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29 Jun 1995 : Column WA59

Written Answers

Thursday, 29th June 1995.

UN Conference on Women, Beijing

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list those countries that are expected to attend the forthcoming UN Conference on Women in Beijing.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): All member states of the United Nations have been invited to attend the Conference. We do not yet have the full list of countries which intend to accept the invitation.

Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands: Right of Individual Petition

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

    Further to their Answer of 1st March 1995 (HL Deb., WA97), when the reviews of legislation in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands respectively began, pending the possible inclusion in the constitutions of both territories of Bills of Rights, and by when the reviews are expected to be concluded.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The reviews of legislation in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands will commence once the legislatures in both territories have agreed to the provisions currently under consideration for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. It is not possible to state when such agreement will be reached.

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

    Further to their Answer of 1st March 1995 (HL Deb., WA97), what steps they have taken to ensure that victims of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by the public authorities of the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands respectively have effective domestic remedies in those territories.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: As I stated in my Answer on 1 March, we are satisfied that the obligations accepted on behalf of both territories under the convention are fulfilled. But we are encouraging the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands to consider how to give further domestic legal protection to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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

    Further to their Answer of 1st March 1995 (HL Deb., WA97), whether they will ensure, when renewing the right of individual petition under the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands respectively, that victims of any violations of the Convention by the public authorities, occurring during the period since

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    January 1986 when the right of individual petition has not been renewed, are able to complain to the European Commission of Human Rights under Article 25 of the Convention in respect of such violations; and if not why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Any decision to renew the right of individual petition under the convention will be taken by us with the agreement of the Governments of the British Virgin Islands and of the Cayman Islands. The question of whether the right would include matters which took place prior to renewal of the right would be a matter for discussion with those governments at the time, in the light of the relevant provisions of the convention.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Principles and Objectives

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent they consider themselves, and the other nuclear weapons states, bound by the Non-Proliferation Review Conference's document Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament represent a political commitment by the States party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty participating in the conference.

Civil Nuclear Plant: Protection

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will promote an international convention to prohibit attacks, or threats of attack, on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes, or on any other installations attacks on which could release into the environment radioactive and other forms of fallout, including chemicals or organisms lethal or dangerous to human beings or to animal or vegetable life (that is, with effects parallel to the use of weapons of mass destruction), and if not why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: There are currently no plans to agree an international convention covering attacks on civil nuclear or similar plant. The responsibility to counter all threats at such facilities rests with the country in which they are located. Together with our EU and G7 partners, we are actively engaged in improving levels of safety at nuclear power plants worldwide, especially those in the former Soviet Union and central and eastern Europe. These measures include promoting enhanced levels of physical protection.

Working Mothers: Select Committee Recommendations

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Lord Inglewood of 12th June (HL Deb., WA101) on the costing of the proposals of the Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Mothers in Employment,

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    whether the answer to the original question is "yes" or "no" and whether they will reconsider their costings in the light of the report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Equal Opportunities Commission, published since Lord Inglewood's answer.

Lord Inglewood: I have nothing to add to the Answer I have already given. The Institute of Fiscal Studies' (IFS) report confirms the Government's view that widespread tax relief for childcare would be expensive and poorly targeted.

Fissile Material Stocks

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What stockpiles of fissile material are available in the United Kingdom; and what provision do they think should be made concerning such stockpiles of fissile material.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): It is not our practice to comment on the stocks of fissile material held for military purposes. Details of civil plutonium holdings are published annually by the Department of Trade and Industry and a copy is placed in the Library of the House. In addition, stocks of uranic material, containing either high or low enriched uranium, are held at Springfields, Capenhurst and Dounreay. All stocks of civil fissile material in the United Kingdom are held in secure conditions under international safeguards.

Corporal Robert Strong

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a Board of Inquiry has been held into how Corporal Robert Strong of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment was seriously injured on 19th August 1992; what were the findings; and whether any disciplinary action has been taken, or is contemplated, against any Serviceman.

Lord Henley: A Board of Inquiry was not held. The incident was investigated by the Royal Ulster Constabulary; the Director of Public Prosecutions (Northern Ireland) considered the papers, and decided that there should be no prosecution. A soldier was disciplined by his Commanding Officer for offences relating to the incident.

Armed Forces: Serious Accident Procedures

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What rehabilitation facilities are available to Servicemen who have been medically discharged as a result of an accident during training.

Lord Henley: In addition to routine rehabilitation facilities at Service Hospitals, we have specialist rehabilitation facilities available at RAF Headley Court. This unit has about 180 beds and a rehabilitation team of specialist medical officers, nurses, remedial instructors, speech therapists, clinical and educational psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers,

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technicians and all support staff. Priority for treatment at Service Hospitals and RAF Headley Court is given to Service personnel and all necessary rehabilitation following an accident in service would normally take place before any decision medically to discharge a Serviceman or woman was taken. Once discharged, the medical care of former Armed Forces personnel becomes the responsibility of the National Health Service, which has its own rehabilitation facilities. In certain circumstances, provided capacity is available, it is possible for former Service personnel to be accepted as NHS patients at my department's facilities. In the case of RAF Headley Court, this would be on repayment from their local health authority, and preference would be given to former Service personnel who had already received treatment at Headley Court for an in-service injury.

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On how many occasions within the last 10 years a Serviceman who has been seriously injured during training has been discharged, because of his injuries, more than three years after the accident.

Lord Henley: Information of the nature requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Research Councils: Technology Foresight Response

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Research Councils will be responding to the recommendations from the Technology Foresight Initiative.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Research Councils have been working very hard to develop a response to the Technology Foresight recommendations and copies of their response have today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. This is an excellent document, which shows how well the councils are getting on with implementing Foresight already.


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