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Written Statements

Volume 543: debated on Monday 30 April 2012

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 30 April 2012

Treasury

ECOFIN

An extraordinary meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 2 May 2012. The following items are on the agenda to be discussed:

Revised Capital Requirement Rules (CRD IV)

The council will discuss the presidency’s compromise on the Commission’s proposal to replace the capital requirements directive (directives 2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC, as amended by directives 2009/111/EC and 2010/76/EU), with a regulation on prudential requirements and a directive on the access to the activity of credit institutions and the prudential supervision of credit institutions and investment firms, together known as “CRD IV”.

The UK will push for the full implementation of Basel 3 and for member states to have sufficient flexibility to protect financial stability in their jurisdiction.

Follow-up to the G20 meeting of finance ministers and governors and IMF spring meetings (Washington 20-22 April 2012)

The Commission will update member states on the IMF spring meetings, which took place in Washington on 19-22 April, including a meeting of G20 finance ministers and Central Bank governors. The Chancellor updated the House on the outcome of the discussions at the spring meetings, including on IMF resources, in a statement on 23 April.

Counter-Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime

Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (“TAFA 2010”), the Treasury is required to report quarterly to Parliament on its operation of the UK’s asset freezing regime mandated by UN Security Council resolution 1373.

This is the fifth report under the Act and it covers the period from 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012. This report also covers the UK implementation of the UN Al-Qaida asset freezing regime and the operation of the European Union (EU) asset freezing regime in the UK under the EU regulation (EC) 2580/2001 which implements UNSCR 1373 against external terrorist threats to the EU. Under the latter regime, the EU has responsibility for designations and the Treasury has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under part 1 of TAFA 2010.

Annexes 1 and 2 to this statement provide a breakdown by name of all those designated by the UK and the EU in pursuance of UN Security Council resolution 1373.

Following the publication in February 2012 of the Treasury’s response to the independent reviewer’s first report on the operation of TAFA 2010, the Treasury is continuing work to implement the independent reviewer’s recommendations. Progress on these will be reported in future reports to Parliament.

The following table sets out the key asset-freezing activity in the UK during the quarter ending 31 March 2012:

Activities

TAFA 2010

EU Reg (EC) 2580/2001

Al-Qaida regime UNSCR 1989

Assets frozen (as at 31/03/2012)

£33,000

£11,000

£71,0001

Number of accounts frozen in UK (at 31/03/12)

68

10

38

New accounts frozen

0

0

0

Accounts unfrozen

1

0

1

Number of designations (at 31/03/12)

40

37

329

(i) new designations (during Q1 2012)

0

0

11

(ii) Delistings

2

14

25

(iii) individuals in custody in UK

14

0

2

(iv) individuals in UK, not in detention

5

0

7

(v) individuals overseas

13

12

260

(vi) groups

8 (0 in UK)

25

69 (2 in UK)

Renewal of designation

34

n/a

n/a

General Licences

(i) Issued in Q1

(i) 0

(ii) Amended

(ii) 0

(iii) Revoked

(iii) 0

Specific Licences:

(i) Issued

(i) 6

(i) 0

(i) 0

(ii) Revokd

(ii) 1

(ii) 0

(ii) 0

1This figure reflects the most up-to-date account balances available and includes approximately $64,000 of suspected terrorist funds frozen in the UK. This has been converted using exchange rates as of 02/04/12.

The key area of activity during the quarter was:

Reviews of the remaining 36 existing designations, not reported on in the previous quarterly report, were conducted during the quarter, which resulted in the renewal of 34 designations and the delisting of Habib Ahmed and Selman Bozkur. The renewals and delistings were all publicised on the Treasury website. All current designations under TAFA 2010 are listed at Annex I.

Legal Challenges

Three legal challenges against designations made under both the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2009 and TAFA 2010 were ongoing in the quarter covered by this report. The challenges brought by Ismail Bhuta and Habib Ahmed were withdrawn during the quarter, in accordance with agreed terms of settlement. There were no specific developments during the quarter in the case brought by Zana Rahim.

Proceedings

In the quarter to 31 March 2012, no proceedings were initiated in respect of breaches of the prohibitions of the Act or the Al-Qaida (Asset-Freezing) Regulations 2011.

Annex 1

Designated persons under TAFA 2010 by name

Individuals

1. Hamed ABDOLLAHI

2. Bilal Talal ABDULLAH

3. Imad Khalil AL-ALAMI

4. Abdula Ahmed ALI

5. Abdelkarim Hussein AL-NASSER

6. Ibrahim Salih AL-YACOUB

7. Manssor ARBABSIAR

8. Usama HAMDAN

9. Nabeel HUSSAIN

10. Tanvir HUSSAIN

11. Zahoor IQBAL

12. Umar ISLAM

13. Hasan IZZ-AL-DIN

14. Parviz KHAN

15. Waheed Arafat KHAN

16. Osman Adam KHATIB

17. Musa Abu MARZOUK

18. Gulam MASTAFA

19. Khalid MISHAAL

20. Khalid Shaikh MOHAMMED

21. Ramzi MOHAMMED

22. Sultan MUHAMMAD

23. Yassin OMAR

24. Hussein OSMAN

25. Zana Abdul RAHIM

26. Muktar Mohammed SAID

27. Assad SARWAR

28. Ibrahim SAVANT

29. Abdul Reza SHAHLAI

30. Ali Gholam SHAKURI

31. Qasem SOLEIMANI

32. Waheed ZAMAN

Entities

1. BASQUE FATHERLAND AND LIBERTY (ETA)

2. EJERCITO DE LIBERACION NACIONAL (ELN)

3. FUERZAS ARMADAS REVOLUCIONARIAS DE COLOMBIA (FARC)

4. HIZBALLAH MILITARY WING, INCLUDING EXTERNAL SECURITY ORGANISATION

5. HOLY LAND FOUNDATION FOR RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT

6. POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE—GENERAL COMMAND (PFLP-GC)

7. POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (PFLP)

8. SENDERO LUMINOSO (SL)

2 For full listing details please refer to http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/terrorism.htm

Annex II

Persons designated by the EU under Council Regulation (EC)2580/20013

Persons

1. Hamed ABDOLLAHI*

2. Abdeikarim Hussein AL-NASSER*

3. Ibrahim Salih AL YACOUB*

4. Manssor ARBABSIAR*

5. Mohammed BOUYERI

6. Sofiane Yacine FAHAS

7. Hasan IZZ-AL-DIN*

8. Khalid Shaikh MOHAMMED*

9. Abdul Reza SHAHLAI*

10. Ali Gholam SHAKURI*

11. Qasem SOLEIMANI*

12. Jason Theodore WALTERS

Groups And Entities

1. Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO)

2. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade

3. Al-Aqsa e.V.

4. Al-Takfir and Al-Hijra

5. Babbar Khalsa

6. Communist Party of the Philippines, including New People’s Army (NPA), Philippines

7. Gama’a al-Islamiyya (a.k.a. Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya) (Islamic Group—IG)

8. Islami Büyük Dogu Akincilar Cephesi (IBDA-C) (Great Islamic Eastern Warriors Front)

9. Hamas, including Hamas-Izz al-Din al-Qassem

10. Hizbul Mujahideen (HM)

11. Hofstadgroep

12. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development*

13. International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)

14. Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF)

15. Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (a.k.a. KONGRA-GEL)

16. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

17. Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army)*

18. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

19. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)*

20. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command (PFLP-GC)*

21. Fuerzas armadas revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)*

22. Devrimci Halk Kurtulu Partisi-Cephesi—DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front/Party)

23. Sendero Luminoso (SL) (Shining Path)*

24. Stichting Al Aqsa

25. Teyrbazen Azadiya Kurdistan (TAK)

3For full listing details please refer to http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/terrorism.htm.

* EU listing rests on UK designation under TAFA 2010

UK 2012 National Reform Programme

The Government have today published the UK 2012 national reform programme. The document has been submitted to the European Commission, as part of the European semester.

National Reform Programme

Under council recommendation 2010/410 of 13 July 2010, member states submit national reform programmes each year, which report to the Commission on their structural reforms and plans.

The UK 2012 national reform programme reports on actions taken by the UK as a whole, including by the Government and by the devolved Administrations where policy responses are of a devolved competence.

The 2012 national reform programme:

puts the UK’s structural reforms in the context of deficit reduction and the 2011 autumn statement and plan for growth;

reports on the broad macro-economic context, which uses the same text as the UK’s convergence programme;

reports on policies to tackle the five country-specific recommendations addressed to the UK by the June 2011 European Council: continuing with fiscal consolidation; reforms to the housing market; improving the employability of young people; reducing worklessness; and increasing access to finance; and

sets out the UK’s approach to national monitoring, in line with the five headline Europe 2020 targets agreed by the European Council in June 2010.

The national reform programme only draws on public information and is based on the announcements and forecasts of Budget 2012, “The Plan for Growth” and the autumn statement 2011. It is, therefore, entirely based on information already presented to Parliament.

Copies of the document will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available on the Treasury website at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.

Energy and Climate Change

Informal Environment and Energy Councils

I represented the United Kingdom at the climate change aspects of the EU informal Environment Council and at the informal Energy Council in Denmark on 19 April 2012.

I attended the lunchtime discussion at the informal Environment Council on the future of the EU emissions trading scheme. There was broad agreement that while the ETS is delivering the required level of carbon emissions to meet the EU’s 2020 target, it is failing to deliver the necessary investment signals in low carbon. The low ETS price means that there is now a much reduced incentive to invest in low-carbon technology and infrastructure, meaning a risk of future lock-in to high carbon. There was almost universal support for Commission action to resolve these issues.

At the informal Energy Council, discussion on the first day focused on the energy efficiency directive. The presidency outlined the state of play of negotiations. Most Ministers expressed support for the latest presidency text and for the presidency in their efforts to secure agreement by the end of June. I and a number of other member states argued that the directive must be ambitious to ensure that it delivers real and additional energy savings.

The second day of the council (when the UK was represented by a DECC official) focused on the “2050 Energy Roadmap”. The presidency outlined the “no regrets” option of greater energy efficiency, more renewable energy and new flexible infrastructure. Commissioner Oettinger outlined the main features of the EU’s transition to a low-carbon economy: the need for regulatory predictability to encourage investment; a decarbonised energy sector; and flexibility for member states within a wider framework. He outlined his plan for a 12 to 18 month debate on the post-2020 regulatory structure for energy. In a wide-ranging discussion, most member states supported the “no regrets” option. The presidency plans to ask for agreement on conclusions on the energy road map at the June Energy Council.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Promoting and Protecting Human Rights (Command Paper)

I have today laid before the House a copy of the 2011 Foreign and Commonwealth Office report on human rights and democracy.

The report comprehensively assesses developments in human rights in 2011 and provides information about some important developments in early 2012. It sets out what the Government are doing through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to promote human rights and democratic values around the world, in three principal areas: it documents the serious concerns we have about a range of countries where we are seeking to influence the human rights situation; it assesses progress on thematic issues that cut across geographic boundaries; and it reports on areas where we believe we have seen positive developments over the last year. We have made some significant changes to the format of the report itself this year, including the introduction of case studies.

I am determined that we will continue to strengthen and develop the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s work on human rights. With this in mind, I have decided to allocate an additional £1.5 million in 2012 to our human rights programme work, which will be focused in particular on projects to promote freedom of expression online and the implementation of the UN guiding principles on business and human rights.

I have also decided to introduce changes to make the Foreign Office’s human rights reporting even more responsive to rapidly changing situations. An annual report can only look backwards, yet in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office we monitor and respond to change as it happens and our reporting needs to reflect this. It is sometimes the case that a country not regarded as a ‘country of concern’ at the beginning of the reporting period may experience important human rights developments.

Over the current reporting period, and for the first time, we will make quarterly decisions on whether systematic reporting on developments in other countries, not listed in the 2011 report as countries of concern, is required.

This more flexible quarterly reporting will strengthen the assessments we make about which countries should be added to or removed from the list of countries of concern in the 2012 annual report.

On the basis of the first of these assessments, I have decided that we should report quarterly on the situation in Bahrain and Ethiopia, and that we should review the situation in Rwanda and Egypt in depth at the mid-year point. These four countries are covered as case studies in the 2011 report.

Taken together, the report, the additional funding and these changes to our reporting system underline the Government’s determination to continue to place the effective promotion of human rights at the heart of our foreign policy.

Justice

Prison Service Pay Review Body

I am pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed Ann Jarvis as a member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body for three years commencing April 2012. The appointment has been conducted in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments code of practice on appointments to public bodies.

Prime Minister

Military Medals Review

This Government are fully committed to recognising all that our armed forces do to keep us safe. That is why this Government have enshrined the military covenant in law. Today, I am pleased to update the House on the fresh review of the rules and principles governing the award of military campaign medals that Lord Astor announced in the House last October (26 October 2011, Official Report, column 856).

The review will make recommendations where appropriate for any change.

I have appointed Sir John Holmes to carry out this review to ensure that it is fully independent. Sir John is currently director at the Ditchley Foundation, and formerly served as the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and as Her Majesty’s ambassador in Paris and Lisbon.

I have asked Sir John Holmes to report on his review by the summer.

A copy of the terms of reference has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Work and Pensions

Workplace Pension Reform

Later today the Government will publish the consultation document “Automatic enrolment: Career Average schemes as Qualifying Schemes”. This addresses an issue that could prevent some good quality pension schemes from being used as qualifying schemes under the reforms.

The Government’s policy on career average pension schemes is to allow them to be used as qualifying schemes and for the purposes of automatic enrolment so long as they provide for the benefits to be revalued at, or above, a prescribed minimum rate.

The consultation proposes amendments to those regulations to give more flexibility for schemes over how they provide for revaluation while still ensuring that members’ interests are fully protected. The period of formal consultation will begin today and last for six weeks, ending on 11 June.

I hope that those people and organisations with an interest in this subject will take the time to offer their views and advice.

Draft regulations will be published alongside the consultation document.

A copy of the consultation document and draft regulations will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available later today on the Department’s website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/.