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The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): On 1 February, I announced the initial deployment of security scanners at Heathrow and Manchester Airports. This was part of a package of measures announced as a direct response to the attempted attack on Northwest flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. The device used on that flight had clearly been constructed with the aim of making detection by existing screening methods extremely difficult.
The safety of the travelling public is my highest priority and security scanners are a vital additional tool which give airport security staff a much better chance of detecting explosives or other potentially harmful items hidden on a passenger's body.
At the same time that I announced the initial deployment of security scanners I published an interim code of practice to reflect concerns about privacy, health and safety, equality and data protection and announced our intention to consult on it.
Today we are in a position to begin that consultation. This provides an opportunity to influence the final code of practice. We will consider all representations carefully, and this consultation will run until 21 June 2010.
We will inform stakeholders that the consultation paper has been published today. Copies of the consultation paper are available on the Department for Transport's website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
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.
Further to my Statements to the House on 22 and 25 March, I am pleased to announce the next steps on a number of projects that will deliver vital equipment and support, particularly to the Royal Air Force (RAF), and will help sustain the aerospace and weapons sectors of the UK's defence industry. These announcements build on the package of adjustments to the defence programme I announced to the House on 15 December 2009 and the emerging thinking on defence as set out in the Green Paper that leads in to the Strategic Defence Review (SDR).
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has entered into an interim partnering agreement with MBDA (UK) Ltd to take forward the Government's strategy for the UK's complex weapons sector as originally set out in the Defence Industrial Strategy. The agreement builds on the successful team complex weapons assessment
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This partnered approach is designed to meet the Armed Forces' requirements through a modular family of weapons, with the agreement providing greater overall flexibility to meet evolving requirements, permitting shorter development times, and achieving significant efficiencies through life. It will also ensure the UK has continued access to industrial skills and capabilities that are critical for the ongoing provision of cutting edge complex weapons for our Armed Forces. The agreement represents a further significant investment in the United Kingdom's high technology industry and its wider supply chain, and helps to sustain the UK's key complex weapons skills base.
I am also pleased to announce that this week we will sign a £120 million contract with BAE Systems for the in-service support of the Hawk T Mk2 (the advanced jet trainer), which will provide a modern fast jet training capability for the RAF. This contracted logistic support arrangement will see BAE Systems responsible not only for the number of aircraft made available for training flights but also for ensuring that the aircraft are able to carry out the training mission effectively, and covers all aspects of support including on-base maintenance, fleet management, spares management and re-provisioning, repair and all other ancillary activities needed to provide the required aircraft availability out to 31 March 2014. This contract is sufficiently flexible to continue to deliver value for money for defence should the Strategic Defence Review identify changes in the fast jet training requirement. Altogether the contract will sustain over a 100 jobs at BAE Systems and its subcontractors, Babcock Defence Division and Rolls Royce (all at RAF Valley in Anglesey).
We are making excellent progress towards delivery of the 22 new Chinook I announced in December. The decision to buy more Chinook is a reflection of operational experience over the past 20 years, especially more recently in Afghanistan where the aircraft has proven its value to commanders time and again. I am pleased to inform the House that a contract was signed with Boeing on 23 March, just three months after my announcement, for initial design and long lead manufacture work, which will protect the critical path to delivery of the first 10 aircraft in 2012 and 2013. This demonstrates our commitment to delivering more capability to the front line as quickly as possible.
It has been well publicised that the A400M transport aircraft, which will provide airlift support to operations, is proving to be a challenging programme, principally due to the technical complexity of this next generation military transport aircraft. Since 2008, MoD officials
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It was very clear from negotiations that the programme would only remain viable with further investment from the partner nations. The UK contribution to this further investment will be achieved by reducing the number of aircraft to be delivered to the RAF so that we remain within our existing cost envelope. We expect that the cost increases, which for the UK represents a maximum reduction of three aircraft from the originally contracted number of 25, may be recovered in the long term through a levy on foreign export sales of the A400M.
I acknowledge that there have been significant programme delays, reflecting the complex technical challenges of this international project, and we may not receive the number of aircraft for which we originally contracted. Nevertheless, we will deliver the capability required and are greatly encouraged that a prototype A400M aircraft has now flown, with flight trials continuing. This, coupled with recent changes in governance structures that have led to greater transparency, means that the MoD has grounds for greater confidence in the A400M programme. The proposed way forward has been subject to rigorous internal scrutiny, and I am satisfied that the proposed heads of terms agreement is underpinned by a sound evidential base.
As a result, I am confident that the A400M will remain value for money for the taxpayer, and will still deliver an outstanding capability for the RAF. The A400M programme will also sustain up to 8,000 British jobs, including cutting-edge wing design work.
As a result of the measures I announced to the House in December, and despite the delay to the A400M programme, we expect to be able to meet the airlift requirements for current operations after the C130K goes out of service in 2012. We are bolstering our strategic lift capability by the procurement of a seventh C-17, which will enter service with the RAF in March 2011. We are also maximising tactical airlift capability by investing in a package of enhancement measures to maximise the use of the existing fleet of 24 Hercules C-130J. The completion of a second runway at Bastion, Helmand, in 2010 will also allow us to reduce tactical airlift tasking in theatre. Through these investments, the department believes it can sustain anticipated intra-theatre airlift tasking on current operations until A400M comes into service.
Finally, on 30 November 2009, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support announced the beginning of formal trade unions' consultation on the future of Defence Support Group's (DSG) Large Aircraft Business Unit (LABU) at St Athan, South Wales, designed to achieve closure of the facility by June 2013 at the latest.
Once depth maintenance on the VC10 ends in 2013 there will be no requirement to maintain RAF aircraft at St Athan. The management of the DSG, the Government and the Government of Wales have explored exhaustively the prospects for replacing the contract with other work but no such opportunity has been identified. Therefore, our priority is to ensure that the redundancy and retraining schemes available to the workforce fully reflect our appreciation of the loyal, reliable and very skilled work that employees of St Athan have delivered for the benefit of the RAF and the country.
We have written to the trade unions concluding the consultation process and setting out the redundancy terms that will give the workforce the opportunity to apply for redundancy on the current conditions available for compulsory redundancy.
MoD will continue to work with other government departments and agencies to explore future job opportunities for DSG employees who will be affected by the drawdown and closure of the facility. The option of retraining and transferring LABU personnel to other DSG sites will be maximised where this meets business needs and individuals' preferences. And DSG will work closely with external training providers and agencies such as Careers Wales, JobCentrePlus and other advisory organisations to explore alternative training and job opportunities for any employees wanting to retrain for an alternative career.
I pay tribute to the outstanding service of DSG St Athan personnel, both past and present, in supporting the UK Armed Forces with the vital equipment needed on critical operations both at home and overseas.
The series of announcements I have made underline this Government's commitment to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment and support they need. The decisions we have taken will introduce new and enhanced capability that is required now and in the coming years, and support, not-prejudge future decisions in the forthcoming SDR.
The credit guarantee scheme (CGS) was introduced as part of a package of measures to support the stability of the banking system and to protect savers and depositors. The scheme makes available, to eligible institutions, a government guarantee of new short and medium-term debt issuance of up to three years' maturity.
As announced at the Pre-Budget Report in 2009, the CGS closed for new issuance on 28 February 2010. In consequence, the maximum amount currently outstanding represents the maximum contingent liability under scheme rules. On 24 March 2010 issuance stood at £125 billion. HM Treasury is therefore notifying a revision to the contingent liability to the maximum currently outstanding to reflect this and in addition is publishing a short report providing details of scheme use on 29 March 2010 on the Debt Management Office's website.
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) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am today writing to Professor Tanya Byron in response to her review of the progress made on improving children's digital safety since the publication of her 2008 review, Safer Children in a Digital World.
The pace of technological change since Professor Byron's 2008 review has been rapid. In recognition of this in December 2009 I asked Professor Byron to review progress in keeping children safe when using new technology and report to Government by the end of March. I am grateful to Professor Byron for the inclusive, consultative approach which she has taken-including meeting with honourable Members-and for her thoughtful analysis and conclusions which are, as ever, balanced, insightful and informed throughout by the voices and interests of children, young people and families.
Professor Byron's report celebrates the world-leading precedent which has been set by the establishment of a UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and the important advances that have been made, particularly around raising public awareness of how to keep children safe online and teaching children how to stay safe through improved digital safety education. As we move forward, Professor Byron is clear that the priority must be to deliver, without delay, what was set out in the UKCCIS strategy last December. She also makes recommendations on how we should respond to the developments that have taken place since the her 2008 review alongside a set of helpful recommendations to improve the workings of UKCCIS.
I welcome Professor Byron's report and, because UKCCIS was founded on the principle of shared responsibility, I agree with her recommendation that the UKCCIS Executive Board should decide on the best way to address her recommendations. The Home Secretary and I are therefore writing today to the UKCCIS Executive Board asking it to consider the report and agree a response covering all of the recommendations by 31 July 2010.
I have placed copies of Professor Byron's report, my letter responding to her and the letter to the UKCCIS Executive Board in the Libraries of both Houses. They are also available online at www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview.
Delegations/authorisations are made subject to the condition that recipients comply with the provisions of the Civil Service Management Code as amended from time to time. Copies of the Civil Service Management Code are available in the Library of the House and electronically at http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/resources/csmc/index.aspx.
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 (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and I wish to inform the House that plans will be published on Wednesday 31 March by all major government departments to show how they are taking forward action on climate change.
The Carbon Reduction Delivery and Adaptation Plans set out how government departments will work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their own estates and operations, and in the sectors that they can influence. They also show how departments will cope with the impacts of climate change that we expect to face, including by improving awareness, capacity and skills within Government to respond effectively to a changing climate.
These documents are being published alongside a single overview Climate Change: Taking Action-Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and Preparing for a Changing Climate. This provides a view of progress across government and identifies some of the main climate challenges that departments are working together to address-through delivery of their departmental carbon budgets and adapting to a changing climate in their planning and decision making.
The Department for Transport has today published a response to the public consultation which closed 5 February 2010. It outlines our proposals for implementing the third EU directive on driving licences (directive 2006/126/EC), adopted in December 2006.
Most features of the directive must be transposed into national law by mid-January 2011 and come into practical effect by mid-January 2013. Implementing regulations will be laid before Parliament in order to transpose the directive into law in Great Britain by the due date of January 2011. Separate arrangements apply in Northern Ireland, where driver licensing is a devolved matter.
After carefully considering views expressed by respondents, we intend to maintain the approach of making as little change to our current arrangements as is consistent with the directive and, where change is unavoidable, making it at least cost. Changes include:a new European moped category AM which will include light quadricycles and tricycles. The minimum age for this category remains unchanged from current requirements at 16 years; the introduction required under the directive of a new motorbike category A2, providing in the future categories A1, A2 and A; progress through these categories will be achieved by passing a test; direct access to a category, by passing a test, will also be possible. Direct access to new category A2 will be 19 years. Direct access for category A will rise from the current 21 to 24 years; special provisions for moped and motorcycle riders with a physical disability;the need for new car drivers to pass a test to tow a medium sized trailer;new conditions of approval for organisations with non-DSA driving examiners; abolition of the separate category B1 (quadricycles) driving entitlements for new drivers; andfive-year driving licence administrative validity periods for drivers of lorries and buses.
We have decided not to introduce a training route to progressing through the motorcycle categories or, for car drivers, to towing a medium sized trailer. Although a training route was supported by many respondents some did not consider that in the current economic downturn the proposals were financially viable. This is also our assessment.
Many respondents opposed our proposals that riders should first take a familiarisation course on a more powerful category of motorcycle before being able to ride that category with a provisional licence before taking their test. They argued instead that riders wishing to ride category A2 or A motorcycles who have not yet qualified for a full licence for the larger category should be accompanied by an authorised trainer (AT) when riding on the roads. We agree with this argument and have amended our proposals accordingly.
Copies of the response report are available on the DfT website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
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.
Today, I am publishing Building Bridges to Work: New Approaches to Tackling Long-term Worklessness, which sets out the next steps of welfare reform and will ensure no one is left to a life on benefits.
Historically too many people who were out of work were written off. In the 1980s and early 1990s long-term worklessness soared. We have had to deal with that legacy. Since 1997 worklessness has fallen, the number of people on working age inactive benefits has fallen by 300,000 and the action we have taken has prevented a big increase in inactivity during this recession.
Today we are going further. In Building Bridges to Work: New Approaches to Tackling Long-term Worklessness we set how we will support the long-term workless back into work, and support disabled people and those with health conditions who are at risk of long term unemployment and worklessness to make sure no one gets left behind in the recovery. We will do this by introducing more individualised help alongside stronger personalised conditions, including extra support for people who are newly assessed as fit for work but may have spent a number of years on an incapacity benefit.
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