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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Iain Duncan Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Today, the Government are publishing their first Child Poverty Strategy. The strategy follows one year on from Royal Assent of the Child Poverty Act and embodies our determination to tackle child poverty. This strategy, which covers the first strategy period 2011-14, sets out how our radical reform programme will transform people's lives and break cycles of disadvantage.
Our strategy will protect the most vulnerable and reform welfare to make work pay and help those who are struggling to enter the labour market. For those who are able to work, we will provide help to get the best outcomes for them and their families.
The facts are that despite spending millions of pounds on addressing the issue, in the last several years progress against the child poverty targets has effectively stalled, whilst contributory factors like worklessness were left unchallenged meaning 5.8 million adults are still in poverty. Our strategy will bring together the work of several departments to help improve children's life chances. Through the universal credit alone, we expect to lift 350,000 children out of poverty and 200,000 children out of the severest poverty. Overall universal credit will help nearly 1 million people out of poverty and with the Work Programme we will see more people break out of the cycle of worklessness and benefit dependency.
We will do all in our power to increase the life chances of children by supporting vulnerable families through expanding the network of health visitors, targeting childcare for the most disadvantaged and investing in early intervention. By increasing standards in education, we will raise children's aspirations and narrow the gaps in attainment which play such a crucial role in defining children's future lives.
As part of the strategy, we are announcing that we will establish a Child Poverty Commission with an improved remit, wider and more effective than previously legislated for by the last Government. We have consulted widely to ensure that we get the power of the commission right and we have decided to increase the effectiveness of this body, further strengthening its role in holding the Government to account, whilst amending its advisory functions. This will be a broader commission which will monitor and drive progress towards ending child poverty, improving life chances, and increasing social mobility. Until the new commission is in place, we will be broadening the current remit of the Government's independent reviewer on social mobility (Alan Milburn) to include child poverty. Alan Milburn will then be
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I, together with my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence, wish to inform the House about our plans for funding conflict prevention, stabilisation, and peacekeeping activities for financial year 2011-12.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) announced that we will increase significantly our support to conflict prevention and poverty reduction focusing on tackling threats at source in those fragile and conflict-affected countries where the risks are high, our interests are most at stake, and where we know we can have an impact. We have therefore agreed to an increase in the size of the Conflict Pool over the course of the next spending review period. The Conflict Pool is the mechanism by which the Government allocate resources for discretionary conflict prevention, stabilisation, and peacekeeping activities and is managed jointly by the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Ministry of Defence.
We will increase the Conflict Pool's programme resources from £229 million this financial year to £256 million in FY 2011-12 and annually thereafter to £309 million in FY 2014-15. This excludes the net additional cost of military operations in Afghanistan where separate arrangements are in place to draw on the Treasury reserve.
As usual, the settlement provides a mix of official development assistance (ODA) funding and non-ODA resources. This will enable the Conflict Pool to bring together HMG's development, defence, and diplomacy capabilities in an integrated approach to tackling instability and conflict overseas.
|Conflict Resources: Treasury Settlement £m|
|Y1 2011-12||Y2 2012-13||Y3 2013-14||Y4 2014-15|
The Treasury reserve will continue to provide up to £374 million each year for assessed peacekeeping costs (the Peacekeeping Budget). The Conflict Pool is the first port of call should these obligatory costs exceed this figure. We have agreed to earmark £76 million from the Conflict Pool in FY 2011-12 for assessed peacekeeping costs in FY 2011-12 making a total provision of £450 million from which we will meet our obligations on international peacekeeping. We will keep allocations under review and will adjust the balance of resources allocated to the Peacekeeping Budget and the Conflict Pool if this is necessary. We will advise the House of any such adjustments to allocations on an annual basis.
The remaining Conflict Pool balance of £180 million for FY 2011-12 will fund discretionary peacekeeping, conflict prevention, and stabilisation activity. Maintaining a significant investment in these activities during the current financial climate demonstrates the Government's commitment to tackling instability and conflict at source and is strongly in the UK's national interest.
From 2011-12 the Conflict Pool will meet the running costs of the tri-departmental Stabilisation Unit, which supports UK civilian deployments, mainly to Helmand Province, Afghanistan but also to Southern Sudan, Somalia and other conflict priorities. The Conflict Pool will also operate a reserve of £7 million to cope with in-year pressures such as the rising costs of international peacekeeping missions and exchange rate fluctuations. The reserve will allow the Government the flexibility to respond to emerging issues. These additional costs in 2011-12, which were not covered by the Conflict Pool in 2010-11, mean that we have had to make some reductions compared with 2010-11 programme allocations.
|Programme||FY 11-12 (£ million)|
The allocation for Afghanistan will be maintained at £68.5 million and over 70 per cent of the South Asia allocation of £15.5 million will be committed to Pakistan reflecting the importance of these countries to the UK's national security interests. A large proportion of Afghanistan's resources will continue to fund stabilisation activities in Helmand province. The South Asia programme will continue to support activities in Sri Lanka and Nepal.
The allocation of £33.1 million for Africa will maintain current levels of support for conflict prevention activities and discretionary peacekeeping in Somalia
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In the Middle East the allocation of £11.4 million will be used to maintain current levels of activity in Yemen and Lebanon, and for programmes supporting the Middle East peace process. The Conflict Pool will also continue to support stabilisation activities in Iraq. In addition, we will retain the flexibility to allocate programme funds to respond to new or emerging risks of conflict and instability in the region.
In wider Europe, the allocation of £27.5 million will maintain the UK's contribution to UN Peacekeeping in Cyprus at approximately £18 million, and will continue to support EU and OSCE operations in the Balkans and Caucasus. In recognition of the importance that the National Security Council attaches to wider Europe, the Foreign Secretary has allocated an additional £2 million of programme funds from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's budget for FY 2011-12 to help mitigate the reduction in the programme's allocation compared with FY 2010-11.
The Strengthening Alliances and Partnerships programme (previously the Strategic Support to International Organisations programme) is allocated £5 million. It will continue to provide support to strengthening UN and other international organisations' capability to deliver an integrated and effective response to conflict, and assistance to countries in support of security sector reform programmes.
The Stabilisation Unit is the Government's frontline delivery service for stabilisation in countries affected by conflict, most notably working alongside the UK military in Helmand Province. The allocation of £12 million to the unit will support the strengthening of civilian-military stabilisation co-operation and the deployment globally of civilian stabilisation experts from the Unit's thousand-strong pool. It will also enhance the unit's integrated planning expertise in priority countries.
The SDSR set out our ambitious vision for a results-focused approach to building stability overseas with a strong emphasis on upstream work to prevent conflict and tackle emerging threats to the UK. The forthcoming Building Stability Overseas strategy, which we will publish in spring 2011, will provide the overarching framework for the UK's approach. It will enable the National Security Council to decide on strategies, priorities, and resource allocations for the remainder of the spending review period to 2015 focusing on the countries that matter most to the UK and where we can have the greatest impact. We will use the new strategy to guide the allocation of Conflict Pool resources from 2012-13 onwards.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My honourable friend the Minister for Pensions (Steve Webb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I regret to inform the House that an error has been identified in the Written Answer 42792 given to the honourable Member for Westminster North. I provided you with figures for tenants of registered social landlords. I should have provided you with tenants of registered social landlords and local authority tenants. These two together form social rented accommodation. The full answer given was as follows:
|Housing Benefit claimants in social rented accommodation, family type, aged under 60: November 2010.|
|Government Office Region||All||Single, no child dependant||Single with child dependant(s)||Couple, no child dependant||Couple with child dependant(s)|
|60-State pension age Housing benefit claimants, social tenants: November 2010.|
|Housing Benefit claimants in social rented accommodation, family type, aged under 60: November 2010.|
|Government Office Region||All||Single, no child dependant||Single with child dependant(s)||Couple, no child dependant||Couple with child dependant(s)|
|Housing Benefit claimants in social rented accommodation, aged 60 - State pension age: November 2010.|
|Government Office Region|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I regret that the Written Answer given to Earl Baldwin on 20 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 5219) was incorrect. The criticisms by NHS Evidence Oral Health of the 2007 Griffin review of the Effectiveness of Fluoride in Preventing Caries in Adults were first published on 9 August 2008, not 31 May 2007 as indicated in my reply.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have today decided to opt in to the European Commission's proposal to revise the Brussels I Regulation (on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters).
The Brussels I Regulation establishes common rules governing which country's courts have jurisdiction in cross-border civil and commercial disputes and provides for the recognition and enforcement of their judgments. It is a bedrock legal instrument underpinning international trade. The legal framework it establishes provides the legal certainty necessary to allow trade to be conducted with confidence.
The general consensus amongst those that most use the current regulation seems to be that it fulfils an essential function and that it generally works well. That is not, however, to say it is perfect. In particular, certain judgments of the European Court of Justice since the regulation was implemented have introduced some uncertainty in its operation and opened the possibility for tactical litigation to be used to frustrate its purpose. The European Commission's new proposal would repeal and replace the current regulation and attempt to resolve these widely identified problems and make other changes to bring the regulation up-to-date and most useful.
The House of Lords European Union Committee has recommended a UK opt-in. The matter was this week debated in European Sub-committee B. The committee agreed the Government's recommendation that the UK should opt in.
The draft directive intends to improve enforcement of certain road traffic offences committed using vehicles registered in another member state. It aims to facilitate the exchange of registered keeper data between member states' registration authorities, to help identify offenders.
In the UK we prosecute drivers for road traffic offences, rather than vehicle keepers. Given that the directive only provides for the exchange of vehicle keeper information, we had concerns around our ability to effectively pursue fines against the drivers of the vehicles in the absence of effective provision to compel foreign registered keepers to disclose who was driving the vehicle when the offence was committed.
We questioned the interaction of the directive with the Prüm council decisions, which the UK has signed up to, but not yet implemented. Prüm provides for the exchange of keeper data between member states in relation to criminal offences. We were concerned about how the necessary data protection mechanisms could be enforced.
Additionally, we did not consider that a fine would have enough of a deterrent effect to bring about increased behavioural change since, domestically, research shows that it is the fear of points on a licence, or losing the licence altogether, which have the main effect on increasing compliance.
We also had concerns around affordability. There would be significant start-up and running costs were our police to use keeper information obtained under the proposed directive for enforcement purposes.
Not opting in at this stage will give us the opportunity to carefully scrutinise the actual costs for setup and implementation of this directive across member states, informing any future decision on a possible post-adoption opt-in, which the Government will look at longer term.
A decision not to opt in to this particular directive does not prevent the UK engaging with the EU on other matters relating to road safety or co-operating on enforcement and exchanging data where there are strong, mutual interests for this. The UK continues to play a prominent part in developing EU strategy in these areas. We also expect that we will be able to continue to play a part in negotiating the final text of the directive.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Intellectual Property Office promotes innovation by providing a clear, accessible and widely understood IP system, which enables the economy and society to benefit from knowledge and ideas.
In November 2010, the Prime Minister announced an independent review of how the intellectual property framework supports growth and innovation. This will report in April 2011. Once it has reported, I will consider whether to set the Intellectual Property Office any further targets for 2011-12.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Crispin Blunt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am publishing today new National Standards for the Management of Offenders that provide a framework for the purposeful and effective management of offenders subject to community and suspended sentence orders and supervision on licence. The standards cover relevant services to victims and courts and the assessment, planning and implementation of community sentences and licences in order to reduce reoffending, giving priority to reducing the risk of reoffending likely to cause serious harm to the public
In a concise format, each of the new standards is supported by NOMS guidance on any minimum mandatory requirements, indications of what is expected from high-quality work by probation practitioners and guidance on effective practice and on the source of more detailed instructions and guidance. I expect practitioners to manage their work with offenders as the risks of each case demands using their knowledge of the individual case and drawing on their professional training and experience. Local managers will have a significant role to play in assuring the continuing quality of the work within the scope of these standards. When fully implemented alongside quality assurance methods, we expect these changes to drive the active management of offenders to reduce reoffending thereby protecting the public and moving away from a defensive, tick-box approach to following standard processes.
The mandatory requirements governing breach action after failures to comply with community and suspended sentence orders and licences have not been altered. We continue to expect sentences of the court to be properly enforced.
All decisions to terminate orders early, for instance for good progress, continue to require the case to return to court to allow magistrates and judges to make the final decision. We are considering the responses to the Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, and Parliament will have the opportunity to further examine the potential for professional discretion for offender managers later in the year.
The new standards are consistent with this Government's commitment to reducing bureaucracy and allowing practitioners to use their judgment and professional skills. The revisions will enable local innovation in practice, and devolve responsibility for achieving results to individual practitioners and probation trusts.
The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, which provides for trial on indictment without a jury, is temporary and renewal will expire at the end of the period of two years unless extended.
It is always the hope and intention to return to jury trial in all cases in Northern Ireland. However, having considered the views of stakeholders and conducted a detailed analysis of the current threat, I believe it is necessary to extend the non-jury trial system at this time for use in a very small number of cases to ensure justice is administered fairly.
The Government announced in the Spending Review 2010 that they would accept the recommendation of the interim report of Lord Hutton's Independent Public Services Pensions Commission to review the discount rate used to set unfunded public service pension contributions. HM Treasury launched its consultation on the discount rate in December 2010, and this closed on 3 March 2011.
On the basis of the submissions put forward in the consultation, the Government have decided that the discount rate used to set unfunded public service pension contributions will be in line with long-term expectations of GDP growth. The summary of responses document has been deposited in the Libraries of the House and can be found at http://www.hm-treasury. gov.uk/consult_unfunded_pensions.htm.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Effective leadership and development is essential in equipping the police to fight crime and deliver the service the public expect. We need to ensure that future generations of police leaders are able crime-fighters.
The report contains a number of proposals and recommendations including the creation of a chartered professional body for policing that would set standards and ensure accreditation of these, a new delivery body for police leadership and training, and a new qualifications framework for policing.
I will consider the review's conclusions and recommendations very carefully with the police service and other interested parties. I am today launching a public consultation on how police leadership and training could be delivered in the future and the review's proposals for this. Details of the public consultation can be found on the Home Office website and copies will also be placed in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I wish to inform the House that, as a result of searches in connection with a legal case brought by Kenyan Mau Mau veterans against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the FCO has decided to regularise the position of some 2,000 boxes of files it currently holds, mainly from the 1950s and 1960s, which were created by former British Administrations overseas. The intention is to make as much of this material as possible available to the wider public.
These files are the property of the UK Government and have been classed as public records for the purposes of the Public Records Act 1958. I have therefore instructed they now be dealt with under the terms of the Act. The documents will be reviewed and those selected for permanent preservation will be transferred to the National Archives for the public to access.
The domestic records of colonial administrations did not form part of British public (i.e. official) records and they were kept by the individual states created at independence. It was however the general practice for the colonial Administration to transfer to the United Kingdom, in accordance with Colonial Office instructions, shortly before independence, selected documents held by the Governor which were not appropriate to hand on to the successor Government.
FCO holds around 8,800 files from 37 former British Administrations including: Aden (and protectorates), Anguilla, Bahamas, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei, Cameroons, Ceylon, Cyprus, Fiji, Gambia, Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, Gold Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaya, Malta, Mauritius, New Hebrides, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Palestine, Sarawak, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Tanganyika, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uganda, West Indies Federation, Western Pacific High Commission and Zanzibar.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Robert Neill) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The coalition Government are committed to enabling the abolition of regional strategies through the Localism Bill, in order to return decision-making powers in housing and planning to local authorities and the communities they serve.
I make it clear that the Government are undertaking this assessment on a voluntary basis. We consider that it would be useful to assess whether there are any significant environmental effects of revoking each regional strategy.
We intend to compile an environmental report for each region and to consult on it in line with the process laid down in the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004. Local authorities and others should find this helpful in identifying issues relevant to their areas and policies or initiatives in the regional strategies which are no longer in effect, and it should also help them decide how to proceed with preparing or reviewing their own plans.
This process of environmental assessment will be carried out during the passage of the Bill through Parliament. Subject to Royal Assent, the revocation of each individual regional strategy will be commenced after the assessment process has been completed.
In my Written Statement to this House on 14 March, I outlined the process to check the report in order to meet the obligations on me in relation to Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and national security. I can confirm that this checking process has now been completed and I have received advice from the checking team which confirms that there is nothing in the report which, if published, could breach Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by putting the lives or safety of individuals at risk, or put national security at risk. I am therefore satisfied that the report can be published in full. However, publication cannot take place during the election campaign in Northern Ireland. I will therefore make a further announcement confirming the date of publication shortly after the elections have taken place on 5 May.
The report has not been shown to me or to any other member of the Government, or to any officials except the members of the small team which carried out the checking process. I have not been briefed on the contents of the report, nor have any officials other than those in the checking team. Government will not have sight of the report until the day before it is published.
As with the publication of the Bloody Sunday and Billy Wright inquiry reports, I intend to consider giving advance sight of the report to those who are deemed interested parties to the inquiry, to their legal representatives and to some Members of this House. I have discussed this with the Speaker of the House and he has agreed these advance sight arrangements.
Today I am launching a cross-government strategy to improve social mobility, Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility. This has been overseen by the Informal Ministerial Group on Social Mobility, which I chair, and in close collaboration with key departments. I am placing copies in the Libraries of both Houses and making it available on the Cabinet Office website (www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk).
Fairness is a fundamental value of the coalition Government. A fair society is an open society, in which everyone is free to flourish and rise, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. This strategy sets out our vision for a socially mobile society-the principal objective of the coalition Government's social policy.
In Britain today, the income and social class of parents continues to have a huge bearing on a child's chances. Gaps in development between children from different backgrounds can be detected even at birth. These gaps grow rapidly during the early years, and widen throughout school, such that only one in five young people from the poorest families achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with three-quarters from the richest families. This has a major impact on participation in further and higher education, and success in the labour market. These cycles of disadvantage are repeated across generations. This is not only a source of great unfairness, but also hinders our national prosperity as talented individuals are denied to the opportunity to develop their full potential.
This strategy takes a comprehensive life cycle approach. A person's fortunes should not be determined by the age of five, 15 or 30. By providing help and support at every stage we aim to narrow the gaps and provide second chances. The strategy seeks to improve social mobility at each life stage: the foundation years (ages 0-5), school years (ages 5-16), transition years (ages 16-24) and adulthood (ages 24 and over).
In the foundation years, we welcome the independent reviews carried out by Frank Field, Graham Allen and Dame Clare Tickell. Our approach puts supporting parents and providing affordable, high-quality early
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During the school years, our school reforms-giving schools greater freedom, raising the status and quality of teaching, improving accountability and transparency -will raise standards in all schools, while the pupil premium will provide an extra £2.5 billion a year to radically improve educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils. We will also raise aspiration through high-quality advice and guidance, and much greater engagement between schools, businesses, and universities and wider society.
For young people we will look to narrow gaps in educational attainment, raising the participation age and increasing funding for apprenticeships, while ensuring fairer access to higher education and developing a new strategy to increase participation in education and training.
During adulthood, we will continue to encourage fair access to jobs, with the Civil Service leading by example and a new business compact on social mobility,
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Crucially, our strategy sets out a clear framework for holding the Government to account on our ambitious proposals. We are creating a new statutory Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, to assess progress on child poverty and social mobility, hold Government and others to account and act as an advocate for change.
We have developed a set of high-level indicators which will be used to track progress. And for the first time, as departments develop new policies they will need to consider the impact on social mobility.
We recognise that Government alone cannot single-handedly create a fairer society-this is a task for parents, communities, businesses, professions and voluntary organisations, too. However, the coalition Government will help to create a fair and open society where opportunity is shared and everyone can flourish.
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