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Written Answers

Wednesday, 11th October 2000.

Sudan: Abduction

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have funded, or intend to provide funding for, the Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children in Sudan.[HL3743]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Abduction is a key issue to which we pay particular attention in the Sudan.

Through the EU, we have part financed the work of the Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC). Our ambassador in Khartoum has visited areas affected and has attended CEAWC workshops there and in Khartoum to demonstrate our concern and to urge all concerned to greater efforts.

Human Rights: Protocol No. 12

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

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 27 September (WA169), why they have no present plans to sign and ratify Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights at the Rome Meeting on 4 November 2000 (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the convention).[HL3980]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Government are in principle in favour of extending Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights to provide a free-standing right against discrimination. But we consider that the text of Protocol 12 is too general and open-ended. In particular, it does not make clear whether "rights set forth by law" include international as well as national law; it does not make provision for positive measures; and it does not follow the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in allowing objective and reasonably justified distinctions.

Human Rights: Additional Protocols

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

    Whether any previous United Kingdom government failed to sign an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL3981]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: Yes. Previous governments did not sign or ratify Protocols 6, 7 and 9 and signed but did not ratify Protocol 4. The present Government signed and ratified Protocol 6 last year.

Crown Prosecutors Code

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Director of Public Prosecutions will publish the reviewed Code for Crown Prosecutors.[HL4114]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The review of the Code for Crown Prosecutors was announced by the Solicitor-General in the other place on 24 November 1999 (Official Report, col. 105W) and further detail was provided on 23 March 2000 (Official Report, col. 629W). The review is now complete. Copies of the code have been printed and have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Neither the fundamental principles nor the format of the code have changed. However, the code has been amended to reflect the role of the Crown Prosecution Service and its prosecutors in the light of changes to the structure of the CPS, procedural changes in the criminal justice system and legislative developments such as the Human Rights Act 1998. The code also properly reflects the interests of witnesses, and in this respect has been amended in accordance with Recommendation 8 of Sir Iain Glidewell's report on the CPS. To ensure the code's accessibility, it will be published in all of the most commonly spoken ethnic-minority languages.

I welcome the revised code and commend it to all prosecuting authorities. Copies of the Code for Crown Prosecutors will be available on the Crown Prosecution Service website which can be found at www.cps.gov.uk.

Free Movement of Goods: EU Regulation

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) whether they will publish the terms of the recent communication to the Government from the Commission of the European Communities under Regulation EC. No. 2679/98, 7 December 1998, relating to obstacles to free movement of goods, and the terms of their reply;

    (b) whether no action, or failure to act, within the United Kingdom constitutes an "obstacle" under that regulation if is lawful under the laws of the United Kingdom; and

    (c) whether they are obliged to enact any new review procedure by reason of paragraph 3 of the Resolution of the Council and Representatives of Governments which accompanied that regulation.[HL3845]

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The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): (a) The Government have not received a communication from the European Commission under Regulation 2679/98 on the free movement of goods.

(b) Under the terms of the regulation, the Commission, if it considers that an obstacle to the free movement of goods is occurring in a member state, whether as a result of action or inaction on the part of the member state, will notify the member state of its reasons and request the member state to take all necessary and proportionate measures to remove the obstacle. If the obstacle is not removed then the Commission could institute proceedings against a member state for failure to ensure free movement of goods provided for in the EC Treaty. Ultimately the ECJ would decide whether a breach of the treaty had occurred.

(c) The Government do not believe that they are under any obligation to enact any new review procedure. Individuals harmed as a result of a breach of Articles 28 and 29 of the treaty could take the state concerned to court and claim compensation if they could prove a sufficiently serious breach of Community law.

Millennium Volunteers Programme

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money has been allocated to the Millennium Volunteers project; how much money has been spent by the Millennium Volunteers project to date; and what schemes have benefited.[HL4008]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): £47.75 million has been made available to the Millennium Volunteers programme in England up to the end of March 2002. This includes £12.75 million from the windfall tax which is available over the lifetime of this Parliament. £6,210,000 has been spent on the initiative in England up to the end of August 2000. We have now contracted for 157 projects, which will incur an expense of £34 million.

Domestic Road Freight

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the proportion of domestic road freight being carried in vehicles of foreign companies. [HL4074]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): It is estimated from a survey undertaken on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions early this year that around 0.06 per cent of purely domestic road

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freight activity in the United Kingdom is carried out by foreign companies. The report is available in the Library and on the Internet at the following address: www.transtat.detr.gov.uk/tables/2000/lorries/index.htm.

Naples Airport: Security Screening

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the standard of security screening of passengers and their carry-on luggage at Naples airport; and, if not, whether they will make representations to the Italian authorities. [HL4067]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Under international law, as set out in Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention, a host state is responsible for the security of all civil aircraft leaving that state. Thus the responsibility for security screening of passengers and their carry on baggage at Naples airport is a matter for the Italian authorities.

Communications Reform White Paper: RNID Response

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they had from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People to the consultation undertaken by the Departments of Trade and Industry and of Culture, Media and Sport on the forthcoming communications reform White Paper; and what action they will be taking to ensure that the document's proposals provide equal access for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.[HL3852]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) responded to the invitation for views on the contents of the forthcoming communications reform White Paper by the joint Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) team that is preparing the paper. RNID's response centred on issues of particular concern to it, such as subtitling regulation, British sign language interpretation on TV, interactive voice response, and equality of access to the Internet and telephony.

The RNID has also responded in detail to DCMS's separate consultation paper on the statutory requirements for the provision of subtitling, sign language and audio description services in digital terrestrial television. DCMS will give careful consideration to the responses to the consultation paper before publishing the results later in the year.

Both responses will be taken into account in the Government's consideration of the future regulation of broadcasting in the light of the communication reform White Paper, which will be published later this year.

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