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Today's Written Statements Update

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Mrs Theresa May - Home Office

On 20 November, I attended the extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels. The meeting was convened by the Luxembourg Presidency in response to the appalling terrorist attacks which took place in Paris on 13 November 2015. Interior and Justice Ministers adopted strong Council Conclusions on Counter Terrorism which urge immediate action on Passenger Name Records, Firearms, Strengthening Controls of External Borders, Information Sharing, Terrorist Financing, and the Criminal Justice Response. Ministers also approved Conclusions on the Criminal Justice response to Radicalisation.

During the meeting I welcomed the agreement on the Implementing Regulation on deactivation standards and the Commissions proposal for a Directive amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. I highlighted that the UK has strong legislation on firearms, which has contributed to a significant reduction in crimes involving firearms. I reiterated the importance of progress on the Passenger Name Records Directive, and that it remained of vital importance to gain rapid agreement and ensure intra-EU flights were covered. I supported actions to strengthen the External Border and stated that proactive sharing of criminal records data could improve Member States intelligence picture. Finally, I underlined that Member States needed to have effective frameworks to tackle terrorist financing, and highlighted that new initiatives should not compromise existing regimes.

James Brokenshire - Home Office

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary has today laid before the House the Prm Business and Implementation Case, (Cm 9149), which concludes that rejoining the Prm Decisions (EU Council Decision 2008/615/JHA and its implementing decision, 2008/616/JHA, in conjunction with Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA) would be in the national interest as it would help us to identify foreign criminals and solve serious crimes. This is also the view of law enforcement throughout the United Kingdom, and is based on evidence from those countries already operating the Prm Decisions and a successful small scale pilot. It also makes clear that stringent safeguards would be put in place in implementing the Prm Decisions, meaning that no fingerprint or DNA profiles relating to innocent British citizens would be used in implementing the measures and that higher UK scientific standards would be applied. An Oversight Board, including the Biometrics and Information Commissioners, would oversee the domestic operation of the Prm Decisions.

Mrs Theresa May - Home Office

I have selected Chief Constable Lynne Owens to be the new Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA). She has more than 25 years experience in a variety of policing roles including key front line experience and working on the most complex national investigations and operations. She has a strong track record of engaging teams and working in collaboration with partners, and most importantly she has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills. I am confident she is the right candidate to lead the NCA through the next phase of its development, leading and coordinating the national law enforcement response to serious and organised crime.

The Director General leads and co-ordinates the whole of the UK law enforcement effort against serious and organised crime, a major national security threat. That threat costs the UK more than 24 billion a year and is varied, complex and changing rapidly. The NCA has a stronger mandate than any previous organisation, including the power to task UK police and other law enforcement agencies in order to align the UKs response against the highest priority threats, vulnerabilities and organised crime groups.

The NCA is now at a vital stage of its development and the next Director General must set the future direction of the NCA, building on the strong foundation of the work of the outgoing Director General Keith Bristow, who retires shortly. The NCA must continue to develop the capabilities and relationships necessary to combat the threat from serious and organised crime, working in partnership with local and international law enforcement bodies to maximise the NCAs national and international reach.

Keith Bristow has been a dynamic first Director General of the National Crime Agency and I am grateful for his hard work and commitment to making the UK a more hostile environment for serious and organised criminals to operate. He has not shied away from exposing the nature and scale of the threat we face, and he has materially changed how we collectively tackle the threat from serious and organised crime.

Lynne Owens will ensure that the NCA continues to be at the forefront of work to tackle the full range of serious and organised crime threats, including cybercrime; child sexual abuse; firearms; modern slavery; organised immigration crime; drugs trafficking; money laundering; fraud; and bribery and corruption.

Lynne Owens is currently Chief Constable of Surrey Police and I expect her to take up post early next year. If there is a short gap, in the interim, I intend to appoint David Armond, the current Deputy Director General, as acting Director General.

James Duddridge - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

This written Ministerial statement proposes the gifting of new equipment to the Somali National Army (SNA).

It is normal practice, when a government department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding 300,000, for the department concerned to present to the House of Commons a minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The Governments priority for Somalia is to reduce the threat posed to UK national interests by building a more stable, peaceful and prosperous country. This includes improving the operational capability of the SNA to conduct security and stabilisation operations in Somalia, and better enable them to counter Al Shabaab.

The Government plans to deliver 3.2 million of gifting support to the SNA through the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (CSSF). We will provide: computers; printers; generators; training aids; office equipment; tents; specialist vehicleswater bowsers, fuel tankers, recovery vehicles; individual kit (e.g. belts and blankets) and vehicle tools. We also intend to provide infrastructure support to refurbish buildings for military use. Working with the UN and SNA, we will develop a basic repair and maintenance workshop for vehicles, increasing logistics and operational capacity.

The provision of equipment has been endorsed by the SNA and is in line with the UKs commitment to support the Guulwade plan, a Somali-owned plan (endorsed by donors) which sets out the SNAs capability requirements. The gifting of this equipment is consistent with export controls (no licence is required), complies with our international obligations, and will be procured through carefully selected implementing partners.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the Somali government will attach conditions (e.g. SNA troops will be human rights trained; equipment will not be diverted or inappropriately used) to the supply of this equipment and support. An Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) assessment has already been completed and will be kept under review. We will closely monitor the security situation and monitor and evaluate this programme, halting support if we believe the equipment or support is being misused.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the minute is laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.


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