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Written Statements

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Archive Services

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.

I am today publishing a consultation document, Archives for the 21st Century, asking for views on the Government’s proposed new policy for archival services.

Archive services contribute greatly to a modern democratic society: they are the custodians of the nation’s collective memory and an integral part of a healthy democracy. A high proportion of our archival heritage is held by nearly 300 publicly funded archive services within local authorities and universities. Their core mission is to acquire and preserve records from a wide range of sources relating to a particular local or specialist topic and to make these as accessible as possible for public use.

The consultation document sets out the Government’s vision for a vibrant archival sector, one that works closely with and supports the communities served and that maximises opportunities to make archives accessible to an even wider range of people. It also seeks to build the foundations for a more sustainable future for the sector, responding to the challenges of the digital information age.

The Government are seeking views on the main proposals to help meet these challenges. They are:

working towards increased sustainability within the sector through the integration and collaboration of services; strengthened leadership and a more responsive, skilled workforce; a co-ordinated response to the growing challenge of managing digital information so that it is accessible now and remains discoverable in the future; comprehensive online access for archive discovery through catalogues and to digitised archive content by citizens at a time and place that suits them; andactive participation in cultural and learning partnerships promoting a sense of identity and place within the community.

This consultation, which closes on 12 August 2009, is accompanied by impact and equality assessments. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the both Houses. It can also be accessed via the National Archives website at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archivesconsultation.

Automotive Industry

Statement

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Davies of Abersoch): My honourable friend the Economic and Business Minister (Ian Pearson) has today made the following Statement.



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The Government have today agreed to make available a one-off £5 million bridging loan facility to prevent LDV going into administration, and to facilitate the purchase of the company by Weststar of Malaysia.

Weststar's proposed purchase of LDV offers the only credible chance of keeping this manufacturing plant in the UK, sustaining UK jobs and a platform for future model development.

Children: Laming Report

Statement

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.

Today the Government are publishing a comprehensive action plan in response to Lord Laming’s report, The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report.

Ministers announced to Parliament on 12 November that we had asked Lord Laming to prepare an independent report of progress being made in the delivery of arrangements to protect children, and to identify any barriers to effective, consistent implementation and how these might be overcome. On 12 March, Lord Laming published his report, which the Government welcomed and to which we responded immediately, accepting all his recommendations and taking swift, decisive action to begin to take them forward.

Lord Laming’s report confirmed that robust legislative, structural and policy foundations are in place and that there is a widespread consensus that our Every Child Matters reforms set the right direction. He underlined the progress that has been made and the positive difference that people working with children, particularly those most at risk, are making every day. But he was also clear that there needs to be “a step change in the arrangements to protect children from harm”. He challenged us all—central government, local government, national and local partners, and the public—to do more.

Lord Laming’s report set out a comprehensive set of recommendations to ensure best practice is universally applied in every area of the country, to strengthen national and local leadership and accountability, and to provide more support to local leaders and for the front-line workforce. The Government began immediately to act on his recommendations:

we appointed Sir Roger Singleton, from 1 April, as the first ever chief adviser on the safety of children to advise the Government on strategic priorities and the effective implementation of safeguarding policy;we committed to establishing a new national safeguarding delivery unit to drive continuous improvement in front-line practice across all services, and provide support and challenge to every local authority and every children’s trust as they fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities;we confirmed that we would revise the statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children,

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to reflect Lord Laming’s recommendations to strengthen policy and practice, including in relation to serious case reviews; we announced that we would strengthen the challenge role of local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs), clarify the relationship between children’s trusts and LSCBs, and that LSCBs should in future be independently chaired;we committed to opening up the child protection system to greater public scrutiny by requiring every LSCB in the country to appoint two members of the general public to its board;we announced immediate measures to improve support for front-line social workers, address recruitment and retention, and to begin to raise the morale of the profession;we appointed Francis Plowden to lead an independent review into court fees in public law cases brought under the Children Act 1989 to establish whether they are a barrier to social workers taking legal action to ensure the safety of a child; andwe confirmed that we would be reviewing the range of safeguarding targets and publish a new framework for safeguarding targets in autumn 2009.

Today’s action plan sets out the Government’s detailed response to Lord Laming’s report, addressing every one of his 58 recommendations, to deliver the step change which he has called for. Sir Roger Singleton has advised us on the development of this action plan and has written to me welcoming our response to Lord Laming and setting out his future role and priorities as chief adviser. Sir Roger will submit his first annual report to Parliament, reporting on progress nationally including the delivery of the actions we are setting out today, in April 2010. I am establishing a new ministerial subgroup of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Children, Young People and Families which will meet quarterly, with Sir Roger, to keep progress under review.

Sir Roger has announced an expert group to support him in his role as chief adviser and he will work with us to establish the new cross-government national safeguarding delivery unit, which will be operational by July 2009. We will also be establishing a partnership network to work with the unit and the chief adviser to pursue specific issues impacting on effective front-line safeguarding practice.

Earlier this year, we established the social work task force to carry out a “nuts and bolts” review to boost the confidence and capacity of the social work profession. The task force is today publishing its initial advice. It covers how we should implement Lord Laming’s recommendations on social work, how we should reform the integrated children’s system, and the key challenges which the task force sees in reforming and renewing the social work profession over the coming months.

I strongly welcome the task force’s advice. We are already investing £73 million in social work reform and I am announcing today a new £58 million social work transformation fund to provide an immediate boost for social work training and support as well as recruitment and retention, with a particular focus on those new to the profession by:



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sponsoring 200 university places from September so that the brightest and highest achieving graduates, from any discipline, can sign up to conversion courses to become part of the social work profession;a new recruitment campaign specifically targeting potential returners to give the current work force a boost from qualified social workers who may have left the profession. The campaign will start this month with former social workers able to access information online and, from July, through a new helpline to help social workers link up to LAs with vacant posts. Our aim is that there should be 500 social workers back in the workplace as early as this autumn, supported by refresher training where they need it;rolling out the successful newly qualified social workers (NQSW) pilots so that all new social workers joining statutory and voluntary services this September, and all overseas children's qualified social workers who need it, can receive high-quality supervision and protected time for training to support them in becoming confident and competent in their first year of practice; funding a new practice-based masters in social work to start in early 2011 so that social workers can continue to further knowledge, skills and expertise; anda new advanced social work professional status programme to create senior practice-focused roles to keep excellent and experienced social workers in children’s services. LAs working with the CWDC will begin assessing candidates in October so that they can be in post and start making a difference on the front-line by early next year.

Keeping children and young people safe is our top priority and it must be the responsibility of us all. Today’s action plan confirms this Government’s commitment to implementing Lord Laming’s recommendations and our determination to do everything possible to make the arrangements in this country for protecting children the best in the world.

Copies of the action plan, advice from the social work task force and Sir Roger Singleton’s letter to me are being placed in Libraries of both Houses.

Children: Protection

Statement

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 Education and Skills (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 24 March I welcomed Keeping our School Safe, Sir Roger Singleton’s review of safeguarding arrangements in independent schools, non-maintained special schools and boarding schools in England. His careful and thorough report showed that the current framework generally works well, but that there are elements that need to be reviewed and updated. Since the initial response was published we have considered each recommendation in more detail and consulted schools, Ofsted and the other independent school inspectorates

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about implementation arrangements. We are grateful for the assistance and support we have received from those organisations that represent schools covered by the review.

We have already accepted all the recommendations in the review, and our initial response set out the immediate steps we were taking to implement those things that could be done straightaway. Our more detailed response published today sets out specific timescales and steps that we will take to ensure that, over time, every recommendation is considered carefully and implemented in a way that realises safeguarding benefits without imposing undue complexity, cost and bureaucracy. We will continue to work closely with key stakeholders in implementing the plan, to ensure that the strengthened arrangements set out in the report are realised collaboratively and in a way that recognises the diversity of the independent school, non-maintained special school and boarding school sectors.

Copies of our detailed response have been laid in the House of Commons Library.

Fire and Rescue Service: FiReControl

Statement

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

I wish to inform the House about the latest development on the FiReControl project, which will establish a resilient network of nine regional fire control centres across England.

I have today published the consolidated FiReControl business case, which sets out the detailed, evidence-based rationale for investing public money in the FiReControl project. It is particularly important in the current economic climate that we are confident that any investment is justified and will bring about real beneficial change. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

The business case considers the strategic, economic, financial, commercial and project management cases for this investment in resilience and confirms value for money. It also sets out key information at the regional level, with nine regional annexes, each covering one of the English regions.

This business case has been subject to considerable consultation with a range of interested stakeholders. We received responses from all English regions and we have considered, in detail, these formal consultation responses. This feedback identified a number of areas which required further development, which we have addressed through further professional analysis and direct engagement with the fire and rescue service community, the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Local Government Association.

The headline messages from this analysis demonstrate that: the total project costs, which will be met by central government, have stabilised at £380 million; the project will deliver greatly enhanced capability to the fire and rescue service at no additional cost to fire and rescue authorities; and national government will

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support the fire and rescue service directly through annual FiReControl payments totalling £8.2 million once the network is up and running, which will be subject to a three-year review.

Taken together with the other elements of the fire and resilience programme—the Firelink radio communications system and the New Dimension equipment—we believe that this provides a powerful platform for the modernisation of the fire and rescue service. We are committed to supporting the fire and rescue service to meet the challenges it faces, now and in the future, to enable it to continue providing a world-class service.

Minimum Wage and Tipping

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs (Pat McFadden) has made the following Statement.

Today we have announced our response to our consultation regarding the change of regulation relating to the use of service charges, gratuities, tips and cover charges in use in payment of the national minimum wage.

Since the National Minimum Wage Act came into force in 1999, it has created a level playing field for employers in the payment of wages and an essential safety net for vulnerable low-paid workers. Through this we have seen a better rewarded and more committed workforce who have been a force in driving up standards.

Under the 1999 Act, the use of service charges, gratuities, tips and cover charges may count towards payment of the national minimum wage in certain circumstance. Some 10 years on, we believe that the time is right to review this practice to ensure equity for workers in receipt of the national minimum wage and a level playing field in the payment of wages among employers.

In July 2008 we announced that we would amend national minimum wage regulation to prevent the use of tips towards the payment of the national minimum wage. Alongside this we recognised a need for greater transparency for consumers about what is happing to the tips they leave.

We have now consulted on these issues, and we thank all those who responded for their input. The majority of the respondents to our consultation supported the change. Taking this into account and evidence gathered as part of our impact assessment, we believe that now is the right time to make this change. It is our intention that from 1 October 2009 service charges, gratuities, tips and cover charges will be no longer be permitted in payment of the national minimum wage. We will also continue to work with interested parties in developing a way of making information available to consumers. This will include a code of best practice for sectors affected by the change.

I have arranged for copies of the Government's response to the consultation to be placed in the Libraries of the House.



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National Identity Service

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Identity (Shahid Malik) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The sixth cost report of the National Identity Service is being laid before Parliament today. It sets out an estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the service over the next 10 years, in accordance with Section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006. It reports on developments over the past six months, since the fifth cost report was published on 6 November 2008. Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office.

In addition the House will wish to know that we are also publishing today the following three documents: The National Identity Service: Delivery Update: 2009, Identity Cards Act Secondary Legislation: A Response to the Consultation, and Identity Cards Act Secondary Legislation: An Impact Assessment. Copies of these documents will be placed in the Vote Office and the Libraries of both Houses.

Prison Service Pay Review Body

Statement

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

I am pleased to announce that my right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has reappointed Dr Henrietta Campbell for two years, and Richard Childs and Joseph Magee for three years, as members of the Prison Service Pay Review Body, commencing April 2009. The reappointments have been conducted in accordance with the guidance from the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments on appointments to public bodies.

Regional Spatial Strategy: South East

Statement

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

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is publishing today the South East plan, the revised regional spatial strategy (RSS) for the south-east of England.

The South East plan forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the region and sets the framework for the production of local development frameworks and local transport plans. It is the spatial plan for the development of the

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region, and provides the policy framework for employment, housing, transport and the environment. The South East plan is crucial to delivering the Government’s sustainable communities and growth agenda in the region.

The regional spatial strategy replaces regional planning guidance for the south-east (RPG9), which was issued in 2001. It also replaces a number of partial reviews to RPG9 that were carried out since 2001. The single exception is that the part A statement of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands sub-regional strategy issued in March 2005 continues to apply. In the event of any conflict, the more recent document will take precedence.

A draft revision of the regional spatial strategy was submitted to Government in March 2006 by the South East England Regional Assembly. This was tested by an independent panel at an examination in public (EiP) that was held between November 2006 and March 2007. The EiP panel’s report was published in August 2007. Based on the panel’s recommendations, the Government Office for the South East issued the Secretary of State’s proposed changes to the draft RSS in July 2008 and the public consultation closed in October 2008. During the consultation 13,654 comments were made by 5,672 people and organisations. In addition, a 1,700-name petition was submitted.

We have considered all these representations. We have decided that no further major policy changes are required, although amendments and clarifications have been made to various parts of the plan. The result in terms of housing provision is that 32,700 dwellings are to be planned for annually, compared with 33,125 dwellings in the proposed changes document and 28,900 in the draft plan.


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