The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo): Legislation will be included in the next Finance Bill to stop financial institutions and share dealers claiming wholly artificial losses by buying and selling the right to a dividend on shares and claiming that the sale proceeds are exempt from tax.
Schemes have been disclosed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) under the legislation in Part 7 Finance Act 2004 which seek to exploit a perceived weakness in section 730 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act. HMRC believes that the schemes may not work, but to put the matter beyond doubt, subsection (3) of section 730 will be repealed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jim Knight): I am pleased to advise that we will, on Sunday 22 January, publish a Policy and Action Statement for the management of the Grey Squirrel in England's Woodlands. This has been prepared jointly by the Forestry Commission England and Defra.
The grey squirrel was introduced into this country in the 19th century and has spread widely. Grey squirrels are enjoyed by many as part of our wildlife but also represent a serious and growing threat to our native woodland and priority species.
Copies of the Policy and Action Statement will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses on Monday and will also be available on Sunday from 7.30 am on the Forestry Commission website at: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/greysquirrel.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw):
Some media reports over the
20 Jan 2006 : Column 38WS
last 48 hours, based on a leaked Government document, have suggested that the Government may be aware that there have been cases of "extraordinary rendition" through UK territory or airspace about which it has not informed Parliament.
12 December: after continuing searches of official records over the following few days, my written answer to the right hon. Member for North East Fife, (Sir Menzies Campbell), Official Report, Column 1652W,set out the facts as they had then been established: there had been three instances in 1998 where the US authorities had requested permission to render a detainee through UK territory or airspace; and in two of these cases, where the detainee was to be transferred to the US for trial, the US request had been granted. In the other case, it had been refused. I added that officials continued to search the records.
10 January: I issued a written ministerial statement saying that Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials had now completed a search of their records back to May 1997. This search had turned up one further case, also in 1998: the Government had declined a US request to refuel a flight carrying two detainees en route to the US.
There were four cases in 1998 where the US requested permission to render one or more detainees through the UK or Overseas Territories. In two of these cases, records show the Government granted the US request, and refused two others.
Since before September 2001 we have worked closely with the US to achieve our shared goal of fighting terrorism. As part of that close co-operation, we have made clear to the US authorities, including in recent months:
We are also clear that the US would not render a detainee through UK territory or airspace (including Overseas Territories) without our permission. As noted above, the US has sought such permission in the past.
The Government are committed to fulfilling their obligations under United Kingdom and international law. I have sought throughout to keep the House informed of developments. And shall do so again if new information comes to light.
20 Jan 2006 : Column 39WS
The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander): In December 2005, the Government issued one licence for the export of 20 units of body armour to the Ministry of Justice, Judicial Police in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The equipment will be used by the Judicial Police in operations to protect against crime and preserve the safety of the civilian community or for humanitarian activities.
An EU arms embargo has been in place against Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996. The purpose of the embargo was to aid the establishment of peace and stability for the people of the region, taking into account
20 Jan 2006 : Column 40WS
in particular the need to ensure the safety of international troops and civilian personnel deployed. The embargo was amended in 1999 to exclude de-mining equipment and the transfer of small arms to the police.
We fully support the EU embargo. However, we are, in limited circumstances, prepared to make exceptions where denying an export would frustrate the purposes of the embargo. The UK has been active in encouraging Bosnia and Herzegovina to take greater responsibility for maintaining the rule of law and strengthening civilian policing. I am confident that granting this exception is fully consistent with this responsible approach of supporting the development of civilian policing whilst respecting the aims of the embargo.