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Kosovar Refugees

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 14 December 1999, Official Report, column 140W, on Kosovar refugees, if he will update the figures provided in his answer; how many of the 4,346 Kosovar refugees admitted to the United Kingdom under the UNHCR Humanitarian Evacuation Programme have left the United Kingdom voluntarily; and what action he intends to take in respect of those who have not yet left the United Kingdom to return to Kosovo. [108120]

Mrs. Roche: The information provided in my reply on 14 December 1999, Official Report, column 140W, on nationals of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is the latest available.

As at 31 January, 1,570 Kosovans had returned. Of those 182 had left under the 'explore and prepare programme'.

All the evacuees were given 12 months' Exceptional Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom and will not have their stay curtailed. We have made clear that there will not be a general extension of leave for those granted Exceptional Leave to Remain (ELR) under the Kosovan concession and Kosovans are expected to make arrangements to leave once their current leave to remain expires.

The voluntary return programme from the United Kingdom began on 26 July 1999 and is open to Kosovans who arrived under the Humanitarian Evacuation Programme and independent arrivals. Returnees are provided with the necessary travel documentation to enable them to travel under the arrangements put in place by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The Government are also running an Explore and Prepare scheme to enable heads of households and community leaders with ELR to return to Kosovo to make advance preparations for the permanent return of their families. We expect a large return this spring and are working to ensure that it comes about.

Operation Runacre

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the negligent discharge of a police firearm on 20 January

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1998 in the course of Operation Runacre, stating when it was first officially reported and by whom; and what subsequent investigation was carried out into it. [106712]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I understand from the Metropolitan Police that an allegation concerning a negligent discharge of a firearm was first made anonymously. This was investigated by the Metropolitan Police's Complaints Investigation Bureau a few days after the incident, and the investigation concluded that no discharge had occurred. Since then, additional allegations have been made and the incident is being reinvestigated by the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Drugs (Prisons)

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many undercover police operations investigating the use or supply of illegal drugs took place in prison establishments in each of the past two years; if the prison authorities were notified in advance and if (a) use and (b) supply was detected. [107929]

Mr. Boateng: There are occasions when, at the request of the police, or other investigatory authority, approval is granted for an undercover operation to be conducted within a prison. There were eight such operations in 1998 and 16 in 1999. All these operations took place with approval from Prison Service headquarters and the prior knowledge of the local prison authorities. Two of the above operations related to the supply of drugs within the prisons concerned but the majority related to the large scale supply of illegal drugs outside prison. The outcome of these operations is not known to the prison authorities.

There will also have been a number of operations conducted locally to each prison involving co-operation between the local police and the prison in relation to the supplying of illegal drugs into that prison. Information concerning these operations is not collated centrally but it is known that in the 12 months ending 31 December 1999, 823 visitors to prison were arrested attempting to bring drugs into prisons.

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to issue further guidance regarding the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. [107865]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 1 February 2000, Official Report, column 512W.


Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the inquiries have been completed into the effectiveness of immigration controls and the entry of foreign nationals into the UK who have been investigated for war crimes; and if he will make a statement. [108083]

Mrs. Roche: Those convicted or suspected of war crimes may be prevented from entering the United Kingdom in accordance with the powers in Rule 320 of the Immigration Rules. We are considering the scope for

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obtaining better information on those who may be war criminals so that those powers can be used to best effect. This review is not yet completed.


Fiat Applications

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General how many applications have been made to him in each of the last three years for his fiat; in respect of what proceedings such applications were made; and in how many and in what percentage of such cases in each category he (a) granted and (b) withheld his consent. [107831]

The Solicitor-General: The information requested could not be obtained without disproportionate cost. Statistics are not maintained. It is estimated that the information is contained in many different files, catalogued in a number of different series. For example, in criminal cases, consents to prosecution cover a wide range of criminal offences. There are also fiats which relate to civil proceedings. The work involved in providing an accurate answer would breach the established limits for the amount of work that should be undertaken in answering parliamentary questions.


Human Genome Project

Mr. Beard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to ensure a common approach between the USA, the UK and the rest of the European Union to patents arising from the human genome project. [106603]

Ms Hewitt: The public and charitable funders of the international human genome project have agreed that they will release the gene sequence information they generate as quickly as possible; and they will not patent that information. The Government strongly support this approach as it allows maximum exploitation by public and private sector researchers of the data generated. Nonetheless, translating fundamental genome sequence information into new gene-based diagnostics and therapeutics will, in many circumstances, involve sufficient innovation to justify intellectual property protection.

The EU Directive on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions, which will come into force later this year, harmonises national patent laws within Europe. There are certain global norms, upon which the EU system is based, which are followed by other national authorities, including those of the United States. It is a matter solely for the national authorities to interpret these criteria in relation to applications for patents, including those concerning the human genome.

Export Licences

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many Standard Individual Export Licences have been issued to (a) Sri Lanka and (b) Colombia covering ratings (i) ML1, (ii) ML2, (iii) ML3, (iv) ML11 and (v) 1C350 since 31 December 1997. [107518]

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Dr. Howells: Details of all SIELs and OIELs issued between 1 January and 31 December 1998 were set out in the Government's Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls, published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; copies are in the Library of the House.

As regards export licences granted between 1 January 1999 and 24 January 2000, the Export Control Organisation's computer databases have been interrogated. Twenty-six Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) were issued covering the export to consignees or end-users in Sri Lanka of goods with the ratings ML1, ML2, ML3, ML11 and 1C350; two such licences were issued for the export of such goods to Colombia.

Standard Individual Export Licences issued between 1 January 1999 and 24 January 2000 covering exports to Sri Lanka or Columbia

RatingNumber of SIELs issued to Sri Lanka covering goods with this ratingNumber of SIELs issued to Colombia covering goods with this rating

This information should be considered in light of the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Berry) on 27 July 1999, Official Report, columns 307-08W.

Utilities Bill

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he intends to publish draft guidance under Clauses 9 and 13 of the Utilities Bill. [107665]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 31 January 2000]: I intend to publish a preliminary draft of the social and environmental guidance for the energy sector provided for under Clauses 9 and 13 of the Utilities Bill shortly.

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