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2 Feb 2009 : Column WA85

Written Answers

Monday 2 February 2009

Afghanistan: Security

Question

Asked by Baroness Northover

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Sustainable security in Afghanistan can only be provided through the co-ordinated delivery of military and civil effect. UK and Afghan forces provide security to allow reconstruction, development, reconciliation and political engagement to take place. In Helmand the UK-led Civilian Military Mission works with Task Force Helmand and the Afghan National Security Forces to provide a secure environment to allow stabilisation activity to take place. The UK focuses stabilisation activity on five district centres in Helmand—Lashkar Gah, Sangin, Gereskh, Garmsir and Musa Qala.

BNFL: Sale of Assets

Question

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HM Treasury were involved in the development of BNFL’s strategy. This strategy involved transferring the management of decommissioning sites to NDA appointed contractors through competitive processes, ceasing to carry out any non-commercial activities and seeking to realise value from other assets including the sale of the BNFL stake in the management company for the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Implementation of the sale of the AWE stake was led by BERR and approved by BERR's Secretary of State and accounting officer. Treasury officials provided advice on the interpretation of rules relating to parliamentary notification as covered in Managing Public Money. (ISBN 9780115601262).

Common Travel Area

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The common travel area (CTA) comprises the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and the Republic of Ireland. The CTA came into being in the 1920s and was enshrined in legislation in the Immigration Act 1971. The CTA was a purely administrative arrangement until it was given full statutory recognition in the UK under the Section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971, and the Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) Order 1972. There is no formal agreement between the constituent territories which underpin the CTA.

The Government held a public Strengthening the Common Travel Area consultation between 24 July and 16 October 2008. This document outlined a number of proposed reforms of the CTA and the government response to this consultation and a full impact assessment were published on 15 January.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord West of Spithead: The common travel area (CTA) came into being in the 1920s and was enshrined in legislation in the Immigration Act 1971. The principle of free movement for nationals of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies has delivered important economic and social benefits over the years.

It is recognised that the privileges bestowed on CTA nationals may be abused by others, thus increasing immigration risks within the area.

The UK Border Agency has been responsible for developing reforms in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies.

The Government will require all EEA nationals, including those that are British and Irish, to prove their identity and nationality with a passport or national identity card. Other nationals, including visa nationals, will be required to carry their passport on routes between the Republic of Ireland and the UK as with all other international routes to/from the UK.

Asked by Lord Laird



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Lord West of Spithead: The Government have developed the proposal for reform in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies. In addition to regular engagement at ministerial level, we have biannual senior official level meetings with the Irish to discuss immigration (and counterterrorism) issues in addition to ad hoc expert level meetings as required. We will continue to liaise closely with Irish counterparts on the development of our separate border management programmes and are committed to work together to optimise benefits for the common travel area (CTA).

The CTA is not being abolished and both countries are committed to preserving the common travel area and its benefits for legitimate travellers

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord West of Spithead: The Government published a public Strengthening the Common Travel Area consultation between 24 July and 16 October. These proposals for reform were developed in close partnership with the Governments of the Republic of Ireland and the Crown dependencies.

A number of industry specific and regional stakeholder events took place over the 12-week consultation period. A total of 44 written responses (some of which were collective responses representing the views of a number of related organisations) were received. The respondents included airlines, ferry companies, port operators and associations, travel companies, public sector organisations, human rights groups and other interested parties as well as members of the public. The Government response to the consultation feedback and the full impact assessment were published on 15 January.

The changes to the operation of the common travel area (CTA) arrangements will bring together the work of the former Border and Immigration Agency and HM Revenue and Customs' frontier responsibilities on CTA routes.

The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, introduced to Parliament on 14 January 2009, will provide the power to routinely control all persons arriving in or departing from the UK, from or to another part of the CTA by air or sea. The commencement provisions enable this power to be brought in by order on a date to be determined.

Counterterrorism

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones



2 Feb 2009 : Column WA88

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK's counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan is the most important and comprehensive government programme of its kind. The £6 million announced by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister during his recent visit is the approximate value of projects currently planned or under way in Pakistan to counter the causes of violent extremism. This includes projects aimed at empowering young people and women, strengthening democratic institutions, the media and the justice system, and building awareness and understanding of the causes of radicalisation. These projects are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office administered Counter-Terrorism and Radicalisation Programme (CTRP).

In addition to this my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced that we are enhancing our counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan, including by:

Strengthening our co-operation with the Pakistani police through information sharing and capacity building projects at federal and provincial level, including on forensic science, crime scene management, and crisis response;

Developing Pakistani military and police capabilities on detection of improvised explosive devices and bomb disposal;Working in partnership to improve civil aviation security through liaison, inward visits and training of aviation security officials; andHelping the Government of Pakistan develop their crisis and consequence-management capability.

Overall we plan to spend in excess of £10 million this year on projects that impact directly on Pakistani capacity to address terrorism.

In addition, the British Council's substantial Pakistan Programme seeks to promote intercultural dialogue, community cohesion and positive social change.

Crime: Offender Behaviour Programmes

Question

Asked by Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The National Offender Management Service will continue to provide information and advice to stakeholders about offender behaviour programmes. There is regular liaison between senior members of the judiciary and of the Ministry of Justice, including through the National Sentencer Probation Forum, which promotes communication between sentencers and offender managers and at which there is an open exchange of knowledge, views and experience of what is effective and practical in helping to reduce crime.

A lot of work is also undertaken at a local level where liaison can prove particularly effective.



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EU: Israel Association Agreement

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): EU-Israel relations are an important part of our engagement with Israel which has at its core the goal of achieving lasting peace in the Middle East. We use the EU-Israel dialogue under the Association Agreement to further this goal.

Finance: Economic Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Government recognises the need for effective regulation. Across the economy Government will continue to apply the better regulation principles of ensuring that regulation is targeted and proportionate. Effective and well-focused regulation can play a vital role in correcting market failures, promoting fairness and increasing competition. But inefficient regulation or blanket enforcement imposes a significant and unnecessary burden on business, which should be minimised to help keep the UK competitive.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Human Rights Act 1998 enshrines in national law the human rights established under the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights treaties.

The Human Rights Act provides protection to the human rights of everyone in the UK, including migrants. There is no incompatibility between having these rights in national law and not ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. No EU member state has ratified the convention.



2 Feb 2009 : Column WA90

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have undertaken, in Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights, not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of the right of individual application to the court. The failure of a contracting state to comply with a measure indicated under Rule 39 may entail a breach of Article 34 of the convention. It is the Government's policy to comply with Rule 39 measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights as a matter of course where it is able to do so.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Malloch-Brown: It is the Government’s policy to comply with Rule 39 measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights as a matter of course where it is able to do so.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is aware of two occasions since February 2005 on which the UK has failed to comply with Rule 39 measures indicated by the court. On the first occasion, in May 2008, the measure (requiring the Government not to remove an individual to China) was communicated to the Government less than half an hour before the plane upon which the applicant was to be removed was due to take off and there was insufficient time to give effect to the measure.

The second occasion occurred on 31 December 2008, when the Government took the view that, exceptionally, they could not comply with the measure indicated by the court (not to remove or transfer two individuals in Iraq from the custody of the UK Government). In the wholly exceptional circumstances of that case, and in particular given that continued detention of the individuals would have been unlawful, the Government took the view there was no lawful option other than transfer to the Iraqi authorities.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Her Majesty’s Government are mindful of the judgments in South Africa and Australia, as well as legal challenges which have been brought in other jurisdictions on the issue of prisoners’ voting rights. However, we must arrive at a solution that is best for the UK, and, to that end, the Government remain committed to carrying out a second public consultation.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Bach: The European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act apply to all people within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, but only when they are within its jurisdiction. If they are, there are no exceptions to the protections they give.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Charter flights used to remove persons from the United Kingdom have routinely operated since March 2001. For the period January to December 2008, there were 66 charter flights made for this purpose; and a total number of 1,529 passengers were removed on those flights. This includes both enforced and voluntary returns.


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