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We are continuing to look at ways to improve the admissions system. The Secretary of State has recently asked the independent schools adjudicator to report on how admissions authorities are using random allocation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Security (Vernon Coaker) 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 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. The CORGs for this quarter fall outside of this reporting period and will be covered in the next report. However, meetings were held in relation to the control orders in force within this reporting period on an ad-hoc basis as specific issues arose.
During the period 11 December 2008 to 10 March 2009, two non-derogating control orders were made and served; three non-derogating control orders were made but not served; and two control orders were renewed in accordance with Section 2(6) of the 2005 Act.
In total, 17 control orders are currently in force, six of which are in respect of British citizens. Five 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. One individual has been charged with breaching a control order obligation; no prosecutions for breaching a control order were completed during this reporting period.
During this reporting period, 62 modifications of control order obligations were made. Twenty-one requests to modify control order obligations 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. One appeal has been lodged with the High Court by a controlled person in relation to the renewal of a control order during this reporting period. 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. One appeal has been lodged with the High Court by a controlled person relating to a refusal to modify his control order.
Three judgments have been handed down by the High Court in control order cases during this reporting period in relation to substantive reviews of the individual control orders under Section 3(10) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v AR a judgment was handed down on 19 December 2008. The court ruled in favour of the Secretary of State and upheld the control order and all of the obligations. A judgment was handed down in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v AU on 20 January 2009. The court ruled in favour of the Secretary of State and upheld the control order and all the obligations. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v GG&NN a judgment was handed down on 12 February 2009. In the case of NN, the court quashed the renewal of NNs control order. The quashing took effect on 24 November 2008 as set out in the last quarterly statement. In the case of GG, the court upheld the control order, quashed one obligation and ordered that two further obligations be modified. The Secretary of State has appealed the courts decision to quash one of the obligations.
A judgment was handed down by the Court of Appeal in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v Abu Rideh on 17 December 2008 in which the appeal made by the Secretary of State was stayed.
Full judgments are available at www.bailii.org/.
I would like to update the House on the process carried out to deal with the coldest winter the UK has faced for almost 20 years and in particular the heavy snowfalls experienced in early February across large parts of the UK, and how the Government propose to work with partners to identify and address the lessons.
First, I want to thank all of those who worked very hard in the transport sector and beyond over the past few weeks to minimise the disruption caused by the recent severe weather. Many people worked long hours throughout the period to maintain vital road and rail links, to keep airports open, to provide a whole range of essential services and to mine and deliver new supplies of salt for treating our roads. I am pleased that this hard work kept the country functioning during that recent period of severe weather and its aftermath.
The heavy snowfall had an impact on all parts of our transport systems. The robust efforts of the Highways Agency allowed the strategic road network in England to remain operational over the whole period. Although there were some closures due to road traffic accidents, they were cleared as quickly as was possible given the conditions. In cities, very heavy snowfalls created conditions which made driving very hazardous and at their worst led to the suspension of public transport.
On the main rail network, again, most train operating companies were able to continue running services albeit that on occasion services were disrupted. In particular, services from the south of London into London were disrupted from 2 February by the snow because of the use of the third rail to power the trains. Further snow later that week caused more problems for routes into London from the north and services across the south-west. In the following week, snowfall across the Midlands, the east and the north caused further disruption.
Across the country, the weather had a significant impact on the national road network. Some parts of the national infrastructure, such as the Severn crossing and sections of road such as the A38 near Exeter, were particularly affected. I am grateful for the efforts of the authorities, which were able to restore these to running efficiently, through hard work and prudent management of the risks involved.
The weather also posed operational challenges to UK airports. Operations were on occasions suspended, with problems on public transport and local roads making it more difficult for travellers to get to and from the airports. Regional airports and those in the south-east of England responded admirably. The impact
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The cold spell presented challenges to both the Highways Agency and transport authorities around the country which needed reliable supplies of salt to keep roads flowing smoothly. Stocks of salt were heavily called upon. Salt stocks around the country varied significantly as local highway authorities had made different decisions about the levels of reserve required. Some local authorities chose to keep very high level of stocks, running as high as 25 days in some cases, whereas others chose to operate with leaner reserves. While the latter approach is of course appropriate in a normal year, it does leave the relevant authorities exposed to abnormal weather events. As a result, in some cases stocks of salt became very low.
The Government and, in particular, the Highway Agency took a lead role in helping those local highway authorities which experienced difficulties with shortfalls in their salt levels. Mutual aid between authorities and with the Highways Agency helped to make sure that traffic kept flowing smoothly; for example, the Highways Agency stepped in to ensure salt deliveries over the weekend of 7 and 8 February at a time when salt suppliers would not normally have made deliveries. The Highways Agency was also flexible in running down its stocks to help prioritise supplies to local authorities with very low reserves.
The UK has, of course, not seen snow falls like those of early February for at least 18 years. The good news is that no highway authorities ran out of salt. The fallback measures on the whole worked, and worked well. But we need to make sure we address those aspects that did not go well.
The House of Commons Transport Select Committee is undertaking a short review of the effects of the recent adverse weather. The Greater London Assembly is looking at how Londons transport system responded. Individual local authorities will be undertaking their own lesson identified exercises.
But I am keen that all the agencies involved in winter servicing take the opportunity to identify and address the lessons. I have therefore invited the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG)a partnership of central government, devolved Administrations, trunk road authorities and local authoritiesto review the lessons that can be learnt from recent events and to recommend what steps could be adopted by local highway authorities, trunk road authorities, producers of salt and other stakeholders to ensure the effective treatment of Englands road networks in order that we are even better prepared should similar events occur in future years. I would expect that this advice of UKRLG will also be of benefit to the devolved Administrations.
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