|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Mr. Liam Byrne): Last July the Home Secretary announced the biggest shake-up of the immigration system in its history. To drive through this programme of reform, the Home Secretary made it clear that the INDwhich will become the Border and Immigration Agency BIA on 1 Aprilrequired more transparency and stronger oversight and accountability arrangements.
Today there are a number of bodies that monitor, inspect or advise on specific parts of the immigration system. What is lacking is a clear and consistent overall view. There is also no external oversight of key areas such as enforcement.
We are extremely grateful to everyone who contributed. The responses received revealed very wide support for the idea for an independent inspectorate and how it should be taken forward. This paper sets out the Governments formal response to the consultation exercise.
We propose to create a single inspectorate that will focus on overall efficiency and effectiveness across INDs and its partners operations, quality of decision-making, enforcement powers, access to information and the treatment of individuals, including a sense of comparative performance in different regions of the country.
I very much hope that everyone who is concerned with the immigration and nationality system will continue to work with us as we seek to develop the improvements and assurance that this new, stronger and more effective inspection will bring.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan): On behalf of the Home Secretary and the Minister for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland, I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Penny Hawkins, Dr. Simon Glendinning and Dr. Kenneth Simpson as members of the Animal Procedures Committee from 1 November 2006, each for a four-year term.
Dr. Hawkins is an animal welfarist working for the RSPCA. She has expertise and knowledge of the welfare and ethics of research animals and the practical application of refinements in husbandry and scientific procedures.
Dr. Simpson is a medical practitioner and liver specialist, involved with the Edinburgh liver transplantation programme, with an established research interest in the development and use of genetic modification technologies to produce more relevant animal models of liver function.
Dr. Glendinning is the fellow in European philosophy in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has an established interest in the philosophy of animal life and ethics.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): Four years after the invasion, progress on reconstruction and development in Iraq remains mixed. Prime Minister Malikis Government is less than a year old and faces immense security, political and economic challenges. The escalating sectarian violence, which is for many Iraqis a daily reality, has displaced large numbers of people both within Iraq and the wider region. We are therefore responding to help meet urgent humanitarian needs across the country. But the critical priority now is for the Iraqi Government to end the violence, so that Iraqs rich resources can be invested in creating better services and opportunities for all Iraqi people. Only a political solution will break the destructive cycle of violence and Prime Minister Maliki has made tackling the violence his highest priority. It is vital therefore that we give this new and democratically elected Government every assistance.
But there are gains worth noting, and more importantly protecting. The most important achievement of recent years has been the establishment of a democratically elected Government, the first in Iraq for decades, replacing Saddams brutal regime. Prime Minister Malikis coalition Government was established following elections in which 76 per cent. of the population voted. The constitution was agreed in a referendum and will be reviewed later this year. The Council of Representatives has agreed a budget law, and will soon consider a hydrocarbons law to determine how Iraqs oil revenues will be managed. International support was crucial in helping run and monitor the elections, as well as funding outreach programmes to encourage participation.
Once a relatively wealthy country with high levels of education and healthcare, by 2003 Iraq had suffered more than 20 years of conflict, mismanagement and chronic under-investment. The 2003 conflict, the continued violence, including sabotage of key infrastructure, as well as low (but growing) levels of management capacity in Iraqs national and local government have slowed progress. However, reconstruction has continued and much has been achieved by the Government of Iraq, with support from the UK, US and a range of other donors.
With international community support Iraq has made some improvements to basic services. Over 5 million children have received life-saving vaccinations and Iraq is now spending 30 times more on healthcare compared to pre-war levels. Over 5,168 schools have been rehabilitated and a further 450 are in progress. More than 100,000 primary and 40,000 secondary teachers have been trained. Unfortunately the violence is seriously affecting Iraqs health and education systems, as talented professionals are targeted or choose to leave the country.
There has also been progress on the economic front. The Iraqi economy rebounded quickly in 2004, and dollar income has continued to grow, almost doubling by 2006. Income growth has mainly been driven by
rising oil prices, so the challenge now is to convert more of the windfall earnings from oil to productive investments in public services and infrastructure.
The UK is one of the first major donors to Iraq to fully disburse our Madrid pledge of £544 million since 2003. The further pledge of £100 million announced by the Chancellor is on top of this, bringing the total UK commitment to £644 million. From our own resources, we have funded major electricity and water projects in southern Iraq. For example, DFID has repaired the Al Hartha power station chimney and ensured the equivalent of 24 hours electricity to 85,000 households (enough to supply a city the size of Cardiff with 24-hour power). By the time these projects are complete, we will have added or secured 470MW to the national electricity grid, and improved access to water for about a million people. These projects will have employed around 450 people, generated almost 100,000 workdays and secured around 17,000 workdays per year for operation and maintenance.
But there is still a long way to go. The major focus of our effort now is in helping the Iraqi Government to take the lead in investing in critical services and infrastructure. The Iraqi Government needs to do more to provide basic services for its people and protect those at risk. And it needs to make a start on some of the economic reforms that will unlock more money to invest in better public services and infrastructure in the longer term. We and other donors are providing support to help them to do so.
Much of the work done to get development in Iraq back on track goes unnoticed; the backroom, unglamorous slog of getting the right policy advice on tough issues such as drafting and redrafting budgets, setting up systems to manage central Government business, and dealing with milestones such as regular IMF reviews. But it is paying off. With help from donors, including DFID, the Iraqi Government has stayed on track with its stand-by arrangement, therefore meeting the conditions of the Paris club debt reduction deal.
This work is hugely important because it puts Iraqis in the lead. With oil revenues of $30 billion (93 per cent. of the national budget) in 2007, there is no shortage of resources in Iraq. Iraq has the resources to finance its own development. The challenge is spending it effectively. What has been lacking is the capacity of Iraqi institutions to deliver. Thanks in large part to our work in Basra and Baghdad, this is beginning to change.
Iraqs Deputy Prime Minister recently held a meeting with the Basra Governor and Provincial Council and a range of relevant national Ministers to set out Iraqi plans for the development of the province. For the first time, Basrawis heard from their own Government how much money was to be invested in their area, when and on what. This sort of transparency is vital to building a culture of trust and accountability between Government and people.
Large numbers of civil society initiatives are springing up throughout Iraq. There are over 250 newspapers and magazines launched since the fall of the regime and more than 2,500 registered Iraqi NGOs. These range from groups focused on reconciliation, to groups promoting womens rights and organisations trying to enhance political participation. DFIDs
support for Iraqi NGOs has encouraged poor and marginalised sections of Iraqi society to engage in the political process by fostering partnerships between international NGOs to provide advice and support to other Iraqi grassroots organisations.
While these achievements are important, and a credit to the Iraqis and their partners who work so hard in the face of enormous risks and challenges, there is much still to do. Our objective remains to develop the capacity of the democratically elected Government of Iraq, and to increase their ability to provide security and basic services to the Iraqi people.
|New Appointment||Annexe A|
In local government Peter is a conservative councillor representing Heddon-on-the Wall on Castle Morpeth borough council. He has been a member of the council for 11 years and currently he has the position of leader of the council. He is vice-chairman of the local strategic partnership, a board member of the Northumberland strategic partnership and an executive member of the association of north-east councils. He is also a Northumberland county councillor.
In business he has built up an arable farming enterprise covering 1,200 hectares in South Northumberland and Durham. He is the vice-chairman of the Tynegrain farmer co-operative based at the Port of Tyne. He is a director of GrainCo, a grain marketing company covering the north of England and Scotland, and a director of Tees Valley Biofuels, a company formed to build a large rapeseed crushing facility to feed the emerging biofuel and biomass market.
Professor Peter Davies
Professor Alan Gilbert
Dr. Philip Ruffles CBE
Professor Sir John Beringer CBE
Professor Geoffrey Boulton QBE FRS FRSE
Professor Janet Finch CBE DL AcSS
Professor Wendy Hall CBE FREng
Dr. Hermann Hauser FREng
Professor Alan Hughes
Dr. Sue Ion QBE FREng
Sir Paul Nurse FRS
Sir Keith Peters FRS AMS
Dr. Krishnamurty Rajagopal FREng
Professor Michael Sterling FREng
Professor Kathy Sykes
Dr. Mark Walport AMS
CST is the UK Governments top-level advisory body on science and technology policy issues. It reports directly to the Prime Minister. CSTs remit is to advise the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the responsible Minister at the Northern Ireland Office on strategic science and technology policy issues that cut across the responsibilities of individual Government Departments.