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Written Statements

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Correction to Commons Written Answer

Statement

Earl Attlee: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Stephen Hammond) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I regret to inform the House that there was an inaccuracy in the answer given by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to Parliamentary Question 97198 on 1 March (Official Report, col. 450W) about driving: licensing.

The answer says:

VOSA identifies poor performing MoT testing stations through a transparent and proportionate disciplinary points system published in the MoT Testing Guide. VOSA cessate individual testers called authorised examiners (AEs) from carrying out MoT tests, not the test stations. AEs cessated in the past three years are 111 in 2008-09, 90 in 2009-10, and 89 in 2010-11 all after appeal.

The answer should be:

VOSA identifies poor performing MoT testing stations through a transparent and proportionate disciplinary points system published in the MoT Testing Guide. VOSA can take action against authorised examiners (AEs) and nominated testers (NTs). AEs are an individual, partnership or company approved to carry out MoT tests. NTs carry out the actual tests. In the past three years, the agency struck off 111 AEs in 08-09, 90 in 09-10, and 89 in 10-11, all after appeal.

ECOFIN

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 13 November 2012. Ministers discussed the following items:

Economic governance—Two pack

The presidency updated Ministers on the current state of play of trialogue negotiations with the European Parliament.

Revised capital requirements directive (CRD IV)

The presidency updated Ministers on the progress of negotiations in trialogues since the council’s 9 October meeting. After brief discussion the presidency indicated acceptance of the council’s desire to maintain the general approach agreed in May.

Banking supervision mechanism

At the invitation of the presidency, the Commission updated Ministers on the current state of play. I made clear that the UK would not be taking part.

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Financial transaction tax (FTT)

The Commission presented its proposal for an authorising decision on a proposal for the introduction of a FTT by some member states using the enhanced co-operation procedure.

Mandate for negotiations of amendments to the savings taxation agreements with third countries

Ministers discussed the mandate for negotiations. No agreement was reached. The presidency indicated that it would report to the European Council.

Follow up to the European Council on 18 and 19 October 2012

The presidency provided a brief summary of the discussion on deepening economic and monetary union at the European Council's meeting on 18 and 19 October.

Follow-up to the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank Group in Tokyo and the G20 Finance Ministers and Governors Meeting

Council briefly discussed the outcomes of these meetings.

Preparation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Council adopted conclusions endorsing the Fast Start Finance report to be presented at the convention.

EU state aid modernisation

Ministers noted the plans for reform set out by the Commission.

Ministerial dialogue with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries

Ministers met their counterparts from EFTA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Hurricane Sandy

Statement

Baroness Northover: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

I wish to inform the House that, in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean, the Department for International Development is today deploying vital humanitarian support to help save lives and reduce suffering.

This emergency relief will be provided to Haiti and Cuba, the countries outside the USA that were most devastated by the hurricane, following an urgent appeal by the United Nations on 12 November. The hurricane hit Haiti on 23 October and Cuba on 25 October. It caused widespread destruction, destroying crops, homes and public infrastructure.

The UK will contribute £7 million for Haiti and £850,000 for Cuba, to provide immediate life-saving support. Our priorities are to meet food, emergency shelter, water and sanitation needs. I have sent an assessment team from the department to the region. The team will ensure that a rigorous approach is taken to assessing the most pressing humanitarian priorities so that UK funding is used to achieve the greatest impact on the ground.

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The Department for International Development will continue to monitor the situation, consulting with other government departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in our response to this humanitarian emergency.

Local Government: Finance

Statement

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 (Brandon Lewis) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Business rates retention

I am today publishing a policy statement that provides early confirmation of the Government’s policy decisions in a number of key areas following this summer’s technical consultation on the new business rate retention scheme. This policy statement will support local authorities, ahead of the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, in their preparations for smooth implementation of the business rates retention scheme from April 2013.

The business rates retention scheme will enable local authorities to retain a large proportion of locally collected business rates to help fund the services they provide, thereby creating a direct link between business rates collected and local authority income, and reducing local authorities' dependency on central government grants. The scheme will give all councils a strong incentive to go for growth and could add approximately £10 billion to the wider economy by 2020.

The policy statement confirms the Government’s intention to proceed with the implementation of a range of proposals that were set out in the technical consultation. It also sets out a number of changes to those proposals, in response to comments received to the consultation, including the Government’s intention to maintain the 1:1 proportionate levy but with a limit of 50p in the pound. This will translate into very real benefits for authorities, allowing at least 25p in each extra pound of business rates generated locally to be retained locally. In addition, the policy statement sets out the Government’s intention to fix the safety net at 7.5%—the most generous level within the range consulted upon. This guarantee will be maintained in real terms,

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since baseline funding levels will be uprated by RPI for the purpose of calculating eligibility for the safety net.

Overall, the Government consider that these policy decisions will result in a system that provides a strong growth incentive for authorities, while being underpinned by robust protections to help councils maintain effective services.

I have placed a copy of the policy statement in the Library of the House. The policy statement and a revised Plain English Guide to Business Rate Retention are also available on the gov.uk website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving-local-authorities-more-control-over-how-they-spend-public-money-in-their-area--2

Data consultation

I am also today publishing the data consultation on the 2013-14 Local Government Finance settlement. The consultation sets out the majority of data that may be used in calculating the provisional baseline funding levels and Revenue Support Grant allocations from 2013-14. This release will enable local authorities to begin checking the indicator data.

The consultation can be found on the gov.uk website at: http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1314/ settle.htm.

Local council tax support

In preparation for the introduction of local council tax support schemes in April 2013, the Government consulted on aspects of the funding arrangements to support authorities to offer council tax support.

Next week, I will publish an update on these arrangements, including on the Government’s approach to addressing budget pressures to ensure all authorities have a fair starting point. Final funding allocations will be included in the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement.

I will also be publishing the council tax base regulations and the Government response to the consultation on providing certainty for the funding of local precepting authorities.

Also the final versions of two key council tax support regulations (first published in July) have been made and are soon to be published and laid before Parliament—the Prescribed Requirements Scheme and the Default Scheme.

Links to the regulations will be available on the gov.uk website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving-local-authorities-more-control-over-how-they-spend-public-money-in-their-area--2.