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Written Statements

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 1 June 2009


State of the Estate (2008)

Today the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson) and I have placed copies of the report on the “State of the Estate in 2008” in the Libraries of both Houses. This report, required by the Climate Change Act 2008, provides an assessment of the efficiency and sustainability of the Government’s civil estate. This is the first time that Government have reported in such a comprehensive way on the performance of the estate. The report will be published on an annual basis.

Communities and Local Government

Zimbabwe (Resettlement Scheme)

Further to the statement laid on this issue on 23 February 2009, the first five eligible applicants to take up the Government’s resettlement scheme for vulnerable and older British people in Zimbabwe arrived in the UK this weekend. They will resettle permanently near to their family or friends in the UK.

The cross-Government scheme, which is being co-ordinated by the Department for Communities and Local Government, was opened three months ago to help a small group of British people in Zimbabwe who are 70 and over or who are vulnerable because of their care needs or medical conditions but are unable to make their own arrangements to resettle in the UK. The British embassy is not advising British people to leave Zimbabwe and continues to provide a full range of consular services to those who remain.

The scheme was developed with the active involvement and support of individual local authorities, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, housing associations and charities.

To date, there has been steady interest in the scheme. As at 26 May, we had received 61 applications for resettlement under the programme.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I made clear, publicly, on 25 May, we strongly condemn the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This action was wrong, misguided, dangerous, and a clear breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 (2006). It will undermine prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula and do nothing for North Korea’s security. By carrying out this test in the face of united efforts by members of the international community to bring peace and security to the Korean peninsula, North Korea will find itself even more isolated and scorned by the international community. T he Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Bill Rammell) expressed our strong condemnation of the nuclear test to the DPRK ambassador to London on 25 May, and will meet him again today to underline our concerns.

North Korea’s action in conducting this nuclear test represents a clear challenge to the security of neighbouring countries, and to international security. It also gives rise to further concerns about proliferation. DPRK’s actions since 25 May in testing short-range missiles and threatening to end the Armistice Agreement of 1953 are provocative and aggressive.

In conducting this nuclear test, the DPRK authorities have chosen to ignore not only the Security Council’s demands but also the repeated warnings from many Governments, including the UK, to desist from provocative actions. The six-party talks process offers a forum for discussion of legitimate issues between the countries involved. But North Korea has walked away from these talks. They remain the right vehicle for the long-term goal of ensuring stability on the Korean peninsula. In the meantime we support active steps to contain the danger.

The UN Security Council has already issued a very clear statement of condemnation and opposition to the nuclear test. The UK is now working with Security Council partners to develop a tough new resolution imposing sanctions, which will increase the pressure on DPRK following previous resolutions.

If North Korea is to take its rightful place within the international community, it needs to respect international norms, abide by its international obligations as set out in successive UN Security Council Resolutions and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, end its aggressive policies towards its region and the rest of the world, and engage constructively with international partners, including through the six-party talks process. The Government and people of North Korea have much to gain from such re-engagement with the international community.

The nuclear test also highlights the critical importance of revitalising the non-proliferation treaty and securing entry into force of the comprehensive test ban treaty. The international community needs to demonstrate that it does not tolerate proliferation of this sort.

Prime Minister

Committee on Standards in Public Life

I have appointed David Prince CBE as a Member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The appointment is effective from today and is for three years in the first instance.

Surveillance Commissioners

In accordance with section 91 of the Police Act 1997, I have agreed to re-appoint the right hon. Sir Christopher Rose as Chief Surveillance Commissioner and the right hon. Sir Charles Mantell as a Surveillance Commissioner from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

I have also agreed to appoint the right hon. Sir William Gage as a Surveillance Commissioner from 1 September 2009 to 31 August 2012. He succeeds Sir Charles McCullough in this role.