|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
As stated in previous quarterly statements on control orders, control order obligations are tailored to the individual concerned and are based on the terrorism-related risk that each individual poses. Each control order is kept under review to ensure that obligations remain necessary and proportionate. The Home Office continues to hold Control Order Review Groups (CORGs) every quarter, with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular and formal review and to facilitate a review of appropriate
exit strategies. During this reporting period, six 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.
In total, 14 control orders are currently in force, eight of which are in respect of British citizens. Four of the individuals live in the Metropolitan Police Service area with the rest living within other police force areas.
During this reporting period, 47 modifications of control order obligations were made. Fifteen requests to modify a non-derogating control order obligation were refused. A right of appeal exists in section 10(1) and (3) of the 2005 Act against decisions by the Secretary of State to modify an obligation imposed by a non-derogating control order, without consent, and to refuse a request by a controlled person to modify any such obligation. Appeals have been made in respect of two modification requests that were refused. One modification appeal made by a controlled individual was heard on 25 September 2007 and it was dismissed by the High Court. The other modification appeal has not yet been heard.
There have been no prosecutions of controlled persons for breaches completed during this reporting period. An individual who is not subject to a control order was, however, found guilty on 10 September 2007 of assisting an individual to breach his control order.
Judgments relating to a number of control orders were handed down by the House of Lords on 31 October 2007. The House of Lords had heard the cases of JJ and others, MB, AF and E in July and considered both articles 5 (Right to Liberty) and 6 (Right to a Fair Trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In relation to E, the House of Lords also considered the extent, if any, of the Home Secretarys duties under section 8 of the 2005 Act.
The House of Lords upheld the control orders regime and the effect of the judgment is that no existing control orders need to be weakened. Furthermore, their Lordships did not find that the review process in the cases before them had necessarily been unfair.
In relation to article 5, the House of Lords agreed unanimously that control orders with curfews of up to 14 hours did not amount to a deprivation of liberty under article 5. It was held by a 3:2 majority that control orders with 18-hour curfews do amount to a breach of article 5. The Home Secretary is disappointed that the House of Lords found against control orders containing 18-hour curfews which she feels are necessary, in certain circumstances, to protect national security. The Home Secretary believes that the ruling does, however, allow us to impose curfews of up to 16 hours.
In relation to article 6 the House of Lords unanimously held that a non-derogating control order does not amount to a criminal charge. It was further held by a majority of 4:1 that procedures for the courts to review non-derogating control ordersin particular the procedures for withholding closed materialdo not inevitably amount to a breach of the civil limb of article 6. It will now be for the High Court to review the cases of AF and MB in light of their Lordships decision and determine whether they are article 6 compliant.
In the case of E, the House of Lords upheld the Home Secretarys arguments that it is not a pre-condition
to the making of a control order that that she must consult with the chief of the police force about whether there is evidence available that could realistically be used to prosecute the person for a terrorism-related offence, and that there must be an absence of a reasonable prospect of prosecution for such an offence. They found that the duty to consult with the police with regard to prosecution would only lead to the control order being quashed in exceptional cases.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): The Home Office has today published a summary of responses to the consultation paper, Banning Offensive Weapons, which sought views on further measures to restrict the supply of weapons which are being used in violent crime.
The Governments primary concern is public safety. Ministers have concluded from the consultation that banning the sale, hire and import of Samurai swords is necessary better to protect local communities, and will make an important contribution to our wider strategy to tackle violent crime.
In reaching a conclusion to proceed with banning these weapons we have taken into account both responses to the consultation paper and the views expressed in a larger amount of correspondence which we have received since we first raised the possibility of amending the Offensive Weapons Order. We will seek to protect the legitimate use of Samurai swords by certain groups through enforceable exemptions and defences.
Copies of the consultation document are available in the Library of the House and on the Home Office website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): I wish to inform the House of a recent error in processing an application for section 44 Stop and Search powers under the Terrorism Act 2000.
The application by Sussex police, dated 3 September 2007, did not follow the recognised procedure. Forces submit applications to the National Joint Unit (NJU) at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) which are then sent to the Home Office for ministerial authorisation. This must occur within 48 hours of the request being signed by an officer of assistant chief constable or above (Commander in the MPS) in the relevant force. In this case, due primarily to a process failure, the application was not passed to the Home
Office for ministerial authorisation but the force continued to use the powers for the period up to 25 September when the next authorisation was submitted to the NJU. Sussex police has confirmed that 259 stops and searches were carried out at Gatwick airport during the unauthorised period. This relates to the period between the previous authorisation expiring and the next one being signed by the force.
This error was identified on 25 September 2007, when an application for section 44 powers was received by the Home Office making reference to the previous authorisation for Sussex police. I met officials at the Home Office on 27 September to discuss the matter. Officials were in contact with both the then chief constable of Sussex police and the NJU to establish where and how the failure took place, and to put in place more robust systems to ensure that there was no repeat of this error. On 25 October I subsequently wrote to the new chief constable of Sussex police outlining my concern that this error had occurred. I also wrote to Lord Carlile in his role as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. Lord Carlile replied on 9 November to indicate that he would be recording this incident in his annual review, which I expect to be published in Spring 2008. A note from ACPO (TAM) (Association of Chief Police Officers, Terrorism and Allied Matters) was disseminated to all forces on 14 November outlining the more robust section 44 process.
No arrests occurred as a result of these stop-and-searches; however, Sussex police will shortly be writing to all of the individuals concerned to apologise. Since this error came to light, it has been brought to my attention that this is not the first time that Sussex police have used these powers without proper authorisation. Regrettably, a similar incident occurred in June 2003. All steps have now been taken to ensure, with the NJU, that such regrettable and serious omissions do not occur again.
In light of this, Home Office officials are reviewing previous section 44 authorisations to identify any other occasions where the power has been used in error. Officials will keep Lord Carlile and me informed and I will report back to the House as appropriate.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas): I represented the UK for the session on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 10 December 2007. The Foreign Secretary attended all other sessions for the UK.
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and Development Commissioner Louis Michel represented the European Commission and gave an update on negotiations and proposed that the Council approve the Regulation 2007 0205/ACC. The Commission confirmed that to date 17 countries had signed a goods-only Economic Partnership
Agreement and reported that there is a good possibility that Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Namibia and the Caribbean will sign agreements in the coming week. The Commission believes that the recent progress was due to their flexibility and generosity and the approaching external deadline of 31 December 2006 when the Cotonou agreement, which governs current trade relations between the ACP and EU, will expire.
Our objective at the Council was to continue to maximise the development benefits of EPAs, in particular to protect the duty and quota-free access from 1 January and the liberalised rules of origin offer from amendment, whilst also ensuring that no ACP country has worse market access from 1 January. The UK made the first intervention and called on the Council and Commission to ensure that poor countries do not face tariff increases as of 1 January 2007. The UK also urged negotiations to continue over the coming days and for further discussions to take place at a Council meeting next week. We also welcomed President Barrosos recent commitment to review progress on EPAs in the new year and the Commissions unwillingness to adversely amend the duty and quota-free access and rules of origin offers.
This stance was supported by the Netherlands who also argued for a debate at future Councils before the end of the year. Ireland took a similar view. However, a series of other member states noted their support for immediate approval of the regulation as of 10 December. The presidency concluded therefore that the Council adopted the regulation on EPAs, which formalises the market access offer of 100 per cent. duty-free quota-free market access to the EU with improved rules of origin for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that have signed WTO-compatible agreements.
The UK, along with the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland therefore made a declaration setting out our continued concern for non-LDCs who have not yet initialled an agreement and urged the Commission to show maximum flexibility over the coming days in order to secure agreement with the remaining non-LDCs in particular.
The Commission stated they will continue negotiations with other countries and that those ACP countries which sign agreements before the end of 2007 will also benefit from this improved access to the EU from 1 January. The Commission will report back to the General Affairs and External Relations Council in January 2008.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice):
In their consultation paper on the law on damages which was published on 4 May 2007, the Government announced their intention to increase the level of bereavement damages awarded under section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 every three years for inflation in line with the retail prices index (rounded to the nearest £100), and that the first
such increase would be made later in the year. Bereavement damages were last increased from £7,500 to £10,000 on 1 April 2002.
To give effect to this, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor has laid before Parliament an order increasing the level of bereavement damages awarded under section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act from £10,000 to £11,800. An order has also been laid under Article 3A(5) of the Fatal Accidents (Northern Ireland) Order 1977 to make the same increase in the level of the award in Northern Ireland. The orders will take effect from 1 January 2008, and the increased level of the award will apply to all causes of action that accrue on or after that date.
In July 2005, the Law Commission was asked by the Government to review the law of murder in England and Wales. In December 2006, it published its report on Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide with wide-ranging recommendations for changes to the law. That report was intended as the first stage in the review of the law, with the Government undertaking the second stage.
It is that second stage which begins today. The Government have considered the Law Commissions recommendations carefully and have decided to proceed on a step-by-step basis, looking first at the recommendations for:
reformed partial defences to murder of diminished responsibility and provocation (including the use of excessive force in self-defence);
reformed offences of complicity in relation to homicide; and
improved procedures for dealing with infanticide.
We want the review to be open and transparent. Over the next few months we will be talking to key stakeholders, both inside and outside the criminal justice system, to seek their views on the Law Commissions recommendations in these areas. We will publish draft clauses for consultation next summer prior to introducing any necessary legislation.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Phil Hope): I am announcing today that the Community Development Foundation will be the lead national partner for Grassroots Grants, the Governments programme to help develop and sustain the grant funding available to small community organisations in England.
The final report of the review of the future role of the third sector in social and economic regeneration (Cmnd 7189) announced that, in addition to the £80 million we will be making available for small grants to the community sector over the CSR period, we would also make £50 million available in capital grants to local independent foundations to invest in endowment funds. These capital grants will generate income to support frontline organisations in the future and lever in additional money from the private sector on a matched basis. The allocation of £130 million underlines the high importance that the Government attach to this strategy.
This combined programme will be called Grassroots Grants. It will be targeted at improving the grant funding available to the smallest community organisations which play a vital role in building strong and active communities. It will be delivered locally by independent local funders with good knowledge of their local communities and the ability to reach out and engage both small community organisations and donors.
The Community Development Foundation as lead national partner will be responsible for running a selection process to identify and appoint the local funders. It will also manage the programme once the local funders have been appointed. CDF has considerable understanding of the community sector in England and experience of managing grant programmes. The appointment is being made under a framework agreement for the provision of grant administration services which the Government have with CDF and other service providers.
CDF will open the application process to select local funders in January and applications will be invited by April. Appointments of local funders will be made in June. Full details of the application process and the programme will be announced in January.