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The presidency is likely to seek a general approach on the Council decision implementing the PrĂ1/4m arrangements for the exchange of data on fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registration. This instrument sets out the technical details to bring into operation the original Council Decision on PrĂ1/4m, which was agreed in June. In parallel the presidency has sent the text of the Council decision to the European Parliament for an opinion to be delivered during the European Parliament plenary session on 9 and 10 April 2008.

The proposal on Council decision on the improvement of co-operation between the special intervention units of the member states of the European Union in crisis situations is also likely to go to the Council for a general approach. This decision creates a framework for crisis intervention units from a given member state to provide assistance to other member states. The UK is supportive of this decision as it enables member states to receive assistance from other member states if they so require, although the UK does not envisage needing to use this agreement. The scheme is voluntary and places no obligation on member states to either request or provide assistance. The UK is able to provide assistance to another member state if it wishes to do so under this agreement. If we want to call on assistance from another member state for a foreign crisis intervention unit to exercise police powers here, we would need to make legislative changes to UK law. The European Parliament’s opinion is also outstanding on this proposal and is expected after 15 January 2008.

Two new draft directives on legal migration will be presented by the Commission. The first is for a new EU “Blue Card” scheme to attract highly skilled migrants. The second proposes a single application procedure for third country nationals entering the EU, combining separate applications for residency and the right to work into a single application. We will only opt-in to these directives if it is in the UK’s national interest to do so and we judge them to be compatible with our points-based system for managed migration.

Although the UK is not participating in the application of the draft regulation amending the common consular instructions, the UK has been involved in the discussions, particularly where they relate to biometric capture and age limits. The presidency noted that a number of key issues, which had been extensively examined at working party level, remained outstanding, and that further discussion with, among others, the European Parliament is necessary.

The presidency will report on progress made in negotiations on the draft directive on common standards and procedures in member states for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. The Government made the decision not to opt in to this Directive shortly after it was issued in September 2005. The Scrutiny Committees of both Houses agreed with that decision. Negotiations in the Council have been lengthy and the first reading has not yet been completed. There are a number of outstanding issues unresolved. The content of the draft directive has not changed sufficiently for the Government to reassess the original decision not to opt-in.

The presidency will report back on the Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs that took place in Brdo in October. They will also announce the EU-LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) seminar on migration.

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The presidency also wants to obtain agreement on the proposed directive on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters. The Government support this proposal. It believes this type of citizen focused practical measure demonstrates the value of European co-operation in this field. By promoting the use of mediation to settle cross-border disputes this instrument will be of benefit to Europe’s citizens and businesses.

A debate is also scheduled on certain aspects of the proposed Council framework decision on the recognition and supervision of suspended sentences, alternative sanctions and conditional sentences.

The presidency has stressed the importance of implementing the Council of Europe Convention and it is hoped that the Council conclusions on Cybercrime will be agreed at this Council. The Government agree on the need for co-operation with non-EU states, and fully support the Council of Europe Convention.

It is also hoped that Council conclusions on trafficking in human beings will be adopted. The Government welcome renewed activity in the European Commission on human trafficking.

The Council will conclude with a lunch for Justice Ministers to discuss the outcome of the European Court of Justice’s decision in the “Ship Source Pollution” case. The Government welcome the clarification which this judgment has provided.

Leader of the House

Deposited Papers

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): I am pleased to announce that from today all documents deposited in the Library of the House by Ministers will be done so electronically. Members and Peers will still be able to request a hard copy document from the Library as well as an electronic version which, whenever possible, will be available online at in a single series containing both House of Commons and House of Lords Library deposited papers.

The Library document “Rules for depositing papers in the Libraries of the House of Commons and Lords” is available on the Parliament website.

I am grateful to Government Departments for their co-operation and the Libraries of both Houses for their work in improving access to information for Members of Parliament and the public.

Government's Legislative Programme: 2007-08

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): Listed below are those Bills which the Government intend to bring forward. Details of each of these Bills are available from the Leader of the House of Commons website www.CommonsLeader.

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Draft Bills

Carry Over Bills


Boundary Commission for England

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I should like to inform the House that I have, under schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, reappointed Mr Michael Lewer CBE, QC as a member of the Boundary for Commission for England. The appointment is effective from 1 November 2007 to 31 October 2008.

Northern Ireland

Independent Monitoring Commission

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I have received the 17th Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). This report has been made under articles 4 and 7 of the International Agreement that established the Commission and it reports on levels of paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. I have considered the content of the report and I am today bringing it before Parliament. I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

The report confirms the IMC’s previous assessments that the ERA is fully committed to pursuing the political path and that it will not be diverted from it. Paragraph 2.2 of the report notes that “Sinn Fein’s entry into the Northern Ireland Executive has meant that the provisional movement as a whole has been
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more closely engaged in the democratic process” and that, against this background, the IMC “strongly believe that this position is now stable”.

On Loyalism, I welcome the IMC’s assessment that the UVF’s 3 May 2007 statement, renouncing violence and committing to transform itself from a military to a civilian organisation, represents ‘a major turning point’ for the organisation. The report notes that the position is not yet entirely transformed and there are some pockets of resistance but does not doubt that the leadership is clear on the direction in which it is taking the organisation, has briefed the message in the statement down to the grass roots and has started to take steps to reduce the organisation’s size.

I share, however, the concern of the IMC that the pace of real change within the UDA remains far too slow. The IMC recognise that internal turbulence within the UDA has been a key factor in this in the six months under review, giving rise to continuing incidents of violence. The report also notes the very recent progress there has been by way of contact between the UDA and the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. But the violent scenes in Carrickfergus and Bangor were a stark reminder of Northern Ireland’s troubled past. We must see an end to violence and criminality of this kind.

The IMC also calls on both the UVF and the UDA to decommission as a test by which any paramilitary organisation must ultimately expect to be judged. The report notes that in respect of PIRA the IMC did not consider it had embarked on a political path until after it had decommissioned arms in September 2005 and that it takes no different approach to the UVF or UDA.

In relation to dissident republican groups, the IMC makes it clear that these groups still pose a threat. Three paramilitary murders were reported, the first since February 2006. All three have been attributed to dissidents. These groups are ruthless and dangerous, and their intent to cause harm and destruction is undiminished, but they will not deter us from achieving long-term political stability.

Once again, I am grateful to the IMC for their submission of this report and for its careful analysis. As ever, this report offers a clear picture of the challenges ahead to secure an end to paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.

Government's Legislative Programme (Application to Northern Ireland)

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): The Third Session UK legislative programme unveiled in the Queen's Speech on the 6 November contains measures of relevance to the people of Northern Ireland.

The following is a summary of the legislation announced in the Queen's Speech and its impact in Northern Ireland. This does not include draft Bills. The Bills listed in section 1 are not likely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly because the legislation is predominantly or wholly within an excepted area. Section 2 details Bills that are likely to contain provisions that require the consent of the Northern
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Ireland Assembly. Finally, section 3 details Bills that will have a limited impact in Northern Ireland because, for example, they extend only to England and Wales.

The list also identifies the lead Government Department.

1. The following Bills extend to Northern Ireland, in whole or in part, and deal mainly with excepted or reserved matters:

2. It is intended that the following Bills will extend to Northern Ireland to varying degrees. They will require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly in relation to those provisions in the devolved field:

Discussions will continue between the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on Bills that might include provisions that require the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

3. The following Bills will have limited or no impact in Northern Ireland:


Queen's Speech

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Des Browne): The Third Session UK legislative programme unveiled in the Queen's Speech on 6 November contains significant measures of relevance and benefit to the people of Scotland.

The Government are committed to continuing to deliver improvements to the lives of people across Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

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The following is a summary of the legislation announced in the Queen's Speech and its impact in Scotland. This does not include draft Bills. The Bills listed in section 1 are not likely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament as the legislation is predominantly or wholly within a reserved area. Section 2 details Bills that are likely to contain provisions that require the consent of the Scottish Parliament in line with the Sewel Convention. A brief description is provided of the provisions likely to require consent. Section 3 details Bills that predominantly apply to England and Wales only whilst also containing some significant reserved provisions which will have an impact in Scotland. The Bills listed in section 4 predominantly apply to England and Wales only and will have limited impact in Scotland.

The list also identifies the lead Government Department:

1. UK legislation a wholly or predominantly reserved area, unlikely to contain provisions requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament at Introduction:

The Bills in this section which deal with predominantly or wholly reserved matters are detailed below. Discussions will continue between the Government and the Scottish Executive to ensure that if provisions relating to matters which trigger the Sewel Convention are included, the consent of the Scottish Parliament will be sought for them:

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