HM Treasury publishes the TBRM annually. It is a technical manual detailing the tax and benefit system, describing both the current and historic regimes. There are also tables of time series covering tax and benefit rates, numbers of tax payers and benefit claimants, VAT and duty rates and the tax burden on specimen households.
The Government have ambitious targets for the Fire and Rescue Service. Our overriding aim is to save more lives and stop unnecessary injuries through more effective action to prevent fires and by ensuring that the Fire and Rescue Service is well prepared and equipped to respond to the many challenges it faces. That is why we announced, as part of this year's spending review, a new public service agreement that commits us to achieving long-term reductions in fire deaths and deliberate fires, including real progress in the most disadvantaged areas. This builds on the commitments set out in the June 2003 White Paper "Our Fire and Rescue Service".
The Government published a draft version of the national framework for consultation in December 2003. The response to the draft was overwhelmingly positive. The majority of those who responded supported the Government's objectives and the modernisation programme. We have taken on board many of the useful comments and suggestions we received. As a result, the national framework sets out a shared strategy. It recognises that the Government and fire and rescue authorities must work in partnership to achieve our shared goals. We are also publishing a consultation response today, on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at: www.odpm.gov.uk/fire.
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The national framework has also been updated to reflect progress on modernisation, including the replacement of outdated national standards with new local risk management plans and the establishment of regional management boards, which will help to deliver many functions more efficiently and effectively. The expectations of fire and rescue authorities set out in the national framework will be central to the Audit Commission's assessment of the performance of authorities.
Future versions of the national framework will be published in the autumn, to enable fire and rescue authorities to take full account of the national framework in their annual budgeting process. We will therefore start the consultation on the 200506 national framework shortly.
Copies of the 200405 fire and rescue national framework are available in the Libraries of the House and are also available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at: www.odpm.gov.uk/fire.
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is today publishing the regional transport strategy (RTS) for the south-east. This follows the public examination into the draft RTS in July 2003, the panel report in October 2003, and the consultation on the Secretary of State's proposed changes that closed on 21 May 2004.
RTSs are an integral part of regional planning guidance (RPG) and the RTS for the south-east represents a revision to RPG9, as published in March 2001. On commencement of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, the RTS will be part of a statutory regional spatial strategy (RSS).
Other partial reviews of RPG9 are at various stages in the process. In particular, the public examination into the Milton Keynes and south Midlands sub-regional strategy has taken place and we are now awaiting the panels report and the consultation on the Secretary of State's proposed changes for the Ashford growth area has recently closed.
The RTS aims to achieve a transport system which progressively reaches the standards of the best in north-west Europe, by promoting management of and investment in the system; rebalancing the structure and use of the transport system in favour of more sustainable modes; and supporting the regional spatial strategy, particularly managing and investing in interregional corridors and delivering urban renaissance and sub-regional objectives. This approach should also inform local authorities and other agencies in preparing relevant regional and local strategies.
The consultation period for the proposed changes to the draft RTS ended on 21 May with some 300 responses from individuals or organisations. The majority of responses sought changes to specific policies within the RTS. Many of the points raised, particularly by individuals, concerned local issues.
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244 comments supporting the re-instatement of the Lewes/Uckfield rail link.
30 comments supporting the reintroduction of the regional frame.
27 comments on the investment tables, mostly on clarity or calls for higher priority.
17 comments on matters relating to accuracy and clarity of the maps.
In light of the level of interest revealed by responses supporting the Lewes/Uckfield rail line reinstatement, a reference to this proposal has been included in the supporting text relating the project to the development of the south-east plan.
The calls to reinstate the regional frame mainly restate the arguments put forward at the public examination, and in consequence the earlier decision to delete the regional frame, as recommended by the independent panel, is not changed.
For accuracy, to take account of recent changes to programmes, and in the light of further information about scheme details and promoters intentions, a number of changes have been made to the investment framework tables and maps.
The RTS is an integral and clearly identifiable part of RPG9. It will be reviewed through the development of the spatial strategy for the south-east, resulting in the publication of the south-east plan in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Miss Melanie Johnson): I made a statement on 16 March about the results of the consultation on the proposed new criteria for degree awarding powers (DAP) and university title (UT) which ended on 12 December. We then consulted further in May on the following options for degree awarding powers:
Probationary DAP followed by indefinite DAP.
Indefinite DAP for organisations in the publicly funded higher education sector and fixed degree awarding powers for other organisations.
This consultation ended on 25 June. There was overwhelming support for option 2, with just a few respondents expressing preference for neither option or for option 1. I have placed a copy of the consultation report in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament, and it is available on the DfES website at: http://www.dfes. gov.uk/consultations/conResults.cfm?consultationId=1226
to modernise the criteria for the granting of degree awarding powers to make it easier for non-traditional higher education organisations to applyalong the lines set out in the original consultation document;
to make degree awarding powers for organisations in the publicly funded higher education sector indefinite and fixed for other organisations, subject to satisfactory external quality audit;
to grant university title on the basis of taught degree awarding powers and student numbers (which remain at current levels); and
to remove the requirement that institutions must have students in five subject areas to be eligible for university title (this will allow institutions specialising in one subject area to become universities).
We believe that these changes strike the right balance between our concern to modernise the criteria for both degree awarding powers and university title, with the concerns that emerged during both consultations.
The detailed revised criteria for England will be published on 1 September and the moratorium on new applications for DAPs from English institutions will be lifted on the same date. The moratorium on new applications for university title under the current criteria remains lifted.
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