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The strategy includes action to raise expectations throughout the system that all people with learning disabilities can and should have the chance to work: from birth and early years through education, among health and social care staff, local authorities, employment agencies, employers, and people with learning disabilities themselves and their families. The strategy is supported by a detailed delivery plan.

The strategy and delivery plan have been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.

Northern Ireland: Consultative Group on the Past

Statement

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today published a consultation paper on the recommendations of the Consultative Group on the Past. Dealing with the legacy of the events of the past 40 years remains one of the greatest challenges still facing Northern Ireland. The Consultative Group on the Past was established in 2007 and asked to make recommendations about steps that might be taken to support Northern Ireland society in building a shared future that is not overshadowed by the events of the past.

When the report was published, one recommendation —that £12,000 recognition payments should be made to the relatives of all those who died as a result of the Troubles—dominated all discussion of the report, and overshadowed all the other 30 recommendations.

I have already confirmed that the Government do not propose to take this recommendation forward. However, I am concerned that there has not yet been a thorough debate about the other recommendations in the report. That is why the consultation paper I am publishing today invites everyone to study all of the recommendations carefully and share with the Government their views on each of them.

In particular, I am calling on the political leaders in Northern Ireland to engage fully in a study of the proposals. The way forward cannot be imposed on Northern Ireland; it must be based on emerging and wide-ranging consensus. Achieving that consensus will not be easy but I believe that if the recommendations are studied carefully there will be those that will have widespread support.

The consultation period will run until 2 October 2009. Whatever the outcome of the consultation may be the Government will continue to support Northern Ireland on the path to reconciliation.

I have arranged for copies of the consultation paper to be placed in both Libraries of the Houses of Parliament.



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Parliament: Standards

Statement

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.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and I have today presented to Parliament the Parliamentary Standards Bill.

We are grateful for the constructive cross-party discussions that preceded the Bill’s introduction. This Bill is the first stage of legislation and covers the specific but important and urgent task of setting up an independent authority. There is likely to be subsequent legislation where this is judged necessary, not least in the light of further cross-party discussions.

The Bill will create a new independent parliamentary standards authority (IPSA) to regulate the system of allowances, set rules to deal with financial interests and put the requirement for a code of conduct for MPs on a statutory footing.

The IPSA will be independent of Parliament and will have the power to set an allowances and expenses system without requiring parliamentary approval. It will regulate and oversee Members’ expense claims and oversee the new allowance system.

The Bill will establish a commissioner for parliamentary investigations who will have the power to conduct investigations and report to the IPSA. The IPSA will be able when necessary to direct those who have received allowances they were not entitled to to repay money. In addition the IPSA will be able to direct an MP to amend his or her entries in the register of financial interests.

The IPSA will be able to recommend that the House exercises its disciplinary powers to withhold a salary for a specified period, suspend a Member from the House for a specified period or expel a Member from the House.

The IPSA also has the power to refer matters to the police. The Bill will create new criminal offences of:

knowingly providing false or misleading information in a claim for an allowance, for which the maximum sanction is up to 12 months’ custodial sentence or an unlimited fine;failing without reasonable excuse to comply with the rules on registration, for which the maximum penalty is a fine of up to £5,000; andbreaching the rules which prohibit paid advocacy, for which the maximum penalty is a fine of up to £5,000.The IPSA will work transparently and the Freedom of Information Act will apply both to the IPSA and to the commissioner for parliamentary investigations.

The IPSA will be made up of four members and a chair. Selection to the authority will be on merit and by fair and open competition. A candidate for appointment as the chair or as a member must be selected by the Speaker of the House of Commons with the agreement of the Speaker’s committee set up by the Bill

The Bill, together with Explanatory Notes, is available to Members from the Vote Office.



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Sentencing Guidelines Council

Statement

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

I have today laid before Parliament the annual report of the Sentencing Guidelines Council. The Sentencing Guidelines Council has published its annual report, jointly with the Sentencing Advisory Panel, giving details of the excellent work it has achieved during the past year and outlining its ongoing work plans in 2009.

Sport: Gambling

Statement

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

The Government are determined to ensure that everything possible is done to maintain the integrity and reputation of sport. I am therefore delighted to announce that I am bringing together a new Sports Betting Integrity Panel under the chairmanship of Rick Parry. This panel will include representatives of the betting industry; sports governing bodies; players; the Gambling Commission and the police. The panel’s main focus will be the design and implementation of an integrated strategy to uphold integrity in sports and associated betting.

The vast majority of sports betting is legal and fair, and enhances the enjoyment of sport for many fans. But betting also provides an opportunity and an incentive for corrupting sport through the use of unfair or illegal betting practices.

The Government are concerned that, although considerable progress has been made in recent years by sports governing bodies, the betting industry and the Gambling Commission, the possible threat to the integrity of sport remains an ever-present and complex problem requiring multi-agency solutions. If the UK is to maintain its reputation as a jurisdiction where fair play is the guiding principle for both sport and betting, it is vital that the risks of corruption arising from all sources are reduced as far as possible.

The sports themselves: governing bodies, clubs and players; the betting industry; and enforcement authorities, principally the Gambling Commission and the police, all play important roles. To help co-ordinate the work of those parties, and to facilitate collaboration between them, the panel will bring together key people from the principal organisations involved, under the chairmanship of Rick Parry, to look at these issues and make recommendations on how the various bodies concerned can work together more effectively.



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Within six months the panel will recommend to me a practical, effective and proportionate plan of action that has the support of those responsible for delivery.

Mr Parry is currently chief executive of Liverpool Football Club and has many years’ experience in professional sport at a senior level. I believe this experience makes him an ideal person to chair the panel and I look forward to working with him.

The members of the panel will include:

Nic Coward, chief executive, BHA;Simon Barker, director of the Professional Players Federation and ex-pro footballer;

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Ian Seabridge, asst chief constable, ACPO lead on gambling;Darren Bailey, director of governance, the FA;Mark Davies, managing director, Betfair;Chris Caisley, partner, Walker Morris Lawyers—head of Sports Law Group;Dave Boyle, chief executive, Supporters Direct;Nick Tofiluk, director of regulation, Gambling Commission;Ben Gunn CBE QPM, sporting integrity expert;Mike Smith, chairman, Tote;Mike O’Kane, trading director, Ladbrokes; andBill South, director of security, William Hill.
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