mod.uk.

National Parks: South Downs

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 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce my decision on the establishment of the South Downs National Park.

I have carefully considered both of the inspector's reports on the public inquiries into the South Downs National Park (Designation) Order 2002, as varied, made by the Countryside Agency under the provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. In line with the inspector's recommendations, I have decided that the area now proposed for designation meets the criteria for a national park, subject to modifications, and should be managed by a national park authority to be established under the provisions of the Environment Act 1995. I therefore intend to confirm the designation order, with modifications, so creating the South Downs National Park.

The inspector recommended the deletion of some areas within Natural England’s proposed designation, and recommended adding others. Full details of my intended boundary, subject only to the new additions referred to below, will be released in my decision letter today, a copy of which, together with an illustrative map, will appear on my department’s website. Copies of the inspector's latest report, addendum, illustrative map and my decision letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

There are five “new” additional areas recommended by the inspector (which were not consulted upon between the two inquiries), as well as one other “new” additional area which I believe warrants further consideration/inclusion. Depending on the outcome of these there may be one further deletion.

Under the provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, details of the proposed new additions to the designation order boundary will be made available to the public to enable any objections, representations and comments to be made. This period will last for 12 weeks. Details of where and when details of the proposed additions can be viewed, and the time limits for the receipt of objections, representations and comments, will be advertised shortly in the national and local press. I will consider all duly made objections, representations and comments and if

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necessary call a public inquiry or a hearing to consider them. When the boundary is finalised, I will announce the confirmation of the designation order with its final modifications as well as the date for the creation of the South Downs National Park.

When I confirm the designation order, I intend also to confirm the orders made by the Countryside Agency to revoke both the East Hampshire area of outstanding natural beauty and the Sussex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, to coincide with the national park coming into being. The South Downs National Park as now indicated would cover over 99 per cent of the land currently designated as areas of outstanding natural beauty and it would be inappropriate to have concurrent national landscape designations.

Following the conclusion of the further steps required to confirm the designation order; I propose to bring forward an order under the provisions of the Environment Act 1995 to create a national park authority. I expect the new authority to be established from April 2010 and to take on its full range of statutory powers and functions from 1 April 2011.

NHS: Foundation Trusts

Statement

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 chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts) has announced that, in accordance with Section 35 of the National Health Service Act 2006, Monitor has decided to authorise the following NHS trusts as NHS foundation trusts from 1 April:

Calderstones NHS Trust; and

Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust.

Monitor’s announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts operating in England to 117. A copy of Monitor’s press notice has been placed in the Library.

The Government remain committed to offering all NHS acute and mental health trusts the opportunity to attain the NHS foundation trust standard as soon as practicable. Monitor is authorising NHS foundation trusts on a monthly basis, and further groups of authorisations are set to follow.

Office of the Public Guardian: Key Performance Indicators

Statement

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

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports the Public Guardian in discharging his statutory duties under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.



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The following list sets out the key performance targets that have been set for the Office of the Public Guardian for the year 2009-10.

KPI 1: Lasting Power of Attorney/Enduring Power of Attorney

Register and return 95 per cent of applications for registration of attorneyship (LPA/EPA) within 11 weeks of receipt; improving performance to achieve 80 per cent within eight weeks by the end of the financial year. This measure excludes applications that cannot be registered; for example, where an objection is received prior to registration, or where the application is flawed and cannot be corrected. For the purposes of measurement, 11 weeks and eight weeks will be calculated on the basis of 55 and 40 working days respectively. The KPI has been simplified this year to amalgamate the registration and return processes in one target. It has been necessary to review the overall target because of the unexpectedly high volumes of applications received.

KPI 2: Supervision of Deputies

All deputyship cases require the allocation of a supervision regime based on risk assessment. Risk criteria include: whether a deputy has been refused credit or is an un-discharged bankrupt; whether a deputy has any financial interests which conflict with those of the client; the value of the client’s estate; the relationship of the deputy to the client and any objections which were made to the appointment of the deputy.

This year’s timescale to notify new deputies within 30 days has been decreased for 2009-10 to within 20 working days. This will improve service to the customer.

KPI 3: Supervision of Deputies—Case review

A new supervision level of deputies has been introduced following the review of the implementation of the MCA. The four supervision levels are: close supervision; intermediate; light touch and minimal.

10,000 cases that require intermediate and light touch supervision will be subject to a case review during 2009-10 under KPI 3. Last year the target was to review 4,000 cases of this type. This year’s target will be stretching for the organisation but is achievable.

A case review could be a combination of:

review of annual report;

carrying out a visit; and

review of supervision level following short-term intervention.

KPI 4: Investigations

Upon receipt of an investigations case in the Compliance and Regulation Unit it is allocated to a specific caseworker. At this point of allocation, the two-day target to assess risk begins. The three-month target to complete the investigation is inclusive of the two days in which the risk assessment and initial action are put in place.

We will assess risk in 95 per cent of cases within two days.75 per cent per cent of investigations will be completed within three months.

The assessment of risk includes taking immediate action where appropriate.



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KPI 5: Finance

Based on the statutory instrument for fees approved by Parliament, we will aim to achieve 100 per cent full cost recovery.

Full cost is defined as:

The total cost of carrying out the provision of services to the taxpayer, less social subsidy/fee remission; financial losses over and above a yearly notional premium; in year bad debts write off and exceptional items.

Copies of the Office of the Public Guardian Framework Document and Business Plan will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and from the website of the OPG at www.publicguardian.gov.uk from 31 March 2009.

Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture

Statement

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

The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which the UK ratified in December 2003, requires states party to establish a national preventive mechanism to carry out a system of regular visits to places of detention in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

OPCAT provides that a national preventive mechanism may consist of one body or several. The Government intend that the requirements of OPCAT be fulfilled in the UK by the collective action of existing inspection bodies.

I am designating the following bodies to form the UK NPM. If it is necessary in future to add new inspection bodies to the NPM, or if bodies within the NPM are restructured or renamed, I will notify Parliament accordingly.

England and Wales

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP);

Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB);

Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA);

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC);

Care Quality Commission (CQC);

Healthcare Inspectorate of Wales (HIW);

Children’s Commissioner for England (CCE);

Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW); and

Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED).

Scotland

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS);

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS);

Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC);

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWCS); and

The Care Commission (CC)



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Northern Ireland

Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB);

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI);

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA); and

Northern Ireland Policing Board Independent Custody Visiting Scheme (NIPBICVS).

Police: 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.

During consideration of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (Renewal of Temporary Provisions) Order 2007 the Government undertook to return to the House on an annual basis and report on progress towards our target of 30 per cent Catholic composition within regular officers in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Since the introduction of the temporary provisions in 2001, tremendous progress has been made towards a more representative police service and our ultimate goal of 30 per cent Catholic composition. The Catholic composition of police officers has increased from just 8.3 per cent at the time of the Patten report to 26.14 per cent as of 12 March 2009. The number of Catholic applications to the PSNI has also risen significantly, with 42 per cent of applicants in the last campaign being from the Catholic community. This is against 23.33 per cent Catholic applications in the last campaign before the introduction of the temporary provisions.

In the 14 competitions run to date, over 88,000 applications have been received from across the whole community. This figure reflects the fact that many people are ready to commit to a career in PSNI. The 15th recruitment campaign opened on 5 March and we are confident that it will again produce recruits of the highest calibre from across all sections of the community.

Female composition within PSNI has almost doubled, from 12 per cent in 2001 to 23.43 per cent today and there are currently 31 officers from an ethnic minority background, including Pakistani, Black Caribbean, Chinese and Indian. The ethnic minority figures remain small in actual numbers but the 0.42 per cent compares to the 0.67 per cent composition of the ethnic minority working age population. A series of initiatives have been introduced to further increase the ethnic minority composition.

Catholic representation among civilian staff also continues to rise. The percentage of Catholic police support staff increased from 12 per cent at the time of the Patten report to 17.66 per cent on 1 March 2009.

As set out in the St Andrews agreement, the temporary 50:50 recruitment arrangements to the PSNI will lapse when the Government’s target of 30 per cent Catholic officers has been achieved. We are on course to reach this target by 2010-11.



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Regional Development Agencies

Statement

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Mandelson): It is 10 years since the RDAs were set up, as business-led organisations, to promote enterprise throughout the country and drive up economic growth in their regions. They provide regional economic leadership, co-ordinate strategy, deliver vital programmes to provide real help to people and business today, invest for our future, and help join up the full range of public sector economic activity in the region. They have brought inward investment successes to the regions and worked closely with UKTI in supporting the growth of UK businesses through international trade. They also lead the regional response in times of economic difficulty, offering real help now to businesses and people to support them through the downturn and ensure they are well placed to respond to the opportunities in the recovery.

The independent performance assessments carried out in 2006-07 by the National Audit Office showed that all of the RDAs were operationally performing well or strongly. We now have an independent evaluation of the economic impact of RDAs, commissioned by BERR and RDAs and published today by PricewaterhouseCoopers, demonstrating the considerable success that RDAs have had in improving their region’s economy. The PwC report finds that the RDAs add real value: supporting business, helping people to increase their employability and productivity, and investing in infrastructure and communities. PwC assessed that RDA programmes will generate at least £4.50 for every £1 spent over the programmes’ lifetime. I have placed copies of the PwC report in the Library of the House.

All regions have significant centres of industrial strength and competitive advantage. For these centres to thrive and provide the foundation for our national economic success, national, regional and sub-regional bodies need to align their efforts to provide the best possible environment for business. The RDAs have a key leadership role. They catalyse investment in key infrastructure that will support the sustainable economic environment needed for the future. Through the funding they provide, the leadership they give, particularly in developing the new single regional strategy with the leaders boards, and their links with national and local partners, they have a prime role in delivering industrial policy, regenerating the economy, and moving to a low carbon economy. This delivery is built on RDAs’ precise regional knowledge and their ability to engage and work with other regional and sub-regional partners to lever and powerfully align funding and priorities at the national, sub-regional and local level.

In current economic conditions, we need a relentless focus on helping business and fostering growth and jobs. RDAs will be developing a different strategic mix of investments and interventions for the short-term, the medium and longer-term. The new guidance for the single regional strategy to be issued in the summer is an opportunity to set out a clear national framework setting out how RDAs, with regional and local partners, will work together to deliver sustainable growth, and housing and tackle climate change, including through the Solutions for Business portfolio.



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