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UN Human Rights Treaties

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Ninety-five states, of which 14 are members of the European Union, have granted the right of individual petition under the First Optional Protocol.

The Government have no present plans to grant new rights of petition under any United Nations human rights treaty. This reflects the outcome of a thorough review of our obligations under international human rights treaties in March 1999. We will review the position again when the Human Rights Act 1998 has been implemented and is properly bedded down.

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government agree in principle that young prisoners should be held separately from adults. We have provided £51 million to enable the Prison Service to create a distinct estate for young men under 18 years old. However, the United Kingdom believes it should maintain its reservations on Article 10(2)(b) and (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 37(c) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. There continue to be a small number of young men whose particular circumstances mean that they are best temporarily held in adult prisons, for example, because of distance from court.

The Government have decided that young women aged 15-16 should be placed in non-Prison Service accommodation, and those aged 17 years as spaces become available. In the interim, 17 year-olds on remand will continue to share facilities with adults due to their small numbers, and those sentenced with other young women under 21 in enhanced young offender units in women's prisons.

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government have no immediate plans to lift this reservation.

Incitement of racial hatred is an offence under Part III of the Public Order Act 1986. For the purposes of this offence "racial hatred" is defined as hatred against a group of persons in Great Britain defined by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins. This means that the law does not cover all religious groups. The Government are listening to the concerns of minority faith communities about the issues of religious discrimination, and to the case for it to be made subject to the law. This issue raises many difficult, sensitive and complex questions.

We have commissioned a team from the University of Derby to conduct research to assess the current scale and nature of religious discrimination. The results, due in autumn 2000, will help to inform our thinking about the appropriate response regarding religious discrimination and incitement of religious hatred. In the meantime, we intend to maintain the reservation.

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many states have made a declaration under the Convention Against Torture so as to allow individual petition; and whether the United Kingdom will now make a similar declaration.[HL1862]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Forty-two states have made a declaration under Article 22 of the United Nations Convention against Torture, allowing individual petition.

The Government have no present plans to grant new rights of petition under any United Nations human rights treaty. This reflects the outcome of a thorough review of our obligations under international human rights treaties in March 1999. We will review the position again when the Human Rights Act 1998 has been implemented and is properly bedded down.

Security Service Tribunal

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements have been made following the expiry of the terms of appointment of the members of the Security Service Tribunal on 18 December 1999.[HL2045]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Lord Justice Mummery has been appointed as President of the Tribunal for a period of five years, following his predecessor's acceptance of an appointment to the post of Security Service Commissioner. Sheriff John McInnes has been reappointed as Vice-President of the Tribunal and both he and Sir Richard Gaskell have been reappointed to the Tribunal for a further period of five years.

Lord Justice Simon Brown, formerly president of the Security Service Tribunal, has accepted an

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appointment as the Security Service Commissioner for a period of three years from 1 April.

Firefighters: Conditions of Service

Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received the recommendations of the inquiry into the machinery for determining firefighters' conditions of service.[HL2043]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Professor Burchill, who undertook the inquiry, has submitted to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary a number of recommendations for improving the working of the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades. These include proposals which would involve the acceptance by the employees and the union of conciliation and arbitration, in the event of disputes, a clarification of procedures, a streamlining of the negotiation arrangements, and an independent Chair for the National Joint Council.

Implementation of these recommendations would be a matter for the National Joint Council rather than for the Government itself. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is therefore consulting the employers and the union and other interested parties to confirm that they are willing to accept the proposals and to give them effect. He expects to announce the outcome of these consultations and to publish Professor Burchill's report early next month.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is extremely grateful to Professor Burchill for the time and effort he has given to the inquiry, the way he has conducted it and the extent of common understanding and agreement he has already been able to achieve.

Fire Service: PFI Bids

Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reached a decision on the bids for notional credit approvals under the second round of the private finance initiative for the Fire Service.[HL2042]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We received indicative bids from 10 fire authorities for notional credit approvals under this second Private Finance Initiative (PFI) round for the fire service.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today decided that notional credit approvals for 2001-02 should be set aside in respect of indicative bids from the fire authorities for:


    Tyne and Wear (Phase 1 of its proposed scheme);


    West Midlands;


    Dorset; and


    Mid and West Wales.

It will now be for those authorities to prepare an outline business case. Confirmation of the credit approvals will be given only on completion of such a

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business case demonstrating that PFI is the most cost-effective solution for the projects concerned, and on approval of the inter-departmental Project Review Group.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has also decided that he will be prepared to consider further the indicative bids from Tyne and Wear (Phase II) and London once decisions on provision of notional credit approvals for 2002-03 have been taken.

We shall be in touch with all those authorities whose bids were not selected on this occasion to offer guidance on how the bids might be developed and resubmitted in any future bidding rounds.

Kerb Crawling

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to make kerb crawling an arrestable offence.[HL2041]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is very aware of the nuisance caused by the activities of kerb crawlers. The Government agree that a specific power of arrest would assist the police in dealing with this problem. My right honourable friend intends to include this proposal in the draft of a police and private security Bill on which we will be consulting later this session, and which we will introduce at the earliest legislative opportunity.

Firearms: Use by Police

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the most recent statistics available for the police use of firearms.[HL2046]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The statistics for April 1998 to March 1999 show that the number of police operations in which firearms were issued to officers was 10,928, a fall of over 7 per cent on the previous year. The number of firearms incidents in which firearms were discharged by police was five, compared to three the previous year. There were no fatalities.

There was an increase of 3 per cent to 7,791 in the number of operations in which armed response vehicles were deployed. Firearms were carried in these vehicles, but were not necessarily issued to officers on each occasion.

Full details are set out in the tables.

Number of Operations in Which Firearms were Issued

1995-961996-971997-981998-99
Total8,72612,37911,84210,928
Avon and Somerset32631213988
Bedfordshire264345323260
Cambridgeshire47549643
Cheshire219288216299
Cleveland4871,02610335
City of London275308307147
Cumbria54726852
Derbyshire72109147176
Devon and Cornwall9016013361
Dorset36365469
Durham111131103114
Essex267331505590
Gloucestershire33415152
Greater Manchester142214165160
Hampshire190245217129
Hertfordshire47968275
Humberside92291472317
Kent8223642392
Lancashire227333338616
Leicestershire13815589109
Lincolnshire25585257
Merseyside280671675484
Metropolitan2,1782,4392,5782,742
Norfolk96166128185
Northamptonshire54647751
Northumbria4521,360823683
North Yorkshire526510269
Nottinghamshire5784306266
South Yorkshire225155302135
Staffordshire80257240209
Suffolk150180193174
Surrey701338760
Sussex445235330123
Thames Valley96215227158
Warwickshire5597152291
West Mercia59106132130
West Midlands226270227305
West Yorkshire657617630662
Wiltshire26262624
Dyfed Powys11172738
Gwent47898664
North Wales117233310386
South Wales6959101148

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Number of Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs)

1995-961996-971997-981998-99
Total6,5546,7386,5856,308
Avon and Somerset157165161153
Bedfordshire48464250
Cambridgeshire92908080
Cheshire84708270
Cleveland65868478
City of London120888155
Cumbria10010812298
Derbyshire13011010087
Devon and Cornwall14015114782
Dorset75747272
Durham10313814496
Essex203228217235
Gloucestershire85828479
Greater Manchester186209182217
Hampshire104106112110
Hertfordshire43424143
Humberside10490102102
Kent144150150130
Lancashire138132125132
Leicestershire1051049490
Lincolnshire81828575
Merseyside119147165121
Metropolitan1,9152,0351,9711,951
Norfolk9998102109
Northamptonshire95929292
Northumbria160173126123
North Yorkshire1341089583
Nottinghamshire126128129120
South Yorkshire12511010890
Staffordshire80788692
Suffolk708296101
Surrey79766169
Sussex149180146156
Thames Valley175185194179
Warwickshire50413844
West Mercia153155159139
West Midlands87889592
West Yorkshire150131114128
Wiltshire14513410588
Dyfed Powys57707167
Gwent55705964
North Wales70729097
South Wales154134176169

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Number of Operations Involving Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs)

1995-961996-971997-981998-99
Total5,5238,0607,5447,791
Avon and Somerset20024712183
Bedfordshire239309285240
Cambridgeshire15231927
Cheshire180240166247
Cleveland4651,01457(1)29
City of London23253432
Cumbria44644338
Derbyshire539799153
Devon and Cornwall21775843
Dorset22285066
Durham38628584
Essex155218180285
Gloucestershire10134849
Greater Manchester6--(2)5643
Hampshire159208170114
Hertfordshire20352526
Humberside35284437277
Kent4220821274
Lancashire187320321596
Leicestershire10112668109
Lincolnshire21393442
Merseyside239618559396
Metropolitan1,0257909541,573
Norfolk80152117167
Northamptonshire3202932
Northumbria325715515503
North Yorkshire0135230
Nottinghamshire4466256(1)246
South Yorkshire171129252115
Staffordshire70235206185
Suffolk117120135104
Surrey47527646
Sussex4131732840(1)
Thames Valley73164184139
Warwickshire5491127220
West Mercia39779899
West Midlands98103102129
West Yorkshire587584586630
Wiltshire1232117
Dyfed Powys6121930
Gwent39584739
North Wales14173260298
South Wales425597136

(1) These forces have changed the counting method for incidents to which ARVs are deployed.

(2) No figures available.


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