Consultations

DfT: Councils will be given new ways of preventing & clamping down on Blue Badge abuse as part of a package of proposals for a radical overhaul of the scheme, Transport Minister, Sadiq Khan, has announced.  

The Government is consulting (closes on 2 July 2010) on detailed plans to enable local authorities to enforce against abuse, including powers to confiscate stolen or forged badges on the spot.  
 
Other proposals include extending the scheme to more children under 3 years of age and seriously injured Armed Forces personnel & veterans.  The consultation also aims to ensure that assessments of who should be entitled to a badge are fairer.
Press release ~ Implementing the Blue Badge Reform Programme Consultation ~ DfT: Blue Badge Scheme
 
LRLand Registry has launched a consultation paper (closes on 25 June 2010) E-Conveyancing Secondary Legislation – part 3 seeking views on proposals to create electronic transfers complete with electronic signatures and to extend the use of electronic legal charges (a form of mortgage).  It is anticipated that the new rules could come into force during 2011.
 
The new proposals would make it possible, for the first time, to carry out the main conveyancing steps in the sale & purchase of a house electronically instead of using paper documents.  

The consultation is aimed primarily at conveyancers, lenders, financial institutions, regulatory and representative bodies (such as The Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers) and other property professionals such as estate agents.
Press release ~ Land Registry (Electronic Conveyancing) Rules 2011 consultation ~ Consultation questionnaire
 
CRC: As England has 'officially emerged from the recession', the Commission for Rural Communities would like to hear of your views & experiences on the sectors that are contributing to (or have the potential to contribute to) recovery and economic growth in rural areas.
 
These will inform their report which will be presented to the new Government in early June 2010 to encourage them to take into consideration the rural aspect when formulating & implementing future economic strategies and related support mechanisms. 

Please e-mail your views (by Wednesday 31 March 2010) to the questions outlined in the press release (and any other related issue you would like to raise) to
elif.skinner@ruralcommunities.gov.uk 
Press release
 
ScotGov: A consultation (closes on 14 June 2010) on plans to reform the centuries-old law which prevents a person being tried twice for the same offence in Scotland is being held. 

The 'double jeopardy' principle was first introduced over 800 years ago, but questions have been raised in recent years - and most recently following the trial for the World's End murders - about whether the law now needs to be updated.
 
Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, believes there is a strong case for modernising the current law and will consult Scotland's legal profession, the public, victims & their families and those with an interest. 

It is not proposed to remove the rule, butMinisters want to examine whether exceptions should be introduced where new evidence comes to light and this is the main focus of the consultation paper.
 
It is also proposed to amend the law to permit a new trial in cases where the original trial was tainted by corruption, or threats or where an accused admits carrying out the offence after being acquitted.
Press release ~ Double Jeopardy: Consultation Paper
 
HFEA: The Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority is inviting fertility patients to have their say in a new poll aimed at gaining the views & experiences of people throughout the UK who have had, are undergoing or are preparing for fertility treatment.
 
People taking part in the ‘Fertility - Have Your Say’ panel will be contacted roughly every 3 months to be asked questions regarding their experiences, values and about the support they need at each stage of their treatment.  

It is intended to give people a chance to comment on their care and will help HFEA shape the broader policies affecting the fertility sector as a whole. To sign up please go to
www.hfea.gov.uk/haveyoursay
Press release
 
Defra: New proposals to tackle greenwash and build consumer confidence in environmental claims & labelling have been announced by Defra. Two consultations (both close on 15 June 2010) have been launched:
* one aimed at helping consumers identify goods & services that are genuinely better for the environment,
* one ensuring that energy-using products meet minimum performance standards and are accurately labelled
Press release ~ Consultation on the Green Claims Code ~ Consultation on introducing civil sanctions for energy using products
 
IS: Independent money advisers have welcomed the formal publication of an Insolvency Service consultation (closes on 23 June 2010) aimed at opening Debt Relief Orders (DROs) to people who have a small pension. 

The proposed changes are in response to concerns expressed by debt advice agencies that vulnerable people with small amounts of debt are still struggling because they are unable to obtain a DRO because of the present ‘asset’ value of their future pension.
 
Delivered in partnership with the professional debt advice sector, Debt Relief Orders provide low cost, easy access to debt relief for those overwhelmed by relatively low levels of unmanageable debt. They are designed to provide a fresh start for the most vulnerable people trapped in debt.
 
There are strict eligibility criteria of assets less than £300, debts no more than £15,000 and surplus income of less than £50 per month.  Currently, if someone has a pension that is over £300, they are not eligible to apply.
Press release ~ Consultation: Debt Relief Orders and Pensions
 
DWP: The Child Poverty Act, which commits this & future governments to eradicating child poverty by 2020has received Royal Assent.  Plans have also been published for consultation (closes on Monday 17 May 2010), to extend the eligibility of FreeSchool Meals to an additional 600,000 children.  

From September 2010, primary school children from low-income families, who are receiving Working Tax Credit & have a household income up to £16,190, will be able to access free school meals.
 
Draft statutory guidance for local authorities on new duties in the Child Poverty Act is being consulted on (closes on Wednesday 16 June2010).
Press release ~ Extending the Eligibility of Free School Meals ~ Information, Advice and Guidance Services for Young People: Directions and Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities
 
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is seeking views (by Wednesday 16 June 2010) on new date-marking guidance it has drawn up to assist industry when deciding appropriate date marks to use on food products. Under European Union (EU) food law, pre-packed food is required to carry one of two types of date marks:
* the ‘best before’
* the ‘use by’ date marks
 
The updated guidance should help food businesses set date-marks in a way that is more appropriate & more consistent, plus helping improve consumer confidence around the use of date marks. 

The guidance sets out key principles that should be considered by food businesses when determining date marks, including a flow chart to aid the date-marking decision-making process.  A simplified 2-page version of the guide to legal compliance is also being issued in order to help small businesses.
Press release ~ Food Standards Agency guidance on the application of date marks to food
 
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) has published the first of two consultations that will explore the future of its teaching funding method.  

These consultations will examine all the options for change – from minimal change to an entirely new approach - and will inform the future of the method from 2012-13 onwards.
 
The first consultation (closes on Monday 12 July 2010) seeks views on underpinning principles & features.  It invites comment on 3 key principles that the Council believes are key to the future of the method:
* to give institutions the freedom to manage provision in a way that best responds to the needs of students, employers & society
* to enable HEFCE to incentivise change that is in the public interest
* to be compatible with various modes of study, including flexible provision
Press release ~ Review of the teaching funding method: Consultation on key principles and features ~ Update on the teaching funding method and plans for review ~ Lord Browne's Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance
 
NICE: In draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has asked Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK to provide more data on its product imatinib (Glivec) as an adjuvant treatment for people who have had a gastrointestinal stromal tumour removed and who are at risk of the cancer recurring. 
 
This draft guidance has been issued for consultation and the manufacturer now has an opportunity to respond to the independent Appraisal Committee’s considerations and requests. NICE’s preliminary recommendations are available for public consultation until 19 April 2010.
Press release ~ Imatinib for the adjuvant treatment of gastro-intestinal stromal tumours
 
DECC: Draft legislation - providing for the creation of a new body to improve the regulation of civil nuclear energy - was published last week.  Lord Hunt, Minister of State for Energy, welcomed the publication, which brings the Government a step closer to the proposed creation of an independent Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
 
The Government also announced the launch of consultations (both closing on 18 June 2010) covering:
* The methodology for determining how a fixed unit price for disposal of nuclear waste will be set
* Regulations clarifying requirements set out in the Energy Act 2008 in relation to Funded Decommissioning Programmes
Press release ~ Draft Legislative Reform Order (LRO) and draft Explanatory Document ~ Consultation on a methodology for determining a Fixed Unit Price for waste disposal and updated cost estimates for nuclear decommissioning, waste management and waste disposal ~ Consultation on the financing arrangements for nuclear decommissioning and waste handling regulations ~ Nuclear Development Forum
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