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Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester

Viscount Tenby asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is the Government's intention to publish the report. A copy will be placed in the Library on publication.

24 Feb 1999 : Column WA117

Mothers in Prison

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the situation has changed since the 1994 Home Office Survey Mothers in Prison found that 61 per cent. of women in prison had children under 18 and over 30 per cent. had children under 5; and what consideration they are giving to realistic alternative sentences for mothers.[HL1129]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: A survey of 234 women prisoners for Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prison's Thematic Review in late 1996 found 66 per cent. of women prisoners were mothers with children under 18 years. Fifty-five per cent. of women had at least one child under 16 years. Estimates based on this survey suggest that around 4,500 children under 16 years have a mother in prison. The same survey found over a third of the mothers had one or more children under five years old.

A custodial sentence may be imposed only where the court is of the opinion that the offence is so serious that only such a sentence can be justified or where only such a sentence would be adequate to protect the public.

Where the court is not of this opinion, a wide range of community and financial penalties are already available for both male and female offenders. Some larger probation services provide "women only" offender programmes, although many are mixed. As part of the Effective Practice Initiative the Probation Inspectorate will be considering how best to monitor provision for the supervision of women offenders in their future inspection arrangements. A programme for women offenders has been selected as one of the three "pathfinder programmes" under this initiative.

Deportation: Families with Children

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy regarding the deportation of families where there are children who have spent a long time in the United Kingdom.[HL1255]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: For a number of years, it has been the practice of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate not to pursue enforcement action against people who have children under 18 living with them who have spent 10 years or more in this country, save in very exceptional circumstances.

We have concluded that 10 years is too long a period. Children who have been in this country for several years will be reasonably settled here and may therefore find it difficult to adjust to life abroad. In future, the enforced removal or deportation will not normally be appropriate where there are minor dependent children in the family who have been living in the Untied Kingdom continuously for seven years or more. In most cases, the ties established by children over this period will outweigh other considerations and it is right and fair that the family should be allowed to stay here. However, each case will continue to be considered on its individual merits.

24 Feb 1999 : Column WA118

NATO Summit: Washington

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be their policy at the April 1999 NATO Summit Meeting in Washington towards a comprehensive review of the role of nuclear weapons in the security policy of the Alliance; and what proposals they will make for reduced significance of such weapons in future.[HL978]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): NATO has already responded to the radical changes in the European security environment since 1991 with dramatic reductions in its sub-strategic forces; a significant relaxation of the readiness criteria for nuclear-roled forces; and the termination of standing peacetime nuclear contingency plans.

In preparation for the Washington Summit, we are considering with our allies all aspects of NATO security policy, to ensure that it reflects the current security environment.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they will make at the April 1999 NATO Summit Meeting in Washington concerning the availability of the resources of the alliance to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations for future peace support operations in Europe.[HL979]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO has already offered to make available Alliance resources and expertise on a case-by-case basis to the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe for peacekeeping and other operations. For example, in Bosnia, the NATO-led force is working closely with the UN International Police Task Force and OSCE Mission.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they will make at the April 1999 NATO Summit Meeting in Washington for strengthening the role of the Permanent Joint Council and Partnership for Peace.[HL980]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government are working to strengthen the role of the NATO/Russia Permanent Joint Council, the NATO-Ukraine Commission, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Partnership for Peace within their existing frameworks. NATO has used the first three of these fora for consultations with Russia and other Partners on the situation in the former Yugoslavia and is deepening its military co-operation with Partners under Partnership for Peace. We want more substantial exchanges with Russia in the Permanent Joint Council. There are no plans for new NATO/Russia initiatives at the Washington Summit, but NATO and Partners are developing for the Summit a new framework to involve Partners in consultation and planning for NATO-led operations.

24 Feb 1999 : Column WA119

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What priority they will give to disarmament and arms control at the April 1999 NATO Summit Meeting in Washington; and what proposals they will make in this respect from small arms through to weapons of mass destruction.[HL982]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Disarmament and arms control are a high priority for the UK. We will be pushing for a reaffirmation by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Washington Summit of the importance of disarmament and arms controls, and the Alliance's support both for existing Treaties and for initiatives allies are taking forward in other fora.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be their proposals at the April 1999 NATO Summit in Washington for the future role of the Western European Union including its Parliamentary Assembly in relation to movement in the European Union towards a common foreign and security policy.[HL983]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The NATO Summit will complete the implementation of the 1996 Berlin decisions to develop a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO. We hope the Summit will continue the process of strengthening the European contribution to NATO, in parallel with work underway in the WEU and EU to develop the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Government remains committed to proper scrutiny of developments in this area by bodies such as the WEU Assembly.

Iraq: US Policy

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether United States proposals to topple Saddam Hussein are compatible with the text of the Security Council Resolution 1205 (1998), in which the words are found "reiterating the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Kuwait and Iraq".[HL998]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Questions about US policy on Iraq should be directed to the US Government.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have been consulted by the United States Administration on:

    (a) the desirability of financially and militarily supporting Iraqi opposition groups to secure the dismantling of Iraq, as the United States Secretary of State has been advocating to governments in the Middle East; and

    (b) the undesirability of dismantling Iraq, as urged in evidence to the United States Congress by the United States Commander in Chief of Allied Forces in the Middle East, General Zinni;

    and what long-term policy British military activity in Iraq is intended to support.[HL999]

24 Feb 1999 : Column WA120

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have consultation with the US over a range of issues relating to Iraq. The long-term aim of British policy towards Iraq is full Iraqi compliance with the relevant Security Council Resolutions.

Nigeria: Support for Electoral Process

Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What practical measures they are taking to support the electoral process in Nigeria.[HL1195]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government fully support the democratic process in Nigeria. The FCO and DfID have spent around £900,000 on projects to support the electoral process.

The FCO have funded a BBC World Service project on responsible journalism and voter education. We are working with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to provide training for the new political parties and politicians. We have helped pay the cost of freighting ballot papers to Nigeria.

We have funded a Commonwealth team which has provided training to electoral officials. With the UN and EU, we are providing observers to the National Assembly and Presidential elections on 20 and 27 February.

DfID involvement has covered a wide number of projects. These include: a Commonwealth Local Government Forum observer mission; training for up to 1,200 local election monitors; a seminar to discuss the draft constitution; and the production of a manual for polling officials.

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