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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 that Professor Cathy Nutbrown is today publishing the findings of her independent review of training qualifications and careers opportunities for people working in early education and childcare. Copies of her report Foundations for Quality: Review of Early Education and Childcare Qualifications will be placed in the House Libraries.
The importance of the early years-as a foundation for life and for future attainment and success-cannot be overestimated. Children's personal, social, emotional, language and physical development are of paramount importance, and without strong foundations in these areas children will struggle as they develop in life, with friends and in school. That is why the Government have taken action to extend access to free, high-quality early education, and to reform and simplify the Early Years Foundation Stage.
It is essential that people working in the early years have the right skills and training to give children the best start in life. One of the most important factors affecting a child's healthy development is the quality of the education and childcare they receive in the earliest years. That is why, in July last year, I set out my intention to commission a review of existing early years qualifications and training. I asked Professor Cathy Nutbrown of Sheffield University to undertake an independent review, to consider how best to strengthen qualifications and career pathways, focusing on the qualities needed to ensure that young children receive the best quality pre-school education.
I am hugely grateful to Professor Nutbrown for conducting this important review and to those who have supported her. I warmly welcome Professor Nutbrown's thoughtful and thorough report, which takes a balanced look at the needs of the sector. The early years are immensely important and this report will be invaluable in helping the Government consider the best way to encourage talented people to work in the sector and improve outcomes for babies and young children in this important stage of their lives. We will read her report with care, and respond in due course as part of our continuing commitment to ensuring that childcare remains high quality and affordable to parents.
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.
The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council is on Monday 18 June in Luxembourg and is the last under the Danish presidency. My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food (Jim Paice) will represent the UK. Richard Lochhead MSP and Alun Davies AM will also attend.
The main item on 18 June will be the presentation and discussion of the presidency's report of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This is expected to highlight areas of emerging agreement, as well as key issues remaining to be addressed under the forthcoming Cypriot presidency.
There will also be an orientation debate on the proposed rural development regulation as part of the CAP reform package. The debate is expected to address the issues of the level of spend under Pillar 2 that will have to be focussed on environmental outcomes and whether funds transferred from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 need to be subject to national co-financing.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Kenneth Clarke) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Government have taken this decision in accordance with the commitment in the coalition agreement, which states that we will approach legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country's security, protecting Britain's civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.
The Government believe that our national interests are best served by participating in this directive so that we are party to the common framework governing data sharing for policing and criminal justice across the EU. By participating, we can best build trust across member states for the necessary sharing of data to protect our citizens and make the strongest case possible for this to be done within a framework of appropriate and proportionate rules.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 25 June. I will attend the General Affairs Council (GAC) on 26 June. Both meetings will be held in Luxembourg.
Ministers are expected to discuss the Commission's report on activities in 2011, and the Roadmap for Future Action. We welcome the communication and recognise the broad range of activity the EU supports in the region. We particularly welcome the increased focus on developing the political relationship through task forces held in Tunisia and Jordan, and the promotion of civil society through the new civil society fund.
Ministers will take stock of the latest situation on the ground in Syria, following the G20 summit in Los Cabos (18 and 19 June), and before a possible Contact Group meeting on Syria. The council is an opportunity to outline our policy, along the lines of the Foreign Secretary's Statement to Parliament on 11 June. We need to support the Annan plan, increase the pressure on the Assad regime, and keep up a push for humanitarian
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On Egypt, Ministers will take stock of recent events, including the 14 June decisions by the Supreme Constitutional Court and the 16-17 June presidential elections. The council conclusions are likely to reaffirm EU support for the political transition, and keep pressure on the authorities to maintain the momentum of tackling the pressing economic and human rights concerns.
High Representative Ashton is expected to report back from her recent visit to Pakistan. The subsequent discussion will be an opportunity for the Foreign Affairs Council to set out the EU's support for Pakistan's forthcoming elections and the EU's commitment to improve market access for Pakistan.
We expect council conclusions to welcome the political progress achieved so far in 2012, and reaffirm the EU's strong support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU perspective. The conclusions are likely to reinforce the message that Bosnian leaders must urgently make a credible effort towards bringing their constitution into compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, thereby enabling their stabilisation and association agreement to be brought into force as soon as possible. We also expect there to be a reference to key priorities that local leaders should aim to address before making a credible membership application. We expect the council to call for a swift and sustainable resolution to the current political uncertainty in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We expect a discussion on the proposed EU human rights strategy, which consists of a strategic framework (a political declaration by the council on the EU's direction on human rights) and an action plan. There may also be discussion of an EU Special Representative on Human Rights, on which a draft mandate has been circulated amongst member states. There may be council conclusions.
Ministers may discuss freedom of religion or belief, following an increase in violence directed towards religious communities in Nigeria. We are active in working to defend this fundamental freedom and encourage the EU to continue to give full attention to promoting freedom of religion or belief in its bilateral and multilateral relations.
Following the limited progress in three rounds of talks between the E3+3 and Iran, there will be an opportunity for Ministers to ensure the EU maximises pressure on Iran, including reviewing the oil embargo and protection and indemnity insurance ban, ahead of implementation on 1 July.
The meeting will be the last under the Danish presidency, and will be chaired by Denmark's Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen. There are three main items on the agenda: the multiannual financial
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As with previous meetings of the GAC, my main focus for these discussions will be for the negotiating box to reflect the UK's objective of delivering a restrained EU Budget, limited to a real-terms freeze. Within a restrained budget, a greater share should be directed to priority areas such as external action, research and climate change. I will also defend the rebate and argue against any new EU taxes. The presidency intends the negotiating box to establish parameters for the discussions after their presidency and for MFF discussion at the June European Council.
The presidency will seek agreement of a partial general approach on several issues: on concentrating future programmes on fewer objectives; on the rules for financial instruments; on the performance framework; and on proposals on revenue generating projects. We will need to look horizontally at the specific regulations for the funds covered by the common provisions regulations, including those for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to ensure consistency between them and to maximise the opportunities for harmonising the rules to reduce burdens for final recipients and authorities.
Over lunch Ministers will discuss the priorities for the June European Council with President Herman van Rompuy. This conversation will continue into the afternoon, following the council's approval of the country specific recommendations when the plenary session reconvenes. The June European Council agenda is broad, covering growth, trade, the MFF, energy, enlargement, justice and home affairs and foreign policy. We expect the focus to be largely on economic issues in the Eurozone.
As agreed at the December 2011 European Council, the GAC will also discuss whether to open accession negotiations with Montenegro. The Commission's May 2012 report on Montenegro's progress implementing its reforms again concluded that Montenegro continues to make good progress and that accession negotiations should be opened. The UK supports this recommendation.
The report forms a key part of the accountability mechanism for the Financial Services Authority under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and assesses the performance of the Financial Services Authority over the past 12 months against its statutory objectives.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): My honourable friend the Minister for Employment Relations, Consumers and Postal Affairs (Norman Lamb) has today made the following Statement.
I have today published an updated policy statement on enforcement of the national minimum wage (NMW). The Statement confirms that the Government will enforce the NMW on behalf of seafarers who ordinarily work in the UK and sets out our approach to determining whether this is the case.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Later today, I will publish the outcome of the review of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC). I am pleased to announce that the Government support the continuation of the committee in its current form. The Department for Work and Pensions has completed a robust examination of the committee's functions, delivery arrangements and governance structure. The review was carried out in line with the Cabinet Office's key principles for reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPB). The SSAC is a cost-effective advisory NDPB whose functions are integral to improving the quality of policy-making and of secondary legislation in the Department for Work and Pensions. I will also place a copy of the review report in the House Library later today.
Section 19(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (the Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of her TPIM powers under the Act during that period.
Section 16 of the 2011 Act provides rights of appeal against decisions by the Secretary of State in relation to decisions taken under the Act. Four appeals were lodged under Section 16 during the reporting period.
One judgment has been handed down by the High Court in relation to a TPIM notice. On 27 March 2012, the High Court handed down the first judgment in relation to the review of a TPIM notice under Section 9 of the Act. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v BM  EWHC 714 (admin) the High Court upheld the TPIM notice and the control order which preceded it.
Most full judgments are available at http://www.bailii. org/.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My honourable friend the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries has today made the following Statement which, as was requested by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, places copies of the draft British Waterways Board Transfer Scheme and the draft Waterways Infrastructure Trust in the Library of the House.
In advance of the forthcoming debate on the draft British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012, I am placing in the Libraries of the House a copy of the draft British Waterways Board Transfer Scheme 2012 and a copy of the draft Waterways Infrastructure Trust.
If Parliament approves the Transfer of Functions Order, it will, when made, transfer the statutory functions of the British Waterways Board in England and Wales to the Canal and River Trust. The transfer scheme will come into force in conjunction with that order and will be made under Section 23 of the Public Bodies Act 2011. It will divide and transfer the property, rights and liabilities of the British Waterways Board between the Canal and River Trust, the Canal and River Trust Community Interest Company-Canal and River Trading CIC-and the British Waterways Board, as it continues to operate in Scotland.
As a default provision, except where provided for elsewhere in the transfer scheme, all property, rights and liabilities of the British Waterways Board will transfer to the Canal and River Trust. This is to ensure that the British Waterways Board, when operating solely in Scotland, is not unexpectedly burdened with liabilities. Schedules 1-3 list the division of property between the recipients.
The British Waterways Board, operating solely in Scotland, will receive all of the property, rights and liabilities relating to the activities of the British Waterways Board in Scotland as well as a portion of the British Waterways Board's cross-border contracts. The division of assets between the Canal and River Trust and the British Waterways Board, when operating solely in Scotland, was agreed by the UK Government and the Scottish Government through a disaggregation process. The draft transfer scheme was also made available to the Scottish Parliament during their consideration of the Transfer Order. The Scottish Parliament gave its consent to the draft Transfer Order on 9 May 2012.
The transfer scheme will divide the commercial property assets between the Canal and River Trust (in England and Wales) and the British Waterways Board, operating solely in Scotland, and will provide for their respective transfer.
In England and Wales, the transfer scheme will transfer the heritage infrastructure to the Canal and River Trust to be held as permanent endowment in a specially created trust, the Waterways Infrastructure Trust. We intend to settle the Waterways Infrastructure Trust on the Canal and River Trust as sole trustee. I am also placing in the Library a copy of the draft Trust Settlement, which will be executed in due course as part of the overall transfer process.
The Canal and River Trust will be charged with safeguarding the infrastructure of the waterways on behalf of the nation. The canals, towpaths, locks and other parts of the waterways are to be looked after for the benefit of future generations and the Waterways Infrastructure Trust will ensure this happens.
The Waterways Infrastructure Trust ensures that all of infrastructure property (as defined in the trust) is held as a permanent functional endowment. This means that the Canal and River Trust will not be able to sell any part of the infrastructure property without gaining the Secretary of State's and in some cases the Charity Commission's prior consent. Before granting such consent, the Secretary of State will hold a public consultation.
The Trust Settlement also requires the Canal and River Trust to grant free pedestrian access to the towpath (except in certain very tightly defined circumstances and again with the prior consent of the Secretary of State, following public consultation).
Under the transfer scheme, certain assets will be moved directly to the Canal and River Trading Community Interest Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canal and River Trust. The Community Interest Company will receive the property, rights and liabilities for its trading activities which, under charity law, have to be kept in a separate vehicle from the charity itself.
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