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House adjourned at eighteen minutes past nine o'clock.
Following my Statement of 21 November in which I announced that the Government had decided to commission an independent, wide-ranging review of policing at airports, I am pleased to announce today that I have appointed Stephen Boys Smith, a retired Home Office director-general, to lead the review. I expect the review to be completed by late spring.
The review will aim to identify a sustainable approach to the policing of airports that takes account of the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in protecting an airport and in particular addresses the need for funding arrangements that are objective and transparent. The review will compare the present method of policing airports with that of other modes of transport and will consider whether the principle of designation can be made to work. If it cannot, the review is asked to propose alternative options. The full terms of reference are:
To review the role of the police service at airports, using as a base-line the recommendations of Sir John Wheeler's 2002 review of airport security. The review will take account of any other relevant reports and will consider how the airport manager, the police and other stakeholders at the airport can best work together, given their respective roles and responsibilities, including under the National Aviation Security Programme. Account will also be taken of the extent of any overlap in security activities at airports and the scope for efficiencies.
To compare the present approach to the policing of airports with that applied to other modes of transport to establish any differences or similarities in policing approaches, roles, responsibilities and accountabilities that may apply. This will include the current review into the BTP.
To develop criteria upon which an objective assessment can be made as to whether an airport should be designated for policing purposes. Then to consider whether, on the basis of these criteria and taking account of voluntary multi-agency risk assessments (MATRA), the principle of the existing designation process can be made to work; and if not, to propose alternative options.
To consider options and mechanisms for funding policing at airports in the light of any findings or recommendations that emerge from the review, taking
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account of the resources committed separately to security by airport operators and others. The review will take into account the economic impact of any recommendations that it makes.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My right honourable friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Hazel Blears) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Respect Action Plan sets out the Government's intention to broaden the current approach to tackling anti-social behaviour through addressing disrespect in every walk of life. We intend to deepen the approach by tackling the causes of anti-social behaviour, intervening early where problems occur and the agenda goes further than before by empowering communities themselves to challenge disrespect and encourage positive behaviour.
Broadening our approach will be accomplished through measures which include addressing school discipline and attendance. The plan stresses the critical role of schools and parents in tackling disrespectful behaviour, persistent truancy and inadequate supervision of excluded children. We also want to ensure that young people are active and learn how to make a positive impact as individuals in our society. There is a strong emphasis on expanding the role of sport, constructive activities and volunteering as positive routes to nurture a culture of respect among young people.
The cross-government drive to address problem families and support good parenting is at the heart of our strategy to build a code of respect for the 21st century. By deepening our approach, we intend to intervene in families in crisis and provide support and practical advice. The plan promises a major new programme of projects to work intensively with the most problematic families who can cause such distress within our communities.
And we will take our approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour further by ensuring that respect is promoted across government and throughout our programmes, funding and inspection regimes. Neighbourhoods will be empowered to ensure that local services deal quickly and effectively with the disrespectful behaviour of a minority. Our aim is to bring speedy, visible and reparative justice through a raft of measures which extend the powers available to address low-level crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): I am today announcing the outcome of the recent consultation on civil and family court fee increases. The consultation paper was published on 23 September and the consultation closed on 18 November. Some 50 responses were received from the judiciary, legal profession and other stakeholder bodies.
After careful consideration of these, my noble and learned friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor has, with two exceptions, decided to proceed with all the fee increases proposed. Three statutory instruments containing the new civil, family and magistrates' court fees were laid before the House on 20 December 2005 and will take effect today. A report analysing the responses to consultation in detail will be published shortly.
The Lord Chancellor has decided not to introduce at this stage the proposed increase from £210 to £380 of the fee for an application for ancillary relief. Consultees expressed particularly strong concerns about the size and timing of this proposal. There were also concerns that a detrimental impact on access to justice in this context could also harm any children of the family. It will be necessary to look again at this fee following the planned review of the system of exemptions and remissions.
The Lord Chancellor has also decided not to pursue the proposed increases to the fees for issuing lower value monetary claims. Some consultees were concerned that these fees were disproportionately high relative to the amount claimed. These increases would also run counter to our longer-term strategy of achieving a better match between income and cost within the system.
The increases will raise about £10.6 million additional income in the current financial year, £43 million in a full year. They are necessary to ensure that Her Majesty's Courts Service can balance its budget and meet its cost recovery targets for this and future years. As the consultation paper made clear, the need to raise this income and the underlying fees policy were not in question; the issue was whether the particular package of increases proposed was most apt to meet the need.
A key objective of that package, with which the majority of those who commented agreed in principle, was to harmonise the fees, which shall enable more effective allocation of cases to the lowest appropriate level of judiciary. This in turn will benefit court users by enabling many cases to be dealt with more quickly.
The Government's policy remains that court fees should generally be set to reflect (on average) the cost of the service provided. Where they can afford to do so, it is right that litigants using the civil courts, rather than the taxpayer, should meet the cost. This ensures that the taxpayers' contribution to the cost of the civil and family courts is focused on funding the cost of the system of fee exemptions and remissions, in order to
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ensure that less well-off citizens are not denied access to justice. Setting fees generally at levels lower than the full cost would mean that corporations and other wealthy litigants would benefit from the taxpayers' contributionincreasing cost and putting pressures on other budgets like legal aid.
The first will be a fundamental review of the system of exemptions and remissions to ensure that it adequately protects access to justice and is operated consistently. This review will be overseen by a steering group of stakeholders, including representatives of the civil and family justice councils, which I will chair.
The second will review the structure of the system, that is, the points at which fees are charged. The key objective will be to achieve a closer match of income and cost drivers, in particular through the introduction of trial fees. This is necessary both to make the system fairer as between different types of litigant, and make it easier to ensure that cost and funding remain in balance as workload changes. This review will also consider the various specific suggestions for changing the fee structure raised by respondents to consultation.
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