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Written Answers

Friday, 16 January 2004.

Honours System

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their policy that scientists who have conducted legal experiments upon live animals may not be awarded honours.[HL584]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The Government have no such policy. Honours candidates are considered on an individual basis against the competing merits of others considered at the same time. Honours have gone to individuals involved in this area in the past and they continue to be assessed on the same basis as all other candidates.

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

    What are the safeguards against bias and discrimination in the honours system?[HL605]

Baroness Amos: Every effort is made to find good honours candidates from every walk of life and field of activity. All awards are made strictly on merit.

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

    Whether they will establish an independent review of the honours system?[HL606]

Baroness Amos: Sir Hayden Phillips is leading a review of the honours system with the aim of providing greater transparency and introducing a stronger independent element into the honours process.

Alcohol Misuse

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit disbanded the sub-group of its advisory group on the draft analytical report on alcohol; and whether they will publish the paper submitted by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, a member of the sub-group.[HL92]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Strategy Unit convened several informal sub-groups to inform the development of its draft analytical report on alcohol misuse in England. As well as consulting a wide range of experts and stakeholders, the unit also commissioned and paid for a number of pieces of research from independent academics; publication of these is a matter for the authors. One of these pieces of research was commissioned from Professor Sir Michael Marmot. The interim analytical report which was produced as a result of this process was published in September 2003.

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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult with the Republic of Ireland and the Scottish Executive as regards their new strategies to combat alcohol harm, in order to align policy throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.[HL648]bjc

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government have consulted with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in producing their analysis of the harm caused by alcohol, and will continue to do so as the strategy for England is finalised and implemented. All three have produced their own strategies and the Government have been keen to learn from these. In addition, the Government have sought advice from the Republic of Ireland as part of the same process.

Youth Offending and Bereavement

Lord Stone of Blackheath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to investigate fully the links between bereavement and youth offending; and[HL307]

    What resources they currently make available to provide help for young offenders who have suffered a significant bereavement.(HL308)

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Recent research on the assessment system used by youth offending teams (YOTs) to assess offenders' needs suggests that experiencing a significant bereavement or loss may influence their future offending behaviour. There are no current plans to commission further research in this area.

The assessment system examines family and personal relationships and whether any incidence of bereavement or loss continues to have an impact on the young offender's life. If bereavement is identified as a risk factor, then bereavement counselling can be offered as part of any overall programme to address the young person's offending behaviour and risk factors. No resources are provided specifically for bereavement counselling but it would form part of the menu of interventions that youth offending teams currently offer those young offenders with the identified need.

Prison Transfer Agreements: UK and Caribbean

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With which countries in the Caribbean the United Kingdom has prison transfer agreements; and, listed by country, how many prisoners have so far been transferred; and[HL316]

    With which countries in the Caribbean the United Kingdom is negotiating prison transfer agreements; and when it is anticipated these negotiations will be concluded.[HL317]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The United Kingdom has prisoner transfer agreements with four Caribbean countries. The table lists those countries and gives the number of prisoners transferred under the agreements since 2000. Figures prior to this date are not available.

CountryToFrom
Bahamas
Barbados
Cuba2
Trinidad & Tobago15

In addition to these countries the United Kingdom has concluded prisoner transfer agreements with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Guyana. These agreements have been signed but are awaiting completion of the relevant constitutional procedures by the countries concerned.

The Government are pursuing the possibility of concluding prisoner transfer agreements with St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis and St Vincent. Discussions with each of these countries are at different stages and it is not possible to give any indication of when they will be concluded.


Prison Act 1952

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to amend the Prison Act 1952 in the foreseeable future; and whether the Act can be ignored where it is expedient to do so, in the absence of any likely challenge in the court.[HL423]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is not clear which provision of the Prison Act 1952 the noble Lord is referring to. However, in general terms, the Government keep under review existing legislation and seek to amend or repeal provisions as necessary and when Parliamentary time allows. The Prison Service has of course an obligation to comply with the terms of any relevant Act of Parliament and, as a public authority, to ensure that it also complies with its obligations under the Human Rights Act 2000.

Charities

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many charities there are in the United Kingdom; and how many of these are (a) incorporated trading and incorporated non-trading charities; and (b) unincorporated non-trading charities.[HL493]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Charity Commission is the non-ministerial government department responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales. Not all charities are registered with the commission, some are not allowed to register (exempt charities) and others are excepted from the requirement to register.

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In Scotland the Scottish Charities Index is maintained by the Inland Revenue. Around 28,000 charities are currently on the index although many of these are not active. Details of whether charities are trading or non-trading are not held.

There is no register of charities in Northern Ireland. Northern Irish charities wishing to claim charitable tax exemptions apply to the Inland Revenue. Approximately 3,700 Northern Irish charities have made claims over the four years to March 2003. Details of whether charities are trading or non-trading are not held.

Terrorism Legislation: Detentions

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many persons have been held under the terrorism Acts, without trial, for one year and two years respectively.[HL552]bjc

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Six of the individuals detained under Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCS) have been in detention for a period of two years—of the eight people originally detained following the introduction of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act, two have chosen to leave the United Kingdom and the other six remain in detention. All eight were the subjects of the determinations handed down by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) on 29 October which upheld the decision to certify in each case.

A further five people have been in detention for between one and two years.

A total of 16 people have been detained under these powers.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many detainees under the terrorism Acts have been released to go to other countries; and how many have tried but failed to find countries to accept them.[HL553]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: While Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allows for a detainee to make a voluntary departure from the United Kingdom, it is down to the detainees themselves to demonstrate that they will be accepted by another country should they wish to take this option. The Home Office will, of course, facilitate their travel.

In line with our duty of confidentiality relating to the immigration status of individuals in the United Kingdom, the Government do not comment on the details of individual cases.

Of a total of 16 people who have been detained, two have voluntarily left the United Kingdom.

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