The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): The Government have decided to extend to citizens of the new EU member states, from their accession on 1 May 2004, the full rights to work in the UK as enjoyed by existing EU citizens.
Under the terms of the accession treaty, the new EU citizens will automatically have full free movement rights for all purposes other than work. But it is up to each member state to decide whether to extend working rights from accession. Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Greece have already stated their intention to do this.
We have made this decision because it is in the UK's interest. It will attract workers we need in key sectors. It will ensure they can work without restrictions and not be a burden on the public purse. It forms part of our managed migration agenda. It makes sense financially, as we can focus resources on the real immigration problems, rather than trying to stop EU citizens enjoying normal EU rights. And it makes sense for UK
10 Dec 2002 : Column 12WS
citizens. Already thousands work in the future member states under work permit systems. They and others will have full rights to work in the new member states, free of controls.
The decision has been taken after careful analysis of successive independent studies which show that there is unlikely to be a large influx of workers to the UK after accession. Forthcoming research commissioned by the Home Office also suggests that the numbers that will migrate to the UK after accession will not be significant. This confirms the experience of Spanish and Portuguese accession when there were no major influxes. Indeed, the evidence is that emigrant workers return to their countries after they have joined the EU, thanks to the increased stability and prosperity which EU membership brings.
We will provide safeguards. These will allow us to reintroduce restrictions in the event of an unexpected threat to a region or sector in our labour markets. This is the right thing to do. The citizens of the new member states should enjoy the same rights as British, French, German and other citizens within the EU. Enlargement will ensure stability on our continent: the EU was founded to anchor peace and stability in Europe and enlargement is spreading that stability across our continent. It will provide a boost to our prosperity, as have all previous enlargements. And enlargement will improve our environment and security as we will be able to work together to tackle such problems as pollution, drug trafficking and international crime within the enlarged Union.
The UK has been a champion of enlargement from the start. We look forward to the conclusion of negotiations with 10 candidate countries this week in Copenhagen, and to welcoming them as equal citizens in the EU in 2004.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett): Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 requires the Secretary of State to lay before both Houses of Parliament at least once in every 12 months a report on the working of the Act. The reporting requirement applies to the whole Act but, following the repeal of the terrorism provisions (sections 14) consequent on the coming into force of the Terrorism Act 2000, the conspiracy provisions (sections 57) are now the only extant provisions. They are unrelated to the anti-terrorism sections and their review is a free-standing exercise.
Section 5 of the 1998 Actwhich, by sections 6 and 7, is applied to Scotland and Northern Ireland respectivelyprovides that agreements in England and Wales to commit acts that would amount to criminal offences triable in a foreign jurisdiction can be tried as criminal conspiracies in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, though ordinarily there would not be jurisdiction to try them in the United Kingdom (UK). The purpose of the review of the conspiracy provisions is not so much to determine the extent to
10 Dec 2002 : Column 13WS
which the provisions remain necessary (which is the purpose of reviewing the terrorism provisions) as to assess how, and in what circumstances, they have been used.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, who acts as reviewer of the conspiracy provisions of the 1998 Act, has made enquiries into the operation of those provisions and reported his findings to me on 22 August 2002. He found that there has to date been only one use of the provisions, in April 2001, in the case of Pravin Patel and others in the Leicester Crown court. The conspiracy in that case was to supply false UK passports in Gujarat, to facilitate illegal immigration into the UK and illegal tourist entry into the USA. Two of the eight defendantswho received sentences of 15 months' imprisonment suspended for two years and five years' imprisonmentwere prosecuted under the provisions of the 1998 Act without which these offences would not have been triable in the UK. This case indicates a proper use of the Act on sound evidence and in the public interest; and that the legislation worked well for the purpose for which it was intended.
On Lord Carlile's recommendation, I intend to abolish the requirement for annual review of the extant procedures of the 1998 Act when a legislative opportunity occurs. The terrorism provisions of the Act having been subsumed in the Terrorism Act 2000; there is little point in continuing to have a separate review of the remaining provisions, particularly when they are so rarely used, are not confined to terrorism and no other conspiracy or extra-territorial jurisdiction provisions are subject to such review.
10 Dec 2002 : Column 14WS
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Paul Murphy): Today I have received a report on the military use of baton rounds in Northern Ireland from Jim McDonald, the independent assessor of military complaints procedures in Northern Ireland.
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Jane Kennedy): In his written statement in this House on 25 November, my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) reported on progress on the review of policing arrangements in Northern Ireland and looked forward to the Oversight Commissioner's forthcoming report.
As it is being published today, in accordance with Section 68(4)(a) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000, 1 have today laid a copy of the Oversight Commissioner's third statutory report for the year 2002 before this House.