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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Following Defra's consultation earlier this year on the future uplands reward structure in England, we have decided to fully integrate uplands support within environmental stewardship.
We consulted on the basis of moving away from the compensatory nature of the hill farm allowance and towards a scheme which rewards farmers for maintaining the upland landscape and environment. After reviewing the consultation responses, and taking into account the need for effective planning and implementation, we are now minded to put in place a specific uplands strand to the entry-level stewardship scheme by no later than 2010.
Uplands entry-level stewardship will enable us to recognise the key role of upland farmers in delivering many of our environmental and landscape objectives, while also enabling us to better target the funding towards the delivery of public benefits. Like ELS, this new uplands strand would be open to all eligible farmers, and would offer a higher payment than ELS to reflect the higher costs of farming in these areas.
To ensure fullest environmental benefit, further scoping work is needed with Natural England and stakeholders. There will then be a further consultation on the final scheme design prior to implementation. Higher-level stewardship will of course continue to be available in the uplands, and we will keep the balance of funding between HLS and UELS under review. In the interim, we will continue to roll forward the hill farm allowance for three years from 2007 to 2009. Moving directly to uplands entry-level stewardship from the hill farm allowance will avoid the costs to industry and Government of implementing a separate transitional scheme.
We also consulted on our plans to reduce the geographic coverage of the hill farm allowance (and future uplands support) by removing the disadvantaged areas (DA) from the scheme, thereby focusing uplands support on farms in the severely disadvantaged areas (SDA). We propose to do this from 2008. This proposal received general support in the consultation, given that in comparison to the SDA, land in the DA is generally higher grade agricultural land, is more accessible, and producers have more options to maximise the potential of the land. In addition, the single payment scheme will, over time, tend to favour farmers in the DA in comparison to those in the SDA (since the DA is subsumed within the lowland for the purpose of defining SPS regions and therefore receives a higher flat-rate payment than the SDA).
The money saved by limiting the geographic coverage of the hill farm allowance will be retained within the Rural Development Programme for England, to boost the funds available under environmental stewardship,
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Today in Washington DC the Minister for Defence Procurement has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the US Government on the next phase of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme: production, sustainment and follow-on development (PSFD).
This is an important step forward for both the Armed Forces and British industry. The MoU sets out the framework for purchasing JSF and supporting and upgrading it through life. It also provides for the pooling of the nine partner nations collective buying power in a common support solution, and of their resources and technology in follow-on development. It does not, however, formally commit the UK to buying any aircraft. Our associated increase in financial commitment at this stage is £34 million.
We have always been clear that the UK would sign the MoU only if we were satisfied that we would have operational sovereignty of our aircraft. We have today received the necessary assurances from the US on technology transfer, which we would require to operate the aircraft safely and maintain, repair and upgrade it over its operational life.
JSF's next-generation capabilities will contribute to air superiority for decades to come. As part of the Carrier Strike capability, it will be a key component of the expeditionary capability needed to confront the diverse range of 21st century threats. Signature of the MoU today reflects our continuing commitment to providing the Armed Forces with battle-winning equipment; to procuring and supporting that equipment in the most cost-effective way; and to enhancing the Armed Forces ability to interoperate effectively with our international partners. I shall place a copy of the MoU in the Library of the House.
I am today publishing Putting Passengers First: the GovernmentsProposals for a Modernised National Framework for Bus Services. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House and the Printed Paper Office. The document represents the culmination of the Governments review of bus service provision, and our proposals are informed by the views of the industry, local authorities and, crucially, the travelling public. It sets out our thinking on the future direction of bus
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It is clear that buses play a crucial role in our transport system, with over two-thirds of all public transport journeys made by bus. By next year, public expenditure on buses will have increased to £2.5 billion a year, up from £1 billion a decade earlier. The Government have put in place free local bus travel for older and disabled people within their local areas, and will extend that to cover local bus services across England from April 2008.
The bus review has shown that, in some places, bus services are working well. But in too many communities, the current framework is still not delivering the service that passengers rightly expect. Improving services in these areas demands better performance by bus operators and better traffic management by local authorities, and different approaches will be needed to reflect the diverse range of local circumstances across the country. Crucially, higher-quality and more reliable services are needed to make the bus a more attractive alternative to the private car and play its full role in tackling congestion and supporting economic growth.
The proposals published today therefore seek to provide a balanced package of measures that will deliver a sustainable long-term future for the bus sector, by putting the needs of passengers first. They include:enhancements to the existing arrangements for partnership schemes between local authorities and bus operators;making quality contract schemes a realistic option, while ensuring that schemes can be brought forward only where the benefits are sufficient to justify them, and safeguarding the legitimate interests of bus operators;working with stakeholders to develop a new performance regime which holds both local authorities and operators to account for their contribution to the performance of local bus services;giving more opportunity to the community transport sector, which plays a key role in many rural and other areas where services cannot be provided on a fully commercial basis; andconsidering the scope for refocusing the current bus subsidy regime to ensure it remains targeted as effectively as possible, and supports the Governments environmental objectives.
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): Following Robert Howards acquittal in 2005 at Belfast Crown Court for the murder of Arlene Arkinson, the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, in consultation with the Attorney-General, asked the retired Court of Appeal judge Sir John MacDermott
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The Attorney-General has now received a copy of Sir John's report. Copies of the report, together with the director's response, have been placed in the Library. The report and director's response are also available on the PPS website at www.ppsni.gov.uk.
I have published a consultation paper seeking views on the European maritime Green Paper, Towards a Future Maritime Policy for the Union: A European Vision for the Oceans and Seathe EU Maritime Green Paper 11510/06, published by the European Commission on 7 June 2006. The EU maritime Green Paper is a wide-ranging discussion document, intended by the Commission to stimulate debate about the future direction and focus of Community maritime policy.
The responses, together with input from the recent UK stakeholder conference on 12 October, will inform the UK Governments response to the Commission. It is important that all UK maritime interests have an opportunity to reflect on the document and comment, as the European Commission intends to develop formal proposals based on the outcome of a Europe-wide consultation and it is vital that the UK has a strong, informed voice in this process. Further information on the consultation and the maritime Green Paper are available from the DfT website at www.dft.gov.uk. Those wishing to comment on the proposals have until 28 February 2007 to do so. Copies of the consultation paper are in the House Libraries.
I am announcing today changes to the arrangements for approval of xenotransplantation procedures. Xenotransplantation is the use of live cells, tissues and organs from animal sources for transplants into humans. It can be viewed as a partial solution to the ongoing shortage of human organs and tissues for transplantation. It can also raise concerns: for the safety of the individual and the wider public, for the efficacy of the procedures, and for the welfare of the animals involved. To date there have been no xenotransplant procedures in the UK, and very few, if any, are anticipated over the next few years.
The department has reviewed the interim xenotransplantation regulatory arrangements put in place by Ministers in 1997. At that time, the UK Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority (UKXIRA) was established to develop a regulatory framework for xenotransplantation, and to advise Ministers on specific proposals for xenotransplant procedures.
UKXIRA was a pioneer in the early debates around xenotransplantation. Its approach has been reflected in a number of international recommendations and developments. In particular, EU legislation on medicinal products (Commission Directive 2003/63/EU) and the Clinical Trails Regulations (2004) make specific provision for xenotransplantation proposals. With these statutory arrangements now in place, UKXIRA has completed its work and it will cease to exist from today, 12 December 2006.
Guidance clarifying the new arrangements has been placed in the Library and is available on the department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/Policy AndGuidance/OrganisationPolicy/SecondaryCare/Transplantation/fs/en.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Science and Innovation (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Today the Government have published new regulations transposing the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directives 2002/96/EC and 2003/108/EC in the UKthe Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006.
Electronic and electrical equipment is the fastest growing waste stream in Europe. The UK alone produced over 2 million tonnes in 2005. The directive has the laudable aim of reducing the amount of WEEE sent to landfill by promoting its separate collection, treatment and recycling. From 1 July 2007, the WEEE regulations will make all producers, importers, and those selling EEE under their own brand, in the UK market, responsible for financing its treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal.
The regulations published today have been the subject of extensive public consultation to ensure all interested parties have been able to present their views and concerns as the regulations were developed. The regulations will:Achieve the environmental aims of the WEEE directive while continuing to support the important and dynamic electrical and electronic sectors.
As part of the last public consultation, I set out our desire to introduce partial producer responsibility from 1 April 2007 to ensure that producers were obligated to cover the costs of collection, treatment and recycling of EEE containing hazardous substances (for example, CRTs, refrigerants and gas discharge lamps). The Government are planning to adopt this approach and I will be making an announcement shortly about the mechanism for doing so.
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