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7 Feb 2000 : Column WA55

Written Answers

Monday, 7th February 2000.

EU Directives: Implementation and Celex Database

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

    Whether they will seek to ensure that the European Commission maintains up-to-date legal electronic data regarding implementation of directives by the United Kingdom on the Celex database.[HL704]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The European Commission maintains up-to-date legal electronic data concerning implementation of directives by all member states in Sector 7 of the Celex database. It is the practice of Her Majesty's Government to notify the Commission, via the United Kingdom's Permanent Representation to the European Union, of the implementation of relevant directives in domestic legislation.

Lord Chancellor's Department DEL

Lord Gladwin of Clee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to amend the Lord Chancellor's Department departmental expenditure limit and running costs limits for 1999-2000.[HL883]

The Lord Chancellor: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate for Class V, Votes 1, 2 and 3, the Lord Chancellor's Department departmental expenditure limit for 1999-2000 will be increased by £26,934,000 from £2,421,244,000 to £2,448,178,000. The increase is the net effect of a transfer for £505,000 from the Department of Social Security relating to the costs of recruiting and re-appointing panel members for unified appeals tribunals; a transfer from the reserve for £25,000,000 in respect of the additional legal aid costs following implementation of the Narey reforms; a transfer to the Home Office for £200,000 in respect of a contribution towards the costs of the IBIS (Integrating Business and Information Systems) Criminal Justice System Unit; and take-up of end year flexibility entitlement in the sum of £1,629,000.

The running cost limit for Lord Chancellor's Department Class V, Vote 1, will be increased by £23,167,000 from £502,203,000 to £525,370,000. The increase is in respect of a £380,000 transfer from the Department of Social Security relating to costs in respect of recruiting and re-appointing panel members for the Unified Appeals Tribunals; a £200,000 transfer to the Home Office in respect of a contribution towards the cost of the IBIS Unit; an increase of

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£695,000 to meet additional costs of the ARAMIS PFI project; an increase of £19,550,000 following reclassification of expenditure as a result of the impact of the changes in ESA 95; and an increase of £2,742,000 following a transfer from other current expenditure to meet the additonal costs in respect of asylum and immigration.

The running cost limit for Northern Ireland Court Service, Class V, Vote 2, will be increased by £679,000 from £29,960,000 to £30,639,000. The increase is as a result of take up of end year flexibility entitlement.

The running cost limit for Public Records Office, Class V, Vote 3, will be increased by £2,908,000 from £25,842,000 to £28,750,000. This increase is as a result of a £900,000 increase funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in respect of a project to microfilm World War One soldiers' documents; a £200,000 increase relating to expenditure on wholesale publishing and book purchases, which is funded by additional wider market receipts generated by retail sales; a £950,000 increase in respect of end year flexibility entitlement; a £2,558,000 increase to meet additional costs in respect of capital charges on the Civil Estate, and a £1,700,000 reduction following virement into capital expenditure relating to developments in online services.

The increases will be offset by a transfer from the Department of Social Security departmental expenditure limit, a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and charges on the DEL reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Judgments: Reciprocal Arrangements with other Countries

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assistance, if any, they will give to any British citizen who, having obtained judgment in an English court against a person in another state to which the provisions of the Administration of Justice Act 1920, Part II, have been extended by an Order in Council, is unable to persuade the courts in that other state to honour the judgment of the English court.[HL681]

The Lord Chancellor: Part II of the Administration of Justice Act 1920 facilitates the reciprocal enforcement of certain judgments between the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. It has been extended to a substantial number of these countries by Order in Council on the basis that they have established reciprocal provisions within their own legal systems. If Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that a country covered by an Order in Council is failing to operate such provisions satisfactorily in relation to judgments from the courts of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Government would make representations to that country to encourage the restoration of reciprocity and, as a last resort, amend the order to remove that country from the reciprocal enforcement scheme under Part II of the 1920 Act.

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Chechnya

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether daily sorties by Russian forces over Chechnya have exceeded an average of 50 a day during January.[HL698]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): There have been a number of public statements by the Russian authorities that indicate there has been an increase in the number of sorties over Chechnya in January, The commander-in-chief of the Russian air force has spoken of an average of 25 sorties per day in bad weather and up to 60 a day when the weather is favourable. Other reports have mentioned higher numbers, and it is quite possible that the number of sorties has reached or exceeded an average of 50 a day during the month.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any evidence that Scud missiles are being used by Russian forces in Chechnya; and whether they have made representations to the Russian Government.[HL699]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There have been a number of Russian and international press reports indicating that Scud missiles have been deployed by Russian forces in Chechnya.

We have repeatedly made representations to the Russian authorities about the indiscriminate use of force in Chechnya and its impact on the civilian population; most recently my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised it with Foreign Minister Ivanov on 11 January.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, on humanitarian grounds, they have evaluated the effectiveness of "safe corridors" out of Grozny designed to provide protection to refugee columns; and whether they are aware of any evidence that the refugee columns have been subjected to Russian air or sniper attack.[HL700]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: No international organisation currently working in or around Chechnya has been able to evaluate the effectiveness of the safe corridors out of Grozny. This is due in large part to the shortage of international staff on the ground there.

There have been one or two unsubstantiated reports of shelling close to the corridors. But no evidence has been put forward to suggest that refugee columns have been deliberately attacked by Russian forces.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence they have received of human rights abuses or war crimes committed in Chechnya over the past 12 months; and whether they will provide details of such activity.[HL701]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We receive reports of human rights abuses in Chechnya from a wide number of sources. We have repeatedly made representations to the Russian authorities about the indiscriminate use of force in Chechnya and its impact on the civilian population.

The CoE Parliamentary Assembly debated Russia's human rights performance on 27 January. It passed a recommendation calling on Russia to halt disproportionate military action, including attacks on the civilian population; for a dialogue leading to a ceasefire and a political solution; unhindered delivery of international assistance and access by Russian and international media; and a role for international organisations, including the CoE, in the search for a long-term solution. The relevant documents are available on the CoE website www.coe.fr/index/asp.

Ethnic Cleansing

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their definition of "ethnic cleansing".[HL702]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There is no legal definition of "ethnic cleansing". Her Majesty's Government have vigorously condemned in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere policies and actions aimed at forcibly driving an ethnic group from a particular region.

"Your Britain, Your Europe" Roadshow

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any part of the "Your Britain, Your Europe" roadshow was financed by the European Union; and, if so, under which title in the budget the money was allocated.[HL758]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The roadshow was financed entirely from the budget of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


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