Previous Section Index Home Page

1 Feb 2006 : Column 533W—continued

European Community

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the legislative items introduced under articles (a) 94, (b) 95 and (c) 308 of the treaty establishing the European Community in the past 12 months. [46782]


 
1 Feb 2006 : Column 534W
 

Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 18 October 2005, Official Report, column 904W. The Government do not keep a central overview of legislative items introduced under articles 94, 95 and 308 of the treaty. The Europa website provides a means of searching for all legislation. This is available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/search/search_lif.html New proposals are listed by subject-matter on the main page at: http://www.europa.eu.int/index_en.htm

Overseas Territories

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what ministerial visits to the Overseas Territories are planned before January 2007; and if he will make a statement. [47096]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: No specific trips are planned but foreign engagements for Government Ministers are kept under constant review. It is not practice to announce such visits until they are firm. Because of the unpredictable nature of world events, final decisions on overseas visits are often not possible until very shortly before the day of travel and an announcement is sometimes not possible until a visit is under way.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the UK Government have made of the vulnerability of each of the Overseas Territories to (a) natural disasters and (b) man-made disasters; and if he will make a statement. [47099]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK Overseas Territories are mostly small islands, which are potentially at risk from a range of man made and natural disasters. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a rolling programme of capability reviews to assess the vulnerability of those most at risk and offer advice on measures to mitigate a disaster's impact and manage the crisis. The review process also assesses a territory's ability to deal with disasters locally.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingency plans his Department has in place for (a) natural and (b) man-made disasters in each of the Overseas Territories. [47100]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Rapid Deployment Teams are ready at all times to respond to crises and disasters all over the world including the Overseas Territories. There is also a dedicated Overseas Territories Management Oversight Committee, which supports the Governor in time of disaster, and works with other Government Departments including the Department for International Development, in organising the UK's response in London. Each Overseas Territories has ownership of its own disaster contingency plans.

Rendition

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether individuals have been subject to rendition from the United Kingdom to an overseas country since 1997. [47586]

Dr. Howells: No.
 
1 Feb 2006 : Column 535W
 

Rohingya People

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of Rohingya people living in (a) Bangladesh, (b) Pakistan, (c) Saudi Arabia, (d) United Arab Emirates, (e) Malaysia and (f) Thailand. [45555]

Ian Pearson: We do not normally hold figures for the total number of Rohingya people living in third countries.

However, inquiries carried out by our Missions suggest that there are between 450,000 and 500,000 Rohingyas living in Saudi Arabia, 11,000 in Malaysia and between 150,000 and 220,000 in Bangladesh. We have no overall figure for Rohingyas living in Pakistan, but there are an estimated 80,000 living in Karachi.

There are no figures available for Thailand or the United Arab Emirates.

Slave Trade Abolition (Bicentenary)

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will use the 2007 bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade to press for effective worldwide prohibition of slavery and for the establishment of mechanisms to monitor and report on compliance. [47333]

Ian Pearson: The Government are committed to marking in 2007 the 200th anniversary of the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is chairing an Advisory Group, which includes a broad range of faith, community, city and cultural representatives, to develop proposals on the Government's contributions to the bicentenary. We will want to look both to the past and to the lessons that have been learnt and to raise awareness of the millions of people still living under contemporary forms of slavery. Around the world, the UK works in partnership with foreign Governments, international organisations and civil society to break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion that are at the root of most forms of contemporary slavery. Together with the Advisory Group, we will consider how best to use this opportunity to make progress on the range of issues that persist today.

Sudan

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions he had had with the Government of Sudan on permitting civil society within Sudan access to the work of the African Union without fear of harassment; [46044]

(2) what plans he has to help facilitate a civil society forum in Sudan. [46049]

Ian Pearson: On 22 January 2006, the 35 participants in an open civil society forum on working with the African Union in Khartoum, organised by the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture, were detained for more than three hours at the conference venue by the Sudanese authorities. All were released unharmed. Our ambassador in Khartoum raised this with the Government of Sudan, and attended the scene during the detention. Other embassy staff were on hand to speak to the participants and provide consular assistance which,
 
1 Feb 2006 : Column 536W
 
thankfully, was not needed. We are clear that such harassment of civil society is unacceptable and that the Government of Sudan must strictly uphold the freedoms of expression and association that are guaranteed under the constitution of Sudan. We are pressing the EU presidency to lead a formal high-level protest to the Government of Sudan in the coming days, and will continue to raise this matter with the Government of Sudan.

The UK strongly supports the development of civil society in Sudan. We are supporting a capacity building programme for civil society organisations and the media in Sudan including providing more than £200,000 over three years to support the work of the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture. We are also contributing to the Multidonor Trust Fund which is developing a civil society programme to support civil society voice and advocacy.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Colin Worton

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 317W, on Colin Worton, by what criteria claims for (a) compensation and (b) an ex gratia payment are assessed. [46455]

Mr. Hanson: There are two schemes for awarding compensation for miscarriages of justice. These are the statutory scheme under Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the ex gratia arrangements which were set out in a statement to the House of Commons on 29 November 1985, Official Report, columns 691–692, by the then Home Secretary and which have been adopted by successive Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland since then.

Section 133 provides that the Secretary of State shall pay compensation to a person who has been convicted of and punished for a criminal offence, where the conviction is subsequently reversed or a pardon is granted on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice. Compensation shall not be paid where the non-disclosure of the unknown fact was wholly or partially attributable to the person convicted.

A reversal in this context refers to a conviction which has been quashed either on an out-of-time appeal, or on a reference under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995, section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 or section 12 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

Under the ex gratia scheme compensation may exceptionally be granted where a person has spent time in custody following a wrongful conviction or charge, where there has been serious default on the part of the police or some other public authority, or where facts emerge, either at trial or on appeal within time, that completely exonerate the accused.
 
1 Feb 2006 : Column 537W
 


Next Section Index Home Page