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Park Homes (Consultation Paper on Implied Terms)

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will publish for public consultation on 30 July, a paper on park home implied terms and a written statement.

The Housing Bill includes several clauses that improve the rights of park home owners. These include two powers allowing the appropriate national authority (Secretary of State for England, and the National Assembly for Wales in relation to Wales) to make secondary legislation relating to the implied terms and the written statement.

Provision has been made for the first exercise of the power to specify new implied terms, and to amend and delete existing ones, to have retrospective effect. It is therefore vital that we address all the important issues in the first exercise of the power. An affirmative resolution approving the order from both Houses of Parliament will be necessary.

In the consultation paper we have proposed 22 changes to the implied terms on which we have already consulted informally. We propose, for example, amendments on, among other things, further tightening of the resale process, increased transparency in the payment system and more residents' rights through the quiet enjoyment of the pitch.

The Housing Bill contains a re-enactment of the power of the appropriate national authority to prescribe requirements with which written statements must comply. The consultation paper proposes several changes to the requirements taking account of the proposed implied terms.

Copies of the paper are being sent to a wide range of interested parties including local authorities, trade and resident associations, and others with an interest in this issue. The closing date for responses is 22 October.

Copies of the paper will also be placed in the Libraries of the House, and will be available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at www.odpm.gov.uk.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Employment Tribunal Service (Performance Targets)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): The employment tribunals service has published its annual report and accounts for 2003–04 today. Copies have been laid before Parliament and will be placed on the ETS website at http://www.ets.gov.uk.
 
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I have set the employment tribunals service the following targets for 2004–05:

Quality

Efficiency

In addition to these key targets:

Finance

Questions delegated to the Chief Executive

Audit Regulation (Annual Reports of the Recognised Supervisory Bodies)

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt): I have received the annual reports for the year 2003 from the five recognised supervisory bodies for company auditors: a combined report from the Institutes of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and one each from the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants and the Association of Authorised Public Accountants. Copies of the reports have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Schedule 11 of the Companies Act 1989 sets out the requirements which a body must meet to be eligible for recognised supervisory body status. These include requirements to have adequate arrangements for monitoring and enforcing compliance with its rules relating to membership and eligibility (e.g. holding an appropriate qualification, being a fit and proper person, working to technical and ethical standards, maintaining competence), discipline and investigation of complaints. In these reports, the recognised bodies inform the Government about their activities in relation to these arrangements.

In January 2003, I announced a number of changes to the regulatory regime of the accountancy and audit professions, including the establishment of a new independent inspection unit, located within the Financial Reporting Council, and a professional oversight board for accountancy (POBA), to take over, from this Department, my functions under Part II of the Companies Act 1989 in respect of the recognised supervisory bodies. I am pleased to report that these bodies are now established and in operation. The delegation of these powers is dependent on provisions in the Companies (Audit, Investigation and Community
 
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Enterprise) Bill currently before the House and so for the time being my Department continues to have responsibility for oversight of the recognised supervisory bodies.

Coal Authority (Annual Report and Accounts)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Nigel Griffiths): I have today laid a copy of the Coal Authority report and accounts for 2003–04 before Parliament.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Multi-agency Initial Assessment Team Trial

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): As part of the continuing work to improve the capability to deal with major incidents, the Home Office, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department of Health are sponsoring a trial of a multi-agency initial assessment team (MAIAT) in the London area.

Comprising officers from the London Fire Brigade, the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and the London Ambulance Service, MAIAT will provide an initial assessment of potential chemical, biological, radiological or other major incidents.

The aim of the trial is to see whether a dedicated team could add to the emergency response by providing an early, effective and integrated assessment of the nature and risk of a CBRN incident. The trial will focus on central London.

The trial will be for one year during which the overall value of the team and the specific tasks it undertakes will be monitored, and lessons would be learned as the team develops. A full evaluation will be done towards the end of 2005, and lessons learned will be shared with emergency services elsewhere in the country.

This initiative has been developed with the emergency services in London and builds on their strong working relationship. It aims to add to, not replace, the capability we already have for responding to major incidents.

National Offender Management Service

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins): On 6 January 2004, the Home Secretary announced the Government's response to Patrick Carter's review of the correctional services and confirmed our intention to establish a national offender management service. This statement outlines the way I intend to introduce the new single service.

The Carter review highlighted the fact that no single organisation has responsibility for managing offenders. The review proposed that the existing organisations should be absorbed within a new service focused on the end-to-end management of offenders throughout their sentence.

Since January, I have conducted two consultation exercises and have received nearly 400 written responses. After careful consideration, I have decided that the option of moving immediately to create new regional boards is unlikely to deliver better management
 
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of offenders and better services—my two main objectives. Instead, I intend at this stage to concentrate on introducing the concept and practice of end-to-end offender management. There has been widespread support for this approach and it is key to achieving our overall aim of reducing re-offending. I will introduce greater competition within correctional services by using the powers of the Secretary of State but at this stage I have concluded that this can best be achieved through the existing 42 probation boards. This will allow us to maintain important local links with other criminal justice agencies and the experience gained will allow us to take forward future structural change in a more informed way.

The regional offender managers will have direct responsibility for budget allocation. They will support the existing local boards in moving to an offender management model, manage board performance, develop contestability, and pilot commissioning in their area. They will play an important part in achieving more effective service delivery through greater competition, using providers of prison and community interventions from across the public, private and voluntary sectors and determining where to split purchaser and provider. This approach will give us the opportunity to expose the core of offender management, and not just interventions, to competition.

The 42 local probation boards will refocus their role around a new statutory responsibility for managing offenders. They are already able to purchase and commission services. The consultation responses show they are eager to respond to the Carter review and to embed the concept of offender management. I want to enlist this interest and enthusiasm although I am also determined that the boards embark on a radical programme of change, not least to extend their commissioning function.

While the regional offender managers will lead performance and innovation at regional level, individual offender management will continue to be organised locally below the existing area level. I recognise the importance of the links and relationships that underpin effective joint working. The work probation areas currently undertaken in child protection, on the local criminal justice boards, in the criminal and disorder reduction partnerships and in the youth offending teams will continue.

In parallel to the ongoing development of NOMS and the core concepts of offender management and contestability I intend to proceed with vigour in implementing the other initiatives recommended in the Carter review that are critical to achieving our goal of reducing re-offending, and which have at their heart the proper punishment and rehabilitation of offenders that will lead to a safer society for all.


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