Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 17 March 2011
Business, Innovation and Skills
Solutions for Business Portfolio
The Government confirm that they have simplified the Solutions For Business portfolio. The Solutions for Business portfolio announced in March 2010 contained 32 interventions, designed to help businesses at different stages of their development. Going forward we believe that the portfolio should target only those areas where a Government lead is required, including supporting innovation and helping companies reach international markets.
Ministers have decided to proceed with simplification of the portfolio which will see it streamlined, with 13 products in the new portfolio, with a focus on growth. The details of the products in the new portfolio are being published today, alongside new information to help local enterprise partnerships as they establish their economic priorities.
The 13 products in the new nationally funded portfolio are:
High Growth Coaching
Helping Your Business Grow Internationally
Manufacturing Advisory Service
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Networking for Innovation
Collaborative Research and Development
Grant for Research and Development
Workplace Training, including Apprenticeships
Improving Your Resource Efficiency
Finance for Business
Understanding Finance for Business
Rural Development Programme for England Business Support
The transition to the streamlined Solutions for Business portfolio will take place from April 2011 onwards. This transition will be managed and implemented as contracts for existing products expire and are retendered, to ensure maximum value for money for the taxpayer.
The new nationally funded portfolio is part of a wider package of measures that the Government are delivering to support business growth. For most of those starting out in business for the first time, or looking for straightforward advice and guidance on running their business, the improved businesslink.gov.uk website and start-up hub will be available to provide high quality online support. This will be supplemented by a telephone contact centre for businesses unable to access the internet or who cannot find the information they are looking for online. In addition, where businesses have challenges that cannot be met through the website, access to experienced business mentors will be available through the new volunteering gateway.
A simplified and well-defined national offer creates the opportunity for local businesses to work together and through their local enterprise partnership to identify local solutions to challenges that they face. The Government are supporting this approach by providing good practice information to assist LEPs in meeting their challenges.
EU Competitiveness Council
My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Baroness Wilcox, has today made the following statement.
The EU Competitiveness Council took place in Brussels on 9 and 10 March 2011. Andy Lebrecht, the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU represented the UK on research issues on 9 March and I represented the UK on internal market and industry issues on 10 March. A summary of those discussions follows.
The main research issues discussed on 9 March were the Commission’s Europe 2020 (long-term EU competitiveness) strategy’s annual growth survey (from the research perspective); the interim evaluation of the seventh EU research framework programme; and the European innovation union flagship initiative. There was also a lunchtime discussion on the Commission’s proposed new “common strategic framework” for future EU research and innovation funding.
On the Commission’s annual growth survey, Ministers debated research and innovation priorities to help Europe recover from the economic crisis. The UK emphasised that it was maintaining its science spending and that there should be increased focus on innovation-oriented EU public procurement and on addressing issues regarding access to finance for innovators. The UK also said it planned to monitor the effectiveness of EU research and innovation reforms.
The Council adopted conclusions on the seventh EU research framework programme in response to the independent interim evaluation. The conclusions called for simplification of funding rules, a greater economic impact from EU research investment and examination of the reasons for low participation in certain member states.
On the European innovation union flagship initiative, the Commission reported plans to develop a new innovation performance indicator, a new EU standardisation policy and to look at how EU-wide procurement schemes and a proposed pan-EU venture capital fund could better support innovation.
In the lunchtime discussion on future EU research and innovation funding, the Commission reported plans to introduce a more co-ordinated approach. Member states generally supported the Commission’s approach and identified the simplification of existing EU funding rules as a priority. The UK emphasised the importance of scientific excellence when allocating EU funding.
The research any other business items discussed were a report on “The knowledge-based bio-economy towards 2020” conference held in September 2010 and proposals for a framework programme for nuclear research and training activities for 2012 to 2013.
The main internal market and industry issues discussed on 10 March were the Commission’s analysis of the results of the public consultation on the Single Market Act; progress on implementation of the EU services directive; the Council authorisation decision on the EU patent enhanced co-operation process; the Europe 2020 strategy’s annual growth survey (from the industry perspective) and the Commission’s raw materials initiative. There was also a lunchtime discussion on the Commission’s mid-term review of the Small Business Act.
On the Single Market Act, the Commission reported that 770 online responses had been received and that it would be difficult to identify priorities that would meet everyone’s concerns. The UK called for an emphasis on growth and that EU single market priorities should be progress on services, on the digital single market and on better regulation. Most member states supported a focus on growth. The Commission concluded that further work was needed to agree priorities with member states.
On the EU patent, the Commission said that it was vital to help EU competitiveness. In discussion, the UK stressed that it saw the EU patent as a package and that it was studying the European Court of Justice opinion on the patent court that had been issued on 8 March. Council legal services confirmed that consideration of the opinion did not prevent agreement on the enhanced co-operation process and 25 member states (including the UK) confirmed their support for the authorisation decision.
In the lunchtime discussion reviewing the Commission’s Small Business Act initiative, the UK highlighted the importance of better regulation. In the annual growth survey discussion, the UK emphasised its support for measures supporting growth. The majority of member states stressed the importance of the EU single market and to improve the EU regulatory framework.
The Council also adopted conclusions on the progress of implementation of the EU services directive and on the Commission’s raw materials initiative.
There were also internal market and industry any other business items discussed on the internal market information system (IMI); the SOLVIT annual report; the fifth consumer scoreboard; public consultations on collective redress and alternative dispute resolution; the benefits of electronic invoicing for Europe; and on the recommendations of the high-level group on the competitiveness of the European chemical industry.
Communities and Local Government
Local Government Finance
I would like to make a statement on the work of the local government resource review.
The current dependency of councils on central grant allocations makes planning difficult, weakens accountability, and stifles local innovation. In the future, I am keen to move to a radically different system of funding and support for councils that is built on strong incentives, is driven by local decision making and breaks this dependency.
I have therefore set up a review of local government resources that will consider how we can recast the distribution of business rates and formula grant to deliver a more effective income stream for councils. The focus will be to free up as many local authorities as possible from dependency on central Government funding, as well as develop better incentives for local authorities to promote economic growth in their areas and to benefit financially from that growth. The first phase of the review will deliver proposals for reform by July 2011.
The review will consider the way in which local authorities are funded, with a view to giving local authorities greater financial autonomy and strengthening the incentives to support growth in the private sector and regeneration of local economies.
It will look at ways to reduce the reliance of local government on central Government funding, increase local accountability and ensure that the benefits of economic growth are reflected in the resources authorities have.
The review will include consideration of changes to the business rates system, and focus in particular on:
a) the optimum model for incentivising local authorities to promote growth by retaining business rates, while ensuring that all authorities have adequate resources to meet the needs of their communities and to deliver the commitments set out in the spending review;
b) the extent to which these proposals can set local authorities free from dependency on central funding;
c) considering how to fund authorities where locally raised funding would be insufficient to meet budget requirements and control council tax levels, as well as councils who do not collect business rates, such as upper-tier authorities, recognising that some parts of the country are currently more dependent on Government funding;
d) reviewing the scope for greater transparency and localisation of the equalisation process;
e) the position of councils whose business rate yield would be significantly higher than their current spending;
f) how to ensure appropriate protections are in place for business, within a framework of devolving power to the lowest level possible;
g) how to deliver tax increment financing proposals against a context of greater retention of business rate revenues;
h) how various aspects of the business rate system, including business rate revaluation and reliefs, should be treated;
i) examining the scope for further financial freedoms for local authorities, while standing up for and protecting the interests of local taxpayers, and
j) the wider implications of rates retention for related policies, including the work of the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support and the Government’s other incentive schemes (the new homes bonus and the commitment to allow communities to keep the business rates for renewable energy projects).
The review will take account of the responses made to the questions in “Local growth: realising every place’s potential”. It will also conduct extensive engagement with interested parties, including businesses of all sizes, to ensure that all views and perspectives are taken into account. In developing the proposals, the Government are clear that businesses should not be subject to locally imposed increases in the burden of taxation that they do not support.
Following the announcement at the spending review and through introduction of the Welfare Reform Bill that Government will localise council tax benefit, the review will also consider the design of the new scheme (to be launched in 2013-14) and what flexibilities local authorities should have to help keep overall council tax levels down.
The first phase of review will conclude by July 2011, followed by the necessary steps to implement the concluded reforms.
The second phase of the local government resource review will commence in April 2011 and will focus on community budgets. It will be taken forward in parallel with the continued roll-out of these budgets. Detailed terms of reference will be published shortly.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
Fixed-term Parliaments Bill
The Government have been engaged in discussions with the parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland about the potential coincidence of elections in May 2015.
The Government have tabled amendments to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill to implement the agreement we have reached with the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales. Following the discussions, motions were passed in the Scottish Parliament on 3 March and in the Welsh Assembly on 16 March calling on the UK Government to bring forward provision to defer the 2015 Scottish and Welsh general elections until 5 May 2016 in order to avoid the two sets of elections coinciding.
The amendment will provide that the normal rules pertaining to general elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales apply to the deferred polls.
The Government will also carry out a detailed assessment of what the implications would be of the two sets of elections coinciding at a later date. Then in the light of this we will consider whether to conduct a public consultation in Scotland and Wales on whether the Parliament and Assembly terms should permanently be extended to five years.
Following correspondence with parties in Northern Ireland on this issue, Northern Ireland Office Ministers have concluded that it would be better to await the outcome of the combined polls scheduled for May 2011 before taking a decision on whether special provision would be needed for Northern Ireland.
Secondary School Application/Offers 2011
Today we are publishing validated data, based on returns from 151 local authorities showing that across the country 84.6% of families received an offer at their first-preference secondary school—compared with 83.2% last year. A further 8.1% of families were offered a place at their second-preference school and 95.6% were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools. In total, 97.2% of families were offered a place at one of their preferred schools. I am placing a copy of these data in the Library of the House.
There is considerable variation in these figures nationally. Outside London, more than 87.8% of parents were offered a place at their first-preference school. The north-east had the highest percentage of first-preference offers with 94.3% and west midlands the lowest with 81.1%. For Greater London, this figure is 66.2%. However across London, 94% of families have been offered a place at one of their chosen schools.
Parents have the right of appeal against any application that has been turned down; and over the summer, local authorities and schools will be re-allocating places where others have moved address or chosen a different route of education for their child.
We are committed to improving the supply of high-quality school places, to put our trust back in schools and to support them in raising standards for all our children. Through the White Paper, “The Importance of Teaching”, we announced our intention to review the school admissions framework, with a view to delivering a simpler, more streamlined admissions and appeals code. We are determined to remove unnecessary burdens on schools while retaining accountability, transparency and fairness. We shall shortly be consulting on slimmer, less bureaucratic admission and appeals codes.
Our aim is to create an education system where every school is a good school, where discipline and attainment are principles for all; where teachers have the confidence to teach the knowledge and concepts that young people need to thrive in a global economy. Only when every school is a good school will we be able to remove the anxiety parents feel when selecting a school for their children. These figures show that too few parents, especially in London, have access to good school places, with one in six parents failing to secure their first preference.
We will continue our focus on improving performance in underperforming schools. The Secretary of State recently wrote to all local authorities asking them to develop school improvement plans for those schools below the floor standards. These plans will help identify the action needed to turn around those schools that are failing to provide a high quality of education. Schools will be supported to improve but if they do not do so quickly, we will look to transform them through conversion to academy status, under strong sponsors with a proven record in turning around underperformance. We will also continue our drive to increase the number of academies and to open more free schools to respond to demand.
This written ministerial statement contains Government and policy statements in relation to the statistical release “Secondary school applications and offers 2011” which can be viewed on the DFE research and statistics gateway. This statistical release was produced by officials working under the direction of Government statisticians in accordance with the code of practice for official statistics and was released at 9.30 am today.
The Information as to Provision of Education (England) Regulations 2008 require local authorities to submit data to the Department for Education on how many families received an offer of a place at one of their preferred secondary schools. This year on 1 March, almost 513,000 families were advised at which secondary school their child was being offered a place.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Independent Panel on Forestry
Further to my statement on 17 February 2011, Official Report, column 1155, I have today announced that the right Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, has agreed to chair an independent panel to advise me on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England and on the role of the Forestry Commission in implementing policy. The members of the panel are:
Shireen Chambers (Institute of Chartered Foresters)
Dr Mike Clarke (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
Tom Franklin (Ramblers)
Stuart Goodall (Confederation of Forest Industries)
Stephanie Hilborne QBE (Wildlife Trusts)
Sue Holden (Woodland Trust)
Dr Alan Knight QBE (Single Planet Living)
Dame Fiona Reynolds (National Trust)
Sir Harry Studholme (Forestry Commissioner)
John Varley (Clinton Devon Estates)
William Worsley (Country Land and Business Association)
The members of the panel bring a wide range of interests and expertise covering the environmental, social and economic aspects of forestry. I have published the panel’s terms of reference on the DEFRA website (www.defra.gov.uk/rural/forestry/).
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council
The Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council will meet in Brussels on 21 March. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will attend the Foreign Affairs Council. I will attend the General Affairs Council.
Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)
Japan is not currently on the agenda for the FAC, and the constantly evolving situation makes it difficult to predict the nature of a possible discussion. But we would expect Ministers to review the EU’s response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami, and to take stock of the latest developments on the nuclear issue. The EU’s response so far has been summarised in the press release below.
EU Southern Neighbourhood
On Libya, Ministers will want to take stock following the extraordinary European Council of 11 March, at which EU leaders called on Gaddafi to “relinquish power immediately” as his regime had lost all legitimacy and was no longer an interlocutor for the EU. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stressed to Parliament in his statement of 14 March, Official Report, columns 25-27 (see link below), HMG’s position is that Europe must seize this opportunity to support ordinary people in north Africa and across the middle east in their aspirations for a more open and democratic form of government. The EU now needs to follow through on its declaration of 11 March with a real and credible offer to these countries, based around the massive economic opportunities which lie in greater trade and co-operation with Europe. Discussion of Libya and other specific country issues will depend on events in the next few days.
The Sahel is one of the poorest regions of the world. It faces a number of challenges to its security and development simultaneously, including terrorism and frequent food shortages. At the FAC, Ministers are expected to review proposals for an EU strategy to deal with the Sahel’s security and development needs in a coherent way. The proposals are particularly important given recent instability in the region.
Ministers should be asked to agree conclusions on Somalia, the first since July 2009. Discussion is expected to focus on handling of the planned end of the transitional period in August 2011 and on tackling piracy. We want to see a clear statement that there can be no extension of the Transitional Federal Institutions beyond August without reform to make them more representative and legitimate in the eyes of the Somali people. We will look to emphasise the importance of tackling the causes of piracy on land and continue to push for the European External Action Service to play a leading role in co-ordinating donor activity in those regions most affected by piracy, including in Puntland.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)
We expect conclusions to be adopted on BiH on proposals to reinforce the EU’s presence there. We are supportive of the package in which there was broad agreement at the February FAC. The conclusions should also address the political situation in BiH, where a Government is yet to be formed nearly six months after elections.
Ministers are due to discuss the political and human rights situation in Belarus. We hope the discussion will focus on what further measures the EU can take to apply political pressure on the regime to release all political prisoners and cease the ongoing repression of human rights defenders.
Baroness Ashton will update Ministers on the EU-facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. Following appointment of the new Kosovo Government on 22 February, the first meeting of the dialogue took place in Brussels on 8-9 March. We expect EU member states to give Baroness Ashton strong support for her efforts on the dialogue as a way of building co-operation between Kosovo and Serbia and of helping both countries make progress towards the EU.
Iran human rights
We seek conclusions which pave the way towards EU targeted measures on Iran, including a travel ban and asset freeze on human rights offenders; and which develop the EU’s human rights dialogue with Iranian civil society.
Middle East Peace Process
Baroness Ashton will report on the 2 March Quartet envoys’ meeting and provide an update on work being done in preparation for the April meeting of Quartet principals. The UK will continue to make clear that the peace process must not become a casualty of uncertainty in the region, that it is too important to fail or falter, and that we must strive for a breakthrough this year. The UK has set out views on this with France and Germany in our explanation of vote on the draft UNSCR on settlement; see link below:
We also expect Baroness Ashton to update on progress in implementing her proposal for EU support to Gaza.
General Affairs Council (GAC)
Ministers will review follow-up to the extraordinary European Council of 11 March, which discussed the EU’s response to the current crisis in Libya and the southern neighbourhood. The declaration made by the Council on 11 March can be found at:
In addition to the Prime Minister’s statement of 14 March (see earlier link), an FCO report of the European Council can be found at:
Ministers will also discuss preparation for the spring European Council on 24 March. The current draft agenda includes:
the southern neighbourhood and EU action to promote stability in the region (see comments on FAC);
legislative proposals for economic governance in the Eurozone;
European Council decision amending article 136 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union and intergovernmental arrangements setting up the European Stability Mechanism. These were agreed at the December European Council, see link:
Foreign Affairs Council/Foreign Ministers (Informal Meeting)
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on 10 March, ahead of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 11 March attended by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
Baroness Ashton chaired the meeting. Her remarks ahead of the meeting can be found at the link below.
Discussion focused on action to increase pressure on the Libyan regime and the draft declaration by the European Council. The Foreign Secretary and others called for the stepping-up of pressure, to include consideration of a no-fly zone, based on a proper legal base, regional support and a demonstrable need. Many Ministers took the opportunity to comment on the draft Council declaration. Baroness Ashton conveyed these comments to President van Rompuy and EU Heads of Government at their meeting the following day.
The Foreign Secretary welcomed the Commission’s and External Action Service’s communication on the EU’s policy on the southern neighbourhood (see link below). In particular, he noted that the communication expressed the right level of ambition, and brought clarity as to what conditionality might mean in practice. He stressed the EU’s new offer to the region should be based on market access and progress towards political reforms.
An FCO report of the meeting, including comments by the Foreign Secretary, can be found at:
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the Gymnich informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers of 11-12 March. The meeting was co-hosted by Hungarian Foreign Minister Martonyi (EU Presidency) and Baroness Ashton. Discussions focused on Libya, north Africa and the middle east, including a substantive session on these issues with Turkey, Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia and Montenegro. Ministers reviewed the Council’s declaration agreed the day before.
Additionally, there were brief discussions of other countries in the middle east and north Africa. There was broad support for the EU efforts to aid transition in Egypt and Tunisia.
Baroness Ashton and Commissioner Fule (enlargement/neighbourhood) briefed on the joint communication on southern neighbourhood policy (link included in FAC informal report above).
Baroness Ashton’s concluding remarks can be found at:
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction. do?reference=SPEECH/11/171&format= TML&aged=0&language=en&guiLanguage=en.
Control Order Powers
Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires the Secretary of State 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 level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.
The future of the control order regime
On 26 January 2011 I made a statement to Parliament setting out the Government’s intention to replace control orders with a less intrusive and more targeted regime of terrorism prevention and investigation measures. Legislation to achieve this will be introduced in due course. Additional resources for covert investigative techniques will be made available to complement the new system. The full control order regime will continue to operate until the replacement measures are in force. I have now renewed the powers in the 2005 Act until 31 December 2011, following the debates in the House of Commons on 2 March and in the House of Lords on 8 March.
The exercise of the control order powers in the last quarter
As explained in previous quarterly statements, 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 the 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 the reporting period, no CORGs were held in relation to the orders in force at the time. This is because meetings were held just before, and are due to be held just after, the reporting period. Other meetings were held on an ad hoc basis as specific issues arose.
During the period 11 December 2010 to 10 March 2011, two non-derogating control orders were made, with the permission of the court, and served. One non-derogating control order was made, with the permission of the court, and revoked without ever being served following the identification of an administrative error. A further non-derogating control order was made in respect of the same individual, with the permission of the court, but was not served during the reporting period. Two control orders have been renewed in accordance with section 2(6) of the 2005 Act in this reporting period.
In total, as of 10 March, there were 10 control orders in force, all of which were in respect of British citizens. All of these control orders were non-derogating. Three individuals subject to a control order were living in the Metropolitan Police Service area; the remaining individuals were living in other police force areas.
One set of criminal proceedings for breach of a control order was concluded during this reporting period following a CPS decision that prosecution was no longer in the public interest.
During this reporting period, 53 modifications of control order obligations were made; 21 requests to modify control order obligations were refused.
Section 10(1) of the 2005 Act provides a right of appeal 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. No appeals have been lodged with the High Court during this reporting period under section 10(1) of the 2005 Act. A right of appeal is also provided by section 10(3) of the 2005 Act against a decision by the Secretary of State to refuse a request by a controlled person to revoke their order or to modify any obligation under their order. During this reporting period two appeals were lodged with the High Court under section 10(3) of the 2005 Act. In one of these appeals, an interlocutory application for an injunction was also made, seeking an order staying the effect of the modification until a full hearing had taken place and judgment handed down.
One court order was made in relation to proceedings under section 10(1) of the 2005 Act during this reporting period. On 8 March 2011 the court dismissed BH’s appeal against the renewal of his control order but allowed it in so far as it related to obligations imposed by the order. The obligations were modified by agreement between the parties and annexed to the court order.
On 10 March 2011 an oral judgment was handed down in relation to the injunction application referred to above. The injunction was refused and directions were set for an expedited appeal.
Equality Act 2010: Public Sector Equality Duty
The Equality Act 2010 includes a new single public sector Equality Duty which will replace the existing race, disability and gender equality duties and will extend to also cover gender reassignment in full, age, religion or belief and sexual orientation.
The Act contains a power enabling a Minister of the Crown to make regulations imposing specific duties on public bodies listed in parts 1 (general) and 4 (cross-border authorities) of schedule 19 to the Act to enable them to carry out the Equality Duty more effectively. Following a public consultation on draft specific duties regulations which ran from August to November last year, revised draft regulations were published alongside the Government’s response to the consultation on the Government Equalities Office website on 12 January 2011.
Since then, we have considered the draft regulations further in the light of our policy objective of ensuring that public bodies consider equality when carrying out their functions without imposing unnecessary burdens and bureaucracy. As a result, we think there is room to do more to strip out unnecessary process requirements. Today, we are publishing a policy review paper seeking views on new draft specific duties regulations. Our proposals are designed to deliver a clear focus on transparency, freeing up public bodies to take responsibility for their own performance in delivering equality improvements and to publish the right information so that the public can hold them to account. This approach will be better for equality because it will focus on the delivery of results, not the performance of bureaucratic processes.
The new general Equality Duty will come into force on 5 April. For the period from 5 April until the new specific duties are in place, public bodies will still need to comply with the general Equality Duty.
We welcome comments on the new draft regulations from public bodies, equality organisations, users of public services, businesses which work with public organisations and other interested parties. Comments should be submitted to the Government Equalities Office by 21 April 2011.
The policy review paper, including the draft regulations, is available on the Government Equalities Office website: www.equalities.gov.uk. Copies are also being placed in the Library of the House. Comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Terrorism Stop and Search Powers
I announced on 26 January the findings from my review of counter-terrorism and security powers. This included a recommendation that the Government consider whether the police needed the new counter-terrorism stop and search power more quickly than the Protection of Freedoms Bill would allow. On 1 March 2011 I announced that, given the current threat environment, I had concluded that the police do need the powers more quickly than the Bill would allow.
The most appropriate way of meeting the legal and operational requirements concerning the counter-terrorism stop and search powers exercisable without reasonable suspicion is to make a remedial order under section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to make immediate changes to the legislation. I therefore made a remedial order concerning the Terrorism Act 2000 on 16 March and that order has today been laid before Parliament. The new powers contained in that order are supported by a robust statutory code of practice. I have used the urgency procedure provided by paragraph 2(b) of schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act to make the remedial order because I have concluded that having these powers available to the police now is in the interests of national security and is needed to protect the public from a risk of terrorism.
The remedial order replaces sections 44 to 47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with a more targeted and proportionate power. The provisions in the order will cease to have effect on the coming into force of the similar provisions in the Protection of Freedoms Bill—in other words, the order makes temporary provision and Parliament will have the opportunity to fully scrutinise the replacement powers in the usual way during the passage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill. The order removes the incompatibility of sections 44 to 46 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with the European convention of human rights in the light of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of Gillan and Quinton which became final in June 2010.
The making of a remedial order using the urgency procedure means that it will come into force on 18 March. It will cease to have effect if both Houses have not approved the order by resolution within 120 days of the remedial order being made (the calculation of “days” for this purpose does not include any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or both Houses are adjourned for more than four days).
The decision to make a remedial order means that the discredited, ineffective and unfair “no suspicion” stop and search powers provided by sections 44 to 47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are, in effect, replaced by a much more targeted and proportionate power. The use of an urgent remedial order is a necessary and sensible step to ensure that the police have the necessary powers in place to continue to protect the public from a risk of terrorism.
Her Majesty's Land Registry
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, has made the following written ministerial statement:
Land Registry has a new vision: “Putting the customer, quality and innovation at the heart of land registration services”.
To meet this vision, the following strategic objectives have been adopted with key performance indicators:
To identify, anticipate and satisfy customer needs by constantly refining and developing products, services and channels.
Customer satisfaction: Target 95%.
Develop and implement the capability to:
Electronically deliver the top-six dealing transactions.
View the index map online.
Increase the number of services available on business gateway.
Improve intuitive online navigation.
External e-channel availability: Target better than 99%.
Increase add value revenue by at least 25% with a minimum net contribution of 14%.
To continually improve operational delivery in order to drive efficiencies, quality and value.
Percentage of registrations processed within 12 working days: Target 80%.
Percentage of completed registrations that meet specified internal quality standards relating to key areas: Target 97%.
Percentage of completed registrations requiring correction: Target less than 1.5%.
Percentage of successful changes applied to electronic services: Target 95%.
To build a flexible and efficient organisation to enable us to respond to market fluctuations and changing customer needs and to identify and implement opportunities for Land Registry.
Introduce performance and innovation continuous improvement methodology into two operational offices and extend use in human resources directorate by 31 March 2012.
Complete phase 1 of accelerated transformation programme by 31 December 2011.
Embed new values and behaviours into individual performance management and recruitment processes by 31 March 2012.
Percentage of staff positively engaged with Land Registry: Target 50%.
To meet all financial and efficiency targets while funding our future work investment programmes.
Percentage return on average capital employed: Target 3.5%.
Cost per unit in cash terms (real terms): Target £29.46 (£18.34).