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Railways: Removal of Staff

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The removal of staff, and whether this presents an increased risk to the public, has to be considered on the basis of individual circumstances: in some cases it might represent an increased risk, in others not. Inspections by the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) Railway Inspectorate ensure that safety related to train or station operation is maintained. Under the Railway Safety Case Regulations 1994, arrangements for operations must be set out in a train operator's railway safety case. These cases, and any subsequent revisions, have to be accepted by the Infrastructure Controller or by HSE before operations can start or revised operations can recommence. Reductions in staffing levels would require an amendment to a safety case where this might have an effect on safety associated with train or station operation. HSE monitors compliance with the regulations and will take whatever action it considers appropriate (including enforcement action, if necessary) to ensure that safety is not compromised.

London City Airport: Underground Rail Link

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The 1989 East London Rail Study, commissioned by the then Department of Transport and which led to the decision to develop the extension of the Jubilee Line, examined two main alignment options in east London. The first was a route to Woolwich Arsenal via the Royal Docks and the second a route to Stratford via Canning Town. The Stratford route was forecast to attract substantially more passengers than one through the Royal Docks, was cheaper to construct and would link to a future Channel Tunnel Rail Link station.

For the Jubilee Line extension to serve London City airport en route to Canning Town and Stratford would have necessitated a significant detour of the alignment, with substantial additional costs. The decision was taken, therefore, to route the Jubilee Line extension to Stratford. However, the design of North Greenwich station did allow for possible future construction of a Jubilee Line branch to the Royal Docks. In addition, the new Jubilee Line extension transport interchange at Canning Town features an integral bus station which will incorporate facilities for a dedicated shuttle bus link to the airport.

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The Docklands Light Railway, as part of its plans to assist in the regeneration of east London, has developed proposals for an extension to London City airport. The Deputy Prime Minister gave the go-ahead in principle for this extension on 17 June 1998. The agreement in principle is subject to the Secretary of State's consideration of an application for an order which will be made under the Transport and Works Act 1992.

TWH Management Ltd

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the report and recommendations of the Licensed Dealers Tribunal in the matter of TWH Management Ltd. was not disclosed until November 1993 to the inspectors appointed to investigate the affairs of Guinness plc.[HL52]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The report and recommendations of the Licensed Dealers Tribunal in the matter of TWH Management Ltd was received by the department after the inspectors had completed their interim report into the affairs of Guinness plc. It appears that no consideration was given at that time to disclosing the tribunal's report to the inspectors, whose investigation was then in abeyance.

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now institute an inquiry into the conduct of Department of Trade and Industry officials in connection with their failure to disclose the report and recommendations of the Licensed Dealers Tribunal in the matter of TWH Management Ltd to the inspectors appointed to investigate the affairs of Guinness plc, in order to establish whether this failure to disclose was lawful under the Companies Act 1985.[HL53]

Lord Simon of Highbury: No.

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why no mention is made of the report and recommendations in the matter of TWH Management Ltd in the final report of the inspectors appointed to investigate the affairs of Guinness plc, and whether pressure was placed on the inspectors to ignore this judgment in their report.[HL54]

Lord Simon of Highbury: The content of such a report is a matter for the inspectors. They were independent of the department and masters of their own procedure.

The inspectors were made aware of concerns about the confidentiality of the Licensed Dealers Tribunal report, which was in their possession, in relation to the affairs of TWH Management and its clients. On that basis, it was for them to determine whether to refer to it in their own report.

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Corporal Punishment of Children in Crown Dependencies

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether corporal punishment of children;

    (a) in schools;

    (b) in residential institutions for children;

    (c) in the penal system, either as a sentence of the courts or as a punishment in penal institutions;

    is permitted in the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.[HL198]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Schools: in Jersey and Guernsey, corporal punishment is forbidden in schools under the jurisdiction of the states and is not used in independent schools. In the Isle of Man, corporal punishment is forbidden in state schools. It is still lawful, with parental consent, in private schools.

Residential institutions for children: corporal punishment is forbidden in residential institutions for children in all three islands.

The penal system: in Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man, although corporal punishment for some male young persons is still on the statute book for certain offences, it is not imposed as a sentence by the courts. Corporal punishment is not permitted in penal institutions in any of the three islands.

Criminal Records Bureau

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to implement Part V of the Police Act 1997 which provides for criminal record checks for employment vetting and other purposes.[HL313]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In order to implement Part V of the Police Act 1997, we will set up the Criminal Records Bureau. The bureau will be established in Merseyside, under the management of the United Kingdom Passport Agency, which has a proven track record of discreet delivery of a large application driven service. Appropriate use will be made of public private partnerships to contain set up and running costs, but the core work of examining records and issuing certificates will be handled by civil servants within the bureau. Once established it will be self-financing through charging for each certificate to be issued, as provided for under the 1997 Act. All applicants for certificates will be required to pay a fee which, depending on the level of certificate sought, we estimate will cost between £5 and £10.

The Government's main objective in introducing these arrangements is to strengthen the safeguards for the protection of children. In line with this, and to ensure a smooth transition from the current arrangements for employment vetting checks of police records, the bureau will phase in the issue of the three types of certificate provided for under the Act. Top priority will be given

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to the issue of certificates for those seeking positions which involve regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of persons aged under 18. The Government are no less concerned about the need for similar safeguards to protect vulnerable adults; extending these arrangements to this area will require careful consideration and consultation.

We estimate that it will take some two years to establish the bureau. In this time we intend to consult widely on all aspects of the bureau's operation to ensure that it meets the needs of the community.

Home Affairs Council, 3-4 December

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Brussels on 3 and 4 December.[HL314]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Kate Hoey) represented the United Kingdom at the Council. The main matters dealt with were as follows:

    "A" points

    The Council agreed as "A" points, among other things, Europol's work programme for 1999 and measures relating to its staff regulations and budget; a proposal for a joint action on a European image archive system; a strategy on high-tech crime; and a strategy for dealing with terrorism. The Council also adopted a joint action on money laundering and confiscation of proceeds from crime.

    Action plan on an area of freedom, security and justice

    The Presidency's draft action plan on establishing an area of freedom, security and justice received a broad welcome by the Council as providing a valuable blue-print for future co-operation under the new provisions introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam. It was agreed that the plan would be submitted to the General Affairs Council and then to the Vienna European Council. The general principles underlying the action plan were then the subject of an open debate where Ministers placed particular emphasis on carrying forward the fight against organised crime, speedy integration of the Schengen provisions into the EU framework and the importance of taking practical measures which would address the real concerns of EU citizens.

    Report on Drugs

    The Council endorsed the Third Pillar elements of the 1998 draft report on drugs and drug-related issues and agreed that it should be submitted to the General Affairs Council and then to the Vienna European Council. The document outlines activities and achievements in 1998 and gives a progress report on implementation of the joint actions on the approximation of the laws and

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    practices of member states to combat drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking, and on an early warning mechanism on synthetic drugs.

    Report on follow-up to the 1997 action plan on organised crime

    The Council took note of the draft report and agreed to its submission to the Vienna European Council. The draft report reviews progress in implementing the action plan on organised crime which was adopted by the Amsterdam European Council in June 1997. It shows that significant progress has been made, in that all the action points with target dates of end 1998 or earlier have either been completed or are well under way towards completion. On some instruments, however, problems remain with regard to their full implementation.


    The Council reached global agreement, subject to some parliamentary reserves, on the provisions of the draft Eurodac Convention concerning the fingerprinting of asylum seekers. The draft convention will now be "frozen" until the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, when the Commission will bring forward a proposal for a Community legal instrument taking on board the content of the draft convention. The Council agreed that further work should be done on the draft Protocol to the Convention, aimed at extending the taking of fingerprints to illegal immigrants, and asked the relevant competent bodies to finalise the text during the German Presidency.

    Temporary protection and burden-sharing

    The Council had a useful further discussion of the basic principles underlying the draft joint action concerning temporary protection of displaced persons and the draft joint action concerning solidarity in the admission and residence of beneficiaries of the temporary protection of displaced persons. The discussion focused on such questions as whether the two issues should be dealt with together or separately and whether burden-sharing should be on an exclusively financial basis or should also encompass physical distribution among member states of displaced persons. Discussion showed that opinions still diverge on these issues. Consideration of the two draft instruments will continue under the German Presidency.

    Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters

    The Council had a further exchange of views on the provisions relating to interception of telecommunications in the draft Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Discussion centred on possible exceptions which might be permitted to the obligation in the draft convention on one member state to inform another of interceptions it is carrying out on its territory for which it does not require the second state's assistance. Further examination of these questions will take place under the German Presidency.

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    Offence of participation in a criminal organisation

    The Council heard that formal adoption of the draft joint action on making it a criminal offence to participate in a criminal organisation in a member state was not yet possible because of an outstanding Parliamentary scrutiny reservation. Ministers noted that the reservation was expected to be lifted very shortly.

    Corruption in the private sector

    The Council reached political agreement on the draft joint action on corruption in the private sector. The draft joint action, which will be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council session, contains provisions covering, in particular, approximation of national law, liabilities of legal persons and possible penalties and sanctions.

    Prevention of organised crime

    The draft Council resolution on the prevention of organised crime with reference to the establishment of a comprehensive strategy for combating it was adopted without discussion.

    Late Payments Directive

    The Presidency informed the Council about the state of play on the draft Late Payments Directive, drawing Ministers' attention to specific legal questions raised by its provisions. This was in furtherance of an agreement that justice Ministers should be kept informed of developments in other Councils of relevance to them.

    Migration and asylum strategy

    The Council took note of an interim report on the strategy paper which was tabled by the Presidency in July. It asked its competent bodies to continue examination of the paper which will serve as a useful basis for preparing the special European Council on Justice and Home Affairs which will be held in Tampere, Finland, in October 1999.

    Task force on asylum and migration

    The Council considered the Dutch proposal for a cross-pillar task force to draw up analyses of a limited number of countries of origin of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants and to prepare concrete proposals for action to influence or stem migratory flows from those countries. The Council welcomed the proposal and stressed the need for the task force to complete its work in time for the special European Council on Justice and Home Affairs in October 1999. Ministers noted that the General Affairs Council would be asked to establish the task force at its session on 7 December.

    Child pornography on the Internet

    The Council gave its agreement to the draft joint action on combating child pornography on the Internet, while noting that the text could not be formally adopted until the European Parliament had given its opinion. The instrument requires a number of steps to be taken aimed at ensuring the greatest possible co-operation between member

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    states and industry with a view to combating the distribution of child pornography on the Internet.

    Report on organised crime

    The Council endorsed the 1997 EU situation report on organised crime and agreed that the version of the report before it should be forwarded to the European Parliament. The report, as well as providing a factual summary, contains a number of recommendations relating to such subjects as financial and environmental crime and the role of Europol.


    The Council discussed the draft rules of procedure to be adopted by Europol's Joint Supervisory Body. The principal outstanding issue relates to the legal character of the body and further work on this will be pursued under the German Presidency. The Council also agreed on the future composition of the Europol Directorate.

    Implementation of the Customs Information System

    The Council reached political agreement, subject to one parliamentary scrutiny reservation, on the draft Protocol to the Customs Information System Convention. The draft Protocol, among other things, defines the scope of the provision in the convention relating to money laundering. The Council also considered a draft text setting out the objectives for the technical requirements for the Third Pillar elements in the system. The Council asked its competent bodies further to examine the text's legal basis.

    Prevention of organised crime

    The Council approved a resolution on the prevention of organised crime. The resolution emphasises that the prevention of organised crime is a task for society as a whole and recommends a number of steps to be taken by member states.

    It invites the Commission and Europol to draw up a comprehensive report by the end of 2000 on action at the EU level, taking into account the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam and enlargement.


    The Council took note of a report (updated every six months) of the internal and external threat posed to the member states by terrorism. The report deals with the main sources of terrorism and state sponsors of terrorism.

    Dublin Convention

    In the margins of the Council, a meeting was held of the executive committee established under Article 18 of the Dublin Convention. The convention sets out criteria for determining the state responsible for examining asylum applications lodged in one of the member states. The meeting considered two issues relating to the interpretation of the convention: the first concerned whether the convention should apply to persons who have withdrawn their asylum application; the second concerned how to deal with asylum seekers who

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    are caught without an airport transit visa when passing through the transit zone of a member state's airport. No agreement was reached on either question.

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