Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS107

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS107

Written Statements

Thursday 29 October 2009

Armed Forces Act 2006


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

I am pleased to announce that implementation of the Armed Forces Act 2006 will be completed and the Act will come into force on 31 October. The legislation establishes for the first time a single system of service law across the Armed Forces. It preserves the important principle of a separate service justice system, reflecting the particular circumstances of the Armed Forces, and keeps the commanding officer at the heart of service discipline. It also promotes greater fairness, which in turn supports operational effectiveness.

The new single, harmonised and modernised system of service law will apply to the personnel of all three services at all times, wherever in the world they are serving. It will also apply to some civilians, but only overseas and in specified circumstances.

When the new legislation comes into force, a number of Acts of Parliament will be repealed, including the current Service Discipline Acts (the Army Act 1955, the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957).

The Armed Forces Act 2006 was the largest and arguably the most significant piece of legislation the Ministry of Defence has ever put before Parliament. Its implementation has been a lengthy and complex process, but the new single system of service law that it has established will serve the Armed Forces well for many years to come.

Guidance on the new service justice system is provided in the Manual of Service Law, which is now available on the Armed Forces Act 2006 website at the following link: I will also arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House.

Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland: Annual Report


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

The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for all aspects of electoral administration in Northern Ireland, including the conduct of all elections and referendums, as well as electoral registration. Section 14 of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962-as amended by Section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006-provides that the Chief Electoral Officer must submit an annual

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS108

report to the Secretary of State. The annual report of the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland for the year 2008-09 has been laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library.

Discretionary Social Fund


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 Written Ministerial Statement.

The Secretary of State will be making changes to the discretionary Social Fund, with effect from 30 October 2009.

The change introduces the requirement for most customers to be interviewed at a local Jobcentre Plus office when they make a third or subsequent application for a crisis loan to cover living expenses.

During such an interview customers will be provided with a leaflet that contains details of local and national organisations that can provide money management advice. The leaflet has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament and copies are also available in the Vote Office.

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held in Luxembourg on 23 October 2009. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs (Meg Hillier), the Scottish Minister for Community Safety (Fergus Ewing), and I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. The following issues were discussed at the council.

The council began in Mixed Committee with non-EU Schengen states, receiving an update from the presidency on arrangements for the first milestone test for the second generation Schengen information system (SIS II). The UK stressed that the test should take place by the end of this year in line with the June council conclusions. The UK also stated that it was important to distinguish between a delayed and a failed test and that it would not accept a decision on the future of SIS II unless a test had failed.

Next, the presidency presented an update on the current state of play on the implementation of the regulation establishing the visa information system (VIS), where technical problems would delay the launch. The UK does not participate in that regulation.

Following Mixed Committee, the presidency invited the Commission to provide a summary of the fifth annual visa reciprocity report. While the UK does not participate in the EU visa regime, we do maintain an interest in all visa issues, notably for full reciprocity with third country nationals. The council then exchanged views on the Canadian decision to impose visas on

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS109

Czech nationals. The UK believes the Commission should continue to engage with the Canadians to broker a solution.

The council reached agreement on the draft framework decision on accreditation of forensic laboratory activities, which aims to increase mutual trust in DNA and fingerprint data exchanged between member states by requiring a minimum standard of accreditation. The presidency hoped that the framework decision would be formally adopted at the November JHA Council.

The council then reached a general approach on the proposal for a council decision to establish the European crime prevention network. This instrument will strengthen the network's ability to identify, exchange and disseminate crime prevention information and actions targeted at traditional or volume crime. Following receipt of the European Parliament's opinion on the proposal, the decision will come back to the council on 30 November for formal adoption.

Under any other business the Commission presented its review of visa facilitation in the western Balkans. The UK does not participate in the part of the Schengen acquis that covers visa liberalisation, and will not be lifting visit visa requirements for western Balkan states when the Schengen zone liberalises its own requirements. The UK remains a strong supporter of the EU enlargement process and the aspirations of west Balkan states for eventual EU membership.

Over lunch Home Affairs Ministers discussed proposals for the new European asylum office. There was a clear desire to move quickly. The UK has not yet decided which country to support to host this office.

In the afternoon, Justice Ministers adopted a council resolution on a road map for strengthening procedural rights of suspected or accused persons in criminal proceedings. The UK supported this pragmatic approach and the focus on practical measures as well as legislation. Justice Ministers also reached a general approach on a draft framework decision and an accompanying draft resolution on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings. The UK congratulated the presidency on reaching agreement on this measure which will make a real difference to the lives of citizens.

The presidency updated Justice Ministers on the progress that has been made at official level on the proposed framework decision on transfer of proceedings in criminal matters. The UK stated that its support of this measure would depend on amendments being made to the proposal, particularly provisions relating to jurisdiction.

The presidency provided an update on negotiations and sought views with the aim of resolving outstanding issues on the framework decision on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting victims. The Commission stressed the importance of going further than the Council of Europe convention and welcomed the global approach to combating trafficking. It appealed, however, for higher levels of penalties and for greater assistance for victims. The UK supported the presidency compromise and, despite the UK having very limited extraterritorial jurisdiction, said that it had taken the decision to extend jurisdiction to cover UK nationals who commit trafficking offences abroad given the seriousness of the offences involved.

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS110

The presidency welcomed the broad support for the text and concluded that formal agreement would be reached in November.

Under any other business, the Commission presented its proposal on succession and wills, stating that its ambition was to make the lives of citizens easier. The presidency noted that there would be plenty of opportunity for discussion in the future.

Global Entrepreneurship Week


The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): This year, GEW runs from 16 to 22 November. This is the UK's second GEW an initiative inspired by BIS and co-founded with the Kauffman Foundation in the USA. There will be more than 80 countries taking part in this years entertaining and stimulating week.

Highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship is crucial for the future aspirations of millions of young people and the economic future of the UK. Entrepreneurs innovate, create jobs, increase economic growth and therefore help ensure a nation's competitiveness. They spot opportunities, take risks, have ideas and make them happen.

GEW will help budding British entrepreneurs; by accessing international networks they will be able to brainstorm new ideas, enter new markets and find new resources. It will encourage the UK's young people to become entrepreneurs, through interactive events that engage those who would not otherwise have considered enterprise. And by connecting British youth with young people abroad, it should increase the level of cultural understanding in the UK.

It is not just about entrepreneurs and business start-ups, the week will also encourage organisations across the globe to celebrate and recognise the wealth of talent that is evident in every business and to encourage their employees to start thinking about ideas that have a very clear and tangible business benefit.

Last year, GEW was an enormous success and generated community interest in entrepreneurship; 644,000 people attended the 6,363 events. The single largest activity was the make your mark challenge which involved 56,000 students from schools and colleges. Around the world there were at least 25,000 events across 77 countries.

This year there are 82 countries involved as GEW gains momentum globally. We hope to make the week a success and inspire people across the world.

Health: Adult Social Care


Baroness Thornton: My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Mike O'Brien) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS111

Today I am publishing a consultation response, which is the latest stage in the development of the new system we are introducing for the regulation of health and adult social care.

The publication, Response to Consultation on the Draft Regulations for the Framework for the Registration of Health and Adult Social Care Providers sets out our response to our previous consultation on the draft regulations that will govern the new registration system1. It describes how the wording of the draft regulations we have today laid before Parliament has changed since the consultation process. It also details changes in the policy for a further set of regulations, which we intend to lay later this autumn.

The draft regulations, to be made under the powers provided for in the Health and Social Care Act 2008, set out the detail of the new registration framework to be operated by the Care Quality Commission. This, subject to approval by Parliament, will be introduced for the NHS in April 2010 and for private and voluntary healthcare and adult social care from October 2010.

Earlier this year, Parliament approved regulations made under these powers to regulate NHS providers against a requirement about cleanliness and infection control. Since 1 April this year, NHS providers have been required to register with the Care Quality Commission and comply with the requirement on cleanliness and infection control.

These draft regulations laid today set out who needs to register with the Care Quality Commission (scope of registration) and what they need to do to register and remain registered (registration requirements).

The new approach will mean that patients and people using services will have the same level of assurance of the quality and safety of their care and treatment, whether it is being provided by the NHS, local government, private or third sectors

The registration requirements are designed to address the concerns of people using health and adult social care services, covering the topics on which they want assurance. They provide clarity about the essential levels of safety and quality all providers must deliver for people who use their services, without being prescriptive about how providers run their services.

The registration system will operate alongside a wider quality improvement framework that encourages not just good care, but excellent care. The commission will have a role in contributing to ongoing quality improvement as part of the wider quality framework, particularly through its publication of comparable information in periodic reviews, and its power to conduct special reviews into areas of particular interest.

This publication will be of interest to anyone providing or working in health and adult social care, and to patients and people using services, who are interested in how the reforms are going to improve these services.

Today's publication has been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable members from the Vote Office.


1. Response to consultation on the framework for the registration of health and adult social care providers and consultation on draft regulations

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS112

Local Services (Operation by Licensed Hire Cars) Regulations 2009


The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Sadiq Khan) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Secretary of State for Transport has today laid regulations under the Local Transport Act 2008 which will allow the owners of private hire vehicles (PHVs) to use their vehicles to provide local bus services.

The regulations will come into force on 27 November 2009.

Section 53 of the 2008 Act allows the holder of a PHV licence to acquire a special public service vehicle (PSV) licence from the Traffic Commissioner and to register a local bus service using a licensed PHV.

It is likely that this new opportunity will be of particular benefit to those in rural areas where it might not be cost-effective for bus operators to run services using larger buses.

The regulations apply in England (outside London), Wales and Scotland. Transport for London is responsible for making any regulations governing PHV-buses in London.

The ability to run bus services has been available to the owners of licensed taxis since 1986.

A summary of the responses received to the consultation exercise on the draft regulations, which was launched on 17 December 2008, has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

London Underground


The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The ex-Metronet investment programme covers the upgrade, maintenance and renewal of infrastructure on the Bakerloo, Central, Victoria, Waterloo and City and the sub-surface (Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith and City) lines. It will deliver nearly 30 per cent more capacity across the network, improving journey times and reliability.

Following the administration of Metronet in July 2007, its assets and obligations were transferred to Transport for London in May 2008 as an interim measure. The former mayor and Secretary of State for Transport tasked a Joint Steering Committee consisting of Transport for London (TfL) including London Underground Limited (LUL), the Department for Transport and HM Treasury with considering a range of options for the permanent structure of the Metronet contracts, with the objective of providing a stable and safe operational framework and delivering the modernisation, upgrade and maintenance of the tube infrastructure at an affordable price that offered value for money for the taxpayer.

The mayor and I have accepted the committee's recommendations that the contracts inherited from Metronet should remain under the direct management

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS113

of LUL as the best value option under the present circumstances, with the majority of upgrades already under way. Some of these contracts have since been renegotiated to secure more favourable terms for LUL. Future contracts will be procured directly by LUL, including robust performance incentives and transferring risk where appropriate. LUL will remain responsible for all asset management decisions, but there will continue to be substantial private sector involvement through the contracts managed by LUL. A decision on the most appropriate contracting arrangement for the Bakerloo line upgrade (which has not yet started) will be taken nearer the time, reflecting lessons learnt from the earlier upgrades.

LUL is investing in its management and organisational capacity and capability in order to meet this new challenge. Organisational restructuring within LUL has also created a clearer separation of client and delivery functions, with a defined sponsor for each project.

Underpinning these new arrangements and responding to the increased size of TfL's investment programme are new scrutiny measures at Transport for London. The mayor will establish an independent advisory panel with remit extending across the entirety of the TfL investment programme, including all maintenance, renewal, upgrades and major projects across the modes, but not operations.

Members of the new panel will be appointed by the mayor from a shortlist agreed with me. The mayor and I will also agree the panel's terms of reference. The panel will report to the TfL board and the mayor as its chair. The members of the panel will have experience in a range of disciplines including engineering, finance and project management, ensuring that as a whole the panel will be able to offer expert advice, opinion and challenge on all aspects of TfL's investment programme, including the ex-Metronet works.

The panel will be able to review all aspects of project delivery including cost and programme deliverability. It will also review delivery of the investment programme at a portfolio level, including management and organisational capability and the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of delivery of the investment programme. The panel will report its findings directly to the TfL board, which will also receive a TfL management response setting out how the issues raised have been or will be dealt with. The panel will commission other reports as it or the TfL board consider appropriate. It will publish an annual report making overall conclusions on the delivery of the investment programme. Copies of all reports will be provided to me, in view of Government's significant contribution to the investment programme through the GLA transport grant which accounts for just under 40 per cent of TfL's total income.

These new arrangements build on the work of LUL during the interim period and will offer the stability and certainty LUL needs to deliver the investment programme inherited from Metronet and with it the improvements so critical to growth and prosperity in London.

These arrangements are in accordance with the existing framework of devolution of powers to the mayor, who now bears full responsibility for delivery

29 Oct 2009 : Column WS114

of the upgrade, maintenance and renewal work previously the responsibility of Metronet.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page