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Drug Treatment and Testing Orders

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his assessment is of the efficacy of drug treatment and testing orders in (a) reducing drug consumption and (b) reducing participation in criminal activity, expressed as a percentage of UK drug use and crime totals. [2383]

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Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 July 2001]: It is too early for an assessment of the effect of the order on drug misuse and crime since roll-out in October 2000. Evaluation of the pilots run under the management of the Merseyside, south-east London and Gloucestershire probation services found that the average amount spent on drugs by offenders subject to drug treatment and testing orders fell from £400 per week in the period before arrest to £25 per week in the early stages of the order and the number of crimes committed by such offenders fell from an average of 137 offences in the month before arrest to around 34 per month after only six weeks on the order. A reconviction study will be carried out in due course.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his assessment is of the continuing effects of the drug treatment and testing orders pilot scheme undertaken in Croydon, Liverpool and Gloucester. [2384]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 9 July 2001]: The independent evaluation of the three pilot schemes found that those who had completed or were nearing the completion of the order at the end of the evaluation period reported that they had stopped offending and in nearly all cases were drug free, except for cannabis use. A reconviction study will be carried out in due course.

Following successful pilots, the drug treatment and testing order was rolled-out to courts throughout England and Wales on 1 October 2000. Latest figures available show that between October 2000and May this year, over 1,750 orders have been made. The pilot evaluation has informed the development of a national standard and related guidance for the implementation of the order.

Young Offenders

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convicted offenders are being held in each young offenders institution, broken down by (a) average age, (b) average length of sentence and (c) category of offence; and if he will make a statement. [2111]

Beverley Hughes: Provisional data are in a table, which has been placed in the Library.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Occupied Territories

13. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on illegal settlements in the occupied territories. [1553]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government deplore all settlement activity in the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem). It is illegal under international law and a serious obstacle to peace.

We continue to urge both parties to implement swiftly and in full the complete package of the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee report, which includes a freeze on all settlement activity.

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Nice Treaty

14. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings he has had with ministerial counterparts from the Republic of Ireland to discuss the Nice treaty; and if he will make a statement. [1554]

Mr. Straw: I met my ministerial counterparts from the Republic of Ireland at the 11 and 25 June General Affairs Council and at the Gothenburg European Council.

As I explained to the House last week, member states have expressed their readiness to help the Irish Government find a way forward, taking into account the concerns reflected by the result of the 7 June referendum, without reopening the text of the Nice treaty.

20. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Irish counterpart regarding the treaty of Nice. [1520]

Peter Hain: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), UIN 1554.

Sri Lanka

15. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will meet representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka to discuss human rights issues and the state's policy towards the Tamil people; and if he will make a statement. [1555]

Mr. Straw: We remain concerned by reports of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, and continue to remind the Government of the need to respect human rights. We are also concerned about the plight of civilians affected by the conflict and have urged the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to cease hostilities and work with Norway to conclude a peaceful settlement.

I look forward to discussing a range of issues with the Sri Lankan Government in due course.

30. Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in the peace negotiations in Sri Lanka. [1530]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to give our wholehearted support to Norway's efforts to facilitate peace talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. We urge both parties to the conflict to intensify their efforts and work with the Norwegians to find a peaceful, negotiated settlement that meets the aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka.

Jews (Iran)

16. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the treatment of imprisoned Jews in Iran. [1556]

Mr. Bradshaw: Nine of the Jews sentenced in Shiraz on alleged espionage charges last year remain imprisoned. We understand that the prisoners continue to have access to newspapers, Kosher food, twice-weekly visits from their families and are held in a group cell. The sentences were reduced on appeal in September 2000.

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Israel

17. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will meet the Foreign Minister of Israel to discuss bilateral trade and the peace process; and if he will make a statement. [1557]

Mr. Bradshaw: On his first working day in his new role on 11 June, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, and discussed the situation in the Middle East. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, on 24 June. The Middle East Peace Process featured prominently in their discussion, as did bilateral issues such as trade.

21. Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about discussions which took place during the recent visit to the United Kingdom by the Prime Minister of Israel. [1521]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met Israeli Prime Minister Sharon during Prime Minister Sharon's short stop-over visit to the UK on Sunday 24 June. Much of the discussion focused on the present situation in the Middle East. The Prime Minister urged Prime Minister Sharon to take urgent steps in parallel with the Palestinians to implement in full the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee report.

Death Penalty

18. Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his policy on campaigning internationally against the death penalty. [1518]

Peter Hain: The British Government oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. We have gained a reputation as a leading advocate of worldwide abolition, not least through the work of our Death Penalty Panel.

The British Government also co-sponsor the EU resolution on the death penalty tabled at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

We shall continue to work tirelessly, both bilaterally and with the EU partners, to further the worldwide trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

Zimbabwe

19. Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the political situation in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [1519]

Mr. Bradshaw: We remain concerned at the situation in Zimbabwe. We would like to see an end to violence and intimidation; positive steps by the Zimbabwe Government to create the conditions for free and fair election; economic reform; and the introduction of a sustainable land reform programme, in line with the principle agreed by the Government of Zimbabwe and the international donors at the 1998 Land conference.

26. Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in Zimbabwe. [1526]

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Mr. Bradshaw: We are concerned by continuing violence and intimidation by the war veterans. The people of Zimbabwe must be allowed to vote freely, and without fear; and to live and work in a country governed by the rule of law.

33. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent visit of Commonwealth Ministers to Zimbabwe. [1533]

Mr. Bradshaw: There has been no Commonwealth ministerial visit to Zimbabwe this year.


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