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Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Mr Spellar) wrote to the leaders of all Northern Ireland political parties; the Northern Ireland spokesman for the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties; the chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee; and the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) on 14 June 2004 inviting them to nominate people to be considered for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Committee. His letter pointed out that any nominee would be required to undergo the same application process as all other candidates.

The advertisement also invited bodies to nominate individuals.

The Government did not receive any nominations.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: John Keanie is an OCPA-accredited independent assessor whose job is to ensure that the entire appointments process adheres to the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments' (OCPA) code of practice. His expertise is in public appointments.

OCPA guidance states that "independent scrutiny underwrites the integrity of the whole appointments process". Furthermore, it defines the role of the independent assessor as "an expert in the appointments process and need not have a specialist knowledge in the subject matter dealt with by the body on which there is a vacancy".

An independent human rights expert, Mr Chris Sidoti (Director of International Service of Human Rights, a NGO based in Geneva) will be on the interview panel for both the chief commissioner and commissioner posts.

House of Lords: Computer Office

Lord Williams of Elvel asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Computer Officer has day-to-day
 
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responsibility for the House of Lords Computer Office. He reports to the Reading Clerk, as the Management Board member responsible for Information Services, who in turn reports to the Clerk of the Parliaments. The strategic direction of the Computer Office is guided at official level by the Information Technology Steering Group with input from the Information Committee. The overall budget for the office is approved by the House Committee.

Immigration Service: Detention of Children

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

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Information on the total number of children detained by the United Kingdom's Immigration Service during the past six months is not available. It would only be available by examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

As at 26 June 2004, 60 people who were detained solely under Immigration Act powers were recorded as being under 18 years old.

Europe

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The reference to "Europe" in the Home Office press release was intended to mean "mainland Europe".

Northern Ireland: Army Deployment

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): Military force levels in Northern Ireland are dependent on the prevailing security environment. As the environment improves we expect the requirement for forces assigned to support the police to decline. Accordingly, in the past six months we have been able to transfer four battalions from the command of the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland to Commander in Chief LAND.
 
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Iraq: Khamisiyah

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Answers to the Questions posed by the Countess of Mar were provided in two papers published in December 1999 entitled British Chemical Warfare Defence During the Gulf Conflict 1990–91 and Review of Events Concerning 32 Field Hospital and the Release of Nerve Agent Arising from US Demolition of Iraqi Munitions at the Khamisiyah Depot in March 1991. Copies of these papers were placed in the Library of both Houses. Both papers can also be accessed via the MoD's website www.mod.uk/index.shtml.

Copies of these papers were also intended to be sent to the Countess of Mar and to the noble Lord among others. I regret that we can find no trace of these letters being sent although drafts were prepared. My honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ivor Caplin) will write to the Countess of Mar with copies of the original drafts and arrange for these to be placed in the Library of the House.

Gulf War Veterans

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: No review is planned but all patient records are routinely reviewed in great detail. Dr Hall was employed at the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme (GVMAP) in July 1997 but went on extended leave in December 1997. His employment was finally terminated in July 1998. Approximately three and a half thousand patients have been seen by GVMAP physicians since it was established in July 1993 and Dr Hall saw only a minority of these while at the GVMAP.

The Government are not responsible for Lord Lloyd's unofficial investigation and we have no control over who attends or wishes to submit evidence. The views expressed by Dr Hall on the causes of Gulf veterans' ill health at Lord Lloyd's unofficial investigation into Gulf veterans' illnesses on 10 August are not the views of the Government.
 
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Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The Government are not responsible for Lord Lloyd's unofficial investigation and we have no control over who attends or wishes to submit evidence. Dr Hall has not been employed by the Ministry of Defence since July 1998 and the views he expressed on 10 August are not the views of the Government.

We expect and receive the highest standard of professional conduct from health professionals and other employees when dealing with service personnel, veterans and family members. This includes adherence to relevant standards required by external professional bodies.


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