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The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The Government's proposals on the functions of elected regional assemblies are set out in chapter 4 of the White Paper Your Region, Your Choice (Cm 5511). Of these, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently responsible for the functions relating to planning, housing and management of the European Development Fund.
Elected assemblies will take their functions from central government, its agencies and public bodies in the regions. In respect of these policy areas, elected assemblies will become the regional planning bodies and take responsibility for allocating housing capital investment in their regions. Responsibility for publishing the regional spatial strategy and the regional housing strategy will be transferred from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Regional development agencies, which are the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry, also deliver regeneration and economic development objectives for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and receive substantial funding from the office. Responsibility for the regional development agencies will also transfer to elected regional assemblies.
As the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister stated in the White Paper (paragraph 4.5), this package of assembly functions reflects the way in which these functions are currently organised. However, the Government are keen further to decentralise responsibility for policy and delivery where this will improve regional outcomes. There are likely to be further proposals for the decentralisation of responsibilities to elected regional assemblies as time goes on.
Lord Rooker: I am pleased to announce that the Armed Forces personnel deployed on firefighting duties have been stood down on the grounds that no further strike dates will be announced before the Fire Brigades Union recalled conference on 15 April. The
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The Armed Forces commitment to providing emergency fire and rescue cover during the national firemen's strike remains the same now as it has been from the outset, with some 19,000 personnel currently being committed to Operation Fresco. While there is an inevitable impact on other Armed Forces operations, this is being kept to the minimum and will not interfere with plans to guard prisoners of war.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): Technical notes for the Home Office public service agreement (PSA) targets for the 2002 Spending Review period have been published today. Copies are available in the Library and online at www.homeoffice.gov.uk.
In common with those of other government departments, the Home Office technical notes define the terms used in the targets, their territorial scope, measurement systems which will be used and criteria for success. The purpose of the technical notes is to enable Parliament and the public to judge progress against the Home Office targets. The measurement systems will be used by the department and its partners to manage delivery of the new, challenging targets.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The independent GM Public Debate Steering Board, which is managing the GM public debate at arm's length from government, appointed COI Communications as its agent and prime contractor. COI Communications has rosters of suppliers which have been previously selected in accordance with EU public procurement rules. A Defra official was appointed to the steering board in order to ensure proper accountability for the expenditure of public funds. Further information on the specification and tendering for different elements of the debate can be obtained from the steering board.
How many patients in England were on waiting lists for treatment with beta interferon for multiple sclerosis when the 2002 risk sharing scheme began; and[HL1831]
Whether they will publish a progress report on the implementation of the risk sharing scheme for beta interferon; and[HL1832]
What guidance they have given to patient care trusts to encourage them to implement the risk sharing scheme for beta interferon.[HL1833]
Baroness Andrews: It was estimated that up to 9,000 patients in England and Wales may be eligible to receive a drug treatment for their multiple sclerosis under the risk sharing scheme which started on 6 May 2002. Guidance on implementation was included in Health Service Circular 200204 issued on 4 February 2002. Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts were further reminded of their responsibilities to implement the scheme in the Chief Executive's Bulletin dated 17 July 2002. We have set up a steering group involving a range of stakeholders to oversee implementation of the scheme but there are no plans to publish a formal progress report.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): It is for the Metropolitan Police to control demonstrators in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster. The police have been instructed, in accordance with the terms of the Sessional Order of 13 November 2002, to prevent any behaviour, including inappropriate use of amplifiers, that might disrupt the proceedings of Parliament.
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