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Galileo provides Europe with an independent satellite system; that is of immense value and, as I have explained, it provides considerable economic value to the UK economy. It is estimated that there will be benefits to UK business of something like £14 billion by 2025. I argue that we would be foolish to miss out on them.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, did not the Transport Select Committee in another place warn that the costs could actually rise to well over $20 billion? We are talking about vast quantities of real money. Galileo is an entirely political and public project, not a commercial one. Can the Minister reassure us on the important area of whether it will be available for military purposes as well, although it was originally agreed with the Americans that it would be only civilian? Will those military purposes allow full access to bodies such as the Chinese police force in Tibet, or to the Chinese military? Should that not rather temper our relief when we examine this enormous project?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the project is designed primarily as a civil system; it is part of our partnership with our European neighbours. There obviously are concerns about its military use, but it
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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am sure that the Minister, like others here, will have relished the opportunity to hear the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, protesting against raiding the common agricultural budgetwe shall perhaps come back to that in later debatesbut does he agree that some of the arguments that we are hearing from the Conservative Benches were made against British participation in the Airbus project some 20 or 30 years ago? That has been a remarkable success. The arguments for an alternative to dependence on the American GPSGalileo is a rather more advanced systemare strong strategically and commercially.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, there is very little with which I can disagree in the noble Lords analysis; his is a very inviting question. The views of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, on agricultural budgets are well known in your Lordships House.
Lord Peston: My Lords, is not the essence of this Question that the Americans should not have a monopoly on this technology? We must not pussy-foot around this. One of the main advantages of being part of Europe is that it represents a power bloc that can develop its own technology, of which this project is a good example. I did not know that it was being financed out of the common agricultural budget, but, if it is, that is of outstanding merit.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord puts it very well. It is important that we have that independent commercial opportunity. We obviously work in partnership with our American colleagues, but there is great value in European independence on this and the market opportunities that it represents.
Lord Teverson: My Lords, so much of our lives depends on global positioning systems, but does not the United States, which owns the monopoly, have every sovereign right to withdraw that system when its own national security interests require that? Therefore, we need an alternative. The Chinese are building their own system at the minute; I do not see that as the great concern. The issue, surely, is that we should not be dependent on either the Chinese or the American systems; is that not the case?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we are likely to have a situation where a Russian, a Chinese, an American and a European system are in operation at some stage. It is right that we have a measure of independence, the benefits of which are considerable, as I have expressed. It provides us with important tracking assets, time synchronisation, precision surveying, incident management, disaster relief, accident alert services, and important guidance to navigation and traffic management. So, yes, this is a very important system.
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, do the Government really not recognise that this project is based on a conceptual fallacy? NATO, of which Britain is an integral and crucial part, can in no way be independent of the American satellite communication signals intelligence capability at any stage. Therefore, the idea that it is necessary to have an independent capability is fallacious and undesirable. Given that our Armed Forces are woefully lacking in a lot of equipment that they need, it would be a great deal better if the money being spent on Galileo were switched to that purpose. Will the Government at least consider that point?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, of course we keep budgets under careful consideration at all times, but these systems will obviously complement each other and provide a better service over time and much more precise data and information.
What are the police-like powers to be given to the single border force as announced by the Minister for Borders and Immigration, Liam Byrne, on 14 January; and whether those powers will require primary or secondary legislation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, immigration and customs officers at the border already exercise police-like powers in targeting smuggling and immigration crime. Building on this principle, the new powers in the UK Borders Act 2007 enable designated immigration officers to improve support to the police. In line with the border review, we will work with customs and police in identifying what further border-strengthening legislation may be required.
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. However, does he not agree that police-like powers are really not good enough, that the designated immigration officers are able to detain the suspect or escapee for a limited period of only three hours and that those powers are inferior to those of a police officer, whose presence will still be required to perform an arrest of the held person? Will
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Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Baroness raises some important points. When we reviewed this, we found that there were some arguments in favour of a consolidated border police force of the type discussed. However, there were also strong arguments against thatwith concerns about matters such as local accountability, ability to respond to new threats in particular areas and deployability of those policewhich made it quite complex and something we felt we should not move straight into. This will be looked at further. However, establishing this force will make a considerable and real difference to the security of our borders.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, will the noble Lord confirm that the police-like powers possessed by immigration officers still do not extend to Scotland, where many of the borders are? So the system is really pretty weak.
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Baroness is correctthe powers do not apply to Scotland. Immigration is, of course, a reserved matter, like Customs and Excise issues. However, stopping, for example, a man known to be guilty of a burglary in some part of the country is not. It is for the Scottish Executive and Parliament to determine whether they should replicate these powers. We understand that the new Scottish Administration have given a commitment to review this. As far as the Government are concerned, it would make sense if we all handled these matters in the same way.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, can the noble Lord explain what has happened to the consultation promised by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, at the Report stage of the UK Borders Bill, on the codes of practice to be followed by designated officers in exercising their powers of arrest, search and detention? In his speech, referred to in the noble Baronesss question, the Minister said that these powers would be implemented by day 100. How will he fit the consultation into that timescale?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I am not exactly sure what consultation was referred toif I may, I will come back to the noble Lord in writing. Regarding oversight mechanisms and safeguards, a shadow organisation will be up and running from the 31st of this month. We will have designated officers available to start carrying out actions in a pilot scheme operating at Heathrow from 31 March. There will be a mechanism to look at the standard operating procedures. A new chief inspector of the Border and Immigration Agency is being selected at the moment and will be responsible for providing a review of all immigration activities. We have been working with the police and the president of ACPO to ensure that the relevant safeguards and oversight mechanisms are in place.
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, as I said, the review looked at the possibility of a single police force but there are considerable complications. One good characteristic of the current set-up is that it allows Special Branch police officers to be deployed much more readily. They already work very closely with these people. When I knew I was to be involved in answering questions on this matter, I visited places such as Dover, some of our people in Calais, the Channel Tunnel and Gatwick to see the set-up. Special Branch already works very closely with the new structure in place, and data sharing definitely makes our borders safer.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, the establishment of the single border force is only one of 10 milestones under the border control action plan. Another is that confirmation will be given within 180 days that the number of foreign national prisoners deported from the country in 2008 will exceed those for 2007. Will the Minister advise whether that figure includes those serving sentences of less than 12 months?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I do not know the specific answer to that question so I shall come back to the noble Viscount in writing with the detail. However, this is part of a 10-point plan, and I am convinced that we are making our borders far safer. That is something that we will all be very grateful for.
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Baroness raises an important point. When tied in particularly with e-borders, they will add considerably to our ability to track and stop this vile practice. This is a very positive move. The rest of the actions that will take place this year will make our borders much more secure and enable us to track that much better.
Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, the new border police will deal with people who do not speak English. What qualifications will be required of members of the border police to ensure that people who come here can converse in a language with which they are familiar?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I do not know the specifics, but when I was visiting Gatwick, interpreters for various languages were available to assist in interviews when they were needed. However, I will write to the noble Lord about this.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, time is up for Questionsand as this is the only speaking part I get, I am going to use it. With permission, we shall have a Statement repeated later today on the British Council
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The noble Lord said: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to introduce this debate today, and I am encouraged by the interest shown by Members of your Lordships House. I have lived and worked in the Lower Lea Valley in the East End of London for nearly 25 years. In 1984, I founded the Bromley by Bow Centre, which is 300 yards from the Olympic site. I have worked with a team of very able people and members of the local community to grow a community project which has gained a national and international reputation in community development and innovative approaches to the delivery of health, education and other public services.
In 1998 I was asked by the then Secretary of State to become a founding member of Poplar HARCA, the first local housing company of its kind in the UK to take over responsibility for housing from the local authority and to pioneer an approach that would not simply build and renovate housing but would use the capital development programme as an opportunity to develop community regeneration. Our belief is that legacy is not just about land and buildings, as I fear much of the present Olympic rhetoric suggests, but about people, places and sustainable communities. Legacy is also, of course, about sport, but I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Coe, will forgive me if I do not focus on that. He is after all rather more qualified than I am to do so.
Today this £300 million housing company owns and manages 8,500 properties. In 2007 it won the Housing Corporations prestigious Gold Award for empowering communities and, in a recent ballot, 78 per cent of the residents of 900 homes on three estates voted to transfer their homes to Poplar HARCA. This company is now putting together a £1 billion capital development programme on an area of land on the opposite side of the road to the Olympic site, and equal in size. Yet to date it has not been possible to hold conversations about this with the London Development Agency and the Olympic Delivery Authority as prospective development partners.
In 1998 I was also asked by the London borough of Tower Hamlets to be a founding member of Leaside Regeneration, a regeneration company that spans the Lower Lea Valley and which for the first time brought together councillors from the London boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets, social entrepreneurs like myself and business entrepreneurs. At Leaside Regeneration, we do not just write strategy documents but build practical projects that create employment, stimulate the growth of new community-based businesses and put in place towpaths, bridges, road crossings and stations that knit together this fragmented and desolate river valley. One recent project, completed in December, was a £7 million DLR station at Langdon Park, at the centre of the valley, which connects isolated housing
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In 1999 I joined two people in a room at the Bromley by Bow Centre and we began to dream about bringing the Olympic Games to east London. We realised that the Lower Lea Valley was probably the only place in London with enough available land. Not all were convinced, but we persisted with our thoughts, and I went to see the noble Lord, Lord Rogers of Riverside, to check that we were not in cloud-cuckoo-land. We thought that if the Olympics were to come to east London, they could act as a catalyst to turn round the fortunes of the Lower Lea Valley and build what we called the Water Citya practical vision that would use many miles of waterways in the Lower Lea Valley to lift land values and once again drive the economy of east London.
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