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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Philip Hammond) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Lord Levene published his independent recommendations on the structure and management of the Ministry of Defence in his report on defence reform on 27 June 2011. Since then, substantial progress has been made in implementing these recommendations. One of the most significant is the creation of a new Joint Forces Command.
The Joint Forces Command will be established on Monday 2 April 2012. It will be led by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, whose appointment was announced on 15 September 2011 (Official Report, col. 52WS), and who took up post as the first Commander Joint Forces Command on 1 December 2011. The establishment of the new command at its initial operating capability follows just nine months after the publication of Lord Levene's report. The Joint Forces Command will manage, deliver and champion joint capabilities to support the success of current and future military operations, and will reach full operating capability by April 2013.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister for Employment Relations, Consumers and Postal Affairs (Norman Lamb) has today made the following Statement.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Jonathan Djanogly) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The charter sets out for the first time the standards that bereaved family members and others who come into contact with coroner services across England and Wales can expect to receive. It also sets out what someone can do if they are unhappy with the level of service they have received.
The charter has been revised following a public consultation in 2011 and, as proposed in the consultation, is being published in a single booklet with an updated version of the Ministry of Justice's Guide to Coroners and Inquests. Combining the guide and charter in this way will ensure that those coming into contact with coroner services have accessible and concise information on the processes and standards in a coroner inquiry and know their rights under the system. It will also ensure that all coroners' offices in England and Wales are aware of the standards they should be meeting.
The charter is an integral part of the Government's plans for reform of the coroner system and, alongside the appointment of a Chief Coroner and implementation of most of the provisions in Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, will help to ensure much more consistent standards of service between coroner areas.
The charter comes into effect today and we are distributing hard copies of the booklet to all coroners' offices across England and Wales, as well as publishing it on the Justice and Directgov websites.
Copies of the guide and charter booklet have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The guide and charter is also available online at: http://www.justice .gov.uk/guidance/burials-and-coroners/coroners.htm and on http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizens andrights/Death/WhatToDoAfterADeath/DG_066713.
Under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, appointment of the Chief Coroner is a matter for the Lord Chief Justice, in consultation with the Lord Chancellor. Detailed discussions are taking place and I will make a further Statement once these discussions have concluded.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Andrew Stunell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The reports and findings are of general policy interest, but do not relate to forthcoming policy announcements. We are publishing these documents in the interests of transparency and as part of our freedom of information commitment to publish the results of all commissioned research.
i) Engaging behaviour: Behavioural economics and citizen engagement. This study considered the application of behavioural economics to explain the motivations for people to take part in civic activities such as petitioning and volunteering, particularly among people who "buck the trends" among their peers.
ii) Quirk asset transfer demonstration programme. This report examines the attitudes of councillors, council officers and community organisations involved in the advancing assets for communities demonstration programme. It explores actual and potential benefits of the programme; perceptions of the risks associated with asset transfer; and how success can be evaluated.
iii) Process evaluation for Communitybuilders. This process evaluation assessed the implementation and operation of the £70 million Communitybuilders fund. It aimed to look at whether the programme was working as planned, understand the early successes and failures, and identify lessons for the programme as it progressed.
iv) Sharing data to improve local employment outcomes: Evaluation of the local data share pilots. This report considers the impact and implications of a project to test ways of sharing data in order to tackle worklessness at a local level, conducted jointly between Department for Work and Pensions and DCLG in 2009-10. The report focuses on the factors that helped the three pilot sites progress their data sharing, factors that the pilot sites found to be more challenging and the results of the data share.
v) Decentralisation outcomes: A review of evidence and analysis of international data. This research reviewed the extensive literature on definitions of decentralisation and empirical research identifying the outcomes of decentralisation. The authors also analysed two large European survey data sets and used econometric modelling techniques to assess the contribution of decentralisation to wellbeing and satisfaction with government/democracy/health/education.
vi) The benefits of meaningful interaction: Rapid review and assessment of the existing literature. This study reviewed the existing literature on successful approaches to and the benefits of meaningful interaction for individuals, neighbours and communities, for example in terms of improvements in health, welfare and life in general.
These two reports resulted from the REACH programme which was led jointly by the black community and the previous Government and was designed to raise the aspirations and achievements of black boys and young black men. The evaluation and the media analysis project were commissioned in order to support the delivery of the REACH role modelling programme. The media analysis project was based on a survey of media sources in 2008.
(ix)-(xiv) Six reports presenting the findings from a series of projects which tested the feasibility of tracking central government funding into deprived neighbourhoods. The projects sought to discern whether such neighbourhoods received a relatively greater proportion of mainstream funding. The projects covered liveability, crime, worklessness, healthcare and Department for Education funding.
These reports and findings are of general policy interest, but do not relate to forthcoming policy announcements and are not a reflection of the current Government's policies and priorities. DCLG is publishing these reports in the interests of transparency.
The Government are concerned to ensure that their research delivers best possible value for money for the taxpayer and that sums expended are reasonable in relation to the public policy benefits obtained. DCLG has in place scrutiny and challenge processes for research. All new projects will be scrutinised to ensure the methodology is sound and that all options for funding are explored at an early stage. This includes using existing work from other organisations, joint funding projects with other departments or organisations and taking work forward in-house.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
As part of the structural reforms set out in the schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching (November 2010), I am today announcing that three new executive agencies of the Department for Education will be established on Sunday, 1 April, the same day that their seven predecessor organisations will cease to function.
The Teaching Agency will be responsible for the supply and quality of the majority of the education workforce and for the regulation of teacher conduct. This work was previously carried out by the Training and Development Agency for Schools, the General Teaching Council for England, the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and the Children's Workforce Development Council.
The Education Funding Agency will be responsible for the revenue and capital funding of education and training, taking over the functions of the Young People's Learning Agency and Partnerships for Schools.
Last year I asked the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to consider arrangements for delivering practical car driving tests from premises other than traditional driving test centres such as local authority buildings or leisure centres to provide a more local service for candidates.
I have now asked the agency further to develop the model. Five additional areas have been identified in and/or surrounding: Kettering, Glasgow, Manchester, Worcester and Watford. These will be centred on an existing driving test centre "hub". They represent a mix of urban and rural locations. Examiners based at the hub will conduct tests from additional satellite locations within the zone. Subject to finding suitable premises and the availability of driving test standard routes I have asked DSA to explore the possibility of providing tests from the following satellite locations:Kettering-Corby, Market Harborough and Wellingborough;Glasgow-Johnstone, Renfrew, East Kilbride, Cathcart and Bearsden;Manchester-Cheadle, Altrincham, Salford, Middleton, Ashton-under-Lyne and Oldham;Worcestershire-Kidderminster, Droitwich and Bromsgrove; andWatford-Hemel Hempstead, Harpenden, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City.
I am also pleased to announce the publication of a prior information notice in the Official Journal of the European Union for public and private organisations to work in partnership with the DSA to identify and provide locations from which the practical car test could be delivered. DSA will encourage engagement by a wide section of the business community, including retail and hotel groups to provide premises from which the agency could operate.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Children and Families (Sarah Teather) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The new, simpler and clearer EYFS framework is an integral part of the Government's wider vision for families in the foundation years. It demonstrates our commitment to freeing professionals from bureaucracy to focus on supporting children. Together with a more flexible free early education entitlement and new streamlined inspection arrangements, this is a major step towards a lighter touch regulatory regime. But we need to go further. I will continue to seek opportunities to reduce burdens and remove unnecessary regulation and paperwork which undermine professionals' ability to protect children and promote their development. Last summer, I asked Professor Cathy Nutbrown to consider how we might strengthen the early years workforce. Her report is due in June, and I will carefully consider her recommendations-along with international evidence on staffing levels and qualifications-as we continue to promote early years provision that is high quality and cost effective to parents.
Improving the support children receive in their earliest years is central to greater social mobility. Young children develop quickly, and they develop better with the help of high quality early education and good support at home-the cornerstones for children's success in school and later life. That is why the Government continue to invest heavily in early education, including the expansion of free childcare for three and four year-olds, and the new entitlement for two year-olds.
The EYFS sets out the standards that early years providers must meet. It has improved quality across the early years sector, but some aspects of the 2008 framework have proved overly bureaucratic and burdensome. The reformed EYFS, which builds on the independent advice of Dame Clare Tickell, will reduce paperwork and bureaucracy for professionals and enable them to focus more strongly on the areas of learning most essential for children's healthy development. It will also simplify assessment at age five, reducing the early learning goals from 69 to 17, and provide for earlier intervention for children who need extra help.
When we published our response to the main EYFS consultation on 20 December 2011, we launched a further one-month consultation on new learning and development requirements (as required by the Childcare Act 2006). The responses to this additional consultation were broadly positive and I have made no significant changes to the framework as a result. I am publishing the report of this consultation alongside the framework.
I am also laying before Parliament the amended regulations to enact the reformed framework. Together, the Early Years Foundation Stage (Learning and Development Requirements) (Amendment) Order 2012, and the Early Years Foundation Stage (Welfare Requirements) Regulations 2012, give legal effect to the requirements set out in the framework.
I am also laying the Childcare (Early Years Register) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which amend the Childcare (Early Years Register) Regulations 2008. These amendments secure alignment between the conditions which providers must meet for registration with Ofsted, the requirements of the EYFS, and providers' general responsibility to ensure that all staff are suitable to work with young children.
Guidance has today been issued to civil servants in UK departments and those working in NDPBs on the principles which they should observe in relation to the conduct of government business in the run-up to the forthcoming elections to local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, to the London Assembly and for the London, Salford and Liverpool mayors. The guidance also covers the referendums on directly elected mayors in several English cities. These elections and referendums are taking place on 3 May 2012.
The guidance sets out the need to maintain the political impartiality of the Civil Service and the need to ensure that public resources are not used for party political purposes. The period of sensitivity preceding the elections starts on 12 April.
Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Libraries of the House and on the Cabinet Office website at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/election-guidance.
The presidency sought agreement to a general approach on a proposal for a regulation which defines the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). This sets out the actions to be undertaken at EU and member state level to develop the network. I was able to support the general approach after securing a UK amendment that will ensure that progress on the projects required by the regulation would be subject to the availability of financial resources. This amendment received support from Germany, Latvia, Finland, Romania, Ireland, Bulgaria, Slovenia and France. In my contribution to the debate I also argued that governance structures on corridors should be less burdensome, more flexible and focus on contentious cross-border projects. Most member states supported the compromise text which was viewed as a balance between the Commission's initial proposals and what they could accept.
The council also agreed a general approach on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the council on ground-handling services at EU airports and repealing Council Directive 96/67/EC. This proposal is part of the airports package. My intervention emphasised the UK's reservations about the cost impact and administrative burdens of the
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In the light of these changes and the fact that the regulation is expected to deliver more competition in ground-handling at airports in other European countries and hence reduce costs for airlines (and indirectly for passengers), I felt able to support the presidency's compromise text.
Under any other business, the Commission set out its future intentions on the follow up to the "Costa Concordia" accident in Italy in January. It intends to carry out a review of legislative proposals on domestic passenger ships, to be submitted for consideration at the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). The Commissioner also indicated there may be a revision to the ship stability directive, and work on watertight doors, with a second wave of regulatory activity later in the year. The Commissioner was supportive of renewed discussion both with the EU and the IMO on passenger ship safety. Italy gave an account of the emergency response to the accident and noted there would be an administrative enquiry.
I intervened to stress the need for a considered response that takes on board the outcome of the investigation currently underway before any decisions are taken as to whether regulatory changes are needed.
Also under any other business, the Commission provided an update on the international reaction to the inclusion of aviation in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). The Commission reported that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had initiated new work to identify a global market based measure for the aviation sector. If this work leads to an international agreement on tackling climate change emissions from aviation, the EU could, as set out in the ETS directive, review its legislation. I stressed the importance of maintaining a unified and robust European position and there was clear support from other member states for the aviation ETS.
The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 on recording equipment in road transport on which the presidency was hoping for a general approach and the any other business item Galileo and EGNOS Programmes on which the Commission was providing information, were not discussed at the council.
During my visit, I was also able to hold a bilateral discussion with the Vice President of the Commission, Siim Kallas, on the main items for Transport Council discussion. A constructive exchange took place on upcoming Commission proposals for airport slots and rail policy. I used the opportunity to highlight the UK's work with the Commission on the better regulation agenda.
I also met my counterparts from Cyprus and Ireland to discuss plans for their forthcoming presidencies of the EU, in July-December 2012 and in January-June 2013, respectively. The Cypriots' main priorities focus on re-energising the integrated maritime policy, and promoting "blue growth". The Irish are at an early stage in their preparations and sought UK's views ahead of their presidency. My discussion with the Cypriots and Irish Ministers also included an overview of the important work that the UK is taking forward with the European Commission on the better regulation agenda.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My right honourable friend the Minister for International Security Strategy (Gerald Howarth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The agenda items covered were current and future operations, a discussion on the changing strategic context in light of the recently issued US Strategic Defence Guidance and a European Defence Agency (EDA) Steering Board.
The three current EU operations, Operation Atalanta (counter-piracy), Operation Althea (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and EU Training Mission Somalia (military training mission) were discussed in the council.
I was pleased to announce that the UK, as a reflection of our strong political support for the executive mandate in Bosnia and Herzegovina, intended to contribute a company (approximately 120 troops) to the Operation Althea Intermediate Regional Reserve from mid-December 2012 for a period of at least six months. This contribution to the reconfigured EUFOR Operation, which will not start until after the Olympic and Paralympic Games, will demonstrate the UK's commitment to the maintenance of EUFOR's executive mandate to help maintain a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The company will be held in the UK at an appropriate degree of readiness and would deploy on operations only if called forward by the operation commander.
Council conclusions on the pooling and sharing of military capabilities were agreed in the Foreign Affairs Council (Defence). These can be found at: http:// www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/esdp/129162.pdf.
While the UK does not oppose these projects we will not participate ourselves. We are fully supportive of the mandate to establish negotiations for an administrative arrangement between the EDA and the Republic of Serbia.
Finally, in addition to these action points, the steering board was requested to agree to a political declaration on air-to-air refuelling (AAR) capabilities, and sign a declaration of intent for the establishment of multinational modular medical units (M3U).
Noting that one of the key lessons learnt from operations in Libya is that there is a gap among other European nations in AAR capabilities and that the declaration on AAR was not for signature, is not legally binding and carries no financial commitment, I agreed this declaration. With regard to M3U, it has been identified as a critical shortfall in European nations capabilities, and it is the EDA's intention to establish these units which should enhance and improve standards, procedures and inter-operability among member states. The UK does not wish to participate in the M3U project, as we believe it duplicates activities currently being undertaken in NATO.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister for Employment Relations, Consumers and Postal Affairs (Norman Lamb) has today made the following Statement.
In October 2011, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) launched a joint consultation on proposals to reform the FRC. The proposals were designed to clarify the FRC's scope, streamline its governance and structure, and give it greater independence from the accountancy profession and a proportionate range of sanctions against poor quality auditing. The Government continue strongly to believe that these are the right objectives.
The response to the consultation helped the department and the FRC refine the proposals. In particular the proposals have been amended to enhance the status of the expert groups that will advise the FRC Board on accounting, auditing and actuarial issues and to make clear the procedural safeguards that will be put in place as part of the FRC's monitoring and enforcement work.
This recognises the important and valuable work that the recognised supervisory bodies (RSBs) and the recognised qualifying bodies (RQBs) undertake. The overall reforms will give greater clarity to the boundaries between the professional bodies and the FRC.
BIS is today publishing a response to the consultation, which sets out the Government's intention to introduce legislative changes to enable the FRC to implement the finalised reform proposals. The proposed changes will delegate most of the powers to the FRC Board rather than its operating bodies as at present, apart from the Financial Reporting Review Panel (FRRP) powers which will move to the new Conduct Committee, and will provide the FRC with powers to:determine and require, rather than request, an RSB to impose proportionate sanctions in respect of poor quality work;conclude disciplinary cases without a public hearing where this is in the public interest and subject to appropriate publicity; and take proportionate action against and RSB or RQB for shortcomings in discharging their regulatory responsibilities.
These changes will ensure the UK has a powerful, joined up voice on the international stage, which involves high quality and informed technical expertise to continue to strengthen our significant influence.
The consultation response (which is published jointly with the FRC), and the final stage impact assessment are available on the BIS website at http://www.bis.gov.uk/consultations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Anne Milton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The skills of people working throughout the public, voluntary and private sectors are crucial to protecting and improving the health and well-being of the population, and addressing health inequalities. The consultation document considers how future systems for education and training can support the development and use of those skills to help achieve this goal and make the progress we need to address our big health challenges.
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The development of this consultation has been an inclusive process, with involvement from key stakeholders to help us build a workforce that can transform public health. The subsequent strategy, which we plan to publish in autumn 2012, will be shaped by a range of views. It will be an important contribution to making the future public health system a success.
Under the proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill, local government will take on a significant new leadership role in public health, employing a substantial proportion of the public health workforce. The consultation document has been developed, and is co-branded, with the Local Government Association.
Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Towards a workforce strategy for the new public health system has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning (John Hayes) has today made the following Statement.
On 23 February I announced funding of £11.5 million for bursaries to support initial teacher training undertaken by teachers in the FE sector in 2012-13. As I said then, it is a powerful demonstration of the Government's wholehearted commitment to the FE and skills sector that despite the current financial pressures and in challenging times, we are looking to secure the talents and skills of potential FE teachers.
Recruiting the best talent is central to making the sector as good as it can be, and a key element in our approach to driving up standards and increasing professionalism in the sector. Further education is at the heart of economic revival; at the core of social renewal.
In my Written Answer of 1 March to a Question from my honourable friend Graham Stuart, the Member for Beverley and Holderness, I promised further details of that bursary scheme, which are outlined below.
Bursaries are open to both in-service and pre-service trainees who will be following a diploma in teaching in the lifelong learning sector (DTLLS) at level 5 or a post-graduate qualification such as PGCE at level 6 or 7. Bursaries will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
BIS officials are discussing the most effective administration of the bursaries with the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), which will need to discuss with key stakeholders further details of the administration of the scheme.
The bursaries are currently for 2012-13 only. Funding arrangements for teacher training beyond 2012-13 will be reviewed in the light of the recommendations announced today in the independent review of professionalism, chaired by my noble friend Lord Lingfield, and changes to FE and skills funding that will introduce loans for training at this level from September 2013, aligning it more closely with arrangements in higher education.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Kenneth Clarke) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am today publishing proposals for consultation in two key areas of the justice reform agenda: sentences in the community and the shape of probation services that deliver them. These proposals are set out in full in the consultation papers Punishment and Reform: Effective Community Sentences and Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation Servicesrespectively.
There is an urgent need to reform our criminal justice system in order to improve public safety. Reoffending rates remain too high despite recent improvements. Almost half of all adult offenders reoffend within a year of leaving custody. Reoffending of offenders sentenced to less than 12 months in prison is estimated to cost the economy up to £10 billion annually. Most seriously of all, left unchecked, these rates of repeat crime mean thousands of people are unnecessarily becoming victims.
That is why the Government have embarked on wholesale reform, beginning with the publication of the Green Paper Breaking the Cycle: Effective
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In these two publications I set out radical plans to make sentences in the community more credible and more effective in reducing crime and to reform probation so that it makes the fullest contribution by extending competition and opening up the management of lower risk offenders to the innovation and energy of the widest possible range of providers.
We propose wide-ranging reforms to the way sentences in the community operate. Our aim is to provide sentencers with a robust community sentencing framework that is effective at punishing and reforming offenders, and in which they and the public can have confidence. Our plans include intensive community punishment to be delivered through a tough package of requirements that would involve community payback, a significant restriction of liberty backed by electronic monitoring and effective financial penalties. We also propose that every community order includes a punitive element. We will build on these options by being creative with the technology available for monitoring offenders' movements and by exploring the use of asset seizure as a stand alone punishment.
With regard to probation services, our consultation proposals are the result of the Government's review of the future shape of probation services, aimed at ensuring that they punish and reform offenders, and protect the public more effectively. They also take forward our Competition Strategy for Offender Services published in July 2011, which set our intention to compete all offender services unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.
We need to reform probation services to cut crime-by making better use of the innovation, capacity and diversity of different providers. We intend to extend the principles of competition in probation services as envisaged by the Offender Management Act 2007.
The safety of the public is our number one priority. Under our proposals, public sector probation will retain control of the management of those criminals who pose the highest risk, including the most serious and violent offenders. The public sector will also retain responsibility for all advice to court, and for public interest decisions over all offenders including initially assessing levels of risk, resolving action where sentences are breached, and decisions on the recalls of offenders to prison.
Through carefully managed competition, including competing the management and supervision of lower risk offenders, we will bring greater effectiveness and quality to probation services by ensuring that they are delivered by those best placed to do so, whether they are in the public, voluntary, or private sectors.
Under our proposals, public sector probation trusts will have a stronger role as commissioners of competed services, responsible for buying competed services and holding those who deliver them to account for the
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The aim of giving further discretion and responsibility to providers and front-line staff is that public safety can be protected and resources can be targeted effectively, including extending the principles of payment by results where possible. We will encourage the participation of the voluntary, private and public sectors, alongside new models for delivering public services like mutuals. We are also consulting on the potential over time for other public bodies, such as local authorities or police and crime commissioners, to take responsibility for probation services.
This consultation and subsequent government response will form the basis of stage 1 of the Triennial Review of Probation Trusts, as part of the coalition Government's commitment to transparency and accountability. The triennial review will be aligned with guidance published by the Cabinet Office: Guidance on Reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies. The final report and findings will be laid in this House.
The Government's goal is to reform sentences in the community and probation services so that they are able both to punish and reform offenders much more effectively. We will actively consult with stakeholders on these proposals.
Copies of Punishment and Reform: Effective Community Sentences and Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation Services will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The documents will also be available online, respectively, at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/effective-community-services and https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/effective-probation-services.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister for Employment Relations, Consumers and Postal Affairs (Norman Lamb) has today made the following Statement.
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I am announcing today that my department will shortly commence the first triennial review of the Migration Advisory Committee and the Technical Advisory Board. Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government's commitment to ensuring accountability in public life. I will announce the findings of the review later this year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My right honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Andrew Robathan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Following the comprehensive spending review and the strategic defence and security review, and in view of the continuing pressure on the defence budget, the Ministry of Defence has carried out a very wide-ranging examination of civil policing and guarding policy and requirements to ensure that they reflect the main security and crime risks faced by the MoD and are being met as cost-effectively as possible. Safeguarding our sites, people and assets-in particular those associated with our nuclear programme-remains a central priority.
We have, however, concluded that we can make sensible and prudent reductions in the number of guarding and civil policing posts at some of our sites, while continuing to maintain effective security. It would not be appropriate to describe in full the specific detail of our future guarding and civil policing requirements or the precise arrangements at individual sites, but I set out below the main elements of the changes we now envisage.
Our approach has been to look hard at our requirements, identify what is essential, and retain it. But reductions are possible in areas where activity, personnel, or expenditure is not absolutely essential to protecting our people, our assets or the delivery of defence outputs. In the current fiscal climate it is our duty to make savings in these areas, both to save money for the taxpayer, and to ensure defence can devote as much resource as possible to the front line.
The measures are being progressed as they are developed. The furthest advanced are changes to the MoD Police headquarters and management structure, the cost of which will reduce by 41 per cent. These include: cutting the number of divisions from five to two; simplifying processes, centralising services and reducing complements; and civilianising police posts wherever that is sensible. Consultation with the staff associations and trades unions has begun, with implementation expected to start during 2012. Follow-up studies are planned, with the target of identifying a further 9 per cent saving, bringing the total reduction to 50 per cent. At the same time, there will be consultation on proposals to reduce the cost of the MoD Guard Service headquarters and regional management structure by 50 per cent.
Other measures were the subject of general departmental consultation with the staff associations and trades unions in 2011, and are now the subject of further more detailed consultation on implementation. These measures are:a modest increase in the number of sites where we believe can safely rely for part or all of the week on physical security measures, and therefore do not need guards on duty at all times; changes in guarding policy that make prudent reductions in the security complements at a number of defence sites, and focus effort on the most important security activities; adjusting guarding numbers at sites where experience has shown that effective security can in practice be maintained with complements lower than previously employed; continuing to provide support and reassurance to defence communities by focusing a reduced number of defence community police officers on areas of greatest need. reprioritising the work of the MoD Police Criminal Investigation Department on the crimes that most significantly affect the defence interest, yielding a cost saving; and a rationalisation of the MoD Police uniformed operational support capability not permanently allocated to specific sites, with a saving of some posts.
In parallel with the implementation of the changes above, I have agreed some additional measures for departmental consultation with the staff associations and trades unions in 2012. Formal consultative documents will be issued in due course, but the main proposals are:making increased use of regular service personnel to carry out unarmed access control duties at (or near) sites where they are stationed, with individuals undertaking periodic duties that will not reduce their operational readiness. At other military sites
Further consultation will take place on all these proposed changes, during which we will assess their impact carefully in the circumstances of individual sites. In view of this flexible approach to implementation, we cannot yet state with certainty what the eventual impact will be on personnel numbers. However, on the current assumptions, the likely effect would be to reduce the MoD Police from its complement in 2009 of some 3,600 officers to a complement of around 2,400 by 1 April 2016 (compared to a current strength of just under 3,100); and to reduce the MoD Guard Service from its complement in 2009 of some 4,000 to a complement a little under 2200 by 1 April 2015 (compared to a current strength of just under 3,300).
While consultation on, and implementation of, these measures continues, my department will continue to seek further efficiencies in guarding and civil policing expenditure. In particular, routine activity to review complements at all our sites continues, taking account of the latest information about specific sites, and seeking improvements in the effective deployment of staff where possible. In addition, we are seeking efficiencies in the use of the defence estate, which may change the requirement for guarding and civil policing. Such changes will be subject to consultation with the staff associations and trades unions in the usual way.
I do not expect staff affected by these changes to welcome them, and I recognise-and very much regret-the uncertainty and anxiety caused to the personnel involved, who have made a vital contribution to defence security over many years.
I am pleased to announce the publication of the business plans for the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport's Motoring Agencies-the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Along with the US and France, the UK aims to raise the profile of nuclear security on the international agenda. In the interests of increasing transparency, we have decided to release more information about our own capabilities. This includes our ability to respond to terrorist incidents involving nuclear or radiological material, and to improve international standards for the security of nuclear material.
"The Governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and French Republic each understand the threat of nuclear terrorism and share the collective responsibility to inform and strengthen international measures designed to secure sensitive information, technology or nuclear material from access by terrorists and to encourage the development of appropriate emergency response measures. In recognition of these shared principles, consistent with our rights and obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, our three governments are taking the following initial steps:
 INFCIRC/225/Rev. 5 recognizes that nuclear security protection levels are critically dependent upon the attractiveness of nuclear materials to potential adversaries with intent to assemble a nuclear explosive device. We will actively engage in international workshops to address graded approaches for the characterization of nuclear material attractiveness to further enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of physical protection measures.
 We have the specialised knowledge and capability to diagnose, render safe, characterize and dispose of a nuclear terrorist threat device. We each have a focused effort to continually enhance the technical capabilities of our emergency detection and response assets to any such threat. As such we will seek, wherever possible, to engage with the international community to further strengthen worldwide preparedness to contend with the threat of nuclear terrorism".
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice (Nick Herbert) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In 2009 Bernard Hogan-Howe, then chief constable of Merseyside, carried out a review of the arrangements for police air support for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). This identified scope to rationalise the current patchwork of provision and make savings, as well as ensuring a consistent level of air support across England and Wales.
On the basis of that review, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) project has been led by chief constable Alex Marshall and has the full support of ACPO. The advantages of NPAS include the following:it will give all forces access to helicopter support 24 hours a day, 365 days year-in contrast to the current system which sees some force helicopters grounded for days a time while they are being repaired; 97 per cent of the population of England and Wales will remain within 20 minutes' flying time; andit will also save the police service £15 million per year when fully operational.
Chief constables of all forces in England and Wales have given their support to the proposal for NPAS. The vast majority of police authorities have also given support in principle. However, realisation of the full benefits available through NPAS depends upon the commitment of the whole of the police service in England and Wales. These proposals have been under discussion for over two years. It is time for the police service to move on from considering the principle and to focus on agreeing the details of a collaborative approach. This order will ensure such a focus.
While the Government have removed central targets from the police and are giving elected police and crime commissioners the power to set local strategic priorities, they have also introduced new powers under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act to ensure that forces work effectively together. This is the first use of new powers brought in by the Act.
On 15 March I issued a Written Statement to the House to announce that Tom Winsor had published the final report of his review of remuneration and conditions of service for police officers and staff in England and Wales.
When the review was launched, I said that it is vital that we have a modern and flexible police service to meet the demands placed on it, and this is still true today. We have the finest police service in the world, and our police do one of the most important jobs in the country with great courage, skill and commitment. However, we need to support the service in maximising its potential and in its progress to become the 21st century service the public deserves.
The review has an important role to play in this as part of the Government's wider police reform agenda, along with other reforms including the introduction of police and crime commissioners, the reduction in bureaucracy, developing professionalism in the service and the creation of the police professional body, and improving service to the public through collaboration between police forces, with other public services and with the private sector. Police officers and staff deserve to have pay and workforce arrangements that recognise the vital role they play in fighting crime and keeping the public safe, and enable them to deliver effectively for the public. We also need a workforce that can respond to the reality of policing in the 21st century.
On 30 January 2012 I laid a Statement about recommendations made in Tom Winsor's Part 1 report. I accepted the recommendations from the Police Arbitration Tribunal and the Police Negotiating Board
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I am minded to direct the Police Negotiating Board and Police Advisory Board for England and Wales to consider as a matter of urgency proposals on pay, a fast-track scheme to the rank of inspector and other matters that are within their respective remits. I am consulting the independent chair of those bodies on this.
I asked Tom Winsor to consider the findings of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission, led by Lord Hutton, concerning the normal pension age for police officers. The final report recommends a pension age of 60, in line with Lord Hutton's recommended pension age for police officers.
This recommendation will be reflected in a proposal for long-term reform of police pensions on which I will now consult the Police Negotiating Board. In common with the reforms which are being developed across public service pension schemes, the Government are committed to ensuring that police pensions are affordable and sustainable for the future. Those who work in the police and across public services will continue to have access to pension schemes that are among the very best available.
Tom Winsor has also made recommendations for entry to the service at the rank of superintendent and, for those with relevant policing experience overseas, at the rank of chief constable. I do not believe it is in the best interests of the service to restrict its ability to
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The review also recommends significant changes to the way in which police pay and conditions are determined, including abolishing the Police Negotiating Board, establishing a pay review body for officers, and including the remuneration of chief officers in the Senior Salaries Review Body's remit. The Government will consult on proposals for implementing the necessary changes to the police officer pay machinery.
The recommendations made in the report are matters of serious national importance for the service, which could play a vital role in reform. They represent significant changes to structures for pay, conditions, careers and leadership. I will therefore be taking forward the steps I have described as a matter of urgency.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Bob Neill) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 12 August 2011, as part of a concerted, cross-government action, the Government announced a series of measures to help rebuild communities following the riots and public disorder in the summer of 2011.
The package provided immediate and ongoing support to open up shops and rebuild buildings which were damaged, make sure people who lost their homes were re-housed, and to help councils get their areas back to normal as quickly as possible.
Under these schemes, local councils were placed in the lead in providing support to local firms and local residents. Central government committed to reimburse local councils for their incurred costs retrospectively (in a similar way to how the Bellwin scheme has operated historically).
In answers to previous Parliamentary Questions, I committed to update the House on the payments being made. I am now able to confirm the payments paid out by my department in respect of the following funding schemes:
Jointly funded by the Department for Communities for Local Government and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the scheme helped councils to reduce business rates, finance emergency building repairs and encourage customers back to the affected areas. At the request of councils and businesses, the Government extended the payment deadline from 7 November to 3 January to cover the run up to Christmas.
The Recovery Scheme was funded by DCLG to meet councils' immediate costs of making their areas safe, clear and clean again. £2.9 million has been paid to 28 local authorities for their claims. Examples of expenditure for each local authority include:the London Borough of Enfield: £122,029. The bulk of the expenditure relates to emergency repairs to roads and other structures and security; Birmingham City Council: £91,649. The costs include emergency works to highways, clearing debris and staff overtime; the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham: £81,726. The expenditure being claimed relates to emergency repairs, demolition works and associated costs;Liverpool City Council: £58,706. The expenditure being claimed relates to emergency road repairs and the clearing of debris; London Borough of Greenwich: £34,204. The expenditure being claimed is for agency and staff overtime costs for cleaning and building security measures; Medway Council: £11,687. The expenditure being claimed relates to additional staffing, overtime costs and waste removal;Wolverhampton City Council: £11,078. The expenditure being claimed relates to street cleansing and minor emergency repairs;Leicester City Council: £10,985. The expenditure being claimed relates to security measures and some minor emergency highway repairs;Bristol City Council: £5,968. The expenditure being claimed relates to staff overtime costs for the clearance of debris and rubbish;London Borough of Waltham Forest: £4,249. The expenditure being claimed relates to security measures and some very minor emergency repairs;London Borough of Sutton: £3,730; The expenditure being claimed relates to staff overtime costs around security issues;West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service: £2,264. The expenditure relates to staff overtime costs;London Borough of Croydon: £993,749. This includes funding for works to deal with dangerous structures, site clearance and emergency works to highways and footpaths, council tax discounts, street lighting and cleaning; London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority: £194,484. The majority of this claim is for staff overtime costs;London Borough of Lambeth: £64,989. This relates to additional staff costs for youth custody services and the clearing of debris; Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service: £33,143, in respect of overtime and incidental expenses; Nottingham City Council: £28,482, for costs relating to overtime, cleaning and emergency control centre operations, legal costs and youth activities;
A total of £ 380,255 has been paid to the six councils that submitted claims. This figure included £35,000 for two caseworkers to work exclusively with displaced families in Haringey, to ensure they accessed the services to help them to start to resolve their housing issues and rebuild their lives.
At the end of this month I will receive HS2 Ltd's route and station advice for high speed rail lines to Leeds, Manchester and Heathrow. This is an important next step in our aspiration for a truly national high speed network, as set out in our programme for government. Phase 2 of High Speed Two will spread the benefits of high speed rail further across the country, increasing capacity and enhancing connectivity by extending high speed rail lines to Leeds and Manchester and connecting other major conurbations in the North and in Scotland through seamless transition onto the existing network.
In fulfilment of its remit, HS2 Ltd's advice will include options for stations in Manchester, Leeds, South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and at Heathrow Airport, as well as advice on the case and potential locations for additional stations. It will also cover the impact of phase 2 of the network in releasing capacity on the midland and east coast main lines, as well as further extending the benefits of released capacity within the west coast corridor.
I will consider this advice objectively and in detail over the coming months, and I intend to publish it in the autumn together with a government response setting out initial preferred route and station options. An important part of this process will be to consider the views of delivery partners in the cities where HS2 stations may be located, including any underpinning evidence which they have identified. Understanding local desires and plans for development will be crucial in helping me reach initial preferences for station locations. I am particularly keen to ensure that the network best supports the economic potential of the cities and regions it serves, through well-integrated station locations that build on local and regional plans.
Minimising the risk of blight is a serious consideration, and it is for this reason that I expect to publish HS2 Ltd's advice once I have reached a view on routes and station options. Publishing a detailed range of possible options without an indication of the Government's preferences would generate unnecessary and harmful blight across areas that ultimately might never be affected by the lines. I will be working with national environmental stakeholders to discuss key sustainability issues and how best to consult on lines of route going forward to help meet the needs of different stakeholders and the public.
Following publication, the input of interested parties, including MPs and their constituents, will be valuable to help further develop the proposals that will go forward for subsequent formal public consultation. Only once a full public consultation has been launched and completed will any decisions be reached.
When preferred route options are published in the autumn we will consult on and introduce an exceptional hardship scheme to assist property owners impacted
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise (Mark Prisk) has today made the following Statement.
The Public Bodies Act 2011, which received Royal Assent on 14 December 2011, contains a provision which, when commenced later this year, will abolish eight regional development agencies (RDAs). That provision will be brought into force by a commencement order. I can now confirm that the RDAs will achieve full operational closure on 31 March 2012.
Following the eight individual transfer schemes BIS made which came into effect on 1 January 2012 under the Public Bodies Act, transferring the majority of the RDAs' remaining projects and contracts, a further eight schemes will come into effect on 30 March removing all remaining operational assets from the RDAs' balance sheets. These schemes will be available with those which took effect on 1 January in the Libraries of both Houses.
In the period since RDA closure was announced in the Budget on 22 June 2010, those functions that the Government have decided should continue have been transferred to new delivery bodies. This included European Regional Development Fund delivery reverting to DCLG, the Rural Development Programme for England moving to Defra, the Grants for Research and Development programme migrating to the Technology Strategy Board and Venture Capital Funds transferring to BIS to be managed by Capital for Enterprise. Residual activity for the Grants for Business Investment scheme has also come to BIS. The majority of RDA land and property assets not already disposed of, valued at in the region of £300 million, transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency on 19 September 2011. As part of the functions transfers, over 500 staff have been transferred in accordance with the requirements of either the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations or the broadly equivalent terms of the Cabinet Office Statement of Principles on Staff Transfer, while the remaining 2,200 staff employed when abolition was announced in June 2010 have or will resign, be made redundant or retire.
Formal abolition is anticipated at the end of June 2012 but when this is finally confirmed I will make another Statement. A third set of transfer schemes in the summer concurrent with abolition will remove from the RDAs any outstanding assets, liabilities and obligations that emerge during the final closure processes.
From April 2012 RDAs will concentrate solely on matters relating to financial closure, primarily accounts for the financial year 2011-12, which will be laid in both Houses in the summer of 2012 in the usual way, and clear line of sight consolidation of accounts with BIS for 2011-12. Accounts for the period from 1 April 2012 to the date of abolition will also be laid later in the year by my department.
Since Budget 2010, when abolition was announced, the RDAs have worked diligently with my department and other bodies to protect the taxpayers' interest by securing value from their portfolios. I am grateful for the professional approach shown by both their boards and their staff in achieving an orderly closedown.
In accordance with the Cabinet Office's guidance on public bodies, I have launched a review of the Advisory Committee on the Design of Coins, Medals, Seals and Decorations, also known as the Royal Mint Advisory Committee. This review will examine the committee's functions and whether it should exist at arm's length from Government. If it does, the review will go on to examine whether the committee's control and governance arrangements continue to meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance. I will inform the House of the outcome of the review when it is completed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Schools (Nick Gibb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
We have taken the steps we promised to strengthen teachers' powers to search pupils. As well as a more general power to search for items that have been or could be used to cause harm or break the law, teachers can also search for items banned by the school rules. We have also added fireworks, tobacco and pornographic images to the list of specified items that teachers can search for.
We have reduced the bureaucratic burden on schools when giving pupils detentions. Teachers are no longer required to give parents 24 hours' written notice of detentions outside school hours. Schools are now free to determine their own rules on notice for detentions so that teachers can deal with misbehaviour on the day it occurs.
We revised the advice to teachers on their powers to use reasonable force. This revised advice makes clear that teachers can remove disruptive pupils from the
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These are very important changes which, taken together, put beyond doubt the authority of teachers to enforce the school rules and maintain discipline in the classroom. Other important changes, included in the Education Act 2011, will come into force over the coming months. These include granting teachers anonymity when accused by pupils and changing the current system of independent appeal panels for exclusions so that pupils who have committed a serious offence cannot be re-instated by a panel.
Schools have the professional freedom to decide how these powers will work best for them. School governing bodies and head teachers should review their behaviour polices now to ensure they clearly set out the school's approach to searching, to issuing notice of detentions and to the use of reasonable force.
Simpler Income Tax for the Simplest Small Businesses -a consultation on proposals for introducing a voluntary simplified cash basis for income tax and simplified arrangements for certain expenses for small unincorporated businesses. The Government are also today publishing the response to the Office of Tax Simplification's Small Business Tax Review: Final Report.
Possible Changes to the Income Tax Rules on Interest-a consultation on proposals for changes to income tax rules on the taxation of interest received, and rules on the deduction of tax from interest paid.
Details of these and other planned consultations are included in a consultation tracker, available from the HM Treasury website: http://www.hm-treasury. gov.uk/tax_updates.htm. The tracker includes specific anticipated launch dates wherever possible, to help representative groups and others manage their engagement with the Government on tax policy development. HM Revenue and Customs and HM Treasury will discuss the timing of consultations with these groups.
In my Written Statement to the House on 14 July 2011, I announced the completion of sale of the Tote and stated that Government would enter into discussions with the racing industry to design a scheme to distribute their share of the proceeds which would be compliant with EU state aid laws. I am pleased today to announce the completion of this piece of work.
The conclusion of this process has been the creation of a new racing charity, the Racing Foundation, and a grant scheme which will be administered by the British Horseracing Authority. Racing's share of the proceeds will be distributed between the grant scheme and the Racing Foundation on an annual basis with the split decided by racing in agreement with Government. The first instalment of the proceeds was made on 14 March 2012 with the Racing Foundation receiving £10 million.
I would like to extend my thanks to those representatives of the racing industry who have contributed to the process for their part in establishing what I hope will be a lasting legacy for British racing.
Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 requires the Government to report to Parliament for its approval an assessment of the UK's medium term economic and budgetary position. This assessment comprises the Budget Report and the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR's) economic and fiscal outlook. This then forms the basis of the UK's convergence programme, which is therefore based entirely on information already presented to Parliament. The UK is obliged to submit a convergence programme annually
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Article 121, along with Article 126, is the legal basis for the stability and growth pact, which is the co-ordination mechanism for EU fiscal policies and requires member states to avoid excessive government deficits. Although the UK is bound by the stability and growth pact, by virtue of its protocol to the treaty opting out of the euro, it is only required to "endeavour to avoid" excessive deficits.
Subject to the progress of parliamentary business, debates are expected to be scheduled in both Houses before the end of April in order for both Houses to approve this assessment before the convergence programme is submitted to the Commission. While the convergence programme itself is not subject to parliamentary approval or amendment, copies will be made available to Members through the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.
The Budget Report and the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR's) economic and fiscal outlook were laid on 21 March 2011. All of the information the convergence programme will contain has therefore already been published and made available to Members.
The UK's convergence programme will be published in late April. Copies will be deposited in the Library of the House and the document will be available electronically via the HM Treasury website. It will be submitted to the EU by 30 April as required by the European Commission.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): In May 2011, the Department for Work and Pensions commissioned the Social Security Advisory Committee to undertake an independent review of passported benefits and their interaction with universal credit.
The committee's report does not make specific recommendations on the future design of passported benefits but suggests a number of high level principles that may help guide the direction of travel in future. These principles are focused on simplification and making work pay.
We recognise that the immediate priority is to determine how passported benefits will operate when universal credit is introduced in 2013. The Government's response to the committee's report therefore sets out how various organisations are considering new eligibility criteria for individual passported benefits.
In the longer term, our aim is to explore a generic approach for the current suite of passported benefits. This approach could enable people to claim universal credit, but with added components for a range of other benefits and public services. The total award, including the additional components, would then be withdrawn gradually as income rises. We will consider this alongside other priorities for the next spending review.
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