10 Oct 2006 : Column 11WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 10 October 2006


Terrorist Finance

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): The Government are strongly committed to tackling terrorist financing. Just as there should be no hiding place for those who perpetrate terrorism, so there should be no hiding place for those who finance terrorism.

This statement updates Parliament on counter-terrorist finance actions taken over the summer recess to strengthen further our framework for rooting out the financial networks underpinning terrorism.

On 10 August 2006, the police arrested a number of suspected terrorists in connection with an alleged plot to blow up airplanes leaving the UK in mid-flight. Acting on the advice of the police and the Security Service, the Treasury froze the assets of 19 of these individuals on 11 August. The asset freeze was imposed within 24 hours of the police arrests and was in place before banks opened in the morning. This was the quickest and most comprehensive asset freeze that the Treasury has undertaken and it has yielded valuable operational benefits. The Executive Secretary of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has said in relation to the 11 August freeze that:

This latest action means that a total of 188 accounts and around half a million pounds of suspected terrorist funds have now been frozen in the UK.

The measures set out here are designed to help to detect, deter and disrupt money laundering and terrorist finance, while safeguarding the UK’s position as the world’s most secure and dynamic financial sector. The Treasury plans to produce a detailed strategy document around the end of the year.

Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order

Today, the Treasury is asking the Privy Council to adopt a new Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order updating the existing order. This makes a number of changes to the UK’s domestic asset freezing regime, allowing us to prevent funds, economic resources and financial services being made available to anyone who is designated under the order on suspicion of involvement with terrorism, while introducing a confidentiality provision to protect, where necessary, information that may be disclosed on a confidential basis

Closed Source Evidence

The Treasury has agreed, on the advice of law enforcement agencies, to use closed source evidence in asset freezing cases where there are strong operational reasons to impose a freeze, but insufficient open source
10 Oct 2006 : Column 12WS
evidence available. The use of closed source material will be subject to proper judicial safeguards. The Government intend to put in place a special advocate procedure to ensure that appeals and reviews in these cases can be heard on a fair and consistent basis. In order to ensure appropriate accountability to Parliament, we will report to Parliament quarterly on the operation of the UK’s asset freezing regime.

Money Service Businesses

On 29 September, the Treasury published a review into the regulation and performance of money service businesses in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. The vast majority of bureaux de change, cheque cashers and money remitters are honest and important partners in the fight against financial crime. But the scale of the challenge we now face demands we strengthen our current financial controls so that we can root out money laundering and terrorist financing. Our proposals to replace the registration system with a licensing system, take tougher action against non-compliance and demand firms keep better records, build on the controls we introduced five years ago and give us the powers we need. I also want to give firms in the sector better support and guidance and recognise the important contribution they make to our financial system at home and abroad.

State Benefits

On 3 July, I made a statement to Parliament announcing that the Government would be restricting the payment of state benefits to the households of UN listed terror suspects. This policy has now been applied to six households. Following a legal challenge, the High Court ruled on 22 September that the Government's approach was lawful and was consistent with its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.


In February, the Government launched a review into the regulation and performance of the charitable sector in preventing terrorist financing and will make recommendations later this year for protecting the charitable sector from terrorist infiltration. It is essential that charities are protected from abuse by terrorists seeking to exploit the goodwill of donors. On 24 August, the Charity Commission, having consulted Treasury and Home Office Ministers, launched an enquiry into the charity Crescent Relief and froze its bank accounts.

Third Money Laundering Directive

On 31 July, the Treasury published a consultation document on implementing the EC Third Money Laundering Directive. This will ensure our systems for tackling money laundering and terrorist financing continue to be in line with international best practice and will implement a risk-based approach, allowing businesses to target their resources in the most effective and proportionate manner. The consultation closes on 20 October and we will report the results when we publish draft Regulations around the turn of the year.

International Action

Because terrorist financing operates globally, so the response must be global. Last year, the UK used its presidencies of the G7 and the EU to step up international action against terrorist financing. The Chancellor will, today, write to EU finance ministers about taking this agenda forward. The UK has recently been appointed
10 Oct 2006 : Column 13WS
to serve as president of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) from summer 2007. We will use our presidency to drive forward a reform agenda urging the FATF to be more outward looking and more clearly focused on tackling abuses and risks in the international financial system.


DLO/DPA Co-Location

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): On 3 July 2006, Official Report, columns 27-28WS my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the decision in principle to approve proposals to co-locate elements of the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) with the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) in the Bristol/Bath area. He also announced that he had accepted in principle the recommendations of the Enabling Acquisition Change report. These were both subject to subsequent consultation with the Trades Unions.

The Department entered into the formal consultation period immediately after the announcement. I and my ministerial colleagues met with trades unions representatives over the summer to discuss their views on the proposals during this time. The formal consultation period has now closed, although we remain committed to Trades Unions engagement throughout the next stages of both projects.

After careful consideration, and taking full account of the points raised by the trades unions, I have decided to proceed with implementing the co-location proposals. I announced this final decision on 29 September 2006 and am updating the House now at the earliest opportunity after the summer parliamentary recess.

We will now move into the implementation and assessment phase of the project that will include the moves from Andover and Telford, the tendering process for the development of the new site in Bristol and introducing flexible working arrangements at various sites. We expect to have completed the co-location process by 2011.

Co-location planning has, however, been adjusted in two respects since the 3 July announcement. There will now be no moves from Sapphire House, Telford, before March 2008, although the closure date of 2009 remains. It is also now likely that some current activity will be retained at RAF Wyton instead of moving to main operating bases. This does not alter plans to move about 500 acquisition-focused posts to the Bath/Bristol area in subsequent phases of the project that will also include the withdrawal from Caversfield in 2009-10.

I appreciate that this decision on the way forward for the co-location project will have consequences for MOD employees and their families, particularly in current DLO sites where we will be scaling down our presence or withdrawing altogether. The Department will work to mitigate this effect by providing appropriate support for those affected by the outcome of these necessary changes.

10 Oct 2006 : Column 14WS

The Enabling Acquisition Change report also made a series of recommendations intended to improve the MOD's ability to undertake through-life capability management. Consultation with the trades unions on the recommendations of the report has also concluded. One of the recommendations in the report was to merge the DPA and DLO from 1 April 2007. It has now been decided that the merged organisation will be called Defence Equipment and Support and on formation it will be led by General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue as the first Chief of Defence Matériel.

These decisions will mean that in the future we will have one single, co-located organisation responsible for the procurement, maintenance and sustainment of military capability. This will provide a greater unity of purpose in acquisition, facilitate better decision making in the early stages of acquisition and effectively manage military capability through life. I am confident that this is the right way forward for defence as a whole and will improve the support we give to our Armed Forces.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

EU Chemicals Legislation

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Ian Pearson): My noble Friend, Lord Rooker, the Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, made the following written ministerial statement.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Middle East Peace Process/Lebanon

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett): I welcome the opportunity to update the House on developments in the Middle East since my last statement on 13 September.

10 Oct 2006 : Column 15WS

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear, advancing the Middle East Peace Process is a key priority for this Government. This is vital above all for the Israeli and Palestinian people, but also for the stability and prosperity of the region. As events this summer demonstrated, the failure to resolve this conflict has serious consequences for the international community, including for the security of our citizens.

Since my last statement to the House, I have met my Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian President Abbas, and, together with Security Council colleagues, I have met the Arab League and the parties to discuss how best to re-energise the Middle East peace process.

Over the coming period we will remain fully engaged in helping to drive the peace process forward, working closely with both parties and our international partners. We welcome the decision of the Quartet to meet with the parties and with the key regional players. We continue to encourage Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas to meet as soon as possible.

In particular, we must work with our partners, particularly in the EU, to develop a new programme to build viable institutions for a future Palestinian state. As we set out at the London meeting in 2005, capacity building in the occupied territories remains central to advancing the peace process. We will continue to do all we can to support this work. We will also work closely with the US Security Co-ordinator, General Dayton, and other international partners to improve Palestinian security. Past events have repeatedly shown that without progress on this, extremists will always be able to block the political process.

We and the international community must continue to support President Abbas. I would like to pay tribute again to his courage in advancing the interests of his people and the cause of peace. We support his efforts to work for a Palestinian authority Government based on the three Quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of past agreements. As the Prime Minister has made clear, we would work with such a Government.

We remain deeply concerned by the situation on the ground, particularly in Gaza. We call for the immediate release of Corporal Shalit, and particularly welcome efforts by the Government of Egypt and President Abbas to secure his release.

The UK is committed to helping the Palestinian people. The Department for International Development has committed £30 million to the Palestinians this year. This is in addition to the €329 million given by the European Commission this year, the largest contribution in a single year. The UK supports an extension of the "Temporary International Mechanism” to help alleviate the situation. We are working with EU and Quartet partners to deliver this. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, announced yesterday, the UK is providing an extra £3 million to the mechanism.


The situation in Lebanon has improved significantly since the unanimous adoption on 11 August by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1701. The ceasefire which the resolution established continues to hold. Israeli forces have withdrawn from Lebanon except for
10 Oct 2006 : Column 16WS
those in the divided village of Ghajar. The Lebanese Armed Forces have deployed in large numbers across the country, including along the Blue Line and in areas in southern Lebanon in which they have not been seen for many years. The first phase of the expansion of UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), over 5,000 troops, has been deployed in full. A second phase of some 5,000 further troops is in preparation.

The Prime Minister, during his visit to Lebanon in September, stressed our continuing commitment to supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces, with equipment and training, as they take control throughout the territory of Lebanon. Javier Solana announced on 3 October that the EU will send a team of experts to Beirut to take the EU’s work in this area forward.

I pay tribute to the UN, its Agencies and the many NGOs involved for the manner in which, during the height of the humanitarian crisis, they delivered essential supplies in difficult circumstances. Most of the Lebanese people displaced by the conflict have now returned, but some 200,000 have been unable to re-occupy their homes because of the level of destruction in their villages or their contamination by unexploded munitions.

The reconstruction effort is now under way. On 31 August, the Secretary of State for International Development attended the Stockholm conference for Lebanon’s early recovery. The Government of Lebanon set a target of $530 million for its recovery plan, but in the event pledges from countries attending the conference reached over $940 million. He announced in Stockholm a further £4 million package of UK assistance, covering unexploded munitions clearance, shelter, water and sanitation, and bringing the UK total to over £21 million.

We continue to work with the UN Secretary-General and international partners to ensure the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and the earlier resolutions relating to Lebanon. Prime Minister Siniora and the Government of Lebanon have our full support in their effort to secure Lebanon’s sovereignty and prosperity. We urge all countries, including Syria and Iran, to implement the Security Council’s requirements and to provide firm support to the Government of Lebanon in meeting the challenges ahead.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Update)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett): On 9 October, the DPRK Foreign Ministry announced that it had conducted an underground nuclear test. There is still some doubt about the exact nature of this test, but given North Korea’s stated intention last week, there can be very little doubt that it was a nuclear test. We await further information to confirm this, but the international community is proceeding on the basis that this was indeed what the DPRK has said.

Next Section Index Home Page