The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (Bill Rammell): I will attend the education section of the above Council on 25 May. The UK permanent representative will attend the Youth Council. The agenda items are as follows:
Ministers will be asked to adopt conclusions on a framework of indicators and benchmarks for monitoring progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training. The conclusions will mandate the Commission to start work on developing some of the proposed indicators. The Commission will also present information on the proposed European survey on language competences.
There will be an exchange of views on evidence-based policy-making in the field of education. Ministers will address what action should be taken to further develop and use educational research, and how such action can be supported at EU level.
Ministers will be asked to adopt a resolution on creating equal opportunities for all young people. The resolution concerns ensuring that all young people have access to services and opportunities on an equal basis, without suffering discrimination.
Ministers will exchange views and be asked to adopt a conclusion on future European co-operation in the field of youth policy. The conclusions outline how future co-operation may go forward after the present round ends in 2009. They envisage further development of European co-operation in youth policy and improved mainstreaming of youth issues with related policy fields.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): The annual report of the Serious Organised Crime Agency for 2006-07 is being published and laid before Parliament today. As required by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 the report includes an assessment of the extent to which the annual plan for 2006-07 has been carried out.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan): I am placing in the House Library today a copy of the report of the independent review conducted by Alan Rawley QC and Professor Brian Caddy into work carried out by the Forensic Science Service Ltd. (FSS) in connection with the investigation into the death of Damilola Taylor in November 2000. During the course of two trials involving two brothers who were found guilty of Damilolas manslaughter, evidence presented by the prosecution suggested that there were serious quality failures in the examination by the FSS of clothing sent to them as part of the original investigation.
The review has concluded that there were no systemic failures in the procedures carried out by the FSS at the time, but that there were human errors made by some individual scientists which is extremely regrettable. Their report makes a number of recommendations and I have asked the chair of the FSS to provide me with a considered response to those recommendations concerning the FSS. I will then be able to give full consideration to all the reports recommendations.
I would wish to thank Mr. Rawley and Professor Caddy for their very thorough review of the FSS handling of some of the evidence in this case. I would also like to express my sincere apologies to Damilola Taylors family and acknowledge the further distress this has undoubtedly caused them.