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(1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of—
(a) any expenditure incurred by a Minister of the Crown in connection with the Act, and
(b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums which under any other Act are payable out of money so provided, and
(2) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund.— [Mr. Caplin.]

Question agreed to.

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Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill

Lords amendment considered.

After Clause 141

Commons Amendment No. 50

Insert the following new clause—

Lords consequential amendment 50B: Transpose new clause (Premises including railway track) from after clause 141 to after clause 113.

10.15 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Ms Sally Keeble): I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

I shall be brief. Lords amendment No. 50B is a simple amendment. Amendment No. 50, which was printed for the consideration of the House of Lords, would have inserted the new clause after clause 141. That is a mistake; the new clause should in fact be after clause 113. Lords amendment No. 50B would correct that purely typographical error.

Mr. William Cash (Stone): I would have the greatest difficulty in opposing the revision, and do not have the slightest intention of doing so; we have no objection to the change.

Lords amendment agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Supreme Court of England and Wales

Question agreed to.

Mr. Speaker: With permission, I shall put together the remaining motions relating to delegated legislation.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

24 Apr 2002 : Column 438

Local Government Finance

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

Total Allowable Catches and Quotas 2002

Mr. Bill Wiggin (Leominster): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This afternoon, we tabled Welsh questions. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, many subjects are devolved to the Welsh Assembly, which we fully accept. However, people in my constituency cross over into Wales and vice versa, perhaps to see a doctor, so it is important that Members of Parliament can ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether or not he has had discussions about, say, the number of doctors that the Welsh Assembly is planning to employ. I recognise that the subject is devolved, Mr. Speaker, but I urge you to use your wisdom and experience to persuade the powers that be that we should be able to ask about those subjects in the House.

Mr. Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that matter. I shall make investigations and get back to him.

24 Apr 2002 : Column 439

UK Prisoners (France)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Caplin.]

10.18 pm

Mr. David Stewart (Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber): I appreciate the opportunity to raise in the House the case of my constituent Mr. Jeffrey Logan from Lochaber who is currently detained in Douai prison in France.

My primary reasons for wishing to raise the case centre on the appalling conditions in which Mr. Logan is held, and the great worries of his wife, family and friends about his health. I want to touch on wider issues, including the extent of the problem and alleged breaches of the European convention on human rights. I shall also discuss an analysis of French prisons by Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights. I shall consider the extent of the problem, the number of United Kingdom nationals held in French prisons and the number of such people who are lorry drivers or self-employed hauliers—my constituent's occupation.

In reply to written questions 208 and 213 that I tabled this year, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw), said that 65 UK citizens are held on remand at present. In addition, he said that

Of that number, almost half—26—of the remand prisoners are lorry drivers, and 19 of the 105 convicted prisoners are also employed in that occupation.

Other hon. Members have also raised concerns about the conditions in which UK nationals are held in French prisons. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Hamilton) raised the case of Andrew Beaumont, who is also a lorry driver and is also held in Douai prison, who was handcuffed to a wall with nothing to eat or drink for more than two days.

I shall deal with the details of the case. Mr. Logan was arrested in Calais on 30 May 2000. It was alleged that he had more than 100 kg of cocaine in his trailer. After a long drawn-out incarceration and trial, he was sentenced to seven years and fined almost £6 million by the court in Boulogne. He and his family have steadfastly protested his innocence. The family tell me that the conditions in Douai prison come straight from a Dickens novel—rats, filth, inadequate meals, poor heating, dirty clothes and pools of urine in the exercise yard.

Mrs. Logan is extremely concerned about her husband's mental and physical well-being. Mr. Logan has lost six stone. He has developed severe skin and chest infections and he is very worried about the health risks posed by the hundreds—yes, hundreds—of rats in the prison compound. Last month Mr. Logan collapsed and was unconscious for some time. He was taken to hospital where he underwent investigative tests. The hospital doctor tells me that he was undernourished. He collapsed

24 Apr 2002 : Column 440

again a few weeks ago and has been referred to a specialist. Mrs. Logan has met the prison director and consular staff in Lille. She believes that the conditions in the prison

What are the wider issues in the case? The family has sought detailed legal advice on possible breaches of the European convention on human rights. First, for example, on Mr. Logan's arrest, he was denied legal advice for four days, he was handcuffed to railings beside a trailer while he was searched, and on a separate occasion he was handcuffed to a wall—possible breaches of articles 4, 5 and 6 of the European convention on human rights. Secondly, every four months Mr. Logan was required to sign a document in French, which he does not speak. No lawyer was present and no interpretation was offered. That again represents a breach of articles 5 and 6.

Of course, some may say—some in the Chamber tonight may say—that Mr. Logan's plight is just a one-off example, that it is self-inflicted, or that it is unrepresentative, exaggerated or fabricated. What do French politicians say about prison conditions? I shall quote extensively, with apologies, from Jon Henley's article in The Guardian on 26 August last year. He wrote:

The article continues:

that is, July 2000—

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Amnesty International, in its 2000 annual report, said that France had been found guilty of torture and excessively lengthy judicial proceedings, prison guards were accused of ill-treatment and prisons were criticised for cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

In July 1999, the French Minister of Justice set up a working group to examine the external control of the prison system. A report by seven non-governmental organisations called for an independent body to control prisons. It said that there was concern about longer sentences in France, overcrowding and lack of guard control and protection of inmates. Ill-treatment by prison guards was particularly highlighted. It said:

I stress that that is a group of French non-governmental organisations.

In conclusion, I have extreme concerns about the well-being of my constituent, but, more generally, I have extreme concerns about British citizens in French prisons. I acknowledge the tremendous work done by Mrs. Logan, her family, friends and lawyers, and the dedication, composure and compassion that they have shown.

I understand that France is an important country in the EU and I am not criticising France as such. It is a key ally of the UK and of course it is for the French Government to resolve their internal prison issues. But the Foreign Office and consulate staff clearly have a duty to protect British citizens abroad. If anyone does not believe me they should read the inside pages of any UK passport.

I respectfully suggest the following action. There should be direct ministerial contact with the French Minister of Justice to investigate the conditions that Mr. Logan and other UK nationals have to endure at Douai prison and a request for a full public inquiry.

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