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EU/Russia Summit

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The EU/Russia Summit will take place in Moscow on 29 May. The agenda will focus on: developments and policy priorities in Russia and in the EU; implementation of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement; and current international issues. There are no plans to discuss EU help to the Russian Prison Service.

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Terrorism Conventions: Ratification

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to ratify the International Conventions for (a) The Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (Cmd 4662) and (b) The Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (Cmd 4663); whether they consider that the passing into law of the current Terrorism Bill will make ratification possible; or whether further legislation will be needed.[HL2524]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We expect to ratify both conventions in early 2001, once the Terrorism Bill has become law. The Bill contains the necessary further provisions which will enable the UK to ratify the conventions. No further legislation is necessary.

Trade Partners UK

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

    What measures they are taking to support British firms trading internationally.[HL2606]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am pleased to announce, also on behalf of my right honourable friend Richard Caborn, Minister for Trade, that the Government's support for international trade will in future be delivered under a single brand name.

Trade Partners UK will be the new name for the Government's network of support for British companies trading in world markets. Trade Partners UK will replace the various promotional brands that have been used in the past and will make services clearer, more effective and easier to access. The aim is to encourage more firms--particularly Small and Medium Enterprises--to develop an international dimension to their business. We shall continue to provide support for those that are already successful outside the UK and we shall seek out and help UK firms with the potential to develop new opportunities in overseas markets.

The new brand will make the full range and reach of services much clearer to customers through the launch on 31 May 2000 of a new internet-based gateway--www. tradepartners.gov.uk. The gateway will provide access to services for people on the move, anywhere in the world. By the end of this year, all the basic information available on international markets and business sectors will be available electronically. These new interactive services will play a crucial part in the Government's plan to make the United Kingdom a world leader in the knowledge economy by 2002.

Trade Partners UK will also act as a quality standard to show that the services, activities and organisations with which it is associated are endorsed by the Government's international trade development and promotion effort.

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British Trade International will continue to provide the co-ordination for the services which now fall under the Trade Partners UK brand, working in partnership with government departments, devolved administrations and regional bodies. British Trade International will continue to act as a voice within government for exporters and companies investing overseas.

British Board of Film Classification

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the British Board of Film Classification's Annual Report for 1999 will be published.[HL2633]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today placed in the Library copies of the Annual Report of the British Board of Film Classification for 1999, which gives details of the board's financial accounts and activities for the year ended 31 December 1999.

On 16 May, the High Court announced that the Board had lost judicial review proceedings brought by it in respect of appeals against its decision not to classify seven sexually explicit videos in the R18 category--which are available only in licensed sex shops. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and I are very disappointed with the outcome. We believe that the situation is unsatisfactory and will be considering carefully whether there are any additional effective steps that can be taken to protect children from exposure to sexually explicit material. Any such changes may require legislation and we intend to issue a consultation paper on the matter shortly.

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: Human Rights Legislation

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

    Whether legislation has been enacted to give effect in the laws of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man to the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL2484]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into Jersey law, received the Royal Assent on 17 May. In Guernsey, a motion proposing the introduction of similar legislation was approved by the States of Deliberation on 5 April and this legislation is expected to be introduced shortly. The Isle of Man's Human Rights Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Keys on 9 May. The Guernsey and Isle of Man legislation is expected to receive the Royal Assent before the end of this year.

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Immigration Control: Colombian and Ecuadorian Nationals

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

    What plans they have to strengthen legislation to tackle abuse of the United Kingdom's immigration control.[HL2634]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government are firmly committed to ensuring that those who seek to migrate to the United Kingdom but have no grounds for doing so under the Immigration Rules are prevented from coming here.

From 00:01 hours on Thursday 25 May, we will require nationals of Colombia and Ecuador to obtain a Direct Airside Transit Visa even when they intend to remain airside while in transit through the United Kingdom. We have taken this action following evidence of abuse of the Transit Without Visa concession by such nationals.

Prosecution Appeals in Criminal Proceedings

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

    What the terms of reference are for the Law Commission's review of the law governing prosecution appeals in criminal proceedings.[HL2635]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Law Commission published a consultation document on the law of double jeopardy on 12 October 1999 following my request to it of 2 July 1999 as part of the Government's response to the Stephen Lawrence report. The consultation period ended on 31 January and the commission is considering the responses received before making its final recommendations to the Government. As the terms of reference intended, the consultation document did refer to prosecution rights of appeal but not in any detail as to how these might be achieved.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has, therefore, today formally asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of the law governing prosecution appeals against judge directed acquittals in criminal proceedings and other adverse rulings by a judge which may lead to the premature ending of the trial. The terms of reference for this review are:


    "To consider


    (a) whether any, and if so, what, additional rights of appeal or other remedies should be available to the prosecution from adverse rulings of a judge in a trial on indictment which the prosecution may wish to overturn and which may result or may have resulted, whether directly or indirectly, in premature termination of the trial;

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    (b) to what, if any, procedural restrictions such appeals would be subject and to make recommendations."

I should emphasise that the issue here is the question of a prosecution right of appeal against adverse rulings made by the judge, which leads to the ending of the trial before the jury has considered the evidence. The question whether, and in what circumstances, a jury's decision on the evidence to acquit can be challenged is the subject of the double jeopardy consideration by the commission. Both these issues are entirely separate from the prosecution's right of appeal against an unduly lenient sentence after a jury has convicted a defendant.

Imprisonment for Breach of Community Sentence

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many extra offenders they anticipate would be imprisoned each year if Clause 46 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill is implemented with the presumption of imprisonment for offenders who breach their community penalty.[HL2486]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave to Lord Dholakia on 22 May (Official Report, WA 56).


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