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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government (Grant Shapps) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In 2010 the previous Government initiated a review of coalfields regeneration to help inform future policy in this area and the review chaired by Michael Clapham was completed in September last year. This response sets out the coalition Government's commitment to provide continuing support to communities in these areas and to make locally led regeneration the central feature of the new approach, driving growth and helping local leaders to strengthen their economic potential and support communities.
The Clapham review found that some communities were still in need of specific intervention in tackling the key continuing inequalities of the coalfield areas. They had a need for continued provision of targeted coalfields funding and for that funding to be more effectively co-ordinated. The review also suggested that local authorities should have a central role to play in the next phase of coalfields regeneration, and that a small grants or loans scheme was needed to help businesses struggling to access funding in the current economic climate.
Government welcome the review and accept the strong case it makes for targeted support to help the most challenged coalfield areas achieve a basis on which they can go forward as self-sustaining communities. The Government are committed to helping local communities in overcoming health and skills inequalities and in developing the leadership to drive forward their own plans for economic growth and community renewal. The overriding need to reduce expenditure nationally to help tackle the fiscal deficit means that funding will be less than in the past. It will need to be closely targeted at the most deprived areas and in helping communities to develop plans that are not reliant on public subsidy in the future. Government will invest in realistic plans for locally led growth intended over time to bring coalfield areas up to the levels of economic activity in the adjoining areas.
Subject to parliamentary approval of any supplementary estimate, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) total DEL will increase by £13,685,000 from £34,158,000 to £47,843,000. Within the total DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is set out in the following table:
Subject to parliamentary approval of any supplementary estimate, the Northern Ireland Executive total DEL will increase by £175,339,000 from £10,826,546,000 to £11,001,885,000. Within the total DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is set out in the following table:
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Ministers will be asked to reach agreement on a package of legislative measures intended to strengthen economic governance in the EU, particularly the euro area, to address the challenges of the sovereign debt crisis while fully respecting the provisions in the UK's protocol to the treaty.
Ministers will adopt council conclusions on climate finance. The conclusions welcome and reaffirm the commitments on climate finance agreed at the UN negotiations in December 2010. The Government support these conclusions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Chris Huhne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am announcing today the publication of the policy document, which sets out details of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) to support technologies including biomass, ground source and water source heat pumps, solar
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Under the RHI, organisations using renewable heat will receive quarterly payments for 20 years from the date they enter the scheme. In addition to support for new installations, organisations that installed eligible renewable heat equipment since 15 July 2009 will also qualify for support under the RHI.
The scheme will be introduced in two phases. In the first phase, long-term tariff support will be targeted in the non-domestic sectors, at the big heat users-the industrial, business and public sector-which contribute 38 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions. Under this phase there will also be support of around £15 million for households through the renewable heat premium payment. The second phase of the RHI scheme will see households moved to long-term tariff support similar to that offered to the non-domestic sector in the first phase. This transition will be timed to align with the Green Deal, which is intended to be introduced in October 2012.
The household technologies supported under the first phase of this scheme will be monitored to enable government, manufacturers, installers and individuals to better understand how to get maximum performance from them in real-life situations in people's homes. Given the current economic climate it is more important than ever that this scheme delivers value for money and ensures there is a fair spread of technologies across a range of property types. That is what the renewable heat premium payments will provide; they ensure that before we commit to long-term payments in a sector where it is particularly difficult to predict levels of take-up-and levels of performance-of different heat technologies, we manage their rollout and learn more about them, as well as controlling the budget and ensuring the money goes where it is intended. Domestic equipment installed during this period will be eligible for the RHI tariff payments when they are introduced in 2012. At this point we will also consider introducing support for a number of other technologies and fuels that are not supported from the outset.
We are also today publishing text for the draft regulations that will underpin the tariff scheme. These are a working draft and will be subject to change before they are laid in Parliament. We will consider comments from stakeholders on their practical application. We are looking to seek parliamentary approval of the regulations in July 2011 and will introduce the tariff scheme thereafter. The scheme, which provides premium payments for the domestic sector, will start in July. Details about this phase will be published in around two months' time.
Biofuels have an important role to play in efforts to tackle climate change, particularly where there is no viable alternative fuel on the horizon, as is the case with aviation and HGVs. In addition, they also have a role to play in promoting the security of energy supply. But we firmly believe that the potential carbon benefits of biofuels can be realised only if they are produced in a sustainable way.
My department recognises that there are legitimate concerns about the sustainability of some biofuels. Biofuels are a continually developing technology and there is still scientific uncertainty about the sustainability of biofuels and their wider socio economic impacts.
Much work is under way to better understand indirect sustainability effects. It is crucial that we establish strong sustainability criteria and a robust lifecycle carbon analysis to ensure first that biofuels deliver real greenhouse gas reductions and secondly, do not cause unacceptable environmental side effects in the process.
In particular, my department takes the issue of indirect land use change seriously. We have recently published research on the scale of indirect land use change impacts and we are continuing to lead work on how to tackle these. The European Commission is in the process of assessing a range of options to address the issue of indirect land use change and I have written to the EU Energy, Environment and Climate Commissioners to impress on them the need for an adequate and robust solution.
Given the uncertainties, I believe it is right that this Government have taken additional time to review the subject carefully. There have been shifts in biofuels policy in the past, so we need to ensure that policy decisions are robust and stable, which will also give confidence to business to invest.
In addition to concerns regarding the sustainability of biofuels, we must also consider where biofuels would be best deployed across the transport sector. It may be best to focus use of what may well be limited supplies of sustainably sourced biofuel in transport modes where no other low-carbon energy source is likely to be viable.
In April 2010, my department commissioned work to determine how best biofuels should be deployed across all transport modes. In addition, the Government tasked the Committee on Climate Change to review
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Today, I am publishing separate consultations on proposals to implement the European renewable energy and fuel quality directives. Both these directives contain requirements related to the use of biofuels.
The renewable energy directive requires the UK, by 2020, to source 15 per cent of its overall energy, and 10 per cent of energy used in transport, from renewable sources. The related fuel quality directive requires fuel and energy suppliers (principally those providing fuel and energy for land-based transport) to reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the fuel/energy that they supply by 6 per cent per unit of energy by 2020.
Given the need to consider our developing evidence base, I do not propose to make any changes to the current biofuel supply trajectory that is set out in the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations Order 2007. However, there will be a legal obligation on the Secretary of State to keep this issue under review and to consider what additional measures will be required to ensure that the UK delivers the requirements of the EU renewable energy and fuel quality directives in the period 2014 to 2020. This approach should enable us to establish a stable biofuel policy that will allow industry to robustly plan for the period 2014 to 2020.
The two consultation documents set out proposals to implement the transport requirements of the renewable energy directive through amendment of the UK's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) and proposals to implement the fuel quality directive through the amended RTFO and the proposed motor fuel greenhouse gas saving regulations.
Our implementation proposals involve making new provisions for biofuels to meet the EU biofuel sustainability criteria and introducing double certification for biofuels produced from wastes (such as used cooking oil) and other feedstocks that do not compete with food production or contribute to indirect land use change. In addition, we propose to put in place a 6 per cent lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction obligation for 2020 and introduce requirements for the relevant fuel/energy suppliers to report on the lifecycle greenhouse gas performance of their fuels in the mean time.
The consultation period will run from today until 2 June and we aim to introduce and bring into force the relevant legislation completing the implementation of the transport elements of both directives by the end of this year.
I invited Lord Hutton to undertake a fundamental structural review of public service pensions and make recommendations on future public service pension provision. The Government are grateful for the work of Lord Hutton and the staff of the commission and will now give careful consideration to his recommendations. The Government are also committed to continuing to engage with people working in the public sector, trade unions and others in taking forward the implementation of any future reforms.
The Government stand by their commitment given at spending review that there is no race to the bottom of pension provision, that public service pensions should remain a gold standard and that public service pensions should continue to provide some form of defined benefit.
The report is available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and it has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. The report is also available on the commission's website at http://www.hm-treasury. gov.uk/indreview_johnhutton_pensions.htm.
The Chancellor tasked the OTS with identifying areas of the tax system that cause the most day-to-day complexity for small businesses, recommend priority areas for simplification and consider the impact of these recommendations on different business sectors.
The OTS was also asked to identify the complexities surrounding the intermediaries legislation widely known as IR 35 and to consider simpler approaches that ensure that any income that is effectively employment income is fairly taxed.
Today the OTS has published its interim report in which it identifies structural complexities in the tax system and put forward its provisional recommendations on ways the Government might be able to pursue their its simplification. The OTS also presents evidence on complexity caused by IR35 and options for the Chancellor to consider.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games will be a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event. The Home Office and police are leading planning and operations to ensure that the Games will be safe and secure-and in keeping with the wider Olympic and Paralympic culture and experience.
I am today announcing the Government's intention to increase the maximum penalty for touting Olympic and Paralympic tickets from £5,000 to £20,000. The change will ensure that there is a more substantial deterrent to serious and organised criminal groups, who may otherwise target Olympic tickets.
No conduct that is currently legal will be criminalised. The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) will be operating an exchange system for those who wish to sell unwanted tickets legitimately; and it also will remain possible privately to sell on unwanted tickets at face value to family members or friends.
Publishing an unclassified version of the updated strategy builds on this Government's intention to make public as much information about Games safety and security as they can without disclosing sensitive material.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (William Hague) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Our overall vision is for our territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities, proudly retaining aspects of their British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people. We want to cherish the rich environmental assets for which, together, we are responsible.
We will continue vigorously to uphold the principle of self-determination and to ensure the continued security of all the overseas territories. We set this commitment out clearly in the strategic defence and security review. We want to help the territories plan
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We are determined that the situation we have found in the Turks and Caicos Islands is not repeated there or elsewhere. We therefore want to work with territories to make sure the right controls are in place to ensure good governance and sound management of public finances.
I am clear that, as well as seeking greater engagement with the territories from all government departments, the FCO must increase the resources allocated to this important work. Despite our challenging spending review settlement I have ensured that this is so. As I informed Parliament on 1 February, I have decided to increase the overseas territories programme fund to £7 million per year. I have ensured the resources available to run the overseas territories network are maintained at a level which will permit the upgrading of a number of governorships, which were downgraded in recent years. This will help ensure that we are able to recruit governors with the skills and experience to do these unusual and challenging jobs.
Most importantly, and mindful of the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have approved a discretionary grant of £6.6 million to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to reimburse the costs incurred in the past year pursuing corruption and violent crime. This is for the special investigation and prosecution team; related civil recovery work; and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police. My officials have co-ordinated this carefully with DfID's work to underpin the territory's public finances.
This is an exceptional case. Our basic principle remains that it is an integral part of good governance for a territory government to ensure that the criminal justice system is properly funded. Territories should not look to the UK to fund criminal investigations or prosecutions that they are reluctant to pursue themselves, but the burden in this case has been exceptional. The fiscal rescue package put in place by DfID should enable future costs to be met from the Turks and Caicos Islands Government public purse in the normal way.
I also plan to bring all aspects of the Government's policies on the overseas territories together in a new White Paper in the year ahead. We will want to consult widely on this. I am working with relevant departments on a new strategy to underpin this Government's approach to the territories. I intend to seek agreement to this strategy across government through the National Security Council and will update the House further once this is complete.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My honourable friend the Minister for Decentralisation (Greg Clark) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am announcing further detail on the Government's plans to replace the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) with a major infrastructure planning unit within the Planning Inspectorate. This unit will examine and make recommendations to Ministers on all major infrastructure applications on transport networks, ports, energy, hazardous waste and water.
The leadership of the Planning Inspectorate will change from 1 April 2011. The current chief executive, Katrine Sporle, is due to retire at the end of March. Katrine has made a significant contribution to the Planning Inspectorate and was awarded a CBE for outstanding public service earlier this year. I would like to record my thanks to her for her role in building the Planning Inspectorate's reputation and for its successful track record during her tenure.
I am pleased to announce that Sir Michael Pitt, chair of the IPC, has agreed to increase his working hours and take on the additional role of chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate from 1 April 2011. Sir Michael Pitt is an experienced chief executive and I am confident that he will approach his new role with the energy and commitment required to make the transition a success.
Following Royal Assent of the Localism Bill and the closure of the IPC, Sir Michael Pitt will remain chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate. He will oversee the changes to the infrastructure planning regime and ensure that the new integrated Planning Inspectorate delivers an excellent service across its range of responsibilities.
I would like to confirm my intention to retain the current cadre of commissioners appointed to examine major infrastructure applications until September 2014. This will ensure continuity and stability through the transition. They will form part of a single group of professionals who will work across the whole range of applications and appeal casework that the Planning Inspectorate will consider.
By retaining the skills of commissioners, I can confirm that major infrastructure applications in progress at the point of transition will be handled by the same individuals and that they will not be subject to any delay. Moreover, applicants should be reassured that ministerial decisions will be made in line with the existing statutory timescale of 12 months.
The new major infrastructure planning regime is still in its early stages with the first applications under the Planning Act 2008 having only recently been accepted for examination. The Government's commitment to create a major infrastructure planning unit with all decisions taken by Ministers will restore democratic accountability to the system while retaining the existing approach, expertise and statutory timetables of the current major infrastructure planning system. On this basis we now have the right model to meet the Government's objectives to promote infrastructure growth and security, facilitate investment for the UK economy and ensure that the decisions we make on these large projects have the stamp of legitimacy. This is the right arrangement for a major infrastructure planning system in the 21st century.
This model will ensure high-quality applications that can be examined and determined quickly in line with set timetables. The Government recognise however, that the Planning Act 2008 regime is new and substantially different from the multiple and overlapping regimes it replaced. We are therefore listening to industry, representative groups and others using the system for the first time and will be exploring opportunities for improvement to ensure the system has the right mix of certainty, flexibility and efficiency.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Henry Bellingham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 16 September 2010 my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, confirmed in another place that the Government would be taking forward work to promote high standards in the private military and security company (PMSC) industry on three tracks: introducing robust regulation in the UK through a trade association based on a voluntary code of conduct agreed with and monitored by the Government; using the Government's leverage as a key buyer of PMSC services to promote compliance with the code; and, seeking an international agreement on standards consistent with the UK code covering all aspects of PMSC organisation and operation worldwide.
Since then, we have made significant progress on the international strand. We have been leading work with the United States and Swiss Governments to develop international standards for the industry. On 9 November 2010 an International Code of Conduct for PMSCs was signed in Geneva by 58 major international PMSCs. This code is based on principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, and sets out broad guidelines for the organisation and operations of the industry worldwide. Since then, an additional 13 companies have signed up to the code. We are now working with the Swiss and US Governments, the PMSC industry and NGO community to establish an international mechanism to monitor compliance with the code. The Government are also now working to update their guidance for shipping companies that use PMSC services at sea to protect their vessels against piracy.
We have also made progress to identify a representative from industry to work with us to establish a code of conduct setting out national standards derived from the international code, and to monitor and audit compliance of UK based PMSCs. We received proposals from two organisations, which we assessed in detail, and I can confirm that we will be entering further
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My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is today laying before Parliament regulations that will close, on 30 April 2011, the Worker Registration Scheme for workers from member states from Eastern Europe that joined the EU on 1 May 2004. This means that after 30 April 2011 nationals of those countries will no longer be subject to a requirement to register their employment as a condition of working legally in the United Kingdom and will be able to work and reside in the United Kingdom on the same basis as nationals from other EU member states.
The Worker Registration Scheme is being closed because the terms of the treaty of accession mean that the United Kingdom cannot apply restrictions on access to the labour market to nationals of those member states for more than seven years from the date of accession. Other EU member states-that is, Germany and Austria-that have maintained such restrictions to date will also be required to lift them.
The Government intend to apply transitional controls on labour market access, in accordance with the relevant accession treaty, to nationals of any country joining the EU in the future. This is part of the Government's commitment to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands, alongside the steps that the Government are taking to reduce immigration from outside the EU, including new limits on numbers of workers admitted under tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system and reforms to other routes of entry including students, families and marriage. Economic migration routes will remain closed to lower skilled migrants from outside the EU, while UK and EU labour continues to be available to meet labour needs at this level.
The UK Border Agency will be publishing guidance on its website for workers from the relevant accession member states and for employers, clarifying their responsibilities in relation to compliance with the Worker Registration Scheme until its closure on 30 April.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Crispin Blunt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
This publication is the work of the two independent monitors, Mr Andrew Williamson and Mr Peter Smallridge, who were asked to monitor the implementation of their original report from 2008, Independent Review of Restraint in Juvenile Secure Settings. I welcome their report and the conclusion
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I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Mr Williamson and Mr Smallridge for their contribution to this important area of work. Copies of their original report and the government response from 2008 can be found on the department's website at www.justice.gsi.gov.uk.
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