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17 Jun 1999 : Column WA39

Written Answers

Thursday, 17th June 1999.

Family Law Act 1996

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they still intend to implement Part II of the Family Law Act 1996 in 2000.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): No. Before implementing Part II, the Government must be satisfied that the new arrangements for divorce which it would put in place will work. The pilot projects which have been run to test the provision of information meetings under Part II were concluded at the end of May. The preliminary research results are disappointing in view of the Government's objectives of saving saveable marriages and encouraging the mediated settlement of disputes. A summary of the research results so far will be published today, and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The full research results from the pilots will not be ready until early next year when the Government will consider whether further research is necessary.

The Government will therefore bring forward amendments today to the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill currently before Parliament to ensure that its pension sharing provisions can take effect under the existing divorce law or under the divorce law as reformed by Part II of the Family Law Act. A set of supplementary explanatory notes for the Bill will be available from today.

Financial Services and Markets: Joint Committee Reports

Lord Burns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to respond to the First and Second Reports from the Joint Committee on Financial Services and Markets.[HL3135]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government are today publishing their response to the Joint Committee's reports to coincide with the introduction of the Financial Services and Markets Bill in the House of Commons. Copies of the Government's response are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Library of the House. It will also be published on the Treasury's Internet website ( The Government very much appreciate and welcome the work of the Joint Committee.

Liberia: Disposal of Arms

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What advice they will give the United Nations Security Council about the disposal of the arms and

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    ammunition collected by sub-regional peackeepers from the ex-combatants in Liberia 1997; and whether any decision in this case may be a precedent for the disposal of weapons at the end of other internal conflicts which are settled with the help of the United Nations.[HL2774]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The disposal of the weapons has been under negotiation between the Government of Liberia, the UN Secretariat and the regional peacekeeping force, ECOMOG. President Taylor of Liberia has now given a public undertaking to destroy the remaining weapons on 26 July. The Librerian Foreign Minister has written to the Secretary-General asking for UN assistance in the destruction of the weapons and ammunition. The Secretariat is preparing to dispatch a small team to Monrovia.

We welcome President Taylor's undertaking. Under the EU Joint Action on small arms, the UK is committed to promoting the effective removal of surplus small arms, encompassing safe storage as well as quick and effective destruction of these weapons.

Low Yield Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their view of the development by any country of exceptionally low yield non-strategic nuclear weapons, a programme for the development of which was endorsed by the Russian Security Council on 29 April.[HL2851]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We expect all countries, including Russia, to abide by their commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties.

Kosovar Refugees

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what criteria it will be established that there are acceptable conditions, including security, winter-proof accommodation, social infrastructure, health services, educational facilities, basic amenities and economic prospects for refugees from Kosovo to be encouraged to return home.[HL2889]

Baroness Amos: The primary conditions for the return of refugees to Kosovo is adequate security. We believe the refugees should be provided with full information and support but should make their own decisions on when they believe it is right to return. The refugees want to go home. The role of the international community is to provide humanitarian assistance to those who need it and practical support to assist them in the rebuilding of Kosovo.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is the internationally designated lead agency responsible

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for co-ordinating provision for the refugees from Kosovo and their return. The Department for International Development is working with them and other agencies to ensure that returning Kosovars have the resources they need through the winter and beyond. An emergency assessment team, working in close co-operation with Kosovo Force, is currently evaluating the urgent priorities in Pristina and a DfID field office will be set up in Pristina as soon as the security situation allows.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements are being made to ensure that refugees from Kosovo are able to make an informed choice about their future residence in a way that will look to their educational, employment, health and general needs and to those of their families.[HL2890]

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development (DfID) regards the principle of informed choice as crucial to successful refugee return and is promoting this through a number of initiatives. We are funding an expert in Tirana to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) attempts to co-ordinate the provision of information. We are supporting radio broadcasts, and are helping refugees get access to broadcast information by funding the provision of 13,500 clockwork radios. Five thousand of these have already been distributed in the camps in Albania and Macedonia. We are also supporting the re-establishment of Kosovar print and electronic media (such as Kosovo Sot newspaper and Radio TV 21).

Juveniles in Prison Custody

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they anticipate that the number of juveniles in prison custody will rise or fall as a result of the proposals contained in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.[HL2835]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provided for a new Detention and Training Order to replace existing custodial sentences for juveniles, a range of non-custodial measures and the formation of the youth justice board and local multi-agency youth offending teams.

Together these changes are designed to further the principal aim the Act also set for the youth justice system--preventing offending. They are at various stages of implementation. It is too early to predict the effect on the use of custody.

Youth Offending Teams

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will identify the nature and involvement of statutory and voluntary agencies,

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    other than the five core agencies, in each of the youth offending team (YOT) pilot areas--

    (a) at strategic level (for example, the chief officer's steering group);

    (b) at project level (for example, as members of the YOTs) and

    (c) in providing specific contracted services to the YOTs.[HL2837]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested is set out in the table below:

Youth offending team areasChief officers' groupYouth offending teamServices
Kensington & Chelsea----NACRO Victim Offender Conference Service (reparation and mediation work)
West London Family Service Unit and West London Action for Children (delivery of parenting order)
North Kensington Video/Drama Project (early intervention)
Hammersmith & FulhamHammersmith & Fulham Policy and Equalities, and Housing Departments Hammersmith & Fulham Community Safety, and Principal Housing OfficersNACRO VOCS (reparation and mediation work)
West London Magistrates' CourtFULPAC, NCH Action for Children, NSPCC and West London Action for Children (delivery of parenting order)
Crown Prosecution Service
WestminsterWestminster Legal Services, and Housing Departments--NACRO VOCS (reparation and mediation work)
West London Magistrates' Court
LewishamRPS RainerRPS RainerRPS Rainer (appropriate adults)
Lewisham Race Equality CouncilYouth workerNACRO (bail support and supervision)
YMCA, Parent Support Group and Cassell Centre (delivery of parenting order)
Housing and community safety team (delivery of child safety order)
Crime Concern, Thames Gateway and Solotec (mentoring)
Victim Support Careers Service, Ilderton Motor Project and Youth Service (caution plus)
Crossroads Education Project, Careers Service, Lewisham Way Youth Centre, Ilderton Motor Project and Youth Service (all involved in supervision, probation and combination orders)
Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and Isle of WightDrug Action Team--Portsmouth Community Safety Partnership (final warning intervention work)
Prison GovernorNCH Action for Children (appropriate adults and remand work)
Clerk to the JusticesNACRO (reparation and mediation work)
Director of Hampton Trust (representing voluntary sector)Society of Voluntary Associates (SOVA) (reparation, mediation and mentoring work)
Two district councils (on behalf of all district councils in the YOT area)Crime Concern (reparation and mediation work)
Hampton Trust (family group conferencing)
WolverhamptonWolverhampton Borough Council Leisure Service Spurgeon's Child Care Youth workerSpurgeon's Child Care (final warning intervention, bail support and supervision, delivery of parenting order)
Wolverhampton Race Equality CouncilNACRO (mentoring)
SheffieldSheffield City Council Community Safety Unit, Community Partnership and Legal DepartmentSheffield Victim Offender Mediation Project worker SOVA (mentoring and appropriate adults)Sheffield Victim Offender Mediation Project
South Yorkshire Police AuthorityWebster-Stratton Project (delivery of parenting order)
Drug Action Team
University of Sheffield
DevonMagistrates' Court----
NCH Action for Children
Bedfordshire--Youth workerNCH Action for Children (parenting order programmes)
NCH Action for Children
LutonLuton Borough Council Community and Youth Development, and Housing Departments--Luton Mediation (caution plus)
Fire AuthoritySpurgeon's Child Care (delivery of parenting order)
Magistrates' Court
Safer Luton Partnership
University of Luton
St. HelensSt. Helens Borough Council Community Safety, Housing and Competitive Services DepartmentsDrug and alcohol advisory workerNew Start (preparation for employment)
Magistrates' CourtSafer communities workerPartnership with Parents (parenting order programmes)
SunderlandHousing DepartmentHousing Development OfficerNACRO (caution plus)
Southwick Neighbourhood Youth Project (delivering child safety order)
Springboard Sunderland Trust (education, training and other activities)
BlackburnCommunity Volunteer ServiceCareers ServicePrinces Trust (mentoring)
Magistrates' CourtPrinces Trust Groundworks TrustGroundworks Trust (reparation work)
Crown Prosecution ServiceLifeline (Drugs Advisory Service)

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