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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced in another place on 16 May 1997 that he has made a declaration under the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996 that the former Zaire had undergone such an upheaval that we would not seek to enforce the return of refused asylum seekers to that country for the time being.
The new government of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been in power for a year. The situation in the country has been carefully monitored and there have been consultations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with other European partners. Information has also been obtained from a range of sources, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Although there is conflict in the east of the country, security conditions in Kinshasa and in western areas of the DRC have been relatively stable for some months.
The information received about conditions in the DRC enables us to make an informed assessment of the merits of asylum applications made prior to the upheaval and subsequently, in accordance with our international obligations. The Home Office will review all outstanding claims, including those which have previously been refused and are awaiting appeal hearings. Individuals whose claims have already been refused and determined by the independent Immigration Appellate Authority and who are either liable to removal or are awaiting further consideration will be able to submit fresh applications for consideration, which, if refused, will attract a fresh right of appeal. If an applicant is able to demonstrate that his fear of persecution is well founded, then asylum will be granted. Also, consideration will be given where there are exceptional and compelling humanitarian reasons for not enforcing return. If asylum or exceptional treatment is not merited, the normal course will be to expect applicants to return to the DRC. We will continue to monitor developments in the region.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: As far as I am aware, all work being carried out at Huntingdon Life Sciences and which falls under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 has appropriate licence authorities. We are not aware of any breaches of the 1986 Act or of the Protection of Animals Act 1911.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My officials have not been able to trace any papers for the Speaker's Conference of 1916-17, but are continuing to search. Some Home Office files containing a limited number of papers from the Speaker's Conference of 1929-30 are in the Public Record Office.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Acting on advice from the Metropolitan Police Special Branch, the Royal Parks Police decided to close a small part of the Serpentine road to pedestrians during the events of Cavalry Sunday on 10 May. This was in response to the perceived potential threat to the mainland from those who remain wedded to violence and opposed to the Peace Process.
Why, further to the letter dated 5 May from the Scottish Office, Home Department, Police Division, to Mr. T. McCarthy, the Secretary to the Scottish Pistol Association, regarding consultation on matters
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Home Office commenced consultation on the revision of the firearms forms on 5 December 1997. In accordance with established practice, the Home Office consulted bodies representing shooting sports in Great Britain as a whole. Consultation between branches and affiliates of those bodies in England, Wales and Scotland is principally a matter for the bodies themselves.
Consultation on the forms formally concluded on Thursday 5 May. The Scottish Home Department informed the Home Office on that day that the Scottish Pistol Association wished to be included in future consultation exercises. This has been noted for future reference, but until then we had not received any suggestion that any specific Scottish group wished to be consulted independently of the Great Britain organisations.
What assurances an applicant for a firearm or shotgun certificate will have that enquiring police officers or police civilians have a satisfactory understanding of the medical facts presented to them, if the proposals made by the Home Office Operational Police Policy Unit are adopted to require future applications to disclose to the police "any medical condition" or "disability" the applicants have or may have had; what safeguards the Government propose to build into these proposals; and whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the advice they have received from the British Medical Association and other professional medical bodies.[HL1883]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government recognise that the illegal importation of duty paid diesel fuel across the border into Northern Ireland for resale is a serious problem which disadvantages legitimate traders. HM Customs are taking the lead, acting in conjunction with other authorities including the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in deploying resources and actively mounting investigations against those involved to counter the threat posed to the revenue and to the Northern Ireland business community. Wherever possible, cases are progressed with a view to criminal prosecution of the individuals concerned.
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