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Armed Forces: Human Rights Act


The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

This important case arose from the tragic death of Private Jason Smith from heatstroke in Iraq in 2003 and was brought by Private Smith's mother. The Court of Appeal gave its judgment for the respondent on 18 May this year, whilst granting the Secretary of State permission to appeal to the House of Lords.

There is no longer any dispute over the question which initiated the case. The MoD has previously accepted that there are limited circumstances when Armed Forces personnel come within the UK's jurisdiction for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights when they are deployed overseas. These include the circumstances of Private Jason Smith's death, where Private Smith was at all times within a British Army camp and British Army hospital and no third party nationals were involved in his death. It has already been agreed that a new inquest should be held into the cause of Private Smith's death which will be fully compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Jason Smith's death remains the source of great regret, and the MoD will continue to offer its whole-hearted support to the coronial process, and every possible sympathy and attention to Mrs Smith.

But the case as it has developed has raised issues of potentially very wide legal significance. These concern the extent to which actions under the Human Rights Act 1998 (which gave further effect to rights drawn from the European Convention on Human Rights) can be brought in cases involving military personnel deployed on operations outside the United Kingdom. Given the importance of the issues raised by the Court of Appeal's judgment to how we plan and conduct military operations and to the men and women of the Armed Forces, I have decided that the right course would be to appeal to the House of Lords in order to obtain as much clarity as possible on the legal framework applying to operations overseas. As at all stages of the case, the Government will bear the costs of both sides in the litigation, whatever the outcome.

Armed Forces: Low Flying


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

The amount of low flying training carried out in the UK low flying system (UKLFS) during the training year 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 was the minimum required for aircrew to reach and maintain their ability to fly at low level. The number of low flying training hours conducted was 51,888 hours, a reduction of 1,263 hours on the previous training year. This level of

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activity has been relatively constant over the past three years. The amount of operational low flying (between 250 feet and 100 feet) by fixed wing aircraft has further reduced by 34 per cent from the previous training year, and there has now been a reduction of 64 per cent over the past three years.

I have today placed in the Library of the House a report giving a detailed account of the low flying training that has taken place in the UK low flying system for the training year 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009.

This year some changes have been made to the way in which the information in the report is presented; the most significant of these is that the data on the amount of low flying for dedicated user areas, principally used for helicopter training, is now being presented on the same basis as that for the rest of the low flying system.

Additional copies of The Pattern of Military Low Flying Across the UK 2008-2009 are available on request from the following address: Air Staff, Complaints and Enquiries Unit, Ministry of Defence, Level 5 Zone H, Main Building, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2HB.

Alternatively it can be viewed on the MoD's website at aviation/lowflying.

Banking: Social Investment Wholesale Bank


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 Office of the Third Sector has today published a Social Investment Wholesale Bank consultation which sets out the vision, the economic case and consults on proposals for the design and functions of a potential bank. This consultation was announced in Budget 2009 and will inform substantive proposals to be developed by the Office of the Third Sector.

The Government recognise the important role played by the third sector including social enterprises-as sustainable businesses with a social or environmental mission they contribute significantly to stronger local economies and a fairer society. Yet access to appropriate funding and finance is often the biggest concern facing organisations driven by social or environmental purpose. A social investment wholesale bank could enable third sector organisations to access the finance they need to grow and become more sustainable.

More broadly, the bank could help increase investment in society, the environment and the economy at the same time, delivering against a 'triple bottom line' of more effective interaction between greater economic growth, social cohesion and sustainable development.

The Social Investment Wholesale Bank consultation document can be downloaded from the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) website at http://www.cabinetoffice. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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Economy: Low-carbon


The First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council (Lord Mandelson): My right honourable friend the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills (Pat McFadden) has made the following Statement.

My department, together with the Department for Energy and Climate Change, is today publishing the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy.

In parallel to this document, the Government are also publishing the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, the UK Renewable Energy Strategy and the Carbon Reduction Strategy for Transport.

Together these set out the policies which will help drive the transition to decarbonising our economy, and reflect how departments across government are working together to deliver the transition to a low carbon future.

The core objective of the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy is to ensure that British businesses and workers are equipped to maximise the economic opportunities and minimise the costs of the transition to a low carbon economy.

Building on the framework for supporting British business set out in Building Britain's Future: New Industry, New Jobs, its ambition is to ensure that the transition to low carbon is a source of quality jobs and business savings in Britain: from our rapidly developing civil nuclear industry and renewable energy sector, to energy saving in our smallest SMEs.

British firms will benefit from the low carbon transition both by catering to growing British and global markets for low carbon goods and services, and also by using energy and other resources more efficiently to reduce costs.

At the heart of the strategy are three basic principles for a positive environment for low carbon business:

first, a long-term strategic approach from government -like the clear commitment we have made to nuclear and renewable energy, which will allow businesses to invest in greater confidence; secondly, a pragmatic recognition that intervention from government may be required in some areas to accelerate and enable the transition to low carbon-in the case of the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy this means support for the research and development that will produce new low carbon technologies; finally, a recognition that government have a responsibility to ensure that British-based companies and people are equipped to compete for the new demand created by government climate change policies. This has implications for our skills policy, and the way we support the development of supply chains in this country, both issues addressed in this strategy.

The strategy identifies a range of low carbon sectors in which the Government believe that the UK has potential for job creation and business savings. Where barriers to market or other obstacles are blocking the development of Britain's full potential in these areas, it sets out the Government's strategy for removing them.

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This includes the first investments from the £405 million for low carbon industries and advanced green manufacturing announced at Budget 2009. Key announcements include:

up to £120 million to support the development of a British-based offshore wind industry;up to £60 million to capitalise on Britain's wave and tidal sector strengths, including investment in Wave Hub-the development of a significant demonstration and testing facility off the Cornish coast-and other funding to make the South West Britain's first low carbon economic area;the Government will provide capital investment in order to establish a nuclear advanced manufacturing research centre consisting of a consortium of manufacturers from the UK nuclear supply chain and universities;up to £10 million for the accelerated deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure; anda £4 million expansion of the Manufacturing Advisory Service, to provide more specialist advice to manufacturers on competing for low carbon opportunities, including support for suppliers for the civil nuclear industry.

The strategy recognises that we need to build on local and regional strengths in order to make the most of the future economic benefits for Britain. For this reason, the strategy introduces the concept of low carbon economic areas, and announces the development of the first of these, located in the South West of England, focusing on the development of marine energy demonstration, servicing and manufacture.

It also announces the creation of the cross-Whitehall Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to create a single body charged solely with making a success of the Government's strategy for low emission vehicles.

Finally, the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy recognises that this transition raises significant challenges for our industrial workforce and their families. As with previous structural changes to the economy, the move to a low carbon economy will affect each business, worker and family differently. Previous economic structural shifts have had huge social impacts, with some workers and communities being left behind as industries are restructured by change. The Government are committed to doing all it can to ensure this is a just transition.

For this reason, the Government will create a forum for considering these issues and advising government. The new Forum for a Just Transition will include representatives from central government, national, local and regional bodies, trade unions, business organisations, and third sector bodies.

I am placing a copy of the strategy in the Libraries of both Houses.

Fire and Rescue Service: FiReControl


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Shahid Malik) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

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I would like to inform the House about progress on the FiReControl project-part of our major programme of work to ensure that the Fire and Rescue Service is fully equipped to meet the challenges and demands of the modern world.

Recent events, in both Camberwell and Edinburgh, have reinforced the very real significance of doing all that we can to ensure the safety of the public and firefighters. FiReControl will provide the public and firefighters with very substantial safety benefits by establishing, for the first time, a linked national network of nine regional fire control centres across England. These will replace the current 46 stand-alone control rooms, operated in each Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) area.

On a day-to-day basis, the new system will improve firefighter safety, the management of incidents and both the efficiency and responsiveness of the service. Firefighters will have access to safety information and incident details through mobile data terminals, and satellite navigation and automatic tracking of fire appliances will enable more efficient use of resources. Emergency calls from the public will be automatically located and managed using spatial data right down to property-level. Control rooms will share calls across the network to manage even the highest call volumes and thereby be more resilient in emergencies. The new network will also improve the country's ability to respond to terrorism, large-scale industrial accidents and natural disasters such as flooding.

FiReControl is a complex and demanding project that involves significant change to operating practices in the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) as well as the development and installation of a major new national IT system. In November 2008 my predecessor informed the House that the project was being rescheduled due to slower than expected progress with development of the new IT, and that we would continue to monitor progress carefully as there could only be certainty on final timings once we had made progress through the earlier stages.

Good progress is being made on the building of the nine regional centres and the setting up of the local authority controlled companies that will manage the centres. The delivery and installation of equipment in local fire stations is also on track. However, in recent months it has become clear that technical problems with developing the IT system in a way which will meet all our and FRS requirements mean that further time is needed to complete the project.

I am proposing therefore to extend the delivery schedule by 10 months. This means that the first FRSs will switch over to the regional control centres in spring 2011 and the last will switch over by the end of 2012. We have discussed this in detail with the representatives of FRSs and local government, and we believe that this is a realistic timetable. Key Olympic authorities will switch over in time to prepare for the Games, and the network will provide robust fall-back arrangements for all FRSs over the Olympic period. I am today publishing a full revised schedule for switch over of all FRSs in all regions and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

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To ensure consistent progress on this revised timescale, we have agreed with EADS, our main supplier, and with key stakeholders, a new approach to delivery to give greater assurance on short-term milestones and closer engagement with FRSs.

We remain committed to meeting all the upfront costs associated with the project and to the principle that no FRA will bear any additional cost as a result of FiReControl implementation. Once the new network is established, many FRAs are expected to make savings. These can be reinvested in local priorities and frontline services. We will be updating the cost figures contained in the FiReControl business case in due course to reflect today's rescheduling.

FiReControl continues to form an important part of the Fire and Resilience Programme, which has already delivered very substantial benefits for the FRS. The New Dimensions Project has given the FRS new vehicles, equipment, and training to respond to terrorism and natural disasters. The Firelink Project is delivering new digital communications technology, which is giving the FRS access to a world-class communications system. FiReControl will build on this successful delivery.

Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations


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.

I have today laid before Parliament the Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations 2009.

Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian Regulations 2007 (2007 Regulations), set out the prescribed instruments that must be used to create a lasting power of attorney (LPA) for property and affairs or for personal welfare.

A consultation Reviewing the Mental Capacity Act 2005: forms, supervision and fees ran from 23 October 2008 until 15 January 2009. The consultation included draft LPA forms and invited comments on the revisions.

The forms underwent further revision to take on board comments received through consultation and further user testing has been undertaken with stakeholders and members of the public who had no prior knowledge of the forms.

The amendments to the 2007 regulations replace existing prescribed forms for instruments intended to create a property and affairs LPA or a personal welfare LPA with new prescribed forms. The titles of the new forms detour slightly from the terms used in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and are purely for presentational purposes. Property and affairs becomes property and financial affairs whilst personal welfare becomes health and welfare. Respondents to the consultation were in favour of the changes as they felt that they are a better description of the two types of LPAs.

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It is intended that the new prescribed forms will be in place from 1 October 2009.

The Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations 2009 provide transitional arrangements for the use of the prescribed forms in the 2007 regulations provided the form is executed before 1 April 2011.

The Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations 2009 also make two minor changes to the 2007 regulations to correct errors.

Life Assurance: Taxation


The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Sarah McCarthy-Fry) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Life assurance companies are in general taxed on profits as they are recognised and made available to shareholders. The tax system recognises that, for with-profits business, profits on income and gains sometimes have to be held back to achieve the smoothing of returns that is an integral part of the business. This treatment can also apply where a company writes business in a non-profit fund.

When profits are held back in this way there is an Exchequer cost, but this is largely a matter of timing, in that tax should be paid when the deferred profits are recognised and made available to shareholders.

Recently however HMRC has seen an example of manipulation of this tax treatment in relation to a non-profit fund. The manipulation is to change the mix of the non-profit business for tax purposes so that when the previously unrecognised profits of the non-profit fund are recognised they escape tax altogether. Many hundreds of millions of pounds of tax have been avoided in this way.

The Government will introduce legislation to prevent such manipulation in future. Companies will not be able to change the mix of business in their non-profit funds in order to reduce the incidence of tax on their profits that have not yet been recognised. The Government also propose that in the future profits of non-profit business will be taxed as they arise.

In order to ensure the new legislation is appropriately targeted HMRC will consult with the life assurance industry. The precise nature of the new legislation will emerge from that consultation, but the intention is that the potential tax due on unrecognised profits in a non-profit fund will be determined by reference to the appropriate mix of business in 2009. The tax will become due and will be collected as and when profits are recognised and made available to shareholders. After 2009, profits of non-profit business will be taxed as they arise.

The objective of the consultation is to allow the new legislation to be properly targeted. If companies attempt to manipulate their business mix in advance of the new legislation being finalised, for the purposes of avoiding tax, the Government will consider whether it is necessary to introduce retrospective legislation to remove the benefit of that manipulation.

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