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2 Feb 1998 : Column WA77

Written Answers

Monday, 2nd February 1998.

Court of Appeal (Criminal Division): European Convention Rights

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to review the role and function of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) before implementing the incorporation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic law.[HL208]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My department will be working with the Lord Chief Justice, the other heads of division and the judicial studies board to make sure that proper arrangements are put in place to enable the courts, including the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), to give effect to the convention rights.

Public Record Office Charges

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

    Further to the Written Answer of the Lord Chancellor of 12 January (WA 121), how and upon what basis the full costs of photocopying are calculated per page at the Public Record Office.[HL197]

The Lord Chancellor: The charges for photocopying and related services at the Public Record Office are set on the principle of full cost recovery. The full cost of the reprographic services includes direct staff costs, reprographic material and other non-pay costs, depreciation of equipment and overheads. All the overheads of the PRO are allocated to the front line services, of which the copying service is one. The allocations are based on numbers of staff, office space occupied, quantity and type of computer equipment, use of specialist computer systems, telephone usage, number of payment transactions, number of income transactions and turnover.

The full cost of the copying service is partly offset by recharges to the PRO's internal preservation service for work done directly for that service. There is also a recharge to the preservation service because microfilming work done for the public also produces copies for preservation purposes. These offsets produce a net cost for the reprographic service. The reprographic prices, including photocopying, are set in an annual statutory instrument such that the total projected income from the reprographic service should equal its total projected net cost. Individual prices within the instrument are set to be reasonable and to take into account, as far as possible, the views of readers, user groups, the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council and other interested parties.

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In practice in 1997-98 the income received from the reprographic service will not equal the net cost. There will be a subsidy of approximately £300,000. In 1998-99, the introduction of capital charging will increase the PRO's total overheads by approximately £1.5 million, and this will increase the amount of subsidy necessary for the reprographic service.

Algerian Nationals: Asylum Seekers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Algerian citizens have applied for asylum and refugee status in the United Kingdom since 1 January 1992; how many have been returned to:

    (a) Algeria and

    (b) France

    and how many such applicants are currently subject to detention in this country.[HL303]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): During the period 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1997, a total of 4,560 Algerian nationals, excluding dependants, applied for asylum in the United Kingdom. During the same time period, a total of around 640 Algerian nationals, who had at some stage applied for asylum, were removed or departed voluntarily. The available data on removals exclude any in-country applicants who make a voluntary departure prior to the initiation of enforcement action.

I regret that comprehensive data on the final destination of those Algerian asylum seekers removed, or departed voluntarily, from the United Kingdom since 1992 could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, a recent exercise indicated that, of the 68 Algerian asylum seekers who were removed/departed voluntarily between 1 July and 31 December 1997, only 13 were removed to Algeria and a further five were recorded as having made a voluntary departure to that country. Most of the remainder were removed, or made voluntary departures, to countries within Europe--a total of 20 to France. No Algerian asylum seekers have so far been removed to France under the provisions of the Dublin Convention which came into force on 1 September 1997.

A total of 53 Algerian nationals, who had sought asylum at some stage, were recorded as being detained solely under Immigration Act powers as at 5 January 1998 (port cases) and 6 January 1998 (after entry cases).

Northern Ireland: Human Rights

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

    Whether they will ensure that the proposed Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, supplementing the European Convention on Human Rights will be matched by the equivalent provision for the peoples of England, Scotland and Wales.[HL196]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The Government have no current plans to introduce a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. However, we have made clear that discussion of possible further measures for the protection of rights in Northern Ireland will be a key issue in the political talks process, and the Government will want to facilitate whatever agreement is reached.


Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, where a live child's head slips out of its mother during a partial-birth abortion, to continue with the abortion would be to commit infanticide; and [HL296]

    Whether, where a child is born alive during an abortion, then to kill it or to allow it to die would be to commit infanticide or murder.[HL297]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): We are not aware of "partial birth abortion" being used in the United Kingdom. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who define late abortions as those over 21 weeks, issued guidance to all its fellows and members in January 1996 for these cases which said: "with terminations after 21 weeks, the method chosen should ensure that the fetus is born dead". If, during an abortion, the operating doctor were to deliver a living baby, the 1967 Abortion Act would no longer have any application, and the law governing the doctor's future action would be exactly the same as in the case of any other delivered child.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What organisations which they fund take:
    (a) a pro-life position; and
    (b) a pro-abortion position,

    on abortion-related issues; and how much was given to each such organisation in each of the last five years for which figures are available.[HL298]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government fund a number of organisations in the field of reproductive health. The view of these organisations on abortion related issues is not sought as part of the funding process.


Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the main causes of asthma among:
    (a) adults; and
    (b) children.[HL299]

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Baroness Jay of Paddington: It is not known what causes asthma, although it appears to involve an interplay between genetic and environmental factors.

A range of trigger factors can bring on asthma attacks in individual people, once they have become sensitised to them. Asthma triggers vary from person to person. They include substances in the environment which induce allergic reactions, such as house dust mite dung, pollen and fungal spores, outdoor air pollution, environmental tobacco smoke, respiratory infections and exercise. Stress, excitement or emotional upset may also bring on symptoms in some people.

Tobacco Advertising Draft Directive

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent they expect the draft EC Directive on tobacco advertising (12302/97) to affect the free distribution of tobacco products, any form of tobacco commercial communication and the freedom of tobacco workers to receive tobacco products.[HL301]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The draft European Commission directive, if implemented in its current form will:

(i) ban any free distribution of tobacco products, having the purpose or effect, whether directly or indirectly of promoting a tobacco product;

(ii) ban any form of commercial communication with the aim, direct or indirect effect, of promoting a tobacco product, but the ban will not affect communications intended exclusively for professionals in the tobacco trade.

It will be for courts to determine whether any particular example constitutes promotion of a tobacco product and is therefore subject to the ban.

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent they expect the draft EC Directive on tobacco advertising (12302/97) to affect the present voluntary agreement on tobacco advertising.[HL302]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government have agreed with the tobacco industry that the voluntary agreements on tobacco advertising and the associated monitoring committee will be kept in place until the directive banning tobacco advertising is implemented in the United Kingdom.

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