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Written Statements

Volume 704: debated on Tuesday 28 October 2008

Written Statements

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Armed Forces: Air Surveillance

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am able to inform the House today of the outcome of the Royal Air Force study that has been undertaken to consider the future basing requirements of the Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS) units.

On 10 January 2008 I announced that RAF Boulmer would be retained as the core site for the ASACS Hub but that we needed to do more analysis to determine the optimum basing solution for the remaining ASACS satellite units.

This work has now concluded and has confirmed that the relocation of the ASACS satellite units to RAF Coningsby is the best option in operational and financial terms. Therefore, I have decided that, subject to TU consultation, the control and reporting centre (CRC) at RAF Scampton and No. 1 air control centre (No. 1 ACC) at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey will collocate at RAF Coningsby. The relocation is due to be completed by the end of 2014.

Following the relocation, it is our intention to draw down RAF Scampton to only those facilities deemed necessary to support the RAF Aerobatic Team’s activities within the reserved airspace above the airfield. RAF Kirton-in Lindsey will be closed once the No. 1 ACC has relocated to RAF Coningsby. Service and civilian personnel at RAF Scampton and Kirton-in-Lindsey will be briefed on the progress of the study.

Local Government

My honourable friend the Minister for Local Government (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In February this year, during the parliamentary debates on the structural change orders for Cornwall, County Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire, a number of honourable Members raised concerns about the deferral of parish council elections in these areas until 2013. In the light of the strong views expressed the Government undertook to consult the implementation executives in the areas concerned, seeking their views and those of others in local government with an interest as to whether it would be more appropriate to hold all parish council elections in 2009.

From the responses received, it is clear that there is very little support for holding parish council elections in 2009 in the affected areas. Given the range of evidence and views expressed, the Government will not be amending the arrangements for parish council elections in the relevant orders. As a result, with the few exceptions provided for in those orders, future parish council elections in Cornwall, County Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire will be held in 2013.

National Security Strategy

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made a commitment in the national security strategy Statement of 19 March to take stronger action against those we suspect of stirring up tensions. In the light of that, I have reviewed existing policy on the exclusion from the UK of those individuals who encourage violence or hatred in support of their ideology. We will:

create a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in the types of behaviour set out in the Home Secretary’s Statement of 24 August 2005;

provide that where an individual claims to have repudiated their previous extremist views or actions the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that that is so and that it has been publicly communicated;

introduce changes that will allow me to exclude from the UK nationals of the European economic area, and their families, before they travel to this country where they constitute a threat to public security or policy;

work with other agencies and community groups to improve the evidence base underpinning our exclusion decisions to ensure that we identify those who pose the greatest threat to our society;

consider in all future cases whether it would be in the public interest to disclose that an individual has been excluded with a presumption to inform the public; and

make greater use of UK watch lists to ensure that individuals who might fall to be excluded, should they seek to come to the UK, are identified and any future visa application is considered with full regard to previous extremist activities.

Over the summer my officials have been working to implement these measures, in consultation with key partners across government and representatives of community groups. Most of these measures have been implemented today and amendments will be brought forward shortly to the Immigration (European Economic Areas) Regulations 2006 to ensure that I personally may exclude EEA nationals and their family members.

I am clear that these proposals should be implemented in a way that has the greatest impact on those who seek to enter the UK to stir up hatred within our society. It is therefore right that we have an ongoing engagement with interested parties in order to strike the appropriate balance and to ensure that we protect public safety and vital national interests here and abroad. Therefore my officials will continue to engage with community representatives to seek their views on the way this policy is operating.