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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): As the information is not yet complete, I will write to the noble Lord with a full answer by 23rd May. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Together with our European partners, we continue to urge the Indonesian Government fully to implement the recommendations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, following his recent visit to Indonesia and East Timor in December 1995, and to improve access to the territory for human rights and humanitarian organisations.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): On 14th March 1996 explosives contamination was found in a centrifuge at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory which is part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. The laboratory carried out a preliminary investigation and laid all the information before the Government in a formal report. A copy of that report has today been placed in the library.
The Forensic Explosives Laboratory's primary role is to provide scientific support to the police service and to provide expert witnesses for the Crown Prosecution Service in cases involving the criminal use of explosives. One of the services it provides involves the laboratory analysis of swab samples taken to determine the presence of explosives and the type involved. This "trace" analysis involves a range of procedures including the use in many cases of a centrifuge.
The explosives contamination involved a small amount, not more than 30 micrograms (that is 30 millionths of a gram), of the explosive RDS, one of the main components of the explosive Semtex. It was detected in a part of a laboratory centrifuge which was probably already contaminated on its arrival at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory in 1989. By normal standards the amount of explosive detected was tiny but nevertheless it should not have been there.
The centrifuge involved was immediately taken out of operational action on discovery of this contamination and the trace laboratory thoroughly cleaned. No incidence of contamination from the centrifuge could, therefore, occur from that point on.
There is a small theoretical possibility that any casework sample showing RDX traces may have been affected by the centrifuge contamination. Regular quality assurance tests undertaken by the laboratory have not revealed RDX traces at a level which would suggest that casework samples are likely to have been contaminated but this cannot be ruled out completely. This may call into question evidence submitted by the FEL in criminal cases involving RDX.
On present information there may be around a dozen such cases which resulted in convictions, but the identification of all relevant cases and assessment of the possible risk of contamination are matters on which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary wants independent advice. He has therefore decided that an
Once the report has been completed my right honourable friend will decide what further action should be taken, particularly with regard to any concerns raised about the possible contamination of casework samples which subsequently resulted in criminal convictions. If appropriate, he will consider whether particular cases should be referred to the Court of Appeal.
From the information presently available to my right honourable friend it would appear that the risk of contamination is small, but in a matter of this sensitivity, he is determined to act only on the basis of the most rigorous and independent scientific assessments. We will keep the House fully informed of the outcome of that scrutiny and the measures which flow from it.
What is the Home Office country assessment for Algeria; and
What is the Home Office country assessment for Liberia; and
What is the Home Office country assessment for Sudan; and
What is the Home Office country assessment for Bahrain.
Baroness Blatch: Every case in which a person applies for asylum is examined on its merits. The relevance of the general situation in the applicant's country of origin varies from case to case, as does the range of information and assessment upon which it is necessary to rely on reaching a decision. We have no current plans to publish country briefs on any of these countries.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): Since 1st January 1996, 515 people have been appointed or re-appointed to serve as chairmen/women of those organisations listed in the Cabinet Office publication Public Bodies. In each case, the individual has been selected on the basis of merit, having been carefully appraised against criteria set for the appointment which cover the qualities, skills, and experience required. No appointments of chairmen are made to next steps executive agencies. In view of the length of the list detailing the names of individuals and their appointments, I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the House library.
|North and South America||-1,274||-541||-2,758|
|Australasia and Pacific||347||616||708|
Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom.
(1) The crude balance of trade is defined as exports (free on board) less imports (cost including insurance and freight). For some countries this is likely significantly to understate the balances on a Balance of Payments basis, which is the preferred measure of trade balances.
(2) Refers to the current 15 EC members throughout.