The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Angela E. Smith): During 2007 delegations/authorisations were made to the Ministry of Justice, the Welsh Assembly Government and the National School of Government and in 2008, to the Government Equalities Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The delegations/authorisations were made subject to the condition that recipients comply with the provisions of the civil service management code as amended from time to time. Copies of the civil service management code are available in the Library of the House and electronically at: http://beta.civilservice.gov.uk/about/work/codes/csmc/index.aspx
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Sarah McCarthy-Fry): The annual report 2008-09 of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has today been laid before Parliament. Copies have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
The report forms a key part of the accountability mechanism for the Financial Services Authority under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), and assesses the performance of the Financial Services Authority over the past 12 months against its statutory objectives.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): The Government are determined to ensure that everything possible is done to maintain the integrity and reputation of sport. I am therefore delighted to announce that I am bringing together a new sports betting integrity panel under the chairmanship of Rick Parry. This panel will include representatives of the betting industry; sports governing bodies; players; the Gambling Commission; and the police. The panels main focus will be the design and implementation of an integrated strategy to uphold integrity in sports and associated betting.
The vast majority of sports betting is legal and fair, and enhances the enjoyment of sport for many fans. But betting also provides an opportunity and an incentive for corrupting sport through the use of unfair or illegal betting practices.
The Government are concerned that, although considerable progress has been made in recent years by sports governing bodies, the betting industry and the Gambling Commission, the possible threat to the integrity of sport remains an ever present and complex problem requiring multi-agency solutions.
If the UK is to maintain its reputation as a jurisdiction where fair play is the guiding principle for both sport and betting, it is vital that the risks of corruption arising from all sources are reduced as far as possible.
The sports themselvesgoverning bodies, clubs and playersthe betting industry and enforcement authorities, principally the Gambling Commission and the police, all play important roles. To help co-ordinate the work of those parties, and to facilitate collaboration between them, the panel will bring together key people from the principal organisations involved, under the chairmanship of Rick Parry, to look at these issues and make recommendations on how the various bodies concerned can work together more effectively.
Mr. Parry is currently chief executive of Liverpool football club and has many years experience in professional sport at a senior level. I believe this experience makes him an ideal person to chair the panel and I look forward to working with him.
Nic Coward, Chief Executive, BHA
Simon Barker, Director of the Professional Players Federation and ex-pro footballer
Ian Seabridge, Asst Chief Constable, ACPO lead on Gambling
Darren Bailey, Director of Governance, The FA
Mark Davies, Managing Director, Betfair
Chris Caisley, Partner, Walker Morris LawyersHead of Sports Law Group
Dave Boyle, Chief Executive, Supporters Direct
Nick Tofiluk, Director of Regulation, Gambling Commission
Ben Gunn CBE QPM, Sporting Integrity Expert
Mike Smith, Chairman, Tote
Mike OKane, Trading Director, Ladbrokes
Bill South, Director of Security, William Hill
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Bill Rammell): The statement by my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Coventry, North-East (Bob Ainsworth) on 25 February 2009, Official Report, columns 24-25WS, referred to a delay from spring until summer 2009 of the deployment of Tornado GR4 aircraft to replace a broadly similar force of Harrier GR9 aircraft at Kandahar airfield, Afghanistan.
I can confirm that necessary supporting infrastructure at Kandahar is now in place and all Tornado GR4 urgent operational requirement enhancements have been delivered. Consequently Tornado GR4 aircraft deployed to Kandahar in mid-June and, after a period of joint operations with the Harrier force, today the Tornado GR4 force has taken over sole responsibility for RAF fast jet support in Afghanistan.
The transition from Harrier to Tornado in theatre has been seamless. During the handover the Tornado force has proved that it is fully capable of fulfilling all the roles required of it in support of coalition ground forces. Those forces will continue to benefit from the flexibility and broad range of capabilities offered by UK fast jet aircraft.
The remaining elements of the Harrier force are preparing to leave Kandahar shortly, with the final Harrier personnel planning to return to their home base at RAF Cottesmore in early July. Joint Force Harrier has made a significant and acclaimed contribution to coalition air operations during its four and a half years service in Afghanistan and the personnel within this force can be proud of all their many achievements in this operational theatre.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones): I am pleased to announce that a feasibility study will be undertaken to look at the possibility of establishing a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in around 10 years time, looking at how the whole issue of rehabilitation should be developed in 21st century terms. The study will build on the remarkable achievements of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey, and exploit what we and others have learnt in recent times about complex injury. It will look at doing so in the context of creating a national centre for civilian as well as military rehabilitation. We shall also look at the inclusion of rehabilitation research, the potential for developing further our world-class para-Olympic athletes and a train the trainer capability for rehabilitation in conflict and post-conflict afflicted states. We shall be considering potential sites in the midlands with close links to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, and estimate that the study will take about a year to complete.
The feasibility study will consult widely across Government, the NHS and the charitable sector. The trades unions will also be consulted fully. An external benefactor has agreed to sponsor this feasibility work. This continues a long and distinguished tradition of charitable involvement in the care of injured service personnel, including in this context the work of the Headley Court Trust, Help for Heroes, SSAFA, BLESMA and Brain Injury and Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT), to name only a few. I stress that this work will scope possible options for creating a Defence and National Centre with the defence capability at its corethere are no foregone conclusions.
The Government are committed to delivering state-of-the-art treatment for our injured service personnel. They deserve nothing but the best. The MOD continues to invest in DMRC at Headley Court to ensure its provision of world-class care. We would only envisage
leaving Headley Court if there were an assured level of future care that surpassed even that which is offered by DMRCs current and planned capabilities.
While this work is long term, an immediate issue is attending to the convalescence and recovery of service people, not least those who have been treated at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and have subsequently undergone rehabilitation at Headley Court. To that end, a defence-led study is under way to consider how to make the best possible provision in this area, starting with a pathfinder centre near Edinburgh, in conjunction with the charities Erskine Homes and Help for Heroes. The pathfinder will enable us to learn lessons, which will help inform our judgment about how best to provide convalescent care in the future and help prepare wounded, injured and sick personnel to return to duty or transition to civilian life.
Individual performance targets have been agreed between the agency and the MOD as its principal customer reflecting both business requirements and the need to continue to drive down costs through efficiency improvements.
Key Target 1Achieve agreed unit cost targets for salary payments; expenses payments; pension awards; internal posting; external recruitment; manpower substitution; promotion assessments; subject access request; and the working patterns and leavers service. These targets reflect financial savings which are expected to arise from efficiency gains.
Key Target 2Achieve key performance indicators for timeliness and accuracy set in the agencys service level agreement. The indicators cover salary payments, pensions and HR transactions and advice.
Key Target 3Achieve key performance indicators for access to the agencys services. The detailed indicators cover availability and speed of responses of both its call centres and its major online electronic service.
Key Target 4Achieve customer satisfaction targets set in the agency's service level agreement: 78 per cent. satisfaction index for pay, pensions and expenses services; 64 per cent. satisfaction index for HR services; 85 per cent. for sampled users satisfied or better.
Key Target 5Achieve second phase of HR service maturity programme by March 2010. In conjunction with customers, a small number of specific projects have been agreed for reviewing and improving HR services and procedures which have high business priority.
Key Target 6Maintain and extend customer service excellence and other external accreditations by March 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr. David Kidney): My noble Friend the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, today made the following statement:
I am today announcing the outcome of the Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and I am publishing a policy document, A Prevailing Wind: Advancing UK Offshore Wind Deployment, that explains in more detail the Governments decision on the offshore wind element of the draft plan/programme. The policy document draws together the key ongoing and planned work to enable large-scale deployment of offshore wind, as well as setting out the next steps. A copy of this document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
In 2006, DECC initiated a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on a draft plan/programme to hold further rounds of offshore oil and gas licensing, including licensing of gas storage in hydrocarbon reservoirs, and some 25 GW of additional offshore wind leasing in United Kingdom waters. The SEA is documented on a dedicated website (www.offshore-sea.org.uk) and includes a range of field surveys, technical studies and syntheses of data commissioned to underpin the SEA assessment. For offshore (seaward) oil and gas licensing and for offshore gas storage licensing the SEA covered all UK waters. For offshore wind leasing, the SEA covered those parts of the UK renewable energy zone and the territorial waters of England and Wales where the water depth is around 60 metres or less. The Scottish Executive and Northern Ireland Executive are the competent authorities for conducting Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) within their territorial waters. Both of these authorities are currently undertaking SEAs for the purposes of enabling offshore wind leasing in these areas.
An expert assessment workshop was held to consider the key issues to be addressed in assessing the draft plan/programme. In addition, three sector-specific workshops and three wider stakeholder workshops were also held to gather industry perspectives and stakeholder input on relevant issues. The results of these workshops were assessed further and documented in an environmental report which then formed the basis for statutory, public and international consultation. In January 2009, the three-month consultation period on DECCs draft plan/programme and environmental report commenced and was advertised in a number of local and national newspapers and by e-mail notification to a wide range of individuals and organisations.
All responses received from consultees on the draft plan/programme and the environmental report have been considered by DECC and a post-consultation report for the offshore energy SEA has been prepared and placed on the SEA website today. This summarises consultee comments and DECC responses to them, and presents a final list of recommendations, some of which have been revised following feedback from consultees. The full texts of consultee comments have also been placed on the SEA website.
DECC has now fully considered the conclusions and recommendations of the offshore energy SEA environmental report together with feedback received from consultees. In the light of the final recommendations set out in the post-consultation report, the Department concludes that there are no overriding environmental considerations to prevent the achievement of our draft plan/programme of leasing for offshore wind, and licensing of oil and gas production, and gas storage, if mitigation measures are implemented to prevent, reduce and offset significant adverse effects.
In all cases, the relevant competent authority will undertake any appropriate assessment(s) prior to awarding licences or leases under the rounds, if required following screening. This is required under EU Council Directive 79/409 EEC on the conservation of wild birds and Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora, and UK implementing regulations.
Monitoring the potentially significant environmental effects identified within the SEA will be undertaken using existing mechanisms and those to be set up under the auspices of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) and Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
For offshore wind, the Crown Estate is the leasing authority and can now proceed with offshore wind leasing competition(s). Within UK waters, the Government have decided that there should be spatial restrictions on offshore wind development in specific geographic areas as indicated in the recommendations of
the post-consultation report. These spatial restrictions are issue and criteria-based, including for example military practice and exercise areas, airspace danger areas and International Maritime Organisation routes. As these boundaries and locations may change over time, the maps contained in the environmental report are indicative.
As the offshore wind policy document A Prevailing Wind published today makes clear, the Government, and DECC in particular, will have a continuing role to play in facilitating policy interventions necessary to help deliver the offshore wind element of our plan/programme. DECC, with the Crown Estate, has a cross-departmental Offshore Wind Delivery Board to develop and oversee this work.
For oil and gas, DECC will now proceed with preparations for a further roundthe 26thof offshore licensing. This is expected to be launched early next yeara further announcement will be made on the timing of the round.
For offshore gas storage, DECC will be the licensing authority and the Crown Estate will be the leasing authority, working in parallel with each other. DECC is currently considering the responses to the recent Consultation on the proposed offshore gas storage and unloading licensing scheme. DECC will issue the Government response in due course, indicating how the licensing scheme is to go forward.
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