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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 24 April 2006


Armed Forces Pay Review Body

The Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid): I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Dr. Peter Knight and Mr. Robert Burgin as members of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body for a second three-year term, commencing March 2007. The reappointments have been conducted in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments' guidance on appointments to public bodies.


Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins): We are today launching the new Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The centre is a world first and will play a decisive part, with police forces, offender managers, children's services and other stakeholders, in protecting children, young people, families and society from paedophiles and sex offenders; in particular from those who use the internet and other new technologies in the sexual exploitation of children.

The Government are committed both to protecting children and to tackling the paedophiles who seek to abuse them. We also want to make the internet safe for young people to use. Today's children are sophisticated users of mobile phones and the internet and protecting them in this environment needs an effective response.

We have shown that much progress can be made by working in partnerships which involve law enforcement, the internet and communications industry, child protection organisations, and the Government. The Home Secretary's task force on child protection on the internet has been instrumental in forging these partnerships and in making the case for and supporting the development of CEOP. CEOP will deliver a truly multi-agency response to the sexual exploitation of children. Nowhere else in the world have the public, private and voluntary sectors come together in such a way to tackle sex offenders and protect children. The centre will be built around three core faculties—intelligence, operations and harm reduction. It will deliver a range of functions designed to: empower children and parents through information and education; protect young people through better use of intelligence; and ensure the effective management of offenders. The centre will work closely with law enforcement and partner organisations in other countries in order to tackle these issues at international level.
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The centre has initially recruited around 70 staff and will be based in London. It will have an annual budget of nearly £5 million and will generate additional support from other sectors. The centre is formally part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency but will be operationally autonomous with a separate budget.

In creating CEOP we are sending a clear message to children and parents that UK law enforcement is committed and able to work with them and the industry to protect children in the digital environment. The creation of the centre makes it clear to paedophiles and sex offenders that we are determined to build on recent successes in identifying them and disrupting and preventing their offending.

Worker Registration Scheme

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Mr. Tony McNulty): I am today announcing that John Grant, the Permanent Representative to the EU, has written to the European Commission to confirm that the worker registration scheme will continue beyond 1 May 2006.

The Treaty of Accession 2003 makes provision for the member states to apply transitional arrangements restricting nationals of the new member states' access to their labour markets (other than nationals from Cyprus and Malta). The worker registration scheme was established under these arrangements and has allowed the Government to monitor the impact of enlargement of the European Union on the United Kingdom's labour market.

Under the Treaty of Accession 2003, member states are required to notify the Commission by the end of April 2006 whether they intend to continue to apply transitional measures beyond that date.

The Government's decision to open its labour markets to nationals of the new member states immediately upon their Accession to the EU has been vindicated. Nationals of the new member states have entered the United Kingdom to work, have helped fill vacancies in parts of the economy experiencing labour shortages and have helped to deliver public services. There is no evidence that the entry of workers from the new member states has impacted on the unemployment rate for resident workers.

It is, however, important that the Government should continue to be able to monitor the numbers of nationals of the new member states coming here to work and their impact on the labour market. That is why I have decided that the worker registration scheme will continue beyond 1 May 2006. The need for the scheme will, however, continue to be kept under review.

Control Order Judgment

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Clarke): The administrative court handed down its judgment on 12 April 2006 in the first review of a control order under section 3(10) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act). The court upheld the control order, but declared that the review procedure was incompatible with article 6 (Right to a Fair Hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
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I do not accept this judgment. In my view the 2005 Act is fully ECHR compliant and contains rigorous safeguards to protect the rights of the individual, including judicial oversight and reporting and reviewing requirements. Accordingly, I am appealing the decision.

In the interim, the ruling does not limit the operation of the Act. I have not revoked either the control order which was the subject of this review, nor any of the other control orders currently in force on the back of this judgment. Nor will the judgment prevent me from
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making control orders on suspected terrorists where I consider it necessary to do so in the interests of national security in future.

In the Government's view, control orders are the best way of addressing the continuing threat posed by suspected terrorists who cannot currently be prosecuted or, in respect of foreign nationals, removed from the UK. It is my firm belief that the 2005 Act strikes the right balance between safeguarding society and safeguarding the rights of the individual.