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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology (Peter Luff) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 3 April 2012 an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Defence and AWE Management Limited (AWEML) to continue the priced period of work, within the existing overarching 25-year contract with the company, to 31 March 2018. This agreement, providing important investment in skills and facilities at AWE, is valued at an average of around £1 billion per annum with approximately 40% to be invested in capital projects.
This arrangement, and the continuing need for investment in skills and facilities at AWE, is in accordance with the December 2006 White Paper The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cm 6994) and the Defence Plan 2008-12 (Cm 7385). The programme of investment is continuing both to ensure we can maintain our existing nuclear warhead in service for as long as necessary, and to ensure we retain the capability to design and manufacture a replacement warhead should that be necessary.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I am today publishing two documents relating to the regulation of medical devices and other cosmetic interventions and stemming from the fraudulent use of non-medical grade silicone in the breast implants manufactured by the French company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP).
The first document is my review of the actions of the MHRA and Department of Health in relation to PIP implants, announced by the Secretary of State for Health on 11 January. The review finds that there is room for improvement in the operation of the MHRA and the regulation of medical devices. However, it also finds that the regulator acted reasonably, and that, in taking difficult decisions on how to communicate the problems with PIP implants to the public, it followed clinical and scientific advice.
The review also found that the MHRA should identify ways of gathering better evidence on the safety of devices, broaden its approach to analysing reported problems with higher risk medical devices and find better ways of communicating with the public. The operation of the European regulatory system must improve and health professionals and providers also need to be better at reporting problems when they occur.
The second document is the Government's response to the House of Commons Health Committee: Sixteenth Report of Session 2010-12 Cm 8351. In this response, we welcome the committee's analysis of the problems relating to PIP implants and its many helpful suggestions. Some of these are already reflected in the report mentioned above. Other recommendations will be picked up in the further work of Sir Bruce Keogh's expert group on PIP implants, and in the separate review into the regulation of cosmetic interventions, also announced on 11 January. A further announcement about the review will be made in the near future.
The United Kingdom Debt Management Office (DMO) has today published its business plan for the year 2012-13. Copies have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and are available on the DMO's website at www.dmo.gov.uk.
Following discussion at the 2 May ECOFIN the council will discuss the presidency's compromise on the Commission's proposal to replace the capital requirements directive (Directives 2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC, as amended by Directives 2009/111/EC and 2010/76/EU), with a regulation on prudential requirements and a directive on the access to the activity of credit institutions and the prudential supervision of credit institutions and investment firms, together known as "CRD IV". The presidency aim to reach a general agreement on CRD IV at this ECOFIN to form council's negotiating position with the European Parliament and European Commission in Trialogues. The UK continues to support the implementation of Basel 3 and for member states to have sufficient flexibility to protect financial stability in their jurisdiction.
The presidency will ask Ministers to adopt a mandate for the Commission to negotiate amended savings taxation agreements with five third countries: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. These agreements provide a framework for combating cross border tax evasion and the Government strongly support the proposed mandate.
Ministers will be asked to adopt conclusions on the 2012 Ageing report which is due to be published later in May. The report updates the 50-year public finance projections presented in the 2009 Ageing report and shows the impact of demographic change across the EU-27 and Norway up to 2060. The report shows the impacts on the UK. These are smaller than on many other European countries, and lower than that set out in the 2009 Ageing report, reflecting policy changes made by the Government. The analysis is consistent with the demographic projections produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Ministers will be asked to adopt conclusions on fast start climate finance that endorse the fast start finance (FSF) report. The report is published annually and sets out information regarding how the EU and its member states are meeting their FSF commitment to provide €7.2 billion over the period 2010-2012.The conclusions will also set out a formative EU position on climate finance from 2013 to 2020.
The Commission will present its draft 2013 EU budget, which was issued on 25 April. The Commission proposes a growth in payments (on 2012 levels) of 6.8% or €8.82 billion, which would take total spending to €137.92 billion.
Alongside other member states, the UK has already strongly objected to this proposed increase in EU spending and will be pushing for a more realistic budget for 2013 that recognises the economic reality facing Europe.
After the ECOFIN meeting the presidency will chair an informal meeting with Croatia and the five candidate countries (Iceland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) to discuss economic policy.
Eurogroup will meet on 14 May. Ministers will be debriefed on the Euro-group discussions before the formal ECOFIN starts and are likely to discuss the economic situation. Ministers may also discuss the election of the next president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ahead of the EBRD annual general meeting on the 18 May.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (William Hague) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Following our decision last month to withdraw diplomatic staff from our embassy in Bamako temporarily and suspend all in-country services, we have re-opened our embassy and resumed in-country services, including the provision of consular assistance to British nationals.
The UK welcomes ECOWAS-led efforts to return Mali to constitutional, civilian rule and in this regard acknowledges the appointments of interim President Dioncounda Traoré and Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra. We will continue to work with our partners in Bamako and elsewhere to ensure that progress is maintained, including the holding of elections.
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