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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Government have agreed exceptionally to allow the limited supply of nine anti-riot vehicles for use by the Argentine contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. The Argentine Army have given assurances that the vehicles will not be used for other purposes. This is an exception to, but not a change of, policy on the supply of military-related equipment to Argentina.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Our manifesto commits us to take proper ministerial responsibility for the Prison Service. As an early step, my right honourable friend proposes that in future all Questions about the Prison Service for England and Wales should be answered by a Home Office Minister, and not by the Director General or other senior Prison Service officials.
This change will put right what many in Parliament have long regarded as a bad practice. My right honourable friend regards it as essential that Ministers should answer personally to Parliament for what is done in our prisons and not leave it to their civil servants.
This is no reflection on the Director General, Mr. Richard Tilt, who has my right honourable friend's full support. It has no implications for the Prison Service's status as an executive agency of the Home Office or for other agencies, including the Scottish and Northern Ireland Prison Services, which are the responsibility of my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.
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