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Prison Service Staff of Afro-Caribbean Origin

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

Lord Williams of Mostyn: As an equal opportunities employer, the Prison Service is committed to increasing the numbers of ethnic minority staff which it employs at all levels, consistent with fair and open competition and with recruitment and promotion on merit. Measures taken include the following:


In August 1997, the Home Secretary established a monitoring group on the position of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office with the following terms of reference: "To examine the position of ethnic minority staff in the Home Office, the measures taken to ensure their full representation and employment and to reduce real and perceived disadvantage and to make further proposals for action". The Prisons Board is fully committed to the monitoring group and is carrying out a comprehensive review in the Prison Service. This will lead to the development of a racial equality action plan which will recommend further measures to stimulate the recruitment of staff from ethnic minorities.

European Convention on Human Rights: Family Law Legislation

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 April (WA 197), when they intend to introduce legislation to amend rules of family law in England and Wales so as to enable them to ratify Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL1650]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: We intend to legislate to amend these rules of family law as soon as a suitable opportunity occurs.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have made any response to the speech by the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka at Chatham House on 15 April, in which he said that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorists were organising and funding their campaign of violence in Sri Lanka from London.[HL1653]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No. The Sri Lankan Government is aware that we attach the highest priority to countering any activity in the United Kingdom by international terrorists and their supporters. Where there is credible evidence that organisations or individuals are involved in terrorism, action is taken. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced last year the Government's intention to publish a consultation paper on the future of the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism legislation. This will include proposals to increase powers to deal with fund-raising by terrorists. The Government also intend to bring forward legislation which will make it illegal to conspire in this country to commit terrorists acts abroad.

Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law, 1965-68: Minutes of Evidence

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, if the copies of the Minutes of Evidence of the Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law of 1965-68 in official hands have all been mislaid, they will enquire of any surviving Members or the heirs of Members, whether they still retain a copy, so that the official record can be reconstituted.[HL 1654]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: A copy of these papers is held by the Speaker's Office and by the Home Office. Successive Speakers have directed that the unpublished papers of Speaker's Conferences should be publicly available only on the expiry of 50 years and then subject to the consent of the Speaker in office in respect of each application for access to them.

Belfast Agreement: Release of Prisoners

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Upon what powers they intend to rely to release certain categories of terrorist criminals before the expiry of their minimum sentences in accordance with the recent agreement on Northern Ireland.[HL 1575]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): If the Belfast Agreement is endorsed in referenda to be held on 22 May, the Government would intend to bring forward

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new legislation to give effect to the commitments entered into in relation to prisoners which form part of that agreement.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they expect to undertake any consultation with the victims or families of victims of the terrorists to whom they propose to grant amnesty in accordance with the recent agreement on Northern Ireland.[HL1577]

Lord Dubs: The Government do not intend to grant amnesty to those prisoners released as a consequence of the Belfast Agreement. Prisoners who are released will continue to serve their sentences on licence in the community and will be recalled should they breach the terms of their licence. The Government do not intend to consult victims or their families on those parts of the agreement relating to prisoners. The agreement in its entirety will be put to the peoples of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has previously commissioned a report and recommendations from Sir Kenneth Bloomfield on taking forward recognition of victims of violence. Sir Kenneth's report will be published on 13 May.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will define the word "paramilitary" as they use it in connection with terrorism in Northern Ireland; and in what respects they differentiate between terrorist and paramilitary criminal acts in Northern Ireland.[HL1578]

Lord Dubs: Terrorism is defined in Section 20 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act as "the use of violence for political ends and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public, or any section of the public in fear". The word "paramilitary" is not defined in legislation. In the Northern Ireland context, however, it is widely used to describe acts, including terrorist acts, committed by members of terrorist organisations.

The Government do not differentiate between terrorist and paramilitary acts in Northern Ireland.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the process, criteria and reasoning by which they intend to differentiate between crimes motivated by political considerations

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    and those not so motivated in implementing the recent agreement on Northern Ireland.[HL1580]

Lord Dubs: The paper referred to in my Statement to Parliament of 20 April and placed in the Library of the House on that day set out how the commitments in the Belfast Agreement in relation to prisoners would be implemented. Under the proposed arrangements, prisoners who qualify to be considered will be prisoners convicted in Northern Ireland of scheduled offences and sentenced to life imprisonment or to fixed sentences of five years or more as well as transferred prisoners serving sentences for similar offences committed in Great Britain.

Non-competitive Government Contracts: Profit Formula

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decision they have made on the report by the Review Board for Government Contracts on its 1998 Annual Review of the Profit Formula for Non-competitive Government Contracts.[HL1773]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Government have accepted the overall target rate of return on capital employed as recommended by the Review Board in its report. The new rate will be 22.2 per cent. compared with the current rate of 20.95 per cent., both on the basis of historic costs. It will become effective immediately. The report has been printed and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Scottish Wind Power Schemes

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many megawatts of electricity will be produced by ScottishPower's proposed wind power schemes near Carradale in Kintyre.[HL1614]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The two wind farms operated by ScottishPower, sited at Beinn an Tuirc and Cnoc Donn Arnicle to the west of Carradale, have a combined nominal capacity of 30 megawatts (MW) and a combined Declared Net Capacity (DNC) of 12.78 MW.

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