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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.
This was an historic visit; the first by a British Foreign Secretary since 1955. It was an opportunity to show that we recognise the efforts of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the Government to drive forward important reforms. I also wanted to set out clearly to the Government the changes that we would want to see before we could support lifting EU sanctions.
I met the President, the Foreign Minister and the Speaker of the Lower House. I welcomed progress made so far, including the dialogue between the Government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the changes in the law that allowed her party to register for the forthcoming by-elections, the initial releases of political prisoners, and the moves towards greater media freedom. I informed them of the allocation from the Department for International Development of £10 million of existing aid for microfinance for the Burmese people, and announced an additional £2 million of humanitarian aid to benefit people in Kachin state, the site of some of the worst ethnic conflict.
I set out clearly with all my interlocutors the steps which would be needed before a more fundamental shift in our relationship could take place. These are: the release of all political prisoners in time for the by-elections on 1 April; the free and fair conduct of those by-elections; and humanitarian access to conflict areas, particularly in Kachin state, alongside a clear process of reconciliation. I made clear that if these three conditions were met the UK would support the easing of the EU sanctions.
I was assured by the president that the reforms would continue, that further political prisoner releases would go ahead, and that by-elections would be free and fair. He was confident that the Burmese Government would soon achieve ceasefires nationwide, and acknowledged the need for humanitarian assistance in conflict areas.
I raised with the Foreign Minister the discrimination suffered by the Rohingya community, who have been denied citizenship and access to basic services and rights. We will continue to press the Burmese Government on this issue.
I held two meetings with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and assured her of the UK's continued support for her efforts to promote reform and democracy in Burma. She repeated her core priorities: the release of all political prisoners and an improvement in the
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I met representatives from other opposition groups, including the 88 Generation leaders and former political prisoners. I also met a range of representatives from ethnic communities, including the Kachin, Rohingya, Shan, Rakhine, Chin, Mon, Karen and Karenni to hear more about their concerns and aspirations. We will continue to stay close to these and other ethnic groups to ensure we remain seized of the issues they face.
On 12 January, the Government and the Karen National Union signed a ceasefire after 63 years of conflict. There is still a long way to go to rebuild fully trust between the parties, but this is an important step in the right direction.
I also warmly welcome the release of a significant number of political prisoners on 13 January. Exact numbers are still being verified but those released include Generation 88 and ethnic leaders. This is another positive step on the road to reform in Burma.
The British Government will continue to follow developments in Burma closely. We will support progress, while remaining vigilant on human rights issues, especially in areas affected by ethnic conflict.
Spend for the period 1 April 2010-31 March 2011 was £3.8 million. This includes £0.7 million of spend during the previous Administration. In 2009-10 the spend was £6.7 million. This represents a 44 per cent reduction in the amount departments spent on the ministerial car service compared to the previous financial year.
From 12 May 2010, the costs incurred by non-Cabinet Ministers while new arrangements for a ministerial car pool were introduced include unavoidable costs associated with contractual termination notice periods. To reduce the cost of the Government Car Service to taxpayers, the ministerial car pool was introduced in September 2010 and, from that date, replaced the allocated service for non-Cabinet Ministers in line with the Ministerial Code published in May 2010.
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|Number of GCDA-allocated Cars|
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My right honourable friend the Minister for Decentralisation and Cities (Greg Clark) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 1 November 2011 the Government launched a consultation, What Can a Mayor Do for your City?, asking local communities to contribute their views on the powers that directly elected mayors should be able to exercise in the 12 largest English cities outside London-Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
In our consultation, we proposed that rather than seeking to impose a one-size-fits-all approach, there should be a bespoke approach. Section 15 of the Localism Act provides for powers to be devolved to authorities subject to the approval of Parliament.
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Accordingly, where any mayors are elected in the 12 cities we will continue the bespoke approach to devolving powers that we are already pursuing in the context of city deals, but with the mayors themselves having an important role in the process of decentralising powers.
I am today presenting to Parliament a revised financial management code of practice for the police service in England and Wales to reflect the Government's reform of policing through the introduction of police and crime commissioners. The code provides clarity around the financial governance arrangements within the police service in England and Wales and builds on the policing protocol issued by means of the Policing Protocol Order 2011. Copies of the code of practice are available from the Vote Office.
This code is issued under Section 17 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and Section 39A of the Police Act 1996, which permit the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and the Mayor's Office for
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This new code will apply to the MOPC and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner from today. The existing financial management code of practice for the police service in England and Wales, issued under Section 39 of the Police Act 1996 and presented to Parliament on 24 October 2000, will continue to apply to police authorities outside London until their replacement by PCCs on 22 November 2012. From that date, this new code will apply to PCCs and chief constables.
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.
On 12 January 2012 the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police Service issued a joint statement on the outcome of two investigations into members of the Security Service and Secret Intelligence Service. They also announced that allegations made in two specific cases concerning the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged ill treatment of them in Libya were so serious that it is in the public interest for them to be investigated now rather than at the conclusion of the detainee inquiry.
The Government stand firmly against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. We do not condone it, nor do we ask others to do it on our behalf. We have always been clear that the detainee inquiry will not be able to start formally until all related police investigations have been concluded. We will need to consider the implications of the joint DPP and MPS statement, in consultation with Sir Peter Gibson, the inquiry chair, and will make a further Statement in due course.
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