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The Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson): I have today laid before Parliament my Departments Autumn Performance Report for 2008 (Cm 7519). Copies for hon. Members are available from the Vote Office.
The Autumn Performance Report provides the first public reporting of progress on our public service agreements, departmental strategic objectives and value for money targets set for this comprehensive spending review period.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo):
On 6 December 2008 the Irish Government announced that levels of dioxins and polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs) exceeding the maximum permitted levels had been found in animal feed and pork fat in the Republic of Ireland.
Maximum levels for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in meat, fish, eggs, milk and other foods have been set by the European Commission. These are set at a very low level in order to reduce consumer exposure as much as possible. Levels of dioxins found in pork fat from the Republic of Ireland were reported to be 80 to 200 times greater than the permitted maximum levels.
Pork derived from pigs reared, slaughtered and processed in Northern Ireland is not affected by this incident. However, 13 meat processing plants in Northern Ireland had received pork from the Republic of Ireland.
On the basis of this information, the Food Standards Agency issued precautionary advice to consumers not to eat pork or pork products, such as sausages, bacon, salami and ham, labelled as being from the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.
During the course of last week, additional information became available on which farms in the Republic of Ireland had received contaminated feed. This enabled food retailers and manufacturers to trace their supplies of pork and identify if it has been affected. The current position is that in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe shops, manufacturers and caterers that can trace the origin of any pork directly to a farm that is unaffected by contaminated feed are able to continue selling their products. The food businesses will need to be able to demonstrate to local authorities that any pork on sale is unaffected.
Food businesses are being advised to test products such as pork pies and sausages that contain more than 20 per cent.of Irish pork from affected farms to make sure that they do not contain illegal levels of dioxins. Products that contain less than 20 per cent. of Irish pork do not have to be tested or withdrawn from sale.
From the information that we have at this time we consider the risk to consumers from this incident to have been very low. Consumers have been advised not to worry if they think they may have eaten affected products. The Food Standards Agencys assessment is that health effects are likely only if people are exposed to relatively high levels of this contaminant for long periods; that will not have occurred as a result of this incident.
This view has been supported by the assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). They have advised that if someone ate Irish pork of which 10 per cent. was affected by the contamination, each day throughout the past 90 days, the amount of chemicals that accumulate in the body would increase by approximately 10 per cent. EFSA considers this increase to be of no concern for this event lasting approximately three months. In the UK, the level of exposure will be much lower because most pork on the market is not from Ireland.
It has also been confirmed that the contaminated feed has been supplied to cattle farms in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Irish Government has concluded on the basis of its testing of affected cattle that there is no public health risk associated with beef.
Samples are being taken from carcasses in Northern Ireland and the results will determine the course of action to be taken. The Food Standards Agency is following the European Commissions advised approach that neither pigs nor cattle should be cleared solely on the basis of PCB marker results but should await full dioxin test results.
Eight affected cattle herds in Northern Ireland are currently under restrictions. Cattle and carcasses from these herds will remain restricted and will not enter the food chain until the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission are fully satisfied that, from the results, the cattle from these herds are fit to eat. Investigations are continuing to establish whether any potentially affected beef had entered the market prior to restrictions being put in place. Farmers and the food industry are acting responsibly and fully co-operating with the authorities.
The report provides an update on performance against the targets we set in the 2004 Spending Review and any 2002 targets that are still current. It shows that we have met our targets to reduce crime, increase confidence and bring more offences to justice. The latest data also show that we are ahead of our target to reduce unfounded asylum intake and we are on course to reduce the harm caused by drugs.
It includes our first report against the 2007 Public Service Agreements that are led by the Home Office and came into effect in April this year. These PSAs are: ensure controlled, fair migration that protects the public and contributes to economic growth; make communities safer; reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drugs; and reducing the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from international terrorism.
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Vernon Coaker): Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.
Control orders continue to be an essential tool to protect the public from terrorism, particularly where it is not possible to prosecute individuals for terrorism-related activity and, in the case of foreign nationals, where they cannot be removed from the UK.
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 individual poses. Each control order is kept under regular 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, seven CORGs 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, 15 control orders are currently in force, four of which are in respect of British citizens. Three individuals subject to a control order live in the Metropolitan Police Service area; the remaining individuals live in other police force areas. All of these control orders are non-derogating. Two individuals have been charged with breaching their control order obligations; no prosecutions for breaching a control order were completed during this reporting period.
During this reporting period, 96 modifications of control order obligations were made. Twenty-three requests to modify a control order obligation were refused. A right of appeal is provided for by section 10(1) of the 2005 Act against a decision by the Secretary of State to renew a non-derogating control order or to modify an obligation imposed by a non-derogating control order without consent. A right of appeal is also provided for by section 10(3) of the 2005 Act against decisions by the Secretary of State to refuse a request by a controlled person to revoke their order and or to modify any obligation under the order. Two appeals have been lodged with the High Court by controlled persons relating to modifications to orders or the renewal of orders in this reporting period, one of which has been withdrawn.
Both the Secretary of State and the controlled person have appealed to the Court of Appeal in this reporting period in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. Abu Rideh, subsequent to the judgment of the High Court in the substantive review of Abu Ridehs control order handed down in the last reporting period. Another controlled person has applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against a High Court judgment in relation to a modification appeal handed down in the last reporting period.
Five judgments have been handed down by the High Court in control order cases during this reporting period and one judgment has been handed down by the Court of Appeal. Two of these High Court judgments were in relation to modification appeals. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AM a judgment was handed down on 11 September 2008. The court looked at a number of modification requests and ruled in favour of the controlled person for some of the requests and in favour of the Secretary of State for one. A judgment was handed down in the case of Secretary of State for
the Home Department v. AS on 3 October 2008. The court ruled in favour of the controlled person subject to a number of conditions agreed between the parties.
On 14 November 2008, the High Court handed down judgment in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AR, AT, AU, AV and AW. The judgment related to the generic aspects of the case against five individuals who are subject to control orders. The court found that the proceedings, thus far, were compatible with Article 6right to a fair trialof the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The judgment was provisional and will form the background for the substantive review of each of the individual cases under section 3(10) of the 2005 Act.
On 17 October 2008 the High Court handed down a judgment in relation to an application made by The Times Newspapers Ltd to the court to lift the anonymity order in the case of AY. This application was opposed both by the Secretary of State and AY. The court ruled that the anonymity order should remain in place. The Times Newspapers Ltd was granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal but no appeal was lodged with the Court of Appeal.
On 24 November 2008 the High Court handed down an oral judgment in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. NN. This judgment, relating to the substantive review of NNs control order under section 3(10) of the 2005 Act, quashed NNs control order. A written judgment will be handed down at a later date.
The Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AE, AF, AM and AN on 17 October 2008. The Court of Appeal upheld the appeals of the Secretary of State in the cases of AN and AF in relation to Article 6 of the ECHR and dismissed the appeal of AE in relation to Article 6. The Court of Appeal dismissed AEs appeal in relation to Article 5right to liberty of the ECHR. The appeal of the Secretary of State in the case of AM was also dismissed. The Court of Appeal sought to interpret the judgment of the House of Lords in October 2007 in the cases of MB and AF relating to Article 6. In summary, the majority found that there is no principle that a hearing will be unfair in the absence of open disclosure of an irreducible minimum allegation or evidence. The majority also found that in assessing whether a hearing had been unfair the court must look at all the circumstances of the case including the steps taken to disclose material in open, the effectiveness of the special advocates and the difference that disclosure may have made. The Court of Appeal granted permission for AE, AF and AN to appeal to the House of Lords on Article 6 grounds.
Full judgments in most of these cases are available at: http://www.bailii.org/
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (David Hanson):
In a written ministerial statement on 29 October 2008, Official Report, column 33WS, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Children, Young People and Families and I announced our intention to publish the
report of the Joint Review of Restraint in Juvenile Secure Settings by 15 December, together with the Governments response.
hon. Friend the Minister for Children, Young People and Families also today publishing the report of the Joint Review of Restraint in Juvenile Secure Settings. Copies of the Review have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. They can also be accessed on the websites of the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Ministry of Justice: http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk and www.justice.gov.uk/publications/restraint-review.htm and www.justice.gov.uk/publications/govt-response-restraint-review.htm
The Joint Review looked in depth at the range of issues relating to use of restraint, particularly the question of safety. It recommends substantial changes in relation to the systems approved for use in young offender institutions and secure training centres. It also recommends that all systems used in the under-18 secure estate should be accredited and proposes significant improvements relating to training, monitoring, inspection and reporting.
We have accepted almost all of the reviews recommendations. We are very grateful to Peter Smallridge and Andrew Williamson, the co-chairs of the review, for the work they have done to illuminate this important and sensitive area of policy and for the practical proposals they have made. We believe that the Joint Review and the steps we are taking in response to it should make possible a broad measure of agreement on questions relating to use of restraint in the under-18 secure estate. We will make available an additional £4.9 million over the next two years to support the package of measures to drive change, including enhanced training in working with young people, defusing difficult situations and behaviour management, so that we can be certain that restraint is only ever used as a last resort and with vigorous safeguards.
A number of other documents relating to safeguarding in the under-18 estate are also being published today. The youth justice elements of the Governments response to the 3rd Joint Chief Inspectors Report on Safeguarding can be accessed on the DCSF website http://www.dcsf. gov.uk/publications/safeguardingchildrenresponse/; the Youth Justice Board is publishing its review of safeguarding in the under-18 secure estate www.yjb.gov.uk/en-gb/safeguarding; and we are updating the action plan we published in March in response to the recommendations of the coroners following the inquests into the deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood www.justice.gov.uk/publications/response-coroners-inquests-dec08.htm
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): I have today published my Departments Autumn Performance Report for 2008 (CM7510). Copies have been laid before Parliament and placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Autumn Performance Report provides Parliament with a progress report on performance against the Departmental Strategic Objectives, Public Service Agreements (PSAs) and our efficiency programme using data available up to November 2008.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): I would like to update the House on the Governments progress against commitments set out by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Ruth Kelly), in her statement on biofuels on 7 July 2008, responding to The Gallagher Review of the indirect effects of biofuels production.
As part of that response to the Gallagher Review, the Government made a commitment that the EU target of 10 per cent. renewable transport fuels by 2020 could remain an overall objective but that it should be subject to certain conditions, namely: that the sustainability criteria applicable to the target should address the indirect as well as direct effects on land use; and that the 10 per cent. target be subject to rigorous review to take account of the emerging evidence.
The 10 per cent. target is part of the renewable energy directive due to be approved by the European Parliament this week and adopted by the Council in the New Year, following negotiations between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.
The principle of a rigorous review of the 10 per cent. target received strong support from the Council and the European Parliament and the directive put forward for approval requires the Commission to, by 2014, review the cost-efficiency and sustainability of the target and, if appropriate on the basis of that review, submit proposals to the Council and the European Parliament to take action.
The UK Government have led the debate in Europe on the need to address the indirect effects of biofuels on land use and so ensure that the renewable energy directive will include sustainability criteria that address these indirect effects. The directive put forward for approval requires the Commission to, by 31 December 2010, submit a report to the Council and the European Parliament on the impact of indirect land use change on greenhouse gas emissions. This report shall, where appropriate, be accompanied by a proposal for a methodology through which the greenhouse gas emissions caused by indirect land use change will be taken into account, with a view to the Council and European Parliament endeavouring to agree this methodology by 2012.
This recognises the fact that the scientific evidence around the indirect effects of biofuels is not yet certain enough to develop such a methodology now. However, the pace of research into indirect land use change has been accelerating rapidly. The UK Government themselves are working with international partners and scientific experts to develop a biofuels research programme which will aim to address gaps in the evidence around the indirect effects of biofuels and through this group we will help ensure that development of any methodology to take into account indirect land use change is based on the best available science.
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