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Sudan

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: We have been in constant touch with the non-governmental organisations that have been forced to withdraw from southern Sudan. They were asked to leave because they were not prepared to sign an agreement put forward by the SPLA which they see as compromising the principles of neutrality and impartiality that underpin the accepted international rules governing humanitarian operations. The expulsion of the humanitarian staff concerned will cause a significant reduction in the provision of assistance to the people living in areas controlled by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). We have made our concerns very clear to the SPLA. We have urged the United Nations to play a leadership role in finding a solution. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development hopes to discuss this with Tom Vraalsen, the UN Secretary General's Special Humanitarian Representative, later this week in London.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The European Commission's humanitarian assistance is provided to meet urgent needs where they arise, as long as there is a secure environment in which to deliver assistance and there is unhindered access for aid agencies. The EC recently suspended its programme in Sudan People's Liberation Army-controlled areas of southern Sudan because of the SPLA expulsion of many NGOs which are the EC's implementing partners. The EC is not at present providing development assistance to Sudan.

Disaster Response

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Amos: We do not believe that the setting up of a special task force for humanitarian emergencies is necessary or desirable, as this would duplicate mechanisms already in place internationally through the United Nations and nationally through the Department for International Development.

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise in the United Nations the desirability of securing agreement among member nations for the establishment of an international response force to provide speedy humanitarian responses to urgent needs and natural disasters.[HL1464]

Baroness Amos: We do not believe that the setting up of a separate United Nations disaster response force is necessary. The United Nations already has the capability to deploy at very short notice UN disaster assessment and co-ordination teams into countries immediately following an occurrence or early warning of a disaster. These teams, made up of experienced emergency managers from around the world, work in support of UN organisations in the affected country and when requested by the national government.

Imports from US: Duty

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 25 January (WA 190), of the £2.8 billion which the United Kingdom received in 1998 in respect of customs duties and excise duties on goods imported into the United Kingdom from outside the European Union, how much was attributable to goods imported from the United States.[HL1499]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is estimated that around £550 million was attributable to goods imported from the United States of America.

Consolidated Fund Bill

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998 in connection with the Consolidated Fund Bill.[HL1617]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have made a statement under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Consolidated Fund Bill are compatible with the convention rights.

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Chinese President: Policing Arrangements for State Visit

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report of the review of policing arrangements for the state visit of the President of China will be published.[HL1618]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis published the report on 17 March and a copy has been placed in the Library.

International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any official representation on the International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar.[HL1483]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar (ILETS) is an informal gathering of law enforcement agencies and security services from countries that operate a legislative framework and appropriate safeguards for the lawful interception of communications. It is not a formal organisation or intergovernmental body.

The purpose of the seminar is to provide a forum where developments, issues, problems and possible solutions in the area of lawful telecommunications interception can be considered. These issues are looked at within the framework of the national laws of the country of the agencies attending.

Co-operation within ILETS is primarily of interest to the United Kingdom's law enforcement agencies and the Security Service. However, Home Office officials have attended recent annual seminars to give presentations on developments in United Kingdom and international law in the field of interception of communications.

Representation of the People Bill: Compatibility with Human Rights Convention

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

    Further to the Written Answers by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 19 May 1999 (WA 35) and 30 June 1999 (WA 41-42) and the requests by Lord Campbell of Alloway on 29 February 2000 (H.L. Deb., cols. 460 and 467) and 6 March 2000 (H.L., Deb., col. 803) that they disclose their full reasons for considering the Representation of the People Bill to be compatible with the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, why they have failed to disclose those reasons; and[HL1488]

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    What are their reasons for considering the Representation of the People Bill to be compatible with the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL1489]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government believe that the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000 are compatible with the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 8 has application to many different areas. If the noble Lord has particular reasons to take a contrary view, I would, of course, be happy to consider them.

Copies of correspondence between Home Office officials and the Data Protection Registrar about the Representation of the People Bill have been made available to Lord Campbell of Alloway.

Human Rights Convention: Compatibility of Legislation

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

    What is their practice regarding the disclosure to Parliament of the reasons upon which Ministers' statements of compatibility are made under Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL1490]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government believe that a Minister in charge of a Bill should be ready to address convention related issues during proceedings, but the Minister must retain the discretion to decide how to do so in the context of the debate.

Refugees: Integration in Britain

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will update their 1995 publication The Settlement of Refugees in Britain.[HL1501]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Home Office is currently developing a programme of research and evaluation on immigration and asylum. This is expected to include survey research on the characteristics and attitudes of asylum-seekers, as well as evaluation of the new asylum support arrangements. It is likely that the new research will provide new information on many of the issues covered in the 1995 publication The Settlement of Refugees in Britain.

In addition, the Government believe the time has come to take a fresh look at the position of recognised refugees so that action can be taken to enable them to integrate and take advantage of the opportunities available to them. It is for this reason that they issued the consultation paper on the Integration of Recognised Refugees in the United Kingdom.

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