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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 12 January 2005


Romania and Bulgaria (European Community Association Agreement)

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Desmond Browne): Further to the statement of my right hon. Friend, the then Home Secretary, on 18 June about Ken Sutton's report on allegations about the handling of applications under the European Community Association Agreements (ECAA), work has continued on next steps. This work includes putting in place procedures and guidance for the agreement with Romania and Bulgaria, consistent with recommendation 8 of Mr Sutton's Report.

New guidance for handling applications for further and indefinite leave to remain (FLR and ILR) will be published on the Home Office website and consideration of these cases will re-commence shortly. The guidance mirrors that for pre-entry and switching cases which has been in place since 1 September and has been working well.

The guidelines for FLR and ILR applications have been drawn up with input from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Inland Revenue (IR), specifically on how to assess financial accounts and other business documents, as recommended by Sutton.

Training will be provided to caseworkers on how to apply the new robust guidance when dealing with these applications. They will also receive thorough training on how to analyse business accounts. This will ensure more rigorous scrutiny of applications.


The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): Concerns have been raised about the ability of householders to use reasonable force to defend themselves, their families, their homes and their property. The Prime Minister stated on 8 December that the Government appreciate that real public concern exists over these issues, and that they would be reviewed.

Accordingly, the Government have considered, in consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), how best this matter should be addressed.

I have concluded that the current law is sound but needs to be better explained to all concerned, especially for householders.
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I very much welcome the new guidance on "Charging Standards for Prosecutors" published by the CPS in November, which I believe demonstrates clearly that the law is on the side of the victim and that householders are entitled to use reasonable force to defend themselves, their families and their property.

Moreover I welcome the determination of ACPO to ensure that the new guidance clarifies the detail of this law for every police officer.

I have come to the conclusion that this guidance and clarification will ensure that the current law is properly understood and implemented; and that therefore no change in the law is required.

The Government in conjunction with the CPS and ACPO will shortly publish and promulgate information which makes it clear to the public that the current law ensures that appropriate steps to protect themselves, their family and their property will always be justified.


Fragile States

The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of a new paper entitled "Why we Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States" published by the Department for International Development (DFID).

Fragile states—where Governments cannot or will not deliver security or basic services to the majority of its people—are one of the biggest challenges to the achievement of the millennium development goals and to global stability and security. Fragile states include countries with weak governance, those affected by conflict and those on the brink of conflict. It is often difficult to ensure that aid is delivered effectively in these countries, and there is a pressing need for the international community to reach agreement on new policies and ways of working to tackle these challenges.

The policy paper sets out how the Government will work in fragile states, by:

The implementation of these approaches will need collaboration across UK Government Departments, and internationally, a partnership with developing country Governments (wherever we can), international agencies and donors, civil society, the private sector and the research community. As a first step, DFID will this week host a senior level forum on development effectiveness in fragile states to secure agreement between major bilateral and multilateral donors on how to provide better aid to fragile states.