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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 12 October 2005


Counter-Terrorism Legislation and Practice

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): A Foreign and Commonwealth Office research paper on counter-terrorism legislation and practice in selected countries is published today. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available in the Vote Office. The paper will be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: www.fco.gov.uk and also on the Home Office website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk. Printed copies will also be available on request from both Departments.

The Government have, since the terrorist attacks in London in July, been assessing the practical and legislative steps needed to build on the counter terrorism measures already in place in this country. The Government are consulting widely on the measures that are now proposed. The research paper is intended to inform that process by providing background information on the approaches taken in a selection of other countries.

Global Opportunities Fund

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): I will today lay before the House the Foreign and Commonwealth Office annual report on the global opportunities fund 2004–05. This is the second such report which covers the financial year (FY) 2004–05.

Copies will be placed in the Library of the House. Additional copies can also be obtained from the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. A copy will also be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website www.fco.gov.uk/gof.

I launched the GOF to focus the FCO's programme spending more closely on our priorities and to bring greater professionalism to our programme and project management work. It has made an impressive start.

The GOF's second year has built upon the foundations laid in 2003–04. Its programmes are now directly aligned to the strategic priorities which continue to support an impressive portfolio of projects, many of which are beginning to bear fruit. The fund has also played a key role in the evolution of the wider FCO programme budget. From FY 2006–07, it will expand to include all strategic programmes (drugs and crime fund, migration and overseas territories programme) so that the FCO can provide well-structured and coherent support to its overarching strategy.

The report provides an overview of the six GOF programmes and describes project activity. It also contains a section on lessons learned/forward look to the current FY.
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Terrorism Update

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): The House may find it helpful to have an update on legislative and other developments in the field of terrorism since my last statement to the House on 20 July.

I am today publishing the Terrorism Bill, together with the accompanying explanatory notes.

Also today I am publishing a report by the Independent Reviewer of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile of Berriew, on the Government's proposals to changes to laws on terrorism. I am grateful to Lord Carlile for a characteristically thorough and thoughtful report.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is today publishing a paper on the operation of anti-terrorist legislation in other countries.

I launched a consultation on the list of unacceptable behaviours on 5 August and it concluded on 19 August. There were just over 100 responses to the consultation from organisations and individuals. In light of the comments made I modified the list to ensure that it is more accurately focused on the activities that I am seeking to address. On 24 August I announced the revised list.

The purpose of the list is to set out some specific activities that are likely to result in a person being excluded or deported from the UK. I decided to publish the list to enable greater scrutiny of the use of my powers to exclude and, in turn, reassurance that they are being applied consistently, proportionately and reasonably.

An initial database drawn principally from a list of 100 non-UK nationals provided by FCO posts overseas has been compiled and exclusions of individuals on this list are now being considered case by case. Further names will be added in the coming months.

We also propose to add new clauses to the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill. These cover excluding those associated with terrorism from asylum, deprivation of British citizenship where this is conducive to the public good, and non-suspensive appeals against deportation orders in national security cases.

I am seeking the views of Opposition spokesmen on these additional measures and have today written to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davies) and the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten) setting out in fuller detail what these will cover. These will be published in the usual way as amendments to the Bill. We aim to table these amendments at the Bill's Committee stage in the Commons.

On 22 September, I welcomed the initial findings of the seven Muslim community working groups brought together to identify proposals for tackling violent extremism. These included proposals for a National Advisory Council of Imams and Mosques, a National Forum against Extremism and Islamaphobia, and a country-wide "roadshow" of influential, populist religious scholars. On the same day, the Home Office also launched a £5 million "capacity building fund" to support all faith communities to play an active role in building a cohesive society.
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Last Thursday, 6 October, I published a consultation paper on how to deal with places of worship that foment extremism. The consultation closes on 11 November.

On Monday 10 October I laid an order under the Terrorism Act 2000 to proscribe an additional 15 organisations. It will be debated in both Houses tomorrow.

Also on Monday 10 October I made a written ministerial statement, column 9WS, giving my quarterly report on the operation of the control order regime provided for by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

On the international front, the UK hosted a JHA Informal council in Newcastle on 12 and 13 September, at which the key issues of data retention and an EU CT strategy were considered by Interior and Justice Ministers. The EU has drafted an EU Strategy and Action Plan to tackle Radicalisation and Recruitment. This will go to the European Council in December.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1624—calling on States to prohibit incitement to commit terrorist acts, to prevent such conduct and deny safe haven to any person guilty of such conduct—was adopted on 14 September 2005.

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was signed by the Prime Minister in September 2005 at the UN Special Summit in New York.

On 5 October President Putin visited COBR to exchange views on counter-terrorism, being the first foreign head of Government to do so.

During the week commencing 3 October I visited New York and Washington to discuss CT with key US Government representatives and officials, and participated in an EU-US bilateral.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister and I met our opposite numbers in Paris to discuss, inter alia, counter terrorism issues.

The Government have been actively seeking the agreement of Memoranda of Understanding on human rights assurances with key foreign Governments to enable deportations to proceed. The first such Memorandum was signed with Jordan in August and a copy has been placed in the Library. We are pursuing similar agreements with a number of other countries. These negotiations are ongoing.

The Government have debated with European partners how caselaw around the application of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has developed, particularly in respect of how national security considerations are taken into account in deportation cases involving Article 3. Using normal practice, and with the support of the Netherlands, the UK has been granted leave from the European Court of Human Rights to intervene as a third party in a case which the Netherlands currently has before the Court, which turns on Article 3. We will ask the Court to revisit the issues surrounding national security expulsions in light of current circumstances.
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EU Competitiveness Council

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Alan Johnson): I chaired the first Competitiveness Council of the UK's EU Presidency in Luxembourg on 11 October 2005. Lord Sainsbury, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, chaired the Council for the research item.

The first item on the agenda was the Internal Market Scoreboard. Commissioner McCreevy (Commissioner for Internal Market and Services) presented the results of the latest Scoreboard, published in July this year.

I then introduced a Progress Report on Better Regulation, and Vice President Verheugen (Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry) updated the Council on progress. The Report touched on the Commission's recent screening exercise, and the outcome of their consultation on simplification, but a more substantive debate on this is likely to take place at the Competitiveness Council on 28–29 November.

The third agenda item was on the Chemicals Regulation, REACH, for which I chaired a policy debate. We have put forward a Presidency compromise text and set questions to focus the debate on the topics of registration and information requirements. Over lunch, we did not address any formal agenda items. However, I chaired an informal discussion on Competitiveness and Climate Change, to look at the interaction of these two key areas.

Lord Sainsbury chaired the Research item, on the EU's 7th Framework Programme (FP7) on Research and Development. Commissioner Potocnik (Commissioner for Research) represented the Commission. We have set Presidency questions to guide the debate on the "Capacities" and "Ideas" sections of the FP7 Proposal. The debate is not intended to be conclusive, but is aimed at helping to draw up a Presidency compromise text, which will serve as the basis to finalise a partial general approach to FP7 at the Council in November.

Four items were presented by the Commission under Any Other Business.

A fuller report will be made to the House shortly.


International Labour Conference

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The 92nd Session of the International Labour Conference 2004 adopted a new Recommendation 195—Human Resources Development; Education, Training and Lifelong Learning. We have today laid before Parliament a White Paper entitled "International Labour Conference", Proposed action on a Recommendation adopted at the 92nd Session of the International Labour Conference 2004, Cm 6666, which has been placed in the Library.