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10 Jul 1996 : Column WA19

Written Answers

Wednesday, 10th July 1996.

BBC World Service: Restructuring

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why there appears to have been no consultation with either staff in England or representatives of listeners overseas, prior to the announcement of restructuring plans for the BBC World Service.

The Minster of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office received assurances from the BBC that the quality of World Service programmes will be unaffected by the proposed new arrangements, that clear separation between the grant-in-aid funded World Service and the BBC's other activities will be maintained, and that we shall be fully consulted on the implications of the restructuring proposals for the World Service.

South-East Turkey:Protection of Non-combatants

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise with the United Nations Security Council the matter of Turkish military attacks into North Iraq, and in particular the attack on Mezi in June, in which 44 persons are said to have been killed; and if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have no present plans to do so. The Turkish authorities are well aware of our concern that they should respect the safety and well-being of non-combatants in their efforts to fight terrorism in the south-east of Turkey.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to investigate the reported destruction and clearance of 2,685 villages and towns in east and south-east Turkey by state security forces; the displacement of between two and three million persons and their subsequent treatment; and if not, why not.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have no present plans to do so. We take regular opportunities to remind the Turkish authorities of our concern that they should respect the safety and well-being of non-combatants in their approach to the conflict in the south-east of Turkey.

Turkey: Mr Abdullah Yildrim

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have concerning Mr. Abdullah Yildrim, who was captured by the Turkish armed forces some six months ago, and who is

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    alleged to have been tortured in custody in Dersim over 25 days and to have lost one eye and suffered fractures of his hand, fingers and ribs, and since to have been held in solitary confinement in Eltistan prison for 115 days; and whether, if the allegations appear well-founded, they will make representations to the Turkish government.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have at present no further information on Mr. Yildrim, but will seek more details from the Turkish authorities.

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their examination of the issues which have so far held up accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will be completed by the end of July and whether they intend to accede to the convention before the summer Recess.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: As I explained in my Answer of 20th June, the timing of accession by the UK to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea remains under review. Parliament will be informed as soon as the Government have taken a decision. I would not expect a decision to be taken before the end of July.

Turkey: Security Agreement with Israel

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as a NATO ally and as a would-be Associate member of the European Union, the Government (or the Armed Forces) of Turkey have informed them of the character and content of Turkey's new security agreement with Israel: and if so whether obligations arising from the agreement are fully compatible with NATO membership and with European Union interests and responsibilities in the Middle East.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have had a number of discussions with Turkish representatives on the agreement between Israel and Turkey. We are satisfied that it is consistent with Turkey's membership of NATO and its association with the European Union.

EU and NATO Enlargement: Costs

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are sufficient financial resources available to the relevant governments to meet the costs of the enlargement of the European Union, of NATO or of both; and

    Whether the costs of enlargement of the European Union or of NATO have not yet been estimated.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: It is impossible to predict accurately what the exact costs of NATO and EU enlargement will be until we know who will join,

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when, and on what terms. The terms for NATO and EU enlargement will take account of the differing characteristics of the two organisations, including the different financial consequences of enlargement.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the distribution of the costs of the enlargement of the European Union or of NATO among their members and potential members has not been considered.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The distribution of the costs of NATO and EU enlargement will be considered when it impossible to predict those costs more accurately.

Asylum Cases: Statistics

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum cases have been returned to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal for rehearing after judicial review in each of the last three years.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The information requested is as follows:


    1993 (July-December) : 2


    1994 : 16


    1995 : 35

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many asylum appeal cases have been remitted by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal to the adjudicator for hearing de novo in each of the last three years.

The Lord Chancellor: The Immigration Appeal Tribunal does not keep a separate record of cases to be heard de novo when recording remitted appeals. The total number of remittals in each of the last three calendar years is as follows:


    1993 (July-December) : 10


    1994 : 205


    1995 : 254

Immigration Appeals

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cases of appeals to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal have been adjourned because of an inability to meet the date of the hearing on the part of (i) the appellate authority; (ii) the Home Office, and (iii) the appellants or their representatives in each of the past three years, and what is the estimated cost of these delays to the Lord Chancellor's Department and to the Home Office.

The Lord Chancellor: The information is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

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Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What savings they estimate would accrue to the Legal Aid Fund if they entered into a franchising agreement with an accreditation scheme with the Law Society for legal representation to the Immigration Appellate Authority.

The Lord Chancellor: No estimates have been made for such a proposal.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the Green Form legal aid expenditure for advice without representation at appeals to the adjudicator or to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal for each year since 1990.

The Lord Chancellor: The Green Form scheme provides for legal advice and assistance, but not for representation. Separate records are not kept for Green Form payments for advice relating to appeals to the adjudicator or to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. The net totals paid out for Green Form advice and assistance on immigration and nationality matters generally since 1990 are as follows:

YearClaimsTotal paid £'000
1990-9114,6602,653
1991-9223,5565,018
1992-9330,4437,248
1993-9445,49311,295
1994-9551,82814,572
1995-9666,11323,929

Rent Arrears: Civil Legal Aid

Lord Chapple asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether legal aid may be awarded to defendants being prosecuted for rent arrears.

The Lord Chancellor: Civil legal aid is available for most proceedings before the courts of England and Wales, subject to tests of the applicant's means and of the merits of his or her case. It is not, however, generally available to a defendant where a debt is not disputed and the only question in issue is the time and mode of its payment.

Lord Chapple asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any cases outstanding where legal aid has been awarded to defendants being prosecuted for rent arrears: and if so, what is the average cost to the taxpayer of each such case.

The Lord Chancellor: Separate records are not kept in respect of actions which include a claim for rent arrears. The average cost to the legal aid fund of certificates paid in 1995-96 in respect of all landlord and tenant disputes was £1,128 per certificate.

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