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Crime and Disorder Bill Provisions: Monitoring

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Following their implementation, the effect of the various provisions of the Bill will be monitored through the regular collection of criminal justice statistics, special data collections and research exercises. The precise method of monitoring will vary according to the nature of the provision. The Bill permits a number of its provisions to be piloted. These pilots will be carefully evaluated to assist in the full implementation of the relevant provision.

Electronic Monitoring: Pilot Projects

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The pilot projects started on 2 January 1998 in Norfolk and in Manchester City Magistrates' Court. The remaining courts in Greater Manchester will be included in the pilot scheme from 1 April 1998. The trials of electronic monitoring as a condition of bail will begin in Norwich Magistrates' Court and Norwich Crown Court on 1 April 1998 and in Manchester City Magistrates' Court and Manchester Crown Court on 1 July 1998.

British Citizenship Application Refusals: Publication of Reasons

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes. This Government believe in greater openness in public administration, as we showed when we published the White Paper on the Freedom of Information Act on 11 December 1997. This openness is especially necessary where our decisions affect the rights of individuals. We have long been

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unhappy with the practice of not giving reasons when refusing some applications for British citizenship, and relying upon Section 44(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 as the authority for not doing so. Since taking office in May, we have considered this matter in considerable detail. My right honourable friend is required to give reasons in a wide range of immigration cases and he can see no persuasive argument why his decisions involving the refusal of British citizenship should not similarly be open to public scrutiny. He has therefore decided as a matter of principle that henceforth reasons should be given in such cases.

One immediate consequence of this decision concerns the appeal to the House of Lords from the Court of Appeal in the cases of R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Mohamed Abdel Moneim Fayed and ex parte Ali Fayed regarding the application of Section 44(2) of the 1981 Act. My right honourable friend instructed the Treasury Solicitor on 22 December 1997 that these appeals should be withdrawn. The effect of this is that the judgment of the Court of Appeal quashing the decisions made in 1995 to refuse these two applications now stands.

It will now fall to my right honourable friend to decide the applications on Mohamed and Ali Fayed, on their merits, and he cannot comment upon them further at this stage. He also makes clear that, in reaching the decision on principle that reasons should be given in citizenship cases, he has not considered any of the original papers in the Fayeds' application.

Asylum Applications: European Union

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose to other member states of the European Union amendment of the rules for determining the country in which an asylum application should be considered, so that an individual's total family and cultural affiliations with his or her community in a country would be taken into consideration on a discretionary basis, if the asylum-seeker wishes to settle in a country other than that of first asylum.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Dublin Convention, which determines which member state is responsible for asylum applications made in the European Union, already provides for member states to take account of family and cultural affiliations. Under Article 3(4) member states have full discretion, subject to the agreement of the applicant, to examine asylum applications that are not their responsibility under the criteria defined in the convention. Article 9 also specifically provides that member states may, for humanitarian reasons, based in particular on family or cultural grounds, examine applications for asylum at the request of another member state even when it is not responsible under the criteria in the convention.

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Asylum Applications: OSCE

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe that, as a condition of membership of the organisation, states should agree not to adopt any geographical limitation on the applications for asylum they will consider.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Applicants to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe will continue to be considered on the basis of their willingness to comply with the principles as set out in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. We have no plans to recommend additional principles in this area.

Firearms Incidents

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer given by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 9 December (WA 14), what information in relation to firearms incidents in: (a) each division of the London Metropolitan Police area; and (b) the whole London Metropolitan Police area, was provided by officers of the Metropolitan Police to television journalists, for the production of two television news programmes in November.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The question of what information is given out by members of the Metropolitan Police is a matter for the commissioner. I understand that in recent months a range of information has been provided in relation to firearms incidents but that details regarding contact between individual divisions or officers and the media is not readily available.

Taxi Licensing: Criminal Records Checks

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When consultations between the Home Office and local licensing authorities on the availability of criminal records to authorities during licensing of taxis and hire cars will be completed; and whether, when making decisions following consultations, they will make it their priority to safeguard the travelling public.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government are currently reviewing the provisions relating to criminal records checks in Part V of the Police Act 1997. Our top priority in doing so is the protection of children and other vulnerable people. The local licensing authorities have given us their views on a number of occasions and they will be taken fully into account during the course of this review.

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Under-age Sexual Intercourse

Lord Ashbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) how many men were prosecuted in 1995 under Sections 5, 6 or 28 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, for sexual intercourse with girls under the age of 16 years; and (b) how many girls under that age were provided with contraceptives by government-funded family planning clinics, in the same year.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Information at (a) on prosecutions in England and Wales under Sections 5, 6 and 28 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 is given in the table.

Number of males prosecuted for offences under Sections 5, 6 and 28 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956
England and Wales, 1995

OffencesDescriptionTotal prosecutions
Sec 5Unlawful sexual intercourse with girl under 1377
Sec 6Unlawful sexual intercourse with girl under 16195
Sec 28Person responsible for girl under 16 causing or encouraging prostitution etc.--

Information at (b) is not available in the format requested. However, the total number of female first contacts aged under 16 at National Health Service family planning clinics in England for contraceptive advice in 1995-96 was 51,400.

Isle of Man and Channel Islands: Human Rights Provisions

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

    Whether they consider that they have international obligations to: (a) secure rights under the European Convention on Human Rights; and (b) provide effective remedies for breaches of those rights, for everyone within the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; and if so, what steps have been taken by the Government to give effect to those obligations.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The obligation on Her Majesty's Government is to ensure that the Crown Dependencies comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. All Channel Islands Laws and Isle of Man Acts are scrutinised to ensure that they comply with this and other international obligations.

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

    Whether the courts of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands respectively have given effect to the European Convention on Human Rights in their decisions; and if so, in which cases this has been done.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The convention has not been incorporated into domestic law in the Crown

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Dependencies. It is applied by the Island courts only in limited circumstances, as is presently the case in the United Kingdom.


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