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Written Statements

Wednesday 31 October 2012



Baroness Northover: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

In Rakhine State, in South West Burma, there has been a recent increase in communal violence, between the de facto stateless Muslim Rohingya and the majority Buddhist Rakhine communities, which has led to over 100,000 people being displaced since the violence began in June.

In addition to the UK’s contributions to the UN Central Emergency Response fund, I have just approved Department for International Development (DfID) humanitarian funding of £2 million to provide urgent support to internal refugees and vulnerable people affected by the unrest in Rakhine State, Burma which includes ensuring improved safe hygiene for over 58,000 people, more than 32,000 of whom are children, and improving access to treatment for acute malnutrition for 5,000 children.

The UK will make a positive difference to the pressing humanitarian needs in Rakhine State with this intervention. We are also working hard to ensure that others in the international community play their part to assist those in need.

I am deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine State, and in particular that in recent days there have been further outbreaks of inter-communal violence. The UK Government are calling on all parties for an immediate end to the violence. We further urge the Government, and local security forces to take all necessary action to protect civilians, and to grant full humanitarian access to the areas affected as soon as possible.

The latest violence reinforces the need for a long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine State, involving an inclusive political settlement that protects the rights of all members of the local population.

The UK and international community will continue to monitor the situation very closely. We have welcomed the significant reform programme under way in Burma, led by President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, and hope that they as a matter of urgency can work with the local authorities and communities to resolve the situation in Rakhine State in a peaceful and constructive manner.

Heseltine Review


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today the right honourable the Lord Heseltine, of Thenford CH presented his report to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and me, and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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The Secretary of State and I would like to take this early opportunity to thank Lord Heseltine for producing a comprehensive, wide-ranging and thought-provoking report on how to bring Government and industry together. The Government will consider all of his recommendations carefully and will respond around the time of the Autumn Statement.

Justice: Prosecutions


The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): My right honourable friend the Attorney-General (Dominic Grieve) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today published revised guidance to prosecutors on the circumstances in which a decision not to prosecute or to terminate proceedings might be reconsidered and the procedure to be followed.

In a Written Answer of 31 March 1993 the then Attorney-General stated that in certain circumstances it may be appropriate for decisions not to prosecute or to terminate proceedings previously taken to be reconsidered. Two specific examples were given of where such reconsideration might be appropriate:

rare cases where reconsideration of the original decision shows that it was not justified and the maintenance of confidence in the criminal justice system requires that a prosecution be brought notwithstanding the earlier decision; andthose cases where termination has been effected specifically with a view to the collection and preparation of the necessary evidence which is thought likely to become available in the fairly near future. In such circumstances the CPS will advise the defendant of the possibility that proceedings will be reinstituted.

In those circumstances it was stated that the decision would be taken at chief Crown prosecutor level.

The revised guidance gives two new instances after which the decision to reinstate proceedings need not be taken by a chief Crown prosecutor:

where the decision is taken to reinstitute a case where the police failed to send a file (digital or otherwise) in time for the first hearing at the magistrates' court and the court refuses to allow an adjournment resulting in the proceedings being withdrawn; andwhere the decision is taken by the CPS to prosecute after the police have previously decided to take no further action on a file but later refer the file to the CPS for a charging decision.

These are in addition to the two instances mentioned in the previous version of the guidance: where the original proceedings were discharged by a magistrate or district judge; and where the original proceedings were terminated after the decision was taken to withdraw transfer proceedings because the court had refused an adjournment.

A copy of the revised guidance has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Patrick Finucane


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Theresa Villiers) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

In anticipation of the publication of the report of the Patrick Finucane review, I have today asked a team of officials to commence the checking of the review’s report in relation to human rights and national security matters, as outlined below. I intend to adopt the same approach as was used for the checking of the reports of the Bloody Sunday inquiry, Billy Wright inquiry and the Rosemary Nelson inquiry.

I am responsible for publication of the review’s report, once it is delivered to me. I am advised that I have a duty, as a public authority under the Human Rights Act, to act in a way that is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. To fulfil this duty, I need to take steps to satisfy myself that publication of the report will not breach Article 2 of the convention by putting the lives or safety of individuals at risk. I am advised that these obligations must be met by me, in my capacity as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I am not entitled to rely on the review to satisfy my Article 2 obligations. I also have a duty to satisfy myself that publication will not put national security at risk, for example by disclosing details of sources of confidential information.

During the course of the review, the Government submitted to the review team some material that was relevant to its work but which was too sensitive to be disclosed publicly, usually because it contained information which had been provided to the security forces by individuals. If those individuals or others could be identified from information contained in the report it would endanger their lives. I understand that the review does not intend to refer to any material which would constitute a breach of Article 2, or compromise national security, but I have a duty to satisfy myself before publication that none of this material has inadvertently been revealed in the report. The review also agreed that the identities of a small number of individuals who were engaged on highly sensitive duties should not be disclosed and I need to be assured that these individuals and others whose lives could be endangered have not been identified.

I have established a small team of officials and legal advisers to assist me in carrying out this necessary exercise. The team will be led by the Northern Ireland Office’s principal legal adviser, but will also include members drawn from the Ministry of Defence, Security Service, and Police Service of Northern Ireland who are familiar with the sensitive material provided to the review. The team will be granted access to the report under strict terms of confidentiality and for the sole purpose of carrying out the necessary checks, and will report directly to me alone. Sir Desmond de Silva has agreed that this team can carry out the necessary checks on the review’s premises while the report remains in his custody, before it is submitted to me. I have

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confirmed to Sir Desmond de Silva that I am content with this proposal. I understand that the report will be made available for checking today.

I believe that these checks are necessary in order to meet the legal obligations on me. Following the approach used for the checking of the Bloody Sunday inquiry, Billy Wright inquiry and Rosemary Nelson inquiry reports, Sir Desmond de Silva has given permission for members of the review’s legal team to be present during the checking process. At all times, members of the review’s legal team will be acting as representatives of the review and not as advisers to me or the checking team.

I want to publish the report in its entirety. Should any concerns about the safety of any individual arise, my first course of action would be to consider whether these can be addressed through alternative means. Were I to reach the conclusion, on advice, that a redaction to the text might be necessary, I would consult Sir Desmond de Silva. In the unlikely event that any redaction was deemed necessary, my intention would be to make this clear on the face of the report.

Once the checking process has been completed I will make another Statement to this House regarding its outcome and announcing the date of publication. The report must be published first for this House, and I intend to publish the report as soon as possible once the checking process has been completed. However, I acknowledge the importance of this review’s findings in the lives of a number of individuals. As with the publication of the Bloody Sunday inquiry, Billy Wright and Rosemary Nelson inquiry reports, I intend to grant advance sight to those who the review has recommended as being interested parties.

Taxation: Double Taxation


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (David Gauke) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A protocol amending the double taxation convention with India was signed on 30 October 2012. The text of the protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and will be made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

Women: Peace and Security


The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mark Simmonds) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International

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Development, is today publishing the second annual review of the UK Government National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 Women, Peace and Security. The National Action Plan is intended to strengthen our ability to reduce the impact of conflict on women and girls, and to promote their inclusion in conflict resolution. It provides a plan for incorporating the provisions of UN resolutions on women, peace and security into the Government’s work on conflict in our defence, diplomatic and development activity.

I have chosen to publish the review today to coincide with the anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which was adopted 12 years ago, 31 October, in 2000. The review that I am announcing today focuses on our new actions this year.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 called for the effective protection of women from sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. But despite numerous efforts since its adoption shocking levels of violence continue with very few perpetrators being held to account. This culture of impunity exacerbates the cycle of sexual violence, fuelling increased ethnic, sectarian and other divisions, further entrenching conflict and instability.

The Foreign Secretary is determined that Governments must do more to address this issue and that the UK, with its global reach, resources and diplomatic network, champions this cause. On 29 May the Foreign Secretary launched his preventing sexual violence initiative. The initiative aims to replace the culture of impunity with one of deterrence, by increasing the number of perpetrators brought to justice both internationally and nationally, by strengthening international efforts and co-ordination to prevent and respond to sexual violence and by supporting states build national capacity. During the UK’s presidency of the G8 we will run a sustained campaign to build a stronger global partnership to prevent sexual violence in conflict. Our objective will be to secure a range of new commitments from G8 nations, and to broaden these beyond the G8 over time. We are also assessing the need for a new international protocol on the investigation and documentation of

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sexual violence in conflict. In addition, we have recruited and will deploy a specialist team of UK experts to conflict areas to support the UN and civil society to investigate allegations of sexual violence, gather evidence and help countries build their own capacity to do so. We intend to work in close co-ordination with the United Nations and civil society in taking forward this initiative. Finally, we have increased our funding to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict by £1 million to support their efforts to strengthen national capacity to investigate, prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence and to protect survivors and witnesses.

This major new initiative is fully integrated with our work to implement the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral commitments in the National Action Plan. This includes our country plans in Afghanistan, Nepal and Democratic Republic of Congo and our new Middle East and North Africa regional plan. We continue to encourage more states to develop national action plans.

We are grateful to the Associate Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APG WPS) for their active engagement on this important issue. We would also like to thank the civil society umbrella organisation Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) for the regular and ongoing consultations that take place about the NAP. Officials will attend a meeting with the Associate Parliamentary Group and GAPS on 5 November to discuss this review.

We will continue to consult with Parliament and civil society, including in 2013 when a full evaluation of the National Action Plan will take place.

We look forward to continuing to work with Parliament, civil society, and with our international partners to lead effective action to tackle the disproportionate impact of conflict on women.

I have deposited a copy of the annual review in the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk.