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DFID has agreed a joint strategy with Canada and Denmark to support UNHCR over 2007 to 2009. The strategy supports UNHCR's corporate objectives and
highlights five strategic priorities: emergency response and preparedness; durable solutions; Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); age, gender and diversity; and results-based management and evaluation. This Joint Organisation Strategy (JOS) was designed in consultation with Whitehall colleagues.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): I represented the UK at the EU Development Ministers' Informal Meeting in Madeira on 21-22 September 2007.
The Portuguese Minister for Development, Joao Cravinho and Development Commissioner Louis Michel introduced this item, stressing the need to work differently in fragile contexts and to focus on prevention of violent conflict. The Minister stressed the importance of stability in helping to improve progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Picking up this point, I asked for support for the Prime Minister's Call for Action on the MDGs. In this context and others, the initiative was favourably received. In relation to dealing with fragility, along with some other Ministers, I stressed the importance of basing plans on the OECD Development Assistance Committee guidelines. I advocated the importance of learning lessons from experience with new instruments developed to fit fragile contexts, such as multi-donor Trust Funds.
The Portuguese Defence Minister (a former Development Minister), Mr Nuno Severiano Teixeira, gave a presentation on improving coherence between development and security policies. While recognising the challenges of differing time-scales and priorities, he advocated closer working, including shared management of resources and cross-departmental teams. I was able to share the positive experience of the UK with the cross-departmental Conflict Pools and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit. A number of Member States mentioned concerns about potential diversion of official development assistance to cover military expenditure. Italy is in the process of passing a new development law which should provide better protection than at present. I spoke about the UK's International Development Act in this regard. I drew attention to the importance of building capacity in the UN and the African Union for effective peace-building as well as peace-keeping. I also reminded participants of the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Minister Cravinho introduced this item on behalf of the Presidency, which aims to have an EU Humanitarian Consensus to match the 2005 Development Consensus as a commitment to best practice. While acknowledging the value of the Consensus and the good work of ECHO, I pressed for much stronger acknowledgement of the pre-eminence of the UN in co-ordination of responses to humanitarian crises and a clearer commitment to the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund. I drew attention to the importance of the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence where military or armed police personnel and equipment were deployed.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutierres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, gave a presentation encouraging Europe to take a leading role as a rational centre in the global development scene, pushing for co-ordination. He acknowledged the importance of UN reform and pointed to the limitations of the International Financial Institutions. In his view three of the main challenges facing the international community were security, migration and climate change.
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson opened the discussion of Economic Partnership Agreements amongst EU Development Ministers. He painted a mixed picture of progress. He highlighted the unprecedented generosity of the EU's offer to the African, Caribbean and Pacific partner countries, most recently with new Rules of Origin. He advised Ministers not to heed calls to extend the deadline for deals, arguing that it would be illegal under WTO rules. I acknowledged the generosity of the offer, while suggesting that even more liberal Rules of Origin could help the negotiations. A goods-only framework EPA offered the best prospects for breaking deadlock. Along with other Ministers, I stressed that the ACP must not be left worse off if it proved impossible to reach a deal.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. David Hanson): On 12 July I announced a review of restraint in juvenile secure settings in the House and, on 26 July, I set out the broad terms of reference for the review. The Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families have joint responsibility for the review. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Beverley Hughes) is the lead Minister for DCSF.
This is a very important and sensitive review and we warmly welcome the skills and experience that Mr. Williamson and Mr. Smallridge will bring to it. They have strong backgrounds in management in the public sector, having both been Directors of Social Services in large local authorities where they had responsibilities both for services for children and for secure provision. More recently they have been involved in the NHS, where they currently both chair NHS Trusts. They both have considerable experience of participating in and chairing reviews in the NHS and in Social Services. They also have a track record of working together at many levels, including joint working for the Department for International Development in developing child protection services in Eastern Europe.
The chairs will be considering whether any further issues should be brought within the broad terms of reference of the review and will decide soon the process for calling for evidence and for consulting with interested parties. We know that the chairs wish the review to be open and transparent and they are expecting to consult widely.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 makes provision for a new appointments process for Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court. The Act brings these provisions into effect once the Court is operational. The new arrangements aim to increase public confidence in the appointments process by creating greater transparency of appointments and improving competition for these positions. I believe that it is sensible to adopt the new process from now on. This is because those newly appointed to the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords will spend the majority of their career in the Supreme Court.
I will therefore adopt Section 8 of the Constitutional Reform Act on a voluntary basis, as any new appointments made will help to determine the character of the Court. This decision does not impact upon other provisions within the Act that will come into force when the Supreme Court opens for business in October 2009.
A selection commission will be formed when vacancies arise. This will be composed of the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court and members of the appointment bodies for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All new judges appointed to the Supreme Court after its creation will not be Members of the House of Lords; they will become Justices of the Supreme Court.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills):
Land Registry will today launch a formal consultation exercise to seek views on proposals to amend the Land Registration Rules 2003, (with consequent amendments to the Commonhold (Land Registration) Rules 2004) following its first comprehensive review of
the existing Rules which came into force on 13 October 2003. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available on the internet at http://www.consultations.landregistry. gov.uk/inovem/consult.ti/system/listConsultations?type =0
The proposals are intended to improve and simplify practice for the benefit of customers and, where possible, reduce the administrative burden on those customers. Many of the proposed amendments relate to existing Rules and practice but some are new. There are proposals aimed at helping the fight against fraud, including obtaining confirmation as to the identity of the parties to a transfer, lease or charge (mortgage).
The proposals reflect Land Registry's desire to create the best conveyancing and land registration system possible and to develop legislation, processes and practices that meet the needs of both property professionals and property owners.
Subject to the outcome of the proposals, the advice and assistance of the Rule Committee and the completion of the necessary amendments to the Rules, it is anticipated that the changes would come into force in November 2008.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): On 24 September 2007, I deposited copies of The Freedom of Information Act 2000 -Statistics on implementation in central Government. Q2 - April June in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I have today placed in both Libraries of the House papers relating to decisions that have been taken during the period 25 April - 5 May 2007 which relate to the North/South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Ltd under the terms of the Exchange of Notes of 19 November 2002 (Cmnd 5708).
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins):
I have today published the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel combined Corporate Plan (2007-2010) and Business Plan (2007-08). The Corporate Plan sets out the long-term strategic goals for the Panel over the three-year period and the
Business Plan sets out the Panel's key objectives and performance targets for the coming year.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Ms Rosie Winterton): I attended the transport session of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, held in Luxembourg on 2 October. The Portuguese Minister for Public Works, Transport, and Communications, Mr Mario Lino, was in the chair.
At the June Council, Transport Ministers agreed a Resolution calling on the Commission to submit proposals on ways to take forward the Galileo satellite navigation programme, following acknowledgement by that Council that the PPP process had failed. Accordingly, on 19 September the Commission issued a Communication dealing with costs, risks, procurement and governance, together with a proposal for amendment of the Galileo financing regulation and provision for funds to be transferred from the margin available under the Agriculture and Administration budget headings, to fund Galileo in the Competitiveness heading (1A).
With insufficient time for Member States to give detailed consideration to the Communication or to seek the views of national parliaments, discussion on Galileo was confined to an exchange of views. In the exchange, there was wide support for the Galileo project and for reaching an integrated decision by the end of this year. The Council Conclusions reflect these points. In the discussion I made clear the UK's strongly held view that the project should offer value for money for the Community, our opposition to a revision of the financial perspectives, and our firm view that, if the Community decides to proceed with a public procurement of Galileo, any additional funding should be found by reprioritisation within heading 1A.
Following its agreement in principle in June, the Council adopted a Resolution to establish an EU Regional Data Centre for Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships. This will create a single EU system for ship tracking, in line with the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). A decision was required prior to the participation of EU Member States in the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting, starting on 3 October. I welcomed the establishment of the data centre, while noting some remaining concerns on system integration and cost-sharing. We also presented these concerns in writing. A UK proposal to set up an ad-hoc working group to address these issues was supported by the Presidency, the Commission, and a number of Member States.
The Council reached a General Approach on each of two proposals on rail interoperability and safety which have been negotiated together. They are a Directive on interoperability of the Community rail system, combining three previous Directives, and a directive amending the 2004 Directive on rail safety. The General Approach texts on these two proposals are acceptable to the UK and successfully deal with our original concerns on establishing a clearer approach as to how the extension to the whole of the Member States rail system will be taken forward.
The Presidency and the Commission reported on the outcome of the 36th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal. The outcome on emissions trading had been disappointing. The Commission wished to examine possible further action, either within ICAO or at the forthcoming UN negotiations in December, and suggested that the Transport Council return to this issue at its November meeting.
Under AOB, the Commission presented its Green Paper on Urban Transport, entitled Towards a new culture for urban mobility. The Commission noted the consultation deadline of 15 March 2008 and the intention to publish an Action Plan in autumn 2008.
I have written to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, House of Commons and the Chairman of the Select Committee on the European Union, House of Lords detailing the outcome of the session. Copies of these letters have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): The policy of transferring to local highway authorities the responsibility for trunk roads that are considered to be non-core was first set out in the White Paper A New Deal for Transport, published in July 1998 (Cm 3950).
Following advice from the Highways Agency, informed by discussions with the relevant authorities, I have now decided that the following routes should be removed from the announced detrunking programme and remain part of the strategic road network, maintained and operated by the Highways Agency:
M32 (Bristol to M4 Junction 19);
A36/A46 (from M4 near Bristol to M27 near Southampton); and
M65 (Junctions 8 to 10).
I have written to the appropriate local highway authorities and relevant Members of Parliament, outlining the reasons for my decision. Copies of the letters to the Members of Parliament have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.