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Written Answers

Tuesday 28th February 1995

ODA Aid to Poorest Countries

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the Overseas Development Administration's aid to developing countries goes to the poorest countries.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): In 1993–94, 69 per cent. of ODA's aid to developing countries which can be attributed to individual country programmes went to the poorest countries.

The change over the figure of 80 per cent. previously given for the proportion of aid going to the poorest countries in 1992–93 is explained by the following factors:

(i) technical changes in the definition used for aid to the poorest including: a reclassification of some emergency aid provided through multilateral agencies from multilateral to bilateral aid, reflecting the fact that the aid is made available for countries that ODA specifies and is thus bilateral in character. Since many of the recipients—e.g., in the former Yugoslavia—are not amongst the poorest countries, this has the effect of reducing bilateral aid to the poorest. This accounts for a change of over 2 percentage points; a change in the OECD definition of income groups, lowering the threshold for low income countries from an annual income per head of $765 to $675. This accounts for a change of 2 percentage points;

(ii) some shift of aid expenditure from low income countries to lower middle income countries accounting for the remaining change of over 6 percentage points. This includes emergency aid in Bosnia and Angola, neither of which is classified by the OECD as a low income country.

Immigration Acts: Information to Detainees

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In what way persons detained under the Immigration Acts, other than those awaiting deportation as a result of a court order or as overstayers with no further right of appeal, are informed of their right under Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights to test the legality of their detention before a court.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): All those detained under the Immigration Act 1971, including overstayers and those electing to make a supervised departure or awaiting deportation, are

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entitled to challenge the lawfulness of detention by applying for a writ of habeas corpus or judicial review. There is no obligation under Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights to inform detainees of this entitlement. This would be a matter for their legal representatives.

However, all detainees are informed of their rights of appeal to the independent Immigration Appellate Authorities and associated opportunities to apply for release on bail.

Prisoners' Personal Files

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether prisoners in England and Wales are allowed to peruse their personal files, and if so, under what conditions.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr Derek Lewis, dated 28 February 1995.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about whether prisoners in England and Wales are allowed to peruse their personal files, and if so, under what conditions.

The general policy is that information held about a prisoner should be disclosed on request to him or her unless there are clear and justifiable security grounds, including the prevention of crime or the protection of third parties. The grounds on which information is withheld should be explained to the prisoner.

Prisoners: Denial of Access to Television

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In what circumstances denial of access to television viewing for those serving prison sentences is used as a penalty for bad behaviour.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Marlesford from the Director of Personnel Centre, HM Prison Service, Mr. A. J. Butler, dated 28 February 1995.

Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about the circumstances in which denial of access to television viewing for those serving prison sentences is used as a penalty for bad behaviour.

Denial of access can result from the disciplinary punishment of forfeiture of privileges. This can be imposed by a governor for up to 28 days on any prisoner guilty of an offence under the Prison Rules. The maximum period is 14 days for young offenders. The

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punishment can include forfeiture of association time, which is when most viewing takes place, and of personal possessions, which can include a prisoner's own television set, where this is currently allowed. Denial of access will also result from the disciplinary punishment of cellular confinement for a maximum of 14 days in adult prisons and seven days for young offenders.

In prisons where incentive schemes operate, there may also be differential access to television depending on the prisoner's level in the incentive scheme.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

The Earl of Munster asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept the findings of the Parliamentary Ombudsman in the case of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link that uncertainty prior to approving construction projects causes stress to local residents.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The Department of Transport's response to the consultation on the draft findings of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (PCA) has been published as Appendix 4 to the PCA's Report entitled The Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Blight: Investigation of Complaints Against the Department of Transport, which was published on 9 February. This was a considered response prepared after consultation with Ministers and other government departments. It would be inappropriate for Her Majesty's Government to comment further in advance of the consideration of the PCA's report by the House of Commons PCA Select Committee.

Northern Ireland: Future Government

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now rule out any possibility of a tripartite arrangement between the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the European Community for any aspect of the future governance of Northern Ireland.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: A New Framework for Agreement contains proposals as an aid to discussion and negotiations. Consent of the political parties, Parliament and the people of Northern Ireland is the key to further progress. There are no suggestions in the document for joint/tripartite authority over any aspect of the future governance of Northern Ireland.

European Commission: Delegated Powers of Implementation

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish in the Official Report the text of the letter dated 10th January 1995 from the Parliamentary Secretary (Lords) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to Lord Marlesford, describing the circumstances in which the Council of Ministers of the European Union can recall for

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    decision proposals made by the European Commission which have been made under delegation of powers by the Council to the Commission.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): Yes. The text of my letter of 10 January 1995 to the noble Lord is published below:

"During questions on 14 December about the EC proposal which would set limits for nitrate in lettuce and spinach, you asked whether the Council could recall particular Commission proposals for implementing measures. In reply, I noted that Commission proposals have had to return to the Council but, when we spoke afterwards, I promised to write providing a full answer to your question.

"Article 145 of the Treaty, which deals with the delegation of implementing powers to the Commission, allows the Council to impose procedural requirements on the way the Commission exercises such powers: and also provides for those procedures to be codified in advance in a Council Decision. The Decision in question (No 87.373, known as the Comitology Decision) lays down three main types of procedure each involving Committees composed of representatives of Member States—Advisory Committee, Management Committee and Regulatory Committee—chaired by the Commission, which deliver opinions on proposals for Commission legislation.

"Both the Management Committee and Regulatory Committee procedures, but not the Advisory Committee procedure, require proposals to be referred to the Council for decision in certain circumstances. Under the Management Committee procedure, a proposal must be referred to the Council where the Committee votes against it by qualified majority, while the Regulatory Committee procedure requires the proposal to be submitted to the Council if the Committee does not approve the measure by qualified majority. The Management Committee and Regulatory Committee procedures come in two variants but in each case the Council has a period of time in which to take a different decision. In addition, the Comitology Decision sets out a further procedure which may be applied when the Council confers powers on the Commission to take safeguard measures. This does not include a specific provision for a procedure involving a Committee; instead, any Member State may appeal to the Council.

"The Comitology Decision does not specify which procedure should apply to particular subjects. However, for important matters, including the management of the agricultural commodities and fisheries markets, food law, animal and plant health, the Council has in delegating implementing powers to the Commission specified one of the procedures, usually either the Management or Regulatory Committee, which provide for recourse to the Council. The Commission's proposal on nitrates in lettuce and spinach is, for example, subject to the Regulatory Committee procedure.

"I hope you find this information helpful".

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Bethnal Green City Challenge: Grant

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take following the allegations of impropriety concerning the relationship between the Community Development Trust and the publicly funded Bethnal Green City Challenge.

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The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The department has requested a report from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, who are accountable for the City Challenge Local Authority Grant given to the Bethnal Green City Challenge Company. The City Challenge Company has commissioned a report from independent auditors. Any further action by the department will be dependent on the contents of those reports.

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