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Written Statements

Monday 28 January 2013

Bailiffs

Statement

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

The Government are today (Friday 25 January 2013) publishing their response to the Transforming Bailiff Action consultation paper. This is the next step in delivering the Government’s commitment to provide more protection against aggressive bailiffs in England and Wales.

Bailiffs are necessary for both the economy and the justice system, carrying out a difficult role in challenging circumstances. While the majority operate in a responsible and proportionate manner, a significant few use unsafe, unsound and unfair methods of collection, casting a shadow over the reputations of respectable bailiffs. The Government remain clear that subjecting debtors—who are already in distressing situations—to such intimidating behaviour is completely unacceptable. At the same time we are also clear that legitimate creditors should be able to collect the money that is owed to them in a fair and responsible manner. The measures set out in the Government’s consultation response strike this balance between the rights of debtors and the rights of creditors.

We will sweep away the antiquated and confusing laws which can thwart effective and proportionate enforcement, introducing in their place new laws which are fit for today’s society. We will provide clarity over the powers of bailiffs and introduce a clear, fair, charging regime which will tackle the root causes of aggressive bailiff action.

Bailiffs will be banned from entering debtors’ homes late at night without first seeking permission from the court or when only children are present and new safeguards will prevent them from using force against people who owe money. The enforcement process and procedure will be defined clearly in legislation setting out how bailiffs can enter a property, what goods can and cannot be seized for sale, and crucially, what costs a bailiff can charge. These changes will be set against effective and targeted regulation which will ensure that bailiffs are fit to carry out this work by introducing a mandatory training scheme, competence requirements and certification for all bailiffs.

These much needed reforms will ensure that individuals, businesses and bailiffs will all benefit from our changes and we will work to implement these swiftly.

Copies of Transforming Bailiff Action: How we will Provide more Protection against Aggressive Bailiffs and Encourage more Flexibility in Bailiff Collections, The Government Response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

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Correction to Lords Written Answer

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I regret that the Written Answer given to Lord Warner of Brockley on 23 January 2013, Official Report, col WA222-3, was incorrect.

The answer contained a typographic error in the table headers as the figures in the table were in £ billions and the headers stated that they were in £ millions.

The correct presentation of the table is as follows:

Final Budget £ billionFinal Outturn £ billionUnder spend £ billion

Revenue 2010-11

101.4

100.3

1.1

Capital 2010-11

4.9

4.2

0.7

Total

106.3

104.4

1.8





Revenue 2011-12

102.4

101.6

0.8

Capital 2011-12

4.4

3.8

0.6

Total

106.8

105.4

1.4

Disabled People: Blue Badge Scheme

Statement

Earl Attlee: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker) has made the following ministerial Statement.

I am today publishing my department’s consultation report on Personal Independence Payment and Eligibility for a Blue Badge. I have decided that the blue badge scheme in future will be as similar to the current scheme as possible.

The Government have recently announced important reforms to the welfare system. Personal independence payment (PIP) will begin to be introduced for people who are aged 16 to 64 from 8 April 2013. From October 2013 onwards, PIP will begin to replace disability living allowance (DLA) for existing DLA recipients aged between 16 and 64.

As around a third of all blue badges are currently issued to people who receive the higher rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance, my department consulted between July and October 2012 on the options, in England, for dealing with the impact of the welfare changes.

The Government remain committed to ensuring that the blue badge scheme continues to be focused on those people who will benefit most from the parking concessions that it offers, and that it is sustainable in the future.

Therefore, having carefully considered the responses to the consultation, I have decided that, when DLA is replaced by PIP, there should still be a legislative link that means those people who score eight points or more in the moving around activity of PIP will be automatically eligible for a blue badge. This activity assesses a person’s physical ability to get around and a

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score of eight points or more will be awarded to people who are either unable to walk or who cannot walk further than approximately 50 metres. This means that future eligibility for a blue badge will be as similar to the current eligibility criteria for the scheme as possible.

The relevant legislation will be changed in the near future. Any consequential changes to the blue badge scheme will be phased in, in line with the welfare changes. They will affect existing badge holders when a current badge expires and they apply for a new one. If an individual does not automatically qualify for a badge by virtue of a PIP award, they will be able to apply directly to their local authority to see whether they qualify under any of the other criteria.

These changes will not affect people under the age of 16 or over the age of 64.

A copy of the consultation response document has been placed in the House Libraries, and will also be available on the GOV.UK website.

Embryology

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Anna Soubry) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 25 January.

The Department of Health is today publishing its response to its Consultation on Proposals to Transfer Functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority.

In Liberating the NHS: Report of the Arm’s-Length Bodies Review (2010) the department set out its proposals for reducing bureaucracy and increasing efficiencies. This included proposals to transfer all functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) with a view to abolishing the two organisations by 2015. The public consultation set out options for taking this work forward and ran between June and September 2012.

The department has welcomed the responses it has received to this important consultation. The responses have come from a range of representative bodies, leading organisations and individuals and we are grateful for the time and effort respondents have put into this. The department recognises that the majority of respondents do not favour a transfer of functions to the Care Quality Commission and the Health Research Authority and has listened to the strong message about the risk of losing specialist expertise if functions were to be transferred. We have therefore concluded not to transfer the functions at this time.

The department has also given very careful consideration to the clear message from the consultation of the need for a review of the way in which the HFEA and HTA undertake their functions. I have therefore commissioned an independent review to start immediately. This review will look at:

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the scope to streamline the way in which the two bodies undertake their regulatory and statutory functions, including through joint working, sharing resources and information and working more closely with other health sector regulators; the scope to reduce and rationalise the burden of inspection, information collection and process of research approvals that falls on the regulated sector, without compromising the safeguards in the respective Acts; andthe scope for shared authority membership and leadership, and of a merger of the two bodies.

It will report to me and the Minister for the Cabinet Office by April 2013.

As a result of our decision, we do not intend to proceed with the policy facilitated by Clause 75 of the Draft Care and Support Bill, (Cm 8386), which would amend the Public Bodies Act to allow for abolition of the HFEA and HTA.

A copy of the Government response to the Consultation on Proposals to Transfer Functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority 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.

Employment: Work Capability Assessment

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My honourable friend the Minister for Employment (Mark Hoban) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today we are implementing further changes to the work capability assessment to improve the way in which it assesses the effect of cancer treatment

Following extensive work with Professor Harrington, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Royal College of Radiologists and others we are now further improving the way we assess cancer patients.

The resulting changes will mean that hundreds more people who are awaiting, receiving, or recovering from any form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer will be placed in the support group for employment and support allowance where they will get the support they need while unable to work.

We strongly support the principle of the work capability assessment and are committed to continuously improving the assessment process to ensure it is as fair and as accurate as possible. As part of the programme of continuous improvement of the work capability assessment, today we are also making a number of amendments to the assessment and to the description of certain activities and descriptors. These changes do not represent changes in policy. Rather they are intended to clarify areas which are open to misunderstanding. They will make the process easier to understand for claimants and assessors.

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EU: Migration Funds

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Mark Harper) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The UK has opted in to the European Commission’s proposal to increase the co-financing rate for the solidarity and management of migration flows funds, commonly known as the SOLID funds.

The proposal will increase the co-financing rates of the SOLID funds for EU member states benefiting from certain financial support mechanisms, thus reducing the amount of funding that those member states need to find before undertaking programmes, which in turn will improve their utilisation of the funds. The member states that will benefit from a higher co-financing rate are Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Portugal, Greece and Ireland. Other member states that receive assistance from the relevant financial support mechanisms up to the end of the 2013 annual programme period would also benefit. Member states enjoying the reduced co-financing rate would be better positioned to improve capacity in the area of asylum, which should help mitigate secondary pressures on the UK.

Practical co-operation and solidarity in support of well managed migration is a powerful tool for securing British objectives in the wider EU sphere. This proposal is cost-neutral to the UK and will not result in additional UK budget commitments. It provides an opportunity to achieve British objectives while not undermining the primary responsibility of affected member states to address weaknesses in their asylum and migration systems.

The Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties, and enhancing our ability to control immigration.

Justice: Crown Prosecution Service

Statement

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): My right honourable friend the Attorney-General (Dominic Grieve QC) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, I am today depositing in the Libraries of both Houses an updated version of the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The code sets out how prosecutors working in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) make decisions and is supported by comprehensive legal guidance on a range of topics, further details of which are available on the CPS website at www.cps.gov.uk.

The code was last revised in February 2010 and has been updated following consultation to provide more focused and streamlined guidance for prosecutors. In this latest version, the evidential stage of the full code

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test remains much as before, however the code no longer lists the public interest factors tending in favour and against prosecution. Instead prosecutors are provided with questions to address to assist them in identifying the public interest factors relevant to the case. The revised code also highlights the need to consider proportionality at the public interest stage.

The code is published to provide transparency to the decisions taken by prosecutors. To ensure the code’s accessibility, it will be published in audio and Braille as well as in English, Welsh, and other languages. Copies of the Code for Crown Prosecutors will be available on the CPS website.

Planning: Schools

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement on 25 January 2013.

The Government are committed to supporting the development of state-funded schools and their delivery through the planning system. As part of our reforms we want to ensure that the planning system supports our priority to ensure that every child has the opportunity to benefit from a good education. To make this a reality the Government are increasing choice and opportunity in state-funded education and raising educational standards. The planning system has an important role in ensuring this ambition becomes a reality.

The Government want to enable new schools to open, good schools to expand and all schools in the state-funded sector to adapt and improve their facilities. Creating free schools remains one of the Government’s flagship policies, enabling parents, teachers, charities and faith organisations to use their new freedoms to establish state-funded schools. This will make a real difference in their community by transforming children’s lives and helping them to reach their full potential.

It remains the Government’s view that the creation and development of state-funded schools is strongly in the national interest and that planning decision-makers can and should support that objective, in a manner consistent with their statutory obligations. Experience to date has demonstrated that with the assistance of the Education Funding Agency new state-funded schools, and free schools in particular, have been successful in identifying sites that have gone on to secure planning permission.

It is vital that a new state-funded school can plan with confidence to be able to open at the start of the academic year. Where planning permission is sought it should be determined within the prescribed timeframe. However this expectation has not always been the case and schools have not been able to open on the sites intended.

In announcing the outcome of my October 2010 consultation, Planning for Schools Development, I committed to continue to explore whether there was further scope

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and need for the planning system to do more in the future to support state-funded schools. Therefore I have decided to bring forward new permitted development rights for change of use to a new state-funded school. It is my intention to include within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended): a permitted development right allow for the temporary change of use to a new state-funded school from any other use class along with minor associated physical development. This will be for a single year which would cover the first academic year. It will provide certainty that a school opening will not be delayed by an outstanding planning application, but will not replace the need to secure planning permission for the use beyond that first year; and a permitted development right to allow change of use to a new state-funded school from offices (B1); hotels (C1); residential institutions (C2); secure residential institutions (C2A); and assembly and leisure (D2). Any subsequent change from a new state-funded school to other uses in non residential institution class (D1) will not be permitted. These changes will be subject to a prior approval process to mitigate any adverse transport and noise impacts.

I will be working with the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that those schools that become eligible to use these new rights are only those which have his support in their efforts to bring forward new state-funded schools. These changes are in addition to those announced in my Written Statement to the House on 24 January (Official Report, col. 16WS) and will be introduced as soon as possible.

Railways: High Speed Rail

Statement

Earl Attlee: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Patrick McLoughlin) has made the following ministerial Statement.

High Speed 2 is the engine for growth that Britain needs to compete and succeed in the global economy. It will generate jobs, rebalance the economy and secure the country’s future prosperity.

In January 2012, the Government announced the HS2 route that will link London and Birmingham, known as phase one, following a thorough consultation. Today, I am publishing my initial preferred route, station and depot options for phase two linking Birmingham with Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds.

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There will be a comprehensive programme of engagement on all aspects of phase two and a public consultation, planned originally for 2014, has been brought forward to begin ahead of schedule this year.

A Command Paper published this morning, High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future—Phase Two: The Route to Leeds, Manchester and Beyond, details the Government’s preferred route for 211 miles of new track and stations in the following locations:

Manchester (alongside the existing city centre terminal at Manchester Piccadilly);Manchester Airport (linked directly to Manchester Airport’s three terminals);Leeds (in the South Bank area of the city centre);South Yorkshire (at Sheffield Meadowhall, alongside the M1); andEast Midlands (between Nottingham and Derby at Toton, alongside the M1).

In addition, Crewe will be connected directly with the High Speed line via a dedicated link. HS2 will be integrated with the existing national railway network allowing cities and towns in England and Scotland beyond the high speed tracks—including Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Preston, Warrington, Lancaster, Carlisle, Durham and Darlington—to benefit also from new connections and dramatic time savings thanks to trains able to use both conventional and high-speed railway lines.

HS2 means our railway network will have the capacity to cope with ever increasing numbers of passengers and free up space on existing rail lines for more commuter, rural and freight services, meaning fewer cars and lorries on our roads.

We will deliver a fair deal for people whose homes, land or businesses will be affected by construction by continuing to offer a generous compensation package and investing millions in tunnels and other mitigation measures. That is why we are also launching today a public consultation on an exceptional hardship scheme to assist property owners and compensate people fairly. This is an interim scheme; longer-term compensation proposals will be developed in the future as they have been for phase one.

Construction on HS2 will begin in four years and phase one will open to passengers in 13 years. Phase two will open six years after that.

A series of supporting documents setting out in detail the Department for Transport’s phase two proposals are available on https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/ developing-a-new-high-speed-rail-network.