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BUDGET: HOME SECRETARY WELCOMES SETTLEMENT

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Home secretary David Blunkett today welcomed a£330m ...
Home secretary David Blunkett today welcomed a £330m

counter-terrorism Budget boost that will help protect the UK against

the terrorist threat.

The extra cash in the Budget will be spent on a wide range of

enhancements to counter-terrorism measures including a number of

high-tech projects aimed at thwarting those who threaten national

security.

Mr Blunkett said:

'The Budget sends out a strong message. The UK is serious about

protecting our borders and doing all we can to prevent terrorist

actions.

'We are already doing a great deal in this area and this will

strengthen our abilities still further, building on an

above-inflation budget for the police and the extra £87m

funding for counter-terrorism we announced in last year's Budget.

'This is a welcome boost in the fight against terrorism. It will fund

a range of counter-terrorism projects which will help protect the

community, reinforcing the importance government attaches to ensuring

safety and security for the public.'

The £330m package, which will provide funding over three

years, includes cash for counter-terrorism projects in the ODPM and the Cabinet Office.

The projects include:

- Delivery of the best new technology to improve detection of

materials through our ports

- Expansion of our capacity for testing

- Improved resilience for public services

In addition, the government announced a number of ways in which it

intends to maximise benefits to the UK economy of managed migration

routes to fill skills shortages and improve productivity, whilst

vigorously tackling illegal immigration and abuse of the asylum

system.

This includes:

- Expanding the highly skilled migrant programme - adjusting the

threshold criteria making it easier for younger, skilled applicants

to work in the UK and taking the achievements of partners into

account

- Encouraging foreign nationals studying maths , science and

engineering at our universities to seek work in the country after

graduating

- Consulting on the use of NVQ Level 2 work permits on a sector

specific basis to alleviate shortages in industries such as

construction

- The new sector-based low skilled migration schemes, announced in

November, will begin from May 2003 with an initial annual quota of

10,000 each for food processing and hospitality, where there are

domestic skills shortages

- Changes to the Working Holiday Maker Scheme to ensure we are

maximising young, mobile labour

- Improving information available on the web for people we want to

attract to the UK labour market

Beverley Hughes, Home Office minister for immigration, said:

'Globalisation has meant mass migration has grown exponentially -

ninety million people pass through the UK each year as tourists or to

work or study. It is neither practical, nor desirable to introduce a

fortress Britain with all the damage that would do our position as a

strong global economy.

'We have introduced tough reforms to reduce asylum claims. Alongside

this we continue to welcome legal migrants to benefit our economy and

improve productivity, growth and social cohesion.'

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