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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement on Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 Commencement Order No.3. This was made today, 11 November 2010, and brings into force Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRaG Act), which deals with the ratification of treaties. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has overall responsibility for the conclusion of treaties, and leads on policy in this respect. Part 2 of the CRaG Act is the new basis for treaty scrutiny by Parliament, and replaces the former constitutional practice dating from 1924, known as the Ponsonby Rule, with statutory provisions.
Section 20 provides that a treaty that is subject to ratification or its equivalent is to be published and laid before Parliament for a period of 21 sitting days, during which both Houses have the opportunity to resolve that the treaty should not be ratified. If the 21 sitting days expire with no such resolution being passed by either House, the Government can proceed to ratify the treaty. It also defines the legal effect of a negative vote by either House.
Section 23 makes provision for classes of treaties that are to be dealt with differently because they are scrutinised by other means, notably (i) under the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 or the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008, (ii) agreements and arrangements relating to taxation, or (iii) because scrutiny of them is not for the UK Parliament i.e. treaties concluded by Overseas Territories, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as authorised by HMG.
Section 24 requires that treaties laid before Parliament under Section 20 shall be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum explaining the provisions of the treaty, the reasons for HMG seeking ratification of the treaty, and other relevant information.
Guidance on the ratification of treaties and Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 is published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on its website at www.fco.gov.uk/treaty.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government (Grant Shapps) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Since coming to office the Government have made clear that our most urgent priority is to tackle the UK's record deficit in order to restore confidence in our economy and support the recovery. Throughout the spending review the Government have been guided by a commitment to fairness, protecting the most vulnerable people in our society and as far as possible protecting frontline services. In DCLG, that commitment includes continuing to fund the decent homes programme.
The spending review announced by the Government will invest over £2 billion of capital funding to help towards completing the decent homes programme. Of this, funding of £1.595 billion is available over the next four years to help make local authority social homes decent (with an additional £0.510 billion being provided for gap-funding existing stock transfers). We will be working with the Homes and Communities Agency to ensure that decent homes funding is allocated where it is needed and in order to support the self-financing settlement.
The coalition Government wish to be fair in their approach to all, so we will not be as rigid about local structures as the last Government. This funding will help ensure that all councils can deliver a sustainable
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Today, we are jointly publishing with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) our proposals for managing the allocation process in a consultation document and welcome the views of local authorities, arm's-length management organisations and other interested parties on how we propose to gather information and make fair funding decisions. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (William Hague) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In my Statement on 15 September 2010 (Official Report, cols. 45-6WS) following my speech on "Britain's Values in a networked world", I announced that I would convene an advisory group on human rights to ensure that I have the best possible information about human rights challenges and benefit from outside advice on the conduct of our policy. I would now like to provide the House with further details.
I will chair the group. I intend to hold two meetings a year. Ministers and officials will also chair additional meetings on specific issues agreed by the group. The first meeting will take place on 2 December 2010.
As I made clear in my Statement of 15 September, human rights are essential to and indivisible from the UK's foreign policy priorities. This Government intend to improve and strengthen our work to promote human rights internationally.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Alistair Burt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The arms embargo in Iraq continues under United Nations Security Council resolution 1546 with exemptions for supplies of arms and related material required by the Government of Iraq (GoI) or the multinational force (MNF) to serve the purposes of the resolution.
Following a thorough review of their procedures for processing export licence applications to Iraq, Her Majesty's Government will consider as exempt from the embargo exports to the GoI, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, diplomatic missions in Iraq, the US forces in Iraq, the NATO training mission in Iraq, the UK naval training mission training the Iraqi navy and entities contracted or subcontracted to the GoI, US or UK forces or NATO. Export licence applications to these end users will not therefore require the approval of the GoI prior to approval of the application but may require extra information to be provided by the entity seeking the export licence. For exports serving the purposes of UNSCR 1546 to entities other than these, the exporter is required to provide a supporting document from the GoI to demonstrate that the proposed export is required and thus exempt from the embargo. All export licence applications for Iraq as elsewhere will be assessed on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria and will not issue a licence where to do so would be inconsistent with the criteria.
The House will be aware that one of my predecessors as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the right honourable Member for Torfaen (Paul Murphy),
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I believe it is right that I should determine the way forward in this case and that consequently I should set out a clear decision-making process both to the House and to the Finucane family. I met the family on the 8 November to listen to their views and I have written to them formally inviting their representations as to whether it is in the public interest that I should establish a public inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane. I will consider those representations carefully and in detail, along with any other relevant representations that I receive over the next two months, before deciding this question.
In addition to considering representations on the case, I shall also need to take into account a broad range of other factors in determining what the public interest requires. The other factors that I will consider when deciding the public interest will include:the commitment given to this House in 2004;the conclusions of reviews and investigations into the case and the extent to which the case has caused, and is capable of causing, public concern;the experience of the other inquiries established after the Weston Park commitments;the delay that has occurred since the 2004 announcement and the potential length of any inquiry;political developments that have taken place in Northern Ireland since 2004; and the potential cost of any inquiry and the current pressures on the UK Government's finances.
It is my intention to consider the public interest carefully and in detail at the end of the two-month period for representations and then to take a decision after such consideration as to whether or not to hold a public inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Kenneth Clarke) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Stephen Shaw CBE stood down as Prisons and Probation Ombudsman earlier this year to take up appointment as chief executive of the Health Professions Adjudicator. Stephen was appointed as Ombudsman in 1999.
The Ministry of Justice will shortly be advertising the vacancy and seeking applicants for the office of Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. Although the post is not within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointment will be made using a process which takes account of the commissioner's code of practice as best practice. I will inform the House once I have selected my preferred candidate for the office.
A protocol to the double taxation convention with South Africa was signed on 8 November 2010. After signature, the text of the protocol was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs' website. The text of the protocol will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.
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