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Baroness Amos: The issue of diversions relates to food aid. British food aid to Sudan last year was supplied entirely through the UN World Food Programme. The measures that we and the donor community are taking regarding food aid diversions were set out in my answer to the noble Lord on 3 February (HL707).
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The disruption caused by the reorganisation of the caseworking functions of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate into an Integrated Caseworking Directorate has contributed through some loss of productivity to the number of cases awaiting resolution. Our plans for dealing with Immigration and Nationality Directorate Casework backlogs are set out in the Government's White Paper Fairer, Faster and Firmer--A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum (Cm 4018). Cases in the Integrated Caseworking Directorate will be actioned consistent with those commitments.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: We introduced the provision in Section 12 of the Human Rights Act in order to respond to concerns about the potential impact of the Act on the freedom of the press. Its effect in English law will depend on its application by the courts in the cases that come before them.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The disciplinary inquiry is being carried out by the Director of Dispersal Prisons, assisted by a non-executive member of the Prisons Board. The report, which will make recommendations to the director general about disciplinary action, will not be published.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The report by Prison Service Internal Audit on this matter is an internal management document concerning actions which are the subject of a disciplinary investigation as well as issues which are subject to discussion with the contractor. In line with the service's normal policy, it is not intended to published the report.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The contract was terminated on 31 January. Under the contract, Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. provided work for prisoners and marketed goods and services produced. The contract sets out the respective liabilities of the two parties in the event of termination, and the Prison Service is in the process of identifying and recovering sums due under these terms.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. gave notice of termination of the contract to operate prison industries at Coldingley, as it was entitled to do under the terms of the contract, because it was unable to bear the continuing losses incurred by the operation. Under the contract, those losses had to be borne by the contractor.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Responsibility for funding boards of visitors and the secretariat was transferred from the Home Office to the Prison Service with effect from 1 April 1998. As anticipated, this change has had no practical effect on the independence of boards and staff in the secretariat continue to provide boards with all necessary support.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The proposed changes will only affect the way in which boards of visitors bring their concerns about prison issues to the attention of the Government and will not have any direct impact on the organisations or individuals mentioned.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Revised country assessments were made available to caseworkers during December 1998 and January 1999. They will be made publicly available on the Home Office Internet site within the next few weeks and copies placed in the Library. The assessments are all sourced to information obtained from independent external sources and from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The assessments have been reformatted to take account of many comments received from various representative bodies and asylum interest groups (the consultative group).
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Following consultation with police service interests and the agreement of the Police Advisory Board, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has given approval for the rank of chief superintendent to be re-introduced as soon as possible. The rank of deputy chief constable will be re-introduced at the same time. We will take the earliest legislative opportunity to make the necessary changes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): We expect the legislation allowing exchange of South African driving licences for British ones to be in force, subject to the approval of Parliament, within the next three months.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The two brigades to be formed under the Strategic Defence Review are 12 Mechanised Brigade, to be created by converting 5 Airborne Brigade at Aldershot; and the development of 24 Airmobile Brigade, based at Colchester, into a new high capability air manoeuvre formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade.
The headquarters of 12 Mechanised Brigade will be at Aldershot and that of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester. I have today placed in the Library of the House details of provisional plans under which units of the new mechanised brigade would be based in Aldershot in Hampshire, Tidworth and Larkhill Garrisons in Wiltshire, Bovington in Dorset, Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Windsor in Berkshire; and units of 16 Air Assault Brigade would be located in Colchester in Essex, Woodbridge and Wattisham in Suffolk, Dishforth in Yorkshire, and Canterbury in Kent. These proposals will now be the subject of discussions with local authorities and assessments of environmental impact and value for money.
If confirmed, the changes would be phased over a number of years, as progress with the necessary barracks refurbishment projects proceeds; but we plan that the move of two parachute battalions from Aldershot to Colchester, where they will be closer to their parent formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade, will take place next year, as will the corresponding move of two infantry battalions to Aldershot from Colchester to form part of the new 12 Mechanised Infantry Brigade.
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