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18 Jun 2007 : Column WS1

Written Statements

Monday 18 June 2007

Energy: Efficiency

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): On 21 June, the House will participate in an event entitled “Lights out London”, when lights and non-essential electrical appliances will be switched off all over London, to raise awareness of global warming. The switch-off will take place between 9 and 10 pm. The event will be publicised.

Members and staff are reminded of the need to switch off lights and other electrical equipment on every day when they are not in use.

EU: General Affairs and External Relations Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Europe (Geoff Hoon) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 17 and 18 June in Luxembourg. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett) will represent the UK.

The agenda items are as follows:

General Affairs

Treaty Reform Process

The council is expected to discuss the presidency's report on the state of discussions on EU institutional reform, including the issues raised during consultations with member states. The Government believe that the way forward should be on the basis of an amending, rather than a constitutional, treaty.

Preparation of the European Council

The council is expected to look ahead to the European Council on 21 and 22 June, at which we expect treaty reform to be the main item.

Global Approach to Migration

The council is expected to adopt conclusions on the basis of a Commission communication on extending the global approach to migration to the east and south-east of the EU, and on circular migration and mobility packages.

External Relations

Doha Development Round

The Commission is expected to brief the council on preparations for the meeting of the G4 (EU, US, Brazil and India) on 19 to 23 June in Potsdam. Discussion at the council is likely to focus on the importance of a balanced deal and the role of the G4 members and the Commission in the process. The Government want to see an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the World Trade Organisation round.



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European Neighbourhood Policy

The council is expected to adopt conclusions on the European neighbourhood policy acknowledging and building on the presidency progress report. The Government support a strengthened ENP offering improved incentives to reform and a neighbourhood investment fund that improves the effectiveness of financial assistance in the neighbourhood.

Central Asia Strategy

The presidency is expected to present its strategy for the development of EU relations with central Asia, which the Government support.

Western Balkans

The council is expected to discuss Serbia and Kosovo. It is also likely to adopt conclusions on Serbia and Schengen visa facilitation. The Government support Enlargement Commissioner Rehn’s decision to restart negotiations with Serbia on its stabilisation and association agreement (SAA) on the basis that full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will remain a requirement for SAA conclusion.

Middle East Peace Process

The council is expected to discuss the forthcoming quartet meetings at the end of June with the parties and the Arab League; the continuing insecurity in Gaza; and the political situation in Israel following the Labour Party primaries on 12 June. The council may also discuss economic development and capacity building. The Government believe the EU must continue to play a role in support of the political horizon talks between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, including through building Palestinian institutional capacity.

The council is expected to adopt conclusions on the situation in Nahr Al-Bared, which has seen a series of violent clashes between the Lebanese army and the Sunni extremist group Fatah Al-Islam. The conclusions underline support for the Lebanese Government's efforts to bring the situation under control, condemn Fatah Al-Islam and stress the need to respect humanitarian needs.

Arab League Initiative

The presidency has proposed an EU troika meeting at senior official level with representatives from the Arab League. The Government support this proposal in so far as it does not duplicate existing EU structures for dialogue with Middle East partners, for example the EuroMed partnership.

Iran

The High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, is expected to brief the council on his recent discussions with Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. The council is also expected to adopt conclusions.

Sudan

The council is expected to discuss the importance of securing Sudanese acceptance for the third phase of the UN support for the African Union peacekeeping force, a hybrid African Union/UN force, and to consider possible next steps. The Government believe the EU has an important role to play in maintaining pressure

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on the parties, supporting the UN and African Union, and in financing the African Union mission in Sudan until a UN force arrives.

Death Penalty Initiative

The presidency is expected to brief partners on its proposal for the council to endorse a decision in principle for the EU to introduce an anti-death-penalty resolution at a forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly. The Government support this approach on the basis that any proposal will be carefully planned to ensure the best chance of success.

Libya

External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner is expected to update the council on progress towards securing the release of the Bulgarian and Palestinian medical staff imprisoned in Libya, including her visit to Libya with Foreign Minister Steinmeier on 10 and 11 June.

EU: Health and Safety Law

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Anne McGuire) has made the following Statement.

The European Court of Justice has today delivered its judgment in the long-running infraction case (C-127/05) against the United Kingdom concerning the UK's alleged under-implementation of the EC's health and safety framework directive (89/391/EEC) by the use of the qualifier “so far as is reasonably practicable” (SFAIRP) on an employer's duty to safeguard his or her workers. The court has dismissed the European Commission’s case and awarded the UK costs.

I welcome this decision. It enables us to maintain our proportionate and risk-based approach to protecting employees and others effectively, while allowing common sense to be applied when deciding what protective measures to adopt.

Export Controls

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Science and Innovation (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government will today, Monday 18 June 2007, launch their review of UK strategic export controls, in the form of a full public consultation.

The UK's strategic export controls support the Government's counter-proliferation objectives. They are based on the Export Control Act 2002, in particular its secondary legislation, which came into effect in 2004. This legislation overhauled the UK's export control system for the first time in more than 60 years and provided the comprehensive legislative framework needed to control proliferation activity and police the arms trade effectively in today's increasingly complex

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world. The changes were radical and far-reaching. That is why the Government made a public commitment to undertake a post-implementation review three years after implementation.

This review will enable the Government to revisit the UK's strategic export controls in the light of experience, to establish whether they are having the intended effect without imposing unnecessary or disproportionate burdens on business. The Government will also need to look to the future, so the consultation document sets out options for further change, many of which have been identified in discussions with both industry and non-governmental organisations. Ultimately the Government's aim is to find an effective and proportionate way to guard against the risk of undesirable exports and related activities.

The consultation document considers a wide range of options for changes to the controls, including in relation to trading in military goods conducted by UK persons overseas; the provision of ancillary services such as transportation; the production of controlled goods overseas under licence from UK companies or by UK subsidiaries; the transfer of equipment for military use in embargoed destinations; and restrictions on the export of goods that could be used for torture.

The consultation will run until 30 September 2007. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library. At the end of this period, the Government will carefully analyse all responses received. They intend to publish the initial results of that analysis by 31 December 2007.

Immigration: Managing Global Migration

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My honourable friend the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality (Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today publishing a new strategy entitled Managing Global Migration: A Strategy to Build Stronger International Alliances to Manage Migration. This strategy has been drawn up jointly between the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Copies of this document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Around the world, Britain is laying the foundation of our offshore border controls. Our visa waiver test for all non-EEA countries is under way. Biometric visas are now issued in 75 countries. More than 20 million passenger movements have been screened before arrival in the UK.

However, the impacts of migration are not issues that Britain faces alone. This strategy seeks to outline how we will work with European and international partners to better manage global migration. We will now make migration a key part of the UK's relations with other countries. Other priority actions are to enhance the sharing of data and expertise with other countries to make it easier for people to visit the UK for legitimate reasons and more difficult for those who seek to enter illegally or to do us harm.

By working with EU partners we aim to further reduce “asylum shopping”. We will also make clear to

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illegal migrants’ countries of origin the benefits of co-operating and the disadvantages of not doing so. By building bridges with priority countries we will bring needed skills to the UK to boost our economy.

The main proposals include:

developing arrangements with other countries to share immigration data and to jointly collect biometric data;exploring whether an international data exchange agreement would help us to achieve our aim of sharing appropriate immigration data easily and securely between all EEA countries and those with a visa waiver; setting up a team of immigration specialists that can be deployed abroad on a routine or emergency basis to offer advice, support and training where needed to help tackle illegal migration to the UK;reviewing our networks of overseas airline liaison officers and returns liaison officers, using law enforcement liaison officers along key illegal migration routes to the UK and considering the establishment of sea carrier liaison officers at sea ports;considering whether a new international organisation is needed to promote common international standards and technology in border control;making readmission of countries’ own nationals an integral part of international relationships;further work with the EU to reduce asylum shopping, particularly through practical co-operation;building bridges with priority countries to bring needed skills to the UK; increasing the number and availability of visa application services to make it easier for legitimate travellers to come to the UK;exploring the potential for further links between diaspora communities in the UK and their home countries for the benefit of the UK economy; and working with EU member states and the European Commission to co-ordinate and unlock international efforts to better manage migration with third countries.

I commend the strategy to the House.



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Passports: Fees

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Kim Howells) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 13 June 2007, Her Majesty in Council made the Consular Fees (Amendment) Order 2007. The Government are today announcing new fees to be charged under this order with effect from 4 October 2007.

The order increases the level of the consular premium charged on passports issued in the UK by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS). This premium is the element in the cost of a passport which pays for the provision of consular assistance to British nationals overseas and which is collected in the UK by IPS on behalf of the FCO. The amount of the premium varies for different categories of passport. For the most commonly issued form of passport, the 32-page adult passport issued by post, the consular premium will rise from £9.65 to £15.12. The consular premium charged by the FCO on its passports, issued overseas, was increased in April 2007 by the Consular Fees Order 2007. A separate order was required to implement this change to passports issued in the UK by the IPS.

This order also increases the minimum fee for making or verifying, including certifying where necessary, a copy of a document by photographic process, if the copy is made on the consular premises. It further introduces a fee for making searches in the naturalisation or registration records kept by a consular officer in posts where, prior to 1983, naturalisations and registrations were done by governors or high commissioners.

It is right that those who benefit from consular assistance overseas, rather than the UK taxpayer in general, should help to meet the cost of this service. The new fees represent the full economic cost of what we do and will ensure that British missions overseas continue to provide a high standard of consular service to British nationals.

A full list of the new fees, and the individual increases, is included in the attached table.



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Fee NoDescriptionPrevious feeNew feeIncrease

For applications made in the United Kingdom, issuing a passport of 32 pages which includes replacing an expired passport, issuing a new passport of full validity when an original passport of restricted validity is unavailable and issuing a new passport with amended personal details

For applications made by post

12(a)(i)

Where the applicant is aged 16 years or over

£66

£72

£6

12(a)(ii)

Where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for five years)

£45

£46

£1

For applications made in person

12(b)(i)

Where the applicant is aged 16 years or over using the fast-track service

£91

£97

£6

12(b)(ii)

Where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for five years) using the fast-track service

£80

£81

£1

12(b)(iii)

Where the applicant is aged 16 years or over using the fast-track collect service

£103

£109

£6

12(b)(iv)

Where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for five years) using the fast-track collect service

£90

£91

£1

12(b)(v)

Where the applicant is aged 16 years or over using the premium service

£108

£114

£6

12(b)(vi)

Where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for five years) using the premium service

£93

£94

£1

FeeDescriptionPrevious feeNew feeIncrease

For applications made in the United Kingdom, issuing a passport of 48 pages which includes replacing an expired passport, issuing a new passport of full validity when an original passport of restricted validity is unavailable and issuing a new passport with amended personal details

13(a)

For applications made by post in the United Kingdom

£77

£85

£8

For applications made in person in the United Kingdom

13(b)(i)

Using the fast-track service

£97

£105

£8

13(b)(ii)

Using the fast-track collect service

£100.50

£109

£8.50

13(b)(iii)

Using the premium service

£114.50

£123

£8.50

Part 4 Fee 30(d)

Search of naturalisation or registration records kept by a consular officer

n/a

£72

New fee

Making or verifying, including certifying where necessary, a copy of a document

Previous minimum charge

New minimum charge

Increase

Part 1 6(b)

By photographic process, if the copy is made in the consular premises, for each page—£5

£17.50

£25

£7.50


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