Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 14 June 2007
Border and Immigration Agency
I am today placing in the Library copies of the report “A review of the failure of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to consider some foreign national prisoners for deportation”, conducted by Stuart Hyde, former Senior Director for Enforcement and Compliance, now Assistant Chief Constable in the West Midlands Police, together with the first annual business plan of the Border and Immigration Agency.
In addition, the Chief Executive of the Border and Immigration Agency, Lin Homer, has today written to the Home Affairs Select Committee providing them with a breakdown of the most accurate and robust information currently available to the Department of progress in considering the 1,013 foreign national prisoners released without deportation consideration.
The annual business plan, together with the Action Plan on the Hyde Report sets out the progress the Border and Immigration Agency has made over the last 12 months and the further reforms required by Ministers for the year ahead. I am grateful to the staff of the Border and Immigration Agency for their work over the last year and their ambition for further progress.
I can also update the House today on progress made in response to the Home Secretary's eight priority areas set out on 23 May 2006.
First, the Home Secretary identified the issue that there was no unique personal identifier for individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice, immigration and asylum systems and asked officials to explain how this could change. Secondly, he identified that there was no legal obligation on people who are suspected, charged or convicted to declare their nationality. To address this, the Chief Executive of the Border and Immigration Agency has, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police, designed new ways of working which are now being tested. Nationality is verified at the point of charge and from that point, the Police National Computer number is used as a unique number identifying the individual as they pass through the criminal justice system. We continue to assess this as the pilot progresses.
Thirdly, the Home Secretary said that all future instructions should be given to all agencies of the criminal justice system and be consistent and fully implemented. I can confirm to the House that new instructions have been issued to all agencies. Guidance is continually reviewed and the Border and Immigration Agency now continues to work in partnership with criminal justice agencies to ensure consistency.
Action point four identified that the criteria under which individuals should be considered for deportation were not clear. Policy officials were ordered to audit trail all policy criteria and the process by which they ensure that guidance is both clear and consistently applied. I can confirm to the House that this has been undertaken.
Fifthly, the Home Secretary asked that deportation decisions be made according to the most robust interpretation of the requirements of our international obligations. The UK Borders Bill now proposes a new link between criminality and deportation in the way that we want and the public would expect. That legislation is currently being steered through Parliament.
Managers were instructed under action point six to work with colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland to audit the numbers of foreign national prisoners released in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Home Secretary asked that clear procedures for dealing with prisoners held in Scotland and Northern Ireland were written and followed. I can confirm that this has been undertaken, and officials assure me it is operating well. They have further assured me that no foreign prisoner is released from prison in Scotland and Northern Ireland without their deportation case being considered. The Border and Immigration Agency continues to work closely with our Scottish and Northern Irish colleagues to ensure this is kept under review.
Seventhly, the Home Secretary explained that historically there have never been systematic arrangements in place for collecting information on mentally disordered offenders. He also explained in May last year that this is a hugely difficult group to deal with. Taking into consideration the very specific circumstances of these individuals, officials have assured me that no Mentally Disordered Offender is removed from restriction without being considered for deportation. There is now a dedicated case working team in place in the Border and Immigration Agency's Criminal Casework Directorate to assess this particular group.
Finally, the Home Secretary asked that arrangements were enhanced to facilitate the return of prisoners earlier in their sentence, including prisoner transfer agreements. The Border and Immigration Agency has launched a scheme, which I announced on 9 October 2006, the Facilitated Returns Scheme, to incentivise prisoners to go home sooner, whether time-served, under the Early Removal Scheme, or under a Prisoner Transfer Agreement. The scheme has been very successful in returning more foreign national prisoners home and continues to do so.
Sentencing Guidelines Council
My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has made the following written ministerial statement.
“The Sentencing Guidelines Council has today published its Annual Report, jointly with the Sentencing Advisory Panel, giving details of the excellent work it has achieved during the past year and outlining its work plans for the next 12 months. Copies of the Annual Report are available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.”
Pursuant to my reply to a written question, 14 May 2007, Official Report, column 554W, I erroneously informed the hon. Member for Sheffield Hallam that the training providers detailed in the answer was current. This is not the case. A number of these contracts have now expired. I apologise for this error. Further work has now been undertaken and details of current suppliers as of 30 May 2007 follows.
You will be aware from the previous answer, it is only possible to provide data for the current financial year. Data on for the previous years could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Providers of Education Services to Prisoners as of 30 May 2007
City College Manchester
City and Islington College
Isle of Wight College
Kensington and Chelsea College
Lancaster and Morecambe College
London Advice Partnership
Milton Keynes College
Norton Radstock College
Stockton Adult Education College
Tribal Group Plc
West Nottinghamshire College
Lincolnshire Action Trust
Citizens Advice Bureau
Foundation Training Co. Ltd
St. Giles Trust
New Bridge Foundation
Inside Out Trust
Lifeline Project Ltd.
Avon and Wiltshire Partnership
Providers of Training to Prison Staff as of 30 May 2007
Office of Public Management
University of Cambridge
Centre for High Performance Development
Cannock Chase Technical College
Leadership Research and Development Ltd
Highfield Co. Ltd
TSO Consulting Ltd
TDP Development Group
St. John's Ambulance
United Kingdom Supreme Court
My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has today made the following written ministerial statement.
“I wish to update you on the development of the UK Supreme Court in the light of recent progress.
The Supreme Court Implementation Programme is on target to deliver the Supreme Court at Middlesex Guildhall in time for the start of the legal year in October 2009.
We achieved two major milestones in our programme in the course of the last week. Firstly we reached agreement with Westminster City Council to discharge all the necessary Planning Conditions to allow us to start renovation of the Middlesex Guildhall Secondly, we reached Financial Close with Kier Group plc, our preferred bidder, to carry out the renovation of the Middlesex Guildhall as the new UK Supreme Court. As a consequence we started work on 13 June 2007.
This signals a major step forward in the creation of the Supreme Court in a place that is separate from the Houses of Parliament. Establishing the Supreme Court at the Middlesex Guildhall will symbolise the separation of powers between the judiciary and legislature. It is an opportunity to breathe new life into a fine historic building and to keep the building, which otherwise could not have continued in the long term as a Crown Court, in use as a centre for Justice. It also means greater visibility for the highest Court in the United Kingdom and improved accessibility for all members of the public.
The renovation plans are heavily influenced by conservation. Conservation architects Feilden+Mawson developed the plans in conjunction with the Law Lords, Westminster City Council, English Heritage and many other interested groups.
Today, we have published images on our web site:
http://www.justice.gov.uk/whatwedo/supremecourt.htm that illustrate our plans in more detail. I invite you to view the pages to see the balance that has been struck between creating a home that reflects the importance of such an institution and capitalises on the building's historic features.
I said that I would update the House on costs as soon as we reached financial close with Kier Group and that is what I am now doing. On December 14 2004, Official Report, House of Lords, column 117WS, volume 428, I announced that the cost of running the Supreme Court would be approximately £8.4 million per annum at 2004-05 prices. This would be the equivalent of £10.4 million at 2010-2011 prices, the first full year of the Supreme Court's operations. We have refined these estimates based on our developing understanding of the building design and business requirements. Our estimate of the running costs is £12.3 million per annum at 2010-11 prices and is set out in the table.
£m £m £m £m Judicial Salaries 2.1 2.6 2.6 Nil Staff costs 1.1 1.4 1.9 0.5 Admin (inc. security) 1.0 1.2 2.3 1.1 Utilities and rates 0.4 0.5 0.5 Nil Building Costs (inc. Cost of Capital, Depreciation, lease charge and lifecycle costs) 3.8 4.7 5.0 0.3 Total 8.4 10.4 12.3 1.9 * Assumes inflation rate of 3.5 per cent. per annum to first full year of operation - i.e. 2010-11
Admin (inc. security)
Utilities and rates
Building Costs (inc. Cost of Capital, Depreciation, lease charge and lifecycle costs)
* Assumes inflation rate of 3.5 per cent. per annum to first full year of operation - i.e. 2010-11
The Middlesex Guildhall project will be carried out using a lease and lease-back arrangement where the capital construction costs will be met over a 30-year period. Having reached financial close we can announce the real cost in terms of an annual rental figure. The annual rent to be paid by Ministry of Justice to Kier will be £2.1 million per annum, increasing at a rate of 2.5 per cent. per annum, for a period of 30 years from completion of the works and is included in the Building Costs above. This is less than the comparative figure included in the Building Cost (£3.8 million in table above) quoted in my statement of December 2004.
In December 2004, we estimated the capital construction costs to renovate the Guildhall as approximately £30 million (£36.9 million when inflated). This previous figure was established on the basis of a traditional procurement and included VAT. On a like-for-like basis the capital construction costs of the renovation are now expected to be £36.7 million This is within the costs announced in that statement. As I pointed out in my written ministerial statement of October 2006, this figure did not include Ministry of Justice professional adviser fees and the non-capital element of the fit out costs including loose furniture, IT services and library books. These set-up costs related to the Middlesex Guildhall are expected to be an additional £14.3 million. The Ministry of Justice programme team will cost a further £5.9 million over the five years of the programme.
Significant progress has also been made since my last statement to ensure that there is minimal impact on the London criminal justice system following the closure of the seven Crown courtrooms at Middlesex Guildhall on 30 March 2007. The number of Crown Court sitting days in London has not been affected by the closure and work undertaken by the courts is now allocated to nearby court centres. In December 2006, following a successful appeal, the Department obtained planning consent for the construction of additional courtrooms at the Isleworth Crown Court Centre. The additional courtrooms will replace the loss in overall capacity by the closure of the Middlesex Guildhall. We are currently in commercial negotiations with Geoffrey Osborne (Building) over the plans and costs for the development at Isleworth. Our current plans are to commence construction in summer 2007 and open the new courts in the spring of 2009.”
Government Consultation (Review)
I am today launching a review of Government consultation policy. The centrepiece of the review is the paper, published today, entitled “Effective Consultation: Asking the Right Questions, Asking the Right People, Listening to the Answers”.
Consultation helps public bodies make better-informed decisions on matters of policy and helps them improve public-service delivery. Consultation also helps improve the accountability of these bodies to the public, to business and to civil society. Government are most credible when they listen, and show that they are listening, to the customers of public services, the country’s experts, businesses, charities and NGOs and those who are most directly affected by the Government’s actions.
The code of practice on consultation has been in place since 2001 and has spread best practice across Government, facilitating effective stakeholder engagement in relation to formal, written consultations. The “Effective Consultation” paper looks to the future of Government consultation policy, asking how Departments can improve their approach to consultation.
The “Effective Consultation” paper will be placed in the Library of the House for the reference of Members and copies will be made available in the Vote Office.
The paper can be viewed at: www.consultations.gov.uk
The consultation period will run until 28 September 2007, and will be carried out in accordance with current consultation policy as set out in the Cabinet Office code of practice on consultation.
Trade and Industry
East Midlands Development Agency
I have decided to reappoint Bryan Jackson as chair of the East Midlands Development Agency for a further three years. The reappointment will begin on 14 December 2007 and will expire on 13 December 2010. I have placed further details of this reappointment in the Library of both Houses. This reappointment was made in accordance with the code of practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Dr. Bryan Jackson OBE FRSA
Bryan was appointed chair of East Midlands Development Agency in December 2004.
He retired from the position of managing director of Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd. in 2004, after 14 years, having spent the previous 23 years with Ford Motor Company. During his career, he has worked in many disciplines holding senior positions and managing several different plants in the UK and Europe covering the full range of vehicle manufacturing.
He was chairman of the East Midlands Regional Council of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 2000-02 and he is active in the field of economic development and education, both locally and nationally.
As well as being chairman of EMDA, Bryan sits on the DTI Manufacturing Forum, Strategic Forum Olympic Task Group and is a board member of Industry Forum.
He is currently an adviser to Toyota Motor Europe, as well as chairman of Total Motivation, a company specialising in efficiency and personal development and Deputy Chairman of Unipart Manufacturing Group.
In my statement of 20 July 2006, Official Report, column 56-57WS I announced that the Government had accepted the broad thrust of the independent review of Airport Policing by Stephen Boys Smith and outlined some of the report’s key recommendations. I also made a commitment to make a further statement in due course about progress.
The report’s recommendations focused on how police and the aviation industry’s security activities could be better harmonised to improve effectiveness and efficiency. In particular, how to achieve an appropriate balance between the various stakeholders for delivering all aspects of security at airports was considered. The Government fully accept that any policing element of airport security should be transparent and understood as part of a wider package of security measures at airports.
We have welcomed stakeholders’ general support of the report’s diagnosis and their endorsement of its conclusions about the need to define agency accountability; to enhance liaison between stakeholders at all levels; and to further develop the Multi-Agency Threat and Risk Assessment (MATRA) approach that is already in place at airports. All stakeholders recognise the fundamental need for clarity, transparency and agreement of their roles and responsibilities in the complete security package at airports. There has also been wide support for the conclusion that the system of designation be discontinued.
However, the Government do not underestimate concerns about the detail of possible solutions, in particular the identification and calculation of any policing costs to be borne by the industry; the ability of industry to recover agreed costs from passengers; and the affordability of those costs.
Since the report was concluded, constructive dialogue has been ongoing between national representatives of industry, the police and police authorities and Government. A shared security vision for UK airports has been agreed along with the principles to be used to develop the airport security plans to achieve that vision. We welcome the greater mutual awareness, trust and commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders.
Two key areas of work have been identified to be tackled nationally.
First, MATRA remains strongly recommended best practice for all airports. We maintain that such joint agency consideration of threat and risk should be the cornerstone for current and future security activity at airports. BAA and the Metropolitan Police Authority are working together at Heathrow Airport to enhance their MATRA and to develop a shared multi-agency airport security plan. More generally for all airports, work is already underway to deliver national threat assessments to airports so that all suitably security cleared MATRA members can evaluate the security situation from the same knowledge basis. It is acknowledged by all stakeholders that an enhanced MATRA process may identify improved options for tackling particular security issues. Some of these may need to be delivered by the police but it is recognised that a dedicated and permanent police presence may not be required at some airports.
Secondly, existing legislation is being reviewed to clarify the current responsibilities of stakeholders for security at airports to assist in resolving areas of disagreement. We are taking that work forward as quickly as possible with the agencies concerned.
Separately, complementary legislation has been introduced requiring aerodrome managers and police at designated airports to agree necessary dedicated policing resources and to clarify what the cost to the aerodrome manager should be. This is then set out in a Police Services Agreement (PSA). Some airports already have, or have had, service level agreements in place and it may be deemed by the parties to them that they remain fit for purpose and contain the requisite information to comply with the Civil Aviation Act 2006.
All this work is being drawn together to clarify the security responsibilities of all stakeholders at all airports and create the clear and transparent funding process recommended by the review. No legislative changes can be made until that work is complete but we are working to identify a suitable parliamentary opportunity for this.
Although the review did not focus on airport security, it was an examination of a key element in the protection of our airports against a range of threats. It is naturally not a report for public disclosure, however I will make another statement providing further updates in due course.
Work and Pensions
I have today published two papers on personal accounts.
In December the Government published their Command Paper “Personal Accounts: A New Way to Save”. During the 15-week consultation period that followed, we received 82 responses from the pensions industry, stakeholders and the public. Our consultation response that we have published today shows that while there is a range of opinion on some of the details, there is also a clear consensus around the aims and core structure of personal accounts.
Personal Accounts will provide a huge boost to retirement saving in the UK; helping the 7 million people who are currently not saving enough for their retirement and generating £4 billion to £5 billion of new saving.
Members’ interests will be at the heart of Personal Accounts. The scheme will be managed by a board of trustees and we announce today that there will be an influential members’ panel which will be able to nominate one third of the trustees.
Personal Accounts will also be designed to meet the needs of a specific target group, people on moderate to low incomes without access to a workplace pension. They will complement rather than compete with existing provision. In setting the level of the contribution cap we have sought to find the right balance between giving the individual sufficient flexibility to save while protecting existing good pension provision. We announce today that the annual contribution limit will be £3,600 in 2005 earnings.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee published its report on Personal Accounts in March this year. I am today publishing the Government’s response to the conclusions and recommendations of that report. I am grateful to the Committee for its work and analysis. We agree with the Committee’s comment that achieving a low level of charges and maximising simplicity are particularly important aspects of Personal Accounts.
We have designed the objectives for the Personal Accounts delivery authority and scheme trustees to ensure that this can be achieved. The trustees of the scheme will be required to act in the best interests of members and the delivery authority will be tasked with delivering a scheme that will meet members’ needs with low charges, appropriate investment choices and a panel for future members.
We believe that our proposals in response to the consultation and the Committee’s recommendations strike the right balance between providing clarity for industry and employers while giving the delivery authority the flexibility it needs to implement the programme of reform.
Copies of both documents are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office.