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Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Two of my right honourable friend's predecessors as Secretary of State, the right honourable Sir Leon Brittan and my right honourable friend the member for Witney, made statements in 1983 and 1987, respectively, about the review arrangements for life sentence prisoners. Under those arrangements, the first review by the Parole Board takes place three years before the expiry of the period thought necessary to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence (commonly referred to as "the tariff"). However, no life sentence prisoner is detained for more than 17 years without a Parole Board review of his or her case, even where the period in question exceeds 20 years. The Secretary of State also reviews the case of every life sentence prisoner who has been detained for 10 years.

From now on all life sentence prisoners will have a Parole Board review three years before the expiry of their tariff. Since all prisoners will now know the length of their tariff and also the date of this review, we

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consider that the automatic review at the 17-year point no longer serves any useful purpose. The 17-year review will therefore be discontinued, save in respect of those existing prisoners for whom such a review has already been fixed.

This means that the review three years before the expiry of the tariff will be the first review for all prisoners. The setting of a review at this point is intended to allow sufficient time for preparing the release of those life sentence prisoners who may be considered an acceptable risk. This is subject, in the case of mandatory life prisoners, to the question of the public acceptability of early release.

In recent years, successive Secretaries of State have recognised that, for the majority of life sentence prisoners, a period in open prison conditions is generally vital in terms of testing the prisoner's suitability for release and in preparing him or her for a successful return to the community. It is, therefore, now normally the practice to require the prisoner to spend some time in open conditions before release and to arrange a further review while the prisoner is in an open prison for a formal assessment of his or her progress. We intend to continue with this practice and the first Parole Board review will therefore normally serve the purpose of assessing the prisoner for open conditions.

The purpose of the 10-year ministerial review is to consider whether there are any grounds for bringing forward the date of the first review by the Parole Board. This review is now redundant as far as discretionary life sentence prisoners are concerned, since their cases are dealt with in accordance with the arrangements introduced by Part II of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. However, the 10-year ministerial review will continue to take place for mandatory life sentence prisoners.

In addition we have decided that for those life sentence prisoners for whom it is decided that the requirements of retribution and deterrence can be satisfied only by their remaining in prison for the whole of their life, there will in future be an additional ministerial review when the prisoner has been in custody for 25 years. The purpose of this review will be solely to consider whether the whole life tariff should be converted to a tariff of a determinate period. The review will be confined to the considerations of retribution and deterrence. Where appropriate, further ministerial reviews will normally take place at five-yearly intervals thereafter. Existing prisoners who fall into this category and who have already served 25 years or more in custody will not be disadvantaged. Their cases will be reviewed by Ministers as soon as is practicable and after any representations they may wish to make.

As my right honourable friend announced in reply to a Question by the right honourable Member for Burton (Sir Ivan Lawrence) on 27 July 1993, successive Secretaries of State have been, and continue to be, willing to consider any written representations by life sentence prisoners about their tariff.

They will also continue to be afforded the opportunity to submit such written representations at the beginning

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of the sentence and before we have formed a view as to the appropriate period in question.


Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the 4th Periodic Report to the Human Rights Committee under Article 40 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will be subject to parliamentary debate, and if not, why not.

Baroness Blatch: We have no plans for such a debate.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make their 4th Periodic Report to the Human Rights Committee under Article 40 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights widely available to members of the public, and if so how.

Baroness Blatch: The report is already freely available from the Home Office publications unit, and in the British Library and the other legal deposit libraries.


Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which recommendations of the Salmon Commission on standards in public life have been implemented and which have not.

Baroness Blatch: Of the 29 recommendations identified as requiring action by central and local government, 19 are known to have been implemented, fully or in part, although not necessarily in direct response to the Salmon report. They are recommendations 4, 6, 8, 11–14, 16–21, 24–25, 27 and 33–35. Recommendations 1–3, 7, 9 and 10 have not been implemented. Information about the status of recommendations 31, 32 and 26 is not yet available. The organisation which was the subject of recommendation 26 has now been abolished. Of the remaining nine recommendations, six required no action and three were addressed to national political parties. I shall write to the noble Lord with further details of implementation, or the reasons for not implementing the recommendations, as soon as the information is complete.


Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest estimate of the general government borrowing requirement for the next three financial years; and what are the main reasons why this differs from the public sector borrowing requirement.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): The latest estimates of the general government borrowing requirement (GGBR) for the next three years were published in table 4.1 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1995–96 and are given in the table below. The difference between the public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR) and the GGBR is accounted for by public corporations market and overseas borrowing (PCMOB), which has been a repayment of debt for the past 3 years and is projected to continue as such.

1995–96 23.1 –1.6 21.5
1996–97 15 –2 13
1997–98 7 –2 5


Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent official records are kept of sightings of unidentified flying objects, especially those sightings that may have a bearing on the air defence of this country; whether units of the Ministry of Defence, especially RAF units, have standing instructions to report sightings of unusual flying objects; whether reports are logged; and whether these can now be made public.

Lord Henley: My department evaluates reports of unexplained aerial phenomena solely in order to establish whether they may have any defence significance. Reports are received from a wide range of sources, including the police and general public, as well as the RAF, which in the context of its air defence responsibilities has standing instructions to report all sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena. Reports are placed on departmental files in the normal way and are therefore subject to the Public Records Act; several files on this subject are available for viewing at the Public Record Office.


The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether NAIAD (Nerve Agent Immobilised Enzyme Alarm and Detector) alarms and CAM (Computer-Aided Measurement and Control) monitors are commonly triggered by compounds emitted by jet engines.

Lord Henley: NAIAD (Nerve Agent Immobilised Enzyme Alarm and Detector) and CAM (Chemical Agent Monitor) are designed to be used in conditions where they would not normally be in close proximity to jet engines. Nevertheless NAIAD was extensively evaluated against a wide range of aircraft engine effluent during its acceptance testing for military use. Out of 18 aircraft types, in only one case was alarm condition

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attained. In the case of CAM, although aircraft turbine exhaust does not produce a response, field experience suggests that this could happen if the instrument was contaminated with JP4 fuel. It follows that although neither CAM nor NAIAD are commonly triggered by compounds emitted from jet engines, circumstances might arise in which this could happen.

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