Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



15 Dec 2009 : Column WS221

Written Statements

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Animal Health: Exotic Diseases

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Food, Farming and the Environment (Jim Fitzpatrick) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before Parliament the National Contingency Plan for Exotic Diseases of Animals in accordance with Section 14A of the Animal Health Act 2002 which came into force on 24 March 2003.

This plan sets out the operational response arrangements Defra will put in place to deal with any occurrence of foot and mouth disease, avian influenza or Newcastle disease. The plan is also applicable to all other exotic diseases of animals. It is composed of two elements:

Defra's Framework Response Plan for Exotic Diseases of Animals, outlining the systems and structures which are established and detailing the key roles and responsibilities of Ministers and officials during an outbreak of disease; andDefra's Overview of Emergency Preparedness which provides details of our preparedness and operational response.

It replaces Defra's Contingency Plan for Exotic Animal Diseases which was laid before Parliament on 9 December 2008.

Defra's contingency plan is very much a "living document". It will be subject to ongoing revision taking on the latest developments in science, research, and epidemiological modelling together with lessons identified from outbreaks.

To meet the provisions of the Animal Health Act, the plan will also be subject to formal annual review.

Armed Forces: Future Rotary Wing Strategy

Statement

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.

I am today announcing a new strategy that will see the Ministry of Defence deliver increased levels of helicopter capability for our Armed Forces. The strategy's priority is support to operations, and through it we will deliver, by 2016, an increase of some 40 per cent in the number of helicopters suitable for deployment in hot and high conditions, such as Afghanistan.



15 Dec 2009 : Column WS222

At the heart of the strategy is the procurement of an additional 22 new Chinook helicopters, with a further two expected to replace those that were destroyed in Afghanistan this summer. The current Chinook fleet has seen continuous service on operations over the last 20 years, and it has performed superbly in Afghanistan. It is a proven capability that is highly regarded by those who fly it and troops who use it. Delivery of these aircraft will not only mean more aircraft able to operate in the kind of conditions seen in Afghanistan but also a significant increase in the overall lift capacity of our helicopter fleet. We anticipate delivery of 10 new-build Chinook during the course of 2012 and 2013, including two to replace the aircraft recently lost in Afghanistan. The proposed investment in these new Chinook builds on the £400 million that the Ministry of Defence has invested this year to improve the operational performance of the existing Chinook fleet by delivering enhanced engines and cockpits.

Beyond increasing levels of capability, our other main focus has been on simplifying the delivery of helicopter capability. As the HCDC set out in its recent report, Helicopter Capability [HC434], the optimum means to achieve efficiencies is through reducing the number of different types of helicopter fleet; with each fleet type comes an associated support cost overhead and training cost. The new strategy will enable the department to reduce the number of fleet types.

We aim to remove all marks of our Sea King fleet by 2016, with its roles to be delivered by our Merlin helicopter fleet or, in the case of UK peacetime search and rescue capabilities, by a joint private finance initiative service that we intend to provide with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. To enable this transition, we intend to capitalise on our past investment in Merlin and its over-water capabilities and safety features, including by modifying our Merlin Mk3/3a helicopters to enable them to operate effectively from amphibious shipping as well as continuing to contribute to our battlefield lift requirements.

The £300 million Puma Life Extension Programme, which will deliver a step change in the aircraft's capability, will proceed, delivering vital battlefield lift capability for operations alongside Chinook until at least 2022. Beyond the retirement of Puma, we intend that the Ministry of Defence will operate four broadly equal-sized core helicopter fleets comprising Chinook, Apache, Wildcat and Merlin, with much smaller niche fleets for specialised roles. As a result of the measures set out above, we do not intend to proceed with the Future Medium Helicopter competition.

We anticipate that the reduction in fleet types will produce substantial through-life cost savings over the next decade and beyond. We are also exploring the possibility of further benefits that might arise through, for example, estate rationalisation and the more efficient delivery of training solutions.

Although the major components of this strategy will be subject in due course to separate investment decisions, the new approach represents excellent news for the overall helicopter capability available to our Armed Forces and provides industry with a clear vision of our investment priorities over the coming

15 Dec 2009 : Column WS223

decade against which they can align their resources. While a significant percentage of the planned investment will be made on a US product (Chinook), we anticipate that much of the investment required to deliver other elements of the strategy will be made in the UK, supporting UK jobs, and sustaining essential onshore skills as well as delivering value for money.

Bernard Lodge Inquiry

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Claire Ward) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today laid before Parliament the report of the inquiry that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Shahid Malik) announced on 23 February 2009 into the death of Bernard Lodge, who died at HMP Manchester on 28 August 1998.

I should like to thank the chair of the inquiry, Barbara Stow, and the solicitor to the inquiry for the way in which they handled the inquiry and for fulfilling the terms of reference so efficiently.

Buses

Statement

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): In December 2008 the then Secretary of State for Transport, the right honourable Geoff Hoon MP, announced a range of reforms to bus service operators grant (BSOG) to bring this subsidy better into line with government objectives. As promised in that announcement, we have since been developing the detailed arrangements with stakeholders, and continuing to discuss possible longer-term reforms.

In April this year the Government introduced two changes to the current BSOG scheme. First, bus operators who have achieved a 6 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency will receive a 3 per cent uplift in their BSOG rate from April 2010. Secondly, with effect from April 2009 operators have been able to claim an additional payment of 6p for each kilometre operated by a low carbon bus, ie one that is capable of achieving at least a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a similar size conventional diesel bus.

I can now confirm the details of two further changes that were first announced in last December's Statement and will come into effect in April 2010. From that date operators will receive an 8 per cent increase in their BSOG rate if they have operational ITSO smartcard systems and, separately, a 2 per cent increase if they have fitted their buses with GPS equipment. To qualify for the higher rate smartcard equipment will need to accept all English concessionary passes and the incentive will also be linked to accepting integrated ticketing products. To receive either the smartcard or GPS incentive, operators will also have to commit to share specific data with local authorities, central government

15 Dec 2009 : Column WS224

and other relevant bodies. Together these incentives could be worth around £1,000 in additional grant per bus each year.

The smartcard and GPS incentives will not apply to London operators. The contractual arrangements for bus services in London already provide the mechanism for securing the outputs that the Government are seeking, such as installation of GPS equipment and availability of GPS data. There is a separate project to enable the Transport for London Oyster network to read ITSO smart cards, to which the Department for Transport has committed £60 million.

The smartcard incentive is part of a package of measures designed to encourage the introduction of smart and integrated ticketing across the country. These are the subject of a separate announcement today. Encouraging the take-up and use of GPS systems will help realise the potential for passengers to receive real-time information about bus services and bus performance.

I can also announce today our intentions for a more fundamental reform of BSOG, which we aim to introduce in the next two to three years.

As last December's Statement made clear, we want our buses to be as green and clean as possible. That is why we are reforming BSOG to ensure it contributes to the Government's strategic objectives, particularly in relation to tackling climate change. Drawing on the results of our consultation in 2008 on options for longer-term reform, and from discussions with stakeholders, the Government wish to move away from paying support on the basis of how much fuel is consumed. We will therefore bring forward new arrangements for support on the basis of passenger numbers. This will act to make public transport more attractive thereby delivering environmental benefits through reduced congestion and improved air quality.

These new arrangements will mean that operators will face the full cost of the fuel they use. This will strengthen the commercial incentives for operators to find ways to reduce their fuel consumption and improve the business case for investment in driver training and low-carbon buses. It also builds on the fuel efficiency target and the distance-based payment for use of low-carbon buses that are now part of the current BSOG system.

The new incentive per passenger arrangements, which build on the work done by the Commission for Integrated Transport, will rely on accurate recording of passenger numbers. This will require audited data of the sort that can be provided through the use of smart ticketing equipment. The move to per passenger payments will therefore be underpinned by the delivery of the Government's smart and integrated ticketing strategy, which has been announced today, and which is itself supported by the new smart ticketing incentive described above. We recognise that it could take up to 10 years for the national bus fleet to be equipped, and we therefore propose a managed transition from BSOG to the new system.

Introduction of this new form of bus subsidy will also require the approval of the European Commission for reasons of state aid. Given the fundamental nature of the changes that we are proposing, approval is

15 Dec 2009 : Column WS225

likely to take two to three years. Until the new system has been approved the existing BSOG scheme will continue. Once approval has been given, the per passenger system will be rolled out as quickly as operators can install ITSO smart ticketing systems. The existing fuel-based system will continue in parallel for those operators without smartcard equipment, although the rate of payment may decline over time. Eventually, by around 2020, the BSOG system will end and be replaced entirely by an incentive per passenger.

We will discuss the detailed implementation of these proposals with members of the Bus Subsidy Advisory Group and with other government departments. In particular, we recognise that an incentive per passenger will have different impacts in areas of high and low demand. While the bulk of resources available for bus support will therefore move to an incentive per passenger basis, we will wish to discuss with stakeholders how best to make appropriate arrangements for supporting socially necessary services that become less commercially viable as a result of introducing a per passenger system. This might mean, for example, some of the current BSOG budget being transferred to local authorities.

It remains our intention as part of these reforms to stop providing BSOG direct to London operators, as announced last December. We will seek to agree detailed arrangements with TfL at the appropriate time.

The changes I have announced today set the long-term direction of changes to bus subsidy and introduce important new incentives to the current system. In summary they will:

provide strong incentives for bus operators further to improve their fuel efficiency, building on the changes introduced in April 2009 which have sent decisive signals to the industry about the need to improve their environmental performance;give operators real incentives to attract more passengers to their services and out of their cars;underpin the ticketing strategy also announced today and pave the way for widespread smart ticketing; andsupport the take-up and use of GPS systems that will increase availability to passengers of real-time information about services and bus performance.

CCTV: Regulator

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Crime and Policing (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the arrangements we are putting in place to take forward implementation of the National CCTV Strategy and to approve an interim CCTV regulator with immediate effect.

CCTV enjoys a high level of public confidence in tackling crime. Home Office research published in 2005 showed that over 80 per cent of respondents supported the use of CCTV to deal with crime in their neighbourhood. A similar high level of confidence is

15 Dec 2009 : Column WS226

reflected in the IPSOS MORI poll conducted last year and which we will be publishing shortly. CCTV played a key role in a number off investigations including the London terrorist outrages in July 2005 and the Steven Wright murders in Ipswich as well as offences such as burglaries, robberies, violence and anti-social behaviour across the country. The changes are aimed at ensuring that those involved across the CCTV industry, whether from the public or the private sector, can be actively involved in the development and implementation of national standards on the installation and use of CCTV. Importantly, it also aims to maximise public engagement by raising public awareness of the benefits of CCTV and accountability of owners and users of CCTV systems.

It is important that we retain and build on that high level of public confidence by demonstrating the important contribution to preventing and detecting crime and anti-social behaviour which CCTV can make. We have already announced in Building Britain's Future that we will make sure that local people have a say on the use of CCTV in their area and will be publishing guidance for crime and disorder reduction partnerships next year on communicating with their community on the role of CCTV in public protection.

It is also important that we address public concern about how CCTV is used. I am, therefore, pleased to announce the appointment of the Forensic Science Regulator, Andrew Rennison, as the interim CCTV Regulator with immediate effect. The interim CCTV Regulator will advise the Government on matters surrounding the use of CCTV in public places, including the need for a regulatory framework, overseen by a permanent CCTV regulator, which enables the police, local authorities and other agencies to help deliver safer neighbourhoods while ensuring that personal privacy considerations are appropriately taken into account with supporting safeguards and protections. The establishment of a permanent CCTV regulator would rightly be a matter for Parliament. That is why we are, at this stage, considering the regulatory arrangements function through an interim appointment and the revised governance structure for implementation of the national CCTV strategy.

The interim appointment will be for a period of up to 12 months. The appointment is an important step in implementation of the National CCTV Strategy. The interim regulator will work with the National CCTV Strategy Board on six key areas. These are to: develop national standards for the installation and use of CCTV in public space; determine training requirements for users and practitioners; engage with the public and private sector in determining the need for and potential content of any regulatory framework; raise public awareness and understanding of how CCTV operates and how it contributes to tackling crime and increasing public protection; review the existing recommendations of the National CCTV Strategy and advise the Strategy Board on implementation, timelines and cost and development of an effective evidence base; and promote public awareness of the complaints process and criteria for complaints to the relevant agencies (e.g. Information Commissioner, local authority or private organisation) or how to deal with complaints relating to technical standards.



15 Dec 2009 : Column WS227

The appointment of the Forensic Science Regulator will bring to his CCTV role the expertise, knowledge, and standing he has gained in operating a suitable framework for forensic services. He will play a leading role in identifying and helping meet the needs of both users and the public.

While the interim CCTV Regulator will not have responsibility for deciding whether individual cameras are appropriately sited or how they are used, he will be able to help explain to the public how they can complain about intrusive or ineffective CCTV placement or usage.

Part of the process of promoting greater accountability is engaging directly with key stakeholders. We will shortly be establishing an Independent Advisory Group with representatives from business, CCTV operators, community and third-sector groups to monitor and provide direction on implementing the national strategy. The Advisory Group will advise the interim CCTV Regulator and the National CCTV Strategy Board. These arrangements provide for partnership working at strategic and neighbourhood level. Through these new arrangements, we intend to ensure that CCTV continues to be an important tool available to communities to help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

Civil Law Reform Bill

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Bridget Prentice) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In accordance with the Government's legislative programme for 2009-10, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has today laid before Parliament the draft Civil Law Reform Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny (Civil Law Reform-A Draft Bill Cm 7773).

The draft Bill contains provisions to:

reform the law of damages to provide a fairer and more modern system, particularly in relation to bereavement and dependency damages under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976; give greater flexibility in setting the interest rate on pre-judgment debt and damages and on judgment debts so that it can be adapted more readily to different circumstances, making it fairer to debtors and creditors alike; reform the law relating to the distribution of estates of a deceased person where an inheritance is forfeited or disclaimed, so that where a person is disqualified or refuses an inheritance, his or her heirs are not disinherited; andbring the disciplinary hearing appeal process for barristers into line with the appeal process for solicitors by transferring the jurisdiction to hear appeals to the High Court

To accompany the Command Paper the Ministry of Justice has today published a consultation paper Civil Law Reform-a draft Bill containing the draft Bill,

15 Dec 2009 : Column WS228

the accompanying Explanatory Notes and the impact assessments relating to the reform. The consultation period will close on 9 February 2010.

Community Safety Accreditation Scheme

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Crime and Policing (David Hanson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

An Employers' Guide to Community Safety Accreditation Schemes and the 2009 audit of Community Safety Accreditation Schemes have been published today.

This year's Community Safety Accreditation Schemes audit shows an increase in the number of participating forces from 23 in 2008 to 26 this year. The Metropolitan Police were one of the three forces to begin operating a scheme. Over the same period, the number of accredited persons rose from 1,406 to 1,667 (an 18.5 per cent rise) and the number of employers with accredited persons rose from 95 to 109. This growth reflects the benefits of the scheme for the police and businesses. Accredited persons help to tackle anti-social behaviour, and to provide a visible and reassuring presence on our streets.

The Employers' Guide is intended to improve the information available to employers about the scheme and to raise its profile. Four employer case studies (presented in the Employers' Guide) demonstrate clear benefits, both for the organisation and for the accredited staff, in greater information sharing and closer partnership with the police.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page