The new agency will deliver new powers to front line officers. I can announce that by the summer we will have cross conferred customs and immigration powers on over 1,000 front line staff. In addition, staff in England and Wales will be equipped with police-like powers as set out in the UK Borders Act. Passengers and goods will now be checked at a single primary line. Uniformed UK Border Agency officers will protect the
UK searching for signs of smuggled goods or immigration abuse and will have new powers to improve their ability to detain suspected law breakers. Legislation to provide for full integration of customs staff will be presented to the House shortly. Wider powers demand tough accountability. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has therefore taken over investigation of individual cases from 25 February and we intend to appoint an independent inspector of the UKBA shortly.
Further, the new agency will unlock a new relationship with 1,600 uniformed police officers at ports and airports and the UKs 1,400 Special Branch officers for whom funding has been increased to around £75 million. Today I am placing in the Library of the House a new framework of co-operation between the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The framework establishes strategic direction for intelligence sharing and delivery of frontline operations.
In a response to a recommendation in the Cabinet Office report Security in a Global HubEstablishing the UKs New Border Agency Arrangements published last November, the Home Office is working with the Association of Chief Police Officers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to consider how policingwhich is currently delivered by the local force for each port and airportmay be best organised to deliver a fuller level of integration at the border, taking into consideration the drive for greater collaboration which is at the heart of the Governments programme for improving protective services.
We are discussing with the Scottish Devolved Administration and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland ways of strengthening working relationships between the Scottish police service and the new agency taking into account the devolved nature of policing in Scotland.
By working in partnership with HMRC and the FCO, the UK Border Agency will contribute to the collection of £22 billion in tax revenue and the facilitation of international trade worth £600 billion per annum.
Expel 5,000 FNPs from Britain, up from 4,200 last year.
Sustain last years increase in the seizure of class A drugs by seizing at least 2,400 kg of cocaine and 550 kg of heroin by April 2009.
Increase by 50 per cent. the number of asylum cases concluded in less than six months.
Extend the UKs visas regime to cover a larger proportion of the worlds population.
Increase our detention capacity by 20 per cent. over the next two years to help us increase the number of immigration offenders we can remove from the country.
Lin Homer as chief executive will be supported by a board including an HMRC Commissioner, Mike Eland, a senior FCO representative, James Bevan and a senior police representative, Roger Baker, the Chief Constable of Essex.
The MOU sets out the respective commitments of the Home Office and the FCO. It details the financial, resource and management framework within which the UK Border Agencys overseas operations will function. From today UK Border Agencys overseas staff, drawn from the FCO, the Home Office and from external organisations will work as an integrated team to achieve the Governments objectives for immigration and border security.
Finally on 1 April my hon. Friends the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, and the Minister for the Middle East wrote to the Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Select Committees outlining the new procedures for dealing with correspondence on visa-related matters. On the same day my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury wrote to the Treasury Select Committee about procedures for dealing with correspondence relating to frontier detection. I am placing a copy of these letters in the Library of the House today.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): My right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clywd) has been appointed as a full member of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of Western European Union in place of my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Geraldine Smith), my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Jim Hood) has been appointed as a full member in place of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow East (Mr. David Marshall) and my hon. Friend Baroness Gale has been appointed a full member in place of my right hon. Friend Baroness Taylor of Bolton.
The Government have today issued a consultation paper on a possible Plea Negotiation Framework for introduction in England and Wales. The consultation period will run for three months and we are keen to hear from as many people as possible.
The consultation paper gives effect to one of the key recommendations of the Fraud Review published in July 2006, which was itself subject to a period of public consultation. The relevant recommendations in the review attracted a good deal of public support and my predecessor established a Working Group to devise an appropriate framework. That Working Group was chaired by Stephen Hockman QC, former chairman of the Bar Council, and consisted of representatives drawn from across the criminal justice system. The framework that group devised is the centrepiece of the consultation paper.
There will be a progress report and policy debate on three proposals in road transport: a recast regulation on common rules for access to the international road haulage market; a regulation on common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with in order to pursue the occupation of road transport operator; and a recast regulation on common rules for access to the market for coach and bus services. The Government welcome the intention to clarify and simplify the existing provisions. The proposed changes in the legislation should maintain and improve road safety while minimising the burdens on industry and they should help to reduce distortion of competition through greater levelling of enforcement and compliance between the UK and other EU road haulage and coach operators. However, we have some reservations, particularly in relation to the proposed definition of cabotage, the responsibilities of transport managers and the information to be included in the interoperable national enforcement registers. I will be raising these issues at the Council.
On rail freight, the Council will be asked to adopt conclusions on the Commission Communication 'Towards a rail network giving priority to freight. The conclusions broadly welcome the Communication and invite the Commission to devise measures to achieve the efficient operation of international rail freight services along cross-border corridors, mainly through improved co-operation between national infrastructure managers. Key UK concerns with the communication have been addressed satisfactorily in the conclusions: the Commissions suggestion of giving priority to international freight over domestic rail traffic (a problem for the UK and many other member states with mixed, passenger and freight, traffic) has been substituted with a more general objective of facilitating efficient flows of international rail freight; the Commissions apparent preference for new legislation to achieve its objective has been mitigated by an invitation to consider also the consistent implementation and rigorous enforcement of existing EC legislation, alongside new legislation where this may be required; and the Commission has been invited to develop relevant alternative proposals on the basis of an appropriate analysis of their impact and their relative costs and benefits and in accordance with the principles of Better Regulation. The UK can be satisfied with this successful outcome which will enable it to support these Conclusions in Council.
In November, Ministers agreed conclusions on the Galileo satellite navigation programme defining the general principles for a public sector governance and procurement strategy for the programme. This Council will be asked to reach a general approach on the text of a regulation to implement the agreement reached in November. The Government have sought to ensure the current text of the regulation provides for the implementation of sound project management principles where the risks can be effectively managed, a fair and competitive playing field
for suppliers at all levels, including SMEs, and robust measures for the control of costs. I believe the current text meets the UKs objectives. A number of issues remain under negotiation including the role and responsibilities of the European Parliament and ensuring a clear division of tasks between the Commission and the Galileo supervisory authority in the programme. It is possible that some of these will have to be resolved in discussions at Council itself. The Government are keen to ensure an efficient decision-making process, project management and governance structure.
The Council will be asked to reach a political agreement on a directive on airport charges, which aims to establish a framework of common principles as to how airports determine their charges for aircraft landing, take-off and handling of passengers. As well as setting standards for transparency and consultation, the directive requires an independent supervisory body to intervene in the case of disagreement over a decision on charges. As part of a political agreement, the UK supports the adoption of certain amendments proposed by the European Parliament where they strike a balance between the interests of airlines and airports without imposing unnecessary or disproportionate regulation.
The Council will also be asked to reach a general approach on a regulation on a code of conduct for computerised reservation systems, to replace the existing Regulation 2299/89. The UK supports the proposed general approach that aims to update and simplify the existing code and bring it into line with other European legislation, while maintaining safeguards against anti-competitive behaviour.
The Council will be asked to adopt conclusions relating to a Commission Communication entitled An agenda for a Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation. The draft conclusions welcome the Commissions overview of the sector and its coherent position on the future development of general and business aviation. We welcome recognition of the need for proportionality in any future European regulation, given the diverse nature of general and business aviation activities. We support the conclusions, which recognise that general and business aviation provides important social and economic benefits, and that there should be a common set of data on this sector, in order to contribute to safety improvements and a better understanding of the sector.
There will be progress reports and policy debates on two current legislative proposals in maritime transport. These are a directive on compliance with flag state requirements and a directive on the civil liability and financial guarantees of ship owners. The Government have consistently argued that the Commission has yet to establish either a compelling need or a robust better regulation case for these proposals. We recognise that the Slovenian Presidency has made a significant effort to reach an agreed compromise on these proposals. Despite this effort, however, the majority of the member states, including the UK, are continuing to voice their strong concerns on both proposals and agreement is unlikely in the near future. There are five other maritime safety measures (ship classification, accident investigation, port-state control, vessel-traffic monitoring and carrier liability) which risk being
delayed due to the ongoing discussion on flag state and civil liability. The Government consider that it is more important to finalise these five other proposals rather than to continue to pursue agreement on flag state and civil liability at the present time.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has set a range of high-level targets for the 2008-09 year on behalf of the agencies within the Safety, Service Delivery and Logistics Group; the Driving Standards Agency, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the Vehicle Certification Agency, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and the Government Car Despatch Agency. They are included in the Agencies Business Plans together with their associated measures. The plans also include a range of management targets, performance indicators and key tasks which are appropriate to the agencies businesses. Copies of the business plans will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly.
|The Key Targets for the Driving Standards Agency are:
|Secretary of State Targets (target measures are italicised)
Deliver the first year of the Comprehensive Spending Review by achieving £6 million of efficiency savings. Maximise productivity by improved attendance management to reduce sick absence to an average of no more than 10 days per employee.
|Secretary of State Targets (target measures are italicised)
|Secretary of State Targets (target measures are italicised)