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Sierra Leone: Support to ECOMOG

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Common Position defined by the Council of the European Union on 20 November as set out by the noble Lord is in fact 95/515/CFSP (copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House).

This Common Position will be taken fully into account in any support we may provide for ECOMOG in Sierra Leone. We and other EU member states have made similar contributions to ECOMOG in Liberia despite a parallel EU arms embargo. We have, however, imposed conditions on the use of our funds to ensure that any equipment supplied to ECOMOG in Sierra Leone could not be misappropriated by any party, including the Nigerian military. These include a stipulation that any such equipment must not leave Sierra Leone. UN Military Observers on the ground can monitor this. There is no question of providing arms; we are looking to give logistic support to ECOMOG.

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Fissile Materials: Proposed Treaty

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made with the proposed treaty to ban production of such fissile materials as plutonium and uranium; and whether they will support the inclusion in the treaty of the banning of trigger materials such as tritium.[HL2419]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government continue to press for the early start to negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices on the basis of the mandate agreed in 1995. Negotiations have not yet started due to the insistence by some non-aligned states on linking this with other issues.

Tritium is not a fissile material and the Government do not support its inclusion in a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Immigration and Nationality Directorate: Complaints Report

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received the annual report for 1997 of the Complaints Audit Committee of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.[HL2572]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): A copy of the report has been placed in the Library. It is a wide-ranging and informative document and we are grateful to the committee for its comments and its recommendation. The committee's comments about asylum interviewing are being brought to the attention of staff, and interview training will be reviewed in the light of the recommendation.

Prison Population Data

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the prison population of England and Wales on 31 May; and by how much had it risen or fallen since:

    (a) the end of the previous month;

    (b) 12 months previously; and

    (c) the end of 1992.[HL2411]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The prison population in England and Wales was 65,227 on 31 May 1998. This figure was 280 below the population on 30 April 1998 (65,507) but 4,892 above that for 31 May 1997 (60,335) and 24,621 above the figure for 31 December 1992 (40,606).

Information on the prison population at the end of each month is published in Prison Statistics England and Wales and in Home Office Statistical Bulletin The prison population in 1997. Copies of these are in the Library.

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Boards of Visitors: Chairmen and Vice Chairmen

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answers by the Baroness Blatch on 11 December 1996 (HL Deb, cols. 1077-1078), whether it remains the policy of the present Government that Ministers of the Crown should appoint the chairmen and vice chairmen of the Boards of Visitors of prisons in England and Wales; and if so, whether it will now be reviewed.[HL2381]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It does; all boards have been requested to hold secret ballots at their October board meetings to elect members for the posts of chairman and vice chairman. Details of the elections and the nominees for the posts will be sent to the Director's secretariat by the end of October. The secretariat will then prepare and forward submissions to the Minister of State to consider appointing the nominees to the posts of chairman and vice chairman, with effect from 1 January 1999. There are presently no plans to review this particular policy.

"Campsfield Five": Removal from UK

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the fact that the "Campsfield Five" have been detained in custody for 10 months on charges of riot and violent disorder, on which the prosecution presented no evidence and of which they were acquitted on 17 June, they will grant the applicants temporary admission pending the further consideration of their cases by legal advisers.[HL2418]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The trial interrupted arrangements for the removal of those who had no claim to remain in the United Kingdom. As the trial has been concluded, arrangements will proceed for the removal of those who have no claim to remain here. It would not be appropriate to make preferential arrangements for the five who were acquitted on 17 June but who then remained in detention under Immigration Act, 1971 powers, when the cases of others who were present at Campsfield House on 20 August 1997 but who were not prosecuted, have since followed the normal, established procedures. However, one of the five concerned was given bail on 26 June and another has a bail hearing listed for 2 July. Those remaining in detention enjoy the same full access to legal advice as all other immigration detainees.

Alcohol Abuse by Children

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence they have received about alcohol consumption by children between the ages of 8 and 18, and in particular about rates of increase over the last five years; and whether they have introduced any

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    new measures to combat alcohol abuse by children since they came into office.[HL2391]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Information on alcohol consumption by children aged 8-18 is not available centrally. The following tables show the weekly alcohol consumption (in units) of school children aged 11-15 in England and people aged 16-17 in Great Britain.

Table 1: Alcohol consumption in the seven days preceding survey (in units) by children aged 11-15, 1992-1996, England
Percentages and units

under 1 unit2%2%2%
1-1.75 units2%3%3%
2-3.75 units4%4%5%
4-5.75 units2%2%3%
6-9.75 units4%4%4%
10-14.75 units1%2%2%
15 or more units2%2%4%
Mean (per person)
Mean (per drinker)


Office for National Statistics, Young teenagers and alcohol in 1996: England.

Table 2: Usual alcohol consumption level and mean weekly alcohol consumption (in units) of men and women aged 16 and 17: 1992-1996, Great Britain

under 1 unit19%15%13%
1-10 units43%41%38%
11-21 units12%14%17%
22-35 units6%6%11%
36-50 units3%1%4%
51+ units2%4%5%
under 1 unit21%22%24%
1-7 units47%38%32%
8-14 units9%13%18%
15-25 units7%7%9%
26-35 units1%3%3%
36+ units1%2%3%


Office for National Statistics, General Household Surveys 1992-1996.

(The standard definition of a unit of alcohol is that which contains 8 grammes of ethanol. One unit is the amount of alcohol contained in half a pint of normal strength beer, a small glass of wine, a single measure of spirits, or a small glass of fortified wine.)

The Government have set up a Ministerial Group to look at alcohol misuse by children. The group issued a statement last July, copies of which are available in the

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Library, which sets out the action which it expects the drinks industry to take in order to tackle the problem. The group will review the industry's progress in the autumn.

To reinforce the industry's efforts, the Home Office have brought into force the Confiscation of Alcohol Act and will be legislating to prevent adults buying alcohol on behalf of unsupervised children and to clarify the law on the use of children in test purchases of alcohol.

Additionally, this week my honourable friend the Minister for Public Health launched the Health Education Authority's new Parents' Guide to Drugs and Alcohol, which will be very useful in empowering parents to make an effective contribution in preventing their children from misusing alcohol and taking drugs. Copies of the guide will be placed in the Library.

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