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Written Ministerial Statements
Tuesday 18 April 2006
Citizen Information Project
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Des Browne): On 28 October 2004 Official Report, Column 53WS, my predecessor announced that the Government had accepted a recommendation from the Citizen Information Project (CIP) about using the proposed National Identity Register (NIR) as an adult population register and that further exploratory work should be undertaken, including on shorter-term opportunities for efficiency savings in handling contact details (name, address, date of birth) in existing registers. This also included the possible use of personal reference numbers, as mentioned in the Government's reply (Cm 6359) to the fourth report from the Home Affairs Committee Session 200304 HC130. The CIP team, based within the Office for National Statistics (ONS), has now reported its final conclusions and its recommendations that:
this should be implemented through the identity cards scheme on the basis that the scheme eventually becomes compulsory. The Identity and Passport Service should be responsible for developing the National Identity Register (NIR) as an adult population database. Over time public sector systems, business processes and culture should be adapted to use the NIR as the definitive source of contact details in the longer term;
in developing the child index to support better delivery of children's services, the Department for Education and Skills should also consider whether there is scope to realise further efficiency and effectiveness benefits through a child population register;
HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should, as a priority, agree the detailed terms of reference, time scale and resources required to complete an evaluation of the costs, legal, operational and other implications of making wider, managed use of the National Insurance Number and the associated citizen contact details held by DWP.
The Government have accepted these recommendations and further work is being carried out in line with the transformational Government implementation plan published on 29 March 2006. The Identity Cards Act 2006 includes securing the efficient and effective provision of public services as a purpose of the National Identity Register. Any further necessary legislation to implement the CIP recommendations will be subject to consultation as appropriate.
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Freedom of Information Act (Central Government)
The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, has made the following written ministerial statement.
This is the fourth quarterly bulletin produced by DCA monitoring the performance of central Government and associated bodies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. DCA will shortly be producing an annual report analysing the performance of central Government in the first full year of freedom of information."
Reserve Forces Act 1996
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): A new call-out order has been made under section 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 so that reservists may continue to be called out into permanent service to support military operations in the Balkans. The order will take effect from 1 April 2006.
EDUCATION AND SKILLS
Sure Start Children's Centres
The Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Ruth Kelly):
I am very pleased to inform the House that my Department has exceeded its target agreed in the 2002 spending review for Sure Start children's centres to provide services to at least 650,000 children under five
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and their families by 31 March 2006. On that day there were 836 Sure Start children's centres offering integrated services to around 657,000 children.
Sure Start children's centres are a key vehicle for improving the integrated support we give families with young children and improving outcomes for children, particularly those who live in poverty. In phase two (200608) of the programme we will develop children's centres to ensure all disadvantaged children have the support they need.
Dissolved NHS Trusts (Public Dividend Capital)
The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): Pursuant to the dissolution of three national health service trusts on 1 April 2005 and their reconfiguration through the establishment of Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust, I have created originating capital for the new NHS trust equal to the net assets transferred to them and therefore propose to remit the outstanding debt of the dissolved trusts.
These operations involved no overall loss to the Exchequer. Her Majesty's Treasury presented on 28 March a minute to the House giving particulars and circumstances of the proposed remission, which it has approved in principle.
Independent Mental Capacity Advocate Service (IMCA)
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Ms Rosie Winterton): The Mental Capacity Act 2005 created the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) service to help vulnerable people who lack capacity to make important decisions about serious medical treatment and changes of residence. The role of the IMCA is to support and represent the person who lacks capacity. Decision makers in the national health service and in local authorities (for example doctors and social workers), will have a duty to consult IMCA for the most vulnerablethose who have no family or friends to be consultedin relation to decisions about:
The consultation which ended in September last year, asked for comments on 12 issues around the operation and implementation of the IMCA service. It sought views on some of the important operational details of the service including funding and commissioning, the main functions IMCA will carry out, how to define serious medical treatment and whether to extend the service beyond people who have no family or friends and to situations other that serious treatment and changes of accommodation.
There were a total of 176 written responses to the consultation exercise. In addition, over 450 people attended events abut the consultation. We are grateful to all those individuals and organisations who responded.
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The consultation responses have informed how we now plan to use the regulation making powers and prepare for implementation of the IMCA service planned for April 2007. I am today placing a report on the outcome of the public consultation in the Library.
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