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This report describes the UK's work with the World Bank over the bank's financial year 2004 (known as FY04: July 2003June 2004). In line with my commitment to greater transparency on our relations with the bank, it sets out the broad positions the UK
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took in a number of discussions at the bankon the bank's support to poor countries' development, its role in responding to debates on global issues such as debt and trade, and its institutional effectiveness. The report also records the UK's position on resolutions adopted by the Board of Governors. It will be an annual publication; the next report will cover the period July 2004June 2005.
The UK believes that the World Bank is an effective development organisation, but its performance can still be improved. In FY04, the UK pressed the bank to improve performance in a number of areas, for example: ensuring that country assistance strategies focus on poverty reduction; using more poverty and social impact analysis (PSIA), and making more bank information available to the public. Since the end of FY04, we have also successfully pressed the bank to review its use of conditionality. We will report on this initiative in our next report on the UK and the World Bank.
The trial dealt with an alleged fraud over contracts for the construction of London's Jubilee line extension project. The prosecution arose from allegations that the defendants conspired to defraud London Underground by gaining access to confidential insider information, which was used against London Underground Limited's interests during the course of its dealings with tenderers and contractors on the Jubilee line extension project. The information was relevant to the award of contracts worth tens of millions of pounds and also two substantial claims for additional monies under contracts awarded in connection with the Jubilee line extension project. The allegations also concerned corrupting public officials entrusted with safeguarding London Underground Limited's interests.
Experienced lawyers considered the evidence in detail and a decision to prosecute was taken. Charges were brought in February 2000. Lord Williams, when he was Attorney General, granted consent in February 2000 to prosecute the corruption case on the basis that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to prosecute.
The CPS were ready for trial in 2001 but the case was split into two trials. The first trial started with a jury on 26 June 2003. The case has been affected by delays and breaks. Time has been lost due to illness, scheduled holidays, periods of paternity leave, an operation and sickness of defendants. Legal argument has also involved substantial periods where the jury were not required to hear evidence. For example, in the last seven months the jury has heard evidence on only 13 days of the 140 available.
Prosecuting counsel have advised that it is their clear view that there have been such delays and interruptions to this case that a fair trial is now impossible. Counsel formed a judgement that the case ought to be stopped. The DPP and I agree with that view and, therefore, approved prosecution counsel's statement to the trial judge informing her of this view.
I agreed with the DPP last year the need for more control and robust management of large cases. The DPP has responded by developing a system, which will see a case management panel, chaired by the DPP, to consider the management of very large cases. The panel will consider issues such as the selection of charges, the number of defendants, likely number and length of trials and selection of trial advocates. It will also monitor progress of the case and key case management decisions during its life. It will be coupled with a similar process across the 42 CPS areas where chief Crown prosecutors will review the most serious and lengthy cases in their areas. This will be implemented from 4 April 2005 and I believe, offers real potential for getting a better grip on cases such as the current matter.
In addition, the DPP has recently announced a new structure to deal with the most serious and complex cases in CPS headquarters. This will involve the DPP in more direct and substantial control over such cases. I welcome this restructuring.
On 22 March the Lord Chief Justice issued a protocol for dealing with lengthy trials, which I welcomed. The protocol emphasises the need for robust and well-informed case management to identify and allow the court to focus on the real issues in the case. The new protocol fits clearly with the criminal case management framework that I issued last July together with Lord Falconer, Baroness Scotland and the Lord Chief Justice. The protocol and framework will continue the culture change in the way in which all criminal justice practitioners operate. The public are entitled to an efficient and effective criminal justice system and cases such as the present one must never be allowed to happen again.
This decision will cause great public disquiet as it causes me considerable disquiet. Most serious allegations have not in the end been brought to a final conclusion. It is important and in the interest of the defendants, to underline that these allegations have not been proved and that they have maintained they are not guilty.
Very considerable public money has been expended. Much time for a jury and for judge and defendants has been expended. It is important to learn what lessons we can. I have therefore asked Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of CPS, Stephen Wooler, to report to me on this case under section 2(1)(b) of the CPS Inspectorate Act 2000. The terms of reference of this review will be drawn up shortly. The DPP has confirmed that the prosecution will provide full cooperation in this inquiry."
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): I am pleased to announce that light dues rates and the tonnage threshold will remain the same for 200506. The Government remain committed to a cost recovery system yet rates have been reduced significantly in the last 12 years. They were last reduced in 2004.
Despite the General Lighthouse Authorities having undertaken a programme of major capital investmentthe redevelopment of the Trinity House Lighthouse Service depot at Harwich and the replacement of GLA ships, costs to the industry have remained static. These projects will be funded out of the General Lighthouse Fund. We shall continue to work closely with the General Lighthouse Authorities to maximise efficiency where we can and to ensure that the benefits that have been achieved are returned to light dues payers.
The Study into the Economic Effects of Light Dues carried out by consultants, MDS Transmodal and DTZ Pieda, was commissioned in 2003. The study examined the direct economic impact of light dues charges on shipping lines, ports and owners of fishing vessels and pleasure craft and on the wider UK economy and the
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economic implications of alternative charging options. The study concluded that the requirement to pay light dues did not distort trading by commercial shipping to and from the UK. The charge had negligible effects on the economy. Removal of most of the existing exemptions would also have little impact on overall economic activity, as would an annual charge of around £100 on pleasure craft. This level of charge being an assumption, and chosen because it is the equivalent approximately to the annual cost of other Government levies, such as an annual television licence and the road fund licence for a small car.
I have considered the case for restructuring the current light dues system and in particular, extending the scope of the charge to all pleasure craft. A number of charging approaches have been discussedfor example registration of vessels, a charge based on moorings, or a charge based on vessel movements. All of these systems would be expensive and time consuming to establish, relative to the levels of charge to be levied. I have decided, therefore, that a cost effective, enforceable, collection mechanism for pleasure craft cannot be introduced at the present time.
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