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Written Statements

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

Written Statements

Tuesday 28 November 2006

Africa: Flooding

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

Having suffered severe drought, parts of the Horn of Africa are now experiencing exceptionally high rainfall, resulting in severe flooding in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. The UK has responded swiftly, committing £6 million to the humanitarian relief effort over the past few weeks. This brings our total humanitarian contribution in these countries since April 2005 to £50.8 million.

The worst affected areas are south-eastern Ethiopia, southern Somalia and northern and eastern Kenya. Although there has been some respite in the past few days, the forecast is for the rains to continue at above-normal levels for the next two or three months. The UN currently estimates that the floods are affecting nearly 1.5 million people—360,000 in Ethiopia (80 deaths), 902,000 in Somalia (52 deaths) and 207,000 in Kenya (45 deaths).

Since August, DfID has committed £6 million to UN, Red Cross and non-governmental organisation (NGO) operations in Ethiopia (£2 million), Somalia (£2 million) and Kenya (£2 million). This money is funding relief flights, distributions of relief kits (containing items such as plastic sheeting for shelter, jerrycans, blankets and soap), provision of water and sanitation supplies, and nutrition and health supplies and services. The flooding in Ethiopia has been affecting that country since July and the UK contributions were made at the end of August (£1 million) and in October (£1 million to address the diarrhoea epidemic that was a consequence of the flooding).

The UN has released funds from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). There was an initial $3 million for the floods response in Ethiopia in October, and two further contributions last week for Somalia ($3.3 million) and Kenya ($11.8 million). In Ethiopia, an additional $2.6 million is being requested, and the Somalia contribution from the CERF is expected to rise to above $10.3 million as additional requests from UN agencies are considered. The total funding from the CERF is therefore likely to amount to $28 million. The UK is the largest contributor to this mechanism, providing 26 per cent of current paid contributions. I welcome this full and speedy response.

National authorities, Red Cross, UN and INGOs are all responding. Access to the affected areas is of course difficult. Roads are blocked by the flood waters, and unmade roads are turning to mud and becoming impassable. Bridges and culverts have been destroyed. Aircraft, including helicopters, are being deployed to achieve access where this is impossible by road. In Ethiopia and Somalia, insecurity is also a factor.

We continue to monitor the situation closely. We are particularly concerned about likely increases in waterborne disease and malaria. Shelter is also a major concern. There are also risks to animal health, which may affect livelihood security in the region. In the medium term, when the flood waters recede a consequence may be improved water availability, improved pasture and improved soil moisture, creating better farming conditions.

Diplomatic Immunity: Serious Offences

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following my Written Ministerial Statement of 12 July (Official Report, col. WS 45) about the change of policy on disclosure of information relating to serious offences allegedly committed by persons entitled to diplomatic immunity, I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses a list of foreign missions whose diplomats allegedly committed serious offences and the type of offence in 2005.

From a community of around 23,000 in the United Kingdom entitled to immunity, 17 serious offences, allegedly committed by such persons, were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2005. “Serious offences” are defined in accordance with the 1985 White Paper on diplomatic immunities and privileges—that is, as offences that would in certain circumstances carry a penalty of 12 or more months’ imprisonment.

Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations: Unpaid Traffic Fines

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

There were 5,216 outstanding parking and other minor traffic violation fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in the United Kingdom recorded during the year 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005. These totalled £485,250. In June this year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to all diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them, if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly. As a result, payments totalling £11,545 were received, leaving a total of 4,732 (£444,070) unpaid fines for 2005. The table below details those diplomatic missions and international organisations that have outstanding fines totalling £1,000 or more.

Diplomatic mission/international organisation

Number of fines outstanding

Amount

UAE

441

£42,950.00

Turkey

348

£34,100.00

Saudi Arabia

259

£24,180.00

Germany

194

£19,020.00

China

180

£16,280.00

Russia

174

£16,200.00

Sudan

162

£15,620.00

Egypt

154

£14,670.00

France

130

£12,430.00

Afghanistan

116

£10,700.00

Kazakhstan

107

£10,400.00

Guinea

106

£10,220.00

Qatar

103

£9,850.00

Iran

103

£9,530.00

Nigeria

103

£6,440.00

Libya

91

£8,700.00

Brunei

89

£8,580.00

Kuwait

79

£7,850.00

Angola

78

£7,340.00

Ghana

73

£6,780.00

Hungary

73

£6,700.00

Greece

72

£6,770.00

Yemen

67

£6,130.00

DPR Korea

66

£5,720.00

Oman

64

£6,350.00

Jordan

58

£5,640.00

Malaysia

57

£5,500.00

Tunisia

55

£4,960.00

Pakistan

53

£5,010.00

Bangladesh

49

£4,730.00

Zambia

47

£4,570.00

Lithuania

37

£3,480.00

Algeria

32

£2,900.00

Poland

31

£2,650.00

Bulgaria

31

£2,800.00

Mozambique

30

£2,200.00

Cyprus

30

£2,800.00

Côte d’Ivoire

28

£2,470.00

Georgia

28

£2,600.00

Uzbekistan

27

£2,600.00

Ukraine

25

£2,450.00

Romania

24

£2,250.00

Tanzania

23

£2,300.00

Swaziland

22

£1,920.00

Morocco

22

£1,870.00

Gabon

22

£2,050.00

Thailand

20

£1,900.00

Senegal

1.9

£1,850.00

Kenya

19

£1,850.00

Iraq

19

£.1,780.00

USA

16

£1,500.00

Vietnam

16

£1,450.00

Bahrain

16

£1,600.00

Republic of Korea

15

£1,400.00

Kyrgyzstan

13

£1,150.00

South Africa

13

£1,250.00

Jamaica

13

£1,180.00

Mexico

12

£1,160.00

Azerbaijan

12

£1,850.00

Indonesia

11

£1,100.00

Japan

6

£1000.00

Total

4,383

£412,530.00

The number of outstanding fines incurred by diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom for non-payment of the London congestion charge since its introduction in February 2003 until 19 October 2006 was 56,411. The table below shows the 10 diplomatic missions with the highest number of outstanding fines.

USA

10,485

£1,016,200.00

Angola

5,649

£543,300.00

Nigeria

5,180

£504,120.00

Sudan

4,679

£449, 220.00

Tanzania

2,461

£233,630.00

South Africa

2,252

£214,640.00

Kenya

2,251

£208,610.00

Sierra Leone

2,138

£203,490.00

Zimbabwe

1,434

£136,990.00

Algeria

1,306

£122,660.00

Diplomatic Missions: Unpaid Non-Domestic Rates

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The majority of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom pay the national non-domestic rates (NNDR) requested from them. They are obliged to pay only 6 per cent of the total NNDR value, which represents payment for specific services such as street cleaning, lighting, maintenance and fire services. The total amount outstanding from all diplomatic missions is approximately £850,000. However, as at 1 July 2006, missions listed below owed over £10,000 in respect of NNDR. Eight additional diplomatic missions, which owe £10,000 or more in respect of NNDR, have made arrangements with the Valuation Office Agency to clear their outstanding debts and have not been included in this list.

Country

Amount

Algeria

£59,058.33

Zimbabwe

£54,605.88

Cameroon

£38,126.01

Mozambique

£36,970.23

Bangladesh

£31,703.18

Malawi

£27,843.99

Senegal

£23,781.95

Yemen Republic

£17,618.15

Ukraine

£11,665.02

Tunisia

£10,845.06

Iraq (Interests Section of Jordanian Embassy)

£10,564.88

Bolivia

£10,207.13

Total

£332,989.81

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council

The Justice and Home Affairs Council was held on 5 and 6 October 2006 in Luxembourg. I attended the council with the Home Secretary and Baroness Ashton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs. I thought that it would be useful to outline what was discussed and decided at the council meeting.

The Finnish presidency opened the council with the “A” points list, which was approved. This included Community strategic guidelines on cohesion and a framework decision on the mutual recognition of confiscation orders.

The presidency confirmed that a deal had been reached with the United States on an interim passenger name records agreement. Negotiations on a new permanent agreement will start shortly.

On The Hague programme, it was agreed that more co-operation was needed on immigration between member states and between the EU and third countries. Countering terrorism and organised crime needed closer member state co-operation with Europol, SitCen and between member state agencies. The UK emphasised that new legislation should be proposed only when it met a real need. It was important to focus on delivery of existing instruments and action plans. There was some emphasis on the challenges faced by some member states from illegal migration.

The presidency reported back on the discussion held at Tampere on the use of the passerelle in Article 42 TEU, noting that a significant number of member states had expressed concerns about the possibility of such use. The presidency is still reflecting on what its next steps should be, but we consider the current debate to be over and believe that we should instead focus on practical measures. The presidency noted that it was still working to a European Council mandate to improve decision making in JHA, but the JHA council was split on the use of the passerelle in Article 42 TEU. The Commission urged the presidency to reach agreement on the passerelle by the December European Council.

There had been a discussion about the future development of mutual recognition at the Tampere informal council in light of which the presidency planned to present draft council conclusions to the December JHA council.

The Home Secretary thanked the presidency, member states and the Commission for the help and solidarity received in August, saying that the EU had done much good work to establish a political and legislative framework to deliver real benefits to citizens and that migration and counterterrorism were key priorities.

An in-depth discussion was held on the draft framework decision on the transfer of prisoners. No agreement was reached on the issues of prisoner consent and the treatment of third-country nationals. The UK argued against watering down the text through the inclusion of broad grounds for refusal, such as a proposal that refusal should be possible where the aim of social rehabilitation would not be met. It was proposed, however, that concerns about meeting the social rehabilitation aim could be addressed through a definition of residence, since it was arguable that social rehabilitation was dependent on the links to a member state that would have been created by five years’ previous residence there. It was argued that this could also be used to determine whether or not there was an obligation on the executing state to take back the prisoner notwithstanding his or her nationality. The UK agrees that a solution might rest with this approach, although the presidency concluded that work would continue on the basis of a regime that did not include an obligation to accept third-country nationals. Work will continue at expert level with a view to concluding negotiations in December.

The new member states were deeply disappointed by the delay to the SIS II timetable. There was some strong support for the Portuguese proposals to integrate the new member states into SIS I+. A number of member states underlined that an effective task force was critical to the SIS II implementation timetable; some stressed that work to explore the Portuguese proposal should not detract from continued focus on implementation of SIS II or result in further delays. The presidency achieved agreement to the council conclusions.

There was debate on the draft framework decision on taking account of convictions in new criminal proceedings. However, it remained clear that the detail of Article 3 needed further work, in particular in relation to the exceptions to the obligation to assimilate foreign convictions into national systems. The presidency hopes to finalise the text at the December JHA council.

The presidency called for political agreement to a compromise proposal on civil protection, which limited Community financing of transport and equipment to third-country assistance and included the possibility of reimbursement to the Community budget. There was some agreement around the table, but the UK rejected the compromise because it blurred the clear member state responsibility for civil protection. The UK commented that the Commission’s role in helping co-operation between member states was welcome, as was improving interoperability of member state assets. However, we could not agree the instrument with the contentious articles. The Government insisted that, while all member states agreed that solidarity was critical and helped each other in practice, the proposed measures were not the way to strengthen our systems. The presidency agreed to send the item back to COREPER for further discussion.

The presidency outlined the progress made in the proposal to establish a European Union fundamental rights agency and, unexpectedly, pressed for political agreement. As a result, several member states stated their positions and concerns with the proposal. The UK made it clear that the agency should be focused solely on Community law, with no third-pillar remit. The presidency confirmed that discussions on the proposal would continue at COREPER level.

In considering the management of future negotiations on the draft directive proposing criminal penalties to enforce intellectual property rights, member states were split as to whether (i) there was a need for further legislation at this time and (ii) whether it was appropriate to continue discussions on the directive pending the ECJ judgment on maritime pollution, which should address the scope for Community action in relation to criminal matters. However, there was agreement that the scope of any instrument should be limited to those intellectual property rights harmonised at Community level. The presidency concluded that work would continue on that basis at expert level both on the need for legislation and on the substance of the proposed directive, but without prejudice to a final decision on the legal base.

The draft council conclusions on reinforcing the southern external maritime borders were agreed without discussion.

There was discussion about visa waiver reciprocity and the Commission highlighted its successes with south African countries. The US was not abiding by an undertaking made during the Austrian presidency and there was some call for taking the first punitive steps, although other member states called for a more measured response.

There was no substantive discussion on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Moldova. The presidency invited the Commission to draw up mandates.

Finally, the European conference on active participation of ethnic minority youth in society was highlighted, with requests for opinions on what more could be done to fight radicalisation, how politicians could learn from the young and how integration could be further promoted. This item will feature on future council agendas.

Legal Aid

I am publishing Legal Aid Reform: The Way Ahead (Cm 6993). This sets out how we will reform the procurement of legal aid services, moving towards a market-based system. It takes account of the responses that we received to the consultation paper Legal Aid: A Sustainable Future (CP 13/06), which was published simultaneously on 13 July 2006 with the independent report by Lord Carter of Coles, Legal Aid—A Market-based Approach to Reform. The paper has been laid before both Houses of Parliament. Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Vote Office.

Our reforms to legal aid procurement fit squarely within the Government's wider programme of reform across the justice system. We are promoting simple, speedy, summary justice in the criminal courts and modernising the legal sector through the introduction of the Legal Services Bill last Thursday. The proposed changes to legal aid procurement represent another important part of this programme and will bring benefits for clients, taxpayers, the legal profession and the wider justice system. The reforms will ensure that we have a modern legal aid system and a legal profession that is customer-focused and in which the public have confidence.

The consultation period closed on 12 October. We received 2,372 replies to the consultation paper. Over the summer months, the legal aid Minister, Vera Baird QC MP, toured the country to meet practitioners and to hear their views on the proposals. This involved some 25 meetings in 11 cities, attended by around 1,000 practitioners. The Legal Services Commission also met practitioners to explain the proposals and answer questions. Over 1,700 legal aid professionals attended 14 of these events in the early autumn.

The Legal Aid Reform: The Way Ahead paper sets out how the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Legal Services Commission will deliver a new system of legal aid procurement. The reforms will set legal aid on a sustainable footing for the future and will ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society receive the help that they need. The reforms will ensure a future in which the legal advice provided is of the highest quality and practitioners are able to make a decent financial return, and a future in which access to justice remains at the heart of our society.

We are fully committed to the market-based approach set out by Lord Carter. We will move to fixed and graduated fees as a transitional step to best-value competition. However, we have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by legal aid practitioners. We have therefore made significant adjustments to the timing and sequencing of some of the proposed schemes, as well as to the detail of some of the original proposals, where we believe that they will bring improvements.

In summary, we are proceeding with Lord Carter’s proposals and we are delivering on our commitment to rebalance the funding between civil and criminal legal aid.

The approach set out in the Legal Aid Reform: The Way Ahead paper offers the best guarantee of an affordable, good-quality legal aid system that will protect the vulnerable and is fair to taxpayers, fair to defendants and fair for practitioners.

Ministry of Defence: Operational Allowance

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 10 October 2006, the Secretary of State for Defence announced that a new, tax-free bonus payment would be introduced for service personnel. The bonus will be called the operational allowance and the regulations, including eligibility criteria, have now been finalised. I am now placing a copy of the regulations in the Library of the House.

Parliamentary Questions

My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Treasury has completed its annual indexation of the average cost of answering Oral and Written Parliamentary Questions to reflect changes in Civil Service earnings and retail prices. The revised average costs, which will apply from 15 November 2006, are:

Oral Questions £385;

Written Questions £140.

The disproportionate cost threshold (DCT) relating to Written Parliamentary Questions was set at £600 in 2002. The DCT will be increased to £700, also with effect from 15 November 2006, and will apply across government.

Police: Grants

My honourable friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Tony McNulty) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today placed in the Library a copy of the proposals of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary for allocation of police grant for England and Wales in 2007-08. My right honourable friend and I intend to implement the proposals subject to consideration of any representations and to the approval of the House.

The Government announced last year provisional funding totals for both 2006-07 and 2007-08. The introduction of multi-year settlements for the first time was widely welcomed by police authorities as a means of providing greater certainty and improving medium-term planning. We intend to implement the settlement for 2007-08 broadly unchanged from last year's announcement. It is our intention to move to three-year settlements with effect from 2008-09, which will allow authorities to plan more confidently.

The settlement for 2007-08 continues to build on unprecedented levels of investment in the police service in England and Wales. On a like-for-like basis, government grant and central spending on services for the police will have increased by over 62 per cent, or over £4.2 billion, between 2000-01 and 2007-08. Our investment in recent years has helped to expand local policing, reduce crime and help to make our communities safer. Since peaking in 1995, British Crime Survey (BCS) crime has fallen by 44 per cent, which represents 8.4 million fewer crimes, with domestic burglary and vehicle crime falling by over a half and violent crime falling by 43 per cent. The risk of becoming a victim of crime remains at the lowest level recorded since the BCS began in 1981. The Government continue to work with the police service to ensure that it has the right tools to tackle crime without being burdened by any unnecessary rules and paperwork.

Our ambitious police reform programme continues to produce real improvements, but there is still more to do. We will be publishing a vision for policing and a reform road map by the end of the year, following consultation with policing partners. A clear workforce strategy will ensure that the police service is well led, skilled, motivated and representative of the communities that it serves; this is also linked to initiatives to enhance performance and to improve efficiency and effectiveness from available resources. To improve the capability and capacity for protective services, forces are working regionally and individually to develop new initiatives in collaboration, shared services and other efficiencies.

The police grant settlement 2007-08

Total provision for policing grants and central spending in 2007-08 will be £11,043 million, an overall increase of 3.1 per cent. This includes a broadly flat rate increase of 3.6 per cent in general grant for all police authorities in England and Wales. All police authorities will have planned ahead on this basis. The increase is above inflation (forecast inflation is around 2.7 per cent) and will enable police authorities to set reasonable final budgets and sustainable precept increases. We propose to distribute the settlement as set out below. The table includes funding for both local and central spending.

Table 1: Police funding settlement for 2007-08 compared with 2006-07

2006-07 £m

2007-08 £m

Change £m

Year-on-year increase

Total general formula grant

7,372

7,638

266

3.6%

Specific grants, special formula grant and transfers for pensions and DSPs

1,359

1,554

195

14.3%

One-year uplift to accelerate expansion of PCSOs

91

-91

-100.0%

Extra provision for counterterrorism

93

145

52

55.9%

Total specific grants, special formula grant and transfers1

1,543

1,699

156

10.1%

Capital grants and support2

363

295

-68

-18.7%

Central spending

1,433

1,411

-22

-1.5%

Grand total

10,711

11,043

332

3.1%

1 See table 3.

2 At the time of the 2006-07 settlement announcement, capital provision included £50 million in 2006-07 and £75 million in 2007-08 to cover restructuring costs. This provision is being considered as part of the review of all Home Office capital budgets. The capital figures have therefore been reduced accordingly until a final decision has been made.

The variance of £68 million between 2006-07 and 2007-08 reflects profiled planned expenditure (over the two years) on command control communication information (C3i) (-£20 million—Home Office grant ends in 2006-07); Airwave resilience (-£23 million); and the additional reduction in 2006-07 (-£25 million for restructuring).

Police funding proposals within the local government finance system are being announced by my honourable friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth today and by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Provisional general policing grants (i.e. Home Office police grant, revenue support grant and national non-domestic rates) for English and Welsh police authorities in 2007-08 compared with 2006-07 are given in table 2.

The settlement continues to take account of our commitment to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the police service. Authorities will be expected to deliver 1.5 per cent cashable efficiency savings and 1.5 per cent non-cashable savings in 2007-08. If police authorities deliver efficiency gains and exercise judicious financial planning, there remains no reason for them to set excessive increases in police precepts on council tax next year. The Government's policy in relation to average council tax increases of less than 5 per cent in England in 2007-08 has been clearly set out by my honourable friend the Minister for Local Government. The Government are prepared to take capping action if necessary to deal with excessive increases.

Welsh police authorities

In line with previous years, we have ensured that Welsh police authorities are treated in line with English police authorities with respect to the floor damping mechanism. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has provided additional support of £12.9 million in 2007-08 to ensure that Dyfed-Powys Police Authority, Gwent Police Authority and North Wales Police Authority receive at least a minimum increase in grant in line with English authorities. The shortfalls are further funded by scaling police grant to South Wales Police Authority, which would otherwise have received a general grant increase of 5.7 per cent but now receives the equivalent increases to a police authority in England.

Metropolitan Police funding

The settlement provides for the Metropolitan Police Authority to receive £192 million in 2007-08 (+£5m over 2006-07) in general grant to reflect its unique national and international role as well as the functions that fall to it by virtue of London being a capital city.

Special formula grant

We made it clear in 2006-07 that we wanted to give police authorities more control over specific grants and consolidated four specific grants totalling £193 million into a single pot for each authority. We continue to expect authorities to honour commitments and agreed policy initiatives. Totals for each police authority are set out in the Police Grant Report 2007-08.

Specific grants for police authorities

Police authorities will continue to receive extra funding through a number of specific grants for particular schemes. Targeted grants were introduced as a direct response to what the police service and the public told us that they wanted. Total provision for specific grants in 2007-08 is £1,699 million (table 3).

The main specific grants are:

Crime fighting fund: £277 million will again be made available to forces to continue to support the costs of officers recruited through the crime fighting fund. In 2007-08, there will be additional flexibility for forces selected by ACPO to be demonstration sites for workforce modernisation in order to improve the delivery of services to the public.

Police community support officers (PCSOs): for 2007-08 we will be providing £315 million in total towards the cost of 16,000 PCSOs, to have a dedicated neighbourhood policing team embedded in every area in England and Wales by 2008.

Basic command unit (BCU) fund: £50 million will again be provided for BCUs. In England, BCU commanders will again have discretion to pool their allocations locally in local area agreements where they exist or in the safer and stronger communities fund where they do not.

Initial police learning and development programme (IPLDP): we will provide the same level of funding for IPLDP in 2007-08.

Counterterrorism funding

In January 2006, the Government announced a single consolidated counterterrorism grant for the police service, enabling it to increase its counterterrorism capability and improve effectiveness. In order to achieve this, we pulled together resources from existing grants, including the provision for dedicated security posts formerly in general grant. For 2006-07, this totalled more than £460 million, including an extra £63 million for local and regional policing and £30 million for the MPS. In 2007-08, we will be increasing this extra funding to £100 million for local and regional policing and £45 million for the MPS. To enhance further the counterterrorism capability of police authorities, we have also made provision of £25 million within the increase in general grant to police authorities in 2007-08.

We have been working very closely with ACPO on this matter. We see an important role for ACPO in the management of this grant and for ensuring coherence, strategic direction and the provision of a nationally co-ordinated response. We have worked closely with ACPO to ensure that both this uplift and funding from the new consolidated counterterrorism grant are used to create a significant increase in the strength of the police’s counterterrorism capability. Both we and ACPO are committed to ensuring that the police service both nationally and regionally has a robust, resilient and effective counterterrorist capability.

Central spending on policing

Provision is made for the costs of organisations supporting policing such as the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), as well as scientific and technical support. SOCA was successfully launched on 1 April 2006. It is a new type of law enforcement body with workforce strength of 4,200 staff and an initial budget of £415 million.

We intend to establish the NPIA on 1 April 2007. It will be a central resource to help police forces to improve how they work, and it will be committed to driving continuous improvement across policing as a whole in order to deliver better services to the public. It will be owned and led by the police and will introduce a radically different model of police service leadership, as well as producing greater efficiency, consistency and clarity of purpose in service delivery. The NPIA will replace the existing organisations of Centrex and the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO). There will also be significant implications for the work of ACPO, the Home Office and the APA. Its budget will be announced by 31 January.

Conclusion

We have delivered another fair settlement for all police authorities in England and Wales which will enable them to provide an effective and efficient policing service. We will expect forces to deliver further sustained improvements in performance and continue to make further efficiency gains. We will work closely with the police service over the coming months and listen carefully to its concerns as we consider the distribution of resources for the coming three years (2008-09 to 2010-11). Decisions will be announced next year.

Table 2: Police grant allocations by English and Welsh police authority 2007-08

Police authority

2006-07 formula allocation1 £m

2007-08 formula allocation1 £m

Change on 2006-07 formula allocation

English shire forces

Avon and Somerset

161.8

167.9

3.8%

Bedfordshire

64.0

66.4

3.7%

Cambridgeshire

73.8

76.5

3.7%

Cheshire

110.8

114.8

3.6%

Cleveland

89.8

93.0

3.6%

Cumbria

61.8

64.0

3.6%

Derbyshire

102.0

105.8

3.7%

Devon and Cornwall

171.4

177.5

3.6%

Dorset

60.0

62.2

3.6%

Durham

84.0

87.0

3.6%

Essex

162.6

168.5

3.6%

Gloucestershire

54.5

56.5

3.6%

Hampshire

190.4

197.3

3.6%

Hertfordshire

110.4

114.4

3.7%

Humberside

117.8

122.0

3.6%

Kent

176.2

182.6

3.6%

Lancashire

187.0

193.7

3.6%

Leicestershire

107.5

111.5

3.7%

Lincolnshire

58.3

60.5

3.7%

Norfolk

80.5

83.4

3.6%

North Yorkshire

70.5

73.0

3.6%

Northamptonshire

69.2

71.7

3.6%

Nottinghamshire

127.8

132.5

3.7%

Staffordshire

110.3

114.3

3.6%

Suffolk

65.2

67.6

3.6%

Surrey

93.6

97.0

3.6%

Sussex

156.1

161.7

3.6%

Thames Valley

217.9

225.9

3.7%

Warwickshire

49.7

51.5

3.7%

West Mercia

112.0

116.0

3.6%

Wiltshire

59.9

62.0

3.6%

Shires Total

3356.6

3478.6

3.6%

English metropolitan forces

Greater Manchester

417.4

432.7

3.7%

Merseyside

245.0

253.8

3.6%

Northumbria

229.7

238.0

3.6%

South Yorkshire

187.5

194.3

3.6%

West Midlands

433.6

450.2

3.8%

West Yorkshire

306.2

317.6

3.7%

Mets Total

1,819.4

1,886.5

3.7%

London forces

GLA—Police

1,818.3

1,883.7

3.6%

City of London2

21.8

22.8

N-A

London Total

1,840.1

1,906.5

N-A

English Total

7,016.1

7,271.6

3.6%

Welsh forces

Dyfed-Powys3

50.0

51.8

3.6%

Gwent3

75.9

78.7

3.6%

North Wales3

73.7

76.3

3.6%

South Wales3

166.1

172.2

3.6%

Welsh total

365.7

379.0

3.6%

TOTAL

7,381.8

7,650.6

3.6%

1 Rounded to the nearest £100,000. Grant as calculated under the Local Government Finance Report (England) and Local Government Finance (Police) Report (Wales). This includes the Metropolitan Police special payment, and the effects of floors.

2 Figures for the City of London relate to Home Office grant only as calculated in the Police Grant Report (England and Wales). Revenue support grant is allocated to the Common Council of the City of London as a whole in respect of all its functions. The City is grouped with education authorities for the purposes of floors.

3 Welsh figures include Home Office floor funding (£12.9 million). Grant provision under the principal formula for police authorities in Wales is varied to ensure that South Wales Police Authority will receive in principal formula and local authority general grants the same increase as that applicable to police authorities in England. A sum equal to the reduction for South Wales is allocated to Dyfed-Powys, Gwent and North Wales police authorities.

Table 3: Specific grant allocations in 2007-08 compared with 2006-07

Specific grants, special formula grant and transfers for pensions and DSPs1

2006-07

2007-08

2007-08

£m

£m

Year-on-year increases

Special formula grant

193

193

0.0%

Transfers for pensions and DSPs

576

591

2.6%

Crime fighting fund

277

277

0.0%

Neighbourhood policing fund

88

270

206.8%

Extra provision for faster expansion of PCSOs

91

0

-100.0%

Community support officers

44

45

2.3%

Counterterrorism (existing provision)

96

96

0.0%

Extra grant for counterterrorism

93

145

55.9%

Basic command units

50

50

0.0%

Initial police learning and development programme

18

18

0.0%

Welsh top-up grant

9.3

12.9

38.7%

Other

7.7

1.1

-17.6%

Grand total

1,543

1,699

10.1%

1 DSPs are dedicated security posts.

Slavery: Bicentenary of the Abolition

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The transatlantic slave trade stands as one of the most inhuman enterprises in history. At a time when the capitals of Europe and America championed the enlightenment of man, their merchants were enslaving a continent. Racism, not the rights of man, drove the horrors of the triangular trade. Some 12 million were transported, some 3 million died.

Slavery’s impact on Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe was profound. Britain was the first country to abolish the trade. As we approach the commemoration for the 200th anniversary of that abolition, it is only right that we also recognise the active role that Britain played until then in the slave trade. British industry and ports were intimately intertwined in it. Britain’s rise to global pre-eminence was partially dependent on a system of colonial slave labour and, as we recall its abolition, we should also recall our place in its practice. It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time. The bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was and how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition, but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever happened and that it ever could have happened, and to rejoice at the different and better times we live in today.

The people who fought against slavery came from all walks of life. They included slaves and former slaves such as Olaudah Equiano, church leaders and statesmen such as William Wilberforce, and countless ordinary citizens who signed petitions, marched, lobbied and prayed for change. The bicentenary is an opportunity for us all to remember those who were bought and sold into slavery and those who struggled against its injustices.

Community, faith and cultural organisations, with the support in many cases of the Heritage Lottery Fund, are already planning events to mark the bicentenary. The Government, with local authorities, will be playing a full part. Also, the UK is co-sponsoring a resolution in the UN General Assembly, put forward by Caribbean countries, which calls for special commemorative activities to be held by the United Nations to mark the occasion.

We also need, while reflecting on the past, to acknowledge the unspeakable cruelty that persists in the form of modern-day slavery. Today slavery comes in many guises around the world—such as bonded labour, forced recruitment of child soldiers and human trafficking—and at its root are poverty and social exclusion.

We also need to respond to the problems of Africa and the challenges facing the African and Caribbean diaspora today. Africa is a place of great beauty, fantastic diversity and a resilient and talented people with enormous potential. It is also the only continent getting poorer and where, in many places, life expectancy is falling. But the world is now focusing on how we can help Africa to tackle its problems, not least because of the G8 summit and the Make Poverty History campaign. Agreement was reached to double aid to Africa by 2010, to write off the debts of the poorest countries and massively to increase funding to tackle AIDS and improve healthcare and education.

Britain is playing its full part both through increasing bilateral aid and through international leadership. The international finance facility for immunisation, which we have launched, should save 5 million children a year.

All this is making a difference. Debt relief is already beginning to flow. It has, for example, enabled Zambia to scrap charges for healthcare. This is taking place in partnership with African Governments and their people. But there is a great deal more to do.

At home, the bicentenary is also an opportunity for us to pause and consider the enormous contribution today of black African and Caribbean communities to our nation. Britain is richer in every way—for example, in business, politics, sport, the arts and science—because of the part played by these communities in every aspect of our national life. But even 30 years after the Race Relations Act and the creation of the Commission for Racial Equality, there are still barriers to overcome before everyone can make the most of their talents and potential.

Across government, we are investing in tackling inequality in education, health, employment, housing and the criminal justice system in order to ensure a future in which everyone can achieve their full potential.

This bicentenary must also be a spur for us to redouble our efforts to stop human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery. Above all, this 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade is a chance for us all to increase understanding of our heritage, celebrate the richness of our diversity and increase our determination to shape the world with the values we share.

Treasury: Publications

My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs are today publishing the following reports:

Davidson Review: Implementation of EU Legislation;

Implementing Hampton: From Enforcement to Compliance;

Delivering a New Relationship with Business: HMRC's Plans to Deliver a Better Service for Business by 2010-11.

Copies of these documents are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.