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The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): Last week's attack on London was an affront to all democracies. Just as there should be no safe haven for those who perpetrate terrorism, so there should no hiding place for those who finance terrorism. To deliver this requires action in the UK, across Europe and globally.
Blocking terrorists' access to the financial system is a critical preventive measure; and freezing funds already in the system prevents those funds being used to perpetrate atrocities. In the UK, our financial institutions have to date frozen over £370,000 in forty five accounts. In order better to integrate efforts within the UK to disrupt terrorist finance, I can announce that the Treasury has established an inter-departmental asset freezing working group to identify and vet appropriate targets for asset freezing action under Treasury powers.
While four years ago just 30,000 reports of suspicious transactions relating to terrorist financing and money laundering were sent to the National Criminal Intelligence Service, last year 150,000 suspicious transaction reports were made. Of those relating to terrorist finance, between 20 to 30 per cent. subsequently either led to a longer-term investigation, or contributed substantially to an existing investigation. It is essential that the suspicious transactions regime be both proportionate and effective. The Home Secretary and I have asked Sir Stephen Lander to report by March 2006 on how these investigations of suspicious transactions can be best pursued under the new Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
I am today making £20 million available from the Reserve to the Home Office for the exceptional costs of support to victims and of policing and other activities arising from the attacks in London on 7 July. The help for victims will include money for compensation through the criminal injuries compensation scheme and funds to cover the donation to the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund which the Home Secretary announced yesterday.
Last week, European Finance Ministers reaffirmed that there will no hiding place for those who finance terrorism. Europe has found common cause in our shared battle against terrorism.
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As EU president, we will work closely with all member states, the Commission, European Parliament and the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator to implement the action plan against terrorism we agreed after the Madrid bombings.
Under the UK G8 presidency, a group of financial experts has developed a programme of reforms to ensure that we identify and isolate terrorist funds on a global basis. I will ask this group to report on its progress to Finance Ministers in September;
We are currently working with our security council partners to establish a new resolution to succeed UNSCR 1267 against al-Qaeda, to update and reassert the international response against the threat of international terrorism.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): I am today publishing the sixth annual report to Parliament on UK operations at the IMF, "A Stronger Global EconomyThe UK and the IMF 200405". Copies are available in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My noble Friend the Baroness Ashton of Upholland, Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State, has made the following written ministerial statement in the other place today:
"With the agreement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, I am pleased to inform the House that I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of the response to the public consultation on disclosure of information in family proceedings cases involving children. Statutory instruments have also been laid today specifying the circumstances in which information can be disclosed from family proceeding cases involving children.
Members will recall that there have been a number of difficulties about what information can be received from individuals and constituents and what members of both Houses may then do with that information to advise or assist. Accordingly I would like to make a statement about the effect of these rules; particularly, in terms of how they allow Members to fulfil their vital role in helping and advising those involved in family proceedings.
Further to my right hon. and learned Friend Harriet Harman QC, MP's statement to the House on 14 October 2004, the proposed legislative amendments have now been made by section 62 of the Children Act 2004, which came into force on 12 April 2005. This means that:
Section 97 (2) Children Act 1989 has been amended so that it is no longer a criminal offence to publish information which identifies or is likely to identify a child as being involved in family proceedings, or the address or school of such a child; so long as publication is not made to the general public or a section of it (including the media).
Section 12 (4) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 has been amended so that disclosure of certain information is no longer a contempt of court where rules of court specify that such disclosures can be made.
The Government consulted on the proposed content of the rules of court. The consultation period closed on 23 March 2005. The responses have helped to shape the final content of the rules. The rules will come into force on 31 October 2005. Guidance will be published ahead of that date so that the various providers and recipients of information from family proceedings involving children heard in private will know what they are entitled to do with that information.
A party to family proceedings involving children heard in private will be able to communicate to a Member the text or a summary of the whole or part of a judgment given in those proceedings. Members can also receive court orders, as that had been permitted since legislative amendments came into force on 12 April 2005. Members may use the information received for the purposes stated in the rules only. For Members, this means that once the text or summary of a judgment has been received, the Member may use that information for the purposes of giving advice, investigating any complaint or raising any question of policy or procedure. Members may of course refer the information to other appropriate bodies or agencies to fulfil the purpose. If it appears that further information is required, an application to the court will need to be made."
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Don Touhig):
As part of the Government's continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans' illnesses openly and honestly, data on the mortality of veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict are regularly published. The most recent figures for the period 1 April 1991 to 30 June 2005, were published on 14 July 2005 as a National Statistic on the Defence Analytical Services Agency website.
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The data for Gulf veterans are compared to that of a control group known as the "Era cohort" which is made up of armed forces personnel of a similar profile in terms of gender, service, regular/reservists status and rank, who were not deployed to the Gulf. The "Era" group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age-profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.
The 720 deaths among Gulf veterans compare with approximately 1,150 deaths which would have been expected in a similar sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the same age and gender profile. This reflects the strong emphasis on fitness when recruiting and retaining service personnel.
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