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Written Statements

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Armed Forces: Armoured Fighting Vehicles


The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Quentin Davies) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The provision of armoured fighting vehicles to our forces has attracted considerable interest among honourable Members and the British public. I am today announcing the MoD’s new armoured fighting vehicles sector strategy and how it links to the defence industrial strategy.

The defence industrial strategy set out the Government’s approach to the delivery of the capabilities required by our Armed Forces now and in the future, recognising the important contribution that the defence industry makes. Building on the principles of the DIS, the new AVF sector strategy lays out further guiding principles which will shape MoD’s relationship with industry, setting the context for individual project decisions and contributing to a coherent sector programme.

In our strategy, we have changed the emphasis on how we meet our operational sovereigntyrequirements, making clear that it is not necessary to retain industrial capabilities in the UK in order to achieve appropriate operational sovereignty. We plan to make greater use of the global market, particularly within the EU and NATO, so long as we have assured access to the appropriate capabilities and expertise to design, modify, maintain, repair, overhaul, assemble, integrate and test our armoured fighting vehicles. Of course our critical requirement for affordability and value for money will remain. We continue to have a requirement to manufacture certain UK-specific critical sub-systems onshore and we will retain onshore the ability to maintain, repair and overhaul our vehicles, making use of the Defence Support Group. However where bids we receive offer comparable value for money, I will always take into account employment and industrial considerations in this country.

Contrary to our present position, which normally involves manufacturers or lead contractors retaining the exclusive right to the use of the design information of platforms or systems we acquire, we will in future in principle wish to acquire at the outset rights over design information, as well as assured access to relevant design knowledge, sufficient to allow third-party modification of designs where appropriate, and to permit routine maintenance repair and overhaul activities.

Our strategy will generally be to procure base vehicles which can provide a suitable platform for the systems we require and which allow for modification and enhancement in the light of future developments in technology and future operational requirements. This

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strategy will cover the whole of our AFV fleet, both legacy and future. As an intelligent customer, we need to be able to define technical standards and architectures and make intelligent decisions about using the right technologies and integrating them using best systems engineering practice. Where we do not have these in-house, we will need to source independent advice from elsewhere.

We owe a great debt to the men and women of the Armed Forces who operate in hostile environments, risking their lives to secure freedom and to ensure that international terrorism, which threatens us all, is not allowed to take hold. We must ensure that they receive the very best support and the very best equipment for the roles they are undertaking. In this Statement today, I have outlined a new strategy, one which will enable us to make the best procurement decisions in support of our Armed Forces. I believe that once the strategy is fully implemented it will ensure that we give our Armed Forces the armoured fighting vehicles they need and deserve to do their jobs as safely and effectively as modern technology can provide at best value for money for the UK taxpayer.

Civil Service: Fast-stream


The Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business (Baroness Vadera): My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Angela E Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The 2008 Fast Stream recruitment report is being published online today at uk/reports/faststream.aspx. Copies have been placed in the Library and are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Climate Change


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In my oral Statement to the House on 18 June I warned that the threat to the UK posed by floods, heat waves and coastal erosion presents a great challenge which we need to plan for. According to the UK climate change projections, the UK faces warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers, with more drought, heat-waves, flooding and sea-level rise. The results illustrate how important it is for the country to plan for the impacts of climate change. The projections underline that cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to limit future climate change is essential for the UK—as for the rest of the world.

In response to this, experts have been appointed to the Adaptation Sub-Committee to the Committee on Climate Change, which has been established under the Climate Change Act 2008 to advise government on

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their work on the national climate change risk assessment, and ensure that the Government’s adaptation programme enables England to prepare effectively for the impacts of climate change.

I am announcing the first six members of the Adaptation Sub-Committee to the Committee on Climate Change today. They are: Dr Sam Fankhauser, Professor Martin Parry, Professor Jim Hall, Dr Andrew Dlugolecki, Baroness Barbara Young and Mr Graham Wynne. The sub-committee will be headed by the newly appointed chair Lord John Krebs.

Parliament: Standards


The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My right honourable friend the Leader of the House of Commons (Harriet Harman) has made the following Statement.

With permission Mr Speaker, I wish to update the House on the issue of parliamentary standards. But first, I would like to offer you congratulations on your election yesterday. I look forward to working with you to address the issues of concern to members of the public and to members of this House of Commons.

The public want to be able to have full confidence in the parliamentary system.

Members want there to be full confidence in the system, so that the cloud of suspicion is lifted and so that the reputation of the House can be restored.

As you said yesterday, Mr Speaker, I strongly believe that the overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament are decent people who work hard to serve the public interest, not to serve their own self-interest. But that is not the impression that the public have and so we are taking action.

Summary of action

And it is those actions which are under way which I want to set out to the House today. They are:

the changes to our allowances that we have already made;the publication last week of our past four years’ allowances;the publication of our 2008-09 allowances; and thena revised Code of Conduct for Members—updated by the Standards and Privileges Committee and published today;the introduction later this afternoon of the Parliamentary Standards Bill;the proposal to be debated this Thursday for a new committee of the House—chaired by the honourable Member for Cannock Chase—to strengthen the role of Parliament;a new registration system starting on 1 July for full transparency on Members’ second jobs;the work of Sir Thomas Legg leading a team to establish what might need to be paid back from claims over the past four years;

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the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life to propose a new allowance system; and the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to take over the whole of our allowance system and run it.

Interim changes

First, changes have already been made to our allowances system. Since 19 May this year and arising out of the meeting between the then Speaker and the party leaders, there can now be:

no claiming for furniture;no changing the designation of main home;a cap of £1,250 on monthly rent or mortgage payments;every claim must be backed up by a receipt; andMPs who are couples can only claim for one second home.


Last Thursday, every claim and payment to all Members over the past four years was published by the House Authorities on the House of Commons website.

Of course we must protect Members’ security but I can tell the House that for the publication of the 2008-09 receipts this autumn, the question of redaction will be looked at again, considering the advice of the Information Commissioner.

Pay-backSir Thomas Legg

Work has begun by Sir Thomas Legg, who has been contracted by the House Authorities to lead a reassessment of all claims over the past four years and having reconsidered each claim and the evidence submitted to support it, to report whether it was within the rules as they obtained at the time with a view to ensuring that where there has been overpayment then it must be paid back.

The public expect that overclaims will be paid back—and that will happen, together with any necessary disciplinary action.

Kelly Committee

Work is under way by the Committee on Standards in Public Life who—with Sir Christopher Kelly as chair—have taken on the task of undertaking a root and branch review of the allowances and to make recommendations. They are taking evidence and will complete their work in the autumn.

I have already given oral evidence to the Committee and set out the principles which I believe the House would want to underpin a new allowance system; namely,

that it should be simple;transparent;that it should reduce the cost to the taxpayer;that second home arrangements should be consistent as between the allowances system and the tax system;that it should sustain the all-important constituency link;and it should sustain our ability to work effectively on behalf of our constituents;

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and communicate with them;that it should support the inclusion as Members of this House of those with family responsibilities;and those with disabilities;that it should allow us to decide for ourselves how we do our work and not put us in a strait jacket;that it should protect the ability of those on low incomes to come into the House; andit should command public confidence.

Publication of Parliamentary Standards Bill

This afternoon will see the publication of the Parliamentary Standards Bill, which will establish a new and wholly independent authority to take over the role of the Fees Office in authorising Members’ claims, overseeing a new allowance system, following proposals from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and maintaining the Register of Members’ Interests.

I can assure the House that although there will be a new independent authority for allowances, we will work closely and sympathetically with the House authorities on the future for the staff currently working in the Department of Resources.

The Bill will create new criminal offences for:

knowingly making a false claim for an allowance;failing without reasonable excuse to register a relevant interest; andcontravening without reasonable excuse the rules on paid advocacy.

This will put MPs on the same footing as we have—in legislation—put local councillors and Members of the Scottish Parliament.

I shall set out in my business Statement the date for Second Reading of the Bill but the House should know that we intend that its Committee stage as well as Report and Third Reading will be taken on the Floor of the House and we hope that there is sufficient consensus—following the consultation which has been led by my right honourable friend the Justice Secretary—for it to reach Royal Assent by the time the House rises for the Summer Recess so that it can be ready to start work with the Kelly Committee’s recommendations by the end of the year.

The Justice Secretary and I are grateful for the constructive cross-party discussions that preceded the Bill’s introduction. A number of those on the cross-party group, including the Government, are prepared to go further. This Bill is the first stage of legislation and covers the specific but important and urgent task of setting up an independent authority to run our expenses system.

There is likely to be further legislation should there be a consensus for further action.

Tony Wright Committee

The Prime Minister in his Statement to the House on 10 June set out his concern that we make progress on strengthening the role of the House in holding the Government to account.

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Today, we will be tabling resolutions for debate on Thursday which will:

establish a new parliamentary committee;for a specific period of time;with the honourable Member for Cannock Chase chairing it;to look into and make recommendations onenabling petitions from the public to find their way into debates and votes in this House;look at strengthening Select Committees; andlook at and make proposals for the House to choose non-government business.

Pay transparency

The public are entitled to know

who is making payments to their MP;how much is being paid; andand what they are doing for that payment.

Following the resolution of the House on 30 April there will—from 1 July—be a new registration requirement so that any payment to an MP for services, whether in cash or kind, will have to be registered. Guidance from the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interest has been sent to all Members this morning.

This will mean that for the first time the public will be able to see all the payments that are made to Members. The public want to know who, other than them, is paying their MP.

And the Kelly Committee is looking into this and will report on whether transparency is enough or whether we need to go further.


The abuse by some Members of our allowance system has caused a high level of public concern and has required this comprehensive range of actions to ensure that we can say to the public—in the words of the honourable Member for Gloucester—we get it and we’re sorting it.

School Teachers’ Review Body


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.

Following the publication of the 18th report Part 1 of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) (Cm 7546) on 31 March 2009, to which I responded in a Statement of that date, I have today written to consultees with the outcomes of my consultation on the report and my response. Copies of the letter are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office, the Libraries of the House, and at

I shall be taking forward the recommendations on the teachers’ pay award and pay ranges for excellent teachers for September 2009. Informed by the consultation I will implement interim changes to leadership pay that will better enable reward for system leadership

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roles. In this regard I am making one change to the recommended approach. I want to ensure that there are appropriate incentives for heads becoming responsible for the very largest federations of schools. I am not, therefore, accepting the STRB recommendation that there should be a cap of 20 per cent on the salary increase that is available to heads who take on permanent responsibility for running a number of schools.

To recognise the greater responsibility associated with running a number of schools, I will be encouraging governing bodies to make responsible use of the flexibilities that they already have to determine an appropriate level of pay for these heads in a way that is not constrained by the maximum of the leadership pay range but is appropriate, fair and transparent. These are interim arrangements while the STRB looks in greater depth in the coming year at new pay arrangements for school leaders that will recognise and reward the vital contribution that they will make to the delivery of our vision of the 21st century school.

I shall also be following up a number of recommendations from the report concerning SEN payments in the context of a future remit which I will set for the STRB.



The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The House will have seen reporting of the visit to London by Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, on 19 to 24 June 2009. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister and I met Mr Tsvangirai yesterday and made clear our determination to support him in bringing to Zimbabwe the change demanded by ordinary Zimbabweans.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced that the UK’s assistance for Zimbabwe will increase to £60 million this year, including an additional

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£4 million for food security and £1 million for textbooks for Zimbabwean school children. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Douglas Alexander) also met Mr Tsvangirai and set out how that pledge will include support for improvements to Zimbabwe’s water and sanitation infrastructure to reduce the likelihood of further cholera outbreaks, as well as resources to help work to tackle HIV and rebuild the health sector, livelihood support and food aid.

We want the inclusive Government to succeed, and to help them meet their commitments to reform outlined in the global political agreement. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear, we are prepared to provide further support to help rebuild Zimbabwe should there be further progress by the Zimbabwean Government in meeting their commitments to deliver political and economic reform. The Zimbabwean Government have made some progress in delivering reform, notably on the economic front, but much more needs to be done to deliver improved services and security to ordinary people. This includes work to implement IMF recommendations and reform the Central Bank; to reform the constitution as a prelude to new elections; to promote respect for human rights, freedom of the media and the repeal of repressive legislation; and to stop land seizures.

The southern African region has a key role to play in supporting reform in Zimbabwe. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister signalled yesterday our wish to work closely with South Africa, and I look forward to working with the new South African Administration. My noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown is in regular touch with Ministers from the Southern African Development Community, a number of whom he met this month in Cape Town.

We will continue to do what we can to support Zimbabwe and its neighbours in seizing this historic opportunity for reform in Zimbabwe, and to build on the positive momentum generated by Morgan Tsvangirai’s visit to work with reformers to make progress on key issues.

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