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While developing the policy proposals now contained in the Local Transport Act 2008, the Government signalled their intention to review the current list of designated bodies. The Department for Transport will
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Revised operational guidance to police forces on the issue of penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) for retail theft and criminal damage has been published today. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Under the PND Scheme, established under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (Sections 1 to 11), the police can issue fixed penalty notices of £80 for minor retail theft, criminal damage and cannabis possession. Recipients have 21 days in which either to pay the penalty or elect to have their case heard in court. If no action is taken a fine of one and a half times the penalty amount is registered against the offender by the magistrates' court.
Under Section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, the Secretary of State has the power to issue guidance to the police on the issuing of penalty notices. The latest version of the guidance was issued in March 2005. In view of concerns raised over the inappropriate use of PNDs, we have now issued strengthened revised guidance on retail theft. This restricts use of the disposal to first-time offenders who are not substance misusers where the value of goods stolen is less than £100 or where damage caused is less than £300. The definition of retail theft has also been tightened to ensure that the disposal can be considered only for cases of shoplifting where normally the goods recovered are fit for resale.
I am very grateful to those honourable Members who have made representations to me about this issue, especially the honourable Member for the Vale of York (Mrs Anne McIntosh).
Lord Brett: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Douglas Alexander) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today published, and laid before Parliament, the Department for International Development annual report and resource accounts for 2008-09 (HC 867-I and HC 867-II).
The report sets out the good progress we have made this year in meeting our aim of alleviating poverty in the poorer countries of the world. It provides the first
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today laid in the House the 2008-09 annual reports and accounts for the Rent Service (HC652) and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (HC841). The annual reports and accounts for Jobcentre Plus, the Pension, Disability and Carers Service, and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission's separate report on its Client Fund Account will be laid as soon as possible.
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 for Work and Pensions (Helen Goodman) has made the following Statement.
I am pleased to announce publication of the annual report by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Social Fund 2008-09 and the Social Fund Commissioner's annual report 2008-09.
The Secretary of State's annual report on the Social Fund for 2008-09 (Cm 7677) has been laid before Parliament and will be published later today. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.
The report records that total gross expenditure in 2008-09, excluding winter fuel payments, was over £1.1 billion. This included over 252,000 non-repayable community care grants and over 3 million interest-free loans together worth over £761 million, Funeral and cold weather payments totalling over £258 million and almost 263,000 Sure Start maternity grants worth almost £133 million. In addition, an estimated 9 million households benefited from a winter fuel payment at an estimated cost of around £2.7 billion.
The Social Fund Commissioner's report will be published later today and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): I have today published the department's annual report and resource accounts for 2008-09 (HC 454). Copies have been laid before Parliament and placed in the House Libraries.
The report sets out the department's activities and achievements over the past year. It also describes the department's future expenditure plans for the period of the spending review 2007-10.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Alistair Darling) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 7 July 2009. The following items were discussed:
Presentation of the presidency work programme
The council took note of the presentation by the Swedish presidency of the ECOFIN work programme for the second half of 2009.
Follow up to the 18 and 19 June European Council
Financial supervisory framework
The council took stock of the presidency's strategy for taking forward work on European financial supervision and regulation following the agreement reached at the June ECOFIN and European Council. The UK is supportive of the timetable presented, with legislative proposals expected on 23 September, and will engage fully in the upcoming negotiations to ensure that the legislation is in line with the agreement reached by leaders at the European Council, and in particular that any new powers granted to existing or proposed bodies would not impinge in any way on member states' fiscal responsibilities.
Ministers also took note of conclusions agreed by Heads at the June European Council on the financing of climate change. The presidency expects an agreement to be reached on a negotiating mandate at a meeting of the European Council in October, when ECOFIN will also revisit this issue. The Government believe that work should continue to ensure the EU reaches agreement on the key issues in advance of the Copenhagen conference in December.
Preparation for the G20 meetings
The UK updated the council on the outcome of a G20 deputies meeting on 27 and 28 June. The presidency informed Ministers of its intentions of the handling of the preparation for further G20 meetings in September, including London meetings of G20 deputies on 3 and 4 September and G20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors on 4 and 5 September. There will be a lunch of EU Finance Ministers to prepare for these on
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Following a report by the Economic and Financial Committee, ECOFIN adopted council conclusions on pro-cyclical effects on financial markets. The conclusions assess work under way to reduce possible pro-cyclical effects of financial regulation, including on the issue of impaired assets. The UK is content with the conclusions, which represent a positive step forward on this issue, and looks forward to further discussion of the issue in the autumn.
Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact
Adoption of legal acts in the excessive deficit procedure
ECOFIN adopted council decisions for Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania, formally entering these countries into the excessive deficit procedure, and issued recommendations on corrective action to be taken. It also issued a revised recommendation to Hungary on measures to be taken in order to correct its excessive deficit.
Adoption of council opinions on updated stability and convergence programmes
The council adopted opinions on the updated stability and convergence programmes of Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Belgium and Romania.
Medium-Term Budgetary Objectives (MTOs) and Implicit Liabilities
The council took note of issues raised by the Slovenian Minister regarding the methodology to be used by member states from this autumn when they set medium-term objectives for their national budgets.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ian Pearson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 10 July 2009, I represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).
The council conducted its first reading of the EC Budget for 2010, and agreed a draft budget that was supported by all member states.
The council meeting was followed by a conciliation meeting between the council and the European Parliament to discuss the EC Budget for 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): The informal meeting of
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The theme of this informal meeting was labour market inclusion looking ahead to post-2010. The informal looked at maintaining employment and promoting mobility, upgrading skills and matching with labour market needs and increasing access to employment. Working time was also discussed over a Ministers-only lunch which I attended.
In the opening session, member states agreed on the importance of active social security and labour market policies. They stressed the importance of ensuring help for those moving between jobs and those already outside the labour market. While the crisis tested member states' resolve to conduct further reforms, now was the time to prepare Europe for the economy of the future.
Following on from the opening session, the meeting was split into three workshops, each devoted to a specific challenge: workshop 1-managing the impact of the financial crisis by increasing access to employment, workshop 2-facilitating access to employment by efficient reforms in the labour market and workshop 3 -increasing employment through an active social security policy. I participated in workshop 3 to present the UK approach to the reform of incapacity benefit and said that reform was ongoing. Other member states warned against repeating the mistakes of the past that caused long-term structural damage to economies.
The presidency concluded that it saw these discussions as feeding into its work on the post-2010 Strategy. The Commission concurred. While the current Lisbon strategy remained the right framework for action, its forthcoming revision would need to take better account of the social dimension. The Commission would set out initial views in its forthcoming consultation document.
The meeting concluded with a private Ministers-only lunch discussion on the working time directive. Following the failure of negotiations on the directive, some member states insisted that any new proposal would need to deal with the opt-out. The UK along with Germany, Poland and others disagreed. A few member states urged caution and saw no point in proceeding if failure was clear from the outset. The Commission underlined the need to respect European Union law. Preliminary discussions would be needed with the European Parliament before deciding how to proceed. The presidency concluded that the majority of member states use the opt-out but that a way forward would need to be found.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Michael Wills) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today laid before each House a revised copy of the Lord Chancellor's code of practice on the management of records, issued under Section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I have also
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These publications support the Government's plans to increase the accessibility of public information and promote the culture of openness and transparency in public life. On 10 June the Prime Minister committed to a reduction of the 30-year rule to 20 years in response to the 30-year rule review. The Government are considering carefully the practical details of implementing a new rule and aim to publish their full response in late summer.
Responses to the consultation entitled The Freedom of Information Act 2000: TheDesignation of Additional Public Authorities show considerable support for the principle of extending the coverage of the Act to additional organisations through a series of Section 5 orders.
The response proposes an initial, focused Section 5 order to be accompanied by action outside the Act to promote proactive publication (by voluntary adoption of the ICO's model publication scheme) and openness (by reminding public authorities and contractors of the existing guidance on access to information, which should inform contracting practices and responses to requests for information). The current list of persons proposed for inclusion in this first Section 5 order are:Academy schools;Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO);Financial Ombudsman Service; andUCAS.
These bodies will be consulted directly, and the Government aim to bring forward a Section 5 order early in the 2009-10 Session. The response also makes clear the Government's intention to engage with Network Rail and utility companies to consider whether Section 5 or primary legislation might be appropriate means of including those bodies within the FOIA regime too.
FOI depends on good records and information management. This is recognised in the FOI Act by provision at Section 46 for guidance to be issued in the form of a code of practice. The first code of practice was issued in November 2002, nearly seven years ago. Much has changed since then, not least the increased use of information technology to create, store, share and publish records and other information. These changes have made it necessary to update the guidance and today the Lord Chancellor is issuing a revised code of practice.
As well as addressing some of the challenges of digital records management, the revised code takes account of new ways of collaborative working. It also emphasises the business benefits of good records and information management and its relevance to data protection and other information legislation, as well as to freedom of information.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): I am publishing today details of the number of, and cost to departments of the provision of, allocated cars and drivers by the Government Car and Despatch Agency to Ministers during 2008-09.
|Department||No of Cars||Contracted Cost||Notes|
Leader of the House of Commons, the Government's Equalities Office and the Leader of the House of Lords
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