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Written Statements

Wednesday 2 December 2009



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 will be held in Brussels on 2 December 2009. The following items are on the agenda:

Legislative deliberations

Regulations establishing three European supervisory authorities

Ministers will discuss regulations establishing three European supervisory authorities (ESAs): a European banking authority, a European insurance and occupational pensions authority and a European securities and markets authority. At the June European Council the UK supported the establishment of a European systemic risk board (ESRB) and the three new ESAs. The Government will now be looking to ensure those agreements are upheld.


VAT: Draft directive on reverse charge on emission allowances and certain goods-the council will seek a general approach on a draft VAT directive regarding an optional and temporary application of the reverse charge mechanism in relation to supplies of certain goods and services susceptible to fraud. The presidency has tabled a compromise proposal which includes emissions allowances, mobile phones and computer chips and extends the application until June 2015. The Government support the draft proposal.

VAT treatment of postal services-following its removal from the November ECOFIN agenda, the council will be asked to provide political guidelines on the possible way forward for VAT on postal services.

Savings tax directive-ECOFIN will be asked to reach political agreement on proposed amendments to the savings tax directive, which is the main EU instrument for tackling cross-border tax evasion on savings income, by automatic exchange of information. The proposal closes loopholes in the directive and extends its scope to cover income substantially equivalent to savings interest, such as income from life insurance products and low-risk securities. This and the following items have strong links to the international transparency agenda, including work by the G20 on tax havens and non-co-operative jurisdictions, which has been led by the UK under its G20 presidency in 2009.

Recovery directive-the recovery directive is aimed at improving existing procedures for recovery of direct and indirect tax debts, including on income tax, VAT, excise duties and EU agricultural levies. The Government support the extended provisions, which will reduce the opportunities for businesses and individuals to escape paying tax which is legally due in one member state, by moving to another member state.

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Administrative co-operation directive-after discussions in November, ECOFIN will try to agree a general approach on this directive. The directive improves exchange of information and brings the EU into line with OECD standards by removing the right to refuse information on grounds of bank secrecy. The Government support these goals.

Non-legislative activities


Anti-fraud agreements with third countries

The council will reopen ECOFIN discussions on the draft anti-fraud agreement with Liechtenstein, and a negotiating mandate for anti-fraud agreements with Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland and San Marino. The proposed agreements provide for exchange of information to international standards in administrative and criminal matters in the tax field and related areas.

Implementation of the stability and growth pact

Following preparation by the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), ECOFIN will sign off decisions and recommendations for the revised excessive deficit procedures of the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Greece. The recommendations are in line with recent agreements in ECOFIN and the European Council on the EU's framework for fiscal exit strategies.

Preparations for the 10 and 11 December European Council

Financial supervision-The presidency will indicate how the December European Council will be informed on progress, taking into account the results of the council deliberations on the micro- and macro-supervisory elements of the package.

Contribution from ECOFIN to the discussion on the post-2010 Lisbon agenda-Ministers will agree a set of conclusions on the direction of a successor to the Lisbon strategy. The Government support the conclusions, which help build momentum towards the December European Council, where EU heads will discuss a set of principles for a new European strategy for jobs and growth.

Exit strategies-Following on from discussions in November, Ministers will be asked to agree a set of conclusions on financial exit strategies. The UK is content with the conclusions as they stand, which recognise that it is important to start designing the strategy for a transparent and co-ordinated phasing out of the different support schemes, but emphasise that it would be premature to initiate an exit from the support schemes whilst markets are still fragile.

Financial stability arrangements

ECOFIN will discuss and agree conclusions on financial stability, focusing on improvements in cross-border crisis management in the banking sector. The Government are content with the conclusions, which recognise the value of co-ordination among member states and with external partners. They also endorse the principles of firm-specific recovery and resolution plans.

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Energy: Meters


The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I am pleased to inform the House that the Department of Energy and Climate Change is today publishing Towards a smarter future: Government response to the consultation on electricity and gas smart metering. This document summarises responses to the consultation on smart metering published by the Government in May 2009 and sets out the Government's conclusions.

Smart meters will pave the way for a transformation in the way that energy is supplied and consumed, contributing to our goals of energy security and carbon reduction. They will provide energy consumers with real-time information about their energy use, enabling them to monitor and reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. Smart meters will support improved energy efficiency advice and facilitate smoother, faster switching between suppliers. They are an important first step towards the future development of a smarter grid delivering improved network efficiency and responsiveness; in turn this will help facilitate the introduction and increased use of renewable energy and ultra low carbon vehicles (electric and plug-in hybrids).

In October 2008 we announced our intention to mandate a rollout of electricity and gas smart meters to all homes in Great Britain with the aim of completing the rollout by the end of 2020. The May 2009 consultation document addressed fundamental issues for the organisation of the rollout. In particular the consultation document made proposals for the delivery model for domestic smart meters, the minimum high-level functional requirements for smart meters, and the approach to extending meter functionality requirements in the small and medium non-domestic sector. Our decisions on these fundamental points will provide the platform for the detailed work now required to move towards the rollout of smart meters.

The delivery model for domestic smart meters

The Government have concluded that the central communications model offers the best approach to Britain's domestic smart meter rollout. Under this model the energy supply companies will be responsible for procuring and installing meters, while communications between the meters and utility companies will be co-ordinated centrally. The central communications model combines strong incentives for energy suppliers to deliver a high quality service to their customers, with wide scope to simplify and improve industry processes, making it easier to switch between suppliers. We believe that this approach will minimise the time and risk involved in preparing for rollout, in particular since it avoids changing the disposition of responsibility for metering services. Metering is currently the responsibility of energy suppliers and this model avoids fundamental change to these arrangements. We also believe that the development of smart grids can be fostered effectively under this approach, in particular by ensuring the requirements of network business are reflected appropriately in the minimum meter specification and the communications solution.

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The high-level smart functionality requirements for domestic electricity and gas meters and the provision of a real-time display and information

The Government also confirm the proposals set out in the consultation document on high-level smart meter functionality requirements, with the exception of functionality to remotely enable/disable gas supply. In respect of the latter issue, we believe further work is needed to assess issues raised in consultation responses before reaching final decisions. A range of proposals were made in relation to the requirements of smart grids, but we have concluded that smart grid functionality is a subset of the high-level requirements already proposed in the consultation. The next stage is to develop these high-level proposals in more detail.

Consultation responses expressed a range of views on the issue of standalone displays. Having considered the response, the Government's position remains that a standalone display should be provided with the smart meter. In our view the provision of a display is important to securing the consumer benefits of smart metering, delivering real-time information to consumers on their energy consumption in a readily accessible form. The next step will be to develop the requirements in more detail. As part of this work we will consider further what specific requirements should apply in cases where it is clear that the individual consumer does not wish to have such a display. However it will be important that this does not detract from the general premise that a freestanding display should be provided with the meter.

The approach on smart functionality requirements for non-domestic meters

The Government have adjusted their proposals in this area following the consultation. We are confirming our intention to mandate the installation of meters with smart functionality at non-domestic sites covered by the consultation (those in electricity profile classes 3 and 4 and non-domestic gas sites with consumption of less than 732 MWh per annum) on the same timescale as for domestic sites, with exceptions under certain circumstances. However, under our revised proposals, the exceptions will be much more limited in respect of meters installed after April 2014. We therefore propose to require that electricity and gas meters at sites in this category must have smart functionality by the end of 2020 except:

where advanced meters have been installed before April 2014 and the customer wishes to retain the existing meters; where advanced meters have been installed after April 2014 under pre-existing contractual arrangements; orwhere there are technical constraints on the achievement of smart functionality.

We consider that this approach will best balance the need to support future smart grids by maximising installation of smart functionality with the desirability of allowing energy and carbon savings from advanced installations to continue in the short- to medium-term. However, we recognise that exceptions will need to be carefully framed, taking into account the technical and commercial complexities. We will discuss these

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revised proposals with suppliers, purchasers, meter and energy service providers and other stakeholders to refine the details before consulting on more detailed proposals.

The proposed implementation programme

Decisions set out in the response document provide the platform for the major programme of detailed implementation work that will be needed to support the mass rollout of smart meters under a mandate. A central smart meter implementation programme is therefore being established to design and implement new cross-industry arrangements, in co-ordination with the change programmes which industry participants will need to implement themselves. The first phase of the smart metering programme will be a joint DECC/Ofgem initiative. DECC will chair an overarching DECC/Ofgem Strategic Programme Board. This board will provide the necessary strategic oversight and direction to the programme. Ofgem E-Serve will manage and ensure effective delivery of phase one of the programme on behalf of DECC.

We firmly agree with those consultation respondents who have emphasised that the implementation programme must effectively engage the full range of stakeholders. In particular, a focus on the needs and perspectives of consumers must be at the heart of decision-making at each stage under the programme, as well as the views of industry participants who will take on responsibility for delivery. The implementation programme will therefore develop a range of mechanisms to ensure that stakeholders' views are captured and taken into account.

I have placed copies of Towards a smarter future: Government response to the consultation on electricity and gas smart metering in the Libraries of the House. I have also placed in the Libraries copies of a number of associated documents which we are also publishing today: Impact assessment of a GB-wide smart meter roll out for the domestic sector; Impact assessment of smart/advanced meters roll out to small and medium businesses; and a report from Baringa Partners Smart meter roll-out: energy network business market model and definition and evaluation project.



The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am publishing a White Paper on policing today, copies of which are available in the Vote Office. Protecting the Public: Supporting the Police to Succeed builds on the radical reform programme set out in the Green Paper published last year by my predecessor. The Green Paper put the public's priorities at the heart of policing, replacing top-down targets with a sharp focus on public confidence.

Significant and continuing investment in police numbers, technology and training; the growing impact of neighbourhood policing; the greater responsiveness symbolised by the new policing pledge; more effective

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collaboration between forces and with partners on everything from anti-social behaviour to serious organised crime and counterterrorism; clearer leadership, less bureaucracy and more front-line discretion: these changes are all creating a golden opportunity for the police and the public. The police service has worked with the Government to lock in the significant falls in crime over the past decade; and we are beginning to see the improvements in public confidence that were such an important element of the Green Paper vision. The service is now well placed to meet the challenges ahead.

The White Paper addresses four specific issues.

First, it sets out the specific action we are taking to ensure that anti-social behaviour is tackled, not tolerated. We will ensure that the police and their local partners work together effectively, with the right tools and information, to place greater emphasis on prevention and support for victims.

Second, it commits police forces and police authorities to ensuring that the public know their entitlement to clear standards of service, how to make their voice heard and shape local policing priorities, with timely local information on performance they need to judge progress. Police authorities have an important role to play and I am very grateful to my right honourable friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside for his recent report on how police authorities could increase their public impact and strengthen their links with local councils, without the risks structural upheaval would bring. The White Paper's proposals have benefited greatly from his contribution.

Third, the White Paper addresses the challenging financial climate in the years ahead, which demands more urgent and radical action to squeeze out unnecessary costs, raise productivity and ensure that we continue to focus on front-line delivery. The White Paper lays out a wide-ranging programme to drive national and regional procurement, reduce overheads, improve benchmarking information and strengthen commitment to collaboration between forces and voluntary mergers where appropriate.

Fourth, the White Paper endorses the guiding principles and style of policing championed in Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's Report Adapting to Protest: Strengthening the British Model of Policing, published on 25 November 2009. This is a significant contribution to the future direction of the policing of protests, and sets out our commitment to work with the service to take forward the report's recommendations.

I am also publishing today Reducing Bureaucracy in Policing, the first full report by Jan Berry, the Independent Reducing Bureaucracy Advocate. This report marks the end of Jan's first full year advising Government and the police forces and police authorities of England and Wales on how best to remove unnecessary bureaucracy in policing. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office.

Jan's report acknowledges the complex demands placed on the service, and rightly challenges the Government and those who lead forces to continue to work to simplify the performance landscape, crime recording processes, and data collection and other

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bureaucracy imposed at all levels on front-line officers. Through the White Paper the Government have endorsed 13 of Jan's recommendations immediately and will consider a further 22 with police service colleagues in the months ahead.

Both Jan Berry's final report and this White Paper have benefited from open and constructive discussion with the police service and its partners. I am determined that we will continue to work together to create the service the public want-professional, responsive and grounded in communities. The achievements of the past decade give us much to build on. The next steps in the reform programme set out in this White Paper will help ensure that the police get the support they need as well as the credit they deserve, and strengthen further public confidence in this key service.

Police: National Strategies


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In accordance with the provisions of Section 37A of the Police Act 1996, as inserted by paragraph 25 Schedule 2 to the Police and Justice Act 2006, this Statement sets out my strategic policing priorities for the police service for 2010-11. These priorities provide the national framework for policing for the next financial year, within which police authorities will set their local plans.

Last year, the priorities reflected the radical vision for policing at the heart of the Government's Green Paper, From the Neighbourhood to the National: policing our communities together, and other national strategies, aimed at putting the public much more at the centre and empowering them to work with us to tackle local crime and ASB. The effect of these initiatives is now starting to be seen. They include the introduction of the policing pledge and crime maps in all forces in England and Wales, providing the public with a set of national minimum policing standards to which they are entitled and access to information about crime in their area and empowering them through involvement in neighbourhood policing meetings. Through the Justice Seen, Justice Done campaign we have raised public awareness of the rights they should expect.

Elsewhere we are rolling out a programme of police authority inspections and continuing important work on reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and workforce and performance management reform. The policing White Paper will take the principles of the policing pledge further with clear standards that the public can expect from other agencies that help to keep them safe and ensure that justice is done

The thrust of all this work is to allow police officers and police staff to focus on the public's priorities and provide an accessible, transparent and consistent service that meets public needs and expectations. All but one of the top-down numerical targets for police forces in England and Wales have now been removed. The remaining target is to increase the public's confidence

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that the police and their partners are identifying and addressing the crime and ASB issues that matter most locally.

My strategic policing priorities for 2010-11 include particular reference to the single remaining national target on generating public confidence but generally retain the broader vision of the current priorities. This vision focuses on the strategic context in which action is taken at the right level. The priorities acknowledge the policing White Paper and the current set of PSAs and reflect the recently updated crime strategy. Central to this is a renewed focus on tackling the harms caused by anti-social behaviour and requiring victims' concerns to be taken seriously. The Government will continue to monitor performance to ensure PSA commitments are met and provide strategic leadership. However, local accountability and planning should be undertaken so that forces tackle the issues that are most important to their local diverse communities, including hate crime, and get best value for money for the public from the resources devoted to policing.

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