The UK Government considers that it would be contrary to this general approach for the English cricket team to participate in bilateral fixtures with Zimbabwe. The close ties of the Zimbabwe Cricket team to the Mugabe regime have also had a bearing on our decision.
I can assure you that this is not a decision we have taken lightly. The Government strongly defends the autonomy of our sports' governing bodies. We also support the autonomous management of international sporting competitions by international sports federations and independent representation of British sporting interests on such federations by our national governing bodies. This decision on Zimbabwe does not alter that general position, but is made in response to the exceptional circumstances in this case. It would never be our wish to penalise domestic supporters, and nor would we wish to place players particularly in the uncomfortable position of having to take difficult individual judgements on these matters.
The Government has previously called on the ICC to reconsider its rules to allow teams to forfeit tours to countries, such as Zimbabwe, where serious human rights abuses are occurring. Unfortunately the ICC has declined to do so. Therefore, the Government has decided to make clear that it is prepared to prevent the bilateral tour in 2009 and will take all necessary steps to prevent players from Zimbabwe from participating in that tour.
The Government welcomes reports that the issue of Zimbabwe's involvement in world cricket is on the agenda at the ICC Annual conference which is taking place next week in Dubai. We hope that this letter will help ECB play a full part in these discussions, and lead to a positive outcome particularly in relation to the important event, ICC's World Twenty20 Tournament, due to be staged in England in 2009.
I trust that this letter sets out clearly the position of Her Majesty's Government. It is not a letter I take any pleasure in sending, nor one that I would wish to repeat. However, in these exceptional circumstances, I hope the reasons for it will be understood in the wider cricketing world.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): On 21 January 2008, Official Report, columns 1225-37 and 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 78WS, I informed the House about the theft of laptop computers containing a database with personal records relating to individuals who had expressed interest in joining the armed forces, and that I had invited Sir Edmund Burton to conduct a full investigation into the circumstances that led to the MODs loss of this personal data; the effectiveness of the immediate measures we introduced to prevent any recurrence; and the adequacy of the Departments policy, practice and management arrangements for the protection of personal data more generally.
Sir Edmund has reported, and I have placed a copy of his report in the Library of the House and published it on the Departments website at: www.mod.uk. I am very grateful for the effort that Sir Edmund and his team have put into this review. The report is in two parts with an executive summary. Part one sets out the events leading up to the loss of data on 9 January 2008, covering the relevant issues surrounding the Training Administration and Financial Management Information System (TAFMIS) and the attendant policies and procedures. Part two considers the broader MOD approach to personal data protection, drawing on the emerging findings of the Cabinet Office Review of Data Handling Procedure in Government, whose final report is also being published today. Further detail and a summary of Sir Edmunds 51 recommendations are given in the annexes to the report. These have been published in full, although the names of those consulted have been redacted.
I accept all 51 of Sir Edmunds recommendations, and I am determined that we should learn the wider lessons to be drawn from this incident. At the direction of the Defence board, an action plan has been prepared to implement the recommendations, and this is being published today also. The senior management of the MOD, in the form of the Defence board, accepts that it has ultimate responsibility for the effectiveness of the Departments information management and assurance, and will supervise the implementation of the action plan.
The action plan has been shown to Sir Edmund, who has indicated that it has his support and is in his view capable of delivering the improvements in practice which his report concludes are necessary. Sir Edmunds report, and the action plan including the immediate steps we have taken to bring the TAFMIS system into compliance with the Data Protection Act have also been shared with the Information Commissioner; we will keep his office appraised of progress.
On the TAFMIS recruitment system, Sir Edmunds report has set out, to the extent that he has been able to establish the facts, the sequence of events that led to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force version of the system being unencrypted. This confirms that efforts were made to encrypt the system through an encryption upgrade, and that this was successful for most of the system. However, in August 2006 the encryption on the 55 TAFMIS laptops containing the Royal Navy/Royal Air Force recruit database was reported not to be working as expected. Despite examining all the available papers and interviewing relevant personnel from the Army Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD), who manage the contract for the system on behalf of all three armed services, and the system provider, EDS, Sir Edmund has been unable to find an explanation of why encryption of these 55 was not pursued by another means, and those using the system came to believe that it was encrypted when it was not. His main conclusions are that aspects of the TAFMIS project were poorly managed both by the ARTDs internal project manager and EDS; that for periods in 2006 and 2007 the laptops in question were being used in breach of MOD laptop encryption security policy; and that in certain key respects, detailed in the report, the TAFMIS system is still in breach of data protection regulations. His findings have confirmed my own suspicion that there was no robust business reason for so much personal data to be carried around by recruiting officers on their laptops. Action is already in hand to remedy this position.
After studying the report, the Chief of the General Staff has ordered an inquiry to investigate whether there are grounds to pursue either disciplinary or administrative action in respect of the management of the contract between the Army and EDS.
On the more general aspects of his review, Sir Edmund finds that departmental policies and procedures generally are fit for purpose and he gives some examples of good practice by the Department (the role of the MODs senior information risk owner; the emergency measures introduced after the loss which have been effective in preventing similar damaging losses; the network of data protection officers; and the good security data protection and information risk management procedures of the organisations within the Department for whom handling of large volumes of personal data is core business); but he is highly critical of the Departments general treatment
in practice of information, knowledge and data as key operational and business assets, and of low levels of awareness of the threats to information and of the requirements of data protection legislation. Therefore, his recommendations focus on training and steps to raise awareness and compliance, and to raise the profile of the issue within our various management boards.
Sir Edmunds investigation and other internal inquiries have established more of the facts than were available when I made my statement to the House on 21 January. Of the 600,000 recruits or potential recruits who were in the TAFMIS data base, about 1,000 dated back to 1977. In a substantial proportion of cases, the records included more limited information about next of kin and contact details for referees.
We have also established that, in addition to the three stolen TAFMIS laptop computers referred to in the statement, a further two laptops similar to those stolen in January 2008 and October 2006 were stolen from cars: a Royal Navy laptop in Bristol in August 2004 and a Royal Air Force laptop in Leeds in July 2006. In both cases the laptops were believed at the time to have been encrypted and Ministers were not informed of the losses. The personal data held on these laptops were a subset of that held on the laptop stolen on 9 January 2008 and so does not affect anyone not already affected by that incident.
Following the theft of the laptop on 9 January, the Department conducted a full internal investigation into the details of computer and other electronic storage media lost or stolen since 2003 when mandatory reporting of such incidents was introduced. This investigation has now been completed and the collated data were provided to Sir Edmund Burton as part of his review. He has summarised key elements of the data in his report.
Prior to 2003 the reporting of lost and stolen laptops was not centrally collated and it has been found that the figures for the period 1995 to 2002 may be incomplete and therefore unreliable. As the details of incidents for this period are no longer available it is not possible to provide updated figures.
In conclusion, I reiterate my deep regret over both the losses of personal data and the systemic weaknesses within parts of the MOD that led to this situation. As the Cabinet Office report also published today highlights, these reflect challenges faced by all parts of Government but that does not make them any more acceptable. Both I and senior MOD management are determined to act quickly and decisively on Sir Edmunds recommendations and bring about an early significant improvement in practice within the Department in this important area.
The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Liam Byrne): This year sees the biggest changes to Britains immigration and border security system for 45 years. Our policy will deliver strong borders, a selective migration system and an expectation that newcomers earn the right to stay. Our ambition is that migration policy maximises benefits for Britain and manages local impacts.
This strategy underpins our Australian-style points system and reforms to spouse visas, and requires us to modernise visit visas. I am therefore setting out today a
strategy for comprehensively overhauling our visit visa system. Copies are being placed in the Library of the House and include our formal response to our consultation on visitor visas published in December 2007.The full analysis of responses to the consultation can be found on the UK Border Agency website.
We will create a separate category for business and special visitors to make clear the activities that are permitted while in the UK. We will bring the current concessions for entertainers and sportspeople within the immigration rules as special visitors.
We will introduce visas for sponsored family visits. Proposals for simplifying the system for family visitors received wide support. I propose therefore to bring forward important changes. Individuals who wish to sponsor family members will need to be licensed by the UKBA. Only British citizens or permanent residents will be able to apply. Sponsors, after being thoroughly vetted, must agree to comply with their duties. We will introduce a range of sanctions for sponsors who do not ensure their family return home, ranging from a ban on future sponsorship, a civil penalty of up to £5000, and a possible jail term of up to 14 years.
We will preserve streamlined appeals for family visit visas.
Overseas domestic workers (ODWs). We are proud of the protection we afford overseas domestic workers. The current ODW visa will be preserved and then reviewed as appropriate after the first two years operation of the reformed immigration system, when we have properly road tested our anti-trafficking strategy.
Allowing up to six months for tourist visas. In our consultation document we asked whether we should reduce the maximum length of leave for tourists travelling to the UK from six months to three months. The majority of respondents did not agree with this proposal and we have agreed to retain the maximum length of leave at six months, although the UK Border Agency will have discretion to grant less than the maximum if it judges appropriate.
We know that many have a stake in us getting todays policy right. For this reason we coupled a formal consultation with meetings with parliamentarians, with community meetings with the UKs ethnic minority community and, for the first time, consultation in India, our largest visa market, supported by a cross-party delegation of community leaders and business people. Six hundred and four additional responses were received regarding the consultation.
I am grateful to everyone who contributed. I will now bring forward changes to both legislation and the immigration rules to give effect to todays announcement. Because of the significance of the changes proposed, I will publish detailed statements of intent in advance of introducing change, together with detailed impact assessments.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): I am announcing today the commencement of a feasibility and scoping study into the operation of no-win no-fee arrangements in England and Wales.
We are aware of growing concerns that no-win no-fee arrangements may not always be operating in the interests of access to justice. This includes a perception that consumer interests are not always being best served; allegations over the possible misuse of no-win no-fee agreements and a potential adverse impact on the administration of justice. We feel that now is the appropriate time for a comprehensive, objective and evidence based examination of the operation of no-win no-fee arrangements in relation to personal injury, employment and defamation/privacy cases. This work forms an important part of one of the Departments key objectives to deliver fair and simple routes to justice, including identifying any gaps in access to justice in the above areas.
We recognise that the issues at hand are complex and varied and their consideration could potentially be a large-scale exercise. Therefore, as a preliminary step, the Department has asked Professors Richard Moorhead (Director of Research, Cardiff law school), Paul Fenn (Nottingham university business school) and Neil Rickman (Head of Economics, university of Surrey, and RAND Europe) to conduct a research-based review of how conditional fee arrangements operate in personal injury, employment, and defamation/privacy cases. Today I am announcing the commencement of the scoping work the purpose of which is to highlight the key issues and identify areas that would benefit from further work.
identify representative samples of claims data in personal injury, employment and defamation/privacy cases;
examine the nature of funding arrangements in these cases and the outcome;
identify random samples of clients and legal advisers that may help provide more detailed data about the understanding of quality and change within the legal services sector; and
analyse the unmet legal needs in the areas of personal injury, employment and defamation/privacy cases.
Professors Moorhead, Fenn and Rickman are expected to report to Ministers in the autumn. The report will help determine what specific aspects ought to be pursued in more detail and the feasibility of doing so.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): The Sentencing Guidelines Council has today published its annual report, jointly with the Sentencing Advisory Panel, giving details of the excellent work it has achieved during the past year and outlining its work plans for the next 12 months.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband):
On 21 November, the Prime Minister announced that he had asked the Cabinet Secretary, with the advice of
security experts, to work with Departments to ensure that all Departments and all agencies check their procedures for the storage and use of data. An interim report, published on 17 December, summarised action taken across Government, and set out initial directions of reform to strengthen the Governments arrangements.
I am today placing a final report in the Libraries of both Houses. The final report summarises work conducted in Departments to improve data handling. It further sets out how the Government are improving information security by putting in place:
core measures to protect personal data and other information across Government;
a culture that properly values, protects and uses information;
stronger accountability mechanisms within Departments; and
stronger scrutiny of performance.
introducing new rules on the use of protective measures, such as encryption and penetration testing of systems;
standardising and enhancing the processes by which Departments understand and manage their information risk, identifying the key individuals responsible for information assets and setting out their responsibilities;
requiring quarterly risk assessment within each Department of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information;
introducing mandatory training for all staff involved in handling personal data, with training taking place on appointment and reinforced on an annual basis;
requiring the use of privacy impact assessments when introducing new policy or processes that involve the use of personal data;
introducing greater scrutiny and monitoring through the inclusion of information risk in statements on internal control, which are scrutinised by the National Audit Office and through spot checks by the Information Commissioner;
further enhancing transparency of arrangements, through annual reporting to Parliament on progress and the use of information charters which provide clarity to citizens about the use and handling of personal data; and