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12 Feb 2002 : Column WA133

Written Answers

Tuesday, 12th February 2002.

Republic of Ireland: British Passport Applications

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Amos on 26 November (WA 1), which indicated an increase in excess of 87 per cent in the number of applications for British passports from residents of the Irish Republic over the past five years, whether they will make British passports available to all residents of the Republic in an act of parity and equality with the availability of Irish passports to residents in any part of the United Kingdom.[HL1745]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Eligibility for a British passport depends upon whether the applicant is British, and this in turn is determined by British nationality law, principally the British Nationality Act 1981. We do not believe that reciprocity for the residents of Ireland is necessary or acceptable as a basis on which to determine eligibility for British nationality and have no plans to amend the law in this respect.

London Underground: Timing of 7 February Statement

Viscount Aston asked the Leader of the House:

    Why the Statement made on 7 February (HL Deb, col. 742) on London Underground was made at 7 p.m. and not at the usual time, after 3.30 p.m.[HL2817]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: By long established custom, when we repeat a Statement in this House, we always take it after it has been taken in the other place. Since the Statement to which the noble Viscount refers was made at 7 p.m. in the other place, we could not take it sooner than 7 p.m. in this House without transgressing against this custom. The question why it was taken at 7 p.m. in the other place is a question for the business in that House.

Afghanistan: Ethnic Communities' Representation

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that ethnic communities including the Pushtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Turkmen, Baluch and Nuristani are adequately represented in the future arrangements to be introduced in Afghanistan for central and provincial government; what is their evaluation of the necessity for such representation in order to

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    build stability; and what is their policy towards representation of ethnic people in Afghanistan by their warlords.[HL2556]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foregin and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): We have long said that we want to see a broadly based representative government in Afghanistan. We continue to offer our full support to the UN-led political process, as set out in the Bonn Agreement. This process is the best hope that Afghanistan has to secure a government representative of all the Afghan peoples and stability in Afghanistan.

The Interim Administration, established on 22 December, will govern for six months until a Loya Jirga (a traditional Afghan Grand Council) is convened in June to select members for a transitional authority. The transitional authority will govern until elections can be held in 2003 for a fully representative government. The form of that government is for the Afghan people to decide.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their evaluation of the need to achieve a convincing cross-section of ethnic representation in provincial and central government in Afghanistan in order to ensure the success of the international reconstruction policy for Afghanistan.[HL2557]

Baroness Amos: We believe that a broadly based government is essential for the future stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In this regard we welcome the renewed commitment made by Hamid Karzai, Chairman of the Interim Administration, at the Tokyo Reconstruction Conference that this remains a top priority.

We also welcome the recent appointment of the Special Commission for the Co-ordination of the Emergency Loya Jirga by Ambassador Brahimi, UNSG's special representative for Afghanistan. The commission, which comprises 21 members, is drawn from a wide range of ethnic groups and is tasked to put in place arrangements, by June 2002, for the Emergency Loya Jirga which will govern Afghanistan for the next 18 months.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their evaluation of the interrelationship between the ethnic communities in Afghanistan and their "patron states" like Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan; what is the significance of this interrelationship in provoking instability; and how they intend to address this issue together with other members of the coalition against terrorism.[HL2558]

Baroness Amos: We have long said that we want to see a broadly based government in Afghanistan, representative of all the Afghan peoples. Afghanistan's neighbours have a crucial role to play in helping to bring about stability in Afghanistan. We have urged them to support the UN-led political process, as set out in the Bonn Agreement.

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World Trade Centre Attack: Fatalities

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the final figure of those people killed in the attack on the New York World Trade Centre on 11th September 2001; and how many of them were British citizens.[HL2586]

Baroness Amos: The current figure of those people killed in the 11th September attack is 2,870. To date the bodies of eight British citizens have been positively identified and a further 53 British citizens are on our list of possible victims. These figures include dual nationals.

Youth Justice Orders: Ethnic Monitoring

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will include ethnic monitoring of the new youth justice orders in their annual publication under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.[HL2389]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): Youth offending teams are required to collect individual data, including ethnicity on each young person they work with. This data identifies the type of order imposed.

The Youth Justice Board will be providing the Home Office with such information for inclusion in the publication under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 relating to the year 2002–03. The Home Office will be working with the Youth Justice Board to ensure the quality of this information.

Defence Medicine: Employment of Civilian Medical Consultants

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether civilian medical consultants are employed to cover the deficiency of military medical specialists; if so, how many are employed in each speciality; and how many established posts still remain unfilled. [HL2593]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The bulk of military consultants are employed by the Defence Secondary Care Agency (DSCA), which also employs civilian consultants on long and short-term contracts within its directly managed units (DMUs). The length and type of contract offered to civilian consultants depends on whether they are required to cover for service personnel who are absent on sick or annual leave, training, exercises or deployments, or to fill posts in which there are military shortages in a particular speciality.

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The number of civilian consultants employed by speciality at DSCA DMUs as at 1 February 2002 is shown in the table below. Although outwith the DSCA's management, the agency is responsible for providing military or, where necessary, civilian consultants for the Duke of Connaught Unit (DCU) in Northern Ireland. Accordingly, the DCU is covered in the table.

SpecialityNumber of civilian consultants filling military consultants posts for 6 months or longerNumber of military consultant posts filled by civilian locums (employed for under 6 months)Number of established (1) military consultant posts unfilled
General Surgery111
Rheumatology & Rehabilitation002
Obstetrics & Gynaecology210

(1) The military consultant establishment is based on the current provision of secondary care services across DSCA sites, as opposed to the operational and retained task requirement, which is the military manning requirement deemed necessary in the event of total mobilisation.

(2) Seven of these posts are full time, three part time.

(3) Two of these posts are full time, one part time.

Under the contractual arrangements between the Ministry of Defence and the NHS trusts that host the Centre for Defence Medicine and Ministry of Defence hospital units, the trusts are responsible for employing consultants to fill vacant military posts. Accordingly, the DSCA does not maintain statistics on the civilian consultant cover at these units.

Army Units Not Conforming to 24-month Tour Interval

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which are the corps whose units are continuously required for overseas and operational deployment and do not conform to the 24-month tour interval; and what measures are being taken to relieve the pressure on these units. [HL2596]

Lord Bach: I assume by referring to "corps" the noble Lord is inquiring specifically about the units of the Royal Engineers, Royal Signals and Logistics units. The corps whose units are continuously required for overseas and operational deployment and do not conform to the 24-month tour interval are listed in the table below:

Royal EngineersExplosive Ordnance Disposal, Military Works Force and support to the RAF provided by 12 (Air Support) Engineer Brigade.
Royal Signals16 Air Assault Brigade Signal Squadron, 30 Signal Regiment, and 14 Signal Regiment.
Royal Army Medical CorpsEmployment groups of Specialist Medics, Surgeons, Anaesthetists, Environmental Health Officers, Radiologists, Laboratory Technicians, Physiotherapists, Medical Support Officers and Medical supply Technicians.
Royal Army Veterinary CorpsEmployment groups of Vets, Veterinary Technicians and Dog Handlers.
Royal Logistic CorpsEmployment groups of Chefs, Ammunition Technicians, Local Resource trained personnel and Postal and Courier Operatives.
Royal Electrical and Mechanical EngineersEmployment groups of Vehicle Mechanics, Instrument Technicians and Avionics Technicians.
Royal Military PoliceClose protection trained personnel.

We recognise the need to alleviate the pressure on these units and employ a variety of measures in order to achieve this. These include rationalisation of commitments; working to ensure unit and formation coherence where possible; making effective use of the Territorial Army; and, use of the Armed Forces Operational Welfare Package.

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