Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

17 Oct 2001 : Column WA93

Written Answers

Wednesday, 17th October 2001.

Treason Felony Act

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to repeal the Treason Felony Act 1848.[HL173]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): The Treason Felony Act 1848, like several other laws, has been on the statute book for a considerable time. We keep the need to reform this and other criminal legislation under review. We have no plans at present to repeal this Act.

Overseas Domestic Workers

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will change the arrangements for the entry to the United Kingdom for overseas domestic workers who accompany their employers.[HL840]

Lord Rooker: There is a longstanding concession, outside the Immigration Rules, enabling overseas employers coming to the United Kingdom to bring their domestic workers with them, if they need to do so.

Changes to the conditions under which overseas domestic workers could be admitted to the United Kingdom were laid before the House on 23 July 1998. The primary objective of those changes was to deal with concerns about reports of abuse suffered by such workers. Responding to those concerns while minimising scope for immigration abuse presented a difficult balance. We therefore undertook at the time to review the changes in the light of operational experience.

Following this review, a number of changes are being made with effect from today which we shall include in the Immigration Rules at a suitable opportunity.

In response to concerns raised by the employers of domestic workers, the level of duties needing to be performed by the worker will no longer have to exceed those set down in the International Labour Organisation's International Standard Classfication of Occupations.

We remain concerned at reports of abuse of domestic workers accompanying their employers to the United Kingdom and have discussed with Kalayaan, the organisation that represents overseas domestic workers, how this can be prevented. We have decided to continue allowing domestic workers to change employer but will be asking any that do so to inform the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in writing, outlining their reasons for doing so, at the earliest opportunity. This will enable officials to monitor any possible abuse of the concession by either

17 Oct 2001 : Column WA94

individuals or employers and, if detected, liaise with other departments to ascertain whether any action could be taken.

We are also clarifying what is meant in the concession by the meaning of "household". Some United Kingdom-based employers have long argued that, although they reside here, they maintain a household abroad and therefore domestic workers currently working in their overseas residence should qualify under this concession. We will make clear that a domestic worker wishing to come to the United Kingdom is expected to have been carrying out domestic duties under the same roof as their employer for 12 months before applying for entry clearance, or in a household that the employer uses for himself on a regular basis and where there is clear evidence of a connection between employer and employee. The domestic worker will also be expected to travel to the United Kingdom with their employer, their employer's spouse or minor child.

This definition should make it clear that the concession is not intended to allow employers who are resident here to recruit domestic workers from overseas. It will also benefit those employers who regularly divide their time between two houses.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have made to the United States Government about the refusal of the United States to endorse the draft protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention; and what action they will now take to strengthen the effectiveness of the convention. [HL712]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The UK joined its EU partners in expressing regret at the US decision to withdraw support from the draft protocol in a statement on 26 July 2001. We welcome the fact that the United States has made clear that it continues to support the strengthening of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and would be coming forward with specific proposals in advance of the BTWC Review Conference due to take place in Geneva (19 November to 7 December). Unfortunately, these consultations have been delayed by the tragic events in the United States of 11 September.

Mr Ilie Ilascu and other Prisoners

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 30 April (WA 244), and the subsequent release of Mr Ilie Ilascu, whether they will ask the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to press for the release of the men tried and imprisoned since 1992 with Mr Ilascu. [HL786]

17 Oct 2001 : Column WA95

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chair-in-Office, Mircea Geoana, issued a statement welcoming the 5 May release of Ilie Ilascu. Mr Geoana also called for the release of the other prisoners, Tudor Petrov-Popa, Andrei Ivantoc and Alexandru Lesco. Her Majesty's Government supported this statement, and will continue to support the work of the OSCE Mission to Moldova in pressing for the release of the three men.

Genoa G8 Summit: Detainees

Lord Clinton-Davis asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the aftermath of the G8 Summit held in Genoa on 20 July, consular officials from other EU countries were able to gain access to their detained nationals earlier than British consular officials.[HL808]

Baroness Amos: We understand that no other EU state was granted access to their detained nationals ahead of British consular officials. However, detainees were held in several widespread locations, so it is impossible to confirm definitively which nationals were seen first on Wednesday, 25 July, when access was finally granted. Our consul visited one detainee in hospital as early as Sunday, 22 July. British consular officials had visited all of our detainees ahead of most other EU states. American officials were the first to gain access to their nationals in the detention centres.

Throughout the night of Wednesday, 25 July, when the detainees were awaiting deportation at the airport, British consular officials provided support to British nationals and to many foreigners, including those from other EU countries, in the absence of their own consular representatives.

Sudan: Supply of Refuelling Tankers

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any recent applications for an export licence for the supply of refuelling tankers to Sudan.[HL810]

Baroness Amos: We recently approved an application for a licence to export one Bedford refuelling tanker for Blue Bird Aviation Ltd (Sudan). Although the tanker is on the Military List, it will be used to refuel light civilian aircraft at Khartoum airport, including those operated by UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the ICRC, all of which are working to alleviate the suffering in Sudan. This decision does not affect our continued support for the EU common position on arms exports to Sudan.

17 Oct 2001 : Column WA96

Ministry of Defence Medical Agencies

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

    What progress has been made with the quinquennial review of the medical agencies of the Ministry of Defence.[HL841]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): We are pleased to say that the review team have completed the first phase of their studies. As indicated in the Written Answer by my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State, Dr Lewis Moonie, on 15 December (Official Report, Commons, col. 275W) to the honourable Member for Gedling (Mr Coaker), the team has covered medical arrangements for personnel in Germany and Northern Ireland; and the interrelationships between primary and secondary care, as well as the functions and organisation of the Ministry of Defence's four medical agencies--the Defence Secondary Care Agency, the Defence Dental Agency, the Defence Medical Training Organisation and the Medical Supplies Agency.

We have endorsed the broad lines of the review team's report on the first phase of its studies and have agreed a package of further work to underpin and confirm its provisional conclusions. A paper, summarising the main features of the team's initial report and the Phase 2 work, which will take place between now and the end of the year, is being placed in the Library of the House. As the paper indicates, this further work will result in a detailed report which will form the basis of full consultation.

Intelligence and Security Committee

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the composition is of the Intelligence and Security Committee.[HL839]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Following appropriate consultation and in accordance with section 10 of the Intelligence and Security Act (1994), the Prime Minister has appointed the following members to the Intelligence and Security Committee:

    The Right Honourable Ann Taylor MP (Chair)

    Kevin Barron MP

    The Right Honourable Alan Howarth MP CBE

    The Right Honourable Gavin Strang MP

    The Right Honourable Joyce Quin MP

    The Right Honourable Lord Archer of Sandwell QC

    The Right Honourable James Arbuthnot MP

    Michael Mates MP

    The Right Honourable Alan Beith MP

Copies of letters announcing these appointments were placed in the Library of the House on 30 July 2001.

17 Oct 2001 : Column WA97

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page