|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins): I am pleased to announce that the Assets Recovery Agency's annual report 200405 will be laid before Parliament today.
The agency continues to make an impact in disrupting criminals and seizing their assets. It exceeded its targets in a number of areas of performance. In its second year of operation it disrupted a total of 28 criminal enterprises in England and Wales and eight in Northern
6 Jun 2005 : Column 40WS
Ireland, exceeding the total target of 35. In doing so the agency restrained assets to the value of £17 million which exceeded the target of £15 million. It also obtained civil recovery orders and tax assessments in over 10 cases with a value of over £5.5 million. However the time taken to complete litigation in civil recovery cases affected the agency's ability to achieve final orders and realise receipts.
The agency adopted a total of 51 new cases for civil recovery and taxation investigation, exceeding the target of 35. Where it assisted law enforcement agencies in conducting confiscation investigations it adopted 26 new cases against a target of 15. It also adopted nine cases under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for its own investigation against a target of five.
I am also pleased to announce the agency's business plan 200506, which is annexed to the annual report. The plan has been prepared by the director of the agency and has been approved by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary after consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The plan focuses on the agency's aims, priorities and targets for the year ahead and sets out how the director intends to exercise her functions in Northern Ireland.
The agency will continue to exercise its powers of investigation and recovery against organised criminals and others, in support of the Government's commitment to taking the profit out of crime and to ensuring that crime does not pay.
The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Mr. Tony McNulty): I have approved the appointment of a new chair, and two members, to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's Independent Complaints Audit Committee.
Dr. Barker has extensive experience of public and voluntary appointments as committee member and chair. She has varied knowledge of handling complaints, particularly from the Police Complaints Authority.
Previous committee members were Ros Gardner, chair, and Paul Manning, member, whose appointments ended on 31 March 2005. Catherine Tuitt will continue to work with the new committee until her appointment expires in August 2005.
6 Jun 2005 : Column 41WS
The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): With the support of Her Majesty's Government, the United Nations Security Council on 18 April 2005 adopted resolution 1596, which extends the arms embargo on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the entire territory of the DRC with conditioned exemptions for the new Congolese army, the UN organisation mission in the DRC and non-lethal military equipment for humanitarian or protective use.
Resolution 1596 (2005) also provides for an assets freeze and a travel ban, with conditioned exemptions, on persons or entities acting in violation of the arms embargo on the DRC, to be designated by a committee of the Security Council. The resolution also requests the UN Secretary-General to re-establish the group of experts, tasked with monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the measures, for a period expiring on 31 July 2005 with the addition of a fifth expert for financial issues.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): The 2004 spending review settlement required the Northern Ireland Prison Service to commission an independent review of its strategy for reducing unit costs.
The review was led by Hamish Hamill, the retired head of the Scottish Justice Department who was assisted by Michael Cook, governor of HM prison, The Verne and Gary Law, unit manager HM prison Edinburgh. I am very grateful to them for their report which makes five principal recommendations:
the development of an enhanced model to assist in the provision of regular forecasts of the prisoner population, taking account of the range of relevant criminal justice system variables, should be given greater priority than it has had until now.
6 Jun 2005 : Column 42WS
To take the report's recommendations forward, I have asked Robin Masefield, the director general of the service, to prepare a strategic development plan aimed at drawing up the blueprint for the long term development of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
This study will draw up the blueprint for the long term development of the Northern Ireland Prison Service. It will create a firm platform for the Service's estate strategy and value for money investment decisions in relation to accommodation, facilities and services for prisoners.
The study will build on the earlier estate strategy review completed in 2002 which concluded that Northern Ireland required three separate establishments. It is not intended to challenge that particular assumption, but the study will take account of:
The study is to take note of all other relevant evidence, including the recent report of the independent review led by Hamish Hamill and reports based on the concept of a healthy prison by the Inspectorates in relation to both Magilligan and Hydebank Wood.