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Far East Civilian Internees (Compensation)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Don Touhig): In my written ministerial statement on 13 July, Official Report, column 28WS, I apologised to those British civilians who were interned by the Japanese during the Second World War in the Far East and who were led by the incomplete terms of our initial announcement of the scheme in November 2000 to think that they would qualify for an ex-gratia payment. The apology was for the distress caused to those who claimed before the eligibility criteria were fully spelt out and who, in particular, would have qualified but for later clarification that "British" was to be defined by the birth-link criterion.

In my Statement I undertook to examine whether the apology should be expressed in a tangible form. I have, therefore, decided that a one-off payment of £500 should go to each of those individuals to whom the apology in my Statement of 13 July was addressed. I also intend to send a personal letter to each of those who will be compensated. We expect to establish eligibility and make payments for the majority of cases within six months.
11 Oct 2005 : Column 20WS


Regional Fire and Rescue Service (Control Centres)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Jim Fitzpatrick): I am pleased to be able to announce the location for the South-East fire and rescue control centre and put on record the locations for the other seven new control centres.

England's fire and rescue service control functions will be delivered through a resilient national network of nine new control centres, one for each of the English regions. The centres will be mutually supporting and will bring the best of the latest proven technology together into one system. This will increase resilience, operational performance and improve public safety.

The following developers and sites have been selected, following an EU procurement process, for the eight English regions excluding London, to build the fire and rescue service control centres for England.
RegionDeveloperSite Address
SEEaster Group and Morley Fund ManagementCroft Business Park, Fareham, Hampshire
EMWilson Bowden Developments LtdWillow Farm Business Park Castle Donington, Derbyshire
EoESlough Trading Estate LimitedCambridge Research Park Cambridge
NEHelios (Belmont) LtdBelmont Business Park Durham
NWLingley Mere Business Park Development Corporation LtdLingley Mere Business Park Warrington
SWSummerfield Developments (SW) LimitedBlackbrook Business Park Taunton, Somerset
WMBowmer and Kirkland Group—Peveril Securities Ltd (Development Subsidiary)Wolverhampton Business Park Wolverhampton
Y&HYorkcourt Properties LtdParagon Wakefield

London already has a regional control centre and is expected to form part of the national network. Exactly how this will be implemented is to be taken forward with the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. The whole national network will be fully operational before the Olympics in 2012.

Further details are available on the FiReControl project website.


Marine Fisheries Agency

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett): In December last year I announced the Government's intention to establish a new executive agency with responsibility for the management of marine fisheries, to include the inspection and enforcement activities then discharged by my Department's Sea Fisheries Inspectorate, and other marine delivery functions carried out by DEFRA.
11 Oct 2005 : Column 21WS

I am now pleased to announce that the new body was launched on 1 October and is called the Marine Fisheries Agency. The first chief executive of the agency is Nigel Gooding, who will now take forward the challenge of delivering high-quality, integrated marine fisheries management and environmental conservation services to the agency's many stakeholders. Those services will include the management of the fisheries licensing and quota regimes, the provision of grant aid to the industry and the enforcement of national and European regulations in England. It will also undertake similar services in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.

The creation of the Marine Fisheries Agency is an important milestone in the Government's drive for public service reform and in my own Department's internal change programme. My Department is committed to reducing the size of its policy core and to the delivery of its services through others.

Copies of the Agency's Framework Document, Corporate Plan and Key Targets are in the Libraries of both Houses.


Overseas Network

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): In December 2003, I set out the Government's international priorities for the next five to 10 years and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's strategy for delivering them in a world of new challenges, opportunities and threats.

On the basis of that strategy and the outcome of the 2004 spending round I announced on 15 December 2004, Official Report, columns 137–40WS, changes to the overseas network, aimed at enhancing our effectiveness in representing British interests abroad, and helping to deliver an efficient service on behalf of the British taxpayer.

However, in the light of further reviews I have agreed to make the following small adjustments to our plans:

One subordinate post, Hamburg, scheduled to remain open with locally based staff, will now close and our interests will be covered from Berlin. Two subordinate posts, Munich and Miami, will now continue to be headed by a UK based member of staff rather than covered entirely by locally engaged staff as originally proposed. Other changes will go ahead before end 2006, as previously announced.

The overall picture on implementation of the changes announced in December is as follows:
PostPlanned changeState of Play
Port Vila (Vanuatu)CloseTo be closed by end 2006
Nuku'alofa (Tonga)CloseTo be closed by end 2006
Dili (East Timor)CloseTo be closed by end 2006
Tarawa (Kiribati) (currently a locally staffed post)CloseClosed
Asuncion (Paraguay)CloseClosed
Nassau (Bahamas)CloseClosed
Maseru (Lesotho)CloseClosed
Mbabane (Swaziland)CloseClosed
Antananarivo (Madagascar)CloseClosed
BrisbaneLocaliseTo be localised by end 2006
PerthLocaliseTo be localised by end 2006
Vientiane (Laos)(Trade Office)CloseClosed
MiamiLocaliseTo remain UK based
San Juan (Puerto Rico)CloseClosed
BordeauxLocaliseTo be localised by end 2006
LyonLocaliseTo be localised by end 2006
MunichLocaliseTo remain UK based
HamburgLocaliseTo close by end 2006
FrankfurtCloseTo close by end 2006
StuttgartCloseTo close by end 2006
PalmaLocaliseTo be localised by end 2006

11 Oct 2005 : Column 22WS

In addition, I have agreed the following further changes to the network:

In Brazil, following a review of our commercial effort there, I have agreed that our Trade Offices in Belo Horizonte and Curitiba should be closed, but the existing Honorary Consuls will remain. Commercial services currently provided in Belo Horizonte and Curitiba will in future be delivered through our other posts in Brazil. In India we plan to upgrade our Business Information Centres in Pune and Chandigarh to British Trade Offices and cease to operate a Business Information Centre in Bhopal.

The full details of these additional changes are as follows:
PostPlanned Change
Trade Office, Curitiba, BrazilClose. Honorary Consul to remain. Trade interests covered from other Posts in Brazil (Brasilia, Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro).
Trade Office, Belo Horizonte, BrazilClose. Honorary Consul to remain. Trade interests covered from other Posts in Brazil (Brasilia, Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro).
Business Information Centre, Bhopal, IndiaClose. British Council Library to remain. Trade interests covered from Mumbai.
Business Information Centre, PuneUpgrade to full Trade Office.
Business Information Centre, ChandigarhUpgrade to full Trade Office.

11 Oct 2005 : Column 23WS

We have no other plans to close or open any further sovereign posts but like any well-run organisation we will continue to move resources flexibly as priorities require in line with UK interests. I will inform the House of any further planned changes.

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