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We expect the June European Council to focus on the policy implications of high global food and commodity prices, including oil. We need a co-ordinated international response to the challenges posed, and ensure that we do all in our power to maintain open markets, fair trade and sustainable economic growth. We will push for all partners to reaffirm their development commitments and give fresh impetus to the achievement of the millennium development goals. We expect some discussion of Lisbon treaty implementation, though we continue to stress that no decisions can be made prior to ratification of the treaty. We also expect discussions on freedom, security and justice, and will be pushing for heads consideration of EU input into external relations priorities such as western Balkans, Burma and Zimbabwe.
Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia will probably be the focus of discussion. On Kosovo, Ministers will discuss the adoption of the new constitution on 15 June
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In addition to discussion in these areas, Ministers will also sign Bosnia-Herzegovinas stabilisation and association agreement. The Government welcome this progress and look forward to Bosnia and Herzegovina building on the agreement to advance reforms.
Ministerial discussion is expected to focus on the situation on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and southern Israel, highlighting the need for progress on the political process. Discussion may also focus on the EUs relationship with Israel ahead of the EU-Israel Association Council which will be held the same day. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary is expected to debrief partners on his 8 to 9 June visit to Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
On Lebanon, the Government welcomed the Doha agreement that brought an end to last months crisis in Lebanon. President Sleimans election provides an opportunity to rebuild political and economically in the interests of all communities in Lebanon. Agreement on a Government of National Unity is a crucial next step.
The Government are committed to supporting the process initiated at Annapolis, which has put the Israelis and Palestinians on a path to real negotiations in 2008, leading to a final settlement of two states living side by side in peace and security.
Conclusions on the Great Lakes region are expected to acknowledge the progress made towards peace in the region in recent months. The conclusions will emphasise member states duty to act to prevent support from reaching the Hutu FDLR militia. The Government recognise the role played by the FDLR in destabilising the region and firmly support such action by EU partners. The GAERC will also focus on the continued suffering caused by abuses of human rights in DRC and call for reform of the security sector in that country. Respect for the rule of law and an end to impunity for those guilty of the worst abuses of the civilian population are crucial. Embedding them is part of a wider effort to improve governance and security as DRC emerges from conflict.
We expect detailed conclusions on Sudan, expressing concern over the recent fighting in Abyei, urging respect of the north-south comprehensive peace agreement. We also support conclusions that condemn the Justice and Equality Movement's attack on Omdurman on 10 May. We supported discussion of further measures against any party impeding the Darfur peace process, blocking UNAMID aid or obstructing humanitarian access.
The Government expect the council to discuss the current situation in Zimbabwe with particular focus on conditions on the ground in advance of the second round of elections and the continued escalation of state-sponsored violence.
We expect detailed discussion of Iran at this GAERC, following the visit of Javier Solana and E3 political directors to Tehran. Solana will brief on the trip and his delivery of the refreshed E3+3 engagement offer. Following the commitment at the December European Council to consider further EU action in light of a new UN Security Council resolution, the Government fully support the strengthening EU sanctions and will continue to press partners to take a firm stand on this issue. We will be pressing for a robust EU implementation of UN Security Council resolution in July in the form of a new common position.
The Government expect discussion of China to focus on the upcoming Olympics and attendance by EU heads of Government/state. Following links made between the March violence in Tibet and calls to boycott the Olympics, the European Parliament has called for a common position on member state attendance; a call which the Government do not support. The Government will be stating that it is for individual member states to decide on Olympics attendance and that our position is clear; my right honourable friend the Olympics Minister will attend the opening ceremony and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister will attend the closing ceremony. The Government are opposed to boycotts of any part of the Olympics, whether at national or EU level.
Although discussion of this topic is not yet a certainty, it is likely to focus on the process of the Doha negotiations over the coming weeks. The Government expect partners to express a range of views both on the current state of the negotiations and on the content of the revised texts (issued on 19 May). The Government strongly support the negotiating process led by WTO director-general, Pascal Lamy, and our objective at the GAERC will be to ensure continued member state support for the European Commission, in order that it can negotiate the best possible DDA deal in 2008.
The council will discuss the current humanitarian and political situation in Burma. We will highlight the continuing severity of the humanitarian crisis, the need for continued pressure on the regime to live up to its commitments on access and the need for the EU
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The Treasury is today publishing Global Commodities: a long-term vision for stable, secure and sustainable global markets. Copies are available in the Vote Office and have been deposited in the Library of the House.
In December 2006, we consulted on proposed changes to charges for use of the Dartford Crossing to address continuing congestion pressures. The proposals were to tailor charges better to the conditions at the crossing, including raising cash charges to £1.50 for cars in the daytime and removing charges altogether at night when traffic flows more freely.
In response to that consultation exercise, there were calls to introduce a discount scheme for local residents. The Government announced that it would develop a discount scheme for consultation, while going ahead with the proposed increases.
The Government are today publishing a summary of responses and our conclusions following the consultation exercise. I am placing copies in the Library of the House. The Government have taken careful note of the responses received and have concluded that the scheme should be implemented as proposed, subject to removing to the requirement for an initial sum to be credited to accounts. The key proposals relating to eligibility, the annual administration fee, entitlement to 50 free journeys, and journeys charged at 20p thereafter, are confirmed.
The Government expect to implement the scheme in the autumn, along with the other changes on which we consulted in 2006-07. This included raising cash charges for cars from £1 to £1.50. The Government wish to highlight the fact that car drivers who opt to
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Tony McNulty) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
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 each individual poses. Each control order is kept under regular review to ensure that the 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, five 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.
During the period 11 March 2008 to 10 June 2008, six non-derogating control orders were made and served, one control order was renewed in accordance with Section 2(6) of the 2005 Act, and two control orders were revoked. One further non-derogating control order was made but has not yet been served.
In total, 15 control orders are currently in force, three of which are in respect of British citizens. Two 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.
During this reporting period, 70 modifications of control order obligations were made. Thirty-one requests to modify a control order obligation were refused. A right of appeal exists in Sections 10(1) and 10(3) of the 2005 Act respectively against decisions by the Secretary of State to renew a non-derogating control order or modify an obligation imposed by a non-derogating control order without consent, and against decisions by the Secretary of State to refuse a request by a
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Four judgments have been handed down by the High Court in control order cases during this reporting period. Three of these judgments have related to the substantive reviews of control orders under Section 3(10) of the 2005 Act. A judgment in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AE was handed down on 20 March 2008; the court upheld the necessity of the control order on national security grounds and ruled that the control order hearing complied with Article 6 of the ECHR. In the same judgment, the court dismissed an appeal by AE against the increase in the length of his curfew, but upheld an appeal relating to the restrictions on visitors to AEs residence. On 9 April 2008, a judgment was handed down in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AF. The court found that further disclosure of closed material by the Secretary of State would be necessary in order for the hearing to comply with Article 6 of the ECHR. The control order remains in force while an appeal by the Secretary of State is considered by the Court of Appeal.
The judgment in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AH was handed down on 9 May 2008. The court upheld the necessity of the control order on national security grounds and ruled that the control order was compliant with Articles 5 and 3. The court also ruled that the hearing complied with Article 6 of the ECHR. In addition, an oral judgment was handed down in the case of GG on 2 May 2008 in which an application for interim relief was refused by the High Court.
The Secretary of State has lodged three appeals with the Court of Appeal in this reporting period. Appeals were lodged on Article 6 grounds against the High Court judgments in the cases of AN and AM which were handed down in the previous reporting period. An appeal was also lodged against the judgment in the case of AF handed down on 9 April 2008. Three appeals have been lodged by, or on behalf of, controlled persons with the Court of Appeal. AE is challenging the judgment handed down on 20 March 2008 on Article 5 and Article 6 grounds. Special advocates in the case of AF have lodged an appeal against the closed judgment handed down on 9 April 2008. AH has applied for permission to appeal the judgment handed down on 9 May 2008.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Today my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (John Denham) has made the following Written Statement.
Today my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell) and I are publishing a command paper, Work Skills, setting out the progress made since we jointly published the January 2008 command paper, Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britains Talent. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper office.
The paper first sets out how we are making the skills system more responsive to the needs of individuals and employers, and how we are extending the principle of rights and responsibilities to those with skills needs which are preventing them finding work.
In todays global economy, Britain must compete through higher levels of skills. We must take advantage of new opportunities, new jobs and new industries and make sure that all the people and places across the country are able to benefit.
To achieve this, we are extending entitlements to training for young adults in work and also looking at how everybody can have their own personal skills account so that they can get the training that they need and the jobs that they want.
The right skills are crucial to getting people who are out of work into a decent job or helping them start their own business. They are also crucial to getting a better job, too. We will now make sure that when people sign on for benefits, they sign up for skills as well. Increasingly, addressing skills needs, where they are preventing someone returning to work, will be an important part of receiving out-of-work benefit.
The paper also shows how we are radically improving the delivery of our welfare and skills services. This will ensure our services work more closely together, and that they are driven by those who know best how to shape support to meet local needs.
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