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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): The Identity and Passport Service Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08 has been laid before Parliament today and will be published shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): I am pleased to announce that the sixth annual report of the appointed person under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been laid before Parliament today. The appointed person is an independent person who scrutinises the use of the search power introduced to support the measures in the Act to seize and forfeit criminal cash.
The report gives the appointed persons opinion as to the circumstances and manner in which the search powers conferred by the Act are being exercised. I am pleased that the appointed person has expressed satisfaction with the operation of the search power and has found that there is nothing to suggest that the procedures are not being followed in accordance with the Act.
From 1 April 2007 to the end of March 2008 over £63 million in cash was seized by police and HM Revenue and Customs Officers under powers in the Act. These sums are subject to forfeiture in the magistrates court. These powers are a valuable tool in the fight against crime and the report shows that the way they are used has been, and will continue to be, closely monitored.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): I have today laid before Parliament the Coroners (Amendment) Rules 2008. These rules amend rule 43 of the Coroners Rules 1984 regarding coroners powers to make reports to prevent future deaths, and introduce a new rule to allow coroners to share relevant information with Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) to enable them to carry out their statutory functions.
The amended rule 43 places a new statutory duty on organisations receiving reports from coroners to respond within 56 days. Coroners must share reports and responses with those, including bereaved families, to whom they have assigned interested person status. They must also share reports and responses with the Lord Chancellor and they may share reports and responses with other interested organisations. Reports and responses will be centrally collated for the first time so that lessons learned can be disseminated widely where appropriate and there is national oversight more generally.
A new rule will require coroners to notify LSCBs of any child death that is reported to them, and over which they have jurisdiction, and allow them to share information (such as reports from post-mortem examinations and documents given in evidence at an inquest) with LSCBs. This will enable LSCBs to better meet their statutory duty to conduct child death reviews and will contribute to the fulfilment of their statutory obligations more generally.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I have received the annual report for 2007-08 of the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland which is being laid before Parliament today as a Command Paper.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): The hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) has been appointed as a substitute member of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of Western European Union in place of the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray).
Parliament is to be notified that HM Treasury have provided approval for a change in the 2007-08 budgetary arrangements of Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, to reflect a transfer of voted expenditure from Administration to Capital.
RCPOs Administration budget in resource departmental expenditure limit (DEL) will be decreased by £150,000 from £20,936,000 to £20,786,000, and capital DEL will be increased by £150,000 from £1,800,000 to £1,950,000.
The change will have no effect on the Departments overall DEL, or on its net cash requirement. The impact on resources and capital is set out in the following table.
|(1)Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending, and to include depreciation of these assets would lead to double counting.|
The change in the capital provision within total DEL arises from some elements of the provision for an IT transition project, which had been budgeted originally as administration expenditure, being reclassified as capital spend.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): During 2006, in response to the continuing terrorist threat to the rail network, the Department for Transport carried out passenger screening trials to test the ability of available equipment and dogs to detect explosives, or traces of explosives, in an operational environment.
The London Underground and National Railways (LUNR) passenger screening trials took place at five locations over a six-month period, with the full co-operation of the British Transport Police, Network Rail, London Underground and other stakeholders. Public attitudes surveys were conducted in parallel with the trials. Since then, we have been considering the results of the trials with key stakeholders and the implications for rail security policy.
I am publishing a summary report of the trials on the DfT website, together with five detailed reports on the
public attitudes research. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. We are not publishing detailed reports on the individual trials for security reasons, due to the sensitivity of the information within them.
At the same time, the British Transport Police is announcing enhancements to its current screening capability through the use of x-ray equipment and explosive detection dogs capable of screening moving passengers. These enhancements will build on the BTPs existing measures to screen a proportion of passengers and their bags, with minimal delay.
Screening equipment and dogs can be effective in the railway environment. However, given the very large passenger flows and thousands of entry points on the UK rail and underground networks, 100 per cent. airport-style screening is currently not feasible using todays technology.
The public recognises the threat to the rail network, and is broadly supportive of the need for security measures, providing they are proportionate to the threat. However the public would be unlikely to accept major delays to journeys, and wants to ensure that personal privacy is protected.
We will continue to work with the BTP and operators to assess the effectiveness and impact of these new measures and will use this evidence, and that from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, to develop further ways of keeping the travelling public secure using proportionate measures.