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Written Statements

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Building Regulations Advisory Committee: Triennial Review

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 (Don Foster) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the start of the triennial review of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee. Triennial reviews are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that non-departmental public bodies continue to have regular challenge on their remit and governance arrangements.

The review will examine whether there is a continuing need for the committee’s function and its form. Should the review conclude there is a continuing need for the committee it 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.

G8

Statement

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

The UK’s priority during our 2013 presidency of the G8 is to drive jobs, growth and prosperity in the global economy. To achieve this, the UK will use its commitment to open economies, open Governments and open societies, and work with our G8 partners to support free trade, tackle tax evasion and encourage greater transparency and accountability.

I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of the letter that I have sent to my fellow G8 leaders setting out in more detail the UK’s priorities.

Law Commission: Triennial Review

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Helen Grant) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In March 2011 the Government responded to the Public Administration Select Committee report Smaller Government: Shrinking the Quango State setting out the coalition’s plans for reforming the public bodies sector. It includes the requirement to undertake triennial reviews of executive and advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).

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The Law Commission has a mandate to keep the law under review and make recommendations for reform as appropriate. It was established in 1965 by the Law Commissions Act 1965. Its remit covers the law of England and Wales; Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own similar, but separate, commissions.

To deliver the coalition Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability the Law Commission will be subject to a triennial review. The Ministry of Justice, as the sponsoring department, has today launched a consultation which will last until 6 February 2013 inviting views. In line with Cabinet Office guidance the review will consider the following:

the continuing need for the Law Commission—both its function and its form; and where it is agreed that it should remain, to review the control and governance arrangements in place to ensure that the public body is complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.

In conducting the triennial review, officials will be engaging with a broad range of stakeholders and users of the Law Commission. The review will be aligned with guidance published by the Cabinet Office: Guidance on Reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies. The House will be notified of the conclusion of the review.

Offenders: Rehabilitation

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

This Government are committed to an ambitious programme of social reform, even at a time of financial constraints. Major changes have already been delivered in welfare and education to tackle the challenge of endemic welfare dependence and educational underperformance, particularly in deprived areas. In the coalition agreement, the Government also promised to introduce a rehabilitation revolution to tackle the unacceptable cycle of reoffending, and today I am publishing a consultation paper entitled Transforming Rehabilitation: ARevolution in the Way We Manage Offenders.

This publication describes my proposals to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in the community through a new focus on life management and mentoring support. I am also planning, for the first time, to extend rehabilitation to those released after serving sentences of less than 12 months, who currently get no support but have the highest reoffending rates.

Reoffending has been far too high for far too long. Despite significant increases in spending on probation under the previous Government, there has been little change in reconviction rates over the past decade. In 2010, nearly half (47.5%) of prisoners were reconvicted within 12 months of release. Failing to divert offenders away from crime has a huge impact. The cost to the Ministry of Justice of dealing with these offenders is considerable, with total expenditure on prisons and offender management standing at £4 billion in 2011-12.

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But it is not only expenditure on offender management; the National Audit Office estimated that the wider economic cost was as much as £13 billion in 2007-08.

The proposals in this paper extend provision to a greater number of offenders and increase the focus on rehabilitation. Given the challenging financial context, we will need to increase efficiency and drive down costs to enable us to do this. I therefore intend to begin a process of competition to open up the market and bring in a more diverse mix of providers, delivering increased innovation and improved value for money. To ensure that the system is properly focused on reducing reoffending and deploying more effective interventions, providers will in future only be paid in full when they reduce reconviction rates in their area.

We will not take any risks in protecting the public and the public sector probation service will retain ultimate responsibility for public protection and will manage directly those offenders who pose the highest risk of serious harm to the public—this group will include MAPPA cases. They will also continue to carry out risk assessments for each offender, advise the courts and Parole Board and handle breach cases. The probation service performs a vital role in protecting the public and managing risk—I am determined to preserve that.

The great majority of community sentences and rehabilitation work will, however, be delivered by the private sector and voluntary organisations, which have particular expertise in this area. I am also keen to ensure that probation professionals currently within existing structures have scope to play a full role in the new rehabilitation provision. Providers will be commissioned to deliver community orders and licence requirements for most offenders in broad geographic areas, and will be paid by results to reduce reoffending. They will be expected to tackle the causes of reoffending and help offenders turn their lives around, for example, by providing mentors and signposting to housing, training and employment, and addiction and mental health services.

Our reforms will make use of local experience, and integrate with existing local structures. We want to introduce a system which allows for closer alignment of the variety of services which offenders use, through co-commissioning with other government departments, police and crime commissioners, and local authorities. Potential providers will have to evidence how they would sustain local partnerships in contracts.

These proposals will make a significant change to the system, delivering the Government’s commitment to real reform. Transforming rehabilitation will help to ensure that all of those sentenced to prison or community sentences are properly punished while being supported to turn their backs on crime for good—meaning lower crime, fewer victims and safer communities.

This paper includes the Government’s response to the March 2012 consultation Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation Services.

Copies will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and online at https://consult.justice. gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-rehabilitation.

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Planning: Penfold Review

Statement

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

Today I am publishing a government response to the consultation that closed on 24 August detailing proposals to simplify the process of applying for the stopping up or diversion of a highway, where this is required for the purposes of development.

The main options presented in the consultation were to permit applications for a stopping up or diversion order to be submitted at the same time as applying for planning permission and to devolve decision-making to the local authority level.

The Government have decided not to devolve the stopping up and diversion order process to a local level. Consultation responses suggested that any devolution should be accompanied by a charging regime; additional costs and charges would be borne by both local authorities and those making applications, with no guarantee of a simpler or faster process. The Government do not feel that placing additional burdens on local authorities and costs on developers is right at this time. And the Government are aware that the speed of processing applications for stopping up or diversion orders has increased considerably in the last year. Additionally, we do not propose to reform or encourage a greater use of Section 116 of the Highways Act 1980.

The Government continue to support the first option, to allow stopping up and diversion applications to be made alongside planning applications. The Government considers this will remove a significant barrier to growth, by speeding up the process and allowing a reduction of burdens on both applicants and local authorities, as both applications can be considered concurrently. Legislation currently in Parliament, as part of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, will give effect to this measure.

This Government response will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and on the department’s website.

Research Councils: Triennial Review

Statement

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Universities and Science (David Willetts) has today made the following Statement.

The coalition Government made a commitment to review public bodies, with the aim of increasing accountability for actions carried out on behalf of the state. The triennial review of the research councils is one of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) scheduled to commence during the second year of the programme (2012-13). The review will commence at the beginning of January 2013. This is

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not a review of the policy relating to funding in research, to which the Government remain committed.

The review will be conducted as set out in Cabinet Office guidance, in two stages.

The first stage will:

identify and examine the key functions of the research councils and assess how these functions contribute to the core business of BIS;assess the requirement for these to continue;if continuing, then assess delivery options and where the conclusion is that a particular function is still needed examine how this function might best be delivered, including a cost and benefits analysis where appropriate; and

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if one of these options is continuing delivery through the research councils then make an assessment against the Government’s “three tests”: technical function; political impartiality; need for independence from Ministers.

If the outcome of stage 1 is that delivery should continue through research councils then the second stage of the project will be to ensure that it is operating in line with the recognised principles of good corporate governance, using the Cabinet Office “comply or explain” standard approach.

When completed the report of the review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.