Lord Judd:I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest as a trustee of Saferworld, a charitable organisation that works on arms control and security sector reform.
Negotiations on the arms trade treaty will begin at preparatory committee meetings in 2010 and 2011, ahead of a UN conference on the ATT in 2012. We want an ATT to be legally binding and to set standards for the arms trade, ensuring respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and sustainable development. We have intensified engagement with the European Union and key bilateral partners to ensure that maximum progress is made before the first UN meeting in July.
Does my noble friend agree that because of the importance of the issue, a weak treaty would be worse than no treaty and that the treaty must be strong? Is there a danger that by working with the very sensible consensus approach, we might legitimise the lowest common denominator? Does she also agree that it is essential to ensure that our American friends are with us on the importance both of human rights and of including ammunition? Are eight weeks in the next three years sufficient time for all this?
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: Securing a consensus treaty does not mean that it will necessarily be a weak treaty. We will need to work hard to ensure that we have a strong treaty that is robust and that takes full measure of the need to deal with irresponsible and unregulated arms dealing. That has to be the central objective of those who are negotiating it.
We have very clear United States support. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed US support of the ATT in a statement that she made in October, and we will continue to work with the United States through the UN process to secure a treaty that will raise the global standard on arms control.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Will the Minister accept that while a global arms trade treaty is certainly a very worthy goal towards which one must work, merely signing a treaty, rather like merely passing a law, does not mean that wishing makes it so? We must realise that there is an enormous amount of work to be done even after a treaty is signed. Does she agree particularly that civil society must play a major part at all levels in ensuring that the arms trade treaty really works, and that no great progress will be made until countries such as Russia, Ukraine and many other arms manufacturing and trading countries are on side as well?
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I thank the noble Lord. We are fully aware that countries such as China, Russia and, indeed, Ukraine have been co-operative on this issue. However, sceptical countries are involved with which we need to work, attempt to address their concerns and see whether we can move matters forward so that we have a truly international agreement. We engage firmly and strongly with NGOs and civil society and today officials from the FCO are meeting with NGOs to discuss further progress and measures that we need to collaborate and work together on. Their views are fully taken into account at all times.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I can assure the noble Lord that all arms trading, of whatever kind of weapons, is an important aspect of the treaty, which is about a global agreement to deal with the irresponsible, unregulated system that currently exists. We already have in the UK and across the European Union a code of conduct on arms dealing which covers the measures suggested by the noble Lord.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Are there enforcement measures in this area? We know that much of the informal dimension of arms smuggling-as in the current case in Bangkok, where a Georgian-registered aircraft has been blocked-is paid for through all kinds of offshore centres. Are we going to follow the money in checking what is going on?
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I thank the noble Lord for raising an important issue. We are well aware of enforcement in the context of the UK and European Union code of conduct, to which we have agreed, and it will need to be a matter of negotiation during the process taking place at the United Nations. We believe that it should place a legal obligation on each individual country to establish national export control systems which could be enforced and followed rigorously by the United Nations and others following the process.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I agree that it is an extremely important aspect of all of our policies, including defence and others that I know the right reverend Prelate would support. We support the need for strict and comprehensive controls. We need to be steadfast about the inclusion of issues such as weapons, a commitment to human rights, international humanitarian law and sustainable development as central elements in the treaty. Efforts that we are making to meet the millennium development goals are being severely damaged by conflicts in and the transfer of arms to countries-particularly in Africa, where many post-conflict countries are still awash with arms.
Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, is it intended to refine and improve the existing EU code, and what is the timetable for that? Will the EU use its levers-for example, the Eastern Partnership-to bring in Ukraine and other similar countries?
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: The European Union is, of course, a strong ally of the efforts being made in the United Nations to get these stringent controls in place. If what occurs in the UN is stronger than the EU code of conduct, the UN applications would need to apply across the European Union. We would then be part of a global treaty-that is the difference-and, in many ways, the EU code of conduct would be replaced by a global, international code and a set of regulations which are likely to be far more effective. On our work with the Eastern Partnership and with countries which have large amounts of armaments and where exports of armaments to vulnerable countries are still taking place, we need to draw in their support for this global treaty. This will make it easier for us to follow exactly what their arms dealers might be doing to contravene the new international treaty.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My Lords, in the quarter to October 2009, 2,491,000 people were ILO unemployed, which was up 21,000 on the May to July period. In November 2009, 1,626,200 people were claiming jobseeker's allowance, which was down on the previous month.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, although there is some Christmas cheer in those figures, there is sad news, too, especially for young people, whose unemployment figure is at a record high of 952,000. In
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Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, the figures that I have just announced are encouraging, but we are not complacent; we expect unemployment to continue to rise for a few months or more. On the question of young people, when you strip out the number of full-time students, ILO unemployment for young people has fallen over the month and, of course, the White Paper this week announced a number of additional measures to support young people in particular. The challenge with regard to the PBR measures is to ensure that we sustain the economic recovery and do not do anything to impair it. Part of that includes a balance of tax measures and reductions and restraint in public expenditure.
Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in these figures over 1 million people-433,000 men and 577,000 women-said that they were having to work part time but would rather work full time? Many of them have effectively had a forced pay cut by having to work fewer days. Will the Minister accept that there is a great deal of hidden unemployment in those figures?
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, the noble Lord is right to point out that there has been an increase in part-time working, but overall, over the last period, the number of people in employment has risen. That again emphasises the need to have a range of measures to support the recovery in the economy so that as we move into growth, which the Chancellor anticipated would happen by the end of this year, we can have a job-sustained recovery. A number of measures have been announced to achieve that.
Lord Freud: My Lords, what is the Government's projection for unemployment on the ILO basis for 2010? I remind him that the convention that the Government do not provide those figures ended last week when in the Green Book-the Pre-Budget Report-we were provided with projections for the claimant count between 2008 and 2014.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right that the previous convention was changed in the Pre-Budget Report and for the first time HMT projected the claimant count. It has retained the more cautious NAO-audited unemployment assumptions. I do not have the ILO count, but the Treasury's projection is that claimant-count unemployment will peak at 1.75 million in mid-2010, fall to 1.5 million at the of 2012 and reach 1.25 million in 2014. I remind the noble Lord that outside commentators' projections just six months ago about the level of claimant-count unemployment at the end of this year were something like 400,000 in excess of the reality.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, apprenticeships are very important. There has been huge investment in apprenticeships over recent years and a sustained increase in their number-they had pretty much gone out of existence under the previous Administration. Extra measures were announced in the White Paper, including a new subsidy for employers that take on 16 to 17 year-old apprentices, as well further support across government procurement to enhance and sustain apprenticeships. That is a key plank of making sure that we have a sustained, jobs-related recovery.
Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the hardest hit areas, such as Merthyr Tydfil, are those that have always been vulnerable in the past? What special measures will the Government take, perhaps with the Welsh Assembly Government, to tackle the problems of the black spots, especially in south Wales?
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, one feature of the recession that we have just endured is that the impact has generally been spread more evenly across the country than in some of the earlier recessions. However, arrangements and policies are in place-for example, local employment partnerships and the various funds that CLG supports in areas of particular deprivation and challenge-to focus extra support on the areas where unemployment represents the biggest challenge. However, across the country, unemployment has been more evenly spread than in previous recessions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My Lords, no prisoners have been compensated for denial of access to illegal drugs, including heroin. It is a fact that some prisoners take illegal drugs in prison. However, NOMS has introduced a range of measures to reduce the supply of drugs. Drug misuse in prisons has declined by 68 per cent since 1996-97, as evidenced by random and mandatory drug-testing results. A comprehensive programme of work is in place to build on that success.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, perhaps I may first thank the noble Lord, Lord Bach, for his courtesy in writing to me about another case of drugs in prison which would have fallen outside the scope of this Question. The public will understand that there is a duty on the Government to ensure that prisoners receive medical treatment for such things as drug addiction. However, despite his Answer, I find it difficult to understand how it could be reported in the press that 197 prisoners have received monetary compensation for the denial of drugs. Should not the treatment be about denying them drugs rather than compensating them for not having drugs?
Lord Bach: My Lords, in 2002, 197 prisoners claimed that their drug detoxification treatment, which dated back to the late 1990s, had been inadequate. Regrettably, the standard of care that the claimants received fell short of minimum acceptable medical standards. First, their medication was wrong-they were given dihydrocodeine, which was not the appropriate drug. Secondly, the detoxification process was too short. It was for those reasons, and on the basis of legal advice, that it was decided to settle these cases out of court to minimise the cost to the taxpayer. It was very unfortunate indeed, but these were detoxification programmes. It is one reason why the Government have invested a large amount of money in clinical drug treatment under the integrated drug treatment system.
Lord Henley: My Lords, can the Minister give the House some idea of the size of the problem that we are facing? Can he confirm the figures that I have, which indicate that some 35 per cent of all prisoners leaving prison have some sort of drug problem or drug addiction?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot confirm that figure, but I can give these figures: at the latest count, 69 per cent of those who enter prison had taken drugs within the previous 12 months, which may not be an enormous surprise to the House, but 55 per cent of those entering prison have some sort of drug dependency problem. They are not necessarily on what are normally described on hard drugs, but a large number of them will be. No one is pretending that this is not a great problem.
Lord Patel of Bradford: My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the Prison Drug Treatment Strategy Review Group that has been established to review and make clear recommendations on effective drug treatment in prisons. Let me assure noble Lords that that is not an easy task. Does my noble friend agree that it is vital that we have a range of high-quality drug treatment services in the prison system, not only to address maintenance prescribing and the prescriptions in terms of detoxification but so that we provide a wide variety of psychosocial interventions that will clearly address the many complex needs that drug-using offenders present to us?
Lord Bach: I am very grateful to my noble friend. I congratulate him and his team and thank them very much for their work on the Prison Drug Treatment Strategy Review Group. There could hardly be more important work to do in relation to drugs in prison. We believe that this group, chaired by my noble friend, provides the right mix of knowledge, expertise and experience. I agree with him, of course, that there are problems in getting the balance right between detoxification and weaning people off drugs in other ways, as well as all of the other issues that affect prisoners who are dependent on drugs. Those issues, alas, sometimes come to the fore when prisoners are released, putting the rest of the community in some kind of danger.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: The Trace charity, which helps prisoners on drugs who are in prison, has claimed that there is infighting between the Ministry of Justice
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Lord Bach: It is not right; there is no struggle going on at all. That makes extremely good copy, but it just does not happen to be right. The point is that it is important to try to get the balance right. There is certainly a place for methadone maintenance in prison; there is no doubt about that. Mr Trace himself wrote a letter to the Times yesterday rather contradicting what had been said about him in the article last week. The integrated drug treatment system being brought in across prisons provides evidence-based treatment, tailored to the needs of the prisoner.
All treatments, whatever they are, ultimately aim at getting prisoners off drugs whether that is while they are in prison or when they return to the community. The rise in prisoners getting methadone treatment means that more prisoners are getting the treatment they need at the right stage of the treatment journey. I invite the noble Lord, and the House, to look at a letter written by Professor Gerry Stimson in the Times of the day before yesterday in which he makes it clear that the provision of methadone in prison is considered best practice by the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and UNAIDS, among others.
Lord Elystan-Morgan: The Minister has referred to the fall in the incidence of drugs in prison, which is very welcome. With regard to the latest available records, what was the number of convictions for persons seeking to smuggle drugs into prison, and does that represent a rising or a falling trend?
Lord Bach: I cannot give the noble Lord those figures, but I shall of course write to him and put a copy of my letter in the Library. Preventing drugs from coming into prison is an absolute priority and a great deal more work has been put into that than was the case previously. There is a comprehensive range of security measures to reduce drug supply in prison, which the noble Lord will know about and which I will write to him about. They include the need for those who are caught bringing drugs into prison to be severely punished.
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