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2 Jul 2003 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Wednesday, 2nd July 2003.

Supreme Court

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

    Whether their proposals to abolish the judicial function of the House of Lords and to create a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom include proposals (a) to abolish the judicial functions of HM Privy Council and (b) to make the Supreme Court the final court for the whole of the United Kingdom in criminal, civil, devolution and other cases.[HL3417]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): These are all issues which will be covered by the consultation paper which I shall publish on 14 July.

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

    What is their plan for a public building for a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.[HL3476]

The Lord Chancellor: Work on determining where to locate the new Supreme Court will be carried out in parallel with the consultation on the details of its form and functions. No decisions have been taken on where it might be located.

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

    Whether they intend the Supreme Court for the United Kingdom to determine Scottish appeals in criminal cases.[HL3477]

The Lord Chancellor: The consultation paper which I shall be publishing on 14 July will consider the jurisdiction of the new Supreme Court. bjc

North/South Ministerial Council

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House, and on the North/South Ministerial Council's website, all documents relating to North/South Ministerial decisions since 15 October 2002; and whether they will ensure that they are placed in a way that documents the steps taken by all parties to adhere to the process entitled Ministerial Decision Making Interim Procedures of 5 December 2002 and the letter from the Northern Ireland Secretary of State to David Trimble MP of 19 December 2002.[HL3138]

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The papers relating to the decisions made up to 30 April 2003 under the exchange of notes of 19 November 2002 have been placed in the Library.

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Arrangements are also being made to have these papers made available on the North/South Ministerial Council's website.

These papers were progressed in line with the procedures set out in the Interim Procedures where appropriate. I can assure the noble Lord that they have been progressed in a manner which fulfils commitments given by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in his letter of 19 December 2002 to the right honourable David Trimble MP.

Papers relating to any further decisions made after 30 April 2003 under the exchange of notes will be placed in the Library on a regular basis.

Constitutional Change: Government Announcements

Viscount Goschen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that a briefing to television journalists represents the most appropriate mechanism to announce proposals for constitutional change.[HL3454]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government follows the established practice of successive administrations in terms of reshuffle announcements and related restructuring.

Afghanistan: ISAF Personnel and ICC

Lord Howell of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Kingdom has now signed an agreement with Afghanistan to protect all peacekeepers who are British nationals from surrender to the International Criminal Court when it begins operations on 16 June; and how many other European states have signed similar agreements to protect their nationals.[HL3309]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): On 4 January 2002 the British Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) signed a Military Technical Agreement with the Afghan Interim Administration for the protection of ISAF personnel.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the ISAF rather than in a national capacity. Other European states contributing personnel to the ISAF both at the time and since are covered by the agreement.

The agreement provides that "ISAF and supporting personnel, including associated liaison personnel, may not be surrendered to or transferred to the custody of an international tribunal or other entity or state without the express consent of the contributing state".

This is not inconsistent with the UK's commitment to co-operate with the ICC. The ICC's jurisdiction complements that of the states parties to the Rome

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Statute which set up the ICC. The UK is conscientious in enforcing respect for international humanitarian law among its service personnel. It is inconceivable that the UK would be unable or unwilling (as defined in Article 17 of the Rome Statute) to make its own investigation of an alleged offence within Afghanistan by a British member of ISAF, which might otherwise fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Zimbabwe: Sanctions

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether sanctions against Zimbabwe have recently been extended.[HL3686]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: With the support of Her Majesty's Government, the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 18 February agreed both Common Position 2003/115/CFSP and Council Regulation 313/2003. The Common Position extends EU sanctions against Zimbabwe for 12 months; clarifies the grounds for an exemption to the travel ban, and changes the procedures for granting an exemption.

Liberia: Sanctions

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Nations sanctions against Liberia have been recently extended.[HL3687]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: With the support of Her Majesty's Government, the United Nations Security Council on 6 May 2003 unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council resolution 1478(2003). The resolution rolled over the measures that had been in place against Liberia (a travel ban against senior government officials and members of their immediate families, a diamond embargo and an arms embargo). The travel ban was also extended to members of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). In addition, timber sanctions were imposed against all round logs and timber products originating in Liberia. Sanctions against timber do not come into place until 7 July 2003.

North Atlantic Parliamentary Assembly:UK Delegation

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes have been made to the composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the North Atlantic Parliamentary Assembly.[HL3689]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Baroness Ramsey of Cartvale has replaced the late Lord Gladwin of Clee CBE as a member of the delegation.

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Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which provisions of the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 fail to meet the non-regression principles set out in the European Union Race Directive; and what are the reasons therefor.[HL3430]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We do not consider that any of the provisions of the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 fail to meet the non-regression principles set out in the European Union Race Directive.

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the reasons why "national origins" were added to the definition in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003, whereas the European Race Directive only specified "race and ethnic" origins.[HL3431]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: "National origins" were included in the definition in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003, because current case law holds that these words, which already appear in the 1976 Act, refer to a person's country of birth (as opposed to nationality).

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

    Whether they consider the exclusion of "colour" from the grounds of unlawful racial discrimination in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 to be compatible with the universal right to equality before the law for all persons, referred to in Recital (3) of the Preamble to the Race Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/EC); and, if so, what are their reasons.[HL3441]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We consider the omission of a reference to colour in the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 to be compatible with the universal right to equality before the law for all persons, referred to in Recital (3) of the Preamble to the Race Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/EC), to the extent that the omission of any such reference in the directive is itself so compatible.

Immigration Service Removal Centres: Children

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children in families were held in removal centres in the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 2003 for:


    (a) 1–7 days;


    (b) 7–14 days; and


    (c) longer than 14 days.[HL3574]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The information requested is not available and could only be obtained by examination of individual case-files at disproportionate cost.

Dungavel, Harmondsworth, Oakington and Tinsley House are the only Immigration Service Removal Centres (IRC's) that deal with family cases. An exercise was carried out on 2 April 2003 to assess the number of children under the age of 18 detained in these IRC's, the results of which are contained in the table.

Immigration Service Removal CentreChildren under 18 years of age in detention at 2 April 2003
Dungavel21
Harmondsworth18
Oakington14
Tinsley3
Total56

Minors are detained only in two limited circumstances: first, as part of a family group whose detention is considered appropriate; second, when unaccompanied, while alternative care arrangements are made and normally just overnight.



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