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The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I have today published and laid before Parliament my fifth annual report on the operation of the Agreement between the British and Irish Governments which established the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). This report covers the period 18 September 2007 to 17 September 2008.
The report covers the 17th and 18th report on paramilitary activity and the 19th report on the leadership of PIRA and assessment of the completion of the transformation of PIRA. It does not refer to the 20th report on paramilitary activity as this fell outside the 12-month period under review.
I am very grateful to the Commissioners of the IMC for the continued commitment, focus and dedication they have shown during this reporting period, and for their continued efforts in promoting and maintaining a peaceful society and a stable and inclusive devolved Government in Northern Ireland.
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Jim Murphy): The Government welcome the Scottish Affairs Committee's report on the inter-parliamentary recommendations made by the Commission on Scottish Devolution. The commission, established by the Scottish Parliament in December 2007 and supported by the UK Government, produced its final report in June 2009. The report set out a package of measures designed to review 10 years of experience of devolution and to recommend changes to enable the Scottish Parliament to serve the people of Scotland better, to improve the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament and continue to secure the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom.
The Government welcomed the final report from the Commission on Scottish Devolution on its publication and responded formally with a White Paper "Scotland's Future in the United Kingdom" on 25 November 2009. Of the 63 recommendations, 42 were for Government to consider and 39 were accepted in the White Paper, including a radical package of reform to the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament. The Government signalled their commitment to bring forward legislation as soon as possible in the next Parliament for those matters outlined in the White Paper that require it.
The Scottish Affairs Committee's consideration followed a letter from the Speaker of the House of Commons to both the Scottish Affairs Committee and the Procedure Committee to ask for their views on how the recommendations in part 4 of the Calman commission's final report might be taken forward. Part 4 of the commission's final report related to relations between Parliaments and Governments.
The Scottish Affairs Committee's report provides consideration of the recommendations made by the Commission on Scottish Devolution in relation to strengthening co-operation and communication between the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament. These recommendations cover the following areas of co-operation and communication:
Operation of the Sewel Convention between Parliaments;
Increased involvement of Scottish MPs on Public Bill Committees where the Sewel Convention is engaged;
Introduction of a regular "State of Scotland" debate and reconsideration of the "self-denying ordinance";
Ensuring that Standing Orders allow greater co-operation between committees in the House of Commons and Scottish Parliament;
Consideration of a "Scottish Super Grand Committee";
Examination of the access arrangements for MSPs and removal of the equivalent barriers in the Scottish Parliament;
Discretion for committees and Parliaments to invite Ministers to appear before committees of either Parliament;
Continued role for MPs and Scottish Affairs Committee in scrutinising the shape and operation of the devolution settlement;
Enhanced communication and co-operation between the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament, including appropriate resourcing to enable this to happen and a recommendation for secondment and exchanges of staff.
All of these recommendations relate to the operation of effective inter-parliamentary relations. These are matters for the House, as acknowledged by the Government in the White Paper. Where the committee recommends changes to Standing Orders the Government will give consideration to bringing forward the necessary motions early in the next Parliament.
In the White Paper the Government agreed that a strong relationship between the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament was an essential part of a framework for co-operation within the UK. We also welcomed the support shown by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament to consideration of how to strengthen their relationships in its White Paper.
The Government believe that the third report from the Scottish Affairs Committee provides a very positive response and a strong framework for improving co-operation in line with the recommendations from the Commission on Scottish Devolution.
On 15 July 2003 Lord Goldsmith, then Attorney-General, announced to the House the publication of the report and recommendations of the Hon. Mr. Justice Butterfield following his review of the then practices and procedures relating to disclosure, associated investigation techniques and case management in Her Majesty's Customs and Excise's criminal cases. Lord Goldsmith and the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (John Healey), had invited him to examine the circumstances that led to the termination of a number of prosecutions relating to London City Bond (LCB) in respect of alleged alcohol diversion fraud, in Liverpool Crown court on 25 November 2002.
During the course of the Butterfield inquiry, a number of unrelated prosecutions in respect of alleged money laundering collapsed in circumstances which gave rise to the same issues, and Mr. Justice Butterfield was invited to examine the additional cases as part of his inquiry.
At the same time, the Metropolitan police were conducting a criminal investigation (Operation Gestalt), which initially commenced in relation to the (LCB) prosecutions but which developed additional strands (Operation Tappert) as their inquiries progressed. As a result, Mr. Justice Butterfield suspended the second part of his inquiry into the money laundering prosecutions (to avoid prejudicing the police inquiry) but completed and published his report of the main part of his inquiry in 2003.
The criminal investigations proceeded until their eventual conclusion in 2009 when, in respect of each strand of the investigations, the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that criminal proceedings were not justified.
The Attorney-General, with the agreement of the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms), has concluded that it is not necessary or desirable to invite Lord Justice Butterfield (as he now is) to complete the second part of his inquiry. Among other reasons, the passage of time means that any review would be focusing on practices which existed some years ago that have long since changed, and which were essentially of a similar kind to those examined in the report published in 2003. Moreover, the functions of HM Customs and Excise have since passed to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs-which is subject to the same inspection and complaints regimes as other law enforcement bodies such as the police-to the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the UKBA.
Finally, a key recommendation of the Butterfield Report, that the prosecution function of HM Customs and Excise should be carried out by a wholly independent prosecuting authority to restore confidence in fair and effective prosecutions, has been implemented successfully under the leadership of David Green QC. The Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, established in 2005, now forms an important part of the Crown Prosecution Service under the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Mole): I am publishing today a consultation document seeking views on revisions to Department for Transport (DFT) circular 01/2008 on Service Areas and Other Roadside Facilities on Motorways and All-Purpose Trunk Roads in England.
This circular sets out the Department's policy on the provision, standards and signing of roadside facilities on the strategic road network (SRN), including motorway service areas (MSAs), motorway rest areas (MRAs), truckstops, and services and lay-bys on all-purpose trunk roads (APTRs).
The consultation document proposes making a number of changes to existing policy, such as allowing new dedicated lorry parking facilities to be located directly off motorways and requiring roadside facilities to provide recharging facilities for electric vehicles. The responses received during the consultation will inform the consideration of the policy options.
1. Maintain the quality of maritime emergency co-ordination and response by the Coastguard.
2a. Helicopters tasked to respond to incidents will be airborne within 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night in at least 98 per cent. of cases.
2b. At each MCA search and rescue helicopter base, a helicopter will be available at least 98 per cent. of the contracted time to respond to incidents.
3. Meet the internationally required targets to inspect foreign vessels in UK ports under port state control arrangements, with an increasing emphasis on inspecting available ships judged to be high risk.
4. Maintain the quality of the UK Ship Register by reducing the level of deficiencies recorded on UK ships inspected abroad, and maintain a position on the Paris MOU white list which is comparable to registers of a similar size and reputation.
5. As a category 1 responder, continue to meet the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act including engagement with local resilience forums (LRF).
6. Respond promptly to potential and actual pollution from ships around the UK coast, drawing effectively on resources including our emergency tugs, and following the procedures set out in the national contingency plan.
Seafarer Fatigue-working with the shipping industry and seafarer unions on a coherent strategy to reduce seafarer fatigue.
Fishing Vessel Safety-working with the fishing industry to improve the safety of small fishing vessels (under 15 metres).
Recreational Safety-working with the agency's partner organisations (including the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and the Royal Yachting Association), to promote the wearing of lifejackets within the leisure sector and recreational safety more generally.
Vessel Traffic Management-identifying the future requirements of sea space management and the role the agency may perform.
Percentage of all registrations processed within 15 working days: 80 per cent.
Percentage of registrations processed free of any error: 98.5 per cent.
Percentage of manually processed registrations on which key aspects(1) of internal quality measures were achieved: 97 per cent.
Percentage of customers who rate the overall service provided by Land Registry as excellent, very good or good: better than 95 per cent.
Percentage return on average capital employed: 3.5 per cent.
Cost per unit in cash terms(2) (real terms(3)): £33.65 (£21.70).
Percentage of transactions(4) delivered through e-channels: 65 per cent.
Through voluntary registration, add a further 250,000 hectares of land to the total areas of registered freehold land in England and Wales.
Earn a contribution from add value products and services of 8 per cent. of its income net of direct costs and apportioned product development costs.
Increase gross incremental revenue from all add value products and services by a further £2.6 million above 2009-10 actual.
Deliver the key Accelerated Transformation Programme milestones as detailed in the Accelerated Transformation Programme Plan.
To increase the percentage of staff positively engaged with Land Registry to 50 per cent.
To increase the percentage of staff satisfied with Land Registry's leadership and change management to 45 per cent.
(1)The specified key areas are (a) the index map (b) the proprietorship entry and (c) easements.
(2)Based on the GDP deflator issued by HM Treasury on 24 March 2010 (base year 1992/3).
(3)The real term unit cost in the base year of 1992/3 was £30.65.
(4)Transactions are defined as any request for a statutory service provided by Land Registry. Although a transaction has a unit value, this measure reflects the actual number of transactions and not their unit value.