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Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The issue of diversions relates to food aid. British food aid to Sudan last year was supplied entirely through the UN World Food Programme. The measures that we and the donor community are taking regarding food aid diversions were set out in my answer to the noble Lord on 3 February (HL707).

Immigration Centre, Croydon: Visa Backlog

Lord Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The disruption caused by the reorganisation of the caseworking functions of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate into an Integrated Caseworking Directorate has contributed through some loss of productivity to the number of cases awaiting resolution. Our plans for dealing with Immigration and Nationality Directorate Casework backlogs are set out in the Government's White Paper Fairer, Faster and Firmer--A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum (Cm 4018). Cases in the Integrated Caseworking Directorate will be actioned consistent with those commitments.

Human Rights Act 1998: Section 12

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

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We introduced the provision in Section 12 of the Human Rights Act in order to respond to concerns about the potential impact of the Act on the freedom of the press. Its effect in English law will depend on its application by the courts in the cases that come before them.

2 Mar 1999 : Column WA180

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

    When they intend to bring Section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998 into force.[HL1216]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We intend to bring Section 12 and the remaining provisions of the Human Rights Act into force at the same time. We have not yet decided when this will be.

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

    What are their reasons for delaying the bringing into force of Section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL1233]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave on 15 December (WA 142).

Wackenhut (UK) Ltd.

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the inquiry launched by the Director General of the Prison Service into matters affecting Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. will be published.[HL1204]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The disciplinary inquiry is being carried out by the Director of Dispersal Prisons, assisted by a non-executive member of the Prisons Board. The report, which will make recommendations to the director general about disciplinary action, will not be published.

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the internal audit report of the contract between the Home Office and Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. will be published.[HL1205]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The report by Prison Service Internal Audit on this matter is an internal management document concerning actions which are the subject of a disciplinary investigation as well as issues which are subject to discussion with the contractor. In line with the service's normal policy, it is not intended to published the report.

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. has met its contractual obligation to run HM Prison Coldingley.[HL1206]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The contract was terminated on 31 January. Under the contract, Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. provided work for prisoners and marketed goods and services produced. The contract sets out the respective liabilities of the two parties in the event of termination, and the Prison Service is in the process of identifying and recovering sums due under these terms.

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Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the reasons for Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. a subsidiary of the Wackenhut Corporation of the United States, withdrawing from the contract to run HM Prison Coldingley.[HL1208]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Wackenhut (UK) Ltd. gave notice of termination of the contract to operate prison industries at Coldingley, as it was entitled to do under the terms of the contract, because it was unable to bear the continuing losses incurred by the operation. Under the contract, those losses had to be borne by the contractor.

Prison Boards of Visitors

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they reconcile the need to preserve the independence of boards of visitors at Her Majesty's prisons with the decision that the Boards of Visitors Secretariat is to continue to be employed in the Prison Service.[HL1202]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Responsibility for funding boards of visitors and the secretariat was transferred from the Home Office to the Prison Service with effect from 1 April 1998. As anticipated, this change has had no practical effect on the independence of boards and staff in the secretariat continue to provide boards with all necessary support.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What views have been expressed by the National Advisory Council (NAC) on the changes proposed for the management of boards of visitors; and whether they will extend the consultation period during which comments on the proposals may be submitted, so that boards of visitors may have an opportunity of expressing their opinions also on the views of the NAC.[HL1203]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: All boards of visitors have been invited to submit their views on this matter direct to me and the present consultation period should,

I hope, be sufficient to enable them to do so. The National Advisory Council has been consulted about these proposed changes and has given them its support.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they did not include the Chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, the Prison Ombudsman and the Prison Reform Trust among those consulted about changes in the role and title of Director of Boards of Visitors; and whether the Chief Inspector of Prisons was consulted.[HL1232]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The proposed changes will only affect the way in which boards of visitors bring their concerns about prison issues to the attention of the Government and will not have any direct impact on the organisations or individuals mentioned.

2 Mar 1999 : Column WA182

Immigration and Nationality Directorate: Country Assessments

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to make available the first revisions of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate's country assessments.[HL1350]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Revised country assessments were made available to caseworkers during December 1998 and January 1999. They will be made publicly available on the Home Office Internet site within the next few weeks and copies placed in the Library. The assessments are all sourced to information obtained from independent external sources and from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The assessments have been reformatted to take account of many comments received from various representative bodies and asylum interest groups (the consultative group).

Police Forces: Rank of Chief Superintendent

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will re-introduce the rank of chief superintendent for police forces in England and Wales.[HL1351]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Following consultation with police service interests and the agreement of the Police Advisory Board, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has given approval for the rank of chief superintendent to be re-introduced as soon as possible. The rank of deputy chief constable will be re-introduced at the same time. We will take the earliest legislative opportunity to make the necessary changes.

South African Driving Licences

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    From what date holders of current South African driving licences will be able to exchange such licences for United Kingdom driving licences.[HL1243]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): We expect the legislation allowing exchange of South African driving licences for British ones to be in force, subject to the approval of Parliament, within the next three months.

2 Mar 1999 : Column WA183

Strategic Defence Review: Bases for New Units

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Where units of the two new brigades announced in the Strategic Defence Review, and other units returning from Germany, are to be based.[HL1321]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The two brigades to be formed under the Strategic Defence Review are 12 Mechanised Brigade, to be created by converting 5 Airborne Brigade at Aldershot; and the development of 24 Airmobile Brigade, based at Colchester, into a new high capability air manoeuvre formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade.

The headquarters of 12 Mechanised Brigade will be at Aldershot and that of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester. I have today placed in the Library of the House details of provisional plans under which units of the new mechanised brigade would be based in Aldershot in Hampshire, Tidworth and Larkhill Garrisons in Wiltshire, Bovington in Dorset, Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Windsor in Berkshire; and units of 16 Air Assault Brigade would be located in Colchester in Essex, Woodbridge and Wattisham in Suffolk, Dishforth in Yorkshire, and Canterbury in Kent. These proposals will now be the subject of discussions with local authorities and assessments of environmental impact and value for money.

If confirmed, the changes would be phased over a number of years, as progress with the necessary barracks refurbishment projects proceeds; but we plan that the move of two parachute battalions from Aldershot to Colchester, where they will be closer to their parent formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade, will take place next year, as will the corresponding move of two infantry battalions to Aldershot from Colchester to form part of the new 12 Mechanised Infantry Brigade.

2 Mar 1999 : Column WA184

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