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The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am very pleased to announce that the Chairman of the Law Commission and I have agreed a statutory protocol governing how Government Departments and the Law Commission should work together on law reform projects. The protocol is key to ensuring a more productive working relationship between the Law Commission and Whitehall. The protocol has been laid before Parliament today.
The Law Commission Act 2009, which amends the Law Commissions Act 1965 to provide for the statutory protocol, also introduces a duty on the Lord Chancellor to report annually to Parliament on the extent to which Law Commission proposals have been implemented by the Government. The protocol is intended to improve the rates of implementation of Law Commission reports and its success in this respect will be highlighted in the annual reporting to Parliament.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Mole): I regret to inform the House that the answer I gave on 11 March 2010 to parliamentary question 318998, Official Report, c. 410-411W, about how many thefts from this Department have been recorded in the last two years was incorrect.
"Central records show that since 10 February 2008, 154 items have been reported stolen. Of these 54 were reported stolen from within Departmental premises".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): The Department for Transport has published today a response to the public consultation which closed 5 February 2010. It outlines our proposals for implementing the third EU directive on driving licences (directive 2006/126/EC), adopted in December 2006.
Most features of the directive must be transposed into national law by mid-January 2011 and come into practical effect by mid-January 2013. Implementing regulations will be laid before Parliament in order to transpose the directive into law in Great Britain by the due date of January 2011. Separate arrangements apply in Northern Ireland, where driver licensing is a devolved matter.
After considering carefully views expressed by respondents, we intend to maintain the approach of making as little change to our current arrangements as is consistent with the directive and, where change is unavoidable, making it at least cost. Changes include:
A new European moped category AM which will include light quadricycles and tricycles. The minimum age for this category remains unchanged from current requirements at 16 years;
The introduction required under the directive of a new motorbike category A2, providing in the future categories Al, A2 and A.
Progress through these categories will be achieved by passing a test; direct access to a category, by passing a test, will also be possible. Direct access to new category A2 will be 19 years. Direct access for category A will rise from the current 21 to 24 years.
Special provisions for moped and motorcycle riders with a physical disability;
The need for new car drivers to pass a test to tow a medium-sized trailer;
New conditions of approval for organisations with non-DSA driving examiners;
Abolition of the separate category Bl (quadricycles) driving entitlements for new drivers;
Five-year driving licence administrative validity periods for drivers of lorries and buses.
We have decided not to introduce a training route to progressing through the motorcycle categories or, for car drivers, to towing a medium-sized trailer. Although a training route was supported by many respondents, some did not consider that in the current economic downturn the proposals were financially viable. This is also our assessment.
Many respondents opposed our proposals that riders should first take a familiarisation course on a more powerful category of motorcycle before being able to ride that category with a provisional licence before taking their test. They argued instead that riders wishing to ride category A2 or A motorcycles, who have not yet qualified for a full licence for the larger category, should be accompanied by an authorised trainer (AT) when riding on the roads. We agree with this argument and have amended our proposals accordingly.
Copies of the response report are available on the DFT website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Department for Transport has made the following ministerial statement:
On 1 February 2010, Official Report columns 2-4WS, I announced the initial deployment of security scanners at Heathrow and Manchester airports. This was part of a package of measures announced as a direct response to the attempted attack on Northwest flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas day 2009. The device used on that flight had clearly been constructed with the aim of making detection by existing screening methods extremely difficult.
The safety of the travelling public is my highest priority and security scanners are a vital additional tool which give airport security staff a much better chance of detecting explosives or other potentially harmful items hidden on a passenger's body.
At the same time that I announced the initial deployment of security scanners I published an interim code of practice to reflect concerns about privacy, health and safety, equality and data protection and announced our intention to consult on it.
Today we are in a position to begin that consultation. This provides an opportunity to influence the final code of practice. We will consider all representations carefully, and this consultation will run until 21 June 2010.
We will inform stakeholders that the consultation paper has been published today. Copies of the consultation paper are available on the Department for Transport's website at www.dft.gov.uk and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper): Today, I am publishing "Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness", which sets out the next steps of welfare reform and will ensure no one is left to a life on benefits.
Historically too many people who were out of work were written off. In the 1980s and early 1990s long-term worklessness soared. We have had to deal with that legacy. Since 1997 worklessness has fallen, the number of people on working age inactive benefits has fallen by 300,000 and the action we have taken has prevented a big increase in inactivity during this recession.
Today we are going further. In "Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness" we set how we will support the long-term workless back into work, and support disabled people and those with health conditions who are at risk of long-term unemployment and worklessness to make sure no one gets left behind in the recovery. We will do this by introducing more individualised help alongside stronger personalised conditions, including extra support for people who are newly assessed as fit for work but may have spent a number of years on an incapacity benefit.
For those who are doing their bit but still struggling to get a job, the Government will step in and do their bit too. For jobseekers who do not find work after two years we will guarantee them employment or work placements and for people on employment and support
allowance who do not find work after two years, we will provide a guaranteed place on our specialist disability employment programme-Work Choice.
I am also today publishing the Government's response to the Social Security Advisory Committee's consultation on the Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) Regulations and laying these regulations before Parliament.
Over the next three years health care professionals will assess current incapacity benefits claimants, looking at what they can do, as well as what they cannot, using the work capability assessment to move them to our more active welfare regimes, culminating in the abolition of old style incapacity benefits by April 2014.
These proposals involve a radical change in the way we use our resources to support people at risk of long-term worklessness-providing more personalised help and conditions coupled with guarantees to prevent those who are able to work from spending a lifetime on benefits.