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Treaty of Amsterdam: UK Border Controls

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Treaty of Amsterdam contains a Protocol which recognises the right of the United Kingdom to exercise, at its frontiers with other member states, such controls on persons seeking to enter the United Kingdom as it may consider necessary for the purpose of:



    determining whether or not to grant other persons permission to enter the United Kingdom.

The Protocol states that nothing in the Treaties, or in any measures deriving from the Treaties, prejudices the United Kingdom's right to exercise such controls.

No powers will arise as a direct result of the Protocol. The United Kingdom will however continue to maintain the controls provided for under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Order 1994 and the Immigration Act 1971. Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 provides powers for immigration officers to examine identity documents of passengers arriving in the United Kingdom, to search their person and belongings and to detain them pending a decision to give or to refuse leave to enter.

Treaty of Amsterdam: Competent Authorities

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the names, designation, Treaty Article basis and duties of each of the competent authorities of the European Union referred to in the draft Title VI and Articles K 1-14 of the Treaty of Amsterdam.[HL1439]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The competent authorities referred to in Articles K 1-4 are those of the member states, not of the European Union. As such, they will vary according to the laws and procedures of member states. However, this term will clearly apply, for instance, to police and customs services and, in some member states, also to public prosecutors.

20 Apr 1998 : Column WA194

Controlled Drugs and the Internet

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the list of controlled drugs is sufficiently comprehensive to deal with the range of designer drugs now offered for sale on the Internet; and, if not, what are their plans to address the problem.[HL1412]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The majority of so-called designer drugs are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 by means of a generic definition which covers at least 145 known phenethylamine-derived substances.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs keeps drugs misuse in the United Kingdom under review and it has advised that, even though there is currently little evidence of their misuse in this country, a further 34 phenethylamine-derived substances which are not covered by the generic definition should be brought under the 1971 Act's controls. We are currently considering the recommendation.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have sufficient power to deal with the offer to supply drugs made on the Internet, in particular where that offer to supply originates from outside the United Kingdom.[HL1413]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is an offence under Section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 for a person in the United Kingdom to offer to supply a controlled drug. The medium by which the offer is made is immaterial. An offer to supply a controlled drug from abroad will not normally be an offence in United Kingdom law, but it will be an offence to import it without the requisite licence or authority.

Human Rights Bill [H.L.]

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What factors they will take into account in reaching a decision on whether to seek to (a) reject or (b) amend those amendments to the Human Rights Bill [H.L.] made in the House of Lords against government advice.[HL1498]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We will take into account the representations made to us about these amendments, together with our manifesto commitment to bring rights home and the need for the Bill to be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.

20 Apr 1998 : Column WA195

Firearms Acts: Correspondence with Chief Officers of Police

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 9 March (WA 1), whether they will place in the Library of the House all letters written to chief officers of police in the last 12 months relevant to the administration of the Firearms Act 1968 and subsequent Firearms Acts; and[HL1509]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 9 March (WA 1), whether they will place in the Library of the House all letters written to the Association of Chief Police Officers in the last 12 months relevant to the administration of the Firearms Act 1968 and subsequent Firearms Acts.[HL1510]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Copies of guidance to all chief officers of police are routinely placed in the Library. Other correspondence with individual chief constables, with the Association of Chief Police Officers or any other body with whom we may consult as a matter of routine, are not placed in the Library and we have no plans to do so. In many cases, such correspondence relates to the preparation of guidance, the final version of which is eventually issued to all chief constables and which is copied to the Library.

Tamil Tigers: Fundraising in UK

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 2 April (WA 64), whether they are aware of any office maintained in this country by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; and, if so, on what basis any fundraising activities carried out by that office might be considered to be illegal.[HL1429]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government are aware of English language press releases from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, issuing from an address in East London.

Whether specific fundraising activities were illegal would depend on the facts of the case. The investigation of alleged criminal offences is the responsibility of the police.

Mr. Sidney Cooke: Photographs

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the full face and profile photographs of Sidney Cooke, a serving prisoner, published in the Sunday Telegraph on 5 April and other newspapers on 6 April, are photographs taken with the consent of the Home Office; and what are the circumstances leading to their availability for publication.[HL1440]

20 Apr 1998 : Column WA196

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The photographs in the Sunday Telegraph were taken in the course of Sidney Cooke's prison sentence. Their release to the press was not authorised. In view of the length of time since the photographs were taken, and the large number of staff who would have had access to his records, it is not possible to say how the photographs became available to the Sunday Telegraph.

Electronic Tagging for Girls under 18

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will recommend to the courts the use of electronic tagging in cases involving girls under 18, where local authority secure accommodation is not available, whether for remand in custody or in lieu of a sentence of imprisonment.[HL1411]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is the Government's responsibility to ensure that courts have the powers they need to deal with offenders who appear before them. Within the broad statutory limits set by Parliament, it is for the courts to consider the circumstances of each individual case and the options available to them. The Government are carrying out careful evaluation of the place that electronically monitored curfews may have among those options, including its potential role for juvenile offenders. A number of trials are currently in progress. These are:

Electronically-monitored curfew orders made under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 are available for offenders aged 16 and over convicted of an offence in the trial areas of Greater Manchester, Berkshire, Norfolk, West Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and the Middlesex Probation Service area. So far, six such orders have been made for girls aged 18 and under. On 17 March, we announced our intention to make this sentence available to courts in all areas, though the timetable for national implementation has yet to be finalised.

Separately, trials began in January this year of the use of electronically-monitored curfew orders for 10-15 year-olds in both Greater Manchester and Norfolk. These trials started at the beginning of this year and will run until July 1999 when we will assess the effectiveness of electronic tagging for this age group and how to proceed.

Limited trials of an electronically-monitored curfew as a condition of bail for defendants aged 16 and over are also under way. One trial started on 1 April in Norwich and another will start in Manchester on 1 July. Each trial will run for around three months and we will consider next steps in the light of these trials.

Additionally, under provisions contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill, selected short-term prisoners aged 18 or over who have passed a risk assessment carried out by the Prison Service may be eligible to spend up to the last two months of their sentence subject to an electronically-monitored curfew. A decision as to whether to extend this licence--Home Detention Curfew--to juveniles will be made in the light of the effectiveness of the trials of court-ordered curfews for juveniles.



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