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Liberalisation of Trade in Services Committee

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the Liberalisation of Trade in Services Committee in the last 12 months. [10279]

Peter Hain: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 26 October 2001, Official Report, column 417W.

"Everything but Arms"

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the EU's "Everything but Arms" policy on those countries not classified as least developed. [10533]

Peter Hain [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The EC regulation which extends duty free access to products originating in the Least Developed Countries (the so-called "Everything but Arms" proposal) was adopted at the General Affairs Council in February 2001. The regulation came into force on 5 March 2001, and provides duty free access to EU markets for the world's 48 poorest countries for all goods except arms. Access for bananas, sugar and rice will be phased in, with full liberalisation for bananas from 2006, sugar from 1 July 2009 and rice from 1 September 2009.

The Government believe the regulation represents the best available deal for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and non-LDCs, given the complex balance of interests involved. The impact of the measure is difficult to assess, particularly at this early stage. Much will depend on the response of producers, both in LDC and non-LDC countries, and on wider developments in trade and agriculture policy. The Government are committed to working with multilateral and other bilateral donors to ensure that non-LDCs receive help and advice during the necessary process of adjustment. We will monitor clearly the impact of the changes, on LDC and non-LDC countries' economies.

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Joint Entry Clearance Unit

Mr. Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek a report from the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia on the response of the Embassy in Riyadh to information sought by the Joint Entry Clearance Unit about the family reunion case GV 100/67853/TD raised with JECU by the hon. Member for Manchester, Central. [10427]

Mr. Bradshaw: I will raise this case with our Ambassador in Saudi Arabia and will write to my hon. Friend with my findings as soon as possible.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Extradition

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the pause on extradition proceedings mentioned in his statement of 24 October 2001, Official Report, columns 302–04, was at the recommendation of (a) the Chief Constable and (b) General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland. [11057]

Jane Kennedy: The approach set out in the statement had been discussed with my security advisers.

Population Statistics

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list those enumeration districts which are in the top 5 per cent. measured by (a) reduction in population in the last 10, 20 and 30 years and (b) change of population in the last 10, 20 and 30 years for which information is available. [11055]

Dr. John Reid: Responsibility for this subject has been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is therefore no longer a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Prisoner Releases

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list those persons released from prison as a result of the Belfast Agreement, indicating for each (i) the date of release, (ii) the term for which sentenced, (iii) the period served as a percentage of (ii), (iv) the crime for which sentenced, (v) the paramilitary group with which they were associated and (vi) when recalled to prison. [11056]

Jane Kennedy: It is not our policy to release information in relation to individual cases. However certain statistics are held on releases under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998.

Of 444 individuals released to date under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998, 230 were released in 1998, 80 were released in 1999, 123 were released in 2000 and 11 have been released so far in 2001.

In total, 153 were life sentence prisoners and 291 were determinate sentence prisoners.

Under the terms of the Act, a life sentence prisoner was liable to serve about two thirds of the period he would have been likely to spend in prison and a fixed term prisoner was liable to serve a third of his sentence.

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In relation to the terms and crimes for which they were sentenced, applicants for early release have to fulfil certain criteria to qualify for consideration under the Sentences Act. They have to be serving a term of imprisonment of life or at lease five years for a scheduled offence within the meaning of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts (or a similar offence if committed outside Northern Ireland) and their offence(s) have to have been committed before 10 April 1998.

Information is held, for management purposes, in relation to the perceived paramilitary association of prisoners in Northern Ireland. The table sets out details of the perceived association of the 444 individuals released.

To date five early release licensees (two in 2000 and three in 2001) have had their licences suspended and been returned to prison.

Perceived associationTotal
PIRA205
INLA24
Former INLA7
Republican Association 3
UDA87
UFF14
UVF67
RHC3
LVF16
Loyalist Association6
Criminal or No Association12
Grand total444

Electoral Fraud

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with Sinn Fein on the Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Bill. [11028]

Mr. Browne: My predecessor, the hon. Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth), met with representatives of 10 Northern Ireland political parties (including Sinn Fein) between 20 and 23 November 2000. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the Government's proposal for a Bill to counter electoral fraud in Northern Ireland.

The White Paper, "Combating Electoral Fraud in Northern Ireland" (Cm. 5080) was published in March 2001. It set out the Government's policy on electoral fraud in Northern Ireland and the legislative changes we intended to make to combat that fraud. A copy was sent to all the Northern Ireland political parties.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the results are of his quantitative survey of the scale of electoral fraud in Northern Ireland; and if he will place his report in the Library. [8607]

Mr. Browne: A report, presenting the quantitative findings from a research project undertaken by Research and Evaluation Services for the Northern Ireland Office and the Electoral Office, was placed in the Library of the House on Tuesday 16 October.

The purpose of the research was to inform the development of electoral policy in Northern Ireland. The results of the research will contribute to a wider

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discussion on the issue of electoral malpractice and provide feedback on the operation of the combined poll held on 7 June 2001.

The research was comprised of surveys of the general public, presiding officers and count staff. A series of in-depth interviews and focus groups with presiding officers was also carried out. The report placed in the Library of the House on 16 October presents the quantitative survey elements of the project—these findings relate to people's general views and perceptions of the elections held on 7 June. The qualitative feedback from presiding officers will be included in a later report to be published as part of the Northern Ireland Office's Research and Statistical Series.

Bill of Rights

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what additional resources have been allocated to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to support the consultation process they are undertaking on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland; [7102]

Mr. Browne: It was initially envisaged that the task of advising on the scope for a Bill of Rights was an integral part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's functions, and would therefore be covered by the Commission's core budget. However, we made it clear from the outset that we would be prepared to consider bids for increased funding, provided they were accompanied by a properly costed business case.

The Commission submitted an initial request for additional funds specifically for the consultation on the scope for a Bill of Rights in December 2000. Following discussion a revised bid was submitted in June 2001. In response to this, the Commission was granted a further £357,200 to fund the consultation process to inform their draft advice to Government on the scope for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how his Department intends to respond to the consultation process on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland as it relates to proposed criminal justice and security rights. [7105]

Mr. Browne: The consultation document published by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on 4 September this year represents its draft advice to Government. The Commission expects to issue its final recommendations to the Government in early 2002, and we look forward to receiving that.

In the meantime, we will study carefully the contents of the draft as it currently stands.

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