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Written Statements

Monday 4 March 2013



The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the 24th progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010.

In January, President Karzai and President Obama issued a joint statement, which included an announcement that they would support an office in Doha for the purpose of negotiations between the High Peace Council and the authorised representatives of the Taliban. HMG support the opening of a Taliban office as an important step forward in the Afghan peace and reconciliation effort.

In January UNAMA released its 2012 report on the treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan custody. Its report contained findings that are of significant concern. HMG have already recognised the risk of torture or serious mistreatment at Afghan facilities. This was why we suspended transfers of UK captured detainees to the NDS in April 2012. This moratorium was reaffirmed by the Defence Secretary in November 2012.

The UK’s support for phase one of the Bost Agricultural Business Park in Helmand has delivered real benefits, including regular commercial flights connecting Helmand to the rest of the country. However, the UK has decided not to fund phase two, because it did not represent value for money. The money released will be used to support infrastructure projects with higher returns.

January saw some high profile attacks in Kabul that were dealt with by the ANSF, without a call for ISAF assistance. The first, on 16 January, attempted to enter the National Directorate of Security. The second, on 20 January, saw another IED attack outside the Kabul City Traffic Police Headquarters. While these attacks demonstrate the insurgency’s intent to carry out a continued campaign of violence in Afghanistan, the response from the ANSF to both incidents was prompt and professional. With the exception of ISAF advisers within Afghan elements, there was no request for, or involvement of, ISAF forces.

I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: (www.fco.gov.uk).



The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

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I am pleased to announce that I am appointing Mr Alastair MacGregor QC as the new Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material (Biometrics Commissioner). The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (the Act) introduces a new, fairer, regime for the destruction, retention and use of biometric material, such as DNA and fingerprints. This important new role is created by the Act to provide independent oversight to the operation of the new regime and is vital to ensure that decisions by the authorities to keep biometric material are made in accordance with the law, and that there is public confidence in the exercise of such powers.

The functions of the Biometrics Commissioner are set out in Sections 20 and 21 of the Act. As commissioner, Mr MacGregor will be the sole decision-maker in reviewing decisions to retain material for national security purposes and in determining applications made for the retention of material relating to individuals arrested but not charged. He will make an annual report about the carrying out of all these functions, which will be laid before Parliament.

Mr MacGregor takes up post from today and we look forward to working closely with him.

We are also making significant progress in preparation for the commencement of Part 1, Chapter 1 of the Act in October 2013. To date, 504,000 DNA profiles have been deleted from the National DNA Database and 439 000 DNA samples destroyed.



Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My honourable friend the Minister for Women and Equalities (Helen Grant) made the following Written Ministerial Statement on Friday 1 March 2013.

This Government believe that no one should suffer prejudice because of caste. That is why we have been giving the issue careful consideration in order to identify the most appropriate and effective way of tackling the problem.

We are therefore pleased to announce that the Government Equalities Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government have appointed Talk For A Change to engage with the affected communities to run an educational programme to help tackle this complex and sensitive issue.

Talk For A Change will be working with interested organisations and individuals, particularly from within the Hindu and Sikh communities, to find practical solutions to the problems and harm that caste-based prejudice can cause. Talk For A Change has extensive experience of facilitating difficult conversations and working with local partners to address tough issues, helping to build positive relationships and resilient communities.

This educational programme will be used to raise awareness of those channels of help and redress that are already open to those who feel themselves to have been victims of caste discrimination or harassment. The programme will also be used to generate educational material that will subsequently be made available to

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local authorities, schools, colleges, employers, police and any others who may be likely to come into contact with caste-related issues.

Talk For A Change will be engaging with partners from local communities to deliver regional events in London, the Midlands and the North. Participation in these events will be open to all individuals and organisations who wish to take part in this opportunity.

We believe that this programme will be an appropriate and targeted way of dealing with incidents relating to caste and which are not already susceptible to criminal law or other remedies. We have decided not to exercise the caste power contained with the Equality Act 2010 at the present time—though we have no plans to remove the power from the Act, in case this position should change.

In addition to the work being done by Talk For A Change, we have also been in discussion with the Equality and Human Rights Commission about caste discrimination. The Government Equalities Office and the commission have agreed that the latter can usefully contribute to this issue by examining over the next few months the nature of caste prejudice and harassment as evidenced by existing studies, and the extent to which this problem is likely to be addressed by either legislative or other solutions. The commission will publish its findings later in 2013.

Commonwealth Charter


The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

We strongly welcome the new Commonwealth charter which has been agreed and adopted by all Commonwealth Heads of Government. The Government have today laid a copy of this charter before Parliament in the form of a Command Paper.

A copy of the charter will be presented to Her Majesty the Queen on Commonwealth Day on 11 March. Events to launch the charter officially will take place across the Commonwealth during that week.

For the first time in its 64 year history, the Commonwealth has a single document setting out the core values of the organisation and the aspiration of its members. The Government played an important role in its development.

The charter is an overarching summary bringing together Commonwealth values and commitments that are set out in more detail in previous declarations and affirmations.

The Government hope that the charter will become an established, recognisable statement of all that the Commonwealth stands for, accessible to all Commonwealth citizens, and a means to protect and promote the Commonwealth’s core democratic values for years to come. The commitments in the charter should be upheld, adhered to and kept under review by member governments, Parliaments and civil society organisations.

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A strong Commonwealth will help promote democratic values and good governance and, in turn, the future prosperity of all member states. Strong, clear values are crucial to the future credibility and success of the Commonwealth.

Coroner Service


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

The Government have today published a consultation on our proposed coroner reforms to be made under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Our proposals are key to enabling us to meet our aims of putting the needs of bereaved people at the heart of the coroner system; retaining local coroner services but within a new national framework of standards and with new national leadership; and enabling a more efficient system of investigations and inquests.

We began the process of reform with the appointment of the first Chief Coroner of England and Wales, His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, in May 2012. The next step is to implement the chief coroner’s powers under the 2009 Act, along with a number of other important reforms to the coroner system.

Our consultation therefore seeks views on the following proposals:

New Coroners (Investigations) Regulations—setting out the investigation process (excluding the inquest part of proceedings) including new measures intended to tackle delays within the coroner system;New Coroners (Inquests) Rules—governing the practice at inquests, including new provisions about disclosure of information to bereaved relatives and other interested persons, allowing them to play a more active role in the process;New Coroners Allowances, Fees and Expenses Regulations —setting out the fees and allowances that coroners can pay or charge, largely replicating current provisions;a new Guide to Coroner Services—updating and combining the current Guide to Coroners and Inquests and Charter for Coroner Services; andnew coroner areas—mapping out the new coroner area framework and commencing the process of amalgamating areas to deliver a more consistent, efficient and professional coroner system.

In developing these proposals, Ministry of Justice officials have worked closely with colleagues in the Department of Health on the death certification reforms which also flow from Part 1 of the 2009 Act and on which the Department of Health will be consulting separately.

The coroner reforms consultation will run until 12 April 2013. A response paper will be published online and the Government intend to implement the reforms in summer 2013.

Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available online, at http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/ consultations.htm.

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Correction to Commons Written Answer


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Climate Change (Gregory Barker) made the following Statement.

An error has been identified in the Written Answer given to the honourable Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Official Report, col. 12 February 2013, col. reference 614W). The wording was incorrect as the calculation used for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) was per card holder rather than per member of staff, with the result that the stated CNC averages were too high.

The full answer given was as follows:

The mean average spend using a government procurement card per member of staff is as below:

2011 (£)2012(£)




Coal Authority



Committee on Climate Change



Nuclear Decommissioning Authority



Civil Nuclear Constabulary



The correct answer using average number of staff for CNC rather than the average number of staff holding a government procurement card is:

2011 (£)2012(£)




Coal Authority



Committee on Climate Change



Nuclear Decommissioning Authority



Civil Nuclear Constabulary



Correct Calculations:

2011:GPC spend—£87,984/1,049 (average number of staff in 2011) = £84

2012:GPC spend—£65,799/1,244 (average number of staff in 2012) = £53

Crime: Fraud


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): I am today launching a four-week public consultation on proposals to prevent the supply of highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters who then use that equipment to produce false documents.

These proposals have been developed following a rising trend in illegal document factories which buy specialist printing equipment to produce counterfeits of credit cards and government-issued documents, including passports and driving licences. This trend is contributing to the £2.7 billion cost of identity crime

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to the United Kingdom each year and helps criminals to enter the country illegally, to commit benefit fraud and to evade criminal records checks.

The proposals would make it a criminal offence to supply highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters, whether deliberately or without carrying out reasonable checks. The Government have held discussions with the specialist printing industry and the police, both of which originally requested that we address this issue. We are now seeking wider views which will enable us to evaluate the evidence and the impact on the industry to help shape potential proposals for legislation.

The detailed consultation questions can be found on the Home Office website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/printing-consultation/.

EU: Energy Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Edward Davey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I represented the United Kingdom at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 22 February 2013.

The presidency reported that it had reached political agreement with the European Parliament on the proposal for legislation on the safety of offshore oil and gas. I welcomed the agreement.

The presidency then held an orientation debate on the Commission’s proposal on indirect land use change (ILUC), which attempts to reduce the greenhouse gas associated impacts of first generation land-based biofuels. The Commission noted that it could be flexible with respect to the cap of 5% on the contribution of first generation biofuels towards the 10% renewable energy target for transport and in relation to the recognition of the different greenhouse gas impacts of biodiesel and bioethanol. I agreed that a single approach was not helpful as the evidence indicated that bioethanol and biodiesel have very different ILUC implications and suggested that basing the proposal instead on the ILUC factors of biofuels would be a more appropriate way of tackling the problem and would allow investment to continue in more sustainable bioethanol. A number of member states supported this position. Most member states considered that the 5% cap on industry was too restrictive and damaging to investor confidence.

The Commission then opened the policy debate on the future of the internal energy market and noted that the functioning of the electricity market was falling behind other parts of the single market. It noted its concerns about capacity markets. Member states responded by stating their support for the principle of the single market. I emphasised the UK’s strong support for the single market, including the network codes which will enhance cross-border exchange of power. I pointed out that security of supply is also a vital consideration which is why the UK planned to implement a capacity market to ensure continuity of supply while we modernised our power sector and

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made the transition to low carbon sources. A number of member states also supported the need for capacity mechanisms. Although most member states had doubts about capacity markets, some indicated increasing flexibility.

Finally, on the European semester annual growth survey, the presidency noted that as member states had submitted written contributions, there was no need for further discussion.

Food: Horsemeat and Food Fraud


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Owen Paterson) has today made the following Statement.

I would like to update the House on developments since my Written Ministerial Statement on 25 February 2013

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Official Report

, col. 5WS), on the latest results from the food industry programme of tests of beef products for the presence of horsemeat.

The vast majority of results from food retailers, wholesalers, and caterers are now in. Including previous weeks’ testing, a total of 5,430 test results of the most vulnerable processed beef products had been reported to the Food Standards Agency by Friday 1 March. They continue to show that over 99% of processed beef products are what they say they are on the label.

Last Friday, 1 March, the Food Standards Agency published a third set of results from the programme of product testing being carried out by food businesses. These are included in the table alongside results reported to the House previously (Official Report, 25 February 2013, col. 5WS). This included a further 1,797 results since the 22 February report, in which a further four products were confirmed as containing horse DNA. These four products are covered by 10 test results that show horse DNA at or above the 1% threshold. All were named and withdrawn from sale.

Number of testsNumber of positive tests for horse DNA at 1% or abovePositive test results as percentage of number of testsNumber of products testing positive for horse DNA at 1% of above

Set 1 results published on 15 February 2013





Set 2 results published on 22 February 2013





Set 3 results published on 1 March 2013





Total for all published results (as of 1 March 2013)





* Cross-checking of data has identified one positive test reported previously that is a duplicate test on the same batch of the same product, and this test has been removed from the total number of positives.

As shown in the table, the industry programme of testing has now identified 17 products confirmed as containing over 1% horse DNA. A further two products had by Friday 1 March been identified as positive for horse DNA through other testing routes outside the formal testing programme, or through other testing and investigations by the Food Standards Agency or local authorities. All 19 products have been named and withdrawn.

The Food Standards Agency has reported to me over the weekend that a batch of product which has tested positive in another member state is likely also to have been imported into the UK for sale. The product type had already been withdrawn from sale here as a precaution, and will be reported by the Food Standards Agency on confirmation.

There have been no positive tests to date for the presence of bute in any of the UK food samples found to contain horse.

Food businesses will continue to test for the presence of horse DNA in their beef products, reporting to the Food Standards Agency. These results will now be published every three months. However, food businesses that identify any confirmed cases of contamination above 1% horse DNA will report these to the Food Standards Agency immediately and this information will be published on the agency’s website as soon as the information is received.

This week, the Food Standards Agency will publish the first set of data from the UK-wide authenticity survey being carried out by local authorities on behalf of the agency. This survey has three phases. The first phase involves sampling and testing minced beef products for the presence of horse and pig DNA. A second phase covers a wider range of beef products including ready meals. The third phase is the sampling under the EU Co-ordinated Control Plan, the Europe-wide programme of testing to which I referred in my Statement of 25 February 2013 (Official Report, col. 5WS). The Food Standards Agency will report the UK’s contribution to the Europe-wide programme to the EU by mid April.

Both the food industry and Food Standards Agency deserve credit for having put this programme of tests in place very quickly, completing over 5,000 tests in a very short space of time. The unprecedented level of testing reported here, combined with the Food Standards Agency led local authority and EU programmes over the coming weeks, will give us a clear picture of the extent of the problem. Investigations into cases where horsemeat has, quite unacceptably, been discovered will continue, and anyone found guilty of criminal activity should expect to face the consequences.

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Health: Personal Health Budgets


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 30 November 2012, I informed the House of our intention to roll out personal health budgets, including direct payments for healthcare, beyond the pilot programme, (Official Report, col.37WS).

In November we committed to publishing a consultation on the policy changes that the department proposes to make to the National Health Service (Direct Payments) Regulations 2010 in light of the learning from the pilot programme. Today we have published the consultation and we welcome views on it.

Primary legislation will need to be updated in order to allow direct payments for healthcare in the NHS beyond the pilot programme. An order will be laid before Parliament under the affirmative procedure in the near future which, subject to parliamentary approval, will allow us to make the necessary changes to the regulations following on from the consultation.

Direct Payments for Health CareA Consultation on Updated Policy for Regulations 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.

House of Lords Appointments Commission


Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Francis Maude) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing the start of the triennial review of the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC). Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that NDPBs continue to have regular challenge on their remit and governance arrangements.

The review will be undertaken by the Cabinet Office.

In common with all such reviews the following will be undertaken:

to challenge the continuing need for this NDPB—both its functions and form; and;if it is agreed that it should remain as an NDPB, to review its control and governance arrangements to ensure that it is complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.

The aim will be to complete the review in April.

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Livestock: Transport


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food (David Heath) has today made the following Statement.

Following the events at Ramsgate port on 12 September 2012, when a consignment of 540 sheep were unloaded at the port which resulted in three sheep drowning and more than 40 more having to be humanely killed, I asked the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) to review its operational procedures and the application of the EU rules on welfare during transport to livestock exporters to ensure that all was done to prevent such an incident happening again. The terms of reference of this report were to investigate the overall handling of the incident; the AHVLA’s procedures for managing inspections at Ramsgate and how they work alongside other bodies present at the port during inspections; and the contingency arrangements required by the transporter and any needed by AHVLA as the regulator.

As I informed the House on 13 December 2012 (Official Report, col. 479-535), this report was withheld from publication at the request of Kent County Council trading standards while it completed its investigations and any possible prosecution action to avoid the possibility of prejudicing the outcome of these proceedings.

I am pleased that following the completion of its investigations, KCC trading standards has agreed that publication of the report can now go ahead. I am placing a copy of the report (suitably redacted only to remove information which could be used to identify individuals) in the House of Commons Library.

AHVLA identified a number of procedural enhancements to its existing operational practice which it believed will ensure that there is no repeat of the regrettable events that took place at Ramsgate port on 12 September. These procedural changes are:

inspection of every consignment passing through Ramsgate;tougher enforcement of welfare procedures;AHVLA implementing its own contingency plans in the event of an emergency if the transporter is unwilling or unable to implement its own plans within two hours;improved procedures to ensure an AHVLA vet is always within an hour of the port to assist AHVLA inspectors in the event of an emergency or welfare concern;working with the operator of the transport vessel to develop new contingency measures in the event of an emergency; andrestricting changes that the transporter can make to the journey log of the delivery prior to the export. This will help maintain clear records of the animals during the journey.

Kent County Council has commenced criminal proceedings against a number of defendants. Their first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday 2 April 2013

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at 10.30 at Canterbury magistrates’ court. Offences under the Welfare of Transport (England) Order 2006 of loading sheep which were unfit to travel and of transporting them in an inappropriate vehicle have been alleged contrary to Articles 5 and 9 of the order. These offences are summary only and are punishable by six months’ imprisonment and/or a £5,000 fine.

Migrant Workers


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 Home Office is today announcing changes to the codes of practice for skilled migrant workers from outside the European economic area.

The codes of practice provide important information to migrant workers and their sponsoring employers. They set out which occupations are skilled to the necessary level to qualify for tier 2 of the points-based system, minimum appropriate rates of pay, and how employers should carry out a resident labour market test to determine whether suitable settled workers are available before they offer a job to a migrant worker.

Last year, the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the codes of practice. The MAC published a detailed report on 17 October 2012. Today we are setting out the Government’s response to the MAC’s recommendations. In general we have accepted the MAC’s recommendations, although there are some additional details which have resulted from developing the proposals. Taken as a whole, the changes are intended to update the system and make it more user-friendly, rather than significantly change the policy.

On lists of skilled occupations, as advised by the MAC, we are updating the codes of practice from the old SOC 2000 classification system to the new SOC 2010 system. Transitional arrangements will ensure that no migrant worker is unable to continue working in their current job as a result of the reclassification.

On minimum salary requirements, we are updating the minimum appropriate rates for each occupation in line with the MAC’s recommendations and to reflect changes in pay for settled workers. We have accepted the MAC’s recommendation that the minimum should generally be set at the 25th percentile of wages in that occupation. We are introducing alternative rates for new entrants. These will be set at the 10th percentile of wages in each occupation. After three years the new entrant, usually these will be those aged 25 or under, will have to be paid at the experienced worker rate. In addition, we are updating the minimum pay thresholds which exist across tier 2 (regardless of occupation) in line with wage inflation for settled workers.

On the resident labour market test, we are, in line with the MAC’s recommendations, simplifying the current rules to give employers more freedom to advertise in the media they think are most likely to be successful for their sector. This will mean settled workers looking

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for jobs in that sector will be better targeted and will have more opportunities to apply for skilled jobs. We will still require most jobs to be advertised via a Jobcentre Plus online service (or JobCentre Online, for jobs based in Northern Ireland), but we will keep this requirement under review.

The changes will be implemented on 6 April and we will lay changes to the Immigration Rules nearer the time to bring them into effect. The Home Office is publishing a statement of intent today, in order to give employers and applicants as much time as possible to review the changes we are making and prepare for them coming into effect. I am placing a copy of the statement of intent in the Library of the House.

NHS: Charges


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Regulations will be laid before the House shortly to increase certain National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2013.

There will be an increase in the prescription charge of 20p from £7.65 to £7.85 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed.

For another year, the cost of a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) will remain at £29.10 for a three-month certificate. The cost of the annual certificate will remain at £104. PPCs offer savings for those needing four or more items in three months or 14 or more items in one year.

Regulations will also be laid to increase NHS dental charges from 1 April 2013. The dental charge payable for a band one course of treatment will increase by 50p from £17.50 to £18. The dental charge for a band 2 course of treatment will increase by £1 from £48 to £49. The charge for a band 3 course of treatment will increase by £5 from £209 to £214.

Dental charges represent an important contribution to the overall cost of dental services. The exact amount raised will be dependent upon the level and type of primary dental care services commissioned by the NHS Commissioning Board and the proportion of charge paying patients who attend dentists and the level of treatment they require.

Charges will also be increased, by an overall 2.5%, for wigs and fabric supports.

The range of NHS optical vouchers available to children, people on low incomes and individuals with complex sight problems are also being increased in value. In order to continue to provide help with the cost of spectacles and contact lenses, optical voucher values will rise by an overall 1%.

Details of the revised charges are in the following tables.

NHS Charges—England
New Charge (£)

Prescription charges

Single item


3 month PPC (no change)


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12 month PPC (no change)


Dental Charges

Band 1 course of treatment


Band 2 course of treatment


Band 3 course of treatment


Wigs and Fabrics

Surgical brassiere


Abdominal or spinal support


Stock modacrylic wig


Partial human hair wig


Full bespoke human hair wig


Optical voucher values from 1 April 2013
Type of optical appliance


Glasses with single vision lenses: spherical power of ≤ 6 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 2 dioptres.



Glasses with single vision lenses:


—spherical power of > 6 dioptres but < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres;

—spherical power of < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of > 2 dioptres but ≤ 6 dioptres.


Glasses with single vision lenses: spherical power of ≥ 10 dioptres but ≤ 14 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres.



Glasses with single vision lenses:


—spherical power of >14 dioptres with any cylindrical power;

—cylindrical power of > 6 dioptres with any spherical power.


Glasses with bifocal lenses: spherical power of≤ 6 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 2 dioptres.



Glasses with bifocal lenses:


—spherical power of > 6 dioptres but < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres;

—spherical power of < 10 dioptres, cylindrical power of > 2 dioptres but ≤ 6 dioptres.


Glasses with bifocal lenses: spherical power of≥ 10 dioptres but ≤ 14 dioptres, cylindrical power of ≤ 6 dioptres.



Glasses with prism-controlled bifocal lenses of any power or with bifocal lenses:


—spherical power of > 14 dioptres with any cylindrical power;

—cylindrical power of > 6 dioptres with any spherical power.


(HES) Glasses not falling within any of paragraphs 1 to 8 for which a prescription is given in consequence of a testing of sight by an NHS Trust.



Contact lenses for which a prescription is given in consequence of a sight test by an NHS trust or NHS foundation trust.


Railways: Crossrail


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

I would like to inform the House about a change in the financing approach for the Crossrail rolling stock and associated depot facilities contract.

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The Mayor of London and Transport for London have proposed using the flexibility in the original procurement to move from the current financing model, involving a substantial element of private sector funding, to one that is entirely funded by the public sector.

I can inform the House that the Government have agreed to this change. The decision reflects the unique circumstances that apply to Crossrail. As a new route that is currently under construction it has no inherited train fleet and without new trains the service cannot open.

Transport for London and the Government believe this decision is an appropriate course of action to deliver a very complex and unique infrastructure project within the delivery timetable. Trains need to be ordered by the middle of 2014, so that testing and delivery of the fleet can start in spring 2017, well ahead of the opening of Crossrail’s central tunnel section in late 2018.

Any delay in the rolling stock order would place this delivery timetable in jeopardy. By removing the private financing requirement and moving to a wholly publicly funded procurement the contract negotiations will be simplified and as a result Transport for London believes this will provide greater certainty that the contract can be awarded in time.

In considering these concerns and the importance of the Crossrail project to the country, the Government have been convinced that, in this specific case, a change in the financing strategy is an appropriate course to pursue.

Within the current spending review period this will involve the use of existing TfL budgets. The remaining costs that fall beyond 2014-15 will be factored into future capital spending plans.

The Department for Transport remains committed to the use of private finance in transport projects where it provides value for money and fits with our timetables for planned investment.

The financing of the contract is the only key element of the contract that will change. The responsible procurement requirements set out by my predecessor last February will remain as will the requirements for bidders to set out an estimate of the contract value that will be spent in the UK. While this is not an assessment criterion in the decision process, the successful bidder will be required to report against it following contract award.

Following this decision, Crossrail Ltd intends to issue a revised invitation to negotiate in due course. I will ensure that a copy of this is available in the House Library as soon as it is available. Bidders will then be asked to resubmit their bids based on this revised financing structure later this year.

I will keep the House updated with progress on this issue.

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

On 30 November, I released a Written Ministerial Statement outlining my decision not to release general budget support to Rwanda at that time. That decision was made on the basis of a breach of the partnership principles which underpin the disbursement of general budget support.

At that time I signalled my commitment to continue with the successful development partnership with Rwanda, and initiated work to look at how we could protect the poorest groups in Rwanda through re-programming funds that were no longer disbursed as general budget support.

The work I requested has now been completed and I have agreed to the re-programming of £16 million support to Rwanda. This reprogrammed development spend will be channelled through projects that directly reach and protect the poorest people in Rwanda. In line with my earlier decision regarding the breach in the partnership principles, it is not appropriate to release any of these funds as general budget support.

The funds being released will be used to provide cash transfers and cash for work opportunities for around 545,000 of the poorest individuals and to support non-governmental organisations in Rwanda to provide essential services. We will also pay directly for 1.8 million textbooks for primary and secondary students. A further £2 million will support up to 20,000 refugees in refugee camps on the Rwanda side of the border with DRC.

Additionally, since November I have released funds for a social cash transfers programme, a scholarship scheme which focuses primarily on women and girls, and support to continue a highly successful lands registration programme.

The UK Government remain fully committed to supporting long-term solutions which bring stability and resolve the causes of conflict in eastern DRC, and will continue to work with our international and regional partners to achieve this goal.

Schools: Funding


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove) made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I am announcing details of the capital funding of around £4 billion that will be made available to create new school places and to carry out maintenance and repair work to existing school buildings.

The number of pupils in England is rising and is set to continue to rise well into the next Parliament. Ensuring that every child is able to attend a good or outstanding school in their local area is at the heart of the Government’s comprehensive programme of reform

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of the school system. We have previously made available core annual allocations of £800 million to help local authorities meet the demand for additional school places together with a further £500 million in 2011-12 and £600 million in 2012-13. Today we are allocating capital funding for basic need of £1.6 billion covering the two years 2013-14 and 2014-15.

It is vital that this money is targeted where it is needed and so we have worked with local authorities to improve the way that funding for new school places is distributed across the country.

Until now, we have not had detailed information about the specific areas within local authorities where the demand for school places is expected to increase. This meant that we could not target funding in the most effective way possible to meet pockets of demand within local authorities.

Over the past 12 months, we have worked with local authorities to ensure that funding is distributed more fairly across the country. Local authorities told us that funding should be allocated based solely on projected shortfalls between the places available and the places required within the smaller planning areas that they use when assessing the need for new school places. They also said that funding should be confirmed for at least two years in order to aid better planning.

We redesigned the annual school capacity survey, which local authorities submit to the department each year, to ensure that, for the first time, we have detailed information about the pressure points within individual authority areas.

As a result of these changes, the distribution of funding to local authorities for additional school places should be fairer, more accurate and better value for money. Some local authorities will see their funding go up, while others will see funding levels go down. This reflects changes in the number of new school places required in different areas of the country as well as the use of more detailed data and it is right that money is allocated where it is needed.

These changes in allocation will get the best value from our core funding for new places. But, in view of the urgent need for more school places following the steep rise in birth rates in many parts of the country, this extra investment needs further enhancement. That is why, in his Autumn Statement on 5 December, the Chancellor announced that the Government will provide additional investment of £982 million for schools in England over the remainder of this Parliament.

With this additional money, we are now launching the Targeted Basic Need Programme to fund the provision of new, high quality school places in the areas that need it most. The programme will offer additional support to those local authorities experiencing the greatest pressure on places and will help them to prepare for further rises in pupil numbers. The programme will deliver new academies and free schools, as well as enabling investment to expand existing good and outstanding schools.

Local authorities will be able to bid for funding to increase the number of high quality school places available in areas with the most acute levels of need. All new schools will open as academies or free schools

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and successful local authorities will be required to run a competitive process in order to select the best provider. This will enable greater parental choice where it is most needed, thereby driving up standards across the local area.

This, together with the additional local authority allocations we made in 2011-12 and 2012-13, will bring the total amount of funding allocated to local authorities for new school places over the current spending review period to over £5 billion. This is more than double the £1.9 billion spent by the previous Government over an equivalent period. We are also setting out our expectation today of greater transparency so that local authorities’ decisions about where to add places are more transparent and accessible to the public. Local authorities will be required to make available details of how they have used their basic need allocations to create additional places and in which schools.

In addition, we must also ensure that existing school buildings are kept in good condition. In 2013-14, as in the previous two years, an additional £1.2 billion will be made available to local authorities and academies to maintain and improve the condition of existing school buildings across the country.

The previous Government did not collect comprehensive and consistent data about the schools most in need of repair and investment. That is why we are in the process of gathering extensive information about the condition of the school estate through the property data survey. In the mean time, funding for condition and maintenance will be allocated on a simple and transparent per-pupil basis. In addition to this £1.2 billion in 2013-14, a further £200 million of devolved formula capital funding will be given directly to maintained schools and academies in 2013-14 to maintain the condition of their buildings.

Today’s announcement also includes capital funding for 16-19 provision. £80 million will be made available for 2013-14 and 2014-15 to maintained schools, academies, sixth-form colleges and independent specialist providers to fund additional places needed as a result of demographic changes. This funding will also support the provision of new places for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

£61 million of capital maintenance funding will be allocated to sixth-form colleges in 2013-14. Alongside this, £15 million of capital maintenance funding will be allocated to independent specialist providers for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Capital allocations for 2013-14 and 2014-15 have been published on the Department for Education’s website and I will also place a copy of this and accompanying documents in the House Libraries.

Special Missions


The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

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I wish to inform the House of a new pilot process by which the Government will be informed of inward visits which may qualify for special mission immunity status.

A special mission is a temporary mission, representing a state, which is sent by one state to another with the consent of the latter, in order to carry out official engagements on behalf of the sending state.

In the case of Khurts Bat v. the Federal Court of Germany [2011]EWHC 2029 (Admin) the High Court recognised that, under customary international law, members of a special mission enjoy immunities, including immunity from criminal proceedings and inviolability of the person, and that these immunities have effect in the United Kingdom by virtue of the common law. However, the court made clear that not everyone representing a state on a visit of mutual interest is entitled to the immunities afforded to members of a special mission but only where a visit is consented to by as a special mission. In the case of inward missions to the United Kingdom, the court affirmed that it is a matter for Her Majesty’s Government to decide whether to recognise a mission as a special mission.

In order to avoid uncertainty as to the status of particular missions, the Government will put in place a new pilot process so that the Government’s consent to a special mission can be addressed expressly before the mission arrives in the UK. Embassies and high commissions in London will be invited to inform the FCO of forthcoming visits in cases where they wish to seek the Government’s express consent as a special mission. The FCO will respond with the Government’s consent or otherwise to the visit as a special mission. Any legal consequences would ultimately be a matter for the courts.

Sport: Community Amateur Sports Clubs


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are committed to delivering and maintaining a real sporting legacy after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic success. An important part of securing this legacy is to encourage greater participation in sport at a community level, and local sports clubs have an important role to play in this.

The Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) scheme provides a number of charity-type tax reliefs to support local sports clubs. In order to access these tax reliefs clubs must meet certain conditions and must register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

However, some of the eligibility rules in the legislation are unclear and cause confusion. This makes it difficult for clubs and HMRC always to be sure about whether a club is entitled to relief. Clearer, more certain rules would help existing and prospective clubs to be confident about what they need to do to qualify, and would help ensure that the scheme fully achieves the Government’s aim of supporting and encouraging sport at a community level.

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Some areas cannot be clarified without legislation. To provide certainty as quickly as possible, the Government will include provisions in the Finance Bill, to be published on 28 March, allowing clearer detailed rules to be set through secondary legislation. HMRC will then publish a consultation document after the Finance Bill is published setting out proposals for these rules. These proposals will cover a range of issues, including:

the maximum annual fee, to include the costs of participation, which a club can charge and still be considered a CASC. The consultation will seek views on a range of maximum fees up to £1,040 (£20 per week). Recognising that some sports have higher costs, CASCs will be able to charge more than the maximum annual fee if they have measures in place to allow people on low and modest incomes to participate fully at a cost of no more than the maximum fee; the rules and limits for CASCs on generating income from social and non-sporting activities will be updated to provide clarity. The consultation will explore a number of possible limits. Where clubs generate income over the limits, the consultation will also explore how clubs can separate this activity into a wholly-owned subsidiary company; andthe consultation will include proposals for more generous rules for travel expenses, and changes to allow clubs to make limited payments to players.

Following the consultation, the Government would expect regulations to be laid in the autumn, setting out detailed rules, subject to the usual parliamentary processes.

As well as providing certainty for existing CASCs, the Government hope that the changes will encourage more clubs to apply and qualify for CASC status. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, it is possible that some existing CASCs may need to make changes to the way they operate if they wish to continue

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claiming relief. For example, they may need to make allowances for those on low or modest incomes. However, while the consultation is ongoing, CASCs will not need to make any changes.

While HMRC has been reviewing the CASC regulations, a number of clubs that have applied to HMRC have had their applications put on hold. The Government are sorry for the delays they have experienced.

HMRC is writing today to each of those clubs whose application has been put on hold to draw their attention to this statement. HMRC will write again to each club when the consultation document is published explaining how the proposed new rules are likely to affect the club and its application.

One outcome of HMRC’s review of the current rules that does not require legislative change is that clubs can offer junior memberships without voting rights and still qualify as CASCs. We are pleased to announce that HMRC will be applying this rule with immediate effect.

This Government recognise the importance and value of CASCs, and we hope the sports sector will welcome the measures being announced today.

Taxation: Double Taxation


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (David Gauke) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A protocol amending the double taxation agreement with the People’s Republic of China was signed on 27 February 2013. The text of the protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and is available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.