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On 19 August PA Consulting formally notified the Home Office of the loss of a data stick containing sensitive information relating to the JTrack system which
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PA manage under contract to the Home Office. I was informed the same day and immediately initiated an inquiry into this incident, undertaken by the Home Office Security Unit with advice and support from the Metropolitan Police. The incident inquiry has now been completed. The Information Commissioner and Cabinet Office have been kept fully informed. I have also today sent a full report to the Information Commissioner and have placed a copy in the House Library.

JTrack is the operational system used by the police and Crown Prosecution Service as part of the Government’s Prolific and other Priority Offender (PPO) programme. The data on JTrack relate to prisoners and other offenders in England and Wales.

The inquiry found that data were transferred to PA from the Home Office in a secure manner. These data were not handled securely by a PA employee on their premises. Data were downloaded to a data stick. The data stick was used to transfer data between computers on the PA premises and was not encrypted or managed appropriately. The data stick went missing and, despite extensive searches, has not been found. This was a clear breach of the robust terms of the contract covering security and data handling.

Based on the findings of the inquiry, the Home Office have decided to terminate this contract. My officials are currently working with PA to take this work back in house without affecting the operation of JTrack or the PPO programme. Data transfers to PA for JTrack were suspended immediately following the incident, data handling has now been transferred to the Home Office, and the system is fully operational. Other PA activity such as system maintenance and user training will be transferred by December.

We are reviewing our other contracts with PA, specifically from a data handling and security perspective. Lessons learned from this incident more generally will be applied to working with suppliers on contracts involving sensitive data.

Together with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Ministry of Justice, we have undertaken careful assessments of the potential risks to individuals of this incident. The risk to public safety is assessed as low. The risk to individuals whose data were lost is also assessed as low. Appropriate measures are in place for individuals seeking information about the data held on them.

The Home Office has been very active in implementing the findings of the Hannigan Data Handling Review but as with other incidents of data loss the Government are reviewing the circumstances of this incident and will ensure that any lessons, including in relation to strengthening the delivery chain, are incorporated in the ongoing programme of work to provide support and guidance to Departments on information assurance.

Given the seriousness of this incident, I believe it is important both to provide external assurance to the public on our response to the incident and also to enable others to benefit from the lessons learned. Hence I have commissioned Dr. Stephen Hickey to undertake an external scrutiny of our response. I will be placing a report of his findings in the House Library in due course.

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Police Pay

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): On 6 December 2007, I published Sir Clive Booth’s report “Determining Pay in the Police Service”. Sir Clive Booth recommended that a pay review body for police officers should be created. I indicated that the Government accepted his recommendations and we would consult on proposals for implementing the necessary changes to the police officer pay machinery.

On 8 January 2008, I wrote to the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) asking them to consider a multi-year deal for police officers based on the index used by the Police Arbitration Tribunal (PAT) in 2007. I made clear that if the PNB agreed such a deal then it could be implemented in full, and the issue of implementing a pay review body for police officers would become less pressing. We therefore deferred consultation on the implementation of a pay review body while negotiations on a multi-year deal were taking place. The Government’s approach on this was also set out in “From the Neighbourhood to the National: Policing our Communities Together” (Cm 7448) published on 17 July 2008.

The official Side of the PNB made an offer of a three-year pay deal which was one of the most generous in the public sector. Regrettably, there was a failure to agree with the staff side on this basis. In the event that the PNB had agreed a multi-year deal there would have been no role for a pay review body for some time, but disappointingly for the third consecutive year a deal was not agreed.

The Government are therefore today beginning consultation on proposals for implementing a pay review body for police officers. Sir Clive Booth already consulted widely with policing stakeholders when undertaking his review. So this second consultation will be an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the detail of the proposed changes to the police officer pay machinery, including : the scope and purpose of the new body; its remit; membership and coverage.

The consultation will close on Wednesday 5 November 2008.

I have today placed a copy of the consultation document in the Library of the House.

Review of Police Injury Awards

The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): On 25 August I published a consultation document, “Review of Police Injury Benefits: Government Proposals”, which sets out proposals for a revised police injury awards scheme in the UK. We intend that the new scheme should be in place as early as is possible in 2009, following agreement of the key issues in the Police Negotiating Board by December this year.

The review of the current police injury awards scheme has given us the opportunity to ensure that we have a system of benefits with criteria suitable for modern-day conditions and which ensures that the financial support currently given to police officers and their families for injury or death in the line of duty is properly targeted and is effectively and consistently administered by police
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forces. The proposals in the consultation document cover a range of issues, including the eligibility criteria for receiving an award, the structure of benefits under the scheme for both former officers and their survivors, and the role of police authorities and medical practitioners involved in considering claims for awards.

Key proposals set out in the consultation document include:

Any changes made as a result of the review will apply to officers serving at the time of implementation, regardless of whether they have already sustained an injury. They will not apply retrospectively however, that is, to officers who have already retired when the changes come into force—they will still be dealt with under the system as it currently stands, even if they have not yet applied for an award.

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Our aim is to create a transparent, fair and effective system that provides police officers reassurance to deal with the difficulties that 21st century policing brings. I hope that a constructive and active debate ensues on the proposals we have announced.

The consultation exercise is being conducted on a UK-wide basis in co-operation with the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Office. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library. Further copies can be downloaded from: Comments have been requested by 18 November 2008.

Leader of the House

“Audit and Assurance of MPs' Allowances"

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): Following debates in July, I published a consultation document, “Audit and Assurance of MPs’ Allowances” (Cm7460) on 5 August, 2008. It outlines proposals for further action to improve the financial control and audit of the system of allowances claimed by MPs. Copies of the document are available at: I have requested that MPs submit their responses by Monday, 29 September 2008.

Prime Minister

Extraordinary European Council: Georgia/Russia

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): Between 8 and 12 August, Russian and Georgian troops clashed in Georgia’s separatist region of South Ossetia. The resulting conflict led to a tragic loss of civilian life, and the displacement of over 100,000 people.

From the start of the conflict, the UK and its international partners have been involved in intensive discussions, including through the UN, EU, NATO, G7 and OSCE, to agree a ceasefire and to find a durable and peaceful way forward. I spoke to Russian President Medvedev and to other Heads of State, including Presidents Bush and Sarkozy, to try to find a way forward. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Georgia where he met President Saakashvili and Members of his Government.

On 12 August, the EU and OSCE were able to broker a ceasefire between the parties and agreement to a way forward. This agreement included six key principles:

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Despite this plan, on 26 August, Russia unilaterally recognised the independence of South Ossetia and of Georgia’s other separatist region, Abkhazia. Russia also refused to withdraw its forces from Georgia and in some cases moved to reinforce them.

It was in this context that I and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the Extraordinary European Council on 1 September, convened by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his capacity as current presidency of the EU, to discuss the current crisis in Georgia.

At this meeting the European Council unanimously condemned Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; and expressed its grave concern about the consequences of the conflict and Russia’s disproportionate military action. Russia’s actions were in clear breach of international law and of successive UN Security Council Resolutions.

In response to Russian actions, the Council decided to conduct a comprehensive review of EU-Russia relations. This evaluation has begun and will continue in the run up to the next EU-Russia summit scheduled to take place in Nice on 14 November 2008. The EU has decided to suspend negotiations with Russia on the new EU Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) until Russian troops withdraw from Georgia to their pre-conflict line. We strongly support this decision. As I made clear during Council discussions, although the EU should continue discussions with Russia on areas of interest and concern to the EU, it cannot be “business as usual”. This review will allow us to take a considered decision about the future of EU-Russia relations.

Russia’s actions in Georgia illustrate the need for Europe to intensify efforts to ensure its long-term energy security. The European Council tasked the EU with examining initiatives to be taken to this end. We should explore all options for the diversification of energy supply in the EU, including increased support for infrastructure that diversifies energy sources, an increased commitment to renewable energy, measures to improve energy efficiency and measures to improve the internal market.

The international community must support Georgia in rebuilding the damage caused by the conflict. The European Council made clear the EU’s commitment to supply humanitarian aid and support for Georgia’s long-term reconstruction efforts, including in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Council and the Commission have been tasked to start preparations for an international conference to bring focus to reconstruction efforts. The UK will play its part. We have already committed £2 million to Georgia in humanitarian aid. The EU has pledged to step up its relations with Georgia, including through visa facilitation measures, appointing an EU special envoy and the possible establishment of a full and comprehensive free trade area as soon as the conditions are met.

At the European Council, the EU unanimously called on the parties to implement the EU/OSCE peace plan in full. On 8 September, President Sarkozy, EU Commission President Barroso and EU High Representative Solana travelled to Moscow to press Russia to abide by its commitments. I welcome the agreement reached during this meeting that Russia will withdraw its troops from Georgian territory outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia
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and that Russia will commit to international discussions on future security modalities. This is a good first step towards peace and security. But it is only the start; Russia must now implement these commitments and must engage fully in finding a lasting solution to the crisis.

The international community will support efforts to ensure lasting peace and security in the region, including through the presence of observers on the ground. In line with the EU Council conclusions and the 8 September Moscow agreement, the European Union will contribute to these efforts. EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the deployment of EU monitors at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on Monday, 15 September. It is vital that international monitors are given free and unfettered access by all sides to carry out their mandate.

The EU’s response to this crisis must also consider the implications for the EU’s common neighbourhood. On 27 August my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary travelled to Kiev where he made a speech on the need for closer ties between the EU and the region. I am pleased that the Council agreed that the EU should strengthen its relations with the region, including Ukraine. I welcome the successful EU—Ukraine summit which took place yesterday (9 September). I look forward to the Commission’s proposals for enhancing EU relations with the region, due in December this year.

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The UK will continue to work with international partners to ensure that effective support is given to Georgia and that a lasting, peaceful solution is reached as soon as possible.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I will continue to keep the House informed of developments.

Work and Pensions

Stakeholder Receptions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): I have today published a list of receptions hosted by Department for Work and Pensions Ministers in the 2007-08 financial year.

The total cost of receptions held for the financial year 2007-08 was £368.00.

DateEventNumber invitedHost

19 February 2008

Introductory reception with key Working Age stakeholders


James Purnell

5 March 2008

Introductory reception with key Pensions and Disability stakeholders


James Purnell

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