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3 Nov 1999 : Column WA85

Written Answers

Wednesday, 3rd November 1999.

Legal Claims: £80 Fee

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many legal claims have been commenced in the courts but not pursued by reason of the £80 fee charged on the filing of allocation questionnaires.[HL4318]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Not known.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the £80 fee charged on the filing of allocation questionnaires in court cases acts to deter poorer litigants from pursuing legal actions.[HL4319]

The Lord Chancellor : Poorer litigants continue either to be automatically exempt from paying fees or able to apply for fee remission or reduction. I sympathise with the concerns that have been raised about the amount of the allocation fee in very small claims and I am giving this issue urgent consideration.

Northern Ireland: Importation of Drugs

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that current arrangements to curtail and detect the entry of illegal drugs into Northern Ireland are adequate.[HL4436]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey : HM Customs and Excise, which has responsibility for matters concerning the importation of drugs, considers that current arrangements are adequate. Customs officers in Northern Ireland work closely with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and other agencies in Northern Ireland, with colleagues across the UK and with law enforcement agencies in the Republic of Ireland.

Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the second Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls.[HL4563]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal) : We have published the second annual report today. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. It has now been entered on the FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk).

Saint Helena: British Nationality Commitment

The Earl of Iveagh asked her Majesty's Government:

    In light of their White Paper on Overseas Territories, when they will fulfil their commitment to implement or introduce full British nationality for the British subjects of Saint Helena and her dependencies.[HL4220]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The White Paper commitments on nationality will require primary legislation. The issues are complex and we are working on the preparation of the necessary legislation. We plan to bring forward legislation when the parliamentary timetable permits.

Iraq: Draft UN Resolution

Lord Moynihan asked her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the failure to reach consensus with the permanent five Security Council members over the United Kingdom-Netherlands draft resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in September, whether they intend to agree to any suspension or lifting of sanctions in the absence of Iraq's full compliance with its obligations under all existing Security Council resolutions.[HL4232]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 26 October, Official Report, col. WA 23.

Russia: Anti-Ballistic Missile System

Lord Kennet asked her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have been consulted or informed by the United States Administration of their proposal to fund the upgrading of Russia's Anti-Ballistic Missile system; and what is their response to this proposal.[HL4335]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The United States Administration and the Russian Government have kept us informed of the progress of their discussions on START, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and related issues.

It is not for us to comment on the details of these discussions. We hope they result in a successful outcome.

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NATO Operations

Lord Moynihan asked her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their policy that in "out-of-area" security and stability challenges all NATO operations must have a proper basis in international law but that there need not always be a United Nations Security Council resolution.[HL4371]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Any NATO operation involving the use of force must be justifiable under international law. The legal justificiation for any particular operation will depend upon all the circumstances at the time.

Yugoslavia: Heating Oil Embargo

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether unanimity in NATO is required for the continuation or for the abrogation of the embargo on the supply of heating oil to Yugoslavia.[HL4372]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The oil embargo on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is a sanction imposed by the European Union, not NATO. Montenegro and Kosovo are both exempted. There is a specific exemption for humanitarian supplies of oil and oil derivatives to the FRY. As an instrument of the EU's common foreign and security policy, the embargo may only be amended by unanimity.

Yugoslavian Humanitarian Relief

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in their view, the humanitarian considerations which allowed NATO to intervene in Yugoslavia despite the absence at the time of unanimity in the Security Council should also operate to ensure that the absence of unanimity in the NATO Council does not allow humanitarian disaster in Yugoslavia.[HL4373]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The economic collapse of Yugoslavia and the hardships endured by its people are a direct consequence of the political and economic policies pursued by Milosevic's regime. International organisations, including the EU and the UN, are operating in Yugoslavia to provide humanitarian relief. We fully support these efforts.

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: UN Joint Statement

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the governments of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council whose Foreign Ministers participated in the joint statement of 23 September are bound by the statement's call for continued efforts to strengthen the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and to preserve its

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    integrity and validity, so that it remains a cornerstone in maintaining global strategic stability and world peace and in promoting further strategic nuclear arms reduction.[HL4377]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The statement referred to by my noble friend is not a legally binding document. But it naturally reflects the policy of this Government.

International Criminal Court

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many states have now ratified the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court; and when they expect to be able to ratify it.[HL4387]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Four states have now ratified the International Criminal Court statute. They are Italy, San Marino, Senegal, and Trinidad and Tobago. The UK requires legislation to implement the statute before we can ratify. Work to prepare this legislation is going forward and will be introduced as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.

South Africa: Advice on Gun Laws

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide a full analysis of their role in the funding of advice concerning South Africa's gun laws.[HL4352]

Baroness Amos: In April 1999, following a request from the Government of South Africa (Office for the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS)/Department for Safety and Security) the Department for International Development (DFID) approved funding of £62,475 (R631,000) to support a project proposal from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Cape Town. The project derives from the South African Government's well publicised intention to produce legislation to improve safety and security. It provides for technical advice to the Government of South Africa for the drafting of new legislation on the ownership and control of firearms and ammunition in South Africa and for the participation of ISS (on behalf of the South African Government) in the negotiations leading to an international protocol on the illicit trafficking and manufacturing of firearms and ammunition. DFID assistance was provided directly to ISS as part of the department's new programme of support for security sector reform.

The Firearms Legislation Drafting Team, chaired by the project leader from ISS, submitted a first draft of the Firearms Control Bill to the Department for Safety and Security in July as agreed. DFID's input to this component of the ISS project is therefore complete. ISS will continue to represent the South African Government in international negotiations on the firearms protocol until August 2000.

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Remands to Custody: Young Offenders

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many remands to custody have been made since 1 June in relation to males aged 15 to 16, broken down by age and ethnicity; and [HL4328]

    How many remands to secure local authority accommodation have been made since 1 June in relation to:


    (a) children aged 12 to 14, broken down by age, gender and ethnicity;


    (b) females aged 15 to 16, broken down by age and ethnicity; and


    (c) males aged 15 to 16 declared "vulnerable", broken down by age and ethnicity. [HL4329]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The latest period for which figures are readily available is 1 June to 30 September 1999.

For remands to Prison Service custody, the figures are as follows:


    144 untried young male offenders aged 15, of whom 112 were white, 24 were black, three were south Asian and five were of another enthnic origin;


    61 convicted yet unsentenced young male offenders aged 15, of whom 45 were white, 10 were black, three were south Asian and three were of another ethnic origin;


    346 untried young male offenders aged 16, of whom 255 were white, 61 were black, 14 were south Asian and 16 were of another ethnic origin;


    144 convicted yet unsentenced young male offenders aged 16; of whom 112 were white, 20 were black, seven were south Asian and five were of another ethnic origin.

Information relating to the first few months of remands to secure local authority accommodation is being collected from local authorities. I shall write to the noble Baroness as soon as it has been assembled.


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