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Baroness Amos: According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 69,700 Kosovar refugees in Montenegro. There are the following numbers of asylum seekers in the other front line states, most of whom are assumed to be Kosovar refugees:
Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development (DfID) will be actively involved in supporting the returning refugees. We currently have an emergency assessment team in Kosovo. The immediate priority areas are de-mining and mines awareness education, and the provision of emergency relief (shelter, food, medicine, emergency rehabilitation of infrastructure).
We are also working to provide returning refugees with up to date information about the conditions in Kosovo. We are funding a public information officer for United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and are also supporting radio broadcasting to refugees in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro and through the BBC World Service.
The UK trucking convoy is active in moving supplies into Kosovo. DfID's new Pristina office will examine proposals from UN agencies, Red Cross and NGOs for specific support, taking into account the contribution of others.
Baroness Amos: With the exception of the Red Cross, most international organisations working with refugees withdrew their staff from Serbia at the start of NATO's air campaign. The international and local Red Cross movement is continuing to assist 225,000 particularly vulnerable refugees from the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, in Serbia.
Since re-establishing a presence in Kosovo, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has dispatched relief convoys to 10 municipalities in Serbia to assist some of the 50,000 internally displaced Serbs from Kosovo. UNHCR has not been asked to assist other refugees.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): We have placed the committee's annual report for 1998 in the Library today. We are grateful to the committee for its valuable work over the year and welcome this latest report. We wish the committee well in tackling the continuing agenda of work which the report identifies.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced last September in another place that he had put in hand a comprehensive review of the interception of communications regime and that a consultation document would be published in due course. The review is now complete and we are today publishing a consultation paper Interception of Communications in the United Kingdom, in which our proposals are laid out in detail. A copy has been placed in the Library.
The extraordinary pace of change in the communications industry, particularly in the last decade, has revolutionised communications and brought benefits to us all. This new technology, however, brings new opportunities for criminals and terrorists, which they have been quick to exploit. The law has not kept pace with these developments. We need to bring our interception law up to date to ensure the continued success of this essential investigative tool.
There is currently no basis in law, for example, for the interception of communications on private telephone networks. We intend to put such interception on a statutory footing for the first time. This will ensure that the privacy of those who use these networks is respected, and that they have a means of redress if their communications are intercepted unlawfully.
The Government are committed to building a safe, just and tolerant society. In the field of interception there is a difficult balance to be struck. We believe our proposals strike the right balance and will be grateful for views on any of the proposals in the consultation paper.
Whether they will publish those provisions of their contract with Siemens for the supply of computer services to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office which are not commercially sensitive; and[HL2916]
Whether they consider that Siemens are in breach of their contractual obligations in relation to the supply of computer services to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office.[HL2917]
Lord Williams of Mostyn: A copy of the contract between the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and Siemens Business Services for the casework programme is in the Library of the House. The charging schedules have not been made available as they are commercially sensitive. Some elements of the programme have been delivered but the new computer system was not available on the timetable required by the contract. In September 1998 the directorate and Siemens negotiated a commercial agreement for changes to the contractual payments to reflect the delay in full implementation.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: A range of guidance materials for public authorities is planned or in production. I have placed in the Library a copy of a detailed guide for Whitehall departments which has just been distributed. More general guidance material, suitable for all public authorities, will be issued later this year. The Human Rights Task Force has played a very valuable role in developing this guidance, and is also helping us to look at the options for a public information campaign to accompany implementation of the Human Rights Act in October 2000.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: All departments are reviewing their legislation and procedures for compatibility with the Convention rights. This is a major task and it is not possible at this stage to say whether Parliament will be asked to consider any new legislation as a result of this review.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Open and resettlement prisons remain a cost-effective way to prepare prisoners for release. Following a review of open prisons in 1996 it was recommended that open establishments should remain multi-functional--that is, the regimes should prepare both long and short-term prisoners for release.
There are no plans currently to establish another resettlement prison. But the three in existence remain an important part of the prison estate. Like all establishments, their role will continue to be scrutinised in order to ensure that they continue to be effective and provide value for money.
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