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11 Jun 1998 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Thursday, 11th June 1998.

Turkey and Greece and the EU

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is being taken to improve relationships between Turkey and the European Union and to persuade Greece to reconsider its approach to European Union financial support for projects within and involving Turkey.[HL2102]

Lord Whitty: As presidency of the European Union, we, supported by 13 other member states, continue to urge the Greek Government to release EU funding for Turkey to support economic restructuring under the Customs Union; and to allow the implementation of measures proposed by the Commission under the European Strategy for Turkey. We are also working closely with the Commission and the European Parliament to improve the flow of funds to projects in Turkey under the MEDA Regulation.

Overseas Police Services: Provision of Training

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current state of officially sponsored research into the actual results achieved by providing training to overseas police services and in particular into any consequent improvements in respect for human rights and civil liberties; and when they expect to announce their conclusions. [HL2099]

Lord Whitty: Training for overseas police services is funded under the FCO's Assistance to Support Stability through in-Service Training (ASSIST) programme, which my noble friend Lady Symons announced to the House on 26 March 1998 (Official Report, col. WA 255). Projects funded under this programme are to be evaluated internally at the end of the financial year against the criteria my noble friend announced.

Gibraltar and Spain: Air and Maritime Links

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made, together with the European Commission and the Spanish authorities, for the resumption of commercial maritime operations and air links between Gibraltar and Spain.[HL2003]

Lord Whitty: There has been no progress. However, we would welcome any practical proposals to develop air and maritime links between Gibraltar and Spain, on which all parties could agree.

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Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their position on the future of Gibraltar.[HL2001]

Lord Whitty: We are committed to ensuring the security of all UK overseas territories and to promoting their prosperity. In the case of Gibraltar, we have made it clear that there can be no change in sovereignty without the consent of its people.


Lord Randall of St. Budeaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in preparing a sustainable development plan for Montserrat and what support the Department for International Development will provide for implementation.

Lord Whitty: Agreement has been reached between HMG and the Government of Montserrat on draft text which is now being made available for public consultation. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. We hope that agreement can be reached on the final version by August. DFID will make available up to a further £75 million over the next three years to support the plan. The scale of this pledge reflects the devastation to the island and the constraints imposed on the private sector by the continuing uncertainty about the volcano. If the volcano enters a permanent state of repose many of these constraints would be lifted, enabling the people of Montserrat to take greater responsibility for their livelihoods and the private sector to take a greater role in rebuilding the island.

Development Policy Forum

Lord Randall of St. Budeaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in setting up the annual policy forum proposed in the Government's White Paper on international development.

Lord Whitty: The National Development Policy Forum will take place in Birmingham on 9 November. This will be preceded by a series of regional forums in 10 locations around the UK. The dates and locations are as follows:

Monday 7 SeptemberNorwich
Wednesday 9 SeptemberBirmingham
Monday 14 SeptemberBristol
Wednesday 16 SeptemberPortsmouth
Monday 21 SeptemberYork
Thursday 24 SeptemberCardiff
Monday 5 OctoberManchester
Wednesday 7 OctoberEdinburgh
Tuesday 13 OctoberBelfast
Friday 16 OctoberLondon

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The forum is one of a number of ways in which we are seeking to share experience and strengthen analysis of development issues across different sectors of society and to broaden public awareness. This will be an annual process and full reports of the outcome will be available.

Our current estimate of the cost is between £200,000 and £300,000.

Turkey: Police and Security Co-operation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received requests for police and security co-operation from Turkey; and, if so, what response was made.[HL2097]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The security and intelligence agencies engage in liaison with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of a large number of countries where we have common interests and concerns. Such arrangements depend upon confidentiality and it is not the Government's policy to comment on them.

Requests for police co-operation from Turkish authorities are usually processed through the offices of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), which is the principal channel of communication between police forces throughout the world. Inquiries have been made in respect of smuggling, drugs, fraud, forgery, art theft, missing persons and offences against the person. It is forbidden for the organisation to deal with offences of a political, military, racial or religious nature. Additional co-operation is provided by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, which responds to requests for details and circumstances surrounding the arrest of Turkish nationals for drug smuggling. Wherever possible, drugs intelligence is shared with the Turkish authorities and this has recently resulted in the seizure of a significant quantity of heroin in Turkey.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What police training they are currently providing to Turkey, specifying the numbers and degree of seniority of the officers receiving training, together with the subjects covered by the training.[HL2098]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: None. However, the police staff college at Bramshill recently received a chief superintendent from Northern Cyprus who completed the International Commanders' Programme on 9 May. This programme lasts for 10 weeks, aiming to develop management and operational command skills and includes a strong element of human rights training.

Women in Prison: Childbirth

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have introduced into women's prisons in England and Wales the recommendations of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons about childbirth in Women in Prison: A Thematic Review.[HL2096]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Prison Service is committed to implementing, in partnership with the National Health Service and within the constraints necessarily presented by imprisonment, the principal recommendations of Changing Childbirth. However, the objective set out in Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prison's thematic review of implementing these recommendations by December 1997, itself an earlier target date than that to which the NHS was committed, could not be met. Progress is being made in line with developments in local NHS maternity services which provide antenatal and postnatal care for pregnant prisoners, as well as the necessary hospital facilities for childbirth.

NACRO Report: Government Response

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are studying the Report from the National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NACRO) Too Many Prisoners? of April 1998; whether they will respond direct to NACRO; and when they expect to publish new proposals for reducing the use of imprisonment as a sentence and for other improvements in the criminal justice system.[HL2101]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already written to the Chief Executive of NACRO on 4 June in response to receiving a copy of the report Too Many Prisoners?. As he made clear in his response, some of the proposals in the report are similar to measures--such as sentencing guidelines, home detention curfew and the drug treatment and testing order--which are already being taken forward by the Government in the Crime and Disorder Bill [H.L.].

There is a great deal of interest in this whole area at present, not least because of the current inquiry into the alternatives to prison sentences being conducted by a Select Committee in another place. The Government await the report of the Select Committee with interest and will consider whatever proposals it may make for reducing the use of imprisonment. We will, of course, publish a response to the Select Committee's report in the normal way.

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