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26 Jun 1996 : Column WA57

Written Answers

Wednesday, 26th June 1996.

South Tripura Camps: Refugees' Conditions

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any comment from the Indian Government on the report by three journalists on the circumstances of the refugees from the Chittagong Hill tracts in the camps in South Tripura, and whether they will now suggest to the Indian Government that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees be invited to the camps to assess and help provide for the humanitarian needs of these refugees.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We have not yet received any comment from the Indian Government on this subject. Our High Commission raised the issue again with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on 14th June. We await their response.

EC Documents: Availability for Parliamentary Scrutiny

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that the Select Committee and Sub-Committees on the European Communities receive Commission documents, and the related government explanatory memoranda, in sufficient time to acquaint the House of the results of their scrutiny before final decisions are made.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government have a rigorous system in place and make every effort to ensure that documents are available in sufficient time for proper scrutiny to take place. In addition, the Government are proposing at the Intergovernmental Conference 1996 a minimum scrutiny period for documents to be available to national parliaments before they are considered in the Council. They are also supporting a Council Secretariat project to send documents electronically to member states, which would give national parliaments more time to scrutinise these.

Human Rights Conventions

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 17th June 1996 (WA 3), whether any analysis has been carried out by Her Majesty's Government or by the Council of Europe as to

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    differences between the rights and freedoms secured by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and those secured by the European Convention on Human Rights; and if so, whether they will publish the results of that analysis.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: Her Majesty's Government keep these matters under review in the light of evolving jurisprudence. We understand that the Council of Europe has in the past prepared a brief comparison of the two instruments, but that document was not intended for publication. As I stated in my Answer of 17th June 1996 (WA 3), both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights are in the public domain and may be easily consulted.

Oftel: Complement

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Pursuant to the answer by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie of 14th May 1996 (WA 47), what is the reason for the increase in the estimated number of staff of Oftel from 161 (1995-96) to 162 for the subsequent years for which staff numbers are projected.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): The projections for future years were based on Oftel's agreed expenditure plans at the time of the Public Expenditure Settlement last autumn. The figure of 161 shown for Oftel staff in 1995-96 was, however, an estimate of the average over the whole year of staff actually working for Oftel. The numbers of people employed within a given year's budget can fluctuate as staff join and leave the office, and because of variations in the mix of grades employed.

Police Search Warrant: National Sporting Club

The Marquess of Ailesbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the police raided the National Sporting Club without having applied for a warrant; and if so, what purpose is served by the procedure for granting or withholding warrants.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): I am unable to comment on the individual case, which is a matter for the Commissioner of Police. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 distinguishes between circumstances in which it is necessary for a police officer to have a warrant from a justice of the peace in order to enter premises without the permission of the occupier; and those in which a warrant is not necessary. A warrant is required to enter premises for the purpose of obtaining

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relevant evidence where there are reasonable grounds for believing that a serious arrestable offence has been committed (S.8). Subject to certain safeguards, a warrant is not required in order to enter premises to search for and arrest someone for an arrestable offence (S.17); or to search premises for evidence relating to an arrestable offence for which the occupier is already under arrest (S.18); or, if a person has been arrested other than at a police station, to search any premises in which he was when he was arrested, or immediately before he was arrested, for evidence relating to the offence (S.32).

Erlestoke Prison: CNA and Population

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prisoners can be held at HMP Erlestoke (Wiltshire) without over-crowding; and how many there were on 1st November 1995 (or on the earliest subsequent date for which figures are available) and at the most recent date for which figures are available.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Hylton from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt dated 26th June 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how many prisoners can be held at Erlestoke prison without overcrowding; and how many there were on 1st November 1995 and at the most recent date.

Erlestoke's recorded certified normal accommodation is 270. The prison population was 270 on 31st October 1995. The population on 21st June 1996 was 275.

Turkish Nationals: Asylum Applications

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a table showing the number of applications for asylum from Turkish nationals (excluding dependants) received; the number of decisions; the number recognised as refugees and granted asylum; the number not recognised as refugees but granted exceptional leave to remain; and the total number of refusals, for each of the years 1990 to 1995 inclusive, and for 1996 to the latest convenient date.

Baroness Blatch: I refer the noble Lord to the reply given on 18th March (col. WA 92), which gives the requested information for the years 1990 to 1995. Equivalent information for January to May 1996 is given in the table.

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Decisions on applications for asylum(1) in the United Kingdom from Turkish nationals, excluding dependents, January to May 1996
Number of principal applicants

Asylum applications(2)630
Total decisions 2 ,(3)510
Recognised as a refugee and granted asylum30
Recognition rate6 per cent.
Not recognised as a refugee but granted
exceptional leave to remain(4)10
Exceptional leave rate2 per cent.
Total refusals470
Refusal rate92 per cent.
Refused asylum and ELR after full
Refused on safe third country grounds80
Refused on non-compliance grounds(5)5

(1) Provisional figures rounded to the nearest 5.

(2) Figures exclude information on applications made overseas.

(3) Decisions do not necessarily relate to applications made in the same year.

(4) Usually granted for a year in the first instance, subject then to further review.

(5) Para 340 of Immigration Rules, for failure to provide evidence to support the asylum claim within a reasonable period.

CJD: New Variant

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their best estimate for the incubation span of the "new strain" of CJD, giving the minimum and maximum periods.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The incubation period for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is thought to range from five to twenty years.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any reports of actual or suspected "new strain" of CJD occurring in countries other than the United Kingdom and, if so, which countries and how many cases, suspected and confirmed.

Baroness Cumberlege: One case of the new variant has been confirmed in France.


Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they now believe that BSE can be, and has been, caught by human beings in the form of CJD in the light of the evidence of the neuro-surgeon Alan Colchester to the Canterbury City Council on 25th May this year in which he referred to "the transmission of prions, the infectious agents

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    causing scrapie in sheep, BSE in cattle and CJD in man, to farm animals, wild animals, domestic pets and man" in opposing planning permission for the use of fields by renderers.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee advice remains that there is still no scientific evidence to link positively any case of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease to exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

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