Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Hong Kong: National Security Legislation

Lord Howell of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Article 23 of the Basic Law states that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) shall enact national security legislation "on its own". We have therefore made frequent representations to the SAR Government on this issue, including at ministerial level.

11 Sept 2003 : Column WA140

We have also discussed the issue with the Chinese Government in general terms. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Rammell) did so with Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui in January and my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary did so on 25 June when visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. On 21 July, during his visit to China, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister discussed Article 23 with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

We have followed this issue very closely. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr Rammell) issued press statements on 27 March and 30 June setting out views after the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill was introduced to the Legislative Council in February. Following a large demonstration in Hong Kong on 1 July, the Chief Executive announced significant amendments to the legislation on 5 July, including the removal of the proposed new provisions regarding the proscription of Hong Kong organisations subordinate to organisations proscribed on the Mainland on national security grounds. This had been one of the main concerns of the people of Hong Kong and of the international community. On 7 July the Chief Executive announced that passage of the legislation would be delayed to allow more time for further discussion in Hong Kong. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr Rammell) issued a press statement on 16 July welcoming these significant developments.

On 5 September the SAR Government announced that it would withdraw the Bill from the Legislative Council.

We shall continue to follow developments closely.

Diplomatic Missions: National Non-domestic Rates

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the names of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom that owed more than £10,000 as at 30 June 2003 in respect of national non-domestic rates (NNDR) for office premises.[HL4235]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Most diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom meet their obligations and pay the national non-domestic rates (NNDR) requested from them. However, as at 30 June 2003 the following missions owed over £10,000 in respect of NNDR:

CountryAmount
Bulgaria£143,346.09
Iran£104,943.24
Algeria £47,022.74
Sierra Leone £43,320.65
Mozambique £32,301.67
Cameroon £30,109.53
Uganda £27,801.89
Syria £24,750.48
Bangladesh £23,356.44
Zimbabwe £21,016.08
Zambia £19,276.56
Cote D'Ivoire £16,392.46
Malawi £12,606.03
Cuba £12,349.06
TOTAL£558,592.92

Eleven additional diplomatic missions which owe £10,000 or more in respect of national non-domestic rates have made arrangements with the Valuation Office Agency to clear their outstanding debts and have not been included in this list. The total amount outstanding from all missions, including these additional diplomatic missions, is approximately £960,394.45.


11 Sept 2003 : Column WA141

British Overseas Territories Citizens

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many British overseas territories citizens have applied for British citizen passports; and how many new applicants sought British Overseas territories citizenship in the first year of implementation of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002[HL4388]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A total of 7,079 British citizen passports were issued to British overseas territories citizens in the period May to December 2002 and 5,174 in the period January to May 2003. That is a total of 12,250 since the citizenship provisions of the British Overseas Territories Act came into force on 21 May 2002.

A total of 1,359 new applicants applied for British overseas territories citizenship in the first year of implementation of the citizenship provision of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002.

Racial Discrimination: International Human Rights Treaties

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

    Whether any international human rights treaty by which member states of the European Union are bound excludes discrimination based on colour from the prohibition against racial discrimination.[HL4128]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We are not aware of any such human rights treaty that excludes discrimination based on colour from any prohibition of racial discrimination.

11 Sept 2003 : Column WA142

Charity Street Collections

Lord Phillips of Sudbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which local authorities have adopted the model regulations contained in the Charitable Collections (Transitional Provisions) Order 1972.[HL4263]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Local authorities in England and Wales currently have the power, but not the duty, to create licensing schemes for street collections under the Charitable Collections (Transitional Provisions) Order 1974. Comprehensive records are not maintained centrally and it would only be possible to obtain this information at disproportionate cost. However, it is estimated that at present some 80 per cent of the 410 local licensing authorities have street collection regulations in place.

Voluntary and Community Sector: Fourth Annual Report of Compact Working Group Secretariat

Lord Howell of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will arrange for the Fourth Annual Meeting to Review the Compact between Ministers and Representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector to be reissued in everyday English.[HL4269]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Report of the Fourth Annual Meeting to Review the Compact between Ministers and Representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector will not be reissued.

The report was published in June 2003 after the final draft was agreed with the Compact Working Group Secretariat for accuracy, clarity and readability.

Immigration Detainees: HMP Maghaberry

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) what are the age groups of immigration detainees at present held in HM Prison Maghaberry; (b) what is the average length of time during which immigration detainees are held in HM Prison Maghaberry; and (c) how many immigration detainees were granted asylum in the United Kingdom following detention in HM Prison Maghaberry to date during the years 2002 and 2003.[HL4277]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The latest available information on those detained solely under the Immigration Act shows that at 28 June 2003 there were five people held at HMP Maghaberry (rounded to five). Information on the ages and length of detention of these detainees is not available.

11 Sept 2003 : Column WA143

Information on the number of people who were granted asylum after having been detained in HMP Maghaberry in the years 2002 and 2003 would only be available by examination of individual case-files; this would incur disproportionate cost.

Racial Discrimination Legislation: UK and EC Legislation

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 17 July (WA 164), what inconsistencies there are in the Race Relations Act 1976 resulting from the implementation of the Race Directive.[HL4280]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The effect of the Race Relations Act (Amendment) Regulations 2003 is to amend the Race Relations Act 1976 (RRA) in such a way as to implement the EC Article 13 Race Directive. The principles of the directive—such as a revised definition of indirect discrimination and a change in the interpretation of the burden of proof—are applied to the RRA in respect of claims brought in areas of the RRA that are within the scope of the directive. Therefore potential claims of unlawful discrimination which fall within the scope of the directive will be subject to the revised provisions—such as the amended definition of indirect discrimination, the new statutory definition of harassment (which corresponds to the existing case law definition), the new definition of "genuine occupational requirement", the repeal of some provisions which are contrary to the principle of equal treatment (as defined in the directive)—whereas claims which fall outside the scope of the directive will be subject to the Act's original provisions.

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 17 July (WA 164), what evidence they possess that the European Commission and Council intended to adopt a narrower interpretation of the concept of racial discrimination in the Race Directive than in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("the CERD"), notwithstanding the express reference to the CERD in the preamble to the Race Directive.[HL4281]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: As I indicated in my response to the noble Lord of 17 July 2003 (WA 164), the Government are not able to speculate on the intentions of the Commission and Council. However the Government note that "the CERD" contains a reference to colour, as does the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in contrast to the recitals to, and Article 2 of, the directive.

11 Sept 2003 : Column WA144


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page