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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 18 January 1993

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Israel

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations on the case of the imprisonment of Mordecai Vanunu were made during the visit of Prime Minister Rabin of Israel to London on 10 December 1992.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did not raise this subject. But we have privately made representations to the Israelis about certain humanitarian aspects of Mordecai Vanunu's case.

United Nations

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total size of the staff of the United Nations ; and what is its cost.

Mr. Douglas Hogg : According to the United Nation's proposed programme budget for the biennium 1992-93, staff costs funded from the regular budget of the United Nation's for the calendar year 1992 amounted to $893 million, representing 75.6 per cent. of the total budget. This represents a provision for 10,129 posts.

In addition, according to the Secretary-General in his report "Composition of the Secretariat" dated 7 October 1992, there are approximately 21,000 staff occupying posts funded from voluntary contributions. The report states that the total staff employed in the United Nations and its subsidiary organs is 31,127.

Civil Servants (Bicycles)

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the currrent conditions on which civil servants in his Department are granted salary advances to enable the purchase of bicycles for home-to-office travel ; if he will make a statement on the current conditions in each agency of his Department ; what plans he has to change the conditions ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goodlad : The Treasury have given Departments discretion to offer up to £100 advance of salary for the purchase of bicycles for home-to-office travel. This discretion has not been taken up by the FCO diplomatic wing, which has no plans to do so. The Overseas Development Administration, which administers itself separately, has given its staff an entitlement to a salary advance of up to £100 for this purpose. Its has no plans to change this.


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Bosnia (No-fly Zone)

Sir Russell Johnston : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has concerning breaches by Croatia of UN Resolution 781 concerning the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Mr. Garel-Jones : The UN Secretary General has issued regular reports to the Security Council giving details of violations of the no-fly zone established by resolutions 781 of 9 October and 786 of 11 November. It is clear from these that, to varying degrees, all parties in Bosnia- Herzegovina, including the Croats, have conducted flights outside the terms permitted in the resolutions. The total of unauthorised flights to 10 January was 375.

Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has of the number of Croatian air force flights in contravention of UN resolution 781 ; and what steps he will take to enforce impartially the no-fly zone in Bosnia-Herzgovina.

Mr. Garel-Jones : The UN Secretary General has issued regular reports to the Security Council giving details of violations of the no-fly zone established by resolutions 781 of 9 October and 786 of 11 November. It is clear from these that, to varying degrees, all parties in Bosnia- Herzegovina, including the Croats, have conducted flights outside the terms permitted in the resolutions. The total of unauthorised flights to 10 January was 375. The Security Council is currently considering a resolution on enforcement of the no-fly zone which will apply to all parties.

Somalia

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he has taken to inquire into the facts of the killings at Kismayu in Somalia ; and what

representations he has made to prevent such massacres from recurring.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The alleged killings in Kismayo are of great concern. Belgian troops deployed there are investigating the reports. A recent meeting in Addis Ababa between the Somali factions has reached provisional agreement on a cease-fire, disarmament and encampment of militias. This should help prevent such incidents.

Cameroon

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current human rights situation in Cameroon.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 15 January 1993] : We welcome the lifting of the state of emergency in North West province announced by the Cameroon Government on 29 December and the release of detainees. We hope that the situation in the country will now improve. These encouraging developments do not, however, absolve the Government of Cameroon from their responsibilities for earlier serious human rights abuses in Cameroon. We have called upon the authorities to investigate the allegations. A statement in similar terms was issued by the European Community and its member states on 11 January, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.


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Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Cameroon concerning human rights abuses.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 15 January 1993] : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) on 3 December at column 316. We have continued to make our views known to the Cameroon authorities.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement concerning the message to all Christians by the Archbishop of Bamenda in Cameroon, a copy of which has been sent to him.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 15 January 1993] : We strongly support the Archbishop's call for the abolition of torture and warmly welcome his appeal for peace and reconciliation.

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has concerning the use of torture in Cameroon.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd [holding answer 15 January 1993] : We have received numerous reports from different sources alleging ill-treatment or torture of detainees. We have called on the Cameroon Government to institute inquiries into these cases.

Nuclear Conference

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make a statement on the purpose of and participants in the conference on the nuclear future - dilemmas of arms control, reduction and proliferation, to be held at his departmental conference centre at Wilton Park from 11 to 15 January.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to Wilton Park under its chief executive, Mr. Geoffrey Denton. I have asked him to arrange for a written reply to be given. Letter from Geoffrey Denton to Mr. Llew Smith, dated 21 December 1992 :

Thank you for your question asking for a satement on the purpose of and the participants in the conference on "The Nuclear Future : Dilemmas of Arms Control, Reduction and Proliferation". I hope the following will answer your question.

The purpose of the conference, as for all Wilton Park conferences, is to provide a forum for the exchange of views, in order to promote international understanding of the issues and to enhance the reputation of the UK as a country that believes in resolving international problems through peaceful dialogue.

The participants will be drawn from 15 20 countries, and several professions : military and civilian defence staff, diplomats and other officials, businessmen, academics, media.

More specifically, the conference will discuss the future of nuclear weapons with due reference to the fact that the ending of the East-West military confrontation has coincided with a situation where the role of nuclear and chemical and biological weapons has increased outside Europe.


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ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Scott Inquiry

34. Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Attorney-General how many members of the Attorney-General's Department are involved full-time or part-time in supporting Lord Justice Scott in his inquiry.

The Attorney-General : One lawyer from the Treasury Solicitor's Department has been transferred on loan to the Department of Trade and Industry and assigned on a full-time basis to be Secretary to the inquiry.

38. Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Attorney-General what legal documentation has been supplied by his Department to Lord Justice Scott in regard to his inquiry into arms and military exports to Iraq.

The Attorney-General : No legal documentation has been supplied so far. Departmental papers will be made available to Lord Justice Scott as and when he requests them.

Serious Fraud Office

35. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the objectives set for the Serious Fraud Office in 1993.

The Solicitor-General : In 1993 it remains the objective of the Serious Fraud Office to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its work in investigating and prosecuting serious and complex fraud.

Right to Silence

36. Mr. Bennett : To ask the Attorney-General what comments he made on the right to silence in his evidence to the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice.

The Attorney-General : I discussed this issue with the Royal Commission at a meeting when they sought my views on a range of issues. My personal thoughts on the ability of the court to draw inferences from silence were set out in my speech last October to the Howard League for Penal Reform, a copy of which I have placed in the Library of the House.

Crown Prosecution Service

37. Mr. Vaz : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a further statement on recruitment to the Crown prosecution service.

The Solicitor-General : I refer the hon. Gentleman to my reply today to the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall).

Racial Hatred

39. Mr. Wilson : To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions there have been in each of the past three years for incitement to racial hatred.

The Attorney-General : In 1990, there was one prosecution for offences contrary to part III of the Public Order Act 1986 ; in 1991, there were four such prosecutions ; and in 1992, one. At present two cases are waiting to be tried.


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Paintings (Charity Commission)

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Attorney-General what response he has made to submissions he has received from senior University of London academics, concerning the scheme devised by the Charity Commission for the sale of paintings from the Founder's collection, Royal Holloway and Bedford new college.

The Attorney-General : I have replied that I have found nothing in those submissions to cause me to revise my view that the Charity Commissioners had sufficient evidence before them to reach a decision to approve a scheme and that I would not be furthering the interests of charity by commencing an appeal against their decision to do so.

Civil Servants (Bicycles)

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the current conditions on which civil servants in his Department are granted salary advances to enable the purchase of bicycles for home-to-office travel ; if he will make a statement on the current conditions in each agency of his Department ; what plans he has to change the conditions ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : Staff in the Departments for which I have responsibility (the legal secretariat, the Crown prosecution service, the Treasury solicitor's department and the Serious Fraud Office) are aware of the availability of salary advances for the purchase of bicycles. All permanent staff with a minimum of two months service (other than the Serious Fraud Office which has no minimum requirement) are eligible to apply. Any advance made for the purchase of a bicycle is currently limited to £100. I have no plans to review these conditions.

Seamus McElwaine

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Attorney-General what examination is being undertaken by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the papers arising from the verdict of the jury in the inquest into the death of Seamus McElwaine.

The Attorney-General : On 13 January 1993 the Director of Public Proscutions for Northern Ireland asked the Royal Ulster constabulary for a full report on the inquest into the death of Seamus McElwaine. The director will consider this report and decide what further steps, if any, are required.

Ambiguous Statutes

Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Attorney-General what guidance he has issued to Government Ministers about the implications of the ruling in the case in the House of Lords of Pepper v. Hart about the right of courts to have access to the Official Report in seeking to interpret the wording of ambiguous statutes ; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General : On 26 November 1992 the House of Lords decided by a majority that courts could look at parliamentary materials if the legislation is ambiguous or obscure or leads to an absurdity ; the material that could be relied upon consists of a statement by a Minister or other promoter of the Bill ; and the statements relied upon are clear.


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By established convention advice given by the Law Officers, and the fact that they have advised, is not normally disclosed.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Joyriders

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue guidelines to police authorities to discourage the misuse of the term joyriders to describe offences arising from taking vehicles without the owner's consent.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The law provides for offences of taking and driving away of motor vehicles without the owner's consent and for aggravated taking of motor vehicles. These are the terms which are used by the Home Office for statistical returns. Chief officers of police view such offences with great seriousness, but the use of other terms in less formal circumstances is a matter for them. It would not be an appropriate subject for Home Office guidance.

Replica Guns

Mr. James Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to control the sale of replica guns.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Under the Firearms Act 1982 the sale of any imitation firearm which can be readily converted to fire live ammunition is already subject to the same strict licensing controls as real firearms. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary agrees with the advice offered to him by the Firearms Consultative Committee that controls on the sale of other types of replicas would be neither feasible nor effective. But he intends to implement the committee's recommendation to extend the range of offences which apply to the misuse of imitation firearms.

Computers (Prisons)

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisons in England and Wales do not have a computer ; and what is his Department's policy on the provision of such equipment in each prison.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Every prison in England and Wales has a computer. The prison service information technology strategy incorporates plans to extend the use of information technology throughout the service where clear benefits in cost and efficiency can be identified.

Mr. Paul Malone

Mr. Miller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made (a) of the reliability of evidence produced at the trial of Paul Malone and (b) of new evidence presented to his office in this case ;

(2) if he has decided to refer the case of Paul Malone back to the Court of Appeal.

Mr. Jack : My right hon. and learned Friend will be in a position properly to consider all the representations made on Mr. Malone's behalf-- including those about the reliability of evidence given at his trial, as well as the new


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evidence submitted to him--only when the Metropolitan police have completed the inquiries they are presently carrying out at the request of the chief constable of Cheshire. He will then decide whether there are grounds for referring Mr. Malone's conviction to the Court of Appeal.

Police (Firearms)

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions (a) in 1992, (b) in 1987, (c) in 1982 and (d) in 1977, Metropolitan and City of London police officers were authorised to carry firearms in the course of their duty ; and on how many occasions those firearms were used.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The only readily available information is contained in the following table :


Year                |Number of          |Number of occasions                    

                    |operations<1>      |when shots were                        

                                        |fired                                  

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1991                                                                            

City of London      |71                 |0                                      

Metropolitan        |1,520              |6                                      

                                                                                

1987                                                                            

City of London      |16                 |0                                      

Metropolitan        |1,248              |3                                      

                                                                                

1982                                                                            

City of London      |255                |0                                      

Metropolitan        |6,035              |1                                      

<1>The figure for 1982 is for the number of occasions on which firearms were    

issued. From 1987 onwards, the figures are for the number of firearms           

operations.                                                                     

I will write to the hon. Member when the information for 1992 is available.

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what distinction is drawn between the use of concealed weapons and rifles, carbines or semi-automatic weapons when authorisation is granted to Metropolitan police and City of London police officers to carry firearms ; and on what basis.

Mr. Charles Wardle : Firearms may be issued only on the authority of a senior officer, to an authorised firearms officer. Decisions as to whether a firearm is concealed when carried, and the type of firearm, are based on an assessment of operational requirements.

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recorded incidents of assaults against Metropolitan and City of London police officers occurred in (a) 1992, (b) 1987, (c) 1982, and (d) 1977 ; and in how many of these incidents firearms were used against police officers.

Mr. Charles Wardle : The numbers of officers in the Metropolitan police who have suffered serious assault necessitating periods off work are as follows :


Year                |Number of officers |Number of incidents                    

                                        |involving firearms                     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1977                |779                |7                                      

1982                |464                |1                                      

1987                |752                |20                                     

1992                |n/a                |n/a                                    

There were 12 assaults on officers in the City of London police in 1992, none of which involved firearms. The City of London police do not hold a record of the number of assaults on police officers prior to 1991.

Prisoners (Self-injury)

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements exist for ensuring that any tendency to deliberate self-harm in an inmate is known to the authorities of a prison to which such an inmate is sent from court or transferred from another prison establishment ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Where a prisoner is being handed over from police custody into prison custody, or vice-versa, information about possible suicide risk is conveyed via the exceptional risk form, instructions on which have been issued to both police forces and prison establishments.

In London special arrangements exist under which prisoners' inmate medical records accompany them in a sealed pouch when they are escorted to court, so that they are immediately accessible should the prisoner for any reason be returned from court to a different prison establishment.

All prisoners are seen by a member of health care staff on arrival at the establishment as part of the reception process. Prisoners must also be examined by a doctor within 24 hours in cases of first reception and reception following conviction, sentence or transfer. This examination includes an assessment of possible risk of suicide or self-harm.

Where prisoners are transferred between prison establishments, any warnings about possible risk of suicide or self-harm will be contained in the inmate medical record (IMR), which accompanies the prisoner when transferred under escort.

In many cases the prison service also receives information about possible risk of suicide or self-harm from a variety of agencies and individuals who are involved with prisoners in the pre-trial period and at court, including probation officers, solicitors, court staff, social workers, psychiatrists and the prisoner's family. Such information is generally conveyed to the receiving prison by telephone or via the escorting officers.

It is the continuing responsibility of the suicide prevention management group at each prison establishment to ensure that liaison with other agencies works effectively and that any information received is carefully assessed and acted on appropriately.

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of deaths from an act of deliberate self-harm that took place in prisons in England and Wales during 1992.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Forty-one prisoners died from an act of deliberate self-harm in England and Wales in 1992.

Travellers

Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the traditional travelling community is classified as an ethnic minority.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The criteria for defining a racial group for the purposes of the Race Relations Act 1976 were established by the judgment in Mandla v . Davell Lee


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(1983). Gipsies have been accepted as meeting these

criteria--Commission for Racial Equality v . Dutton (1988) ; the position of other travelling groups would depend on whether they satisfied the same criteria.

Squatters

Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment he has made of the reasons for the trend in the numbers of squatters ; and what estimate he has made of the trend in the average age of squatters ;

(2) if he will make a distinction in policy on squatting between privately owned properties that are squatted which are individually owned and those owned by commercial bodies ; if he will give estimates for the numbers involved in both these categories in London and elsewhere ; and from what sources his Department makes its estimate ;

(3) what assessment has been made of the criminality of squatters relative to their neighbours.

Mr. Jack : Cases of squatting do not necessarily come to official notice and no central records are kept of the numbers and characteristics of squatters, or of which properties are squatted in. This absence of accurate statistical information, combined with the shifting nature of the squatting population, means that it is difficult to make an accurate assessment of squatters' numbers, average age, their criminal behaviour, or of the type of properties occupied.

However, the Home Office consultation paper on squatting, which was issued in November 1991, reported the 1986 London housing survey's estimate that at that time there were 12,500 squatters occupying 7, 500 properties in London. It also estimated that 52 per cent. of these squatters were under 25 ; 40 per cent. were between 26 and 40 ; and 8 per cent. were over 40. The consultation paper also reported a survey of local authority housing in April 1990, when 5,200 dwellings in England were reported as being squatted in ; 90 per cent. of these were in London. More recent estimates of the total number of squatters have ranged from 30,000 to 50,000.

The Home Office consultation paper on squatting suggested, as one option for changing the law, that additional protection could be extended to private individuals who own property which is squatted in, but not to commercial owners of property, on the ground that more hardship is likely to be caused in the former type of case. This distinction was not, however, supported by the majority of respondents to the consultation paper, and the Government are, in any case, committed to strengthening the law against those who squat in a range of different premises.

Charities

Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to amend the Charities Act 1992 to allow charities operational exclusively within Wales to refer to themselves as national charities.

Mr. Jack : Section 4 of the Charities Act 1992 empowers the Charity Commissioners to direct a charity to change its name where that name includes any word or expression for the time being specified in regulations by the Secretary of State, and the inclusion of the word is, in the opinion of the commissioners, likely to mislead the public in any respect


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as to the status of the charity. The word "national" has been so specified. It is therefore for the commissioners to determine whether the use of the word is misleading in any particular case. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has no plans to amend section 4 of the 1992 Act nor the regulations made by him under that section.

Mr. Dafis : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to seek to amend section 3(2) of the Charities Act 1992 to allow charities producing Welsh language publicity to use the words "elusen cofrestredig" either in addition to or instead of the words "registered charity" on publicity materials.

Mr. Jack : Section 3(2) requires a registered charity to include a statement indicating that it is so registered in certain publications and documents issued by or on behalf of it. The statement must be made in English. However, there is nothing to preclude a charity from also providing the same information in another language if it so wishes. The Government have no present plans for further legislation on this matter.

Wolds Prison

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many reported incidents took place at the Wolds prison during 1992.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : In 1992, 49 incidents at Wolds remand prison were reported to the incident management support unit at prison service headquarters. From 5 April 1992, when Wolds opened, until the end of 1992, a total of 13,300 incidents at all prisons were reported to the unit.

Prison Transfers

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policy his Department adopts in respect of an inmate being moved from one prison establishment to another to ensure that there is no delay in the transfer of the moneys belonging to that inmate.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Governors of all prison service establishments have been instructed to ensure that moneys are forwarded promptly when prisoners are transferred, where possible by the day following transfer. This is not achieved in all cases, and we continue to look at ways, including computerisation of prisoners' money and earnings, to minimise delays.


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