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10 Feb 2000 : Column WA105

Written Answers

Thursday, 10th February 2000.

Dr Jawad Hashim: Payments to Counsel

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 18 November 1997 (WA 71) on the case of Dr Jawad Hashim, what amounts have been paid to date to Mr Colin Ross-Munro and Mr Hugo Page; and whether Mr Colin Ross-Munro and Mr Hugo Page still have any claims outstanding.[HL805]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Legal Aid Board's records show that the total amount paid to date to Mr Colin Ross-Munro QC is £866,452 and to Mr Hugo Page QC, £673,814.

Following a review of all payments and recoupments made in this case, the Legal Aid Board established that neither counsel had yet received all the amounts allowed on the various taxations of costs by the courts. The board has calculated that an additional payment of £15,246 is due to Mr Colin Ross-Munro QC and £7,849 to Mr Hugo Page QC.

Following the latest taxation, a further claim was received by the board on 28 January 2000. Under this claim, £4,700 is due to be paid to Mr Colin Ross-Munro QC and £7,050 to Mr Hugo Page QC.

The solicitors in the case have informed the Legal Aid Board that some of the earlier taxations are currently the subject of review proceedings and it is therefore expected that further claims will be received once the proceedings have been concluded.


Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider there is a humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Chechnya on a scale comparable to Kosovo during 1999.[HL697]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): While we have deep concerns over the humanitarian effects of Russian action in Chechnya, unlike Kosovo, there is no evidence to suggest that the Government have a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing or to create a humanitarian tragedy in Chechnya.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, visited Chechnya in November, and her organisation has full access to the internally displaced people in the region. During her visit Mrs Ogata said that the humanitarian situation in Chechnya would improve with better security and an enhanced international effort. This has been borne out. Russia has provided better protection for UN agencies, and

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international donors have provided additional resources--the UK £1.4 million in all. In recent weeks UNHCR has estimated that up to 70,000 internally displaced persons have returned to Russian controlled areas of Chechnya from Ingushetia.

"Your Britain, Your Europe" Roadshow

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the destinations of the "Your Britain, Your Europe" roadshow; and how the destinations were chosen.[HL756]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My right honourable friend the Minister of State visited Newcastle, Hull, Rotherham, Manchester, Bristol, Bath, Nuneaton, Birmingham and Leicester, each of which is a regional centre of population. This covered the constituencies of Sedgefield, Tyne Bridge, Gateshead and Washington East, Houghton and Washington East, Hull North, Rotherham, Manchester Central, Wythenshawe and Sale East, Bristol South, Bath, Nuneaton, Birmingham Ladywood and Leicester South. In each town or city he visited a variety of venues to meet a broad spectrum of society. This included calls on EU funded projects and visits to companies, schools and universities. All local Members of Parliament and Members of the European Parliament were informed of his visit and given the opportunity to participate.

Karen Refugees in Thailand

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Karen refugees from Burma there are in Thailand; and how many there were in May 1997.[HL829]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: UNHCR's estimated figure for Karen refugees currently in camps in Thailand are 82,254 (out of a total of 98,949 refugees). In May 1997, the Burma Border Consortium's estimated figures for numbers in camps along the border were 90,540 and 101,955 respectively (UNHCR figures for that period are unavailable).


The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have evaluated the effect of their human rights policy on the Burmese government's persecution of minorities since 1997, bilaterally and multilaterally; and with what results.[HL831]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We and international partners are deeply concerned at the appalling record of human rights violations in Burma and condemn these

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at every opportunity: both bilaterally (eg demarches) and multilaterally (eg co-sponsorship of UN resolutions). In doing so, we have helped isolate the regime internationally and maintain pressure on it to change. Although the regime continues to violate human rights, particularly those of ethnic minorities, it is well aware that it cannot enjoy normal international relations until it addresses these concerns.


The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made in their diplomatic relations with Sudan in the last 12 months; and whether as a result the prospects of a peaceful settlement with the south have improved.[HL832]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We now have a fully operational embassy in Khartoum; British staff returned to the embassy in July and the ambassador was appointed in October. One of their key objectives has been to promote a peaceful settlement in the Sudan and, as a result of their presence, we are now in a better position to assist in the quest for a negotiated settlement.

Austria and the EU

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the recent statements by the European Union to the President of Austria about relationships between Austria and the European Union; and on what basis, given the United Kingdom Government's insistence that the European Union is a union of sovereign states, does the European Union seek to advise Austria about which political parties should form its coalition government.[HL876]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are strongly committed to the measures which Austria's 14 EU partners agreed to take in the event of the Freedom Party joining government. It is up to the Austrian people to choose their government, but it is only right and natural that we should show our deep concern and distaste at the inclusion of a far-Right party in the government of an EU member state.

Hong Kong

Lord Lea of Crondall asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the next report to Parliament on Hong Kong and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.[HL985]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The sixth report in this series, covering the period July to December 1999, was published today and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House. A copy of the report is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website ( The report includes a foreword by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. I commend the report to the House.

Visitors from the Indian Sub-continent:Bond Scheme

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How long the pilot scheme for a £5,000 bond to be provided by certain visitors from the Indian sub-continent will last; how those visitors who are liable will be determined; what criteria will be applied in monitoring the scheme; and whether the scheme complies with the Human Rights Act and the United Kingdom's international treaty obligations.[HL859]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Our proposed pilot scheme for financial bonds will begin in October and last about 15 months. No decision has yet been made on the amount of the bond or the location of the pilot scheme. The option of a bond will be available as a facility in those cases where the intention to return may be in doubt. We shall monitor the pilot to evaluate its effectiveness and usefulness and to ensure it does not disadvantage particular groups of applicants. We shall ensure that the design of the scheme is compatible with the Human Rights Act 1998 and our international treaty obligations.

Deaths in Custody: Data on Ethnic Minorities

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements are in place for collecting data on mentally ill black or Asian people who have died in police or prison custody; and how many black or Asian people have died in the custody of special hospitals or secure psychiatric units each year over the past 10 years.[HL860]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Information is collected and held on all people who die in police or prison custody to the extent that it may help in understanding how the death occurred or how future deaths may be prevented in similar circumstances. Clinical records relating to the mental health of such people may not, however, always be available.

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I understand that information about the number of black or Asian people dying in special hospitals or secure psychiatric units in England and Wales is not yet available centrally but that work is currently being carried out by the Mental Health Act Commission which will provide information on the ethnicity of patients who have died while detained.

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