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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Defence Rotary Wing Capability Study was commissioned to ensure that the department has the right plans in place to meet the demands on helicopter capability in the future. I am pleased to say that the study is now complete and, given the interest taken in the study by Parliament, I wanted to take the opportunity to announce its key findings. As the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, my honourable friend the Member for Mid Worcestershire (Peter Luff), stated in his response on 30 April 2012 (Official Report, col. 1142W), I should reiterate that the findings include no major changes to our previously announced plans.
The study reviewed the full rotary wing requirement for the land, sea and air environments. This encompassed all helicopter roles: attack, lift, reconnaissance and search and rescue. The study was broken down into six work strands covering future force structure, training and simulation, support, specialist roles, basing and search and rescue.
The aim was to look across all areas of the department to ensure that we are working as efficiently as possible to deliver the plans for rotary wing capability outlined in the strategic defence and security review. The study confirmed the following plans:to move the MoD's rotary wing capability to four core fleets, the Chinook, Wildcat, Merlin and Apache helicopters; to complete the Puma Life Extension Programme, which extends the out of service date for Puma mark 2 to 2025; this offers resilience to the department's lift capability as it transitions to the four core fleets; and to transfer the Merlin mark 3/3a to the Royal Navy's Commando Helicopter Force.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families (Tim Loughton) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Today I am launching a consultation on proposals to reform radically the child protection system. We are seeking to move away from a culture of compliance to one which places trust in front-line professionals and allows them to carry out their vital work, without being hampered by unnecessary rules and targets. The three draft documents published today will help create such a culture by replacing overly prescriptive manuals with short, precise guidance and checklists clearly setting out roles and responsibilities.
Professor Munro's final report, A Child-centred System, concluded that over the years the child protection system has become overly focused on compliance and dependency on central prescription and guidance. This consultation on Working Together to Safeguard Children; Managing Individual Cases: The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families; and Guidance on Learning and Improvement proposes to replace over 700 pages of detailed instructions with concise, clear guidance. It places trust in health professionals, teachers, early-years professionals, youth workers, police and social workers and gives them the space to exercise their judgment.
This revised guidance proposes to give local areas more freedom to organise their services in a way that suits local needs and will allow more face-to-face time with children and families. It provides a clear framework within which professionals must operate.
The revised guidance Managing Individual Cases: The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families sets out a framework for managing individual cases when there are concerns about a child's safety. Informed by evidence from eight local authorities which have been trialling more flexible approaches to assessing the needs of children, this guidance proposes to replace nationally prescribed timescales for assessment with locally agreed frameworks. The guidance puts the child's needs, rather than compliance with inflexible timescales and recording processes, at the centre of assessment.
This Government are clear that serious case reviews (SCRs) need to be much more strongly focused on learning, rather than process, and that SCR reports
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In parallel with this consultation, I am also publishing the new Children's Safeguarding Performance Information Framework along with the Government's response to the full public consultation. This framework is intended to move the focus of the child protection system from processes and indicators towards performance measures that improve professional understanding and drive improvements.
Today's consultation forms part of our wider programme of reforms. These include Ofsted's new inspection framework, which began in May 2012 with a stronger focus on the quality of practice and the effectiveness of help provided to children, including early help to provide support to children and families as soon as a problem emerges in their lives.
We are also continuing to work with children's services, police and the NHS to shift the focus on to earlier intervention, recognising that the earlier that help is given to vulnerable children and families, the more chance there is of turning lives around and protecting children from harm.
In addition, in 2011-12 we invested £80 million in a national programme of social work reform, to improve skill levels for social workers and tackle high vacancy rates in child protection. We are improving the social work degree and developing further the skills of existing social workers in critical areas such as child protection. We are well on the way with recruiting the first chief social worker for England, who will work with the new College of Social Work and the newly designated principal child and family social workers in local authorities to drive improvement and raise standards.
Copies of the consultation documents Working Together to Safeguard Children, Managing Individual Cases: The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families, and Statutory Guidance on Learning and Improvement have been placed in the House Libraries.
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.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence have been used as weapons against women, men and children in conflicts throughout the world. The scale of sexual
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The Government believe that tackling sexual violence is an issue which is central to conflict prevention and to peacebuilding, and are committed to tackling such violence, building on vital work that has been done in recent years through the UN and its agencies including landmark Security Council resolutions, by many NGOs and charities, and by some of the countries themselves which have been most affected by sexual violence.
We want to see a significant increase in the number of successful prosecutions for crimes of sexual violence in conflict with the aim of ending a culture of impunity and establishing a culture of deterrence in its place.
To help rally sustained international action and push this issue up the global agenda, the Government will establish a new UK team of experts devoted to combating and preventing sexual violence in conflict. The team will be able to be deployed overseas at short notice to gather evidence and testimony that can be used to support investigations and prosecutions. It will draw on the skills of doctors, lawyers, police, psychologists, forensic specialists and experts in the care and protection of victims and witnesses. It will significantly strengthen the specialist capabilities that the United Kingdom is able to bring to bear on these issues.
The UK team will also be available to support UN and other international missions, and to provide training and mentoring to national authorities to help them develop the right laws and capabilities. It will also be able to work on the front line with grass-roots organisations, local peacebuilders and human rights activists. Individual deployed teams will be configured to deal with specific instances of sexual violence, and in the light of where the UK can make the best contribution to existing international and national efforts.
The Government intend to use the Foreign Ministers' track of the United Kingdom's presidency of the G8 as part of a year-long diplomatic campaign in 2013 for stronger international action to deter and prevent sexual violence in conflict. The Government are already initiating discussions with G8 colleagues about this initiative and will also develop, with United Nations, international and civil society partners, specific action for 2013 and beyond.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Bob Neill) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The reports and findings are of general policy interest, but do not relate to forthcoming policy announcements. We are publishing these documents in the interests of transparency and as part of our freedom of information commitment to publish the results of all commissioned research.
Review of the Adequacy and Impact of Integrated Risk Management Planning in the Fire and Rescue Service: this report, commissioned in 2008, evaluated the adequacy and overall impact of integrated risk management planning on the efficiency of the fire and rescue service and on national fire-related outcomes.
Asset Management in Fire and Rescue Authorities: this report evaluated the extent to which fire and rescue authorities manage their property assets to ensure effective service provision and achieve value for money, and to make recommendations for improvement.
A Review of Current Processes for Operational Training and Development in the Fire and Rescue Service: the review was set up to provide part of the evidence base needed to inform the debate about fire and rescue service operational training and development. The project was also to identify good practice for wider dissemination and look for opportunities to improve and strengthen training for the future.
Effectiveness of Operational Intervention-Gap Analysis Paper: this report by Qinetiq Ltd identified gaps in the evidence base that may need to be filled in order to develop a computer model to simulate fire-fighting operations. The report makes suggestions for how these gaps could be filled.
Effectiveness of Operational Intervention-Model Development Paper: this paper documented the development of a trial computer model to investigate the effectiveness of operational intervention at fire-fighting incidents.
Effectiveness of Sprinklers in Housing, Commercial, Public and Other Buildings: this research was commissioned in response to concerns and pressure from the sector that the provision of sprinklers represents the most cost-effective way to maintain the downward pressure on fire deaths and associated economic losses.
Impact of the Fire Fighter Awareness Campaign: the fire and rescue service has struggled to recruit women for operational firefighter roles. At the time of the study women made up less than 3% of the fire and rescue service's operational workforce. Research has shown that one of the key reasons why women are not becoming firefighters is the service's image and the lack of awareness of firefighting as a career for women.
The Development of a Centrally Held Line-by-line Fire and Rescue Service Human Resource Data: this study was an exploration of the possibility of using a different method for collecting various items of data from the fire and rescue service.
Lower Cost Domestic Sprinkler (LCDS) Systems-Evaluation of Small Scale Pilot Trials in Fire and Rescue Services (Incorporating Version 10 of the Draft DCLG Design Guide): the aim of this report was to record the progress made by fire and rescue services in installing lower cost domestic sprinkler (LCDS) systems as described in version 10 of the draft DCLG design guide.
The Shape, Form and Function of Operational Guidance for the Fire and Rescue Service: this report by Greenstreet Berman presented the findings of work carried out to determine the shape, form and function of future operational guidance. A "human factors" approach was applied to ensure that future operational guidance is: fit for purpose; presented in a style appropriate for the target audience and the context; appropriately organised; and easily accessible.
Fire Investigation Reports Workshop-Workshop Summary Report: fire and rescue services undertake fire investigations and complete reports. Many of these reports contain valuable information which could be used nationally to inform practice and fire safety. This is a report of a workshop sponsored by the DCLG and Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to discuss how information from fire investigations could be better used and shared.
The Competencies and Skills for Incident Command-An Initial Exploration: this report by the Health and Safety Laboratory was the first stage of a larger project to look at incident command in the fire and rescue service. The findings of this first stage provide an examination of the different psychological components of successful incident command as well as the identification of the competencies, skills and personal qualities and attributes required of an incident commander.
Comparison of European Fire Statistics: this report by Greenstreet Berman Ltd examined the statistics collected by European countries regarding the consequence and incidence of fire. Technical experts in 24 European states responded to an online questionnaire explaining how their country collects fire data. The contractors then contrast different approaches to fire data collection and make suggestions for which countries' data could be directly compared.
Developing a Model to Estimate the Economic Cost of Special Service Incidents in England: this report by Entec UK Ltd investigated the possibility of assessing the costs associated with special service incidents in England, with the primary focus being the costs to the fire and rescue service.
A Review of the Fire Kills Fire Safety Education Programme: this report by Greenstreet Berman Ltd contains the results of a project to measure the level of awareness (among community fire safety staff) and use of the Fire Kills Fire Safety Education Programme packs within the fire and rescue service. The report contains case studies providing information on the fire safety education carried out by six fire and rescue services and is based on surveys from 2007.
Collation and Analysis of Fire and Rescue Service Expenditure Data: this report by Spikes Cavell and Co provided an overview of the results of a project carried out to provide a better understanding of the size,
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Informing the Development of the Fire and Rescue Service Strategy for Working with Children and Young People-Consulting with the Youth Sector: this report by the National Youth Agency provided the findings of a consultation with the youth sector about the draft children and young people strategy 2010-13. The report is based on the findings from an online survey, a series of semi-structured interviews and a focus group with young people.
Evaluation of the Children and Young People Strategy: 2006-10: this report by GfK NOP Social Research provided an understanding of the awareness and use of the 2006-10 children and young people strategy, as well as suggestions of how the strategy could be improved in the future.
The Impact of Modernisation on Fire and Rescue Services: this report by Actica Consulting Ltd assessed the impact of the portfolio of change projects initiated by the DCLG on fire and rescue services in England. Senior members of staff were interviewed and provided key documents on which the findings and recommendations were based.
Project Planning for Fire and Resilience Directorate Projects that Impact Fire and Rescue Services: this report by Actica Consulting Ltd follows on from the previous report assessing the impact of modernisation on the fire and rescue service. It contains the findings and recommendations of a short study to identify options to co-ordinate demands on fire and rescue service demands.
These reports and findings are of general policy interest, but do not relate to forthcoming policy announcements and are not a reflection of the current Government's policies and priorities. The DCLG is publishing these reports in the interests of transparency.
Baroness Verma: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities and Criminal Information (Lynne Featherstone) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Equality of opportunity is a core coalition objective. It is fundamental to building a strong economy and a strong society. We want to make sure that everyone can realise their potential-part of this means ensuring people are treated fairly regardless of their age.
So I am pleased to inform the House that the Government are today announcing their intention to ban age discrimination in the provision of public and private services. We intend to do this, subject to parliamentary approval, from 1 October 2012.
We are taking a proportionate approach. The new law will only prohibit harmful or unjustifiable treatment that results in genuinely unfair discrimination and harassment because of, or related to, age. It will not affect the many entirely justifiable instances of different treatment that do not cause any harm. To ensure this, we consulted widely on specific exemptions to the ban. The Government's response to that consultation is published today, and a draft order will be laid before both Houses shortly.
I have placed copies of the government response in the Libraries of both Houses and it has been published on the Home Office website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk.
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 (Caroline Spelman) has today made the following Statement.http://cefas.defra.gov.uk/Veterinary Medicines Directorate-http://www.vmd.defra. gov.uk/Rural Payments Agency-http://rpa.defra.gov.uk/rpa/index.nsf/homeAnimal Health Veterinary Laboratory Agency-http://www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla/Food and Environment Research Agency-http://fera.defra.gov.uk/
The Scotland Office has been leading efforts to secure a long-term replacement for the emergency towing vessels (ETV) service in waters surrounding Scotland. The Government have listened carefully to all representations and reviewed the arguments put forward.
I am pleased to announce that the Government will continue funding of an emergency towing vessel for the duration of the spending review period. This commitment sits alongside our ongoing efforts to secure an additional vessel under a commercial call-out arrangement. The procurement process for the publicly funded vessel will be launched today and, if needed, further funding will be provided towards a temporary
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Combined with the host of significant technological advances and operational measures adopted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to enhance safety of shipping since publication of the 1994 report by Lord Donaldson1, the Government are satisfied that this model will deliver a proportionate solution, balancing risk, operational considerations and value for money, including costs of an incident. I welcome the active participation of local authorities, including local harbour-masters, who have assisted in this process, and we will continue to consult them on the detailed options available.
I remain very grateful to the companies that have participated actively in pursuit of a commercial call-out arrangement using oil industry vessels. This shows their commitment to corporate social responsibility, and I pay tribute to the efforts of Oil and Gas UK, which facilitated this work. It is encouraging that considerable work has gone into preparation of suitable operational procedures, led by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and discussions remain under way with industry on the commercial framework.
This follows the Government's announcement at the Budget that they intend to introduce a general anti-abuse rule targeted at artificial and abusive tax avoidance schemes. This announcement was in response to the Aaronson study group report, published in November 2011.
A tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with the Republic of the Marshall Islands was signed on 20 March 2012. The text of the TIEA has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and will be made available on the HM Revenue and Customs website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.
The Treasure Valuation Committee provides the important advisory role of recommending to the Secretary of State valuations for the treasure items brought before it and providing advice on the apportionment of any reward for the treasure item.
The review concludes that there is a continuing role for the Treasure Valuation Committee as an advisory non-departmental body with secretariat support provided by the British Museum. It finds that the committee has good standards of corporate governance and it makes a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening transparency and openness.
The review of the Treasure Valuation Committee was conducted by my department with the support of a review group made up of key stakeholders with a direct interest in the treasure valuation process. The review was publicised on my department's website and stakeholders were invited to contribute views.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development and I wish to update the House on progress on the restoration of good governance and plans to hold elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), a British Overseas Territory.
Three years ago Sir Robin Auld's commission of inquiry identified a high probability of systemic corruption in government and the legislature and among public officers in TCI. This led us to suspend ministerial government and set eight milestones for elections and a return to democratic government. I am pleased to inform the House that the interim Government in
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A new constitution order was laid before Parliament in July 2011. Once it is brought into force by the governor, elections must take place within 30 days. The new constitution includes a wide range of provisions to safeguard good governance and sound financial management.
Introduction of a number of new ordinances, including those making provision for: (i) the electoral process and regulation of political parties; (ii) integrity and accountability in public life; (iii) public financial management.
A revised elections ordinance provides for clear and robust voting procedures and arrangements for conducting the ballot for the new "all island" candidates. The Conduct of Political Parties Ordinance regulates funding of political parties and campaigns, campaign methods and accounting practices. The Integrity Commission Ordinance increases the number of those required to give personal and financial data about their interests to the Integrity Commission. The Public Financial Management (PFM) Ordinance and the National Audit Office Ordinance improve oversight and accountability and create a strengthened independent audit and investigation function over public finances. The Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Ordinance enables the UK Government to retain sufficient control over public finances and so protect the interests of the UK as loan guarantor and so is in line with the WMS of 9 December 2010 (Official Report, cols. 40-41WS).
Establishment of robust and transparent public financial management processes to provide a stable economic environment and a strengthening of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government's capacity to manage their public finances.
The new Public Finance Management Ordinance introduced a wide-ranging set of verifiable accounting and compliance requirements. It sets out a clear mechanism for budget control and specifies the delegation of financial responsibilities within ministries.
This milestone has not yet been met as it is too early in the financial year to determine whether TCIG are on track to achieve a fiscal surplus. Significant progress has however been made in helping to put the TCI Government on track. While the $26 million deficit in 2011-12 was considerably worse than the $3 million originally budgeted, nevertheless this still represented a significant turnaround from a deficit in excess of
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Achieving the surplus will be challenging. The UK Government's continued control over public finances means that we can, through the CFO, take steps during the year to correct the budget trajectory if it starts to go off course. This greatly adds to our confidence that the surplus can be achieved. We intend to keep progress on this milestone under close scrutiny.
A territory-wide consultation reported strong support for a process for the acquisition of belongership (the status of Turks and Caicos Islander) based only on birth, descent and marriage to a belonger for 10 years. A revised Citizenship Ordinance will implement this policy. The TCI Government will have no discretionary power to grant belongership.
Thirteen people, including four former Ministers, have been charged with corruption and money-laundering offences. An international arrest warrant has been issued for former Premier Michael Misick. It is now for the courts to decide whether the persons charged are guilty. The investigations and prosecutions will proceed independently of a future elected Government.
A civil recovery team was appointed to recover property and redress loses arising from corruption. The team has made significant progress including over 40 separate recoveries of money and/or land. Over $12 million has been recovered, including payments already made, judgments obtained and still to be collected, and agreements to pay. More than 900 acres of land have been returned to the Crown-valued in the tens of millions of US dollars. The team expects to recover significant further amounts of cash, land or other assets.
The misappropriation of Crown land through questionable land allocations, underreporting of land values and the avoidance of stamp duty were at the heart of the corrupt practices described in the commission of inquiry report. The new Crown Land Ordinance which came into effect in March sets out clear criteria for the allocation of Crown land. To ensure the new arrangements for Crown land are implemented successfully, the management of Crown land has moved to the Attorney-General's chambers.
Public sector reform continues to make good progress. The public service was reorganised into five new ministries (reduced from nine) each headed by a new permanent secretary, recruited through open competition. The public service has been reduced by 400 people (some 16%) through a voluntary severance scheme.
This is an impressive list of achievements. We judge seven of the eight milestones have been clearly met. The fiscal milestone has not yet been met but the PFM and CFO ordinances increase our confidence that the budgeted surplus will be achieved. Over the next few months, in the run-up to elections, the interim Government will continue with the implementation and consolidation of reforms, in particular to strengthen the public sector and public finances, develop the economy, modernise legislation and make practical preparations to enable the elections to take place.
The UK believes that democracy, whether in an independent country or in an overseas territory, provides a solid foundation on which to build an accountable and responsive state. This belief underpins our work to advance democracy worldwide. We will support TCI to develop its democracy in line with our responsibility for security and good governance and our positive vision for our overseas territories.
I want to make clear this Government's determination to ensure that there is no repeat of the maladministration that led to the suspension of democratic government in TCI, either there or in any other British overseas territory.
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.
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Today, the Department for Work and Pensions is publishing the next set of official statistics on mandatory work activity, accompanied by an impact assessment, which forms the first part of the evaluation of the policy. Later today I will place a copy of the impact assessment in the House Library.
The expansion will enable Jobcentre Plus to make between 60,000 and 70,000 referrals to mandatory work activity each year, based on the current experience of the scheme, at a cost of an additional £5 million per annum. This decision has been taken as the result of careful consideration of the positive impacts demonstrated within the impact assessment.
The extra places will help ensure Department for Work and Pensions advisers can provide those jobseekers that require the opportunities to gain experience of work and help focus their minds on their search for work.
In addition, the department is currently evaluating the impact of a trial scheme carried out in London, Wales and the West Midlands, where most jobseekers who incurred a second sanction were specifically considered for a referral to mandatory work activity.
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