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Written Statements

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 28 November 2006

Treasury

Publications

HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs are today publishing the following reports: “Davidson Review, Implementation of EU legislation”; “Implementing Hampton: from enforcement to compliance”; “Delivering a new relationship with business: HMRC's plans to deliver a better service for business by 2010-11”.

Copies of these documents are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Costing Parliamentary Questions

The Treasury has completed its annual indexation of the average cost of answering oral and written parliamentary questions to reflect changes in civil service earnings and retail prices. The revised average costs, which will apply from 15 November 2006, are:

oral questions - £385

written questions - £140

The disproportionate cost threshold (DCT) relating to written parliamentary questions was set at £600 in 2002. The DCT will be increased to £700, also with effect from the 15 November 2006, and will apply across Government.

Constitutional Affairs

Legal Aid Procurement (Government Response)

My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor has made the following written ministerial statement.

“I am publishing “Legal Aid Reform: the Way Ahead” (cm 6993). This sets out how we will reform the procurement of legal aid services, moving towards a market-based system. It takes account of the responses we received to the consultation paper “Legal Aid: a sustainable future” (CP 13/06) which was published simultaneously on 13 July 2006 with Lord Carter of Coles' independent report “Legal Aid - A market-based approach to reform”. The paper has been laid before both Houses of Parliament. Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Vote Office.

Our reforms to legal aid procurement fit squarely within the Government's wider programme of reform across the justice system. We are promoting simple, speedy, summary justice in the criminal courts, and modernising the legal sector through the introduction of the Legal Services Bill last Thursday. The proposed changes to legal aid procurement represent another important part of this programme and it will bring benefits for clients, taxpayers, the legal profession and the wider justice system. The reforms will make sure we have modern a modern legal aid system and have a legal profession that is customer-focused and in which the public has confidence.

The consultation period closed on 12 October. We received 2,372 replies to the consultation paper. Over the summer months, the Legal Aid Minister, Vera Baird QC MP toured the country to meet practitioners to hear their views on the proposals. This involved some 25 meetings in 11 different cities, attended by around 1,000 practitioners. The Legal Services Commission also met practitioners to explain the proposals and answer questions. Over 1,700 legal aid professionals attended 14 of these events in the early autumn.

The “Way Ahead” paper sets out how the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Legal Services Commission will deliver a new system of legal aid procurement. The reforms will set legal aid on a sustainable footing for the future, and will ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society receive the help they need. The reforms will ensure a future in which the legal advice provided is of the highest quality and practitioners are able to make a decent financial return, and a future which ensures that access to justice remains at the heart of our society.

We are fully committed to the market-based approach set out by Lord Carter. We will move to fixed and graduated fees as a transitional step to best-value competition. However, we have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by legal aid practitioners. We have therefore made significant adjustments to the timing and sequencing of some of the proposed schemes, as well as to the detail of some original proposals, where we believe they will bring improvements.

In summary, we are proceeding with Lord Carter's proposals. And we are delivering on our commitment to rebalance the funding between civil and criminal legal aid.

The approach set out in the “Way Ahead” paper offers the best guarantee of an affordable, good quality legal aid system that will protect the vulnerable, is fair to taxpayers, fair to defendants, and fair for practitioners.”

I have asked the Leader of the House to announce a debate on this issue in the House of Commons very shortly.

Defence

Operational Allowance

On 10 October 2006, the Secretary of State for Defence announced that a new, tax-free bonus payment would be introduced for service personnel. The bonus will be called the operational allowance and the regulations, including eligibility criteria, have now been finalised. I am now placing a copy of the regulations in the Library of the House.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels on 20 and 21 November 2006. Ross Finnie, the Scottish Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, also attended.

The Council reached political agreement on fixing fishing opportunities for certain deep-sea fish stocks for 2007 and 2008. Cuts in catch levels were approved, reflecting the generally poor state of the species concerned and fishing for some species will be phased out altogether over four years. The UK led the way in ensuring due regard was given to the scientific advice. In addition, political agreement was also reached on a new regime of management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean sea. This places these waters on an equivalent footing with other EU fisheries and allows a concerted approach to management of fish stocks throughout the Community.

The Council held an exchange of views on the Commission communication implementing sustainability in EU fisheries through maximum sustainable yield, where member states re-emphasised their commitment to managing for the longer-term.

The Council also reached unanimous political agreement on the use of electronic logbooks for recording and reporting of fishing activities and the use of remote sensing to monitor illegal fishing activity.

The Council held a discussion on the Commission's proposal to reform the current system of aid for banana production within the EU. The proposal abolishes the existing aid scheme to banana producers and replaces it with an increased budget allocation for the POSEI scheme for supporting agriculture production in the outermost regions and a new decoupled aid under the single payment scheme for the very limited continental production in Greece and Cyprus.

The Council also held a policy debate on a proposal to extend the existing energy crop support to new member states; to prolong the new member states simplified version of the single payment scheme (SAPS) until after 2008; and to make some technical corrections to the single payment legislation.

The Council held an exchange of views on a Commission communication “Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 - and beyond”. The Communication identifies four key policy areas for action—biodiversity in the EU, the EU and global biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change, and the knowledge base, and translates these into specific targets and actions in the action plan included in the communication. The communication garnered widespread support from member states for the protection of biodiversity and the proposed actions in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

Over lunch, the Fisheries Commissioner gave a progress report on the draft action plan for simplifying and improving the common fisheries policy. I underlined the importance of this initiative and of the Commission making more substantive progress in the future.

A number of issues, as follows, were raised under any other business:

The Fisheries Commissioner updated the Council on the EU/Norway fisheries negotiations for arrangements to apply in 2007.

The Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner gave a presentation on the Commission's report on the implementation of EU legislation regulating genetically modified food and feed. He also provided an update to Council on the developments on Avian Influenza H5N1, and drew Council's attention to the Commission's decision to put forward a proposal to ban the trade of cat and dog fur and products containing such fur.

Poland drew attention to the ban imposed by Russia on the imports of meat and plant products from Poland and called on member states to express solidarity.

Germany and a number of other member states asked for the re-authorisation process of pesticide ingredients to be streamlined and reviewed.

The Agriculture Commissioner gave a progress report on uptake in year one of the restructuring scheme for the sugar industry, agreed as part of the 2005 reform package.

France, supported by Belgium, asked the Commission to consider aid for farmers affected by recent outbreaks of bluetongue.

EU Agriculture Informal Council: 24-26 September 2006

DEFRA's Director General for Sustainable Farming and Food represented the United Kingdom at the EU Agriculture Informal Council in Oulu, Finland. Member states debated how the European model of agriculture might be adapted in the light of increasing international competition in agricultural trade and other global pressures, the likely end of export subsidy, the greater emphasis on rural development and environmental protection, challenges and opportunities such as climate change and energy crops, and the review of the EU budget in 2008-09.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel set out her long-term thinking on common agriculture policy (CAP) reform as part of the discussion. She intended to use a series of CAP “healthchecks”, scheduled for 2007 to 2009 to simplify legislation and review the single payment scheme, the system of cross-compliance and certain CAP regimes such as dairy. She said that the CAP must remain a common policy, but that it must be modernised and the budget reduced after 2013.

There were widespread views amongst member states. All supported the need for greater simplification of the CAP, some said that the European model of agriculture was still relevant, while others felt it must continue to change. One or two said the CAP was now fit for purpose and that the health check and budget review should do very little to change things while the majority acknowledged that there would be further change and expressed a range of views on how that should proceed to ensure that farmers were competitive.

The UK said that the European Model of Agriculture must adapt in order to reflect changing values and circumstances and remain relevant and useful for farmers and society. In line with the Government's vision for the CAP, published in December 2005, we listed our goals for the forthcoming CAP and EU budget reviews: that direct payments and market support measures were damaging and needed to be phased out, with the remaining CAP focusing on public benefits such as rural development. We called for decisions on future policy to be taken soon, so that farming could prepare for the changes ahead.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Diplomatic Immunity (Serious Offences)

Following my written ministerial statement of 12 July 2006, Official Report, column 70WS, about the change of policy on disclosure of information relating to serious offences allegedly committed by persons entitled to diplomatic immunity, I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses a list of foreign missions whose diplomats allegedly committed serious offences and the type of offence in 2005.

From a community of around 23,000 in the United Kingdom entitled to immunity, 17 serious offences, allegedly committed by such persons, were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2005. Serious offences are defined in accordance with the 1985 White Paper on Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges—that is as offences that would in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months or more imprisonment.

Unpaid Parking and Minor Traffic Violation Fines

There were 5,216 outstanding parking and other minor traffic violation fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in the United Kingdom recorded during the year 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005. These totalled £485,250. In June this year the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to all diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly. As a result payments totalling £11,545 were received, leaving a total of 4,732 (£444,070) unpaid fines for 2005. The table below details those diplomatic missions and international organisations that have outstanding fines totalling £,1000 or more.

Diplomatic Mission/

International Organisation

No of fines

Outstanding

Amount in £

UAE

441

£42,950.00

Turkey

348

£34,100.00

Saudi Arabia

259

£24,180.00

Germany

194

£19,020.00

China

180

£16,280.00

Russia

174

£16,200.00

Sudan

162

£15,620.00

Egypt

154

£14,670.00

France

130

£12,430.00

Afghanistan

116

£10,700.00

Kazakhstan

107

£10,400.00

Guinea

106

£10,220.00

Qatar

103

£9,850.00

Iran

103

£9,530.00

Nigeria

103

£6,440.00

Libya

91

£8,700.00

Brunei

89

£8,580.00

Kuwait

79

£7,850.00

Angola

78

£7,340.00

Ghana

73

£6,780.00

Hungary

73

£6,700.00

Greece

72

£6,770.00

Yemen

67

£6,130.00

DPR Korea

66

£5,720.00

Oman

64

£6,350.00

Jordan

58

£5,640.00

Malaysia

57

£5,500.00

Tunisia

55

£4,960.00

Pakistan

53

£5,010.00

Bangladesh

49

£4,730.00

Zambia

47

£4,570.00

Lithuania

37

£3,480.00

Algeria

32

£2,900.00

Poland

31

£2,650.00

Bulgaria

31

£2,800.00

Mozambique

30

£2,200.00

Cyprus

30

£2,800.00

Cote d’Ivoire

28

£2,470.00

Georgia

28

£2,600.00

Uzbekistan

27

£2,600.00

Ukraine

25

£2,450.00

Romania

24

£2,250.00

Tanzania

23

£2,300.00

Swaziland

22

£1,920.00

Morocco

22

£1,870.00

Gabon

22

£2,050.00

Thailand

20

£1,900.00

Senegal

19

£1,850.00

Kenya

19

£1,850.00

Iraq

19

£1,780.00

USA

16

£1,500.00

Vietnam

16

£1,450.00

Bahrain

16

£1,600.00

Republic of Korea

15

£1,400.00

Kyrgyzstan

13

£1,150.00

South Africa

13

£1,250.00

Jamaica

13

£1,180.00

Mexico

12

£1,160.00

Azerbaijan

12

£1,850.00

Indonesia

11

£1,100.00

Japan

6

£1000.00

TOTAL

4383

£412.530.00

The number of outstanding fines incurred by diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom for non-payment of the London congestion charge since its introduction in February 2003 until 19 October 2006 was 56,411. The table below shows the 10 Diplomatic Missions with the highest number of outstanding fines.

USA

10,485

£1,016,200.00

Angola

5,649

£543,300.00

Nigeria

5,180

£504,120.00

Sudan

4,679

£449,220.00

Tanzania

2,461

£233,630.00

South Africa

2,252

£214,640.00

Kenya

2,251

£208,610.00

Sierra Leone

2,138

£203,490.00

Zimbabwe

1,434

£136,990.00

Algeria

1,306

£122,660.00

Non-Domestic Rates Bill (Diplomatic Missions)

The majority of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom pay the national non-domestic rates (NNDR) requested from them. They are obliged to pay only 6 per cent. of the total NNDR value which represents payment for specific services such as street cleaning, lighting, maintenance and fire services. The total amount outstanding from all diplomatic missions is approximately £850,000.00. However, as at 1 July 2006 missions listed below owed over £10,000 in respect of NNDR. Eight additional diplomatic missions, who owe £10,000 or more in respect of NNDR, have made arrangements with the Valuation Office Agency to clear their outstanding debts and have not been included in this list.

CountryAmount

Algeria£59,058.33

Zimbabwe£54,605.88

Cameroon£38,126.01

Mozambique£36,970.23

Bangladesh£31,703.18

Malawi£27,843.99

Senegal£23,781.95

Yemen Republic£17,618.15

Ukraine£11,665.02

Tunisia£10,845.06

Iraq (Interests Section of Jordanian Embassy)£10,564.88

Bolivia£10,207.13

TOTAL£332,989.81

Home Department

Police Authorities' Grant (England and Wales for 2007-08)

I have today placed in the Library a copy of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary’s proposals for allocation of police grant for England and Wales in 2007-08. My right hon. Friend and I intend to implement the proposals subject to consideration of any representations and to the approval of the House.

The Government announced last year provisional funding totals for both 2006-07 and 2007-08. The introduction of multi-year settlements for the first time was widely welcomed by police authorities as a means of providing greater certainty and improving medium term planning. We intend to implement the settlement for 2007-08 broadly unchanged from last year’s announcement. It is our intention to move to three-year settlements with effect from 2008-09 which will allow authorities to plan more confidently.

The settlement for 2007-08 continues to build on unprecedented levels of investment into the police service in England and Wales. On a like for like basis Government grant and central spending on services for the police will have increased by over 62.0 per cent. or over £4.2 billion between 2000-01 and 2007-08. Our investment in recent years has helped to expand local policing, reduce crime and help to make our communities safer. Since peaking in 1995 British crime survey (BCS) crime has fallen 44 per cent., representing 8.4 million fewer crimes, with domestic burglary and vehicle crime falling by over a half and violent crime falling by 43 per cent. The risk of becoming a victim of crime remains at it lowest level recorded since the BCS began in 1981. The Government continue to work with the police service to ensure that they have the right tools to tackle crime without being burdened by any unnecessary rules and paperwork.

Our ambitious police reform programme continues to produce real improvements but there is still more to do. We will be publishing a vision for policing and a reform roadmap by the end of the year, following consultation with policing partners. A clear workforce strategy will ensure that the police service is well-led, skilled, motivated and representative of the communities it serves; this is also linked to initiatives to enhance performance and improve efficiency and effectiveness from available resources. To improve the capability and capacity for protective services, forces are working regionally and individually to develop new initiatives in collaboration, shared services and other efficiencies.

The Police Grant Settlement 2007-08

Total provision for policing grants and central spending in 2007-08 will be £11,043 million, an overall increase of 3.1 per cent. This includes a broadly flat rate increase of 3.6 per cent. in general grant for all police authorities in England and Wales. All police authorities will have planned ahead on this basis. The increase is above inflation (forecast inflation is around 2.7 per cent) and will enable police authorities to set reasonable final budgets and sustainable precept increases.

We propose to distribute the settlement as set out below. The table includes funding for both local and central spending.

Table 2: Police funding settlement for 2007-08 compared with 2006-07

2006-07 (£ million)

2007-08 (£ million)

Change (£ million)

Year on year increases (percentage)

Total General Formula Grant

7,372

7,638

266

3.6%

Specific Grants, Special formula grant and transfers for pensions & DSPs.

1,359

1,554

195

14.3%

One year uplift to accelerate expansion of PCSOs.

91

0

-91

-100.0%

Extra Provision for Counter Terrorism

93

145

52

55.9%

Total Specific Grants, Special formula grant and transfers1

1,543

1,699

156

10.1%

Capital Grants & Support2

363

295

-68

-18.7%

Central Spending

1,433

1,411

-22

-1.5%

Grand Total

10,711

11,043

332

3.1%

1 See table 3.

2 At the time of the 2006/07 settlement announcement, capital provision included £50m in 2006/07 and £75m in 2007/08 to cover restructuring costs. This provision is being considered as part of the review of all Home Office capital budgets. The capital figures have therefore been reduced accordingly until a final decision has been made.

The variance of £68m between 2006/07 and 2007/08 reflects profiled planned expenditure (over the two years) on Command Control Communication Information (C3i) (-£20m: Home Office grant ends in 2006/07); Airwave resilience (-£23m); and the additional reduction in 2006/07 (-£25m for restructuring).

Police funding proposals within the local government finance system are being announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, today, and by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Provisional general policing grants (i.e. Home Office police grant, revenue support grant and national non domestic rates) for English and Welsh police authorities in 2007-08 compared with 2006-07 are given in Table 2.

The settlement continues to take account of our commitment to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the police service. Authorities will be expected to deliver 1.5 per cent. cashable efficiency savings and 1.5 per cent. non-cashable savings in 2007-08. If Police Authorities deliver efficiency gains, and exercise judicious financial planning, there remains no reason for them to set excessive increases in police precepts on council tax next year. The Government’s policy in relation to average council tax increases of less than 5 per cent. in England in 2007-08 has been clearly set out by my honourable Friend, the Minister for Local Government. The Government are prepared to take capping action if necessary to deal with excessive increases.

Welsh Police Authorities

In line with previous years we have ensured that Welsh police authorities are treated in line with English police authorities with respect to the floor damping mechanism. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has provided additional support of £12.9 million in 2007-08 to ensure that Dyfed-Powys Police Authority, Gwent Police Authority and North Wales Police Authority receive at least a minimum increase in grant in line with English authorities. The shortfalls are further funded by scaling police grant to South Wales Police Authority which would otherwise have received a general grant increase of 5.7 per cent. but now receives the equivalent increases to a police authority in England.

Metropolitan Police Funding

The settlement provides for the Metropolitan Police Authority to receive £192 million in 2007/08 (+£5m over 2006-07) in general grant to reflect their unique national and international role as well as the functions that fall to them by virtue of London being a capital city.

Special Formula Grant

We made clear in 2006-07 that we wanted to give police authorities more control over specific grants and consolidated four specific grants totalling £193 million into a single pot for each authority. We continue to expect authorities to honour commitments and agreed policy initiatives. Totals for each Police Authority are set out in the Police Grant Report 2007-08.

Specific Grants for Police Authorities

Police authorities will continue to receive extra funding through a number of specific grants for particular schemes. Targeted grants were introduced as a direct response to what the police service and the public told us they wanted. Total provision for specific grants in 2007-08 is £1,699 million (Table 3).

The main specific grants are:

Crime Fighting Fund: £277 million will again be made available to forces to continue to support the costs of officers recruited through the crime fighting fund. In 2007-08, there will be additional flexibility for forces selected by ACPO to be demonstration sites for workforce modernisation in order to improve the delivery of services to the public.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs): For 2007-08 we will be providing £315 million in total towards the cost of 16,000 PCSOs to have a dedicated neighbourhood policing team embedded into every area in England and Wales by 2008.

Basic Command Unit (ECU) Fund: £50 million will again be provided for BCUs. In England, ECU Commanders will again have discretion to pool their allocations locally in local area agreements where they exist or in the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund where they do not.

Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP): We will provide the same level of funding for IPLDP in 2007-08.

Counter Terrorism Funding

In January 2006 the Government announced a single consolidated counter terrorism grant for the police service, enabling it to increase its counter terrorism capability and improve effectiveness. In order to achieve this we pulled together resources from existing grants, including the provision for dedicated security posts formerly in general grant. For 2006-07 this totalled more than £460 million including an extra £63 million for local and regional policing and £30 million for the MPS. In 2007-08 we will be increasing this extra funding to £100 million for local and regional policing and £45 million for the MPS. To enhance further the counter terrorism capability of Police authorities, we have also made provision of £25 million within the increase in general grant to Police authorities in 2007-08.

We have been working very closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers on this matter. We see an important role for ACPO in the management of this grant and for ensuring coherence, strategic direction and for the provision of a nationally co-ordinated response. We have worked closely with ACPO to ensure that both this uplift and funding from the new consolidated counter terrorism grant are used to create a significant increase in the strength of the police’s counter-terrorism capability. Both we and ACPO are committed to ensuring that the Police Service both nationally and regionally has a robust, resilient and effective counter terrorist capability.

Central Spending on Policing

Provision is made for the costs of organisations supporting policing such as the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) as well as scientific and technical support.

SOCA was successfully launched on 1 April 2006. It is a new type of law enforcement body with workforce strength of 4,200 staff and an initial budget of £415 million.

We intend to establish the NPIA on 1 April 2007. It will be a central resource to help police forces improve how they work, and will be committed to driving continuous improvement across policing as a whole in order to deliver better services to the public. It will be owned and led by the police and will introduce a radically different model of police service leadership, as well as producing greater efficiency, consistency and clarity of purpose in service delivery. The NPIA will replace the existing organisations of Centrex and the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO). There will also be significant implications for the work of ACPO, the Home Office and the APA. Its budget will be announced by 31 January.

Conclusion

We have delivered another fair settlement for all police authorities in England and Wales which will enable them to provide an effective and efficient policing service. We will expect forces to deliver further sustained improvements in performance and continue to make further efficiency gains. We will work closely with the police service over the coming months and listen carefully to their concerns as we consider the distribution of resources for the coming three years (2008-09 to 20010-11). Decisions will be announced next year.

Table 2: Police grant allocations by English & Welsh police authority 2007-08

Police Authority

2006/07 Formula Allocation 1 £m

2007/08 Formula Allocation1 £m

Change on 2006-07 Formula £m

Avon & Somerset

161.8

167.9

3.8%

Bedfordshire

64.0

66.4

3.7%

Cambridgeshire

73.8

76.5

3.7%

Cheshire

110.8

114.8

3.6%

Cleveland

89.8

93.0

3.6%

Cumbria

61.8

64.0

3.6%

Derbyshire

102.0

105.8

3.7%

Devon & Cornwall

171.4

177.5

3.6%

Dorset

60.0

62.2

3.6%

Durham

84.0

87.0

3.6%

Essex

162.6

168.5

3.6%

Gloucestershire

54.5

56.5

3.6%

Hampshire

190.4

197.3

3.6%

Hertfordshire

110.4

114.4

3.7%

Humberside

117.8

122.0

3.6%

Kent

176.2

182.6

3.6%

Lancashire

187.0

193.7

3.6%

Leicestershire

107.5

111.5

3.7%

Lincolnshire

58.3

60.5

3.7%

Norfolk

80.5

83.4

3.6%

North Yorkshire

70.5

73.0

3.6%

Northamptonshire

69.2

71.7

3.6%

Nottinghamshire

127.8

132.5

3.7%

Staffordshire

110.3

114.3

3.6%

Suffolk

65.2

67.6

3.6%

Surrey

93.6

97.0

3.6%

Sussex

156.1

161.7

3.6%

Thames Valley

217.9

225.9

3.7%

Warwickshire

49.7

51.5

3.7%

West Mercia

112.0

116.0

3.6%

Wiltshire

59.9

62.0

3.6%

Shires Total

3356.6

3478.6

3.6%

English Metropolitan Forces

Greater Manchester

417.4

432.7

3.7%

Merseyside

245.0

253.8

3.6%

Northumbria

229.7

238.0

3.6%

South Yorkshire

187.5

194.3

3.6%

West Midlands

433.6

450.2

3.8%

West Yorkshire

306.2

317.6

3.7%

Mets Total

1819.4

1886.5

3.7%

London Forces

GLA-Police 2

1818.3

1883.7

3.6%

City of London

21.8

22.8

N/A

London Total

1840.1

1906.5

N/A

English Total

7016.1

7271.6

3.6%

Welsh Forces

Dyfed-Powys 3

50.0

51.8

3.6%

Gwent 3

75.9

78.7

3.6%

North Wales 3

73.7

76.3

3.6%

South Wales 3

166.1

172.2

3.6%

Welsh Total

365.7

379.0

3.6%

TOTAL

7381.8

7650.6

3.6%

Notes

1. Rounded to the nearest £100,000. Grant as calculated under the Local Government Finance Report (England) and Local Government Finance (Police) Report (Wales). This includes the Metropolitan Police special payment, and the effects of floors.

2. Figures for the City of London relate to Home Office Grant only as calculated in the Police Grant Report (England and Wales). Revenue Support Grant is allocated to the Common Council of the City of London as a whole in respect of all its functions. The City is grouped with education authorities for the purposes of floors.

3. Welsh figures include Home Office floor funding (£12.9m). Grant provision under the principal formula for police authorities in Wales is varied to ensure that South Wales Police Authority will receive in principal formula and local authority general grants the same increase as that applicable to police authorities in England. A sum equal to the reduction for South Wales is allocated to Dyfed Powys, Gwent and North Wales Police Authorities.

Table 3: Specific grant allocations in 2007/08 compared with 2006/07

2006-07 (£ million)

2007-08 (£ million)

2007-08 year on year increases (percentage)

Specific grants, special formula grant and transfers for pensions & DSPs(1)

Special Formula Grant

193

193

0.0%

Transfers for Pensions & DSPs

576

591

2.6%

Crime Fighting Fund

277

277

0.0%

Neighbourhood Policing Fund

88

270

206.8%

Extra Provision for faster expansion of PCSOs

91

0

-100.0%

Community Support Officers

44

45

2.3%

Counter Terrorism (Existing provision)

96

96

0.0%

Extra grant for Counter Terrorism

93

145

55.9%

Basic Command Units

50

50

0.0%

Initial Police Learning & Development Programme

18

18

0.0%

Welsh top-up grant

9.3

12.9

38.7%

Other

7.7

1.1

-17.6%

Grand Total

1543

1699

10.1%

Note:

(1) DSPs are Dedicated Security Posts

Justice and Home Affairs Council

The Justice and Home Affairs Council was held on 5-6 October 2006 in Luxembourg. Baroness Scotland attended the Council with the Home Secretary and Baroness Ashton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Constitutional Affairs. I thought it would be useful to outline what was discussed and decided at the Council meeting.

The Finnish presidency opened the Council with the A points list which was approved. This included community strategic guidelines on cohesion and a framework decision on the mutual recognition of confiscation orders.

The presidency confirmed that a deal had been reached with the United States on an interim passenger name records agreement. Negotiations on a new permanent agreement will start shortly.

On the Hague Programme it was agreed that more co-operation was needed on immigration between member states, and between the EU and third countries. Countering terrorism and organised crime needed closer member state cooperation with Europol, Sitcen and between member state agencies. The UK emphasised that new legislation should be proposed only when it met a real need. It was important to focus on delivery of existing instruments and action plans. There was some emphasis on the challenges faced by some member states from illegal migration.

The presidency reported back on the discussion held at Tampere on the use of the passerelle in Article 42 TEU, noting that a significant number of member states had expressed concerns about the possibility of such use. The presidency is still reflecting on what its next steps should be, but we consider the current debate to be over and that we should instead focus on practical measures.

The presidency noted that they were still working to a European Council mandate to improve decision making in JHA, but the JHA Council was split on the use of the passerelle in Article 42 TEU. The Commission urged the presidency to reach agreement on the passerelle by the December European Council.

There had been a discussion about the future development of mutual recognition at the Tampere Informal Council in light of which the presidency planned to present draft Council Conclusions to the December JHA Council.

The Home Secretary thanked the presidency, member states and the Commission for the help and solidarity received in August, saying that the EU had done much good work to establish a political and legislative framework to deliver real benefits to citizens and that migration and counter terrorism were key priorities.

An in-depth discussion was held on the draft Framework Decision on the transfer of prisoners. No agreement was reached on the issues of prisoner consent or the treatment of third country nationals. The UK argued against watering down the text through the inclusion of broad grounds for refusal, such as a proposal that refusal should be possible where the aim of social rehabilitation would not be met. It was proposed however that concerns about meeting the social rehabilitation aim could be addressed through a definition of residence since it was arguable that social rehabilitation was dependent on the links to a member state that would have been created by five years, previous residence there. It was argued that this could also be used to determine whether or not there was an obligation on the executing state to take back the prisoner notwithstanding his or her nationality. The UK agrees that a solution might rest with this approach, although the presidency concluded that work would continue on the basis of a regime that did not include an obligation to accept third country nationals. Work will continue at expert level with a view to concluding negotiations in December.

The new member states were deeply disappointed by the delay to the SIS II timetable. There was some strong support for the Portuguese proposals to integrate the new member states into SIS I+. A number of member states underlined that an effective Task Force was critical to the SIS II implementation timetable; some stressed that work to explore the Portuguese proposal should not detract from continued focus on implementation of SIS II or result in further delays. The presidency achieved agreement to the Council Conclusions.

There was debate on the draft Framework Decision on taking account of convictions in new criminal proceedings. However it remained clear that the detail of Article 3 needed further work, in particular in relation to the exceptions to the obligation to assimilate foreign convictions into national systems. The presidency hopes to finalise the text at the December JHA Council.

The presidency called for political agreement to a compromise proposal on civil protection, which limited Community financing of transport and equipment to third country assistance and included the possibility of reimbursement to the Community budget. There was some agreement around the table, however the UK rejected the compromise because it blurred the clear member state responsibility for civil protection. The UK commented that the Commission's role in helping cooperation between member states was welcome, as was improving interoperability of member state assets, however we could not agree the Instrument with the contentious articles. The Government insisted that while all member states agreed that solidarity was critical and helped each other in practice, the proposed measures were not the way to strengthen our systems. The presidency agreed to send the item back to Coreper for further discussion.

The presidency outlined the progress made in the proposal to establish a European Union Fundamental Rights Agency and, unexpectedly, pressed for political agreement. As a result, several member states stated their positions and concerns with the proposal. The UK made it clear that the agency should be focused solely on Community law and with no third pillar remit. The presidency confirmed that discussions on the proposal would continue at Coreper level.

In considering the management of future negotiations on the draft directive proposing criminal penalties to enforce intellectual property rights, member states were split as to whether there was a need for further legislation at this time and whether it was appropriate to continue discussions on the directive pending the ECJ judgment on maritime pollution, which should address the scope for Community action in relation to criminal matters. There was agreement that the scope of any instrument should however be limited to those intellectual property rights harmonised at Community level. The presidency concluded that work would continue on that basis at expert level both on the need for legislation and on the substance of the proposed directive, but without prejudice to a final decision on the legal base.

The draft council conclusions on reinforcing the southern external maritime borders were agreed without discussion.

There was discussion about visa waiver reciprocity and the Commission highlighted their successes with South African countries. The US was not abiding by an undertaking made during the Austrian presidency and there was some call for taking the first punitive steps, however other member states called for a more measured response.

There was no substantive discussion on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Moldova. The presidency invited the Commission to draw up mandates.

Finally the European conference on active participation of ethnic minority youth in society was highlighted with requests for opinions on what more could be done to fight radicalisation, how politicians could learn from the young and how integration could be further promoted. This item will feature on future Council agendas.

International Development

Horn of Africa (Flooding)

Having suffered severe drought, parts of the Horn of Africa are now experiencing exceptionally high rainfall resulting in severe flooding in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. The UK has responded swiftly, committing £6 million to the humanitarian relief effort over the past few weeks. This brings our total humanitarian contribution in these countries since April 2005 to £50.8 million.

The worst affected areas are south eastern Ethiopia, southern Somalia and northern and eastern Kenya. Although there has been some respite in the past few days, the forecast is for the rains to continue at above normal levels for the next two or three months. The UN currently estimates that the floods are affecting nearly 1.5 million people—360,000 in Ethiopia (80 deaths), 902,000 in Somalia (52 deaths), and 207,000 in Kenya (45 deaths).

Since August DFID has committed £6 million to UN, Red Cross and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO's) operations in Ethiopia (£2 million), Somalia (£2 million), and Kenya (£2 million). This money is funding relief flights, distributions of relief kits (containing items such as plastic sheeting for shelter, jerry cans, blankets, soap), provision of water and sanitation supplies, and nutrition and health supplies and services. The flooding in Ethiopia has been affecting that country since July and the UK contributions were made at the end of August (£l million) and in October (£l million—to address the diarrhoea epidemic which was a consequence of the flooding).

The UN has released funds from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). There was an initial $3 million for the floods response in Ethiopia in October, and two further contributions last week for Somalia ($3.3 million), and Kenya ($11.8 million). In Ethiopia, an additional $2.6 million is being requested, and the Somalia contribution from the CERF is expected to rise to above $10.3 million as additional requests from UN agencies are considered. The total funding from the CERF is therefore likely to amount to $28 million. The UK is the largest contributor to this mechanism, providing 26 per cent. of current paid contributions. I welcome this full and speedy response.

National authorities, Red Cross, UN and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) are all responding. Access to the affected areas is of course difficult. Roads are blocked by the flood waters, and unmade roads are turning to mud and becoming impassable. Bridges and culverts have been destroyed. Aircraft, including helicopters, are being deployed to achieve access where this is impossible by road. In Ethiopia and Somalia insecurity is also a factor.

We continue to monitor the situation closely. We are particularly concerned about likely increases in water borne disease and malaria. Shelter is also a major concern. There are also risks to animal health, which may affect livelihood security in the region. In the medium term, when the flood waters recede a consequence may be improved water availability, improved pasture, and improved soil moisture creating better farming conditions.

Prime Minister

Abolition of the Slave Trade (Bicentenary)

The transatlantic slave trade stands as one of the most inhuman enterprises in history. At a time when the capitals of Europe and America championed the enlightenment of man, their merchants were enslaving a continent. Racism, not the rights of man, drove the horrors of the triangular trade. Some 12 million were transported. Some 3 million died.

Slavery's impact upon Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe was profound. Britain was the first country to abolish the trade. As we approach the commemoration for the 200th anniversary of that abolition, it is only right we also recognise the active role Britain played until then in the slave trade. British industry and ports were intimately intertwined in it. Britain's rise to global pre-eminence was partially dependent on a system of colonial slave labour and, as we recall its abolition, we should also recall our place in its practice. It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time. The bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was and how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition, but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever happened, that it ever could have happened and to rejoice at the different and better times we live in today.

The people who fought against slavery came from all walks of life. They included slaves and former slaves such as Olaudah Equiano, church leaders and statesmen such as William Wilberforce and countless ordinary citizens who signed petitions, marched, lobbied and prayed for change. The bicentenary is an opportunity for us all to remember those who were bought and sold into slavery and those who struggled against its injustices.

Community, faith and cultural organisations, with the support in many cases of the Heritage Lottery Fund, are already planning events to mark the bicentenary. The Government, with local authorities, will be playing a full part. And the UK is co-sponsoring a resolution in the UN General Assembly, put forward by Caribbean countries, which calls for special commemorative activities to be held by the United Nations to mark the occasion.

We also need, while reflecting on the past, to acknowledge the unspeakable cruelty that persists in the form of modern day slavery. Today slavery comes in many guises around the world—such as bonded labour, forced recruitment of child soldiers and human trafficking—and at its root is poverty and social exclusion.

We also need to respond to the problems of Africa and the challenges facing the African and Caribbean diaspora today. Africa is a place of great beauty, fantastic diversity and a resilient and talented people with enormous potential. It is also the only continent getting poorer and where, in many places, life expectancy is falling.

But the world is now focusing on how we can help Africa tackle its problems, not least because of the G8 summit and the Make Poverty History campaign. Agreement was reached to double aid to Africa by 2010, to write off the debts of the poorest countries and massively to increase funding to tackle AIDS and improve healthcare and education.

Britain is playing its full part both through increasing bilateral aid and through international leadership. The International Finance Facility for Immunisation, which we have launched, should save 5 million children a year.

All this is making a difference. Debt relief is already beginning to flow. It has, for example, enabled Zambia to scrap charges for health care. This is taking place in partnership with African Governments and their people. But there is a great deal more to do.

At home, the bicentenary is also an opportunity for us to pause and consider the enormous contribution today of Black African and Caribbean communities to our nation. Britain is richer in every way, for example, in business, politics, sport, the arts and science because of the part played by these communities in every aspect of our national life. But even 30 years after the Race Relations Act and the creation of the Commission for Racial Equality, there are still barriers to overcome before everyone can make the most of their talents and potential.

Across Government, we are investing in tackling inequality in education, health, employment, housing and the criminal justice system in order to ensure a future in which everyone can achieve their full potential.

This bicentenary must also be a spur for us to redouble our efforts to stop human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.

Above all, this 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade is a chance for all of us to increase understanding of our heritage, celebrate the richness of our diversity and increase our determination to shape the world with the values we share.