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27 Jan 2005 : Column 518W—continued

Sure Start

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent in Northern Ireland on the Sure Start Programme in each year since its introduction, broken down by parliamentary constituency. [211180]

Angela Smith: When Sure Start was introduced in July 2000, investment stood at £4 million full-year cost (£2 million in-year cost). Information regarding Sure Start allocations by parliamentary constituency is not available but the following table shows the overall investment in Sure Start at Northern Ireland and Childcare Partnership level since the programme was introduced in July 2000:
£ million

2000–012001–022002–032003–042004–05
Northern Ireland25.86.68.58.8
Eastern childcare partnership0.742.152.593.343.45
Western childcare partnership0.441.281.401.801.90
Northern childcare partnership0.421.221.331.721.77
Southern childcare partnership0.401.161.271.641.69

Water Industry

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been paid to date to the European Commission as a result of the failure of Northern Ireland's Water Service to meet EC Water Directive standards. [208415]

Angela Smith: To date, no money has been paid out on fines.

If the Commission considers that there may be an infringement of EU law that warrants the opening of an infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC treaty, it addresses a Letter of Formal Notice" (first written warning) to the member state concerned, requesting it to submit its observation by a specified date, usually two months.

In light of the reply or absence of a reply from the member state concerned, the Commission may decide to address a Reasoned Opinion" (final written warning) to the member state. This clearly and definitively sets out the reasons why it considers there to have been an infringement of EU law and calls upon the member state to comply within a specified period, normally two months.

If a member state fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the European Court of Justice. The Court can make a judgment confirming that the member state is in breach of its obligations. The member state must then take steps to comply with the judgment as soon as possible.

Once a judgment has been reached, the Commission may progress the case to Article 228 proceedings. This also involves Letters of Formal Notice" and Reasoned Opinion" stages. Article 228 also allows the Commission to ask the Court to impose a financial penalty on the member state concerned.
 
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Youth Unemployment

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what percentage of young people in Northern Ireland were (a) unemployed and not in full-time education and (b) economically inactive and not in full-time education (i) at 31 March of each year since 1997 and (ii) for the most recent month for which figures are available. [210609]

Mr. Gardiner: The Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey (LFS) can provide the information requested, but only on a quarterly basis. Estimates for the spring quarters (March-May) from 1997 to 2004, along with the latest estimates from autumn (September-November) 2004 are provided in the following table.
Number and proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds, not in full-time education that are unemployed or economically inactive

Unemployed
Economically inactive
ThousandPercentage of allThousandPercentage of all
March-May
19971152311
1998126147
1999115157
2000126157
2001126157
2002115209
2003126178
20041152310
September-November
20041782310




Source:
Labour Force Survey




FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Burma

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Government of Burma about the Burmese army's commencement of construction in Northern Nyaunglebin District of Mon Township of a new camp using forced labour; [209751]

(2) what representations he has made to the Government of Burma about the use of forced labour in the construction by the Burma army of four new camps in Nyaunglebin District, Western Karen State. [209771]

Mr. Alexander: We have not made representations to the State Peace and Development Council about these specific cases.

The Burmese Government have still to address the international community's concerns over the use of forced labour in Burma. We fully support the efforts of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other agencies to end permanently the use of forced labour. Our embassy is in close touch with the ILO office in Rangoon.

Burma's General System of Preferences trade privileges were suspended by the EC in 1997 in response to our concerns over forced labour in the country. Targeted restrictive measures against Burma have been
 
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steadily strengthened through the EU's Common Position, most recently in October 2004, to reflect the lack of progress on this and other issues.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will urge the Government of Burma to ensure that former prisoners, political activists and their families are not subjected to arbitrary detention, discrimination or harassment; [209752]

(2) if he will urge the Government of Burma to initiate a moratorium on the use of laws restricting the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, with particular reference to (a) the 1975 State Protection Law, (b) the 1950 Emergency Provisions Law, (c) the 1962 Printers and Publishers Law and (d) the 1908 Illegal Associations Law; [209760]

(3) if he will urge the Government of Burma (a) to consider an amnesty for all political prisoners and (b) to make public full information on all political detainees; [209763]

(4) if he will urge the Government of Burma immediately and unconditionally (a) to release all prisoners of conscience held on account of their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of association and expression and (b) not to penalise anyone for his or her peaceful exercise of those rights. [209764]

Mr. Alexander: We have highlighted our concerns over freedom of expression and assembly in Burma in successive UK and EU co-sponsored UN resolutions, most recently at the UN General Assembly on 23 December. These resolutions emphasise that the Burmese regime should fully respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and association. We, and our international partners, have consistently called on the Burmese authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all detained or imprisoned political prisoners; I most recently did so in my statement of 30 November 2004. A copy of the statement is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: www.fco.gov.uk/uk/policy/news/press-releases.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will urge the Government of Burma to allow all political prisoners to stay in prisons which are close to their families; [209753]

(2) if he will urge the Government of Burma to investigate all reports of deaths in custody; [209754]

(3) if he will urge the Government of Burma to ensure that punishments in prisons do not constitute torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; [209755]

(4) if he will urge the Government of Burma to ensure that prisoners are (a) held in conditions which meet international standards, (b) provided with proper medical care on a timely basis and an adequate diet and (c) supplied with mosquito nets; [209756]

(5) if he will urge the Government of Burma to ensure that prisoners in every (a) prison, (b) labour camp and (c) other detention facility in Burma have (i)opportunities to socialise with one another and (ii)access to reading and writing materials of their choice; [209757]
 
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(6) if he will urge the Government of Burma (a) to investigate all allegations of incommunicado detention and torture (i) in interrogation and (ii) in prison, (b) to take steps to bring those responsible to justice and (c) to take immediate steps to put an end to these practices; [209762]

(7) what discussions he has had with the Government of Burma about deaths in custody in Burma in 2004. [209767]

Mr. Alexander: We remain concerned about reported prison conditions in Burma and call on the Burmese regime to implement fully its international human rights obligations, including the humane treatment of prisoners.

We maintain that all prisoners should be held in accordance with international standards. There can be no excuse for the deliberate mistreatment or neglect of prisoners. Our embassy in Rangoon keeps in close contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Amnesty International, which have been able to visit prisons in Burma, in order to monitor conditions in which prisoners are kept. We are fully supportive of their efforts to improve such conditions.

We regularly raise our concerns on human rights issues with the Burmese authorities, most recently when I met the Burmese ambassador on 29 November.

We fully support the efforts of UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro and urge the regime to co-operate fully with him and allow him to visit Burma. He has a crucial role to play, including in these areas.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will urge the Government of Burma to review all trials of political prisoners which have fallen short of appropriate international standards; [209758]

(2) if he will urge the Government of Burma to ensure that fair trial standards are upheld in political cases including (a) the right to legal counsel, (b) the right to presumption of innocence, (c) the right to a public trial, (d) the right to defend oneself and (e) the right to adequate time and resources to prepare a defence; [209759]

(3) if he will urge the Government of Burma (a) to ensure that juveniles are deprived of their liberty only as a last resort, (b) to guarantee that juveniles are not held in detention with adults and (c) to promote alternatives to judicial proceedings and institutional care where appropriate to the child's well-being; [209761]

(4) what representations he has made to the Government of Burma about its misuse of detention and security legislation; [209769]

(5) what representations he has made to the Government of Burma about ensuring due process in trials of persons accused of subversive political activities. [209770]

Mr. Alexander: We believe that the Burmese justice system continues to fall short of international fair trial standards. Our concerns over human rights and the rule of law in Burma are well known and have regularly been made clear to the Burmese authorities, most recently when I met the Burmese ambassador on 29 November.
 
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We maintain that all prisoners should be tried fairly in accordance with international standards.

We fully support the efforts of UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro and urge the regime to co-operate fully with him and allow him to visit Burma. He has a crucial role to play, including in these areas.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether U Win Tin, imprisoned in Burma since 1989, has been released. [209765]

Mr. Alexander: As far as we are aware, U Win Tin remains in Insein Prison. We have repeatedly called on the Burmese regime to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners so as to allow them to play an active role in national reconciliation in Burma. We shall continue to do so. Their plight was most recently raised in December's UK co-sponsored UN General Assembly resolution. U Win Tin is on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) freedom of expression panel list of imprisoned journalists. His case was highlighted in the FCO's Annual Human Rights Report, launched last November.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent inquiries he has made of the Government of Burma about the health of (a) Soe Myint, (b) Lin Lin Tun, (c) Aye Myintthan and (d) Hnin May Aung, imprisoned in Burma for their activities in political opposition to the ruling military junta. [209766]

Mr. Alexander: We have not made representations about these particular cases.

I met the Burmese ambassador on 29 November and called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma. My statement on 30 November also called for the release of all political prisoners. A copy of the statement is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: www.fco.gov.uk/policy/news/press-releases.

We hold the Burmese regime responsible for the health of all political prisoners in Burma.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on recent actions by the military regime in Burma. [210582]

Mr. Alexander: We remain deeply concerned by developments in Burma in particular the news that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is now formally detained under Section 10(b) of the State Protection Law and that her house arrest has been extended until November 2005.

We fully support the UN Secretary-General's statement of 16 December 2004 reminding the Burmese authorities of their responsibility to ensure Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's security and well-being.

The Burmese regime has committed itself

For this to happen, it is essential that the National Convention (to draw up a new constitution) which reconvenes on February 17 is an inclusive and transparent process, involving all political parties and ethnic groups in Burma. Without their participation, it lacks all credibility.
 
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The UK remains committed to helping Burma achieve national reconciliation and we will respond positively to tangible progress.


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