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11 Jun 2007 : Column 508

I am sure that my hon. Friend knows that all police forces in England and Wales have received sustained increases in finding under the Government. For Merseyside, the increase in total grants is £98 million—a 45.5 per cent. increase—since 1997. Merseyside also has 123 more police officers than in March 1997 and the number of police community support officers has doubled in the past six months to 466. The increases have put Merseyside police in a strong position to cope with the additional demands arising from Liverpool’s year as European capital of culture. I hope that local authorities and businesses will consider contributing to policing costs, as they stand to reap significant benefits from such investment.

Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): Will the Under-Secretary meet me and bereaved parents to hear the case for funding a major police murder inquiry into the deaths at Deepcut Army barracks, as recommended by Devon and Cornwall police?

Mr. Speaker: Order. The question is out of order and the hon. Gentleman is out of order in raising the matter here.

Jane Kennedy (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab): Although I understand the points that my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Ben Chapman) made about his constituents’ concerns about suffering a lower level of policing through management of the events in 2008, will my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary bear it in mind that the Liberal Democrat administration of Liverpool has had five years to plan for those events but has signally failed to provide the funding, thus taking Liverpool into £20 million of debt? By notifying the chief constable too late to allow him to plan properly, the administration is left asking taxpayers throughout Britain to fund Liverpool’s year of culture. Are not all of us who wish Liverpool well in that year in danger of being let down by its administration?

Joan Ryan: My right hon. Friend makes an important point. The policing costs are not a sudden or unexpected pressure. Liverpool opted to bid to be the European capital of culture; it was a voluntary decision. One would presume that those responsible chose to bid on the basis that the benefits would exceed the costs. They should factor in the cost of security when they decide to bid. As my right hon. Friend said, the administration has known since 2003 that Liverpool would be the European capital of culture. The local police have had plenty of time to prepare and plan, and that is certainly true of the local authority.

My right hon. Friend knows that the chief constable and the assistant chief constable have already briefed my hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter Terrorism and Police on the policing aspects of the year. He also visited Merseyside—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I think that the Under-Secretary has made the point.

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Acceptable Behaviour Orders

7. Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): What representations he has received on plans to issue acceptable behaviour orders to first time offenders convicted of burglary. [141129]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): None. There is no such proposal.

Miss McIntosh: Will the Minister therefore account for the fact that there have been very credible newspaper reports that the Government are planning to introduce antisocial behaviour orders or acceptable behaviour contracts for first-time offenders of burglary? Will the Government now take this opportunity to restore the balance in favour of the victims of burglary, such as the mother of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess), because the law has moved too far in favour of the offender rather than the victim?

Mr. Coaker: The hon. Lady makes a reasonable point, but it is precisely the Government’s position that we expect people caught and charged with burglary to be put before the courts. That is what we expect. We do not expect behavioural interventions to happen for burglary, though it may be that, on conviction, a criminal sentence is given by the court, with an antisocial behaviour order applied as well as the criminal sentence. Intervention before, however, is not appropriate. As far as the Home Office is concerned, we believe that any burglar should be arrested, charged and put before the courts.

Mr. Jim Cunningham (Coventry, South) (Lab): In relation to antisocial behaviour, will my hon. Friend consider having discussions with police forces up and down the country with a view to introducing a knives amnesty? Some years ago, the Coventry Evening Telegraph, together with the police, introduced a voluntary amnesty, which was very successful.

Mr. Coaker: A knives amnesty is obviously a matter for local police forces, but we are prepared to consider any representations that we receive with respect to that or any other matter, including antisocial behaviour orders.

Mr. Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): Acceptable behaviour orders may or may not be effective against some burglars, but what is beyond doubt is that many burglaries and other crimes are drug related. The Home Office has rightly taken up concerns about rising crime rates in my area, but at the same time has cut funding to the drug intervention programme by 11.5 per cent. in this financial year—with very little warning to the drug action team or other local drug and alcohol advisory teams. Is that not a bad example of joined-up government?

Mr. Coaker: Before 2003, there was no such thing as a drug intervention programme. Furthermore, the £149 million that I believe we are spending on drug intervention programmes means that, for the first time, people arrested for drug-related offences now have an intervention programme that not only treats their drug-related addiction, but punishes them for the criminal activity that they have undertaken.

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East Midlands Special Operations Unit

8. Mr. Bob Laxton (Derby, North) (Lab): What his plans are for future funding of the east midlands special operations unit. [141131]

The Minister for Security, Counter Terrorism and Police (Mr. Tony McNulty): First, I believe that I may have inadvertently accused the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) of being mendacious, which I am sure is unparliamentary. I meant, of course, that he was totally misguided, but I was not referring in any way to his veracity or honesty. I apologise for that.

As to the east midlands special operations unit, Home Office funding totalling some £6 million for last year and this year has been provided. Continuing funding from 2008-09 will, of course, be a matter for the comprehensive spending review.

Mr. Laxton: I am sure that the Minister agrees with me that the east midlands special operations unit is doing some exceptionally valuable work in dealing with high levels of organised crime. May I remind my hon. Friend that he made a statement on the police grant earlier this year, in which he accepted that Derbyshire was, shall I say, not the most generously funded police authority? Clearly, if there is no guarantee of ongoing funding for this special operations unit, there may be some doubt about its future—hence my question.

Mr. McNulty: I hear what my hon. Friend says. Not just for the benefit of Derbyshire, but for the other four forces involved in the east midlands, may I explain that since the discussions on merged forces, east midlands as a region above all others has made considerable progress in terms of closing the gap on protective services? I realise that that is, at least in part, because of the work done by the east midlands special operations unit. That will be a factor when we come to consider the east midlands generally under the comprehensive spending review and policing therein.

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con) rose—

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman will know better than I do whether Northamptonshire is in the east midlands. If it is, I can call him to speak.

Mr. Bone: It is.

Mr. Speaker: In that case, I call the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Bone: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I should like to ask a question on behalf of Northamptonshire police, which is one of the forces in the east midlands. The Minister has just said that everything they were doing was correct and exactly what the Government wanted, including closer co-operation on serious crime such as human trafficking. However, the Government will not give a guarantee of funding for the future. Surely that is a mistake. Should not the Minister give such a guarantee?

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Mr. McNulty: I simply cannot give that guarantee, because of the due process across Government in relation to the next three years of the comprehensive spending review.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): One of the few positive outcomes of the abject and abortive attempt to amalgamate the five forces of the east midlands, including Leicestershire, was a renewed focus on the performance of those forces in the areas in which they have amalgamated and co-operated in an effective way. The east midlands special operations unit is a classic example of this. It is a beacon grouping which could give lessons to those in other parts of the country who wish to avoid having a regional force. I endorse the call from my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Laxton) for an extended funding commitment in the public spending review, and I hope that the Minister will back that call when the matter is under review later this year.

Mr. McNulty: As I have said, this is a matter for the comprehensive spending review, but I agree with my hon. Friend and all colleagues from the east midlands, including Northamptonshire, that there has been considerable progress on the protective and level 2 services agenda. That can be—and, I hope, will be—recognised in the next CSR, but I cannot pre-empt the review.


9. Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): When he will announce details of the Government’s revised counter-terrorism strategy. [141132]

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (John Reid): We are constantly reviewing and updating our counter-terrorism strategy. As part of this, I am pleased to announce that, tomorrow, we are launching the security and counter-terrorism science and innovation strategy. This strategy has been developed across government, led by the new Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office, and is a practical example of how we are developing a more strategic and integrated response to the threat. Science and innovation will be critical in driving forward these changes and delivering new counter-terrorism capabilities.

Stephen Hammond: I thank the Home Secretary for his answer. In July last year, the Government published a document on countering terrorism, which was a review of the 12-point plan set out by the Prime Minister after 7/7. Will the Home Secretary give us an
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update on which of the points have not yet been fulfilled, and tell us what actions he plans to take to fulfil them?

John Reid: From memory, I think that all but one of them have been either started or completed. On the overall picture, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we have increased the annual spending on counter-terrorism and resilience to £2.25 billion across government over the past 12 months. In the past month, we have announced the refocusing of the Home Office towards counter-terrorism, crime and immigration, to supplement the effort of the increased resources. Most recently, I announced last week my intention to bring forward a new counter-terrorism Bill containing a range of measures, on which we hope to consult and to achieve, at best, solidarity and, at a minimum, consensus across the House. Two weeks later, I shall be leaving and handing over to a new Home Secretary, so the fight for counter-terrorism, my interest, will go on. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Members of the House for the constructive and emollient approach that they have adopted towards the Home Office in the past 12 months; it would have been very difficult to go on without the laudable appreciation that has so often been exchanged across the Chamber.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): We shall certainly miss my right hon. Friend. In dealing with counter-terrorism, is it not also important to remember the victims of terror? Will my right hon. Friend tell me whether anything can be done urgently to look into the approximately 120 outstanding claims of the victims of terror on 7 July? Some have lost limbs or sustained other serious injuries, and they have been waiting a very long time for a final settlement of their claims. Should not this matter receive much greater priority than it has done?

John Reid: I would love to say—indeed, I will—that, in the case of my hon. Friend missing me, the feeling will be mutual. Attention to the victims of the terrorist atrocities in London is given the highest priority. I cannot think of another occasion on which all the victims of a major tragedy have been seen, or at least had an offer to be seen, by at least two Cabinet Ministers. Both I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport have tried to do that. When I last inquired about reports of delays in such payments, I was satisfied that most were either the result of complicated medical evidence being awaited or claims having been submitted in the past few months. People sometimes do not claim during the initial period, as the symptoms only become obvious at a later stage. At my hon. Friend’s request, I shall reassure myself that those cases are not being neglected or receiving a lack of priority.

11 Jun 2007 : Column 513

G8 Summit

3.31 pm

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the G8 summit, which took place between 6 and 8 June in Heiligendamm in Germany.

1 pay tribute to Chancellor Merkel’s outstanding chairmanship. The purpose of the summit was to take forward the agenda first established at the Gleneagles G8 summit of 2005, on climate change and Africa.

On climate change, the scale of the challenge, environmentally and politically, has been becoming clearer month by month. There is now a scientific consensus that the planet is warming dangerously. If we do not halt and then reverse the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, we face a potential catastrophe. Sir Nicholas Stern’s report has shown that early action will save money; late action will cost it. Therefore, for the environment, this is urgent.

Politically, the problem has been clear but daunting. The United States was not part of the Kyoto treaty. The major emitters in the years to come will include China and India and developing nations. They want to grow their economies. They fear that action on climate change will limit their growth and hence keep their people—hundreds of millions of them—poor. Added to all that, Kyoto barely stabilises emissions—it is now obvious that we need substantially to cut them—and it expires in 2012.

At Gleneagles, we set up the G8 plus 5 dialogue—the first time that the US and China have sat round the same table debating how to put a new deal together. There is still a long way to go, but for the first time an outline agreement can now be seen that meets the environmental test of cutting substantially the harmful emissions and the political test of bringing developed and developing nations, notably America and China, together.

We agreed at the G8, for the first time, that a new global climate change agreement should succeed the current Kyoto treaty. We agreed, for the first time, that at the heart of that agreement should be a substantial cut in global emissions. The summit sent an important signal that the global target should be of the order of a cut of at least 50 per cent. in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050—the target set by the European Union, Japan and Canada.

We agreed at the G8, for the first time, that the process for such a new agreement should be set out. We agreed that the UN is the only body able to finalise a global deal on climate change and that a comprehensive agreement should be reached in 2009. We called on all countries to see the UN climate change meeting in December as the first step towards achieving a comprehensive climate change agreement.

The most important change was in relation to the position of the United States of America. Again, for the first time, President Bush signalled that he wanted the US to be part of the new global agreement, and would lead the attempt to get consensus among all the main countries, including China and India, so that that consensus could shape the final global deal. That is crucial. There will be no effective climate change
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accord without the US, and the US will not agree without China being part of it. Now we have an agreement in principle, a goal and a process to achieve it. Much remains to be done, but on any basis that is a substantial step forward.

We agreed that tackling climate change and addressing energy security were complementary goals. We highlighted the importance of tackling energy efficiency, dealing with emissions caused by deforestation and helping developing countries, which are likely to be worst hit by climate change, to adapt to its impacts. We agreed on a renewed effort to develop and deploy new low-carbon technologies, and we have sent a strong message that emissions trading schemes, both within and between countries, will play a key role in giving incentives to business to invest in those technologies.

Heiligendamm was never going to be about finalising a deal. It was about sending a clear signal on the shape of the post-2012 climate change framework, and that is exactly what it did. The United Kingdom, for its part, will work hard in the G8, in the United Nations and elsewhere to deliver the objective that is of such fundamental importance to the future of the world.

Two years ago the Gleneagles G8 agreed to a global increase in aid and debt relief of $50 billion by 2010, with $25 billion of that extra for Africa. It also agreed to universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010, the tackling of other killer diseases, a commitment to funding primary education, support for an African peacekeeping force, and a big debt write-off. Britain is already meeting its commitment to increase aid for Africa: I am proud to say that we have trebled it. Before the summit Germany announced an extra €3 billion over four years, and America announced an extra $15 billion for treating HIV/AIDS over five years. Overall aid has risen. We should not ignore what has already been done, or the almost $40 billion of additional debt relief for Africa since 2005, but we will need to do substantially more to ensure that the Gleneagles provisions are observed.

The G8 did, however, reiterate its commitment to delivering universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010. Since Gleneagles, around 1 million people in Africa have been receiving the antiretroviral drugs that they need. Now the G8 has agreed to fund a total of 5 million. That is more than the G8 share of the commitment as predictions stand, but we can do more in years to come to meet the 2010 goal if the need arises, and we are committed to providing $60 billion over the next few years in Africa to help to achieve that. We are also committed to meeting the estimated $6 billion to $8 billion shortfall in funding for the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, and—reflecting United Kingdom policy—to providing the long-term predictable funding that is necessary to achieve the fund’s overall goals.

The G8 committed itself to taking specific steps to tackle the alarming feminisation of the AIDS epidemic. In sub-Sarahan Africa some 60 per cent. of adults living with HIV/AIDS are women, and three out of four young people living with HIV are women and girls. The G8 committed itself to scaling up its efforts to deliver universal access of services to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to their children, to paediatric services and to maternal and child health services, at a total cost of nearly $5 billion.

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