Written Ministerial Statements
The following statements were received between Tuesday 15 September and Wednesday 16 September 2009
Business, Innovation and Skills
Strategy for Sustainable Construction
This Government remain committed to the principles of sustainable development. The Strategy for Sustainable Construction is a joint industry and Government initiative designed to promote real action on sustainable construction, and focuses upon the principles of sustainable development to which the Government as a whole have signed up.
In response to a BERR Select Committee commitment made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms), to publish reports on progress and hold conferences in 2009 and 2011, yesterday, the Government, jointly with industry, published the Progress Report on the Strategy for Sustainable Construction.
This Progress Report is a result of the actions of those organisations responsible as delivery bodies for the targets in the strategy a year on from its launch in June 2008.
Overall, progress has been good and encouraging at this early stage of the process. However, with some deliverables progress has been slower than envisaged in the original strategy and work is ongoing to address these. As delivery of the strategy continues, further work to build on the successes already achieved will be necessary to reach the overarching goals of the strategy.
Copies of the Progress Report will be placed in the Library of the House.
Afghanistan (Battle Casualty Replacement)
Since deploying in April this year, 19 (Light) Brigade have been engaged in a number of high intensity operations and this has resulted in a significant number of casualties, both due to enemy action and the harsh terrain in which they operate. As a result, commanders on the ground have requested battle casualty replacements to enable them to sustain the required operational effectiveness for the remainder of their tour, and in particular throughout the election period.
Further to our announcements to Parliament on 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 105WS and 29 April 2009, Official Report, column 46WS, around 150 personnel have deployed to Afghanistan as battle casualty replacements since 27 July 2009, the majority of whom were from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s).
Type 45 (Support Contract)
The in-service support we provide to the ships and submarines of the Royal Navy is vital in ensuring that the Fleet remains one of the world’s most powerful maritime forces, able to operate with sovereign independence and protect the UK’s interests around the world.
This is the first opportunity I have had to announce that on 10 September 2009 we awarded a contract, worth £309 million, to BVT Surface Fleet Ltd to provide in-service support for the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 Destroyers. The class of six Type 45s is one of a number of new capabilities being developed for the Royal Navy and will provide the UK’s future anti-air warfare capability, as well as being capable of contributing to a wide range of other military tasks.
The contract will provide support for a period of up to seven years commencing from 1 January 2010, in preparation of HMS Daring’s planned in-service date in February 2010.
This support contract uses an “availability based contracting” approach where industry are contracted to manage equipment availability to agreed targets, incentivising them to minimise the cost of support by improving equipment reliability. Type 45 is the first major warship to adopt this approach.
Separate negotiations are under way to provide an in-service support solution for the Sea Viper missile system fitted to Type 45. These are expected to conclude early in 2010.
World War One Generation
With the death of Harry Patch on 25 July 2009, the nation lost the last known British veteran of world war one (WW1) living in the UK. This was a hugely significant milestone and one which the Government have planned for some time to mark. This service will take place at 10.45 on Wednesday 11 November 2009 in Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh .
The service is to commemorate the passing of all who served. It will recognise not only the military contribution in the great war but also that of the civilian population who supported them at home. Attendance at the service will be by invitation only but we hope that a broad cross-section of the population of the United Kingdom, with links to the war, will attend. This is being organised through the Lord Lieutenants in each county. In addition, attendees will include members of the armed forces, Government, ambassadors, high commissioners and other VIPs.
World war one had an impact upon this country which endures today, over 90 years after it ended, and I hope that this service will be a fitting occasion when the nation can stand as one as it recognises the debt that we owe and reconfirms that “we will remember” the generation that we have now lost.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Local Community Flood Protection
The 2007 Pitt review highlighted the risks of surface water flooding and made a number of recommendations relating to surface water issues which included giving local authorities new roles and responsibilities for local flood risk management.
On 18 August, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs announced that local communities across England will benefit from £16 million funding to help them tackle surface water flooding.
£9.7 million has been awarded to 77 local authorities for areas where evidence shows that the risk and potential impact of surface water flooding could be highest. Local authorities for all other areas will also be able to bid for a share of £5 million to help them deal with known local flooding problems.
DEFRA will publish details of how local authorities can bid for the £5 million funding and the criteria on which bids will be assessed. This will be available on the DEFRA website. Innovative proposals for tackling surface water flooding, especially in rural areas, will be particularly welcomed.
An additional £1 million will be spent on making training, data and other tools available to help all local authorities manage flood risk
Further details of this announcement can be found on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/policv/surfacewaterdrainage.htm.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
“Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan” (Government Response)
I can announce that Command Paper Cm 7702, which sets out the Government’s response to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report “Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan” will be published on 2 October 2009.
The Government welcome the Committee’s report. Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the Government’s top foreign policy priorities. These issues deserve the widest possible engagement and the Committee’s report adds much to the debate. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office looks forward to further discussions with Parliament and all interested parties.
Control Order Powers
Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires me to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.
The control order regime
I would first like to report to Parliament on the future direction of the control order regime in the light of the House of Lords judgment in the case of AF & Others. That judgment ruled that individuals subject to control orders must be given sufficient disclosure about the case against them to enable them to give effective instructions to their legal representatives.
As the Government have made clear on numerous occasions, when dealing with suspected terrorists prosecution is—and will continue to be—our preferred approach. Where we cannot prosecute, and the individual concerned is a foreign national, we look to detain and then deport them. For those we cannot either prosecute or deport, our assessment has been that control orders are the best available disruptive tool for managing the risk they pose.
We have reviewed that assessment in the light of the House of Lords’ judgment in AF & Others. This has included a review of the impact of the judgment on the very small number of current control order cases. This has been in addition to the regular reviews that take place of the ongoing necessity and proportionality of each control order.
So far only one control order has been revoked and not replaced by a new one as a result of the judgment. That is the order against AF.
As I have made clear where the disclosure required by the court cannot be made for the protection of the public interest, including our national security, we may be forced to revoke control orders even where we consider those orders to be necessary to protect the public from a risk of terrorism. In such circumstances we will take all steps necessary to protect the public. The police and security service seek to investigate and monitor the activities of those believed to pose a threat to national security.
In some cases, as in that of AF, I will face difficult choices as to how best to protect the public interest. I have to balance the importance of protecting the public from the risk of terrorism posed by the individual against the risk of disclosing sensitive material. Disclosing this material would reduce the Government’s ability to protect the public from a risk of terrorism and in some cases could put lives at risk. In the case of AF, I decided that the risks posed by disclosure were too great. However these decisions can only be made on a case by case basis. In the case of AM, for example, I decided that the further disclosure that was ordered by the court could be made.
My current assessment is therefore that the control order regime remains viable following the House of Lords judgment and that the national security reasons for maintaining the regime have not changed. However as further control order cases are considered by the courts during the autumn I will be keeping this assessment under review.
In addition to this ongoing review within my Department, I have asked the independent reviewer of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, to review the impact of the House of Lords judgment and to advise me as to whether the assessment that the regime remains viable is right. I have asked him to advise on this question in his next annual report which will be published early next year. His report will very helpfully be informed by the High Court’s consideration of further control order cases over the coming months.
The operation of the control order powers in the last quarter
I would also like to report to Parliament on the operation of the control order powers over the last quarter. As stated in previous quarterly statements on control orders, the level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice. Control order obligations are tailored to the individual concerned and are based on the terrorism-related risk that individual poses. Each control order is kept under regular review to ensure that obligations remain necessary and proportionate. The Home Office continues to hold control order review groups (CORGs) every quarter, with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular and formal review and to facilitate a review of appropriate exit strategies. During this reporting period, four CORGs were held in relation to the orders currently in force. In addition, further meetings were held on an ad hoc basis as specific issues arose.
During the period 11 June 2009 to 10 September 2009, five control orders have been renewed in accordance with section 2(6) of the 2005 Act. Five control orders have been revoked. Only one of these five revocations, the case of AF, was as a direct result of the House of Lords judgment in AF & Others. In this case, I considered that the disclosure required by the court could not be made for the protection of the public interest. I therefore had no alternative but to take the difficult decision to revoke the control order, even though the assessment remained that the control order was necessary to protect the public. I have made clear that we take all steps necessary to protect the public.
In three of the other four cases I revoked the orders because I considered that they were no longer necessary because the orders had successfully disrupted the individual’s terrorism-related activities. In the remaining case the order was revoked because the individual is now subject to deportation proceedings.
One further control order against an individual was revoked following a court order. However in this case a new order was made and served in its place.
In total, 15 control orders are currently in force, nine of which are in respect of British citizens. Seven individuals subject to a control order live in the metropolitan police service area; the remaining individuals live in other police force areas. All of these control orders are non-derogating. No prosecutions for breaching a control order were completed during this reporting period.
During this reporting period, 125 modifications of control order obligations were made, 49 requests to modify control order obligations were refused.
A right of appeal is provided for by section 10(1) of the 2005 Act against a decision by the Secretary of State to renew a non-derogating control order or to modify an obligation imposed by a non-derogating control order without consent. One such appeal has been lodged with the High Court during this reporting period. A right of appeal is also provided for by section 10(3) of the 2005 Act against decisions by the Secretary of State to refuse a request by a controlled person to revoke their order and/or to modify any obligation under the order. Two appeals have been lodged with the High Court by controlled persons relating to refusal to modify a control order during this reporting period.
Two judgments were handed down by the High Court during this reporting period in relation to the full judicial review of a control order under section 3(10) of the 2005 Act. An interlocutory judgment was handed down in Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AM in closed only on 9 July 2009. The Secretary of State was ordered to make further disclosure in order to ensure compliance with article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) despite the court’s acknowledgment that the disclosure ordered is contrary to the public interest. The Secretary of State decided to make the disclosure ordered in order to maintain the control order in force. A substantive judgment in the case is expected in the next reporting period.
In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AN, the court ordered the Secretary of State to revoke the control order in a judgment handed down on 31 July 2009. This followed the decision of the Secretary of State to withdraw reliance on a part of the case against AN due to the damage that would be done to the public interest if such disclosure was made. (The court ordered disclosure of this part of the case in a closed judgment of 29 February 2008 but the effect of the court order was stayed until the hand down of the June 2009 House of Lords judgment.) The Secretary of State argued that the control order against AN could be maintained on the basis of the remainder of the case. However, the judge considered that the material withdrawn represented the essence of the case as it was put to the Secretary of State when the control order was originally made and that as the decision to make an order had been based on grounds the core of which could not now be relied upon, the decision must be flawed. However, the court found that the order was properly made and renewed and therefore the appropriate remedy was to order the Secretary of State to revoke the order rather than to quash it. The court indicated that the Secretary of State was free to decide whether or not to apply for permission to make a new control order on the basis of the remaining material. The Government have subsequently made such an order with the court’s permission. AN has lodged an application for permission to appeal against the court’s judgment of 31 July 2009.
Two judgments were handed down by the High Court in relation to modification appeals under section 10(1) of the 2005 Act during this reporting period. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. BM, judgment was handed down on 3 July 2009. BM appealed against the decision of the Secretary of State to relocate him to a different town as part of a package of obligations designed to protect the public from a risk of terrorism. The court concluded that although it would have upheld the modification on the basis of the closed material, further disclosure of the closed reasons for the relocation was necessary to comply with article 6 of the ECHR. The Secretary of State decided not to make any further disclosure owing to the damage to the public interest that this would cause. The judge therefore directed the Secretary of State to revoke the modification. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. BF a closed oral judgment was handed down at the hearing on 17 June 2009. The court directed the Secretary of State to modify BF’s control order to require him to live at the residence in which he lived before his control order was modified to require him to live in a different town on the basis that the modification was not necessary.
Two judgments were handed down by the High Court during this reporting period in relation to modification appeals under section 10(3) of the 2005 Act. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AR, handed down on 15 July 2009, the court dismissed the appeal and upheld all the obligations subject to appeal as necessary and proportionate. AR has lodged an application for permission to appeal against the court’s judgment. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AN, an oral judgment was handed down at the hearing on 10 September 2009. On the basis of the open material the court found that the requirement on him to live outside London was not necessary and proportionate, but left it open to the Secretary of State to apply to rely on closed material in the case. The Secretary of State subsequently confirmed that he did not wish to apply for permission to rely on closed material in these proceedings.
During this reporting period two judgments were handed down by the Court of Appeal in relation to control orders. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AP, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment on 15 July 2009. It found by a majority of 2:1 that the High Court judge had erred in his decision in AP's case that the combination of a 16-hour curfew with an obligation requiring him to relocate to a different city breached article 5 (right to liberty) of the ECHR. In Secretary of State for the Home Department v. GG, the Court of Appeal handed down a unanimous judgment on 23 July 2009. It dismissed the Secretary of State’s appeal against a High Court ruling that the inclusion of an obligation in GG’s control order requiring him to submit to a search of his person within his residence was unlawful. The Court of Appeal found that section 1 (3) of the PTA cannot be read as allowing the inclusion of such an obligation.
Full judgments are available at: http://www.bailii.org/.
Defamation and the Internet
On 16 September we are publishing a consultation paper on an issue concerning the civil law on defamation in relation to the internet.
This relates to the “multiple publication rule”, under which each publication of defamatory material can form the basis of a new defamation claim, and its effects in relation to online archives. The paper considers the arguments for and against the rule and the alternatives of a single publication rule (which would allow only one claim to be brought in this jurisdiction against particular defamatory material), or the possible extension of qualified privilege to material on online archives in certain circumstances. It also considers in that context what limitation period for defamation claims would be appropriate.
Copies of the consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and can also be obtained free on the Department’s website at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/consultations.htm. The closing date for consultation is 16 December 2009.
Youth Justice Board
In the “Modernising Government” White Paper, the Government made a commitment to bring all public services up to the standard of the best and to make the best even better. In line with this commitment my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Schools and Learners and I today announce a review of the Youth Justice Board’s governance and operating arrangements.
The Youth Justice Board is an executive non-departmental public body established under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to take oversight of the youth justice system in England and Wales, including the secure estate for under 18-year-olds.
Since the Youth Justice Board’s inception, the ways in which a wide range of services for young people are planned and delivered at a local level have changed significantly. In that context, the Government want to ensure that the Youth Justice Board can continue to support the delivery of the best outcomes for young people and their families and communities, as well as the wider public. The Government also want to ensure that these outcomes are delivered in ways that give the public value for money.
We have asked Dame Susan Street, former permanent secretary for the Department for Culture Media and Sport, to fulfil the role of independent chair of the review. She will chair the review jointly with Frances Done, chair of the Youth Justice Board. The review’s full terms of reference are available at: www.yjb.gov.uk. We have asked the chairs to produce a report and recommendations by the end of February 2010. We expect to publish the report and the Government’s response shortly thereafter.
The chairs will be supported by a steering group comprising senior officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Home Office, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Youth Justice Board. The chairs have today issued an invitation to interested parties to submit evidence that they consider relevant within the review’s terms of reference.
Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
I wish to update the House on progress on the implementation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) as provided for in the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.
On Thursday 10 September Mr. Speaker announced he had appointed an interim chief executive for the IPSA, and that the recruitment process for the IPSA chair and members was to begin. I warmly welcome the appointment of Andrew McDonald as IPSA’s interim chief executive, and the progress being made in implementing the IPSA.
My Department has been working with the House of Commons and other interested parties to ensure that the early establishment of the IPSA remains on track. Any expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Justice on behalf of the IPSA that is properly due to the IPSA will be recovered, subject to Parliament’s approval of the necessary new estimate for the IPSA, ensuring IPSA’s independence. A new estimate for IPSA will be presented shortly as part of the winter supplementary estimates for 2009-10.
Local Land Charges Register (Search Fees)
I am today announcing the outcome of the joint Ministry of Justice and Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on Local Authority Property Search Services—Charges for Property Search Services as it relates to the fee for a personal search of the local land charges register in England. The paper sought views on how and by whom the fee should be set and whether the present fee should be changed. Eight hundred and fifty-eight responses were received. They have been carefully considered and the following decisions reached.
First, there should be no change in the present arrangements for the setting of the fee for the time being. Secondly, the present fee will be increased from £11 to £22 for personal searches of the local land charges register conducted on or after 1 January 2010. I have, with the concurrence of HM Treasury, made and laid the Local Land Charges (Amendment) Rules 2009 to give effect to the change.
The Ministry of Justice will today publish a post-consultation report in relation to the consultation and its outcome. Copies of the report Local Authority Property Search Services—Charges for Property Search Services—The Fee for a Personal Search of the Local Land Charges Register have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
I have issued today a report in response to public consultation for a scheme of continuous enforcement of motor insurance. The scheme proposes the enforcement of statutory motor insurance by comparing information already held on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) vehicle register and the motor insurance database maintained by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. The scheme enables identification of a greater number of potentially uninsured motorists than does relying on the police spotting them on the road. In the future registered keepers who do not have appropriate insurance will be committing an offence and may, if they fail to take action following the receipt of a reminder letter, be subject to enforcement action by the DVLA.
I have placed copies of the report in the Libraries of both Houses.
Heavy Goods Vehicles (Retro-reflective Markings)
In answer to parliamentary question 136910, 15 May 2007, Official Report, column 465 asking when retro-reflective markings would become mandatory for newly registered heavy goods vehicles, the then Minister of State for Transport, the hon. Member for South Thanet (Dr. Ladyman), stated this would be 10 October 2009.
In view of the current economic situation I am announcing that, to reduce regulatory costs on vehicle manufacturers and the haulage industry, this measure will not now become mandatory for new vehicle registrations until 10 July 2011.
Other regulatory simplification measures on vehicle lighting due to be implemented at the same time will continue to be implemented at the earliest opportunity.