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Written Answers

Wednesday, 6th November 1996.

Eskisehir Prison, Turkey

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Eskisehir maximum security prison in Turkey is now in use and what information they have about sickness and death rates within it.

Lord Chesham: We understand that Eskisehir prison in Turkey is still in use. We have not been able to obtain reliable information about the sickness or death rate there.

Hong Kong Ethnic Minorities: Citizenship Rights

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

    What will be the status of persons of South Asian origin lawfully present in Hong Kong after the resumption of sovereignty by the People's Republic of China on 1st July 1997.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): Those members of Hong Kong's ethnic minorities who have British Dependent Territories citizenship and no other form of nationality will continue to hold British nationality after the transition--either in the form of British Nationality (Overseas) or British Overseas citizenship. They will also, under the terms of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, retain the right of abode in Hong Kong.

EC Human Rights Report: Greece v UK

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

    Further to the Written Answers given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 16th May 1996 (WA 63) and 11th June 1996 (WA 163), whether they will ascertain from the Council of Europe whether they retain a copy of the report of the European Commission of Human Rights of 26th September 1958 in Application No 176/56 Greece v United Kingdom; and, if so, whether it can now be published.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We will ask whether a copy of the report is held by the Council of Europe and will pass on our findings to the noble Lord.

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European Community Actions: Grounds for Individual Challenge

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

    Whether they will propose at the Inter-Governmental Conference that the standing rules which private applicants must satisfy under Article 173 of the Treaty of Rome should be amended so as (inter alia) to enable someone who claims that his fundamental rights have been infringed by a Community institution to have effective access to the European Court of Justice.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: I refer the noble Lord to paragraph 24 of the response I gave to the House of Lords Select Committee report on the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference:

    "The Government is not in favour of broadening the grounds for individuals to challenge Community acts before the ECJ. Such an enlargement of Articles 173 and 184 would have effects going beyond the human rights actions proposed. In any event, individuals who claim that their human rights have been infringed may seek redress through the domestic courts, through the ECJ under Article 177, and directly to the ECHR institutions".

Coalfield Closures: Regeneration of Affected Areas

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their proposals for the regeneration of areas affected by coalfield closures.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): British Coal non-operational properties will be transferred to English Partnerships, who will take forward their regeneration, reclamation and development. English Partnerships have prepared a detailed investment plan, including a development strategy for each site. The aim is to achieve area regeneration, environmental improvements and secure new employment opportunities in the coal closure areas. Receipts from sales will be used to fund the costs of reclaiming and servicing other sites in the portfolio. Two thousand, two hundred and fifty acres of land will be reclaimed for residential, commercial and retail uses and a further 2,750 acres will be developed for forestry, leisure and agricultural purposes. Fifty-five thousand jobs will be created and £850 million of private sector investment attracted. A managed disposal strategy will ensure that the market is not flooded with development land. In this way considerable benefits will accrue to the coalfields communities in the next 10 years.

This is a challenging programme for English Partnerships but they have already shown themselves capable of the challenge. The agency has quickly established itself as a key player in economic and physical regeneration throughout England with its

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activity carefully directed to achieve the maximum impact in areas of greatest need. We are convinced that the benefits for the coalfields communities will be considerable and that this new agreement ensures the best possible future for the coalfield sites in the north of England.

Regeneration will start immediately on a number of the sites, including Agecroft in the north-west, Dawdon in the north-east, Glasshoughton in Yorkshire and the Humber and Manton Wood in the East Midlands.

English Partnerships will receive £12.5 million from British Coal in a detailed agreement which has, as a key requirement, a balanced package where the cost of meeting enforceable liabilities and reclaiming sites to a minimum standard is offset by the positive value within the portfolio. The arrangements provide for an appropriate allocation of liabilities and risks between English Partnerships and British Coal.

I am today laying details of the sites being transferred in the House and copies will also be available in the Library.

Northern Ireland: Criminal Justice (Children) Legislation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they are refusing to legislate by public Bill regarding children in Northern Ireland and the related criminal justice matters; and whether the Northern Ireland Grand Committee has considered or will consider their draft proposals.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield): Legislation by Order in Council is the normal course for criminal justice matters concerned solely with Northern Ireland and it would not therefore be appropriate to bring forward legislation in respect of juvenile justice in the form of a Bill. We shall shortly be publishing for consultation a Proposal for a draft Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order. The Northern Ireland parties will then be free to request a Grand Committee debate on the draft legislation, should they so wish.

Gulf War Illness Syndrome

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the research teams who submitted unsuccessful proposals for research into Gulf War Illness Syndrome have not been advised of the reasons why their proposals have been rejected when it is the normal practice of the Medical Research Council to give such advice.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): An announcement of the successful proposals for research on the health of Gulf War veterans and their offspring will be made shortly. Following this announcement, shortlisted

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research teams who submitted unsuccessful proposals will be advised of the reasons for this by the MRC.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is a neuroscientist member of the Medical Research Council Gulf War Illness Syndrome Research Committee, in view of the scientific research papers published recently in the United Kingdom and the USA which demonstrate neurological damage found in Gulf War veterans.

Earl Howe: One member of the Medical Research Council's scientific advisory committee on Gulf War illness research is a neurologist.

Married Quarters Estate: Sale

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made on the sale of the married quarters estate to Annington Homes.

Earl Howe: Contracts for the sale were exchanged on 24th September. The transaction was completed today.

Contempt of Court Act 1981: Interpretation

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

    Whether they will take steps to ensure that the Contempt of Court Act 1981 is interpreted and applied by the courts consistently with the obligations imposed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in all parts of the United Kingdom.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): It would be wrong for the Government to seek to influence how the courts, in their independent judgment, interpret the way legislation should apply to particular cases. Where the Government are themselves a party, their arguments would be put to the courts in the usual way.

Child Safety Seats

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the effectiveness of existing child safety seats in reducing deaths and injuries in road accidents; whether any improvements are to be introduced and, if so, when.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): The department believes that existing child restraints are effective in reducing injuries. We are, however, pleased to see that child restraints designed to the latest international standard, ECE Regulation 44:03, are already appearing on the market.

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