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7 Apr 2005 : Column 1809W—continued

Initiatives (Funding)

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what budget has been allocated to the Home Office Marketing and Strategic Communications Unit in each of the last two years; and how many staff have been employed by the Unit in each year. [201894]

Fiona Mactaggart: It has not been possible to provide an answer in the time available before Prorogation.

Internet Controls

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers his Department has to limit the availability of anti-Semitic information on the internet. [220086]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 7 March 2005]: There are a number of incitement offences in law which provide protection against anti-Semitic material. In particular, this includes the incitement to racial hatred offence in the Public Order Act 1986 which makes it an offence to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intention or likelihood that hatred would be stirred up on the grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins.

The legal position is that what is illegal off-line is illegal on-line, so provided that the elements of the offence are made out a prosecution for incitement to racial hatred could be taken for words or behaviour published on the internet.

Interpretation Services

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in which languages interpretation services are offered by (a) qualified interpreters and (b) non-qualified interpreters on behalf of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at East Midlands Airport. [224998]

Mr. Browne: It has not been possible to provide an answer in the time available before Prorogation.

Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the budget is for the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre in 2004–05; and whether he plans to increase the budget in future years. [224305]

Mr. Charles Clarke: It has not been possible to provide an answer in the time available before Prorogation.
 
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Judicial System

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to reduce (a) costs and (b) waste in the justice system. [209489]

Paul Goggins: It has not been possible to provide an answer in the time available before Prorogation.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held on 24 February 2004; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [219451]

Caroline Flint: I represented the United Kingdom at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels on 24 February 2005. Caroline Flint attended with me, along with Cathy Jamieson (Justice Minister) of the Scottish Executive.

A list of A" points adopted at the Council has been placed in the Library (Document 6588/05).

The proposal for a council framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia was discussed. I intervened to say that there was no need for the decision specifically to include reference to racist symbols, as their use to incite racially motivated hatred and violence was already covered in the draft Framework Decision. The matter has been referred back to the Working Group, to be discussed again at the April JHA Council.

On the proposal for a Council framework decision on the European Evidence Warrant for obtaining objects, documents and data for use in proceedings in criminal matters, the presidency sought agreement to the broad principles to be followed under the EEW in relation to dual criminality. In particular it was proposed that they should be similar to those pertaining to previous mutual recognition measures. This would include using a list of offences to which dual criminality would not apply based on the list in the European Evidence Warrant; excluding the idea of a sunset clause", which would eventually have abolished dual criminality for all requests; and included a seriousness threshold of three years for offences. Cathy Jamieson noted the UK's support for the presidency approach and its opposition to an additional proposal to define more clearly some of the offences on the list, stating that this was inconsistent with the principle of mutual recognition and that it would create obstacles to co-operation.

Over lunch I discussed with other Ministers of the Interior the appointment of a Director for Europol. I intervened to say that the UK's position had always been that the best candidate should be selected through a fair and transparent selection process. We therefore supported the recommendation of the Europol Management Board that the German candidate, Herr Ratzel was the best candidate. The Council agreed to his selection and I noted that, for this and similar posts, it was essential that the best candidate was selected on merit, rather than nationality and that selection of individuals and sites of agencies should be considered
 
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separately. I said that, during the UK presidency, I would initiate discussion in the Council to agree an approach these issues in future.

There was a policy debate on the follow up to the Commission reports on the member states' transposition of instruments adopted on the basis of title VI of the TEU. Caroline Flint stressed that it was not enough simply to look at how measures had been transposed at a national level but to look at whether they were making a positive impact for citizens in practice.

The presidency also agreed to take forward consideration of the reports on the European Arrest Warrant and Joint Investigation Teams by the end of June in light of the discussion.

The Presidency asked member states to agree that CEPOL be given community financing and should apply ED staff regulations. The UK was able to support this approach as the firststage in establishing CEPOL and the presidency confirmed that the Working Group take work forward on that basis.

On the Commission Green Paper on Economic Migration a first exchange of views took place. Member states responded positively and the issue will be on the agenda again at the April JHA Council.

The Mixed Committee took place in the afternoon and Caroline Flint represented the UK. The Council agreed the proposal (as in document 6483/05 VISA 43) as regards the reciprocity mechanism. Council conclusions were agreed in principle on the inclusion of biometric data in visas and residence permits. Experts will be asked to continue to examine the technical issues and return to the Council in April.

The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between member states on short stay visas was tabled and draft Council Conclusions were circulated which received broad agreement. These will be passed to COREPER to be finalised.

Under AOB the Commission presented its proposal for a regulation on local border traffic.

Also tabled was a memorial report of the anniversary of the Madrid bombings presented by the Commission and dedicated to the victims of terrorism. The draft conclusions were adopted.

Kamal Bousbaci

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will make a decision in the case of Mr. Kamal Bousbaci, a constituent of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith. [224019]

Mr. Browne: Mr. Bousbaci's case is being considered. Once the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has made a decision on his case, he will be notified in writing.

Kimberley Quinn

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he used his official phone line to contact Kimberley Quinn. [203228]


 
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Mr. Charles Clarke: It has not been possible to provide an answer in the time available before Prorogation.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has ever discussed Kimberley Quinn with the Foreign Secretary. [203232]

Mr. Charles Clarke: It has not been possible to provide an answer in the time available before Prorogation.


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