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Sheep Dippers: Surveillance Study

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath The surveillance study of sheep dippers using organophosphate dips carried out by Dr Virginia Murray et al in 1991 and 1992, was research, carried out by issuing questionnaires that were filled in either by the patients or their general practitioners, and submitted by the GP. Blood samples were sent to the Medical Toxicology Unit for clinical purposes. It was not accepted practice at that time to obtain informed written consent from subjects before taking blood samples or issuing questionnaires. There was no obligation at that time to obtain Ethics Committee approval for the study.

Tobacco Advertising

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations were received by the Department of Health from the e-Envoy in respect of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill; and how these were addressed by the department.[HL1109]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health has had various discussions about the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill, including with the e-Envoy's office.

If approved by Parliament, the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill will enact a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising. The Bill is intended to help reduce tobacco consumption and so make inroads into the mortality and ill health caused by tobacco products. The Government are anxious, however, to ensure that this does not create a liability for Internet service providers and others in circumstances where their involvement with the advertisement is such that it would not be appropriate to do so.

Angola: Oil Revenue

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking, other than through the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or otherwise, to secure transparency of key data by oil companies operating under Angolan sovereignty.[HL973]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We have regular contact with the major oil companies operating in Angola both in London and via the British Embassy Luanda. We have discussed

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matters relating to transparency of oil revenues with them. It is Her Majesty's Government's view that oil revenues should be used for the benefit of all the Angolan people.

Mr Alpha Conde MP

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek the release from prison in Guinea of Mr Alpha Conde MP, a former presidential candidate, considered by the Inter-Parliamentary Union not to have received a fair trail (Resolution of Council 21 October 2000).[HL1008]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We supported European Union demarches calling on the Government of Guinea to ensure Mr Conde received a fair trail. EU Heads of Mission on Conakry attended the trial as observers. Since the sentencing on 12 September 2000, we have been monitoring Mr Conde's treatment closely. We will continue to urge the Government of Guinea to ensure that Mr Conde is treated humanely, in accordance with international human rights standards.

Iraq and Iran: Prisoners of War

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that all prisoners held by Iraq and Iran at the end of the war between those countries have now been released; and, if not, whether they will use all available channels to achieve that end.[HL1009]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We believe that there are a number of prisoners still being held in Iraq and Iran since the end of the war between those two countries. We understand there are ongoing negotiations between Iraq and Iran with the involvement of the ICRC. We continue to remind both Iraq and Iran of their obligations under SCR 598.

Kuwaiti Prisoners of War

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are actively co-operating with all efforts to secure the release of the 605 persons from a total of eight countries who were removed from Kuwait to Iraq 10 years ago.[HL1010]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are committed to working through the Tripartite Commission to establish the whereabouts of the 605 Kuwaitis and other nationals still missing since the Iraqi occupation. The UK played a leading role in the adoption of SRC 1284, which appointed Yuli Vorontsov as the UN High Level Co-ordinator for Kuwaiti matters with the aim of raising the profile of these issues and increasing pressure on Iraq to co-operate.

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

    Whether any changes have been made in relation to United Nations sanctions against Liberia.[HL1146]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: UN Security Council Resolution 1344 (2001), imposing mandatory UN sanctions in relation to Liberia, was adopted on 7 March. The resolution was co-sponsored by the UK and US in response to the findings of the UN Expert Panel on Sierra Leone on violations of the Sierra Leone arms embargo and the link between the trade in diamonds and arms. The Security Council determined that the active support provided by the Government of Liberia for armed rebel groups in neighbouring countries, and in particular the RUF in Sierra Leone, constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region.

The new measures are as follows:

    an embargo on the export of arms and related material to Liberia, and a ban on the provision to Liberia of related technical assistance and training;

    a ban on the import by UN member states of any rough diamonds from Liberia, whether or not such diamonds originated in Liberia;

    a travel ban on senior members of the Liberian military and their spouses and any other individuals providing financial and military support to armed rebel groups in countries neighbouring Liberia, as designated by the UN Sanctions Committee;

The diamond embargo and the travel ban will enter into force on 7 May, unless the Security Council determines before that date that Liberia has complied with its demands. These include the key demands that the Government of Liberia should cease all financial and military support for the RUF and should cease all imports of Sierra Leone rough diamonds in breach of UN sanctions.

The arms embargo and the ban on the provision of related technical assistance and training, which entered into force immediately upon the adoption of the resolution, are established for a period of 14 months. The other measures will be established for a period of 12 months. At the end of this period, the Council will decide whether the Government of Liberia has complied with its demands and, accordingly, whether to extend these measures for a further period.

The resolution lifts the former arms embargo imposed on Liberia by UN Security Council Resolution 788 (1992) in response to concerns regarding the civil war in that country.

New Orders will be made to implement the new measures in the UK, the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories under the United Nations Act (1946) and by other legislative and adminstrative means as necessary.

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House of Lords: Smoking and Insurance

Lord Harrison asked Lord Tordoff, as acting Chairman of Committtees:

    Whether he has estimated the savings on insurance that would result in enforcing a smoking ban in the House of Lords, and, in particular, in the Library rooms. [HL1169]

Lord Tordoff: There would be no savings. Her Majesty's Treasury bears its own property insurance risks.

Customs and Excise: Prosecuting Authority Role

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a decision has been reached concerning the future of Customs and Excise as a prosecuting authority. [HL1171]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The report by His Honour John Gower QC and Sir Anthony Hammond KCB QC was delivered to me on 5 December 2000. I have lodged a copy of the report in the Library, and copies of the report are available on request to the Solicitor for HM Customs and Excise.

The report concludes that the Customs and Excise Solicitor's Office should retain its prosecution function but that in exercising this function, including the giving of advice to investigating officers, it must be truly independent and be seen to be so. To that end, the report has also concluded that in relation to the prosecution function the Solicitor should be accountable to the Attorney-General rather than to the Commissioners and that the solicitor/client relationship between the Commissioners and the Solicitor should cease in relation to this function. Where cases are referred to the Solicitor's Office with view to prosecution, the decision on whether to do so will rest with the appropriate lawyer after consultation with, where necessary, an administrator on matters of policy and public interest. These recommendations are supported by a number of associated recommendations on detailed structural and financial aspects.

The Government have carefully considered all these recommendations. They accept all the recommendations in principle, but, given the significant resource implications associated with some recommendations, have opted for a phased approach to implementation.

The Government have had particular regard to the need to ensure that adequate resources are made available to the Solicitor's Office to enable it properly to conduct the large and complex drugs and other prosecutions which were the main focus of the report, and which are conducted by the Special Casework Division of that Office (SCD). They have therefore decided to afford this area of work the greatest priority.

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Accordingly, it has been decided that, with effect from 1 April 2001, Customs and Excise will invest sufficient extra resources in the Solicitor's Office to enable it to implement the recommendations in the report which bear directly on the cases conducted by the SCD. This will mean that, taken with additional resources already provided to the Solicitor's Office in relation to the Butler Report, the number of staff working on those cases in the SCD will almost double.

These additional resources will enable Recommendation 10 of the report (the attendance at conferences with Counsel, and attendance at hearings in the Crown Court) to be implemented quickly in relation to all SCD cases, and in over 60 per cent of the cases conducted by the Solicitor's Office in total. The implementation of the remainder of that recommendation will be subject to local trials to evaluate the benefits and costs.

Recommendation 15 (the conduct of magistrates' courts proceedings), will not be implemented immediately and will also be subject to such local trials.

The report concludes that Customs and Excise lawyers are dedicated professionals with valuable skills and expertise, and the Government believe that making the changes in accountability, responsibility and resourcing referred to above will ensure public confidence in the Solicitor's Office as a prosecuting authority.

To enable detailed consideration to be given to the implementation of the remaining recommendations in the Report, particularly where these have structural and budgetary implications, the change in accountability will have effect on 1 April 2002.

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