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Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: We deplore the issuing of a fatwa against Isioma Daniel. Such action is a clear violation

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of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria acceeded in 1993.

With our EU partners, we have made clear our concern privately to the relevant authorities.

The Nigerian Government immediately made clear that the fatwa is null and void. Moderate Muslim leaders distanced themselves from it. On 28 November, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs of Nigeria (SCIA) rejected the fatwa on the grounds that Ms Daniel was not a Muslim and had apologised.

The Nigerian federal authorities are fully aware of their obligations under the international human rights instruments to which they are a signatory and the damage this illegal fatwa could do to their international reputation.


Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in agreeing the relationship between the sovereign base areas in Cyprus and the European Union following Cyprus's accession.[HL568]

Baroness Amos: Further to the Answer given by my noble friend Lady Symons of Vernham Dean to Lord Kilclooney of 5 December 2001, there has been very substantial progress on agreeing the relationship between the SBAs and the EU after Cyprus's accession. Our hope is that the final agreement will be in line with the policy set out in my noble friend's Answer: that the SBAs should remain outside the EU but with some technical adjustments to ensure the continued smooth functioning of the relationship between Cyprus and SBAs. To that end, a clearly defined and limited part of the acquis would apply to the SBAs. These arrangements would be compatible with the 1960 Treaty of Establishment and with the undertakings which we made at that time in relation to the SBAs.

The final agreement should take the form of a protocol which will be part of the terms of Cyprus's accession. A Bill will be introduced to enable ratification of the enlargement accession treaty.

EU: Working Rights

Baroness Billingham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What rights to work will be extended to citizens of the new European Union members states.[HL 569]

Baroness Amos: The Government have decided to extend to citizens of the new EU member states, from their accession on 1 May 2004, the full rights to work in the UK as enjoyed by existing EU citizens.

Under the terms of the Accession Treaty, the new EU citizens will automatically have full free movement rights for all purposes other than work. But it is up to

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each member state to decide whether to extend working rights from accession. Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Greece have already stated their intention to do this.

We have made this decision because it is in the UK's interest. It will attract workers we need in key sectors. It will ensure they can work without restrictions and not be a burden on the public purse. It forms part of our managed migration agenda. It makes sense financially, as we can focus resources on the real immigration problems, rather than trying to stop EU citizens enjoying normal EU rights; and it makes sense for UK citizens. Already thousands work in the future member states under work permit systems. They and others will have full rights to work in the new member states, free of controls.

The decision has been taken after careful analysis of successive independent studies which show that there is unlikely to be a large influx of workers to the UK after accession. Forthcoming research commissioned by the Home Office also suggests that the numbers that will migrate to the UK after accession will not be significant. This confirms the experience of Spanish and Portuguese accession when there were no major influxes. Indeed, the evidence is that emigrant workers return to their countries after they have joined the EU, thanks to the increased stability and prosperity which EU membership brings.

We will provide safeguards. These will allow us to reintroduce restrictions in the event of an unexpected threat to a region or sector in our labour markets.

This is the right thing to do. The citizens of the new member states should enjoy the same rights as British, French, German and other citizens within the EU.

Enlargement will ensure stability on our continent: the EU was founded to anchor peace and stability in Europe; enlargement is spreading that stability across our continent. It will provide a boost to our prosperity, as have all previous enlargements. Enlargement will improve our environment and security as we will be able to work together to tackle such problems as pollution, drug trafficking and international crime within the enlarged Union.

The UK has been a champion of enlargement from the start. We look forward to the conclulsion of negotiations with 10 candidate countries this week in Copenhagen, and to welcoming them as equal citizens in the EU in 2004.

Biological Weapons Convention: 5th Review Conference

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the 5th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva.[HL570]

Baroness Amos: There was a successful outcome to the recent 5th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva. The agreement that

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was reached there on a set of practical measures will now be the focus for active consideration by the international community. It was of crucial importance that there should be unanimous agreement on the way ahead in meeting the pervasive threat from biological warfare, particularly in light of the growing menace of international terrorism.

The Green Paper on the threat from biological weapons, which was laid before the House in April this year, set out a range of practical measures that could be adopted for dealing with this issue. The Government were particularly glad to see that a number of proposals in that paper have been incorporated into the international programme of work that has been agreed for the next three years.

The first round of meetings in 2003 will see discussion of penal legislation to bolster the prohibitions of the convention and also of stricter regulations on the handling of dangerous pathogens. In 2004 states parties will study ways of better responding to and investigating cases of alleged use of biological weapons, and suspicious outbreaks of disease. There will also be an examination of ways to strengthen the world-wide surveillance of disease as it affects humans, animals and plants. Finally, in 2005 there will be discussion, and we hope adoption, of a code of conduct for scientists working in this area.

Her Majesty's Government believe it was vital that agreement on this programme should be reached by consensus among all states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention. It was for this reason that we conducted extensive consultations throughout 2002 to try and establish a basis for compromise. Those efforts clearly bore fruit.

The seriousness and immediacy with which all countries view the BW threat is evident from this outcome. The programme of work won unanimous approval from the United States, our EU partners and other Western countries as well as Russia, China and members of the Non-Aligned Movement. This broad support is vital and will help to ensure that the international community brings its full authority to promoting and taking effective action on the potential dangers posed by the proliferation of biological weapons.

The United Kingdom has played a leading role in the search for ways of reinforcing the Biological Weapons Conference. So this positive outcome to the review conference is all the more welcome. We will remain fully committed to seeing practical results emerge from this process which will help to address an ever present threat both to international stability and the well being of humankind.

Asylum Seekers: Single-sex Accommodation

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider making provision for single-sex accommodation for those women refugees who request it.[HL403]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): Accommodation provided by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is on a "no choice basis". But each case is considered on its individual merits and NASS takes into account any information presented to it. This can include a request to be housed in single-sex accommodation. NASS has a range of accommodation ranging from full board hostels to self-contained flats and houses. NASS also uses houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). All HMOs provide single-sex accommodation but hostels may provide accommodation for both sexes and we cannot guarantee that all single women accommodated by NASS will be housed in single-sex accommodation.

In the trial of accommodation centres, it is intended that single women will be accommodated separately from families and single men and will not be expected to share facilities.

Asylum Seekers: Dispersal

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which are the cluster areas for the dispersal of asylum seekers in the United Kingdom; and how many asylum seekers will be dispersed to each such area; and[HL483]

    To which places not previously used for the dispersal of asylum seekers they intend to start dispersing such persons; and how many asylum seekers are intended for each new place.[HL484]

Lord Filkin: The following table lists all designated cluster areas and, where applicable, shows the number of asylum seekers including dependants dispersed to each area. The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is currently negotiating for additional accommodation suitable for families. In addition, one of the private providers contracted to NASS is seeking to fulfil the terms of its existing contract with NASS to provide accommodation mainly for single adults. I am unable at this stage to give information on where this accommodation will be or how many asylum seekers and dependants will be dispersed to each locality.

Cluster Areas shown by Region

RegionClusterPopulated Y/NNumber of asylum seekers including dependents supported in NASS accommodation as at 30 September 2002(1)
East of EnglandIpswichY70
Great YarmouthN
East MidlandsLeicesterY1,190
Greater LondonLondonY720
South Central and EastBrighton & HoveY60
Hastings & St LeonardsY215
North EastNewcastleY1,725
North TynesideY440
South TynesideY165
Redcar & ClevelandY310
Stockton on TeesY675
North WestManchester (Greater Manchester)Y2,210
Bolton (Greater Manchester)Y1,135
Bury (Greater Manchester)Y470
Oldham (Greater Manchester)Y655
Rochdale (Greater Manchester)Y390
Salford (Greater Manchester)Y900
Stockport (Greater Manchester)Y275
Tameside (Greater Manchester)Y215
Trafford (Greater Manchester)Y115
Wigan (Greater Manchester)Y780
Northern IrelandBelfastY120
South WestBristolY435
Taunton & BridgwaterN
South GloucestershireN
North SomersetN
Bridgend & PorthcawlN
West MidlandsBirminghamY3,925
Stoke on TrentY1,195
Yorkshire & HumbersideSheffieldY1,595
Bradford & KeighleyY1,620

(1) All figures rounded to nearest 5.

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