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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 30 January 2006


Olympic Park

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): The masterplan for the Olympic Park was largely developed in the second half of 2003 by the EDAW consortium and outline planning permissions were secured in autumn 2004. The candidate file submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in November 2004 and subsequently presented to the Evaluation Commission in February 2005 presented the concept of a compact games with the Olympic Park at its heart.

Since winning the right to stage the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games on 6 July 2005, the masterplan has been reviewed, as part of the normal development process for a major project. This review has resulted in changes that will deliver a more compact Olympic Park, while meeting the technical specifications of the IOC. In summary, the revised masterplan will:

A detailed review has been undertaken of the Olympic Village and the core Olympic and Paralympic requirements to improve deliverability, efficiency of design, utilisation, reduce risk and costs and smooth the way for best legacy use.

The revised plan therefore proposes realigning the village to locate approximately 80 per cent. of it on the Stratford rail lands immediately to the north of the channel tunnel rail link (CTRL).

The proposed building envelope and mix of uses complies with Stratford City's existing planning permissions and will provide a village of a similar high standard to that proposed in the original masterplan.

This move will enable an earlier start on the village, allowing building work on almost half of it to begin before power lines have been placed underground.

The revised plan is intended to offer improved security through

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Further work on refining and developing the security aspects of the revised plan is in hand.

Details of the revisions to the masterplan are set out in maps to be placed in the Library of the House.

The overall cost reductions for land, remediation, relocation and demolition are £152 million of which £142 million relates to the LDA and £10 million for demolition relates to the ODA as analysed below:
£ million
Land assembly, relocation and remediation
LDAFish Island/car parking(Relocation of majority of 53 businesses, 72 homes avoided and 621 jobs safeguarded)66
LDAIBC/MPC relocation(Relocation of 42 businesses and 642 jobs expected to be safeguarded)76
ODAFish Island/car parking4
ODAIBC/MPC relocation6

In addition reductions in other ODA costs of between £100 million and £200 million, compared to the current estimated cost for the original masterplan are estimated to be achieved. These savings will mainly be achieved through:

The actual savings will be dependent upon the outcome of the commercial deal to be negotiated with Stratford City and further value engineering that will be undertaken as part of the detailed design work.


Far East Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees (FEPOW Scheme)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Don Touhig): In my statement on 12 December 2005, Official Report, columns 1119–21, following my appearance at the Public Administration Select Committee oral evidence session on the operation of the FEPOW scheme, I told the House that I had commissioned a review into the extent to which inconsistent eligibility criteria had been used for deciding claims before and after the introduction of the birth-link criterion; this work is well-advanced. In addition, I said that a separate, independent investigation would be conducted into how the use of inconsistent criteria had arisen and why it had not been exposed earlier. I said that this work would be undertaken by a retired senior official from outside of the Departments involved. I am pleased to announce that Mr. David Watkins, a retired senior civil
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servant formerly in the Northern Ireland Office who is well qualified for the task, has agreed to undertake the investigation. His role will be to consider:

Mr. Watkins has begun his investigation and I have indicated my concern that, while it must be thorough, it should be completed as quickly as practicable.

I will make a further statement to Parliament when I have received Mr. Watkins' final report.

Army Basing (Germany)

The Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid): My predecessor announced to the House on 16 December 2004, Official Report, column 1795, that under the future Army structures, we intend to re-role an Armoured Brigade to a Mechanised Brigade and a Mechanised Brigade to a Light Brigade.

I am now in a position to confirm that 4th Armoured Brigade will re-role to a mechanised brigade in 2006 and will move from its current base in Osnabruck garrison in Germany to Catterick in 2008–09. A number of other minor adjustments will also be made. I have notified the German Government of our plans. 19 Brigade will re-role to a Light Brigade and will subsequently relocate away from Catterick to Scotland and Northern Ireland, although decisions on the final location of individual units have yet to be taken. We hope to be in a position to announce this later in the year. The net effect will be a reduction of our forces in Germany by roughly 2,200 personnel.

While there may be further modest adjustments to our force levels in Germany in the coming years where this makes sense, I would envisage sizeable forces remaining there for the long-term, where they will continue to enjoy excellent relations with the local population and contribute to our strong bilateral relationship with the German Government.


General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC)

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander): The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 30 January in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I will represent the UK.

The agenda items are as follows:

General Affairs

Annual Operational Programme of the Council for 2006/Annual Work Programme of the Commission

Austrian Foreign Minister, Ursula Plassnik, will give a short presentation on the Annual Operational Programme of the Council 2006. The document forms the final part of the 2004–06 multi-annual strategic
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programme. There is clear continuity with the Luxembourg/UK programme for 2005 and the Government are supportive of it.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso will also present the Commission's Legislative and Work Programme 2006 (CLWP), published in October 2005. The CLWP follows from the Commission's Strategic Objectives 2005–09 and focuses on the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy—placing jobs, growth and better regulation at the centre of its programme. The Government support these aims.

Lisbon Strategy: Commission Annual Progress Report

The Commission will formally present its first Lisbon Annual Progress Report, assessing Member States' National Reform Programmes against "jobs and growth" objectives and highlighting priorities for further action. The Government will want to give clear support to the continued focus on jobs and growth.

External Relations

World Trade Organisation/Doha Development Agenda (WTO/DDA)

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will brief the Council on progress in the WTO Round. This follows an informal EU Trade Ministers dinner on 29 Jan and meetings of key WTO Ministers in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos (25–29 Jan). We expect a short discussion without Conclusions.

Relations with the Western Balkans

Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn will present the Western Balkans Communication, which will form the basis of discussion at the Salzburg EU-Western Balkans Ministerial. The Council will also discuss Kosovo, in light of President Rugova's death on 21 January. The Council is expected to agree Conclusions on Bosnia, welcoming constitutional reform and Lord Ashdown's successor, and Montenegro, expressing support for Solana's Personal Representative, Ambassador Lajcak, as well as a statement on President Rugova's death. Conclusions are also expected to underline the continuing importance of full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) by both Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Government welcome the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial as a chance to re-endorse the Thessaloniki messages of 2003 and focus on some hearts and minds initiatives to support the political process.

Latin America: Presentation of Commission Communication

Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner will present the Commission Communication "A stronger Partnership between the EU and Latin America". The Council is expected to agree Conclusions on this at the February GAERC. The Communication sets out a strategy for strengthening the relationship between the EU and Latin America, in terms that the Government broadly welcome.


The Council is expected to have a short discussion about the London Conference on Afghanistan on 31 January– 1 February. This provides an opportunity for Afghanistan to seek, and to receive, international support and
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endorsement for the next five years. The Afghanistan Compact represents an excellent framework for activity going forward. The Council is expected to agree Conclusions confirming the EU's long term support for the Government and people of Afghanistan, welcoming the London Conference on Afghanistan and in particular the launch of the Afghanistan Compact. We also expect the Council to endorse "Recommendations for enhancing EU engagement with Afghanistan" and the Presidency's statement to be given at the London Conference.


The Council will discuss the deterioration in human rights and democracy and the forthcoming presidential elections in Belarus. The Government remain concerned about the legitimacy of the 2004 referendum allowing the current President to stand for more than two terms and strongly supported November's GAERC Conclusions calling for free and fair elections. We welcome the invitation extended to OSCE/ODIHR to monitor the election process, and are keen that it should be able to function effectively throughout the election period. The Council is expected to agree Conclusions calling on Belarus to improve its record on human rights and democracy and expressing the EU's willingness to engage when the situation improves.

Middle East Peace Process (MEPP)

We expect Council discussion to focus on the outcome of the 25 January Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections, the changing political landscape in Israel in the run up to the 28 March elections and the implications for the MEPP. The Council is expected to agree Conclusions, which take into account the political situation in the Palestinian Authority and Israel.


The Council is expected to have a full discussion of handling of the forthcoming 2–3 February emergency International Atomic Energy Agency Board meeting, following Iran's decision to restart enrichment related activities, and likely next steps on the nuclear issue. The Council is expected to agree Conclusions.


We expect that discussion will centre on the recent Iraqi election results and future EU-Iraq engagement. The Government will wish to stress the importance of EU JUSTLEX, support for the Constitutional Review, maintaining a political dialogue under the EU-Iraq Joint Political Declaration and progress towards the launch of negotiations on a Trade and Co-operation Agreement. The Council is expected to agree Conclusions.

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

The Presidency will seek agreement on the participation of senior representatives of Burma / Myanmar at upcoming ASEM meetings held in the EU. The Government support the ASEM process as a means of engaging with Asian states on a range of issues that
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matter to us. The Government will want to ensure that any agreement provides for a full and substantive discussion of the human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar at ASEM ministerial meetings.

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