Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: In the opinion of the Secretary of State, the employer agreement constitutes a binding and enforceable contract between the employer and the Secretary of State. Under that agreement the employer undertakes, among other things, to take the New Deal employee into Class 1 employment. As a consequence, the employee should benefit from a directly enforceable contract of employment containing the terms of his or her relationship, including pay. Irrespective of this, however, it is the intention of the Secretary of State to see that employers keep their side of the bargain reflected in the employer agreement by monitoring and, where necessary, enforcement.

The New Deal employee can inform the Employment Service of any concerns that the agreement is not being met through a confidential telephone hotline, or through confidential discussion with his or her ES New Deal personal adviser. As an employee in the eyes of the law, a New Deal employee will have the same employment protection, and the same capacity, where a period of continuous service is a prerequisite of such protection, to earn employment protection as any other member of the employer's workforce.

Where the employer is in breach of the terms and conditions of the employer agreement, the Employment Service can take any or all of the following actions, depending on the circumstances:

Tax Return Penalty Notices Issued in Error

Lord Chesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have erroneously been fined £100 for not having completed returns or paid tax due by 31 January when their cheques have been banked by the Inland Revenue prior to that date.[HL1494]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The intention is that nobody should be erroneously fined. A penalty is incurred if a tax return is not received by the due date.

30 Apr 1998 : Column WA38

If a penalty notice was incorrectly issued, the penalty will be reduced to nil on appeal by the taxpayer. A leaflet explaining this, together with an appeal form, is enclosed with every penalty notice.

War Crimes in Former Yugoslavia: Detention and Trial of Accused

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they continue to support international efforts to bring to justice those responsible for crimes committed in support of Serbian political objectives during the recent wars in the former Yugoslavia.[HL1595]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Yes. We are determined that all those indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should be tried in The Hague. The detention on 8 April of two indictees by British SFOR troops in Prijedor reaffirms the high priority we attach to achieving this aim.

Her Majesty's Government fully support the work of ICTY. The UK has committed substantial resources to the tribunal to this end: in addition to our assessed contribution of £720,000 in 1997, we are funding the construction of an interim courtroom at a cost of £300,000. We have also supplied a substantial amount of information and are currently seconding eight personnel to the tribunal. We are also contributing £1.22 million towards the tribunal's 1998 exhumation programme.

Human Rights: Annual Report

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In which countries British diplomatic missions have tried to send officials to visit political prisoners, or to attend allegedly political trials, since 1 May 1997; what criteria are applied in making decisions on these matters; and whether they will clarify their policy in the forthcoming annual report of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on human rights.[HL1571]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Decisions to attend trials or, where practicable, have contact with prisoners are made case by case, taking into account the interests of the individual concerned and whether attendance at a trial might lend it unwarranted credibility. We keep no central record of such visits. The first published annual human rights report was published on 21 April. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House of Lords.

Israel: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Prime Minister made any proposal to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Arafat about

30 Apr 1998 : Column WA39

    the use of administrative detention and torture in their jurisdictions, during his visit of 19-20 April; and whether these matters are included in the agenda for the London talks on 4 May.[HL1572]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Prime Minister did not raise these issues on his recent visit to the Middle East. But they are regularly raised with both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian authorities during the course of our bilateral contacts. The purpose of the meetings in London on 4 May is to take forward proposals for next steps in the peace process, not to discuss administrative detention and torture.

Maritime Affairs: Ministerial Responsibility

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Minister is now responsible for co-ordinating the conduct of maritime affairs, as regards domestic policy, intra-European Union policy and global policy.[HL1612]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): My right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions is responsible for the co-ordination of UK government policy on the marine environment and shipping. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is responsible for the co-ordination of fisheries policy. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is responsible for the co-ordination of some specific areas of global maritime affairs, including the Law of the Sea.

A.12, Witham: Advertisement Hoardings

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what authority the hedge screening planted on land owned by the Department of Transport on the north side of Witham bypass on the A.12 trunk road has been cut down to expose the advertising hoardings erected on land belonging to the Braintree District Council, for which hoardings the Braintree District Council gave planning consent in June 1995; whether the removal of such screening is in accordance with their policy to protect and enhance the countryside; and, if it is not, whether they will ensure that the screening will now be allowed to grow back to its full height.[HL1626]

Baroness Hayman: The hedge along the A.12 frontage is planted on land outside the highway boundary. It is the responsibility of the owner of the land on which the advertising signs stand, and therefore the concern of that landowner. While there is some evidence of earlier unauthorised trimming of shrubs planted within the highway verge, there is no permanent damage and regrowth is satisfactory. The Highways Agency would

30 Apr 1998 : Column WA40

not permit interference with landscaping on the trunk road to improve the visibility of advertising signs on adjacent land.

Gypsy Site Provision

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the findings of the Advisory Committee on the Education of Romanies and Other Travellers in their report A Directory of Planning for Gypsy Site Provisions in England, they believe that the policies set out in Circular 1/94 have been successful in promoting uniformity of criteria for gypsy site provision.[HL1600]

Baroness Hayman: The research reveals a disappointing response to Circular 1/94 by local planning authorities. Whilst many have adopted sensible policies for gypsy sites in their Development Plans, a number either have no policies or contain policies which fail to guide applicants towards those locations where planning permission is more likely to be granted. My honourable friend the Minister for London and Construction has discussed the issue with gypsy representatives and my department will be writing to all local planning authorities about the matter.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the findings of the Advisory Committee on the Education of Romany and other Travellers in their report A Directory of Planning Policies for Gypsy Site Provision in England, they believe that Circular 1/94 and the repeal of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 have stimulated the granting of additional planning permission; and, if not, whether they have made any estimates of the probable increase in the number of caravans on unauthorised sites over the next five years arising from the loss of further contributions to the provision of accommodation by local authorities.[HL1601]

Baroness Hayman: My department welcomes the research already done by the Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers (ACERT) on Circular 1/94, to which I refer in my reply to the noble Lord's separate question on this issue, and their current project to assess the success rate of gypsy planning applications and appeals. Their work, which is being part-funded by my department, is making an important contribution to our thinking on policy affecting gypsies and other travellers.

The biannual count of gypsy caravans provides my department, and local authorities, with valuable information about the levels of unauthorised camping. The figures show a steady rise in the numbers of caravans on authorised, privately owned sites, but there is no room for complacency and a number of local planning authorities still have work to do to bring their policies in line with Circular 1/94.

30 Apr 1998 : Column WA41

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page