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My Statement of 14 July 2011 (col. 55WS) announced a phased trial of operational freedoms at Heathrow Airport to gather evidence in relation to the greater use of tactical measures, in defined and limited circumstances, to prevent or mitigate disruption and to facilitate recovery. The trial is run by BAA, the airport operator, with oversight provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the independent aviation regulator.
These measures are consistent with the Government's commitment to runway alternation at Heathrow. I would also emphasise that the trial will not increase the number of flights at Heathrow, which remains capped at current levels.
Phase 1 of the trial ran from 1 November 2011 until 29 February 2012. An interim report on the first two months of phase 1 was published by the CAA on 21 February 2012. The CAA has today published its final report on phase 1, alongside a report by BAA, assessing the impact on operations at the airport and on communities around Heathrow: www.caa.co.uk/apfg.
The CAA's report is encouraging about the benefits of the measures trialled so far, but suggests that more detailed data and analysis are required from phase 2 to draw definite conclusions on these and the impacts on local communities.
The CAA report concluded BAA ran phase 1 of the trial within the parameters agreed with Government and generally collected and published data for analysing the trial in an appropriate and transparent manner. The CAA noted that the broad spectrum of interested parties, and the technical nature of the measures trialled, made successful engagement with local communities challenging; and it made suggestions for improvement.
In my previous Statement, I also set out the timetable for phase 2 of the trial. Following advice from the CAA, I am announcing today that I have agreed to a six-month extension of phase 2 which will now run from July 2012 to March 2013.
The CAA concluded that the relatively short duration of phase 1 meant that the evidence it provided on the impact of operational freedoms was more limited than anticipated, partially as a result of an unusually high level of easterly operations. The extension until March 2013 will increase the amount of data generated, enabling a more robust analysis of the benefits and impacts, allowing a direct comparison between phases 1 and 2. A longer trial will also reduce the risk that external factors (such as easterly winds) significantly limit the amount of usable information. This will ensure that the eventual consultation with local communities on whether a more permanent operational freedoms regime is adopted at the airport is based on a sufficient level of evidence.
Improving punctuality, tackling delay and strengthening resilience at Heathrow would improve the quality of the UK's international connections and enhance the reputation of our largest international gateway. Phase 1 has shown that, without prejudging our views on the associated impacts, there is potential to deliver operational benefits without increasing capacity. We therefore have grounds to believe that there is still more that can be done to deliver a better Heathrow, while continuing to protect communities affected by aircraft noise.
I have therefore agreed to the continuation of the trial of tactical use of dual arrivals and departures measures agreed for the first phase. I have also agreed that the following freedoms should be added to phase 2:aircraft scheduled to arrive after 0600 will be permitted to land between 0530 and 0600 provided that the same number of flights scheduled to arrive between 0430 and 0500 are rescheduled to after 0500. This is expected to delay the onset of noise disturbance to local communities in the early morning period and enhance the resilience of the schedule;during "segregated" operations departing aircraft may be redirected (radar vectored) by air traffic control from their normal routes of departure (mostly within predetermined noise preferential routes). This is expected to improve the reliability of the schedule by increasing the departure rate from a single runway and improve the scope for reducing the number of unscheduled night flights;subject to approval of the safety case by CAA, it is intended to apply the same principles to enable dual departures later in phase 2, but only within the pre-determined noise preferential routes;
BAA will shortly begin a further period of engagement with local authorities, communities and other stakeholders around the operation of phase 2, particularly on the monitoring of noise impacts. Once the trial is complete, the evidence collected will provide the basis for a consultation with local communities. This will consider whether an operational freedoms regime of some form should be adopted on a more permanent basis at Heathrow and if so what safeguards should apply in relation to its use. This consultation will inform the subsequent decision by Ministers.
On 7 March 2011 the Government announced our initial plans to introduce temporary airspace restrictions during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games to help protect key Games locations from potential airborne risks. We also committed to undertake further work to evaluate the potential impact of these measures before final decisions were made. This work, undertaken in conjunction with the aviation sector and the Government's security experts, led to a revised set of planned airspace restrictions which were announced on 19 July 2011.
Since July 2011, the Government, with the assistance of the Civil Aviation Authority, have been preparing the necessary statutory instruments to give effect to the planned airspace restrictions. These detailed regulations have now been signed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport and will enter into force on 1 June 2012. NATS, the UK's en-route air traffic service provider and publisher of the UK's aeronautical information, will be publishing the details of these regulations on 17 May 2012 in its next aeronautical information circular. In addition, full details of the planned airspace restrictions, including maps, can be found on the Airspace Safety Initiative website at www.airspacesafety.com/Olympics.
In total there are 15 sets of regulations, three covering the London area (a restricted zone for the main Olympics and prohibited zones for the Olympics and for the Paralympics), five covering the Olympic football tournament stadia at Old Trafford, Coventry, Newcastle, Glasgow and Cardiff, and the remainder protecting the sailing venue at Weymouth, rowing at Egham and Eton Dorney, the road cycling events at Leatherhead and Brands Hatch, the canoeing events at the Lee Valley White Water Centre and the mountain bike racing at Hadleigh Farm in Essex.
Following extensive engagement with the aviation community, the regulations have been designed to minimise, where possible, their impact on aviation
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The Government's paramount objective is the delivery of a safe and secure 2012 Games for all, and the airspace restrictions will help to provide this while minimising the impact on the aviation community, so far as possible. However, the Government reserve the right to implement additional airspace security measures should the need arise.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Paul Burstow), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The House will wish to note that nine people employed at Winterbourne View hospital have pleaded guilty and have been referred for sentencing reports. A further two people have pleaded not guilty and are due back in Bristol Crown Court on 6 August. Once the criminal proceedings are completed, we expect the serious case review, chaired by Dr Margaret Flynn, to be published.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now completed its programme of focused inspections of 150 hospitals and care homes for people with learning disabilities. The reports from these inspections are being published in batches, and the final 10 reports were published on 9 May 2012. They can be found at www.cqc.org.uk/LDReports?latest. These reports have found poor practice in some of the units, and common areas of concern include limited person-centred care, limited appropriate activities and a lack of monitoring and learning from incidents of restraint. CQC will publish a summary national report of these inspections in the summer.
The final departmental review of Winterbourne View will draw its conclusions on the basis of the findings from the serious case review and evidence from the other investigations and reports that have been undertaken, and so will be published soon after the serious case review.
In recognition of the seriousness of this issue, the department intends to publish an interim report before the Summer Recess, based on the findings of the CQC summary report and other evidence from the engagement with key partners, which will set out proposed actions and solutions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise (Mark Prisk) has today made the following Statement.
The regional growth fund (RGF) has allocated conditional offers to the value of £1.4 billion to projects and programmes during the first two rounds of bidding during 2010 and 2011. Below is an update on progress with these projects.
In November 2011, due to the RGF programme's success, an additional £1 billion was allocated to the fund by the Chancellor, and round 3 opened for bidding in February 2012. The RGF objectives for round 3 remain the same, and the application process has been simplified.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Children and Families (Sarah Teather) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce the publication today of Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability-Progress and Next Steps, the Government's response to the consultation on the special educational needs and disability Green Paper. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
As well as setting out the Government's response to the consultation it sets out the progress made and the next steps in taking forward the proposals in the Green Paper. A separate summary report of the consultation responses is being published on the Department for Education's website at the same time.
The Government set out in the Green Paper their vision for improving the education and life outcomes of children and young people who are disabled or have special educational needs and our proposals for improving the support that they and their families receive. There has been keen interest in the Green Paper and strong support for our proposed reforms. Almost 2,400 responses were received to the consultation from a wide range of individuals and organisations. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to reply for their thoughtful and informed responses.
The Government are committed to achieving the ambitious programme in the Green Paper. Progress has been made in taking forward the commitments made. But there is more to do. We owe it to the children, young people and families who get a poor deal from the current system, and to those who work with and support them, to make sure we get those changes right. That is why we have established 20 local pathfinders involving local authorities and their local health partners who are testing out the reforms and building the knowledge and skills that will be needed for their successful implementation.
The practice developed by the pathfinders will be shared widely with other local areas. An interim evaluation of the pathfinders will be published by October 2012, with a final evaluation report following in 2013.
The Queen's Speech announced the Government's intention to bring forward legislation in the current Session of Parliament to take forward the Green Paper reforms. These changes are vital for children, young people and families and we need to begin the legislative process in the current Session in order to meet the commitments given in the Green Paper.
Our aim is to publish a draft Bill in the summer which would be informed by early lessons learned from the pathfinders. There would then be further opportunities for lessons learned from the pathfinders to inform the pre-legislative scrutiny stage and the Bill itself. Our intention remains, subject to Parliament's approval, to implement the reforms from 2014. Lessons learned from the pathfinders and evaluation of their activity will inform how the reforms are implemented.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My right honourable friend the Minister for Employment (Chris Grayling) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The DWP's work programme providers are required to ensure that stringent controls are in place to guard against fraud and to adhere to high standards of compliance in the operation of our contracts. By its innovative payment-by-results design, the work programme also provides significantly greater protection against fraud than previous employment programmes.
In March 2012, against a background of public commentary on A4e, the department was made aware of an allegation in respect of its separate mandatory work activity contract. This is very different from the work programme. It is much smaller, shorter and focused on providing brief spells of work-related activity to individuals who will benefit from such activity. In contrast the work programme aims to deliver sustained job outcomes for the long-term unemployed.
In the light of the allegation received, the department announced it would audit its commercial relationships with A4e. The department's internal audit and investigations team undertook this audit, supported by Ernst & Young, and examined the controls operated by A4e on all its current contracts with DWP.
The original allegation suggested that A4e employees may have claimed payments for mandatory work activity participants who had not in fact been placed in work. The team investigated every MWA claim from the A4e office related to the specific allegation (Epsom) and a significant sample (20%) of all the other A4e claims under this contract. The sample evidence established that 97% of payments made related to a real participant who had been placed in a work-related activity. In the remaining 3% of cases, DWP investigators were nevertheless satisfied that the anomalies were attributable to inadequate procedures rather than fraud.
However, while the team found no evidence of fraud, it identified significant weaknesses in A4e's internal controls on the mandatory work activity contract in the south-east. The documentation supporting payments was seriously inadequate, and in a small number the claim was erroneous. There was also a high incidence of non-compliance with other relevant guidance (including A4e's own processes).
The process established prior to March fell significantly short of our expectations. As a result, the department has concluded that continuing with this contract presents too great a risk and we have terminated the mandatory work activity contract with A4e for the south-east.
We have made clear to A4e that we continue to require the highest standards of governance in relation to all its other contracts. We are reminding all our other providers of their obligations and our requirements in this regard and, should any further allegations arise, we will examine the evidence thoroughly.
Recent coverage has also prompted complaints about service levels on past employment programmes where, unlike the work programme, the emphasis was on activities undertaken rather than on job outcomes. While this has not been part of our investigation, the department is considering what further steps can best ensure that providers meet their minimum standards, and participants are clear about procedures for complaints.
The equalities red tape challenge package balances the need to provide important legal protection from discrimination with identifying which measures in the Equality Act 2010 are placing unnecessary or disproportionate burdens on business.
We have also looked again at the public sector equality duty (PSED). This Government have a strong commitment to equality of opportunity. But we also have a strong desire to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy where it exists and consider alternatives to legislation. We committed last year to assess the effectiveness of the PSED specific duties. We have decided to bring forward that review and extend it to include both the general and specific duties to establish whether the duty is operating as intended.
We want the EHRC to become a valued and respected national institution. To do so, we believe it must focus on the areas where it can add value-as an independent equality body and "A-rated" national human rights institution. Also, it must be able to show that it is using taxpayers' money wisely.
Taking account of the views expressed in our consultation, Building a Fairer Britain: Reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, we have decided to scrap vague, unnecessary and obsolete provisions from the Equality Act 2006 to focus the EHRC on its core functions.
We consider that this package has the potential to deliver the change in the EHRC's performance that we all want to see, but we will review the EHRC's progress at its next triennial review in autumn 2013.
Copies of the consultation documents on removal of specific provisions in the Equality Act 2010, and the government response to the EHRC consultation
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Caroline Spelman) has today made the following Statement.
My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food (Jim Paice) represented the UK on 26 April covering the agriculture items. My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries (Richard Benyon) represented the UK on 27 April covering fisheries business. Richard Lochhead MSP and Alun Davies AM also attended.
On young and small farmers, member states repeated their broad support for the measures but the majority view was that they should be voluntary at national level. The UK argued the scheme should be for genuine new entrants and not hereditary. The main disagreement on small farmers was their exemption from cross-compliance and greening. The UK and others opposed a total exemption. The Commission insisted the proposal would deliver benefits to farmers and administrations.
Member states were split over proposals to allow subsidy to be coupled to production. The UK and others warned against any expansion of coupled support. Others wanted to broaden the scope of the proposals and take in new sectors, including pigmeat and tobacco. The presidency and Commission suggested that the balance of the proposals was about right.
The UK and other member states underlined their strong opposition to the principle of capping of direct payments at farm level. Others were in principle in favour of the proposal, but would prefer a simpler system.
Under regionalisation the Commission highlighted two key aspects as desirable: increased involvement of the industry and stakeholders, and a simplified decision-making procedure. The Commission stressed that regionalisation would only ever be an option for member states and would never be imposed.
The UK, along with other member states, supported significant regionalisation allowing member states in any given area to agree the detailed technical measures needed in their shared fisheries, in consultation with the advisory councils. Also where agreements were reached these should be put into effect through EU implementing measures, and the absence of an agreement should not give the Commission a reason to impose measures, but proceed through codecision. The majority of member states supported this approach. The Commission responded that there was a need to balance the ambition of member states to develop decentralised models and the efficiency of the CFP.
On the proposed TFCs the Commission stressed the need to reduce capacity and the TFC was the best method, and was prepared to be flexible on the detail. It was prepared to build in flexibility and safeguards-for example, to avoid overconcentration in too few hands-and stressed that member states were obliged to certify by 1 January 2013 that they were compliant with existing capacity ceilings.
Although member state views on the detail differed to a degree, most spoke against the imposition of TFCs, with a few supporting the principle of TFCs only on a voluntary basis. The UK stressed that detailed decisions on allocations should be left to the member state. Only a few supported mandatory TFCs for larger vessels and long-distance vessels. The majority of member states agreed that any trading should be between existing fishing operators. Some asked for funding from the EMF for vessel scrapping aid to allow capacity reduction. The Commission undertook to consider member states' comments.
Over lunch Fishery Ministers discussed the socioeconomic aspect of CFP reform, some underlining the importance of supporting fisheries communities, others looking for special funding to support hard pressed communities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change (Greg Barker) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
FPAG is a non-departmental advisory body of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which consists of a chairman and senior representatives from the energy industry, charities and consumer bodies. The role of the group is to:consider and report on the effectiveness of current policies aiming to reduce fuel poverty; consider and report on the case for greater co-ordination; identify barriers to reducing fuel poverty and to developing effective partnerships and to propose solutions; consider and report on any additional policies needed to achieve the Government's targets; andencourage key organisations to tackle fuel poverty, and to consider and report on the results of work to monitor fuel poverty.
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