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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): The Detention Centre Rules 2001 require the appointment of a religious affairs manager at every Immigration Service detention centre, whose task it will be to ensure that arrangements are made to provide for the various religious needs of those in detention, including access to appropriate ministers of religion. In addition, where the Secretary of State considers that the number of persons of a particular religion in a detention centre is such as to require the appointment to the centre of a minister of that religion, he may appoint such a minister. Separately, we have set up a Religious Affairs Advisory Group comprised of representatives of the main religions likely to be found in detention centres. This group will be available to offer advice on religious affairs issues within detention centres, including guidance on appropriate religious bodies or organisations to approach in connection with the appointment of ministers of religion.
Lord Rooker: The Prison Service accepts that the delivery of prisoners from Highdown prison to Guildford Crown Court has been unsatisfactory and is determined to solve the problem. It has therefore set up a working party to examine the causes and make recommendations for their resolution. Membership comprises representatives of Highdown prison, the local escort contractor, Premier Prison Services, and the courts. The accepted recommendations of the working party will be implemented as quickly as possible.
Lord Rooker: There is currently no specific offence of trafficking in human beings but there are legislative provisions which may be used to prosecute those involved in trafficking into the United Kingdom for the purposes of prostitution. Setting the Boundaries, the report of a review of sexual offences, recommends that a specific offence of trafficking in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation should be created. The responses to consultation on that review's recommendations are currently being analysed.
Existing legislation deals with many of the individual elements which constitute trafficking. In bringing any criminal prosecution, the evidential contribution of witnesses is crucial and this Government are keen to ensure that a safe environment exists in which potential witnesses can feel confident to come forward and give evidence against traffickers. There is no automatic right to temporary or permanent residence for those witnesses whose presence in the United Kingdom is unlawful. The Immigration Act 1971 (as amended), however, makes provision for the Secretary of State to exercise his discretion in appropriate circumstances to grant exceptional leave to enter or remain outside the normal provisions of the Immigration Rules. If the Police and/or Crown Prosecution Service identify a potential witness whose presence at court they wish to secure and who would otherwise fall to be removed from the United Kingdom, an application is made to the Secretary of State to consider whether to exercise his discretion to treat them outside the Immigration Rules in order to allow them to remain during the course of judicial proceedings. Each application is considered individually on its merits.
We are also considering what needs to be done to create the circumstances in which a non-governmental organisation could be formed which would provide support and advice to the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Lord Rooker: The Prison Service is making good progress in this area. A formal greening operations policy was introduced in March 2000, the implementation of which is being overseen by a headquarter's working group chaired by a member of the Prison Service Management Board.
During the last year there have been many developments in areas such as biodiversity, energy efficiency, procurement, transport and waste management. These are described in the service's first annual environmental report, which was published yesterday, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.
The Director General of the Prison Service has made clear his personal commitment to improving the environmental performance of the service and a challenging programme of further work, detailed in the report, has been set for the current year.
Lord Rooker: The use of the prison estate is kept under constant review by the Prison Service Management Board and I have endorsed its decision to change the function of Downview male closed prison to become a female closed prison; to remove immigration detainees from Rochester making the whole of that establishment a young offender institution; and for Dover young offender institution to become an establishment dedicated to immigration detainees.
Lord Rooker: The current application forms are valid for use only until 14 October 2001. Revised forms will be prescribed before then and should be available by the end of September. From the time they are issued until 14 October 2001, applications may be made on either the newly prescribed forms or the present versions. Only the new forms may be used for applications made on or after 15 October 2001. Copies will be placed in the Library when they are available.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): According to UNRWA, there are 373,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, of whom 208,000 live in refugee camps. However, it is widely believed that the actual number of Palestinian refugees remaining in Lebanon is considerably lower than the official figures and that the actual figure is around 150,000 to 200,000. The UK has contributed £10 million to UNRWA's General Fund for 2001. In June, we agreed to provide a further £5 million, of which £3 million was to support the General Fund budget deficit and £2 million for the UNRWA emergency appeal. This brings the UK's total contribution to the emergency appeals to £10 million since November 2000.
Baroness Amos: We support UN General Assembly Resolution 194 which calls for the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees. A permanent solution to their plight can only be achieved as part of an agreement on final status. We continue to encourage and support the parties in their search for a negotiated agreement. Though this at present seems a remote prospect, there is no alternative vision that can provide lasting security, peace with justice and prosperity for all peoples in the region. In this process it is primarily for the Palestinian negotiators to take due account of the refugees themselves in Lebanon and elsewhere. We maintain regular contact with Palestinians throughout the region, as with all the other parties.
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