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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 10 May 2007


Asset Freezing Regime

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): In my written ministerial statement of 10 October 2006, I undertook to report to Parliament on a quarterly basis on the operation of the UK's asset freezing regime. This is the second of these reports and covers the period January-March 2007.(1)

Asset-freezing framework

The Government launched their strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist finance on 28 February 2007.

As my statement to Parliament of the same date explained, the strategy outlines the Government's key priorities for the future, along with measures to deliver these. New measures include further steps to promote the proactive use of asset-freezing powers; notably, the creation of a dedicated Treasury asset-freezing unit that will increase the expertise and operational focus brought to bear on asset freezing, in response to advice from law enforcement and security agencies.

Asset-freezing designations

In the quarter January-March 2007, the Treasury made 19 domestic designations under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 and the Al-Qaeda and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006.

Of these, 12 persons already designated under earlier Orders were re-designated under these Orders.

The Terrorism Order and the Al-Qaeda and Taliban Order provide, where appropriate, for designations to be made confidentially and with restricted circulation of notice. No persons were designated on this basis in this quarter.

Two persons were designated on the basis of closed source evidence provided by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

There were no financial sanctions listings, in relation to terrorism or Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, of persons with links to the UK at the EU or the UN.

No designated persons have been delisted in this quarter.

A total of 223 separate accounts and approximately £555,000(2) of suspected terrorist funds have been frozen in the UK since 2001.


There has been one case of domestic litigation regarding financial sanctions.

The Court of Appeal judgment of 6 March 2007 in the case of M, A, and MM v. Her Majesty's Treasury
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[2006] EWCH 2328 (Admin), confirmed the High Court judgment of 22 September 2006 upholding the Treasury's actions regarding benefits payments to the households of listed individuals.


The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review. A number of formal reviews have been initiated in this quarter and the reviews of 12 cases have been completed. In all cases decisions were taken following the review to maintain the asset freeze.

Licensing policy

In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1452 (2002), the Treasury operates a licensing system whereby designated persons and others are able to apply to make or receive payments under specific and, if necessary, monitored conditions. In this quarter, the following licences were issued:

In addition, the households of two listed persons were granted benefits licences in accordance with the policy I set out in my statement of 3 July 2006 to Parliament.

Vulture Funds

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): I deplore the activities of so-called vulture funds that seek to profit from debts owed by the poorest countries in the world. I am determined to limit the damage done by such funds. The UK will therefore:

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I will also take forward discussions with my international partners on this issue, including at the G8 Finance Ministers' summit in Potsdam.

Communities and Local Government

Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): The lifespan of the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation is to be extended by three years to 2014, following a public consultation.

The Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation was established to lead a step change in Thurrock, harnessing the opportunities presented by growth and regeneration to encourage new businesses and jobs, to develop new homes, schools and leisure activities, and to encourage good quality accessible services and a robust social infrastructure in support of a prosperous community. This lifespan extension will provide the Corporation with the necessary time to overcome barriers and challenges to the achievement of these aspirations, allowing them to build on their significant progress to date. Through continued joint working with Thurrock Council and other partner organisations, the TTGDC will be able to make the most of Thurrock for all members of the community.

Thurrock is a key part of the Thames Gateway and the lifespan extension will help the Development Corporation to deliver effectively its proposed business plan and regeneration strategy and to promote key projects in the borough.

To inform the decision, a public consultation was undertaken from 2 October to the end of December 2006, seeking views from those consulted originally when the Thurrock Development Corporation was established. The vast majority of the responses were positive, recognising the challenges faced by the Development Corporation in Thurrock. A summary of responses to the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation was established by Parliamentary Order in October 2003. The Order designating the urban development area and establishing the Thurrock Development Corporation (SI 2003 No. 2896) was laid before the House on 2 July 2003 and was debated on 15 October, coming into force on 29 October 2003. More information about the TTGDC is available at www.thurrocktgdc.org.uk.


Armed Forces Pay Review Body

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): The supplement to the 2007 report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) making recommendations on the pay of service medical and dental officers has been published today. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House.

The AFPRB has recommended an increase in basic military salary of 2 per cent. for all regular and reserve Defence Medical Services consultants, general medical
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practitioners and general dental practitioners. The review body also recommends a pay increase of 2 per cent. for junior doctors and cadets. In addition, the review body recommends that there should be an increase of 2 per cent. in the value of trainer pay, but no increase in the value of distinction and clinical excellence awards.

The Government have agreed to accept the AFPRB’s recommendations in full, with implementation effective from 1 April 2007. The additional cost to the defence budget will be met within existing departmental expenditure limits.

The Government have also accepted the AFPRB’s recommendations to introduce a targeted financial retention incentive for emergency, intensive therapy and operation theatre nurses and an increase in the sum offered under the golden hello scheme for the same three nurse specialties.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Broiler Directive

The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): On 7 May European Union (EU) Ministers agreed a Directive which for the first time establishes rules governing the conditions under which meat chickens are kept. The package of new measures includes detailed requirements for holdings where meat chickens are kept, the introduction of a maximum stocking density limit, data collection and scientific monitoring of impacts on chicken welfare, training for the industry and a possible new welfare labelling regime following a report from the European Commission. The Directive will come into force in 2010.

The welfare of meat chickens is a major concern to people in the United Kingdom and throughout the EU. This is a major sector of livestock production with some 850 million meat chickens produced in the UK every year and 4 billion across the EU. It is therefore only right that we set harmonised welfare rules for these animals.

It has taken nearly two years of negotiations to reach this point and Germany must be congratulated on concluding the Directive during their Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Some member states would have liked to further water down the proposals in respect of the maximum stocking density limit but the UK successfully fought off this challenge with support from other strongly minded welfare countries.

The Directive provides a platform on which to build as well as sending a clear message to the rest of the world that the we and the EU care about animal welfare.


Mixed-sex Accommodation in Hospitals

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): Today, the Department is publishing a report from the chief nursing officer on progress with mixed-sex accommodation in hospitals. This report highlights the actions the national health service
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should take to improve the provision of single-sex accommodation, and includes practical advice for trusts.

The chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, has reiterated our commitment to single-sex accommodation by including it in the operating framework for the NHS for 2007-08. In addition, strategic health authorities (SHAs) have been asked to review performance in this area, and have been working with a number of trusts to agree plans for improvement. SHAs are also publishing statements today on the position in their region.

Patients expect the NHS to deliver high standards of privacy and dignity that include, but are not restricted to, single-sex accommodation. Single-sex accommodation should be the norm in elective care, and remains the ideal for emergency treatment. However, we recognise that sometimes the need to treat and admit must take priority—the NHS will not turn a patient away just because a “right-sex” bed is not immediately available.

Copies of the chief nursing officer’s report have been placed in the Library.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

General Affairs and External Relations Council

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 14 and 15 May in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I will represent the UK. The Minister of State with responsibility for defence equipment and support, Lord Drayson, will also attend the Defence Ministers’ discussions on 14 May, while Sir John Grant (UK permanent representative to the EU) will take the chair for the Development Ministers’ discussions on 15 May.

The agenda items are as follows:

Foreign Ministers

General Affairs

Preparation of the European Council on 21-22 June

The Council will discuss the presidency’s draft annotated agenda for the 21-22 June European Council. The main topic for the European Council will be the constitutional treaty. But we expect it also to cover a number of justice and home affairs and economic and social issues, including strengthening police co-operation and climate change. There is also likely to be discussion of topical foreign policy issues.

External Relations

World Trade Organisation

The Commission is expected to update the Council on its latest contacts on the WTO/Doha round.


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