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The Government are also looking to review their approach to the use of powers under section 238 of the Highways Act 1980 to promote new roadside facilities for motorists and, in particular, provision for lorry drivers where appropriate to do so. While this will not directly fund developments such as the one proposed by Kent, the approach would help to overcome the hurdle of securing planning approval. Use of these powers would provide an alternative means of securing site approvals. The delivery of the facilities could then be franchised to private operators on a competitive basis which will represent the best outcome for the tax payer in terms of value for money.
There were a number of councils who put forward proposals pressing the Government to focus on improving energy efficiency and incentivising the development of renewable energy within communities. On 2 March we published the "Warm Homes, Greener Homes: A Strategy for Household Energy", which addresses many of the issues raised by the proposals under the SCA. The introduction by the Government of feed-in tariffs in April this year and the launch next April of the renewable heat incentive will also help to address these critical issues.
West Devon borough council, Herefordshire county council and a number of other councils asked for a much wider role for Post Offices in communities including banking and financial services. In response the Prime Minister has already committed to do just that, and as a result we carried out a consultation to find out what people think about existing products and services offered through the Post Office, and our proposals for the future of the Post Office banking. In response to the consultation the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills made an announcement on the 29 March about the sort of services that Post Offices will be offering in the future.
Wiltshire county council asked for the Sustainable Communities Act process to be ongoing or annual. The existing Sustainable Communities Act requires that the process should not be a one-off. CLG officials have, however, been working closely with Local Works on the development of the Sustainable Communities (Amendment) Bill. The Government wholeheartedly support the current draft of the Bill which, if passed by Parliament, will provide a date for the next invitation for proposals to be issued, and will enable the process of submitting and considering proposals to be improved.
The Government continue to assess the 199 proposals on the shortlist submitted by the Local Government Association. I intend to make a formal decision on which proposals the Government believe should be implemented alongside the associated actions the Government will take, later this year.
The Minister for Housing (John Healey):
I am today publishing the Government's response to the consultation conducted last year on Housing and Planning Delivery Grant (HPDG) which closed on 23 June 2009. The document sets out a summary of the responses received and also confirms both the amount available for HPDG
in 2010-11 and the allocation mechanism for 2010-11 which has been considered in the light of the comments received.
The amount available for local authorities through HPDG will be £146 million, an increase from £135 million paid out in 2009-10. This reflects the importance the Government place on increasing housing supply and increasing the capacity of local authorities to support this by delivering viable land and an efficient planning service. The grant provides a direct incentive for councils to work with partners in the public and private sector to ensure that new homes are built where they are needed. It is additional to mainstream funding and councils have the freedom to decide how best to spend it locally.
In changes to the distribution mechanism we are reducing the threshold of net additional homes needed to qualify for the housing element in recognition of the more challenging conditions in the housing market. We are also introducing additional eligibility requirements for demonstrating land for housing in order to reinforce existing requirements in planning policy statement 3 and increase confidence in the land supply position across the county. This builds on the confirmation set out in the budget that the planning inspectorate will undertake comprehensive checks on land supply and publish the results.
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): I would like to thank the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel (LDAP) for their recommendations on digital legal deposit and thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation.
My Department has received 57 responses to the consultation from a broad range of stakeholders. This shows how important digital legal deposit is. The consultation, as Members may have expected, has brought up many interesting and varying views and ideas on what the regulations should cover.
I will now be considering all the responses we have received and LDAPs latest recommendations with a view to going out to consultation in September on draft regulations and on UK Commercial and Protected Online Publications content.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): The supplement to the 2010 report of the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body (AFPRB) making recommendations on the pay of service medical and dental officers has been published today. I wish to express my thanks to the chairman and members of the review body for their report.
The AFPRB has recommended no increase in basic military salary for all defence medical services (DMS) accredited consultants and accredited general medical and dental practitioners. The AFPRB has also recommended a 1 per cent. increase for certain non-accredited officers and a 1.5 per cent. increase for junior non-accredited officers and cadets. In addition, the AFPRB recommended no increase in the values of national clinical excellence awards and distinction awards and a 1 per cent. increase for DMS trainer pay and general medical practitioner associate trainer pay.
The AFPRB recommendations are to be accepted in full, except for the 1.5 per cent. recommendation for junior non-accredited officers and cadets, which will be abated to 1 per cent. mirroring the decision on the Doctors and Dentists Review Body recommendation, with implementation effective from 1 April 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones): As part of the Government's continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans' illnesses openly and honestly, data on the mortality of veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict are published regularly. The most recent figures for the period 1 April 1991 to 31 December 2009 are published today as a National Statistic Notice on the Defence Analytical Services and Advice website.
The data for Gulf veterans are compared to those of a control group known as the "Era cohort" consisting of armed forces personnel of a similar profile in terms of age, gender, service, regular/reservists status and rank, who were in service on 1 January 1991 but were not deployed to the Gulf. As in the previous release, the "Era" group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age-profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.
There have been 1,095 deaths among the Gulf veterans and 1,111 in the age-adjusted Era comparison group.
The 1,095 deaths among Gulf veterans compare with approximately 1,828 deaths which would have been expected in a similar sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the same age and gender profile. This reflects the strong emphasis on fitness when recruiting and retaining service personnel.
The full notice can be viewed at http://www.dasa.mod.uk
The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Edward Miliband): On 31 March I published "Beyond Copenhagen: The UK Government's International Climate Change Plan" (Cm 7850), setting out the key elements of UK strategy leading up to COP16 in Mexico and beyond.
The strategy reflects the fact there is much unfinished business following the outcome of the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009. The conference made significant progress in some areas, but did not live up to our expectations, or those of many countries round the world.
The main achievement at Copenhagen was agreement of the accord. The accord includes commitments to limit global temperature increases to no more than 2° Celsius, to climate finance approaching $30 billion fast-start finance to 2012 with a long-term goal of $100 billion a year by 2020 and for the first time provides a common international framework that includes all the world's major economies. Since the summit more than 70 countries (accounting for around 80 per cent. of global emissions) have put forward mitigation targets and actions which, if they deliver at the high end of their ambitions, would be consistent with global emissions peaking before 2020, an important step towards achieving an emissions trajectory consistent with 2°.
The document affirms the importance of delivering against the commitments made in the accord. This includes commitments on emissions reductions, forestry, measurement, reporting and verification and on finance. It highlights the importance both of getting fast-start finance flowing and also of the work of the UN Secretary-General's high-level advisory group on climate finance, co-chaired by the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia.
The Government continue to believe that this action has to be backed by a comprehensive legally binding agreement. The UK wants to see progress in the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) negotiations towards a legally binding agreement, with progress under the Copenhagen accord built on in the formal negotiations. To ease that process we signal that we would agree to an appropriately designed second Kyoto commitment period provided others enter into a comparable legally binding arrangements.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Gillian Merron): Further to the Government's response to Lord Archer of Sandwell's report on NHS-supplied contaminated blood and blood products, which we published on 20 May 2009, I wish to inform the House that we have decided to bring forward a review of the Skipton fund, which makes ex gratia payments to those infected with hepatitis C as a result of their treatment.
The unintended and tragic consequences of these treatments have seriously impaired the lives of many people, together with those of their families. We have listened carefully to the views of those infected, their families, carers and many in this House, who have told us that our intended review date of 2014 will be too late
for many of those affected. Consequently, we have decided that the review will begin as soon as possible this year.
I would like to reiterate this Government's sympathy for those affected by these treatments many years ago, before screening tests and methods of viral inactivation became available. We remain fully committed to supporting them in the best way we can.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ann Keen): "Maternity and Early Years-Making a Good Start to Family Life" published on 16 March 2010 contained an error on page 9 regarding the times when babies are offered immunisations. The correct sentence is:
"you will be offered immunisations for your baby when he or she is eight weeks, three months, four months, 12 months and 13 months old".
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope): I am placing in the Library today "Valuing People Now: The Delivery plan 2010-11" which was published on 31 March 2010, to support the implementation of "Valuing People Now, a new three-year strategy for people with learning disabilities" published in January 2009.
The delivery plan sets out the progress made in the first year. It also recognises that there is still more to do to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and their family carers. The delivery plan sets out the key priorities for 2010-11, in particular, to improve employment and housing opportunities and better health outcomes for people with learning disabilities and their family carers.
Other materials, including person-centred planning guidance, Valuing Older Family Carers Now, the Valuing People Now Housing Delivery Plan and a range of housing resources are available at www.valuingpeople .gov.uk/dynamic/valuingpeople6.jsp
The Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham): I have previously undertaken to update the House on the negotiations concerning the orders placed by the Government for H1Nl vaccine, at their conclusion. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that we have now reached a mutually satisfactory agreement with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to limit the Department's orders of swine flu vaccine, and that this settlement will result in savings of around a third of the original value of the total orders with GSK.
I am confident that the negotiated settlement both protects the public purse by obtaining full value for payments made without incurring a cancellation fee and ensures that the United Kingdom remains at the forefront of pandemic preparedness worldwide. The agreement involves the Department taking total deliveries of 34,838,500 doses of Pandemrix, including vaccine received so far. This will allow us to continue with ongoing vaccination programmes and keep a sizeable strategic reserve of vaccine in case the virus mutates. We are also planning to donate 3.8 million doses to the World Health Organisation to boost immunity in Africa before the rainy season.
In addition, the Department will purchase H5N1 "bird flu" vaccine and courses of the antiviral Relenza (to replace the amount of Relenza made available during the response to the swine flu pandemic) as part of the agreement. The probability of a more severe influenza pandemic has not diminished following the swine flu pandemic, and taking measures such as these now will help protect the population in the event of a future pandemic. However, as with other contracts, further details of the agreement are commercially confidential.
This negotiated settlement with GSK follows the decision to cancel the remaining orders with Baxter on 28 February 2010, utilising our break clause in the contract. We entered into more detailed negotiations with GSK because our contract with them did not contain a break clause, in line with their agreements with other countries. These discussions regarding limiting vaccine orders were necessary as our increased understanding of the virus demonstrated that less swine flu vaccines were required. This was partly because the virus has proved mild in most people (although more severe and, tragically, fatal in some instances), but also as scientists established that one dose of the vaccine was sufficient to confer immunity.
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