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21 July 2009 : Column 117WS

Here we are also setting out the proposed allocation of the £50 million available in 2009-10.

A period of two weeks will now be available to authorities to make any final representations on both the provisional list of sub-regions and on the provisional allocations for 2009-10, before those allocations are made.

The Government's response to the consultation, along with the provisional list of sub-regions and provisional allocations for 2009-10, is available on the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.communities.

Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Stoke-on-Trent Council

The Minister for Regional Economic Development and Co-ordination (Ms Rosie Winterton): On the 8 May my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (John Healey), the then Minister for Local Government, announced to the House that, as part of a programme of action to help the people of Stoke-on-Trent restore to the city good city governance, the Government were minded to make an Order under section 86 of the Local Government Act 2000 specifying a scheme of whole council elections from 2011. He also announced that to enable the focus of all to be on this 2011 new start, and while an electoral review is being undertaken, the Government were minded to include in the Order provision to cancel the 2010 elections for the city council. He explained that before taking final decisions there would be a short 'soundings' period until the 18 June to provide an opportunity for interested parties to make representations to us.

That soundings period is now complete and I am today announcing that, having regard to the representations we have received, we have decided to go ahead with a scheme of whole council elections for Stoke-on-Trent city council from 2011. We intend to lay the necessary Order before Parliament as soon as practicable.

We have, however, concluded that there is not a sufficiently strong case for cancelling the 2010 elections for the city council, and hence the Order will not include provision to cancel these elections.

We reached these conclusions having regard to the 11 representations we received during the soundings period. There was broad support for whole council elections, but a number of concerns were raised about cancelling the 2010 elections to the city council, including from the Electoral Commission which considered that on the available evidence, a clear case for cancelling the elections had not been made.

In his 8 May announcement my right hon. Friend also indicated that he was asking the Electoral Commission to undertake an electoral review of Stoke-on-Trent which would consider the size of the council and the warding arrangements for the City. The Electoral Commission has now directed the Boundary Committee to undertake this review, which we understand will begin shortly.

We are confident that these measures to reform the electoral arrangements of Stoke-on-Trent will help provide for the people of Stoke-on-Trent the opportunity they
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need to achieve that well governed city, with high quality public services, successful economic regeneration, and improved quality of life, which they deserve.

Departmental Hospitality

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Shahid Malik): I am today publishing a list of receptions hosted by Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2008-09.

The total cost of these receptions was £23,500.

DateHostEventVenueNumber of Attendees


Secretary of State-the right hon. Hazel Blears MP

CLG Joint Reception for Beacon Awards Winners and Empowerment White Paper at LGA Conference 2008

Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Conference Centre



Secretary of State-the right hon. Hazel Blears MP

CLG Summer Press Reception

Eland House



Secretary of State-the right hon. Hazel Blears MP

Local Priorities: Local Area Agreements Stakeholder Reception

Eland House



Secretary of State-the right hon. Hazel Blears MP

Thames Gateway Investor Reception

Marble Hall,

One Birdcage Walk,




Secretary of State-the right hon. Hazel Blears MP

Eid Ul-Fitr Reception (co-hosted with Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary)

Foreign and





Secretary of State-the right hon. Hazel Blears MP

CLG Christmas Press Reception

Jubilee Room, House of Commons



Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State-Iain Wright MP

HCA Transition Reception for Chairs and Chief Execs of housing growth areas and Local Delivery Boards

Portcullis House


Tackling Race Inequalities Fund

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. John Denham): In February, the Government announced proposals to support third sector organisations through the Tackling Race Inequalities Fund. Today, I am pleased to announce to the House that 27 national and regional organisations will receive grants totalling £8.8 million over two years.

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The third sector organisations are:

Funding is subject to agreeing detailed work programmes and monitoring and reporting arrangements. Organisations will be expected to show how they make effective use of the financial assistance to deliver real impact.

The fund will support a range of organisations working to tackle race inequalities and promote equality of opportunity for people of all ethnic groups. It will enable organisations to contribute to policy making.


MOD Annual Report and Accounts

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): I am pleased to announce that I am today publishing the Ministry of Defence's annual report and accounts 2008-09. It combines the Department's annual performance report and departmental resource accounts in a single document that provides a comprehensive overview of the MOD's financial and non-financial performance for the year, including the Departments contribution towards public service agreements and departmental strategic objective targets. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. It is also available online from the Department's website at:

This last year has been a challenging one for defence. Operational tempos remained high, with operations in Afghanistan and Iraq continuing, although now in Iraq we have seen the end of our combat role and the return of the majority of our personnel.

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In those theatres and others, British forces have made, and continue to make, an enormous contribution to international security. Recent sad events have highlighted the commitment of all those involved, not just the men and women of the armed forces and the civilians who support them, but also those family members who remain at home and provide vital support to those who serve their country. The success of defence is dependent on them-they continue to do an exceptional job-and the Government remain committed to providing the support that they need and rightly deserve.

Armed Forces Pay Review Body

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Ms Judy McKnight as a member of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, for a three year term of office commencing on 1 September 2009. This appointment has been conducted in accordance with the guidance of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

BVT (Terms of Business Agreement)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Quentin Davies): The Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) highlighted the need for restructuring in the maritime industry to reduce overcapacity in the UK warship build and support industry after the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers (QE Class) have been built, and to ensure in the future a sustainable world-class industrial base. It is paramount that we balance supply and demand in the future, primarily to sustain key maritime skills and jobs that will, in turn, ensure our key industrial capabilities (KICs) are preserved.

As part of the response to the DIS, the shipbuilding and support activities of BAE Systems and VT Shipbuilding came together last year to form a new single company-BVT Surface Fleet Limited (BVT). The company, which is integral to the QE Class and Type 45 programmes, was established as MOD's strategic complex warship design and build partner, and to work collaboratively with Babcock on surface warship support.

Our joint aim is to deliver, in time, a world-class capability for the UK and global markets. In order to achieve this, we have been negotiating a long-term business agreement with BVT. Known as the terms of business agreement (TOBA), I am pleased to announce to the House today that we have now concluded these discussions and signed a 15 year commercial deal with the company. Worth around £230 million per year to BVT to sustain KICs required for essential operational sovereignty, the TOBA gives an unambiguous commitment to the company for a certain minimum level of workload in the areas of warship design and build work, and elements of warship support covering all surface warships. In return, BVT has committed to the transformation of the sector into a sustainable entity for the future. This will generate major financial benefits to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Royal Navy worth a minimum of £350 million over the duration of the contract, with an aim to double this figure over the duration of the contract.

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The MOD expects this new commercial agreement, which is being progressed within the strategic framework of the maritime change programme (MCP), to provide a strong foundation for BVT to compete for non-MOD work, both in the UK and throughout the world. It will be for BVT to retain the capacity it deems necessary to meet the demands made of it and to transform the sector.

This new arrangement is also intended to provide MOD with the confidence that BVT can deliver significant improvements in efficiency and performance needed to underpin the future naval shipbuilding programme, while providing the company with the certainty to enable investment and long term planning. Finally, it demonstrates that we continue to make best use of UK taxpayers' money in seeking opportunities for transformation and the delivery of efficiencies.

Defence Advisory Forum

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): In my written statement to the House on 7 July I announced plans for a Defence Green Paper to be published early in 2010, as part of a process that will enable a strategic defence review early in the next Parliament.

I intend to appoint a defence advisory forum of independent experts to support the preparation of the Green Paper. The forum will be established for a limited period, covering the preparation and publication of the Green Paper.

The defence advisory forum will be affiliated to the Prime Minister's national security forum and will work in concert with it.

I will inform the House of the membership of the forum once this has been confirmed.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Chris Bryant): Copies of the British Council's annual report and accounts for the 2008-2009 financial year have been placed in the Library of the House.

During the period the British Council received £200,963,000 grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


Correction to Written Answers

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope): I regret that the following written answers contained information which was incorrect:

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