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23 Feb 2010 : Column WS113

Northern Ireland Office: DEL

Statement

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Subject to parliamentary approval the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) will be taking a 2009-10 Spring Supplementary Estimate. The effect this will have is to increase the NIO's total DEL by £161,881,000 from £1,205,742,000 to £1,367,623,000.

Change (£,000)New DEL (£,000)
VotedNon-VotedVotedNon-votedTotal

Resource

66,619

123,563

359,487

1,020,157

1,379,644

Admin Budget

(2,247)

-

71,679

-

71,679

Near cash

28,217

72,962

277,153

793,141

1,070,294

Capital

12,288

(12,288)

36,526

40,177

76,703

Depreciation

(28,240)

(61)

(47,489)

(41,235)

(88,724)

Total

50,667

111,214

348,524

1,019,099

1,367,623

The change in total DEL of £161,881,000 relates to the drawdown of End Year Flexibility (EYF) of £100,335,000 (all resource), increase in PSNI provisions of £88,000,000, resource budget transfers with other government departments totalling £847,000 and funding of £1,000,000 from HM Treasury for the impact of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) on property, plant and equipment. This has been offset by a change in non cash costs of £28,301,000.

The EYF drawdown is required to supplement CSR07 baselines in Central Administration, Political Directorate, Public Prosecution Service, Criminal Justice Directorate, Policing-Non Severance, Northern Ireland Prison Service, Compensation Agency and Policing & Security Directorate.

The administration budget will decrease by £2,247,000 from £73,926,000 to £71,679,000. This is due to the reclassification of £2,610,000 from administration to programme for the Northern Ireland Prison Service and resource budget transfers of £315,000 from the Department of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland for accommodation costs, £98,000 from the Cabinet Office for Parliamentary Counsel charges and £50,000 to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland for healthcare costs.

The Northern Ireland Executive DEL will increase by £740,207,000 from £9,283,643,000 to £10,023,850,000. Within the total DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is set out in the following table:



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Change (£,000)New DEL (£,000)

Resource DEL

634,464

9,023,819

of which:

Near Cash

483,082

8,551,148

Capital DEL

127,009

1,210,614

Resource DEL + Capital DEL

761,473

10,234,433

Less Depreciation

21,266

210,583

Total DEL net of depreciation

740,207

10,023,850

The increase in the Northern Ireland Executive DEL takes account of the following changes:

the take-up of End Year Flexibility of £135,000,000 (£35,000,000 near cash and £100,000,000 capital);

additions of £23,827,000 (-£49,092,000 near cash, £20,337,000 non cash and £52,582,000 capital) following IFRS changes;

a budget reclassification of £497,200,000 (near cash) in respect of NHS pensions;

an addition of £131,045,000 (non cash) in respect of provisions for equal pay; and

budget cover transfers to other government departments of £25,599,000 broken down as follows:

transfer of £827,000 from DEFRA for BSE-OTM;transfer of £275,000 from DCSF for the NSPCC Expansion Grant;transfers of £749,000 to the Northern Ireland Office for accommodation and other central services;transfer of £379,000 to HMRC in respect of the Aggregates Levy; andtransfer of £25,573,000 to Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in respect of industrial support.

Sri Lanka

Statement

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to update the House on recent developments in the political and humanitarian situations in Sri Lanka.

Since the end of the fighting last May between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam there has been a unique opportunity for the Government to work with all communities in Sri Lanka to achieve lasting peace through genuine national reconciliation. The UK has continued to make the case that that this can only come about through a fully inclusive political process to address the underlying causes of the conflict.

Elections

Following the presidential election of 26 January the Prime Minister wrote to President Rajapakse and I have spoken with Foreign Minister Bogollogama. Together with others, such as the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Commonwealth and the EU high representative, we have urged President Rajapakse to use his new mandate to make real progress on national reconciliation. The President has made some positive comments about the need to focus on the concerns of Tamils and to discuss the devolution of powers. Setting out his plans for political reform would be a welcome next step.



23 Feb 2010 : Column WS115

Election monitors and the Election Commissioner were united in declaring the result of the election valid. But they voiced concerns about aspects of the election campaign, including incidences of violence and allegations of electoral malpractice. We have been encouraging the Government to address these concerns by conducting thorough investigations into any allegations and to encourage an atmosphere of calm by reaching out to those who did not support the President. There have, however, been worrying reports of a clampdown on those who did not support President Rajapakse. The arrest of his principal challenger in the election, Sarath Fonseka, has done nothing to ease tensions. The Government need to ensure that all detainees, including Fonseka, are treated strictly in accordance with Sri Lankan law.

The next opportunity for Sri Lankans to elect their political representatives will be the parliamentary elections that are expected to take place on 8 April. The Prime Minister has encouraged the President to ensure that measures are in place to remove the scope for allegations of malpractice. I have underlined to Foreign Minister Bogollogama the importance of making it possible for all Sri Lankans to vote. While we welcomed the high national turnout in the presidential election of 70 per cent, this dropped to less than 30 per cent in the north and east. An election in which all communities can select their representatives of choice could advance the prospects for genuine reconciliation.

We will continue to engage with the Government and other political parties in Sri Lanka to encourage a process of political reform. In recognition of the potentially positive contribution they could make to that process, we also continue to engage with the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese communities based in the UK. This includes the activities of Des Browne MP, the Prime Minister's special envoy for Sri Lanka. I will be addressing the forthcoming London conference of the Global Tamil Forum to encourage a forward-looking, constructive approach.

Accountability

The EU has made clear its view that a credible process to address alleged violations of international humanitarian law by both sides during the conflict could also contribute to the process of reconciliation. The US State Department report on the conflict in Sri Lanka and the statement by Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, underline the need for a credible and independent investigation. We continue to make this clear to the Sri Lankan Government, most recently when I spoke to Foreign Minister Bogollogama earlier this month. We await with interest the findings of the committee set up by President Rajapakse to look into the State Department report.

Human Rights and GSP+

A third way in which the GoSL could encourage genuine reconciliation would be through greater promotion and protection of human rights, including media freedoms, and by tackling the culture of impunity. I have reinforced to Foreign Minister Bogollogama the importance of producing and implementing a human rights National Action Plan, as was agreed at the UN Human Rights Council Periodic Review of Sri Lanka in 2008.



23 Feb 2010 : Column WS116

On 19 October the European Commission published its report into Sri Lanka's compliance with three of the conventions linked to Sri Lanka being a beneficiary of the GSP+ scheme. The report was clear about Sri Lanka's failings in its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report reinforces our concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and we share the Commission's assessment.

On 15 February the UK and other member states supported the Commission's formal recommendation to withdraw GSP+ benefits from Sri Lanka. This will come into effect on 15 August, six months following the date of the decision. We continue to urge the Government to engage constructively with the European Commission and to take all necessary steps to address the serious concerns highlighted in the Commission's report.

Humanitarian Situation

The UK's most immediate priority since the end of the conflict has been to work for an improvement in the humanitarian situation. By the end of the fighting there were over 280,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps in the north of Sri Lanka. We have been advocating an improvement in conditions inside the camps and for IDPs to be able to return to their home areas as soon as it is safe to do so. Since September 2008, the UK, through the Department for International Development, has also allocated £12.5 million to the humanitarian response.

Conditions in the camps have improved and there has been progress in the return of IDPs. UN official figures estimate that as of 15 January around 187,500 people have been released from the camps, of which 158,500 have been able to return to their home areas, while 29,000 vulnerable people have been housed with host families or in institutions. It is important that vulnerable people have been housed with host families or in institutions. It is important that IDPs continue to be able to return to their home areas as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Government's announcement on 1 December that all IDPs still in the camps would be granted freedom of movement was a positive step. However, some restrictions remain in place and we will continue to encourage the Government to ease those.

We will continue to work with international partners and with the Sri Lankan Government to encourage progress on reconciliation, accountability and human rights as a basis for the lasting peace that all Sri Lankans want and deserve.

UK Statistics Authority: DEL

Statement

Baroness Crawley: My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Angela E. Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Subject to parliamentary approval of any necessary Supplementary Estimate, the UK Statistics Authority's

23 Feb 2010 : Column WS117

total departmental expenditure limit (DEL) will be increased by £630,000 from £212,246,000 to £212,876,000, and the programme budget will be increased by £630,000.

Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is as set out in the following table.

Change (£,000)New DEL (£,000)
VotedNon-VotedVotedNon-votedTotal

Resource DEL

6,630

-6,000

212,876

-

212,876

of which:

Administration Budget*

-

-

-

-

-

Near-cash in RDEL

-3,370

4,000

178,876

14,000

192,876

Capital**

-15

-

14,985

-

14,985

Less Depreciation †

-

-18,000

-

-18,000

Total

6,615

-6,000

209,861

-

209,861


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