|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): On 14 July 2004, in his statement to the House, Official Report, column 1431, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced to the House that the Government accepted the conclusions of Lord Butler's review. In my written statement of 15 November 2004, Official Report, column 54WS, I said that Sir David Omand, the Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator, would lead the work on implementation of those conclusions. Sir David Omand has now completed this work and I should like to report the outcome to the House.
A considerable amount has been done in a short time by Sir David, the Heads of the Security and Intelligence Agencies and senior officials in Government Departments to implement the conclusions. The detail is set out in a report (Cm 6492) that I am today laying before the House. Copies will also be placed in the Library of the House. A number of key actions have already been taken:
Secret Intelligence Service has developed new procedures, provided additional resources and revised line management arrangements to improve evaluation and to oversee the quality of intelligence reporting. Work has taken place to ensure that source descriptions in intelligence reports across the intelligence community use standardised terminology and are consistent;
Joint Intelligence Committee processes have been reviewed and tightened up. Arrangements have been made so that in future the annual process to set the requirements and priorities for the collection and analysis of intelligence will apply to the Defence Intelligence Staff as well as to the three
Further work is in hand to improve the analytical support provided to the intelligence community following a study carried out by a senior Foreign Office official. That study has recommended and the Government have endorsed:
the establishment of a Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis to advise in the security, defence and foreign affairs fields on analytical capability and methodology; recruitment and career management of analysts; and the development and oversight of more substantial training of analysts; and the expansion of the assessments staff, by about one third. This will provide additional internal review and challenge functions for Joint Intelligence Committee assessments; resource work on countries at risk of instability; and allow increased production of regular warning papers highlighting significant threats or other issues likely to face the Government in the near to medium term in the fields of security, defence and foreign affairs. Other small increases to make the assessments staff more effective are also recommended.
In addition to the publication of the detailed report on implementation of the conclusions of the Butler review, the Cabinet Office is publishing today an updated National Intelligence Machinery booklet. Copies of this are also being placed in the Library of the House. It is also on the Cabinet Office website: www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk. This booklet sets out the roles, responsibility and organisation of the UK intelligence community and reflects the changes made as a result of the Butler review. It also includes an unclassified version of the guide for readers of intelligence that has been circulated within Government.
Lord Butler's review has contributed greatly to the process underway to fit the UK's intelligence community for the future. The Government recognise the need to move substantially to implement its conclusions and have done so.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): Section 12 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 requires Monitor (the statutory name of which is the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts) to make a prudential borrowing code for determining the limit on the total amount of borrowing by NHS foundation trusts.
The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Desmond Browne): Following my statement on 20 December 2004 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 Turkey, consistent with recommendation 15 of Mr. Sutton's report.
In line with Ken Sutton's second report recommendation 15, guidance for handling in-country applications was reviewed in order to take account of experience of procedures and revised guidance on handling in-country applications from Romania and Bulgaria. Turkish ECAA in-country applications were held during this time. The robust procedures we put in place on ECAA further leave to remain cases are reflected, as far as possible, in procedures for handling in-country Turkish cases. This guidance will be published on the Home Office website and consideration of these cases will re-commence shortly.
Guidance to manage Turkish applications made at port under this association agreement has already been published and we began consideration of applications for leave to enter at ports on 4 January 2005.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): I am pleased to announce the publication today of the Government's draft legislation on corporate manslaughter. In summary, this is intended to remedy a particular defect in the present law which can lead to companies escaping liability for manslaughter because no senior single individual can be shown to be personally liable. It builds on earlier work by the Law Commission in 1996 and consultation by the Government in 2000 on the law on involuntary manslaughter. No new standards or regulations will be created with the proposed new offence.
Current laws for prosecuting companies for gross negligence manslaughter fail to operate in a sufficiently flexible way to reflect the reality of decision making in large organisations and therefore fail to provide proper accountability or justice for victims. It is too restrictive to say that a company cannot be prosecuted for manslaughter unless a person who effectively embodies the company is also guilty of the offence. The Government are committed to reforming this area of the law and today's draft Bill marks an important step in delivering that commitment.
Our proposals would introduce a clearer, more effective offence that would see organisations held properly to account for gross failings by their senior management that have had fatal consequences. This would continue to be an extremely serious offence, reserved for the very worst cases of corporate mismanagement leading to death, and the threshold for committing it would therefore remain at the same level of gross misconduct currently required. But the new test of senior management failure would allow courts to consider a wider picture of failure at the senior levels of an organisation, making it easier to bring prosecutions.
23 Mar 2005 : Column 76WS
The new offence would complement, not replace, other forms of accountability such as prosecutions under health and safety legislation. And it would be clearly linked to the standards required under those laws. This is not about introducing new regulatory burdens, stifling entrepreneurial activity or creating a risk averse culture and organisations taking a conscientious approach to their current obligations have nothing to fear. Nor is it about the individual liability of directors or others, which is not affected by the proposals. It is about ensuring that the law is effective in bringing to account, for a specific serious offence and corporately, organisations that have shown a clear disregard for the law with fatal consequences for members of their workforce or others.
The proposals would apply to Crown bodies, such as Government Departments, as well as the wider public sector and industry. They create a broad level playing field between public and private sectors, applying when both are carrying our similar activities, for example, in respect of ensuring the safety of their workforce and premises and when supplying goods or services or operating commercially. But the Crown and other bodies performing public functions are not in an identical position to private industry and certain core Government activities will be outside the scope of the Bill. These include key public functions such as setting and inspecting regulatory standards, issuing guidance and standards to public services or providing central procurement for public bodies. A narrow band of activities requiring specific lawful authority, such as the detention of prisoners (whether in a publicly or privately managed prison), and public policy decisions involving the allocation of public funds or competing social or political factors will also be exempt. The organisation and management of these functions involve wider questions of public policy where Parliament, public inquiries or the broader democratic process provides accountability.
I welcome the process of scrutiny and consultation that will follow publication of this draft Bill. Consultation will run until 17 June and I welcome comments from across the board: industry, unions and other stakeholders. The draft Bill is also being published for parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny and I look forward to receiving the report that will follow that process.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|