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Alan Johnson: I have not issued any guidance on the definition of that phrase. The police know what they are doing and how to tackle such demonstrations, and they do so very effectively. A combination of the right legislation introduced by my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), the police treating the matter as an absolute priority and other measures have led to far fewer problems as a result of animal rights extremism. That is one form of domestic extremism, and if the police want to use such a term, I
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would not fall to the floor clutching my box of Kleenex. It sounds like a sensible way to describe such forms of extremism.

T9. [295159] Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): Given that the Home Secretary has stated that it is in the interests of justice that the killers of Yvonne Fletcher are charged, why is the Met sitting on a Crown Prosecution Service-commissioned report that concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge Matouk Matouk and Mohammed Baghdadi with conspiracy to murder?

Alan Johnson: If the hon. Gentleman cares to contact me, I will consider that matter. I have not heard of the report he mentions, but we want to ensure that justice is done by Yvonne Fletcher. That has been our priority from the start, and that is why it was a major part of our discussions with Libya a few years ago.

Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): When will my right hon. Friend bring forward the final code on alcohol sales, as promised in the Policing and Crime Bill? Will it deal with the problem of cut-price promotions in shops, pubs and clubs?

Alan Johnson: On the latter question, I hope that the code will deal with that matter. On the former question, we have finished the consultation and are preparing a response that will be out soon.

David Howarth (Cambridge) (LD): Further to the question asked by the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor) about the alphabet soup of agencies that appears to have decided to put everyone in the country who protests about anything on a list of suspects, does the Home Secretary agree that that is an example of mission creep? It has gone beyond the original intention of dealing with violent animal rights extremists, and everyone else in the country who protests is now being treated in that way.

Alan Johnson: I do not accept that, and I do not know why Liberal Democrat Members jump to that conclusion. The police are doing their job effectively. There was an issue around the G7 protest or the G20 protest-one of the protests-earlier this year that led the police to look again at some of their procedures. The result of those deliberations will be in the White Paper on policing, which will be published shortly.

Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to introduce a scheme to assist British citizens who are victims of terror abroad. May I ask him when the Government are likely to introduce a scheme and make some announcement? The victims of Bali, Mumbai and Sharm el-Sheikh and their families have waited far too long to get compensation for the brutal attacks, deaths and injuries that they have had to put up with over the past decade or so.

Alan Johnson: I commend my right hon. Friend for his work in this connection. As he will know, the Prime Minister and the Government are keen to introduce a scheme whereby those British people injured in terrorist attacks abroad have the same rights to compensation as
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they would have if they were injured in this country. Having said that, a number of problems need to be got round, and I hope that the committee that I chair will come to a conclusion on that soon.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): The Office for National Statistics has said that the population of this country will increase by 10 million in the next 25 years. Are the Government happy that immigration will be on that level, or do they agree that they should do everything they can to ensure that it does not reach such a level?

Mr. Woolas: The Office for National Statistics did not say that; it made it clear that it was not a forecast but a projection based on previous years. In the same release, it accepted that the projection could be, and is being, affected by Government policies on other matters.

Mrs. Ann Cryer (Keighley) (Lab): Are the Government aware that many young Asian ladies in my constituency would like a change in immigration regulations to prevent those entering as a spouse from bringing in a further spouse following an Islamic divorce?

Mr. Woolas: Yes, the Government are very aware of that point, and pay tribute to my hon. Friend's work, which has received tremendous support, especially from young Asian women. We will do all that we can to ensure proper fairness in that policy area.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): Given that retail crime such as shoplifting is increasing, and that the level of unpaid fines is rising, will the Government insist that all penalty notices be issued at a police station?

Mr. Alan Campbell: We have changed the guidelines on penalty notices. We are saying that they must be used more proportionately, and only for first offences. However, I shall look into the hon. Lady's specific point just in case we need to make further changes.

Chris McCafferty (Calder Valley) (Lab): What early feedback has my right hon. Friend received from the
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head of the UK Human Trafficking Centre about freshly commissioned research by regional intelligence units on the actual scale of sex trafficking in this country?

Mr. Campbell: We continue to take this important issue seriously. It is extremely difficult to establish the true number of people involved because of the nature of the crime, but we work with our colleagues internationally as well as with agencies in the United Kingdom, and we are trying hard to obtain an accurate figure.

Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): Given his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), is the Minister for Borders and Immigration making the case that the United Kingdom population will not reach 70 million?

Mr. Woolas: The Government have no policy on what the birth or death rate in our population should be in 15 years' time, but I can tell the House that our migration policy is already paying dividends in reducing net migration. The ONS reported that it had fallen to 45 per cent. of the projected increase, and that was partly a result of the measures that we have taken.

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): I do not know whether my hon. Friend read the eccentric report in The Guardian last week suggesting that there were no sex trafficking crimes, which will come as news to the gentlemen who have been banged up for that odious crime. Will he convene a public and transparent conference to discuss the issue? It cannot be right for academics and journalists to say that sex trafficking is non-existent in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Alan Campbell: As I have said, we are working hard to obtain the correct figure, but, as my right hon. Friend will know, that is extremely difficult. I find it regrettable when speculative articles are published in the media giving the erroneous impression that exercises such as Operation Pentameter did not lead to arrests and are not important in making the United Kingdom hostile to traffickers; once we have some figures, I shall return to my right hon. Friend to discuss his suggestion.

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Territorial Army

3.32 pm

Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring) (Con) (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his proposal to change the funding for Territorial Army training.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Bill Rammell): I apologise on behalf of the Secretary of State, who is unable to come to the House as he is dealing with departmental business overseas.

The Territorial Army makes a vital contribution to keeping our country safe, and 540 TA members are currently deployed on operations in Afghanistan. When we have forces in the front line putting their lives on the line for us, they must be the priority, and Afghanistan is the main effort for defence. It gets the first call on money, the first call on equipment, and the first call on training and support.

More than £3 billion has been drawn from the Treasury reserve to support operations this year, but we need to reprioritise the core defence budget as well. That means that tough choices need to be made. Recruitment to the Army has experienced a significant boost this year-over 1,000 more recruits are expected to complete training than did so last year-but those additional recruits need to be paid for. The Chief of the General Staff presented proposals to help bring the budget into balance, and, as extra money cannot be drawn from the Treasury reserve for the purpose, the Army proposed to reduce the amount spent on the Territorial Army this year, as well as taking other measures.

After discussion, the Secretary of State endorsed the approach taken by the Army. We did so while making it clear that we would not allow any risk to the Afghanistan campaign in the future to materialise. No TA soldier will be deployed on operations unless the Army is satisfied that he is properly trained and prepared, and pre-deployment training is emphatically not being cut.

Our initial proposal was to suspend the remainder of non-deployment TA training in this financial year, with a saving of £20 million; but, as a Government, we do listen. The Secretary of State has therefore decided on a small adjustment to our original proposals to ensure continuity for those not immediately being deployed to Afghanistan, and to help retention. All TA personnel will now receive at least one training night per month in the current financial year. This measure reduces the in-year savings by £2.5 million.

I realise that the reductions in normal activity are disappointing for TA members, but I believe that they will understand the reasons behind those reductions and the exceptional circumstances in which they are being applied. Tough choices cannot be made without consequences, so let me be clear. The media and the Opposition have been calling for more focus on current operations, but they cannot will the ends and then oppose the means. These measures are sensible, proportionate and will ensure that we make Afghanistan the main effort, and I hope they will be supported on both sides of the House.

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Dr. Fox: I would like to ask three simple questions. First, the Government have previously told us that they

Then the Secretary of State said last week:

Some of us are surprised that it was not already the No.1 priority, but if it is fully funded from the reserve, as the Government say, why are they cutting the core TA budget by £43 million?

Secondly, we know that, due to the recession and the major recruitment drive in the past year, there are more recruits in the regular Army than there is money to train them, and the Government have now demanded savings from other parts of the Army. Why did the Government not plan to fund their own target numbers for recruitment, especially in the middle of a war?

Thirdly, do the Government really understand the ethos of volunteering or the effect their plans could have on future available numbers? For many, the TA is a habit; break the habit, break the TA. Pre-deployment training is only of use if we have the numbers to start with. Is it not the case that pre-deployment training is meant to augment, not supplant, routine TA training, so routine training is just as important as pre-deployment training? Whether or not an individual is deploying on operations, regular and routine training is required to ensure medium and long-term readiness in the TA for any future deployments to Afghanistan, or elsewhere.

These proposals are a shambles. They must be reversed.

Bill Rammell: The hon. Gentleman knows full well how the reserve operates. Most of the cost of operations is met from the Treasury reserve, but the defence budget still meets some of the cost. Where activity would take place regardless of operations, the defence budget meets the cost even if the activity directly supports operational capability. That was the case under the last Government, and it is the case under this Government.

The reality is that we face increased pressures this year, including due to increased numbers coming into the Army, which we welcome, as well as less income from estates disposal and as a result of exchange rate fluctuations. Reading between the lines of the hon. Gentleman's contribution, I think that he actually welcomes the minor adjustment we have announced today. It is one that has been called for from those on the Opposition Benches. I also have to say that it ill behoves the Opposition-whom, let us remember, are not proposing one additional penny of expenditure within the defence budget-to urge us to prioritise efforts in Afghanistan and then to cry foul as soon as that leads to difficult decisions. That is dishonest and disingenuous, and it ill serves our TA. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. I do not require any advice or help from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone). I am sure the Minister will want to make it clear that he is not accusing anyone in this Chamber of behaving dishonestly.

Bill Rammell: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. It is the policy proposition that I believe is dishonest.

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Mr. Speaker: I am grateful.

Nick Harvey (North Devon) (LD): The financial problems of the Ministry of Defence are well known to us all, but of all the possible ways of trying to plug the gap, doing so through the Territorial Army must surely be the worst possible candidate. In financial terms, this amounts to a very small saving. The damage that could be done, however, is disproportionate to any saving that could be made.

An increasing burden has been put on the Territorial Army in recent years. If it were not for its efforts and the skills it brings from civilian life, we would have struggled in our operation in Afghanistan in recent times. It is carrying a far bigger burden than it has ever been used to bearing in the past. The Government's judgment is very wide of the mark, and they would do very well to reflect on Napoleon's maxim that "the moral is to the physical as three to one", in which case this decision will do far more damage to the morale and preparedness of the TA in years to come than is worth the tiny amount they are going to penny pinch from it. I think the Government would do well to reflect on this, and find other ways of making these very meagre cuts to plug their very big black hole.

Bill Rammell: I absolutely agree with the underlying assertion of the hon. Gentleman's question, which is that the role of the TA is critical to meeting our future defence capabilities, and, indeed, our existing defence capabilities. As I said earlier, 544 members of the TA are currently serving in Afghanistan, and doing an incredible job on our behalf.

I reiterate that in the changes we are making, no pre-deployment training will be cut from the reserves. Having listened to the arguments that have been put forward, we are also ensuring that through this small adjustment, we can make sure that during this financial year there is an ongoing relationship between members of the TA and the activities they undertake.

Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South) (Lab): I am not known to be hostile to the Government on defence, but I am very concerned about the Territorial Army, knowing its importance. Three hon. Members signed an early-day motion that is very modest in its aspirations, not over-the-top. What I would ask, despite having heard the explanation, is whether, even at this stage, such a small amount of money, which must be minuscule compared with the overall defence budget, can be looked at seriously again. Does this not send the wrong message? Are we not talking about the most effective element of our entire defence budget? Surely some other area could be plundered if necessary in the short term, instead of sending that erroneous, potentially damaging message-

Mr. Speaker: Order. I am extremely grateful and we have got the point very clearly.

Bill Rammell: I have great respect for my right hon. Friend, who has enormous experience in these areas. We have listened to the concerns and arguments that have been put forward, which is why we have made this minor adjustment-in response to those. However, on the overall argument, if we are to reprioritise our efforts to the front line in Afghanistan, there are no easy
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options in arriving at that conclusion. That is why we have taken the decisions we have. Nevertheless, we have listened to the arguments that have been put forward, and I think that when my right hon. Friend looks at the detail of what we are proposing, he will find some reassurance.

Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): My entry is in the Register of Members' Financial Interests. What estimate has the Minister made of the impact that this will have on recruitment to the Territorial Army?

Bill Rammell: First, this is a savings measure for this year. Secondly, people within the TA and those who aspire to join it understand the overall operational environment within which we are working, and the fact that we need to focus our efforts on Afghanistan. Thirdly, I do not believe that this will adversely hit recruitment to the Territorial Army.

John Reid (Airdrie and Shotts) (Lab): I welcome my hon. Friend's adjustment. I fully agree with his requirement to prioritise, and I have full confidence in the Chief of the General Staff, General Richards. May I also therefore explain the problem that I have? If prioritisation is to be carried out and Afghanistan is essentially a conflict where we have to win the people-not just a conventional war against an army-then our greatest resource is people. I therefore believe that it would be right to keep his decisions under careful review. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George), I would not like us to get into an intransigent position whereby we have taken a decision from which we cannot back off, and then discover that it is having an effect on that reservoir of people on whom the armed forces defends, which includes the Territorial Army. I ask my hon. Friend please to keep the situation under review.

Bill Rammell: I agree with the underlying thrust of what my right hon. Friend is saying. There has been-I choose my words carefully-much debate in the public and media environment in recent months about Ministers taking advice from the military, and he is right to underline the fact that this proposal was put forward by the Chief of the General Staff and that we have, upon consideration, agreed with it. Nevertheless, on his point about careful review, we have not adopted an intransigent position, as evidenced by the adjustment we are making this afternoon. As with all decisions, we will keep this under active review.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): We are looking forward to seeing the Minister at 5 o'clock. May I urge him to ask the Chief of the General Staff, in his next conversation with him, whether he is aware of the sacrifices that the families of Territorials make, and whether he would consider imposing such a percentage cut on the income of regular families in this way? Could I also ask-

Mr. Speaker: No is the answer, I am afraid; one question will do.

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