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Written Ministerial StatementsTuesday 20 January 2004


"The Planning Service: Costs and Fees"

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have today published "The Planning Service: Costs and Fees". This is a report prepared by Arup Economics and Planning into the way in which the powers in clause 51 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill might be used. Using the report, we are considering the nature and scope of any fees and charges that might be prescribed by the Secretary of State under that clause. The objective is to ensure the proper resourcing of planning services so that they can deliver for business and communities. We will bring forward full proposals for public consultation in the summer.

Copies of the report are available in the Libraries of both Houses and on the website of The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister at



King's Cross Underground Station

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Kim Howells): I have asked for a review of the final phase of the planned development of the London Underground station at King's Cross.

The Department is funding works being undertaken by London Underground to deliver a significantly enhanced Underground station at King's Cross, in order to assist dispersal of passengers from the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and in part to meet the recommendations of the Fennell Inquiry into the 1987 King's Cross fire.

The works under way to improve the existing Underground ticket hall and to construct a new Western Ticket Hall are not affected by the review. They will deliver a significant increase in capacity and meet the Fennell recommendations, and are on course to be delivered by the beginning of 2007.

Progress with the final phase of the works, involving construction of a new Northern Ticket Hall, is at a much less advanced stage. The cost has roundly doubled since 1999, to something of the order of £250 million. I have concluded that the case for proceeding with these works should be reviewed before further significant expenditure is undertaken.

I have therefore asked Mott Parsons Gibb, the Department's technical advisers for the CTRL project, to undertake a thorough review of the case for the Northern Ticket Hall works, in consultation with key

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stakeholders who might be affected by a change in the current plans, and to report back to me by the summer on the options and their practical, operational, and financial implications.


Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett): I am today laying before Parliament a draft Order to continue the powers of detention in the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCS) for a further twelve months. It will be debated, by both Houses of Parliament, by early March.

The public emergency which necessitated the introduction of these powers—and which arises principally as a result of the threat of international terrorism posed by foreign nationals—still exists. Where terrorism is concerned, our paramount responsibility is to ensure public safety and national security. Where a foreign national is suspected of terrorism of the sort which led to September 11 2001 and is considered to be a threat to national security but cannot currently be removed—and for whom a criminal prosecution is not an option—we believe that it is necessary and proportionate to provide for extended detention, pending removal. The person would be free to leave the United Kingdom if he wished to do so.

The draft Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 (Continuance in force of sections 21–23) Order 2003 provides for the continuation of the immigration powers under Part 4 of the 2001 Act to certify, and to detain pending removal, suspected international terrorists, subject to safeguards. The continuation is from 14 March 2004 until 13 March 2005.

To date, 16 people have been certified and detained under the powers contained in Part 4 of the ATCS Act. Two of these have chosen to leave the United Kingdom as the detainees are free to do at any time. One further individual has been certified but is currently detained under other powers.

My decisions to certify and detain these individuals were made on the basis of detailed and compelling evidence. All those certified have appealed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) including the two who left the United Kingdom. SIAC have rejected the appeals against certification made by the first ten ATCS detainees which were heard between May and July last year. The determination for a further two cases that have been heard have not yet been handed down.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission is a superior court of record. It has the power to overturn the certificates which I have issued in respect of these detained.

The detention powers in Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act are a cornerstone of the UK's anti-terrorism measures. It is essential that we are able to take firm, swift action against those who threaten the safety of this country. We will be looking carefully at the conclusions and recommendations of the report of Lord Newton and his Committee, which I laid before the House on 18 December 2003, together with the reports of Lord Carlile, the second of which will be laid before

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the House shortly. We will be reporting to the House when we come to debate Lord Newton's report and the renewal powers, and I look forward to a full and vigorous debate. Nonetheless, we continue to believe that the part 4 powers are a necessary and proportionate response to the current threat.


Code of Practice on Consultation

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Douglas Alexander): Today I am launching a revised Code of Practice on

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Consultation. It will come into force on 1 April 2004 and replaces the Code of Practice on Written Consultation published in November 2000.

This revised Code will help in the Government's continued drive to improve consultation. It is shorter and clearer; it strengthens the commitment to providing respondents with feedback and to following better regulation best practice in developing policy options.

The Code is supported by web-based guidance available at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/regulation/consultation-guidance. I encourage all Departments and relevant public bodies to use it effectively.

Copies of the Code have been placed in the Libraries of the House.