A minute has been laid before Parliament regarding the Ministry of Justice’s escorting of foreign national offenders and British national offenders and specifically in relation to incurring a contingent liability.
My Department is responsible for the transfer of foreign national offenders (FNOs) to their home countries and the repatriation of British national offenders (BNOs) held overseas. This role was carried forward by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) from the Home Office at the time the MOJ was established.
The escorting of FNOs continues to play an important part in reducing the number of Foreign Nationals who are held within our justice system.
Previously, the Home Office had provided Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd (formerly BAA) with confirmation of HM Government’s agreement to indemnify them against any claims in respect of damage or injury caused to third parties in the event that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) were found to be negligent in the discharge of their duties. The National Offender Management Service was an Executive agency of the Home Office and was transferred to the Ministry of Justice at the same time as the Ministry was established.
The Ministry of Justice will continue to provide this assurance and I am updating the House on this new agreement. NOMS has prepared written assurance for Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd and other third parties (e.g. airlines) which may be affected by our operations. This assurance covers the following amounts:
Up to £50 million for damage or injury per incident to third parties caused airside in the event of negligence of NOMS.
Up to £250 million to damage or injury to third parties per incident in the event of negligence by NOMS while on board an aeroplane.
Up to £10 million for personal accident and/or sickness for NOMS staff while on escorting duties.
The addition of a contingent liability to the accounts of a Government Department or agency is a standard approach that ensures full disclosure of all assets and liabilities and is in line with the rules laid out in the financial reporting manual.
The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the minute is laid before parliament, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or by otherwise raising the matter in Parliament, final approval to proceed with incurring the liability will be withheld pending an examination of the objection, and the existing indemnities will continue.