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House of Lords: Medical Services for Members

Lord Jopling asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): As the Chairman of Committees stated in his answer of 24 April 2001 (WA 222), the only difference in the medical services provided to Members of the two Houses is that Members of the Commons have access to a free health

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screening service every three years. The House has agreed that a similar service be made available to Members of this House next year. Negotiations are in progress to extend the medical contract with St Thomas' Hospital, which provides the screening service to the House of Commons, so as to include provision for Members of this House. The target date for the introduction of the new screening service is 1 April 2002.

Palace of Westminster: Acoustics

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What steps he is planning to take to improve the acoustics of rooms in the Palace of Westminster which are used for briefings and consultations.[HL1687]

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees: The acoustics of Committee Rooms and meeting rooms within the House of Lords are kept under constant review. Committee Rooms 1, 2 3 and 4 have recently been refurbished, and each room now has a modern sound raising system including induction loops. Committee Room G also has provision for sound amplification. Refurbishment is planned for Committee Rooms 3A and 4B, and permanent sound systems will then be provided. The Moses Room acoustics have been studied by the BBC and modifications have been made in accordance with its recommendations. It is unlikely that further improvements can be achieved there.

The other House of Lords' meeting rooms in the Palace do not have sound systems installed. Most of the rooms are small and do not appear to need them. However, Peers may, at any time, contact Mr Robert Jelley (extension 6049) to request the services of Westminster Sound in providing sound raising for specific meetings.

Hong Kong: Anti-Discrimination Legislation

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

    Further to their six-monthly report on Hong Kong January-June 2001 (July 2001), whether they will continue to encourage the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government to meet the criticism made by the United Nations Human Rights Committee by introducing a measure to prohibit racial discrimination in the private sector and discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and age, and to establish a human rights institution or adequate alternative arrangements for the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights.[HL1376]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): We continue to take a close interest in the extent to which the rights and freedoms promised by the Joint

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Declaration and the Basic Law are upheld in Hong Kong. We have raised the issue of racial discrimination with the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government, including most recently with Donald Tsang, Chief Secretary for Administration on 20 November. We have made clear that the UK experience is that legislation is an important—though not alone sufficient—part of the process of combating racism. The SAR Government's attitude to legislation is not closed. They are currently conducting further consultation in the community about the desirability of legislation.

We understand that the SAR Government currently have no plans to introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and age, or to establish a human rights institution.

Egypt: Representations about Nightclub Arrest

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations from (a) officials and (b) Ministers have been made to the Egyptian Government in each month since May regarding the arrest on Friday 11 May of 52 men aboard a floating nightclub on the Nile; on what date and in what form each representation was made; how many representations the Government have received with regard to this matter from the general public; and what reply has been obtained from the Egyptian Government.[HL1488]

Baroness Amos: We remain concerned about this case and have followed its course very closely. We are particularly concerned that the men were tried in a state security emergency court. A representative of our embassy in Cairo attended the trial, and was present at the sentencing on 15 November. Our embassy has regularly spoken to Egyptian Goverment officials about the case and have made representations at a senior level since the verdict was announced. Ben Bradshaw, the Minister responsible for relations with Egypt, raised the case here with the Egyptian Ambassador on 17 July and in Egypt with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on 19 July. We have also reported EU representations. Following the sentencing of 23 of the defendants, the EU troika made a demarche in Cairo on 22 November. The Egyptian authorities have replied that the men were charged with a criminal offence, under the Prostitution Law and that the trial process was a fair one. We have received approximately 20 representations from the general public about this case.

British Overseas Territories Bill

The Earl of Mar and Kellie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the British Overseas Territories Bill will give any right of residence in the overseas territories to British citizens.[HL1523]

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Baroness Amos: The Bill will give no right of residence in the overseas territories to British citizens. The grant of British citizenship, and the right of abode which flows from it, is non-reciprocal.

Iran: Human Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that their policy of constructive engagements and dialogue with Iran has been able to decrease the numbers of:

    (a) executions (including the hanging of women in public);

    (b) public floggings; and

    (c) confiscations of satellite dishes and receivers.[HL1562]

Baroness Amos: Since the election of the reformist government of President Khatami in 1997, and the EU and UK's consequent constructive engagement with Iran, much progress has been made towards President Khatami's stated aim of an Islamic civil society based on the rule of law. As the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said in his report of 10 August, there are signs that the incorporation of human rights values into Iranian society is proceeding at an accelerating rate.

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However, in part as a result of the complex internal political situation, in some areas, such as those mentioned by the Noble Lord, the situation has deteriorated in recent months. We and our EU partners continue to press the Iranian authorities to address these outstanding issues, including through our sponsorship of regular UN resolutions on the human rights situation in Iran. The Foreign Secretary most recently raised our concerns with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran on 25 September.

FCO: Departmental Expenditure Limit and Administration Costs Limit

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any plans to change the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's departmental expenditure limit (DEL) and administration costs limit for 2001–02.[HL1693]

Baroness Amos: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's departmental expenditure limit (DEL) will be decreased by £3,206,000 from £1,365,910,000 to £1,362,704,000 and the administration costs limit will be decreased by £960,000 from £635,558,000 to £634,598,000. Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital are as set out in the following table:

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Resources Capital
ChangeNew DELOf which: VotedNon-votedChangeNew DELOf which: VotedNon-voted

The change in the resource element of the DEL arises from:

1. A reduction of £960,000 in the FCO's administration cost limit as a result of a PES (Public Expenditure Survey) transfer to the DTI, relating to funding arrangements for British Trade International.

2. A PES transfer of £886,000 to the Cabinet Office relating to funding arrangements for the BBC Monitoring Service.

3. A PES transfer of £570,000 to DfID to reflect funding arrangements for a refurbishment project.

The change in the capital element of the DEL arises from a PES transfer of £790,000 to the DTI relating to funding arrangements for British Trade International.

The decreases are offset by interdepartmental transfers and will not impact on the planned total of public expenditure.

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Judicial Review

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What previous attempts have been made to restrict the right to judicial review by parliamentary statute; and what have been the results of such attempts.[HL873]

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    The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): There are numerous examples of statutory provisions which prevent review by the courts to a greater or lesser extent and it is not possible to provide a comprehensive list.

    Such provisions vary enormously depending on the context in which they appear. For example, a statute may provide that a certificate by the Secretary of State shall be conclusive evidence of the matters contained therein. Alternatively, it may provide that a particular decision shall be final or conclusive or that it shall not be questioned in any court. In many cases, an alternative review process is provided for.

    Many of the statutory provisions in question have not been tested in the courts. Some of those that have been tested have been held not to prevent review (sometimes a limited review) by the courts.

Terrorism Act 2000: Extradition Warrants

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