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Iran Aid Registered Charity

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Charity Commission has not been able to establish details of the charity's beneficiaries, as a result of a lack of co-operation from the trustees and an unlawful sit-in of the charity's premises by volunteers of the charity preventing access to its records.

The Charity Commission's inquiry has been conducted in full accordance with the Charities Act 1993 and with full regard to natural justice and the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. These do not require the production of a public report.

As a central part of the process the commission has kept the trustees and their legal representatives fully informed of the commission's concerns, and the trustees have been given every opportunity to answer these concerns. The commission is carefully considering the trustees' most recent response. The commission will make a full public statement as soon as it can, consistent with the rules of natural justice.

The costs of the commission's inquiry will be met by the commission. The only costs to the charity are those of the receiver and manager. These are capped at £97,000. That appointment was only necessary because of the concerns that the charity's funds and papers were at risk.

Fingerprints: Copies

Lord Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The police may take copies of fingerprints. Where destruction is required, it must include any copies as well as the originals.

11 Oct 1999 : Column WA18

Firearms Offences

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many firearms offences were committed in the 12 months before the coming into force of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and the Firearms Amendment (No. 2) Act 1997; and how many were committed in the 12 months afterwards.[HL3959]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The readily available information relates to the period nine months before and nine months after the prohibition of the larger calibre handguns (those in excess of .22 calibre) by the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 on 1 July 1997. (The smaller calibre handguns were prohibited by the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997 on 1 February 1998).

In England and Wales 3,976 notifiable offences were recorded by the police in which firearms, other than air weapons, were reported to have been used in the period 1 October 1996 to 30 June 1997, and 3,703 in the period 1 July 1997 to 31 March 1998. Similar information is not available centrally for air weapons offences, as only annual returns are made by police forces.

In Scotland there were 354 crimes and offences recorded by the police in which a firearm other than an air weapon was alleged to have been used in the period 1 October 1996 to 30 June 1997, and 268 in the period 1 July 1997 to 31 March 1998. Neither of the Firearms Amendment Acts apply to Northern Ireland.

Admiral Duncan Pub Bombing: Bereaved Homosexual Partners

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will pay ex-gratia compensation to homosexual partners bereaved in the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub; and whether they will review guidelines for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in the light of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL3984]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Payment of compensation on an ex-gratia basis to people ineligible for an award under the terms of the statutory compensation scheme approved by Parliament would not be appropriate.

The Government set in hand a review of the compensation scheme in March 1999 with the issue of the consultation paper Compensation for Victims of Violent Crime: Possible Changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The possibility of extending eligibility for fatal awards to same-sex partners was one of the options for change mentioned in that paper. The Government are still collating the responses to the consultation exercise. Once they have been considered we will decide how to take matters forward. I cannot yet say when that might be.

11 Oct 1999 : Column WA19

Paedophile: Definition

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a legal definition has been established for the term “paedophile".[HL4023]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As my noble and learned friend Lord Williams of Mostyn explained in answer to the question asked by the noble Lord on 14 October 1997 (WA 113), there is no legal definition of the word “paedophile" in English law. However, there are a number of offences under which those who sexually abuse children can be prosecuted.

This area of the law is being examined as part of the current sexual offences review which has, as one of its principal aims, to make recommendations on clear and coherent offences that will protect the individual, particularly children and the more vulnerable, from abuse and exploitation. I cannot predict the outcome of this review but it is not clear whether there would be any merit in importing the use of the word “paedophile" into English law and attempting to define it.

Institute of Public Policy Research

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date the Institute of Public Policy and Research applied for charitable status; on what date it was granted; who was the original applicant; and who was the original treasurer; and[HL3998]

    Which trustees of the Institute of Public Policy and Research--

    (a) have become Government Ministers; and

    (b) have been given public appointments.[HL4000]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The registration of the Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) as a charity is a matter for the Charity Commission rather than Ministers. It is, however, a matter of public record that the IPPR was registered as a charity in September 1998. I have asked the Chief Charity Commissioner to write to the noble Baroness.

The Government do not hold a register of past trustees, or their subsequent careers. I regret, therefore, that the information requested is not available.

Wandsworth Prison: Recruitment of Nurses

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the annual report of the board of visitors to HM Prison Wandsworth, they will take immediate steps to improve the recruitment of nurses at the prison so that mentally ill prisoners and others who are sick can receive proper care and treatment.[HL4094]

11 Oct 1999 : Column WA20

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Wandsworth prison has recently taken part in a nurse recruitment programme which involved use of the local papers and the “Return to Nursing" campaign.

As a consequence, the prison has interviewed a number of potential “E" grade nurses and an “I" grade clinical services manager. Although this will not fill all the vacancies, further recruitment measures and interviews are planned.

Genetically Modified Atlantic Salmon

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What experiments have been conducted on genetically modified Atlantic salmon; where these experiments were carried out, and over what period of time; what were the results of the experiments; and whether the results will be published.[HL4052]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Between January 1996 and March 1998, genetically modified Atlantic salmon were produced by the micro-manipulation and injection of a DNA construct into salmon eggs. The eggs were then hatched and reared. This falls within the definition of a regulated procedure under the terms of the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

No subsequent regulated procedures were carried out on the animals, and there was no attempt to breed or maintain the homozygous brood stock. All the remaining stock was destroyed in March 1998.

The fish were kept in land-based tanks with appropriate filtration systems to prevent the escape of any genetically modified eggs or fry.

We understand that no significant welfare problems were encountered, but that some of the fish resulting from manipulated eggs grew at four times the normal growth rate. The decision on whether to publish results is for the establishment itself. Some information has appeared in newspapers and aquaculture publications, but I understand that scientific publication of detailed results is not expected.

I cannot give details of where the procedures were carried out as this information was provided in confidence and cannot, therefore, be disclosed under the terms of Section 24 of the 1986 Act. I can, however, confirm that the procedures were carried out in Scotland.

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