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Juvenile Secure Accommodation

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government set out their programme of reform of the current arrangements for the provision of juvenile secure accommodation in the Official Report, 22 July 1998 WA 112. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provided the courts with more appropriate remand and sentencing powers to deal with the most serious and persistent young offenders, as well as giving the police and the courts new powers to deal with other young offenders more effectively in the community. To complement these provisions, the Government are seeking to establish a range of secure accommodation appropriate to the age and maturity of young people and with regimes which address offending behaviour, and to develop intervention programmes which will support the new multi-agency youth offending teams under the 1998 Act in working with young offenders in the community.

Since July the Government have set up 18-month pilot projects in 10 areas to pave the way for introducing youth offending teams across England and Wales in April 2000 and the final warning scheme and new court orders in 2000-2001. The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales was established in September and is responsible for administering a development fund of £85 million over three years from April 1999 which is being used to develop bail support initiatives and other community-based intervention programmes to support the final warning scheme and new court orders.

The Government have also taken forward the necessary arrangements for implementing on 1 June 1999 the provisions in the 1998 Act for court-ordered remands to local authority secure accommodation of 12, 13 and 14 year-old boys and girls, 15 and 16 year-old girls and, where a place has been identified in advance, vulnerable 15 and 16 year-old boys. This will ensure that the courts have the powers they need in dealing with those young people the seriousness of whose alleged offending means that they cannot be dealt with safely in the community.

The Prison Service is finalising its plans for a distinct estate within its accommodation for 15 to 17 year-old boys remanded or sentenced to custody, with improved levels of care and regimes delivered within it. The Prison Service has also reviewed its arrangements for accommodating 15 to 17 year-old girls.

The Youth Justice Board has provided initial advice on a range of youth custody issues and a copy of this has been placed in the Library. It will help to inform the Government's longer term thinking about the provision of juvenile secure accommodation. The board is now preparing more detailed advice on regime standards which, together with work being undertaken by the Prison Service, will help in

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preparing for the detention and training order under the 1998 Act.

A key element in improved regimes and in the operation of the detention and training order will be better links between custodial facilities, where the first half of the sentence will be served, and the community, where the second half will be served. The new youth offending teams will have a vital role in managing these links--a member of the team will be expected to be involved in sentence planning and throughcare while the young offender is in custody and then supervise them when they return to the community. Given this connection, the Government have decided to accept the recommendation in the Youth Justice Board's advice that the detention and training order should be implemented at the same time as the local structure of youth offending teams; that is, April 2000. Ahead of this, the Prison Service will put in place arrangements for the distinct estate for boys in its accommodation and for improved regimes.

The Government have concluded that establishing distinct units for the very small number of 15 to 17 year-old girls held in Prison Service accommodation is not the best way forward or in their best interests. The introduction of the detention and training order will allow for greater flexibility in the placement of sentenced young people. It is our intention to make use of this flexibility by placing sentenced 15 and 16 year-old girls in available non-Prison Service accommodation, when the detention and training order is in force. The first priority will be to place the youngest and most vulnerable young women outside the Prison Service. In the short term, arrangements within the Prison Service for holding 17 year-old young women, and other young women for whom other accommodation is not available, will be improved by establishing discrete units for young women under the age of 21, with enhanced regimes within these.

The Government are also taking forward detailed work on the proposed extension of the role of the Youth Justice Board to act as the commissioning and purchasing body for all forms of secure accommodation for children and young people on remand and under sentence. This should help to achieve the appropriate volume, type and spread of accommodation in the longer term, so that individual needs can be met more effectively.

Cyprus

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their view of the reported comments of Sir David Hannay on 21 January in which he purportedly suggested that a solution to the problems of Cyprus would be found by following a Swiss model of government.[HL1128]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Sir David Hannay was misreported; he did not advocate a Swiss model of government for Cyprus. In a meeting with the Cypriot High Commissioner on 28 January, my right honourable friend the Minister of State (Joyce Quin) underlined, as Sir David Hannay had done, the continuing support of the British Government for a solution on the basis laid down in UN Security Council resolutions for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

Iraq: Oil for Food Programme

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to press the Security Council to ensure that oil for food imports for the Iraqi people reach the full $5.256 billion allowed in the current six months for the Fifth Security Council Programme, given that Iraq's oil revenues for this period will fall far short of this figure.[HL1175]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The panel established by the Security Council on 30 January to consider the humanitarian situation in Iraq began work on 1 March. This work will include a review and assessment of the oil for food programme. The panel is expected to consider ways of making the programme more effective, including measures to offset the shortfall in available revenue. The panel is expected to report back to the Security Council by mid-April.

The Security Council has approved the allocation of 600 million US dollars for the purchase of oil spare parts in order to permit Iraq to increase its oil production and export. Approximately 400 contracts for oil spares worth 241 million US dollars have so far been approved by the UN Sanctions Committee.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will ensure that essential oilfield maintenance and production equipment and spare parts are reaching Iraq and are not being unduly held up by the review process, thus slowing oil production and revenues for the oil for food programme.[HL1176]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The deliberations of the humanitarian panel and the review of the oil for food programme will not impact on the work of the UN Sanctions Committee, which will continue to consider and approve contracts as normal. The committee has so far approved approximately 400 contracts for oil spare parts worth 241 million US dollars.

Abdullah Ocalan

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the recent abduction of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan from Kenya to

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    Turkey; whether they consider that this constituted a breach of international law or civilised behaviour; and whether they will ask the Government of Turkey what are the reasons for their reported refusal to admit foreign observers to the proposed trial of Mr. Ocalan.[HL1182]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The circumstances of Mr. Ocalan's apprehension in Kenya remain unclear. We are aware that the European Court of Human Rights has asked the Turkish Government for urgent clarification of the circumstances of Mr. Ocalan's arrest and detention.

However, we have urged the Turkish authorities to make provision for attendance at the trial of Mr. Ocalan by international representatives, in line with their normal practice. The Turkish Government have made clear that no provision exists in Turkey for formal observer status within its courts.

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Visit of European Heads of Mission

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the report of the European Heads of Mission in Dhaka visit to the Chittagong Tracts in early February.[HL1198]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The European Heads of Mission are not issuing an official report on their visit to the Chittagong Hill Tracts. A copy of the British High Commissioner's report on the visit will however be deposited in the Library of the House.


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