Industry News: No (legal) arguments, if you make a mess, you clear it up – One of the major stumbling blocks to the encouragement of re-using old industrial Brownfield sites to meet a range of society’s industrial, commercial, residential and leisure needs is the identification of any pollution and its removal.
DfT: A major new £4.1m research project aimed at reducing traffic pollution through the use of mobile sensors has been announced by Minister for Transport Stephen Ladyman. The joint DfT/ ESPRC funded MESSAGE project is claimed to be at the cutting-edge of e-science, and will bring together a consortium of experts from five universities, industry, transport authorities and international specialists in the fields of e-Science.
Sensors small enough to slip into a person's pocket, and others, possibly the size of shoeboxes, fitted to public buses will be developed during the project, among whose overall aims are to:
· use pedestrians and buses to act as mobile sensors, collecting vital real time air quality data
· show how such things as the weather, street design & driving behaviour affect the build-up of traffic pollution
Press release ~ Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ~ UK e-Science Programme ~ Quantification of the Effects of Air Pollution on Health in the UK ~ Transport for London’s (TfL) – Low Emission Zone ~ Defra – Air Quality ~ MESSAGE Project Director: Prof John Polak - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ~ Centre for Transport Studies ~ Imperial College
DCMS: Culture Minister David Lammy has unveiled the UK's next three nominations for World Heritage status, which are: The Antonine Wall, The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and The Twin Monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow
This means that, if accepted by UNESCO, the three sites will join the Tower of London, Blenheim Palace and Stonehenge on the list of 27 UK World Heritage Sites.
Press release ~ Antonine Wall ~ Pontcysyllte Aqueduct ~ Twin Anglo-Saxon monastery at Wearmouth and Jarrow Wearmouth ~ World Heritage List ~ English Heritage ~ Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site ~
Upper German-Raetian Limes ~ Frontiers of the Roman Empire ~ Darwin at Downe website ~ UK National Commission for UNESCO
MoD: The 100th Typhoon off the production line has arrived at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. Group Captain Bob Judson, Coningsby's Station Commander decided to mark the milestone by personally flying the newest ‘aircraft’ from BAE Systems' Warton factory in Lancashire.
RAF Coningsby is the Main Operating Base (MOB) for the Eurofighter Typhoon and supports the squadrons that are evaluating the aircraft, converting pilots to the type and also the first operational Typhoon fighter squadrons.
Typhoon is an agile, single seat, multi-role aircraft designed for high-altitude, supersonic air superiority but also capable of operating in the ground attack and reconnaissance environment, carrying out the roles of up to three 'earlier generation' aircraft.
Press release ~ Eurofighter Typhoon ~ RAF Typhoon ~ RAF Coningsby
DH: Speaking at a joint National Audit Office and National Agency Staffing Project conference in London, Lord Warner, Minister of State for Health, highlighted the potential savings to be achieved through managing staff effectively, saying:
“Managers have a duty to get their temporary staff spend under control before they turn to measures such as vacancy freezing or reductions in posts.
Lord Warner also urged the NHS to face up to other challenges:
· to tackle the costs of temporary staff in all other staff groups, using the lessons learnt from nursing
· to either use NHS Professionals for temporary staff needs or benchmark local banks against NHS Professionals standards
· when agencies are used, then ensure that only those who operate within Purchasing and Supply Agency framework agreements are used - not just for nursing, but for all staff groups
Press release ~ NHS Professionals ~ NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency framework ~ Agency Staffing Project ~ NAO: Improving the use of temporary nursing staff in NHS acute and foundation trusts
Defra / HPA: A routine test carried out on a female Daubenton's bat submitted to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency has confirmed the presence of European Bat Lyssavirus type 2 (EBLV-2), a strain of rabies.
Although initial tests on this bat were negative, a biological test which requires up to 28 days to provide a final result, produced a positive result. The people who are known to have cared for & handled the bat are receiving appropriate medical treatment as a precautionary measure - the risk to their health is negligible.
If any person is bitten by a bat, the wound should be immediately and thoroughly cleaned with soap & water. Additional cleansing of the wound site with an alcohol base or other disinfectant is also recommended and immediate medical advice must be sought. A bat worker in Scotland, thought to have been bitten by a bat approximately 6 months previously, died in November 2002 from an EBLV-2 infection.
Anyone who believes they or their pets may have had direct contact with this specific bat, should contact the State Veterinary Service at Reading Animal Health Office on 0118 959 6695 for animal contacts and the Oxford Health Protection Unit on 01865 226 858for human contacts.
Anyone finding a sick or ailing bat should not approach or handle it but seek advice from a local bat conservation group or the Bat Conservation Trust Helpline on 0845 130 0228 (or in Scotland, the Scottish SPCA on 0870 7377722).
Press release ~ Health Protection Agency - Bats ~ Veterinary Laboratories Agency ~ Defra – Rabies Factsheet ~ European Bat Lyssavirus (EBLV) ~ Bat Conservation Trust ~ English Nature / Natural England
DWP: Announcing the publication of the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) review, Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, Jim Murphy, stated the need for a change in attitude towards mental health as 40% of today's incapacity benefits claimants have a mental health condition.
The review recommends expanding the mental health assessment so it is better able to assess people with learning disabilities, autism and their ability to communicate & form relations amongst others. At present the system is based around assessing inability to work and weighted on physical disabilities rather than mental, but that will change when the new Employment and Support Allowance is introduced.
The government claims that the PCA will include a new assessment, looking at what an individual can do and what interventions would help to break down barriers preventing them from working. It is not supposed to be a "snapshot" but will consider an individual's ability over a period of time and the possible effect of conditions that fluctuate over time. The government also promises that the way in which evidence is gathered will be improved.
The revised descriptors and scores will be evaluated throughout October with further assessment carried out through early 2007.
Press release ~ 'Transformation of the Personal Capability Assessment - Report of the Physical Function and Mental Health Technical Groups' ~ A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work - June 2006 Consultation report ~ Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People ~ Office of Disability Issues ~ Welfare Reform Bill ~ 'Adjusting for Better Business' campaign ~ Vocational services for people with severe mental health problems: Commissioning guidance ~ National Social Inclusion Programme (NSIP) ~ Mental Health and Social Exclusion ~ Green paper - A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work ~ Disability Alliance - Personal Capability Assessment
DH: A new campaign aimed at securing dignity in care for older people has been announced by Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis. The campaign will begin in London on 14 November with the first of three regional events to bring together care providers with local activists who have agreed to act as Older People's Champions.
Care providers and Champions will be supported with an online resource guide produced by the Social Care Institute of Excellence and the Care Services Improvement Partnership.
The Minister made clear that there is a huge difference between being overly familiar with an older person or not helping them dress properly and actively being abusive or attacking them. Improving older people's dignity is not a substitute for tackling elder abuse.
Press release ~ Role of Older People's Champions ~ Toolkit for OPCs ~ Social Care Institute of Excellence ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership ~ DH – Dignity in Care
Home Office: Key milestones for combating illegal immigration through the introduction of the National Identity Scheme have been outlined by the Government. The implementation of ID cards will start with biometric cards for foreign nationals in 2008 intended to prove eligibility to work and provide employers with a simple, secure means of checking entitlement to work.
Fingerprinting of visa applicants will be expanded to cover all visa-issuing posts by April 2008, protecting our borders from those seeking to enter the UK illegally and abuse free public services.
An Identity Management Action Plan will also be produced by the end of the year and a series of detailed plans on how other government departments will benefit from using ID cards will be commissioned.
The first report to Parliament about the likely costs of the ID cards scheme has also been published, which estimates that the total resource costs of providing passports and ID cards to UK nationals from October 2006 to October 2016 will be £5.4 billion (including all the set-up and operational costs of the scheme).
The government claims that around 70% of these costs would be incurred in the issuing of new generation biometric passports - incorporating fingerprints as well as facial images - as the technical and office infrastructure would be largely the same.
Section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 requires the Government to lay before Parliament at least every six months an estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the scheme over the following ten years.
Press release ~ Identity Cards Act 2006 ~ Home Office ID Cards web page ~ NI Cards website ~ Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the Identity Cards Bill ~ Identity Cards: An assessment of awareness and demand for the identity cards scheme October 2005 ~ Personal Identity process ~ Biometric passports ~ LSE view on costs ~ Information Commissioner’s View ~ Home Office Identity fraud website ~Table detailing the latest estimate for the annual cost of identity fraud to the UK economy ~ Identity Cards Bill – case against ~ CIFAS (the UK's Fraud Prevention Service) ~ Fraudweb ~ Card Watch ~ ACPO fraud prevention
DfES: Education Secretary Alan Johnson has announced that he has asked Lord Ron Dearing to carry out a review of languages policy, to see what more can be done to encourage14-16 year olds to study GCSE or other language courses leading to a recognised qualification. Comments & contributions can be sent to: KS4Language.REVIEW@dfes.gsi.gov.uk
Under the terms of reference, he will examine scope for action in areas including:
· making available a wider range of more flexible language courses, with accreditation,
· further strengthening incentives for schools & young people to continue with languages after 14
· working with representatives of FE & HE on what might be done to widen access to & increase interest
· promoting the value of language skills for business and employability
Press release ~ DfES – Language Lessons ~ DfES Languages website ~ DfES Languages Strategy ~ CiLT – National Centre for Languages ~ The National Advisory Centre for Early Language Learning website ~ Languages Ladder ~ Modern foreign languages in a vocational context ~ Contribution of foreign languages to economic development ~ BBC Languages ~ DfID's School Partnerships
DH: The government have launched a new alcohol ad campaign - Know Your Limits - intended to illustrate a series of different scenarios where young people, thinking they are 'superheroes' while drunk, take risks with their health and safety, for example, falling off high scaffolding, walking home alone, running into a busy road, getting into fights and coming to serious harm.
Latest figures show that:
· 70% of peak time A & E admissions are alcohol related & alcohol misuse costs the NHS around £1.6bn every year, mainly in the acute sector.
· One in three reported rapes happens when the victim has been drinking
· Around half of all violent crime is alcohol related
Press release ~ Know your limits ~ Alcohol Concern ~ Drinkaware Trust ~ How’s your drink? ~ Down your drink ~ DH - Alcohol Misuse ~ Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England ~ Home Office - Alcohol-related crime
DTI: Construction has started on what will be Europe's largest onshore wind farm, as the Government set out proposals outlined in the Energy Review to see a five-fold increase in the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources in the UK.
The Government has begun a consultation (closes 2 January 2007) seeking views from industry, investors and other stakeholders on how to reach the aim set out in the Energy Review of getting 20% of the UK's electricity from renewables by 2020.
It is also consulting on; Reform of the Renewables Obligation & Statutory Consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2007. This consultation closes on 5 January 2007.
A key question in the consultation is whether the most effective way of increasing the amount of clean energy we produce is by the 'banding' of the Renewables Obligation (RO) for different types of renewable energy. This gives a greater economic incentive for the renewables sector to generate more power from emerging technologies such as offshore wind farms and biomass plants while tailoring support to cheaper technologies like landfill gas and co-firing.
There is also a commitment to increase the level of RO from its current limit of 15.4% by 2015 up to a maximum of 20% by 2020.
Press release ~ Consultation on improving public participation provisions in environmental impact assessment regulations for energy infrastructure ~ Reform of the Renewables Obligation & Statutory Consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2007 ~ The Renewals Obligation ~ DTI: Energy ~ EST's Low Carbon Buildings Programme ~ The Carbon Trust ~ DTI Sustainable Technologies website ~ Energy Efficiency: The Government's Plan for Action ~ Strategic Framework, One future - different paths ~ Energy review ~ Community Renewables Initiative ~ NAO report on renewable energy
Competition Commission: Lack of clarity on charges and unduly complex charging structures & their application, combined with a reluctance among customers to switch providers, are restricting competition in the market for personal current accounts in Northern Ireland, making it likely that customers incur higher charges & receive lower levels of credit interest than they might expect in a more competitive market.
This is the conclusion of the provisional findings summary report published by the Competition Commission (CC) in its investigation into the market for personal current account (PCA) banking services in Northern Ireland.
Anyone wishing to submit comments on the provisional findings and remedies notice document is requested to do so by 17 November 2006. email: NI.email@example.com.
Press release ~ Summary of Provisional Findings ~ Notice of Possible Remedies
DfES: Children's Minister Parmjit Dhanda has published draft regulations for consultation (closes 2 January 2007) which will mean that individuals cautioned, as well as convicted, for sexual offences against children will automatically be entered on List 99 and barred from working in schools & other education settings.
The regulations are intended to help tighten up the current barring regime until it is replaced by a new vetting & barring system which will be introduced by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, currently going through Parliament.
Developed in partnership with leading child protection experts, the draft regulations set out three ways in which an individual with a caution or conviction for a sexual offence against a child can be added to List 99: Automatic Barring, Automatic Inclusion and Discretionary Barring.
The new vetting & barring regime will remove responsibility for decisions from Ministers entirely.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ DfES – Sex Offences legislation ~ Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill ~ Day Care and Child Minding Disqualification Regulations 2005 ~ Every Child Matters website – Vetting and Barring scheme ~ Criminal Records Bureau ~ DfES: The Protection of Children Act 1999 - A Practical Guide to the Act for all Organisations Working with Children (Revised September 2005) ~ Teachernet – relevant guidance documents ~ Review of the List 99 decision making process and policy implications
DfT: Revised Government proposals designed to help local authorities to reduce road congestion & disruption through better co-ordination of street works have been published for consultation (closes 23 November 2006). The new Regulations will only apply in England however the Welsh Assembly Government is planning a similar consultation exercise in the near future.
The draft Regulations are intended to strengthen the tools local authorities can use to carry out their network management duties under the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the proposals should allow local authorities to balance the needs of all road users, against the need to maintain essential services such as water, electricity and communications.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Traffic Management Act 2004 ~ HAUC (UK) ~ DfT Street works website ~ Traffic News ~ AA Roadwatch ~ VISTA ~ Leeds Project ~ National Underground Assets Group ~ The Digital National Framework
Scottish Executive: Consultation (closes December 8, 2006) on the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 Draft Guidance and Regulations has started and will cover key parts of the Licensing Act, including;
· Premises, mandatory, discretionary, occasional and personal licences
· Mandatory licence conditions for late night and adult entertainment venues
· Controls & regulations to tackle underage drinking
· A discretionary condition which would create separate display areas for alcohol off-sales
· Training of Licensing Standards Officers and Licensing Board members
· Transitional arrangements until the Act fully comes into force in 2009
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 ~ Alcohol Focus Scotland
CIOB: As part of its remit within ConstructionSkills and in conjunction with the involvement of its Member Institutions, CIC has completed a project to help advance the importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) across the sector.
The project is primarily centred on the empowering of individuals to adopt a more meaningful approach to CPD and helping to provide the guidance to facilitate this. The main outcome of the project was the development of ‘best practice guidance’, which particularly focuses on the advantages of adopting CPD which has structure, is target driven and benchmarked in order to demonstrate acquired knowledge and competence, and which can also be recorded.
Press release ~ Guidance ~ ConstructionSkills
Monitor: Monitor Executive Chairman Bill Moyes has launched The NHS Foundation Trust Code of Governance and key aspects that have been emphasised include:
· the unitary nature of the board of directors and the collective responsibility of all directors for the financial & clinical performance of the NHS foundation trust
· a recommendation for at least 50% of board members to be independent non-executive directors, to help bring skills in finance & commerce to the board and maintain an independent overview
· a recommendation to appoint a senior independent director to act as a ‘point person’ for other non-executives & governors to raise concerns and to help resolve conflicts
The code is not mandatory, but is issued as best practice advice on a ‘comply or explain’ basis. In their next annual reports for 2006/07 NHS foundation trusts will have to report on their application of the principles of the code, and when they don’t comply with the provisions, the reasons for the departure.
Press release ~ The NHS Foundation Trust Code of Governance ~ DH – Clinical Governance ~ NHS Clinical Governance Support Team ~ Clinical Governance – An RCN Resource Guide
Defra: The Environment in your Pocket, a booklet published annually detailing environmental trends & statistics, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. To mark the anniversary, the booklet reviews the previous ten years and highlights some trends since 1996.
With facts & figures on climate change, air quality, water quality, land use, waste & recycling wildlife and other environmental issues, the booklet has become a useful resource for anyone with an interest in our environment.
It includes sustainable development environmental indicators and has a section on environmental pressures including energy use, transport, pollution incidents and household consumption, as well as spending on mitigation measures.
Press release ~ Environment in your Pocket 2006 ~ Defra – Environmental Protection ~ UK Sustainable Development website ~ Defra – Climate Change
LSC: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the organisation that exists to make England better skilled & more competitive, recently launched Delivering Learning and Skills – a progress report, which is intended to provide a full picture of what the learning & skills sector has achieved over the past 12 months, what the LSC has spent its money on and the successes that have resulted from this investment.
Press release ~ Delivering Learning and Skills – a progress report
HSE: A joint Industry and COMAH Competent Authority (CA) Task Group has called for industry to take immediate measures to implement eight key action points at major petroleum storage facilities.
The actions, provide a significant challenge to industry, and are in response to findings contained in the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board's (MIIB) initial report published in July. The actions relate to:
· Pipeline transfers
· Tank overfill prevention - operating safety margins and level alarms
· Fire safe shut-off valves and remotely operated shut off valves
· Containment - bunds and other measures, and
· Shift handover
The CA are also reviewing the emerging outcomes from the safety & environmental reviews of fuel depots carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environment Agency (EA) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) earlier this year. The CA will report their findings later this year and these may well include the need for industry to take further measures.
The Task Group will make final recommendations to industry aimed at enhancing safety and environmental standards by July 2007.
Press release ~ COMAH safety alerts ~ Buncefield investigation - Reports ~ HSE precautionary advice to fuel depot operators – Febuary 2006 ~ HSE - Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999 ~ Petroleum Industries Association (UKPIA) ~ Tank Storage Association (TSA) ~ Chemical Industries Association (CIA) ~ SEPA ~ Cogent Sector Skills Council
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a report on its investigation into the death of a construction worker who was killed by a falling load. HSE's findings raise an issue for those undertaking routine examination & inspection of lifting tackle in respect of components that are not visible unless dismantled.
The report presents key findings from HSE's extensive investigation into the death of Sam Ball, a 23 year-old construction worker, at a Hertfordshire construction site in January 2002, who was fatally injured when a concrete beam that fell from a mobile crane struck him.
Forensic investigation by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) established that a pin forming part of the lifting tackle had fractured in two places and become dislodged, causing one end of the lifting frame to drop.
Press release ~ Report ~ HSE - Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) ~ Simple guide to regulations ~ Statutory Instrument ~ FDS: Code of Best Practice ~ Applied when using magnets
HSE: The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published their simplification plan, which outlines initiatives to reduce the paperwork costs to business associated with complying with health & safety law while maintaining or improving heath & safety standards.
The report builds upon work already started by HSC/E on sensible risk and the need for businesses to focus on real health & safety risks rather than generating unnecessary paper mountains. Key initial initiatives focus on elements that affect the largest number of employers, including:
· Sensible risk management - simplifying HSE guidance to and encourage a proportionate approach to risk assessment & management
· Gas Safety Review - a review of the current regulatory regime, to improve & modernise the system on a risk & evidence basis
· Forms-projects to reduce the number and burden of HSE forms by stripping out all out-of-date forms and providing electronic versions of all those remaining
Press release ~ HSE: Simplification Plan 2006 ~ BRC: Independent assessment of HSE's initial simplification plan ~ Hampton report ~ Better Regulation Executive ~ A strategy for workplace health and safety in Great Britain to 2010 and beyond
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), together with the NHS Security Management Service, has published a research report into the development of effective trainers in delivering violence management training in the healthcare sector.
The report is directly concerned with the violence management trainer & the associated systems that are deemed necessary for selecting & developing competent and confident trainers. Key competencies necessary for the effective delivery of violence management training are identified, with subsequent recommendations.
Press release ~ 'Violence management training: the development of effective trainers in the delivery of violence management in healthcare settings' ~ NAO: A safer place to work 2003 ~ NHS Security Management Service ~ Legal protection Unit ~ Conflict Resolution Training ~ Counter Fraud and Security Management Service
Home Office: The Home Office is proposing, through amendments to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill, to give school staff more power to search groups of pupils for weapons.
A further amendment will increase the maximum sentence for carrying a blade or point in public or in a school without good reason from two to four years.
Currently school staff have the power to search individual pupils if they believe they may be carrying a dangerous weapon. But this new measure is intended to give them more discretion to carry out searches if they suspect groups of pupils of carrying knives and other dangerous weapons, making schools safer.
The Government has also tabled a number of other amendments to the Violent Crime Reduction Bill and these will be discussed in the House of Lords on 16 and 18 October.
Press release ~ Violent Crime Reduction Bill ~ Crime Reduction UK ~ Together website ~ SIA licences ~ Home Office Alcohol Related Crime website ~ Fear and Fashion: knives in schools ~ Teachernet – School violence ~ School security: dealing with trouble makers ~ Connect Initiative UK - Tackling violence in schools on a European-wide basis (EU project) ~ Knife Crime: Ineffective reactions to a distracting problem? A review of evidence and policy ~ Knife crime in Scotland ~ Scottish consultation on tackling knife crime
DfES: The Department for Education and Skills has published the Education (School Teacher Performance Management) (England) Regulations 2006 which are intended to ensure that continuous professional development, pay & performance are brought together in a coherent way to ‘the benefit both teachers and their pupils, helping to secure better outcomes for pupils, which is the overarching goal’.
The first performance management plans under the revised arrangements will need to be completed by the 31 October 2007 for teachers and 31 December 2007 for headteachers.
To support the introduction of the revised arrangements the Rewards and Incentives Group (RIG) is publishing guidance for local authorities and schools on TeacherNet, which provides further clarification on implementing the regulations and will be the bench mark of good practice. In addition the Training and Development Agency for Schools will be running a series of workshops to enable local authorities to cascade the new arrangements to schools.
Press release ~ The Education (School Teacher Performance Management) (England) Regulations 2006 ~ Associated RIG guidance on performance management ~ Consultation documents & responses ~ Current 2001 Regulations ~ Current guidance ~ Rewards and Incentives Group (RIG) ~ Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) ~ Teachers' Learning Portal
Defra: Following a judicial ruling on pet fairs, Defra has decided to review its plans to regulate these events. The regulation of pet fairs will be made through secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Bill, currently before Parliament. If the Bill receives Royal Assent before the end of this Parliamentary session it will begin to be brought into force from April 2007. The new proposals on pet fairs will be issued for consultation before they go before Parliament.
While commercial sales of animals will be banned, there will be exemptions in the cases of koi carp, racing pigeons and poultry, but these will need to be licensed by the local authority. As before, pet fairs that do not involve the sale of animals, or that do involve the sale of animals but not in the course of a business, can continue without the need for a licence.
Press release ~ Proposed secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare ~ Animal Welfare Bill RIA ~ Animal Welfare Bill ~ WLR Daily - R (Haynes) v Stafford Borough Council ~ Animal Protection Agency ~ APA documentary film on Bird Fair
Home Office: The Government has moved to reclassify the highly-addictive club drug 'crystal meth' in recognition of the harm it can cause to individuals and society as a whole, following advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
In its response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on drug classification, the Government re-iterates the key priorities of its drugs strategy - education, enforcement & treatment - and says that it ‘has decided, after careful consideration, not to proceed with a review of the classification system at this time’.
In its response to the Committee’s report the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) has welcomed many of the Committee's recommendations, but makes clear that the report contains significant inaccuracies and misrepresents the Council's work.
In addition, the Government will not be implementing a proposal, consulted on earlier this year, to set a threshold for the amount of drugs a person can possess without being charged with dealing. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has confirmed that not introducing this provision will have no adverse effect on policing. It is confident that existing tactics are sufficient to ensure that dealers are brought to justice and it will shortly publish updated guidance on policing cannabis.
Home Office press release ~ Press release on behalf of ACMD ~ Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the BCS 2005/06 ~ Science and Technology Committee Report on drugs classifications (Making a Hash of it?) ~ Government response to Committee report ~ Drug.go.uk website ~ Summary of responses to the Home Office consultation on Section 2 of the Drugs Act 2005 ~ ACMD's full response to the Science and Technology Committee report ~ Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) ~ Hidden Harm ~ Pathways to Problems ~ Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ~ ACPO Cannabis Enforcement guidance (current) ~ Government's Drug Strategy
Scottish Executive: People who abuse animals in Scotland will face stiffer penalties under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which came into force last week, as people who cause unnecessary suffering to animals could face 12 months in jail and fines of up to £20,000.
The Act introduces a duty of care on everyone responsible for animals, obliging them to meet animals' basic welfare needs, bans using animals as prizes or selling animals to people under 16, and supports the response to serious outbreaks of animal disease.
It is intended that Regulations under the Act, which will be made over the next few years, will cover:
· Mutilations, such as tail docking
· Pet dealing in Scotland
· Animal sanctuaries
· The use of wild animals in circuses
· The welfare of racing greyhounds
Press release ~ Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 ~ Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ~ Scottish Executive- Animal Health & Welfare
Pensions Regulator: Concerns that new ways of managing pension funds could lead to employers abandoning their pension schemes were voiced by the Pensions Regulator when speaking at European Pensions 2006. He warned that corporate transactions which transfer pension schemes to new vehicles could result in employers abandoning schemes without fully meeting their obligations to members.
He added that, while the regulator welcomes innovation in the way pension schemes are managed, it believes that the best way to deliver benefits to members is normally for schemes to have the continued support of a viable employer.
The regulator is now planning to consult on this issue by the early part of 2007 and will also consult on new guidance to help scheme trustees weigh up the proper value of the support given to a fund by an ongoing employer, when considering corporate transactions which would remove that support.
Employers & trustees should also bear in mind that the Pensions Regulator has a statutory duty to protect members' benefits and has been granted anti-avoidance powers. The Pensions Regulator will critically assess any such cases in light of its duties and the powers available to it.
Press release ~ Statement ~ European Pensions 2006: Redistributing the risk: public and private approaches to retirement provision ~ Association of Consulting Actuaries' (ACA) ~ HMRC Pensions website ~ Pension Service
HMRC: With just six months to go before the launch of the New Construction Industry Scheme (New CIS), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging the industry to get ready for its introduction in April 2007.
HMRC is reminding contractors that they need be ready for three big changes:
· Cards & certificates are being replaced by a 'verification' service to confirm whether subcontractors should be paid gross or net
· Instead of issuing vouchers, contractors will make monthly returns and issue pay statements
· The monthly return will include a declaration that the contractor has considered the status of the workers on the return and that none of them is an employee
Press release ~ HMRC CIS website ~ Employer Talk events ~ Business Advice Open Days ~ Scottish Building ~ Employment Status Indicator tool ~ Business Support Teams
OFT: The OFT has published the criteria it will be using to prioritise competition cases in the future, assess which cases should be taken up for investigation and, in cases where investigations have begun, whether they should be continued.
The publication of refocused criteria forms part of the OFT's continued commitment to a more targeted & transparent approach to casework and is in line with National Audit Office recommendations that the OFT publish more information on the way it selects cases for investigation.
Press release ~ Competition prioritisation framework ~ OFT Annual Plan 2006-07 ~ NAO Report - Executive Summary
HMRC: VAT Business Brief 16/06
· Changes to VAT law in light of the Gambling Act
Press release ~ Business Briefs 2006 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)
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