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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The latest report on the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong was published today and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. A copy of the report is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.fco.gov.uk). The report covers the period from 1 July to 31 December 2003 and includes a foreword by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. I commend the report to the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Geoffrey Hoon) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The 2004 report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body has been published today. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I wish to express my thanks to the chairman and members of the review body for their clear and wide-ranging report.
The AFPRB has recommended an increase in basic military salary of 2.8 per cent for the majority of personnel and 3.2 per cent for certain Privates and Lance Corporals (those on the lower pay range). The AFPRB has also recommended increases in the rates of specialist pay (for example, flying pay, submarine pay, diving pay and hydrographic pay), and in accommodation charges. The AFPRB has also recommended a 3.2 per cent increase to rates of longer separated service allowance and longer service at sea bonus which are designed to compensate for separation.
The Ministry of Defence Votes A 200405 will be laid before the House on 23 February as HC 283. Votes A outlines the maximum numbers of personnel that can be retained for service in the Armed Forces for financial year 200405.
I am pleased to announce that Her Majesty has graciously approved the detailed qualifying criteria for the award of a campaign medal for recent operations in Iraq. I have laid the Command Paper instituting the Iraq Campaign Medal in Parliament today.
Subject to parliamentary approval of any necessary Supplementary Estimate, the Ministry of Defence departmental expenditure limits will be increased by £506,795,000 from £30,792,381,000 to £31,299,176,000. Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital are as set out in the following table:
A reduction in capital DEL of £2,655,000 as a result of repaying the funding provided from the reserve in financial year 200102 which was brought forward from 200304 for Operation Veritas urgent operational requirements.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): The post-consultation report for the paper Courts Boards: constitution and procedures is published today.
Courts boards will be a means of ensuring local involvement in the way in which courts are run. They will work with the new unified courts agency, which will integrate the management of the courts within a single agency to replace the magistrates' courts committees and the Court Service. Courts boards will provide a vital local input, to ensure that the courts administration is run in a way that meets the needs of their areas. We intend to appoint the first members to courts boards towards the end of 2004, so that the boards will run in shadow form before the new agency is launched in April 2005.
The consultation paper Courts Boards: constitution and procedures sought views on how appointments should be made to courts boards and the procedures by which they should operate. The consultation period ran from 25 September 2003 to 5 January 2004 and 141 responses were received.
A post-consultation report for the paper Courts Boards: constitution and procedures will be published on 26 February. The report will set out the Government's decisions on how courts boards will be set up, in the light of the responses received to consultation. It will also inform regulations which will be laid before Parliament on that day.
Lord Filkin: The Government have today accepted the recommendation of the review of the National Land Information Service central department stakeholder group that the group should be abolished. Central government departments will continue to support the development of the National Land Information Service (NLIS) through direct contact and by liaising with each other to ensure a joined-up response to issues relating to NLIS. A copy of the review has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
On 12 February my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced that he would support the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust in its bid to be part of the first wave of NHS foundation trusts. The NHS trust can now apply to the office of the independent regulator, chaired by Bill Moyes, for authorisation as an NHS foundation trust, and set up new governance arrangements including recruiting members and holding elections to the board of governors.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): My right honourable friend, the Minister of State for Sport and Tourism (Richard Caborn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I would like to update the House on the progress made on implementing the recommendations contained in the Government's statement on the historic environment, A Force for Our Future, since March 2003.
The statement, published in December 2001, articulates the Government's vision for the historic environment at the heart of national life and sets an agenda for unlocking its full potential. This programme of action emphasises the value of the historic environment as an educational resource, its relevance to all members of the community and how it can work as an economic and regenerative asset in urban and rural settings.
The Government will continue to take this agenda forward in a number of ways, in particular through the review of heritage protection, English Heritage's annual state of the historic environment reports, the DCMS/DfES Joint Committee on Built Environment Education and English Heritage's funding agreement, which is co-sponsored by the DCMS, Defra and the ODPM.
The Government Historic Estate Unit published Protocol for the Care of the Government Estate 2003 recommending its adoption by government departments who own and manage historic estate and providing a model of good practice for all publicly funded bodies.
The Historic Houses Association launched www.historichousevenues.com, an online resource listing privately owned historic houses and gardens throughout Britain which offer exclusive facilities for pre-booked groups and individual visits, special events, catering and accommodation. The aim is to increase public access and develop commercial activity.
July 2003 English Heritage published Streamlining Listed Building Consent: Lessons from the Use of Management Agreements, a report on the effectiveness of listed building consent management guidelines and their potential to streamline the listed building consent regime.
The Architectural Heritage Fund, with support from English Heritage and Cadw, launched an online directory of sources of funding available for rescuing and restoring historic buildings at www.ffhb.org.uk.
English Heritage published Managing Local Authority Heritage Assetssome guiding principles for decision-makers, promoting best practice in the management of council-owned heritage assets and high quality design in new work related to them, including public spaces.
I launched Protecting Our Historic Environment: Making the System Work Better, a consultation document aiming to improve and refocus the way in which England's historic environment receives statutory protection.
The Government published their consultation Historic Environment Records: Benchmarks for Good Practice, inviting views on how best to ensure that the rich resources currently held in sites and monuments records across the country can be developed and made available to professionals, schools and colleges as well as the wider public.
English Heritage published its consultation document Local Authority Performance Indicators for Historic Environment Services, seeking views on developing a performance assessment framework for local authorities managing the historic environment.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport launched the DCMS/DfES Joint Advisory Committee on Built Environment Education, which will focus on how best to promote the built environment as an educational resource.
Ministers in the DCMS, the ODPM and Defra signed an innovative joint funding agreement for English Heritage. This recognises for the first time the contribution English Heritage makes to the delivery of all three departments' targets.
Heritage Open Days 2003, organised by the Civic Trust with support from English Heritage, attracted over 800,000 visitors to 2,512 properties and activities. There was a significant increase in the number of participating properties and activities, local organisers and volunteers.
The UK signed a co-operation agreement with UNESCO, which will enable developing countries to benefit from UK heritage and conservation expertise. UK experts will assist developing countries with identifying world heritage sites and preparing management plans and conservation strategies for both cultural and natural world heritage sites.
I launched the National Heritage Training Group's business plan Building on the Past: Training for the Future. It sets out the group's plans to tackle the skills deficit in traditional building crafts, including a traditional building crafts training plan.
Heritage Counts, the second state of the historic environment report, was launched. Key themes covered were: historic environment assets; the economic value of the historic environment; outreach, knowledge and access; indicators, including a consultation on a framework for historic environment indicators. The report published MORI research commissioned by English Heritage, with funds from the DCMS and the Heritage Lottery Fund, to establish who is not engaging with the historic environment and why. It also published research produced by Heritage Link into the contribution made by volunteers to the historic environment.
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