Donations to Political Parties: Disclosure
The Earl of Courtown asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether donations made to a political party on or before 7 February would be subject to rules of disclosure introduced by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.[HL918]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The requirements to record and, where necessary, disclose donations came into force from 16 February under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPER), and apply only to donations received on or after that date.
Immigration Advisers and Service Providers: Regulation
Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress they have made in establishing the scheme of regulation for immigration advisers and service providers.[HL1095]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner published a Code of Standards, Guidance to Advisers on Competencies, The Commissioner's Rules and a Complaints Scheme in October 2000. An office has been established at
6th Floor, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX. Application packs for registration and exemption have also been sent to advisers and organisations known to the commissioner's office. The commissioner is about to start a publicity campaign designed to ensure that those who are required to make an application to him know of the need to do so.
We are pleased to announce that, following discussion with the commissioner, we propose to bring the remaining provisions of Part V of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 into force on 30 April 2001.
The commissioner has, however, made representations to me about a large number of voluntary organisations which provide immigration advice and services and are committed to applying for the Community Legal Services Quality Mark. Organisations which have gained this Quality Mark are regarded as having met some of the Immigration Services Commissioner's requirements as set out in the Code of Standards. The Government have no wish to impose unnecessary regulatory demands on voluntary
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organisations which are already committed to a recognised quality programme, and we propose to make an order under Section 84(4)(d) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. As a result of this order, voluntary bodies which commit themselves to the Community Legal Services Quality Mark before
30 April 2001 will not breach the general prohibition on providing immigration advice or services which will come into force on that date. The protection for qualifying voluntary bodies will cease to have effect on 31 January 2002. The understanding will be that, by this date, the voluntary bodies will have applied to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner for exemption from the regulatory scheme and that successful applicants will be included in the commissioner's list of exemptions.
Other candidates for inclusion in a Section 84(4)(d) order remain under consideration.
Prisoners: Facilitation of Family Contact
Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many prisoners are detained more than
100 miles from their next of kin, giving separate figures for men and women; and what efforts they are making to facilitate visiting by families of such prisoners, especially those with young children.[HL963]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Prison Service does not have home address records for every prisoner in its custody. In cases where prisoners do not provide their home address, the committal court town is used as a proxy. On this basis, the most recent figures available show that approximately 10,400 male prisoners and 600 female prisoners are held over 100 miles away from their home or proxy home address.
The Prison Service places great importance on prisoners maintaining close ties with family and friends, and does everything possible, within the current population pressures, to ensure that prisoners are allocated to a prison near to their homes. Where this is not possible, family contact is facilitated through financial assistance for travel costs, extended family visits, and the temporary transfer of prisoners closer to home to have a series of accumulated visits.
Turkish Refugees and Interpol
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will take measures to ensure that refugees from Turkey living in the United Kingdom are not, where their offences are of a political nature or the charges against them are manifestly ill founded, made the subject of notices circulated by Interpol at the request of the Turkish authorities.[HL976]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government make every effort to ensure that the facilities of law enforcement agencies, such as the International
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Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), are used properly and effectively. Interpol was established as an independent agency to facilitate international police co-operation. Ultimately, the Secretary General of Interpol is responsible for the day-to-day management of the organisation and he is answerable to the Interpol General Assembly, its supreme governing body. Under Article 2 of its constitution, Interpol aims to ensure, and promote, the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities, within the limits of the laws existing in the different
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countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among the limits of its actions, which are laid down in Article 3, it is strictly forbidden for the organisation to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
The Government attach importance to co-operation with other national and international law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime. Any assistance provided to law enforcement agencies outside the United Kingdom is done in strict accordance with our law.