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Written Statements

Monday 29 November 2010

Armed Forces: Women in Combat

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Andrew Robathan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In accordance with the requirements of the EC equal treatment directive, the Ministry of Defence has carried out a review of the current policy of excluding women from ground close-combat roles. The policy was last formally reviewed in 2002.

Considerably more direct evidence is available now than was the case when the previous review was carried out. However, the conclusions are mixed and do not provide the basis for a clear recommendation either way as to whether the current policy of excluding women from ground close-combat roles should be retained or rescinded.

The service chiefs' view is that women are fundamental to the operational effectiveness of the UK Armed Forces, bringing talent and skills across the board. Their capability in almost all areas is not in doubt, they win the highest decorations for valour, and they demonstrate that they are capable of acting independently and with great initiative. But these situations are not those typical of the small tactical teams in the combat arms which are required deliberately to close with and kill the enemy. The consequences of opening up these small tactical teams in close-combat roles to women are unknown. Other nations have very mixed experiences.

In the light of the inconclusive results of the research and the views of the service chiefs, I have concluded that a precautionary approach is necessary. Accordingly, the current policy of excluding women from ground close-combat roles while ensuring that the maximum numbers of trades are available to provide opportunity to those women who wish to serve their country will continue.

In parallel with this Statement, I am publishing a full report on the review, including the research that was carried out, on the department's website at http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/CorporatePublications/PersonnelPublications/EqualityandDiversity/Gender/WomenInCombat.htm.

Banking Act 2009

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mark Hoban) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Treasury has today published a report required under Section 231 of the Banking Act 2009 covering the period from 1 October 2009 to 31 March 2010.

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Copies of the document are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office and have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Debt Management

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are today revising the Debt Management Office's (DMO) 2010-11 financing remit to reflect revisions to the net financing requirement. The net financing requirement for 2010-11 has been revised upward-by £0.2 billion-from £162.5 billion at the June Budget to £162.7 billion. The revisions to the net financing requirement arise from the net effect of:

a reduction in the central government net cash requirement (CGNCR) of £1.9 billion;an increase in sterling financing for the official reserves of £2.0 billion; andadditional secondary gilt market purchases by the DMO of £0.1 billion.

The downward revision to the CGNCR is a reflection of revisions announced today by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to the fiscal aggregates, which have a consequential impact on the CGNCR. The revisions are set out in the OBR's Economic and Fiscal Outlook November 2010, published today.

The increased funding for the official reserves has been provided to meet potential calls under the UK's IMF commitments. These commitments have recently expanded following parliamentary approval in July 2010 of the UK's increased contribution to the IMF's new arrangements to borrow. This delivered the UK's share of the G20 agreement to treble the resources available to the IMF.

The increase in the net financing requirement of £0.2 billion will be met by an increase in the gilt issuance programme in 2010-11 of £0.2 billion. Gross gilt issuance for 2010-11 is now projected at £165.2 billion.

The planned Treasury bill stock as at 31 March 2011 is £60.8 billion-unchanged from the projection at the June 2010 Budget (and compares with levels as at: 31 March 2010-£63.3 billion; 31 March 2009-£44.0 billion).

As at the June 2010 Budget, the Government are confirming the net finance target for National Savings and Investments to be a zero net contribution to financing, within a range of +/- £2 billion.

For 2010-11, gross gilt issuance of £165.2 billion is projected to be split as follows:

£52.7 billion of short maturity gilt issuance (31.9 per cent of total);£38.2 billion of medium maturity gilt issuance (23.1 per cent of total);£40.5 billion of long maturity gilt issuance (24.5 per cent of total); and£33.8 billion of index-linked gilt issuance (20.5 per cent of total).

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This proportionate split is unchanged from that announced in June 2010.

Auctions will remain the Government's primary method by which gilts are issued. The Government will continue to use supplementary methods-syndication, mini-tenders and the post auction "top up" facility-to issue gilts in the remainder of 2010-11. For 2010-11, it is projected that:

£132.0 billion will be issued by pre-announced auctions (79.9 per cent of total);£26.2 billion will be issued by syndication (15.9 per cent of total); and£7.0 billion will be issued by mini-tender (4.2 per cent of total).

Consistent with provisions in the DMO's financing remit relating to the post auction "top-up" facility, average auction sizes in the remainder of the year will be reduced but there will be no change to the number or timing of auctions scheduled for the remainder of 2010-11.

The Government are also publishing today a revised estimate of the fiscal impact of Spending Review 2010, based on the OBR's autumn forecast. Copies of this document have been deposited in the Libraries of the House and are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.



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Table: Financing requirement 2010-11
2010-11
£ billionJune BudgetAutumn Statement

Central government net cash requirement

146.1

144.2

Gilt redemptions

38.6

38.6

Financing for the official reserves1

4.0

6.0

Buy-backs2

0.1

0.2

Planned short-term financing adjustment3

-26.3

-26.3

Gross financing requirement

162.5

162.7

less

Assumed net contribution from National Savings and Investments

0.0

0.0

Net financing requirement

162.5

162.7

Financed by

1. Debt issuance by the Debt Management Office

Treasury bills

-2.5

-2.5

Gilts

165.0

165.2

of which

Conventional

Short

52.6

52.7

Medium

38.2

38.2

Long

40.4

40.5

Index-linked

33.8

33.8

2. Other planned changes in short-term debts4

Change in Ways & Means

0.0

0.0

3. Unanticipated changes in short-term cash position5

0.0

0.0

Total financing

162.5

162.7

Short-term debt levels at end of financial year

Treasury bill stock in market hands6

60.8

60.8

Ways & Means

0.4

0.4

DMO net cash position

0.5

0.5

Film

Statement

Baroness Rawlings: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Edward Vaizey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In July the Government announced their decision to abolish the UK Film Council.

Today I am announcing our proposals to support British film going forward.

The British Film Institute will become the flagship body for film policy in the UK. The BFI will be nominated as the distributor of film lottery money via secondary legislation.

The BFI will be entrusted with the remit to support the film industry in the nations and the regions and to lead on audience development and education. Work in support of certification and the media desk will also be transferred to the BFI.

Lottery funding to support film will increase from about £27 million today to more than £40 million by 2014.

Film London will be entrusted with a UK-wide remit to promote the UK as the best place to invest in film, working in partnership with the film industry.

A consultation will be launched next year to consider how to build a more sustainable film industry and how to develop the distribution and exhibition of British

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films in the UK. This review will be led by the DCMS and the BFI and will include a review of lottery distribution and recoupment policy. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to contribute their views through a formal consultation.

The DCMS and BFI will work with broadcasters and exhibitors on how to incentivise audiences to go and watch British films and increase their exposure, following Odeon's proposals today, which we welcome.

The BFI will work with Film London, BBC Worldwide and BAFTA on how BAFTA and BBC Worldwide could support the distribution of British films abroad.

The BFI will go through a radical change to take up this challenge and become the flagship body for film policy. The chairman of the BFI will consult his board and detail his views on how this will be taken forward very shortly. We are all clear that these changes will need to be significant and far reaching and include a review of management structures to ensure they are properly equipped to take up these functions.

The DCMS and the BFI will shortly agree the details of the new direct relationship that will be established, including accountability mechanisms. Our own internal audit will simultaneously audit the BFI's financial systems and processes to provide assurance that these are appropriate for the significant Exchequer and lottery funding the BFI will be receiving going forward.

Due diligence work will start immediately between the UKFC, BFI and Film London in order to produce a detailed transfer plan early next year to provide clarity and certainty to all players, in particular to staff and to lottery applicants. This plan will ensure that there is no gap in lottery distribution as the transfer progresses.

In the mean time the UKFC remains in charge of lottery distribution. All existing commitments will be honoured.

Existing arrangements for lottery distribution will remain in place during 2011-12 to allow time for the review of lottery distribution to take place and provide certainty and stability. The aim is that the conclusions of the review will be implemented in 2012.

The detailed timetable for the formal closure of the UKFC will be published following the due diligence work.

Health: Dentistry

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Simon Burns), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In recent years we have gained a better understanding of the risks of transmission of infectious diseases like hepatitis from poorly maintained healthcare premises and instruments which have not undergone effective decontamination. The risk to individual dental patients is small but, with 1.5 million people undergoing dental treatment each week and some 500,000 people infected

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with blood-borne viruses, many of whom may be unaware of their infection, we cannot afford to be complacent.

Because of this risk and evidence that some dental practices might not be achieving adequate standards, the department issued Health Technical Memorandum 01-05: Decontamination in Primary Care Dental Practices in November 2009. In implementing the HTM we have sought to strike a balance between protecting patients and the constraints imposed by the layout and structure of dental practices which, while being easily accessible in the high street, may have limited scope for expansion and upgrading.

I am today publishing the report of the dental national decontamination survey which was undertaken at the start of the year. The primary aim of this, the first national survey of current standards of decontamination in primary care dental practices, was to provide a baseline to compare standards in general dental practice at the time of issue of the HTM01-05 with those set in the guidance. The HTM is intended to encourage continuous improvement in local decontamination by giving dental practices a range of options to achieve the essential quality requirements (EQR) identified in the HTM and progress to best practice.

EQR is a level of decontamination which will achieve significant risk reduction, whilst best practice offers an optimum level of protection. The main features of best practice are the provision of a dedicated room for decontamination away from where clinical care is delivered and the use of an automated washer-disinfector for the cleaning of instruments.

All practices are expected to be operating at essential quality requirements by the end of this year; no timeframe has yet been set for the achievement of best practice because of the need for further information to be obtained about the constraints imposed by the design and structure of some dental practices.

I am very grateful to the primary care trusts (PCTs) and the dental practices which participated in this voluntary survey, and to the Health Protection Agency, which worked with the department in bringing it to completion. In total 75 PCTs participated in the survey, which involved nurses with training and experience in infection control visiting 487 randomly selected dental practices. Practices were assessed in relation to essential quality requirements and best practice at the time that the HTM was published.

The results of the survey showed that around 70 per cent of practices were already working at EQR with some 20 per cent of practices already achieving best practice. Approaching 20 per cent of practices were very near EQR with the remaining minority operating at an unsatisfactory standard.

These results show that the majority of practices were meeting EQR and it is likely that this figure would have increased over the year as practices began to implement the HTM.

I was very encouraged to learn that well over two-thirds of practices were already meeting EQR. As to the remainder, the survey data show a number of practices need to improve their cleaning of instruments, which

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is a critical part of the decontamination cycle. The department is encouraging practices to acquire automated washer-disinfectors, whose use is a feature of best practice, to achieve a uniformly high standard of cleaning of dental instruments.

The department has, in collaboration with the Infection Prevention Society, produced a self-assessment audit tool to allow all dental practices to assess their level of compliance with the quality standards in the guidance. By applying the audit tool, practices will be able to compare their standards to those included in the sample survey.

The quality of local decontamination will be one of the factors the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will take into account in monitoring standards when dental practices are brought within its remit from April 2011. The CQC will wish to ensure that it only registers practices that can demonstrate local decontamination is carried out to acceptable standards.

The dental national decontamination survey report has been placed in the Library. Copies are available for honourable Members in the Vote Office and for noble Lords in the Printed Paper Office.

House of Lords: Division Lobbies

Statement

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The introduction of new Members to the House has made it necessary to review the alphabetical arrangement of the Division sheets. As a result, from 2 December 2010 Members will split on the basis of A-K and L-Z in the Division Lobbies instead of A-J and K-Z. Members whose titles begin with the letter "K" will therefore have to pass through the lobbies on the side opposite to that they have used hitherto.

India

Statement

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Alistair Burt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 6 September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted India an exception to its guidelines to permit exports to Indian civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. The UK was a long-standing and strong supporter of the need for such an exception to allow India to develop its civil nuclear power sector for peaceful purposes.

Following this announcement, the UK has developed a strong civil nuclear relationship with India, in line with our non-proliferation commitments and international obligations. The UK-India Civil Nuclear Co-operation Declaration, signed on 11 February this year, was a joint statement of our intent in this area. In light of our enhanced relationship following the recent high-level visit, the UK Government would like to restate their policy towards nuclear-related exports to India, the details of which are as follows.



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The UK is committed to allow the promotion and facilitation of trade and other commercial activities between India and the UK relating to the peaceful civil use of nuclear energy to help India meet its energy needs, taking into full account both India and the UK's respective international commitments and obligations. At the UK-India summit in New Delhi on 29 July 2010, the Prime Minister and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh welcomed the opportunities that had opened up for co-operation in the civil nuclear power sector, including with regard to nuclear trade and exchanges between scientific institutions.

The UK's position is a reflection of the positive approach that India is taking in addressing the issue of nuclear proliferation, which is of mutual concern to both countries. It is also a reflection of the agreements and commitments India has made-in particular, India's move towards separating its military and civil nuclear programmes and implementing IAEA safeguards at its civil nuclear facilities.

Prior to the Nuclear Suppliers Group exception, the UK's policy was to refuse export licences for all NSG trigger list items to India.

In November 2008, the UK revised this policy, and has since assessed all export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against the NSG guidelines for nuclear transfers as applied to India, as well as our wider Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. In line with the NSG guidelines, the UK will authorise the transfer of NSG trigger list exports to IAEA-safeguarded civil nuclear facilities when satisfied that the transfers will not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive activities, or be diverted to acts of terrorism.

The UK will continue this policy. As set out in the NSG guidelines:

for an NSG trigger list export, we will continue to take into account whether its export is for peaceful purposes, whether it is destined for a nuclear facility safeguarded by the IAEA and whether there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to an unsafeguarded facility. To this end, the UK will seek assurances from the Indian Government that the export will be used only for safeguarded nuclear activities which are not related to nuclear explosive activities; andfor an NSG dual use list export, we will continue to take into account whether its export is for a nuclear-related end-use, whether it is destined for a nuclear facility safeguarded by the IAEA and whether there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activity.

The UK will therefore only licence the export of NSG controlled goods to nuclear fuel cycle activities safeguarded by the IAEA, or for non-nuclear related end uses where we do not assess there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activity.

We will also favourably consider applications to export licensable items other than those controlled by the NSG to India for a nuclear-related end-use, including those assessed as licensable under the WMD end-use

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control, unless there are specific proliferation concerns related to the export. In particular, such assessment will take into account:

the utility of the items for export to a nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity; the legitimacy and credibility of the stated end-use; the nature and business of the stated end-user (including whether they are linked to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activity or nuclear explosive activity); and any diversionary concerns.

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In line with our international obligations, the UK is committed actively to encourage the UK's nuclear scientific institutions and universities to establish greater links with Indian institutions, and to develop co-operation in nuclear research and development of the civil uses of nuclear energy technology. Where an export licence is required for such co-operation, the UK will continue to assess applications on a case-by-case basis in line with the NSG guidelines. Such assessment will take into account whether the transfer is of information already in the public domain or is assessed as basic scientific research, as well as the standard provisions of UK export control legislation.


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