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10 Nov 2010 : Column WS15



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Written Statements

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Afghanistan: Reserve Forces

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

With the expiry of the call-out order made on 11 November 2009, a new order has been made under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to continue to be called out into service to support operations in Afghanistan. The new order is effective until 10 November 2011. Reservists continue to make a valuable contribution to operations in that country and some 1,280 reservists are currently called out and serving, of whom 530 are deployed in Afghanistan.

Council of Europe and Western European Union

Statement

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made the following Statement.

The United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Assembly of Western European Union is as follows:

Robert Walter MP (Leader)

Full Representatives

Brian Binley MP

Christopher Chope OBE MP

James Clappison MP

Ann Coffey MP

Earl of Dundee

Baroness Eccles of Moulton

Paul Flynn MP

Sam Gyimah MP

Michael Hancock CBE MP

Jim Hood MP

Alan Meale MP

Baroness Emma Nicholson

Sandra Osborne MP

Claire Perry MP

Lord John Prescott

Jim Sheridan MP

Lord John Tomlinson

Substitute Members

Lord Anderson

Joe Benton MP

Nicholas Boles MP

Lord Boswell of Aynho



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Michael Connarty MP

Geraint Davies MP

Jim Dobbin MP

Jeffrey Donaldson MP

Roger Gale MP

Lord Glentoran CBE

Oliver Heald MP

Lord Inglewood

Charles Kennedy MP

Edward Leigh MP

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Amber Rudd MP

Virendra Sharma MP

ECOFIN

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Justine Greening) has today issued the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I plan to represent the Government at the budget ECOFIN to be held on 11 November in Brussels.

Budget ECOFIN will prepare a conciliation meeting with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2011 and handle the outcome of that conciliation meeting.

The Government remain committed to opposing the increases of around 6 per cent in the 2011 EU budget, above 2010 levels, proposed by the Commission and the European Parliament. These are simply unacceptable at a time when Governments across the European Union are taking difficult decisions to reduce national deficits and to ensure the sustainability of their public finances.

The Government have called for a freeze in the 2011 EU budget at 2010 levels. We voted for this when council adopted its position on the budget earlier this year, which proposed a 2.9 per cent increase over 2010 levels. Six other member states also voted against council's position. It was nevertheless adopted by a qualified majority.

Along with 12 other member states' Governments, the Government have made it clear that they cannot accept any increase beyond 2.9 per cent in the 2011 EU budget compared to the 2010 budget. Those are the terms of agreement that this Government will pursue at budget ECOFIN on 11 November.

Finance (No. 2) Bill

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I have made a Statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Finance (No. 2) Bill are compatible with the convention rights. A copy of the Statement has been placed in the Library of the House.



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Localism Bill

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 6 July 2010, the coalition Government revoked all regional strategies under Section 79(6) of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. This action was challenged in the High Court by developer CALA Homes and the decision today concluded that Section 79 powers could not be used to revoke all regional strategies in their entirety.

While respecting the court's decision, we believe that this ruling changes very little. Later this month, the coalition Government will be introducing the localism Bill to Parliament, which will sweep away the last Government's controversial regional strategies. It is clear that top-down targets do not build homes-they have just led to the lowest peacetime housebuilding rates since 1924 and have fuelled resentment in the planning process that has slowed everything down.

On 27 May 2010, the Government wrote to local planning authorities and to the Planning Inspectorate informing them of the coalition Government's intention to rapidly abolish regional strategies and setting out their expectation that the letter should be taken into account as a material planning consideration in any decisions that they were currently taking. That advice still stands.

Today, the Government's chief planner has written to all local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate confirming that they should have regard to this material consideration in any decisions that they are currently taking.

Moreover, to illustrate the clear policy direction of the coalition Government, the proposed clause of the localism Bill that will enact our commitment to abolish regional strategies is being placed in the Library. The Bill is expected to begin its passage through Parliament before Christmas.

We are determined to return decision-making powers in housing and planning to local authorities and the communities that they serve, alongside powerful incentives so that people see the benefits of building. We will very shortly provide more details about one of the

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most important such incentives-the new homes bonus scheme, which will come into effect from April. This means that new homes delivered now will be rewarded under the scheme.

The coalition Government remain firmly resolved to scrap the last Government's imposition of confusing and bureaucratic red tape. This was a clear commitment made in the coalition agreement and in the general election manifestos of both coalition parties. We intend to deliver on it.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Statement

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made the following Statement.

The United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe is as follows:

Peter Bottomley MP (Leader)

Full Representatives

Lord Bowness CBE

Tracey Crouch MP

Lord Dubs

Ben Gummer MP

Mark Hendrick MP

Baroness Hilton QPM

Tony Lloyd MP

Linda Riordan MP

Angus Robertson MP

Bob Stewart MP

Rory Stewart MP

Roger Williams MP

Substitute Members

Nick de Bois MP

Lord Glentoran CBE

Mr Dai Havard MP

Simon Reevell MP

Nick Smith MP

Sir Robert Smith MP


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