Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 11 October 2007
UK Assets Freezing Regime
In a written ministerial statement of 10 October 2006, the previous Economic Secretary undertook to report to Parliament on a quarterly basis on the operation of the UK’s asset freezing regime. This is the fourth of these reports and covers the period July-September 20071.
In the quarter July-September 2007, the Treasury made eight domestic designations under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006.
None of these were persons already designated under earlier orders.
The Terrorism order and the Al-Qaeda and Taliban order provide, where appropriate, for designations to be made confidentially and with restricted circulation of notice. Six persons were designated on this basis in this quarter.
Four persons were designated on the basis of closed source material provided by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
There were no financial sanctions listings at the EU or the UN in relation to terrorism or Al-Qaeda and the Taliban of persons with links to the UK.
A total of 284 separate accounts and approximately £625,0002 of suspected terrorist funds have been frozen in the UK since 2001.
The Treasury keeps domestic asset-freezing cases under review. A number of formal reviews have been initiated in this quarter and the review of one case was completed. In this case a decision was taken to delist the designated person.
An application under Article 5(4) of the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 for an order to set aside a designation was lodged at the High Court on 21 August 2007 by a designated person. Three other applications to set aside have subsequently been received on behalf of designated persons, who have sought to join them to the first application. A directions hearing which will cover all four cases is scheduled for 12th October 2007.
In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1452 (2002), the Treasury operates a licensing system whereby designated persons and others are able to apply to make or receive payments under specific and, if necessary, monitored conditions. In this quarter, the following licences were issued:
11 listed persons were granted legal expenses licences.
13 listed persons were granted basic expenses licences; (2 of which were for benefits payments); and
5 listed persons were granted extraordinary expenses licences.
In addition, the households of four listed persons were granted benefits licences in accordance with the policy set out in the previous Economic Secretary’s statement of 3 July 2006 to Parliament.
1 The detail that can be provided to the House on a quarterly basis is subject to the need to avoid the identification, directly or indirectly, of personal or operationally sensitive information.
2 This figure includes approximately $58,000 of suspected terrorist funds frozen in the UK. This has been converted using current exchange rates. Future fluctuations in the exchange rate may impact on the contribution this sum makes to future totals of suspected terrorist funds frozen.
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
A review of the multiple injury lump sum element of the armed forces and reserve forces compensation scheme has been undertaken over recent weeks. The purpose of the review was to ensure that the scheme’s intent of focusing benefit on the most seriously injured was being delivered. We have concluded that, while the scheme overall remains fundamentally sound, the existing rule for multiple injuries received in a single incident was not intended for the type of multiple injury cases seen today, and that it is appropriate to reinforce the focus on the most seriously injured.
Subject to consultation, we are proposing to amend the rule so that those with multiple injuries who qualify for 100 per cent. of the guaranteed income payment (GIF), who are by definition the most seriously injured, will receive the full lump sum compensation award for each of their injuries sustained in a single incident, up to the maximum of £285,000. It is also proposed that additional benefits will be conferred on those who have had their cases determined under the current rule, so that they receive the same level of compensation as those determined after the rules have been changed. Those with less serious injuries, who do not qualify for 100 per cent. GIF payments, will continue to have the current rule applied to their multiple injuries.
The proposal has the full support of the service chiefs of staff. We are now consulting the members of the Central Advisory Committee, the statutory consultative body which advises on war pension and compensation issues, before finalising arrangements and making the necessary changes to the secondary legislation to put the new rule in place at the earliest opportunity.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
General Affairs and External Relations Council
The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will be held on 15 October in Luxembourg. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I will represent the UK.
Before the Presidency opens the Council, they will update partners on the Intergovernmental Conference on the draft EU Reform Treaty. The IGC legal group concluded on 3 October and a new draft treaty text has been sent to Parliament.
The Council agenda items are as follows:
Reinforcing the EU's Disaster Response
The Council is expected to discuss civil protection capabilities following recent forest fires in Southern Europe. The Government support the existing civil protection mechanism and believe The EU should identify the lessons learned from the recent emergencies while considering the implications for future operation of the mechanism and of community civil protection arrangements more widely.
EU-Russia Summit Preparations
The Council is expected to discuss the EU-Russia summit in Mafra on 26 October, which will include discussion of a wide range of international, regional and bilateral issues. The Government support the EU-Russia summit and have been actively involved in the preparations.
Chad and Central African Republic
The Council is expected to discuss Chad, including EU efforts to support stability in the wider region. The Council is likely to adopt conclusions on the deployment of a possible peacekeeping force to Chad and the Central African Republic under the European security and defence policy. The conclusions are also expected to reiterate the EU’s support for Darfur’s political process, in particular the peace talks in Libya starting on 27 October, rapid deployment of the UN/AU hybrid peacekeeping force, and the EU’s readiness to consider further measures against any party who obstructs this process.
The Council is expected to discuss recent developments in Burma. The Government want the EU to maintain pressure on the regime, including by agreeing a package of EU measures against the regime, while supporting a UN-led reconciliation process.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions calling on the regime to engage with the UN while leaving open the threat of further measures should the regime continue to block progress towards reconciliation.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will raise the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, including the increasing humanitarian crisis, and ways the EU can promote and support a democratic process in Zimbabwe during elections in 2008.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte, is expected to brief the Council on Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY. The June council Conclusions made clear that full cooperation by the Serb government with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia remains a requirement for the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The Government fully support this position.
The Council is also expected to discuss ways in which the EU can support the negotiations on Kosovo’s final status and to adopt conclusions expressing full support for ongoing efforts by the EU/Russia/US Troika to reach agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on a status settlement. The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions on the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Montenegro and expressing the EU's support for High Representative Miroslav Lajcak and his efforts to advance key reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Government fully support the conclusions.
External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, is expected to update the Council on plans for an EU/Libya Framework Agreement. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions giving the Commission a mandate to take this forward. The Government believe the EU should move quickly towards a formalised relationship with Libya, which will help secure progress in areas of mutual interest, such as combating illegal migration.
The Council is expected to discuss ways in which the EU can provide practical support to strengthen Palestinian institutions. The Government also believe the EU should urgently re-engage and expand the EU mission to support the Palestinian civilian police. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions emphasising support for the international meeting hosted by the US in November and reiterating the importance of continued humanitarian support to Gaza.
The Council is likely to discuss Lebanon in light of the political tensions surrounding the Lebanese parliamentary elections and the recent assassination of the MP Antoine Ghanem on 19 September. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Lebanon, which the Government support, condemning the assassination of MP Antoine Ghanem and urging agreement on a consensus presidential candidate through dialogue. The conclusions are also likely to welcome the end of fighting between the army and extremist militants in the Nahr Al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, and support Lebanon’s reconstruction efforts in the damaged camp.
The Council is expected to discuss steps the EU can take to support the agreed twin track international approach to the Iranian nuclear issue. This includes discussions between the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and Ali Larijani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and incremental sanctions against Iran for continued defiance of the will of the international community, as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions 1696, 1737 and 1747. The Government support the twin track approach and believe it is important that the EU should consider appropriate measures to put pressure on Iran in parallel with the UN process.
The Council is expected to discuss EU engagement with Iraq. The Government support work to improve EU initiatives in support of a secure and stable Iraq and welcome discussion of the EU’s financial, technical and political support, including to the Iraq Neighbours process. The Council is also expected to discuss steps to support the UN’s role as set out in UN Securitv Council Resolution 1723.
AOB: Economic Partnership Agreements
The Commission is expected to update the Council on discussion of the Economic Partnership Agreements at the Development Ministers Informal in Madeira on 22 September.
Correction to Written Answer
My noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown has made the following written ministerial statement:
“In my reply on 23 July to the below question from my noble Friend Lord Judd, I incorrectly stated that the UK's contribution to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was £98 million, Official Report, column WA71. I regret the error and my corrected answer is given below:
The Lord Judd: To ask Her Majesty's Government, how many of the Iraqi refugees in Syria are thought to be the victims of torture; and what discussions they have had with the Government of Syria and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on how best to respond. HL4895
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK is not in a position to assess the numbers of Iraqi refugees in Syria that have been victims of torture. We have not had any discussions on this issue with either the UNHCR or the Government of Syria.
The UK continues to support the UNHCR's leading role in providing humanitarian support to Iraq Refugees in Syria. In 2006 the UK contributed approximately US$52 million (approximately £26 million) to support the work of the UNHCR worldwide, including in Syria. In addition, officials from our Embassy in Damascus have visited the UNHCR refugee reception centre in Damascus to assess the conditions there. We are now looking at supporting a range of projects aimed at improving conditions for Iraqi refugees, specifically in the areas of education and healthcare”.
NHS Foundation Trusts
The chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS foundation trusts) announced last week that, in accordance with section 35 of the National Health Service Act 2006, Monitor had decided to authorise the following NHS acute and mental health trusts as NHS foundation trusts from 1 October:
Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust;
North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; and
Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Monitor's announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 77. A copy of Monitor's press notice has been placed in the Library.
The Government remain committed to offering all NHS acute and mental health trusts the opportunity to apply for foundation status as soon as practicable. Monitor is now authorising trusts on a monthly basis, and further waves of NHS foundation trusts are set to follow.
Work and Pensions
International Labour Organisation Instruments
The 95th Session of the International Labour Conference 2006 adopted a new Convention 187 and Recommendation 197 on a Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health; and a Recommendation 198 - The Employment Relationship. I have today published a White Paper entitled “International Labour Conference, Proposed action on a Convention and Recommendations adopted at the 95th Session of the International Labour Conference 2006”, (Cm 7217), copies of which are available in the Vote Office.