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15 Jun 2000 : Column WA207

Written Answers

Thursday, 15th June 2000.

Ascension Island: Feral Cat Control

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 20 March (H.L. Deb., cols. 7-9), whether their feral cat control programme for Ascension Island has been put into operation; if so, what are the results; and, if not, by when they hope to have it completed.[HL2710]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Ascension Island feral cat programme (funded by the FCO) started on 29 May. It is proceeding satisfactorily. We are receiving weekly reports from the Administrator of Ascension. The programme should be completed by October. This timing should ensure a successful breeding season for Ascension's colony of sooty terns, which has suffered heavily from predation from the feral cats.

Sudan

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the proposition in the resolution from the United States House of Representatives on 15 June 1999 that the National Islamic Front government is systematically committing genocide in the Southern Sudan; whether this conclusion is confirmed by the Canadian government's Harker report and by reports from the United Nations special rapporteurs; what consequences, if any, there are for relations between the United Kingdom and the Sudan; and what concerted international action would be appropriate.[HL2703]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are deeply concerned about the continuing conflict in the Sudan, which has led to so much suffering. We are not aware of any reference by Harker or by the UN Special Rapporteur, Leonardo Franco, to genocide; nor do we have other compelling evidence of systematic genocide.

Her Majesty's Government remains committed to working with international partners in search of a peaceful settlement to the conflict through enagement with all parties to the conflict.

Peru

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the Declaration by the Presidency of the European Union of 26 May on the withdrawal of the European Union's electoral observation mission from Peru, and the Preliminary Report to the Secretary-General of the Organisation

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    of American States (OAS) by the Head of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, Dr Eduardo Stein, of 31 May, they will now consult with other European Union governments on the measures to be taken to persuade the government of Peru to return to constitutionality and genuine democracy; and whether in the meanwhile they will invite the former Peruvian presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo to Britain for discussions on further initiatives to promote the rule of law in Peru. [HL2705]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The United Kingdom has played a leading role in the European Union in calling for free and fair elections in Peru. We discussed the issue with our European partners in Brussels on 31 May and 7 June and member states released a statement on 9 June reaffirming our continuing concerns over the irregularities and anomalies in the election process. We fully support the decision by the OAS to send a mission to Peru to examine ways of strengthening democracy. At present, there are no plans to invite Alejandro Toledo to the United Kingdom, but he would of course be welcome if he were to come.

European Agreement Relating to Persons Participating in Proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights

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

    Whether they intend to ratify the European Agreement Relating to Persons Participating in Proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights; and, if not, why not. [HL2727]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government intend to ratify the European Agreement Relating to persons Participating in Proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights in the near future.

Older People: Report Recommendations

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report of the Better Government for Older People Programme will be published.[HL2913]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): All Our Futures, the report of the Better Government for Older People programme, is being published today. Copies are being placed in the Libraries of the House.

The Government are committed to better policy making and more responsive public services as part of the Modernising government agenda. The recommendations of the Better Government for Older People programme, a unique partnership between central and local government, the voluntary sector and the academic world, provide new evidence of how to

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combat age discrimination, better engage with older people, improve decision-making, better meet older people's needs and promote a strategic and joined-up approach to an ageing population. The Inter-Ministerial Group on Older People will now consider the recommendations carefully with a view to early action and a full response.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June, what type and make of cars are used by the Treasury.[HL2782]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Treasury does not use any cars other than those provided under contract with the Government Car and Despatch Agency, which are provided for Ministers and Senior Officials.

Judges: Guidance on Outside Activities and Interests

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

    Whether the Lord Chancellor has completed the review of the guidance which is given to judges on outside activities and interests.[HL2885]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Yes. I am placing in the Libraries of both Houses the revised guidance which will be used in future. I am satisfied that the substance of the existing guidance, which is of long standing, remains basically sound. It is necessarily of a general kind, for application in individual circumstances. I am satisfied that it strikes an appropriate balance in discouraging activities or interests which may be seen to undermine judicial impartiality, or conflict with judicial office, without being unduly restrictive. I have at the same time made a number of detailed changes in the text and added a statement of general principles. I will wish to keep the new guidance under review in the light of experience. The general guidance on outside activities and interests is separate from any question of conflict of interest arising in individual cases on which the Court of Appeal recently gave further authoritative guidance in its judgment in the case of Lockbail (UK) Ltd v Bayfield Properties Ltd.

Bulgarian Citizens: UK Visas

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How far they have progressed in lifting the visa requirements for Bulgarian citizens coming to the United Kingdom.[HL2721]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): There are no plans to lift the visa regime on Bulgaria.

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Prison Governors' Adjudications

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that governors' adjudications are compatible with Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a fair and impartial tribunal) in the light of Campbell & Fell v United Kingdom (1984) and Article 5.4 (Weeks v United Kingdom).[HL2739]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We consider that the current arrangements for disciplinary adjudications by governors are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Kainos Community: Prison Work

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the independent evaluation of the work of Kainos in prisons; and when they expect to publish the report.[HL2740]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A number of researchers and research organisations identified by the Research, Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office have been invited to tender for this contract. The tenders are currently being evaluated jointly by the Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, the Prison Service, and Kainos Community, who are funding the research and letting the contract. The report is expected to be available in August 2001.

Police Complaints System

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who were the members of the group convened by the human rights organisation Liberty which produced the independent report on the future of the police complaints system, referred to in the Home Office Consultation Paper Complaints Against the Police.[HL2730]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Liberty report entitled An Independent Police Complaints Commission was researched and produced by James Harrison and Mary Cunneen of Liberty. Their work was overseen by an advisory committee comprised of:

The right honourable Lord Archer of Sandwell QC;

Nicholas Blake QC, Barrister;

Stephen Cragg, Barrister;

Professor Brice Dickson, Chief Commissioner, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission;

Chief Constable George Hedges QPM, Chair, Association of Chief Police Officers Police Complaints and Discipline Sub-Committee;

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Sadiq Khan, Solicitor, Christian Fisher and Co;

Professor Mike Maguire, University of Cardiff;

Tony Mason, Secretary, Police Federation Committee on Police Complaints and Discipline;

Professor Mike McConville, University of Warwick;

Molly Meacher, Acting Chair, Police Complaints Authority;

Peter Moorhouse, Former Chair, Police Complaints Authority;

John Webber, Solicitor, Russell Jones and Walker;

Ian Westwood, Vice Chair, Police Federation; and Home Office officials also attended as observers.

Members of the Committee agreed the terms of reference for the research and contributed to the final report by attendance at regular meetings, suggesting lines of research, and advising on the viability of proposals. The views contained in the report are those of Liberty and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all the members of the Committee.


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