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16 Dec 1998 : Column WA145

Written Answers

Wednesday, 16th December 1998.

EU Candidate Nations: Administrative Assistance

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will offer placements in government departments to civil servants of the "5 plus 1" nations seeking to become full members of the European Union, rather than conducting twinning relations by e-mail as proposed.[HL212]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Her Majesty's Government are keen to help all 10 Central European EU candidate countries enhance their administrative capacity to implement European legislation by offering short-term placements in Whitehall departments.

The UK will continue to offer a range of concrete measures to support the candidates' preparations for membership.

In addition to, rather than as an alternative to, short-term inward placements, we are pursuing other initiatives, such as visits, outward placements and direct electronic links between experts, as well as participation in the Phare Programme's twinning scheme.

Sudan: Bombing

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have received about the alleged bombing of a hospital in Yei, in southern Sudan, in November.[HL218]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Our Khartoum staff in Nairobi report that in recent months the town of Yei has been bombed at least five times from high altitude by Government of Sudan bombers. Three of these bombings took place in November. On most of these occasions the hospital was hit and damage incurred to hospital buildings with a small number of fatalities and several injuries.

Turkey: Attacks on HADEP Officials

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Turkish Government if (a) Mr. Hami Cakir and (b) Mr. Metin Yurtsever have died in police custody in Turkey; if so, whether those responsible will be brought to justice; and what information they have of recent violent attacks by the MHP (Grey Wolves) party and its Youth Wing on members of the HADEP (People's Democracy party).[HL256]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We understand that the deaths of Hami Cakir and Metin Yurtsever occurred while in police custody in Turkey. Officials from HADEP (People's Democracy Party) have indicated that they do not hold the Turkish police directly responsible for their deaths. It is believed that both men died as a result of injuries inflicted by extreme nationalist demonstrators at HADEP offices. We understand that members of the so-called "Grey Wolves" may have been responsible for a number of these violent attacks.

We raised our concerns over the recent attacks on HADEP officials and offices during discussions with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 7 December.


Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the political dialogue opened up as a result of the European Union troika mission to Algeria in January has been sustained.[HL296]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As part of the ongoing political dialogue between the EU and Algeria, the Foreign Secretary held a bilateral meeting with his Algerian opposite number in June. The Minister of State, Derek Fatchett, represented the UK when the EU Troika and the Algerian Foreign Minister met in Vienna in October. The discussions were wide-ranging on both bilateral and European issues.

Burma: Human Rights

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 26 October (H.L. Deb., col. 1686) regarding the Government's policy towards the human rights record of China and Burma, respectively, whether they consider that, since democratic elections were held in Burma which were then undemocratically overturned, the human rights record of Burma justifies greater "outrage" on the part of the Government than the human rights record of China.[HL298]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are deeply concerned about the human rights records of many countries and we judge these by the international standards which have been set out by the United Nations. We believe that it is important to address our human rights concerns in the way most likely to bring about concrete results in terms of practical progress on the ground. This will not be the same in each case. One of the important factors we take into account is the extent to which countries are ready to co-operate with the UN human rights system and also how far they are ready to undertake reform.

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Museums and Galleries: Free Admission

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the introduction of free entry at all times for school children to the national museums and galleries in April 1999 is to be for all school children regardless of their nationality or country of residence; and [HL236]

    Whether the introduction of free entry at all times for "old-age pensioners" to the national museums and galleries in 2000 is to be for all old-age pensioners regardless of their nationality or country of residence.[HL237]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I can confirm that extra funds have been offered to the trustees of the major national collections to enable free entry for children from April 1999 and pensioners from April 2000 regardless of their nationality or country of residence.

Consolidated Fund Bill and Human Rights Act 1998

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in connection with the Consolidated Fund Bill, a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL351]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have today made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Consolidated Fund Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.

Scottish Parliament: Funding

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which funds, currently managed in Whitehall, will be transferred to the Scottish Parliament; and[HL279]

    Whether all funds currently made available to the Scottish Office will be available to the new Scottish administration; and, if not, what are the reasons for any exceptions; and[HL280]

    Whether any extra funds will be made available to the Scottish Office in respect of new or enhanced responsibilities; and whether they will specify these responsibilities and the sums required.[HL281]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Since funding for the functions transferred to the Scottish Ministers will be available to the Scottish Parliament, government departments are currently reviewing their programmes, in consultation with the Scottish Office, in the light of the Scotland Act to establish precisely what funds currently managed by departments other than the Scottish Office relate to functions which will transfer to the Scottish Ministers. Work is taking place to establish the extent of any such expenditure and to assess the need

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for any consequential transfer of funds to the Scottish Parliament. The Government intend to publish the funding arrangement for the Scottish Parliament, together with those of the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly, in due course.

Crime and Disorder Act 1998: Research

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research and evaluation studies are currently planned into the implementation of the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.[HL225]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Government will evaluate carefully the effects of the Act's provisions through the regular collection of criminal justice statistics, special data collections and regular research exercises.

The Home Office will collect and analyse the local crime audits and crime reduction strategies required under the Act. These will form the basis for planning further research and evaluation on the work of the local crime and disorder partnerships in order to identify good practice and assess the partnerships' impact.

Pilot studies concerning television links between courts and prisons, drug treatment and testing orders, the Narey measures to reduce delays and the youth justice measures are being evaluated by independent assessors and the Home Office.

The six-month studies of live television links are being independently evaluated by Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Wolfson. The drug treatment and testing orders are being evaluated by the Home Office with a team from South Bank University. The pilots of the Narey measures are being evaluated by consultants Ernst & Young. The youth justice pilots, which began in 10 areas of the country on 30 September and will run for 18 months, are being evaluated by a team led by Sheffield University.

The Home Office, police and Crown Prosecution Service plan also to monitor the effectiveness of the provisions covering racially aggravated offences. Other provisions of the Act which are currently under consideration for research include anti-social behaviour orders, sex offender orders, home detention curfew and statutory time limit provisions.

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