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4 Jun 1996 : Column WA111

Written Answers

Tuesday, 4th June 1996.

Mr. Brent Stirling

Baroness Carnegy of Lour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of the circumstances of Mr. Brent Stirling of Perth, who has since 31st October 1995 been in Bangkok gaol serving a life sentence of 100 years for a narcotics offence, his appeal, at which he had no legal representation, having been rejected on 9th May 1996; and whether they intend to arrange a visit to give him urgent advice as to the wisdom of an appeal to the Third Court, which must be lodged by 9th June 1996 but which may not be heard for up to three years.

Lord Chesham: We are aware of Mr. Brent Stirling's case. Mr. Stirling was visited by Consular staff on 28th May. After careful consideration and discussions with Consular staff, Mr. Stirling has decided to withdraw from the appeals process. Our Embassy in Bangkok have arranged for a letter signed by Mr. Stirling to be sent by recorded delivery to the courts advising them of his withdrawal.

Brazil: Demarcation of Indian Lands

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have made to the Brazilian Government regarding the impact of Decree 1775 on the demarcation of Indian lands in Brazil.

Lord Chesham: We have made clear to the Brazilian authorities our concern about the well-being of indigenous people and the need to respect their rights and interests, most recently on 13th May 1996.

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will exert pressure on both the European Union and the World Bank to suspend funding of projects concerned with the demarcation of indigenous areas in Brazil until such time as Decree 1775 is revoked.

Lord Chesham: We believe it more appropriate to express our concerns about the rights and welfare of the indigenous peoples of Brazil directly to the Brazilian authorities.

Conscientious Objection

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which countries in membership of the Council of Europe recognise conscientious objection and which of them sentence objectors to prison terms.

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Lord Chesham: The following Council of Europe member states recognise conscientious objection:




    Czech Republic






















The following do not and to the best of our knowledge impose prison terms for refusal to enlist:



    (FYRO) Macedonia




Crown Agents

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in establishing the Crown Agents as an independent foundation.

Lord Chesham: Detailed discussions are progressing with Crown Agents Board on the transfer of Crown Agents to an independent foundation. Once these are complete, a paper setting out the proposed arrangements will be made available to both Houses of Parliament. The Government expect the transfer to take place later this year.

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Restaurant Service and Cover Charges

The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take on restaurant service and cover charges following consideration of the Restaurants (Service and Cover Charges) Bill [H.L.].

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): My Lords, the Government intend to review the Code of Practice for Traders on Price Indications in its entirety, including that part which is concerned with service charges, and to revise it as appropriate in the light of consultations with all interested parties.

DSS: Male/Female Staff Ratio

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish on 14th May (H.L. Deb., col. 392) stating that 67 per cent. of the staff of the Department of Social Security are women, whether they have received any communication from the Equal Opportunities Commission concerning the low proportion of men employed by the department.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The department has not received any such communication.

Habitual Residence Test

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish's Written Answer of 15th May (WA 62) on the habitual residence test saying that "there is no firm evidence to suggest that it is being applied unequally", whether the lack of evidence is a cause or a consequence of their refusal to collect information on the ethnic background of those subjected to the test.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Neither. The Benefits Agency is committed to administering benefits in a non-discriminatory manner.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish's Written Answer of 16th May (WA 66), saying that the information on the percentage of refusals of benefit under the habitual residence test which are reversed on appeal is not available, how they monitor the application of the test in the absence of this information.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The application of the habitual residence test is monitored by reference to the number of claimants who pass or fail the test. It is not practicable for the Independent Tribunal Service separately to identify habitual residence test appeals within the generality of appeal cases.

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Wheelclamping on Private Land

Lord Finsberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date they issued the consultation document on wheelclamping; on what date replies were to be received; and what action they now propose to take.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The consultation paper Wheelclamping on Private Land was published on 23rd February 1993, with a request for responses by 31st May 1993. The consultation exercise produced a great deal of useful information but no consensus as to a solution. We are considering what action, if any, should be taken to regulate this activity.

NHS Patient's Charter Standards: Report

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their Answer of 11th December 1995 (HL Deb., col. 1093), when the results of the survey into local policies, standards and design of wards in connection with the revised Citizen's Charter are likely to be published and whether they will include a progress report relating to the phasing out of mixed sex wards in NHS hospitals.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The report will be issued shortly. The Patient's Charter standards state that except in emergencies patients have a right to be told before they enter hospital whether or not it is planned to care for them in a single sex ward. If their preference is for single sex accommodation, this will be respected wherever possible. In all cases, patients can expect single sex washing and toilet facilities. The report will summarise performance relating to these standards in the hospitals surveyed.

Drug Rehabilitation Projects:Residential Care Costs

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the average per capita cost to public funds of a place in a residential drug rehabilitation project.

Baroness Cumberlege: This information is not held centrally.

The Effectiveness Review Task Force report, published on 1st May, found that residential rehabilitation programmes can confer benefits on both drug misusers and the wider community. The report, a copy of which is available in the Library, has made recommendations for developing these programmes. The department will be issuing guidance based on this report to health and local authorities later this summer.

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Prisons: Funding for HIV Prevention

Lord Kilmarnock asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether prison establishments are eligible to bid for ring-fenced HIV prevention money for health promotion work in prisons, and, if so, what procedure they should follow.

Baroness Cumberlege: Health authorities are allocated ring-fenced funds for locally targeted prevention and education initiatives to help curb the spread of HIV. In carrying out their needs assessment, health authorities are expected to liaise with other agencies in their areas, including those working with people in custody or care of the criminal justice services, to help identify local priorities for HIV health promotion work. District HIV Prevention Co-ordinators, or their equivalents, are the focal point for applications for funding prison HIV health promotion work, recognising that it is for health authorities to determine how to spend the funds available.

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