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Written Ministerial Statements

The following Statements were received between Thursday 13 September and Monday 17 September 2007


Defence Relations

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): I am today announcing the results of the Defence Attaché network, which was notified to the House by the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces on 7 February 2007, Official Report, columns 924-926W. The review was commissioned to ensure that our resources were deployed in the most cost-effective way, in support of the defence contribution to HMG strategic international priorities.

The role of Defence Attachés is to promote the Government’s priorities in the area of international security co-operation. The principal components of this policy are to strengthen international peace and stability by preventing conflicts, by contributing to the transformation of the security structures of vulnerable states, by assisting and building partnerships with those who may contribute to peace-support operations and by reducing the risk of terrorism through greater co-operation and communication. In line with this policy, we will be strengthening our representation both in Afghanistan, where we will have a Defence Attaché from April 2008, and in Pakistan, where we will have an additional Attaché from April 2008.

As part of our rebalancing of resources, Defence Sections will be closing over the coming year in Albania, Croatia, Guatemala, Ireland, Macedonia, Slovakia and Thailand. We intend to provide non-resident Attaché cover for these countries (except for Guatemala) from nearby states and, in the case of Ireland, through alternative arrangements. Defence Sections in Argentina, Egypt, France, Greece, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Poland, the Russian Federation, Spain and Ukraine will retain cover but will reduce their Attaché numbers by one. There will also be reductions in military support staff and more of their tasks will be undertaken, where appropriate, by civilian personnel. The rank of certain military posts will also be reduced at the next rotation to a level commensurate with their role.

The review of the Defence Attaché network has given an opportunity for us to provide greater emphasis and focus to the MOD’s programme of international engagement, and we have confirmed the importance of the role of the Attaché network in contributing to both defence and broader strategic priorities in the 21st century. We shall continue to review our Attaché network, as we have done regularly in the past, to ensure that our investment is effective and relevant to our international interests.

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International Development

EU Development Ministers (Informal Meeting 21-22 September 2007)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): I shall be representing the UK at the EU Development Ministers’ Informal Meeting in Madeira on 21-22 September 2007.

The agenda items are as follows:

Friday 21 September

Fragile States

Development Ministers will discuss an issues paper on fragile states with the objective of developing a more coherent approach for the EU to respond to fragile situations and difficult environments. This will include clarifying the comparative advantage of the Commission in fragile situations and developing guidelines for a more coherent and systematic approach to analysing the causes of fragility and consequent interventions.

Development and Security

Following on from the discussions on fragile states, over lunch Ministers will respond to a number of questions on development and security. This is one of the Portuguese Presidency’s priorities and the Portuguese Defence Minister will also be present.

Humanitarian Consensus

It is the objective to agree a European consensus on humanitarian aid by the end of the year that will help to strengthen the collective efforts of member states and ECHO both to influence global humanitarian policy and to ensure timely and effective assistance on the ground. Discussion will focus on the initial draft consensus.

Economic Partnership Agreeements (EPAs)

European Development Ministers are expected to discuss the current state of play of the Economic Partnership Agreements. The deadline for concluding these agreements is fast approaching and there needs to be a focus on encouraging the ACP to put forward their own market access offers. The Government will be urging other member states to ensure that the EU market access offer is not diluted.

Development Ministers are expected to discuss development co-operation within the EPAs. The Government will be urging other member states to continue to give reassurance to the ACP on financial assistance.

Home Department

Control Orders

The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

Control orders continue to be an essential tool to protect the public from terrorism, particularly where it is not possible to prosecute individuals for terrorist-related activity and, in the case of foreign nationals, where they cannot be removed from the UK.

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During the period 11 June 2007 to 10 September 2007, two new control orders were made with the permission of the court under section 3(l) (a) of the 2005 Act and, on 25 June and 4 July 2007, served on two British citizens.

Control orders can only be made and renewed if they meet the test set out in the Prevention of Terrorism Act in that:

Obligations are tailored to the individual concerned and are based on the risk that individual poses. Each control order is kept under review to ensure that the obligations remain necessary and proportionate. Specifically, as Lord Carlile recommended in his February 2006 report on the operation of the control order system, the Home Office has established a Control Order Review Group (CORG), with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular (quarterly) formal and audited review and to facilitate a review of appropriate exit strategies. During this reporting period, four review groups were held in relation to the orders currently in force. In addition, further meetings were held on an ad hoc basis as specific issues arose.

As a result, during this reporting period, five control orders were renewed in accordance with Section 2(6) of the 2005 Act. Four control orders have expired and one has been revoked since the last report.

In total, therefore, there are 14 control orders currently in force, eight of which are in respect of British citizens. Four of the individuals live in the Metropolitan Police Service area; the rest fall within other police force areas.

Three of the 14 individuals currently subject to a control order have absconded—one in January 2007 and two in May 2007. One further individual absconded during this reporting period—in June 2007. His control order expired on 31 July 2007. Details in relation to this abscond were given in a written statement on 21 June 2007. Parliament has also previously been informed of a further individual who absconded in May 2007. This individual is currently on remand and therefore when his control order expired during this reporting period no further control order was made against him.

The anonymity order for the individual who absconded in September 2006 was lifted by the High Court on 25 May 2007. The anonymity orders for the two individuals who absconded in May 2007 were lifted by the High Court on 23 May 2007. For police operational and legal reasons, the Government are not currently seeking to lift the anonymity orders of the other two individuals who absconded (one in January 2007 and the other in June 2007). Finding individuals who have absconded is an operational matter for the police and investigations are ongoing.

During this reporting period, 25 modifications of control order obligations were made and 23 requests to modify a control order obligation were refused. A right of appeal exists in Sections 10(1) and (3) of the
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2005 Act against decisions by the Secretary of State relating to the modification of obligations imposed by non-derogating control orders. Appeals have been made in respect of 10 modification requests that were refused and one modification which was made by the Secretary of State.

There have been no prosecutions for breaches completed during this reporting period.

During this reporting period, three court judgments relating to control orders were handed down from the High Court. In the control order review hearing in Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF [2007] EWHC 1970 (Admin) the High Court accepted that the Secretary of State had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the individual was involved in terrorism-related activity and that the control order and obligations were necessary to protect the public. The control order modification hearing in Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF [2007] EWHC 2001 (Admin) was heard between 23 and 25 July 2007. AF had appealed the Secretary of State's decision to refuse 10 modification requests. The High Court upheld the Secretary of State's refusal to make eight of the requested modifications, but directed that the Secretary of State slightly modify two of AF's obligations.

The control order modification hearing in Secretary of State for the Home Department v Mahmoud Abu Rideh [2007] was heard on 29 August 2007. On 7 September, the High Court dismissed Mr Abu Rideh's appeal.

The House of Lords heard the cases of JJ and others, MB, AF and E in July and considered issues relating to Articles 5 (Right to Liberty) and 6 (Right to a Fair Trial)of the European Convention on Human Rights. In relation to E, the Lords also considered the extent, if any, of duties on the Secretary of State under section 8 of the 2005 Act and the duty to consult the family about the impact on them of the control order. We await the outcome.

Independent Police Complaints Commission Report (Police Road Traffic Incidents)

The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): I can announce today that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report on police road traffic incidents has been laid before Parliament and will be published tomorrow, Tuesday 18 September 2007.

This is the first report from the IPCC on this subject. The report provides findings from a study of cases involving serious and fatal injuries resulting from road traffic incidents involving the police between April 2004 and September 2006. It includes recommendations for police forces and the Association of Chief Police Officers for better management of police pursuits, and improvements will be made to the Association of Chief Police Officers’ guidelines for the management of police pursuits.

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Office of the Public Guardian ( Performance Targets for 2007-08)

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): On 1 October 2007, I will launch the Office of the Public Guardian. The new agency will be created by the transition of the current Public Guardianship Office into the new Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG will support the Public Guardian to regulate all decision makers who are appointed to make the whole range of finance, health and welfare decisions for people who lack capacity and those who live and work with them. The OPG will also provide support for decision makers appointed by the Court of Protection to ensure that they have the necessary skills and information to manage effectively the affairs of someone who is not capable of doing so.

I have set the following Key Performance Indicators for the Office of the Public

Guardian for 2007-08:

KPI 1: Lasting Power of Attorney/Enduring Power of Attorney

KPI 2: Supervision of Deputies

All deputyship cases will require a supervision regime based on a risk assessment. Risk criteria include: whether a deputy has been refused credit or is an un-discharged bankrupt; whether the deputy has any financial interests which conflict with those of the client; the value of the client's estate; the relationship of the deputy to the client and any objections which were made to the appointment to the deputy.

KPI 3: Customer Contact

KPI 4: Investigations

The OPG will carry out investigations where required.

KPI 5: Customer Satisfaction

Based on inherited experience the OPG will investigate, develop and agree a baseline for future customer satisfaction. It will carry out at least one full customer satisfaction survey.

The OPG will set an agreed process for surveying customer satisfaction by April 2008.

KPI 6: Finance

Based on the statutory instrument for fees approved by Parliament the OPG will aim to achieve the following targets for full cost recovery.

Full cost excludes the cost of remissions as the Court of Protection has discretion to waive a fee if the client or their dependents would experience hardship by paying and it is therefore considered a social subsidy not recovered as detailed in the OPG's publicised remissions and exemptions policy.

Copies of the Office of the Public Guardian Framework Document and Business Plan will be available in the Printed Paper Office, the Vote Office and in the Libraries of both Houses from 17 September 2007 and from the website of the OPG

www.publicguardian.gov.uk from 1 October 2007.

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