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22 Feb 2000 : Column WA13

Written Answers

Tuesday, 22nd February 2000.

Kosovo: Trafficking in Young Women

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have received from the International Organisation of Migration, or other sources, concerning traffic in young women taking place in Kosovo; what is the policy of KFOR on this matter; and what do they consider to be the best means for protecting persons subjected to violence in this way.[HL936]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We have noted reports of these incidents with concern and will support action by UNMIK and KFOR to tackle the problem. The main aim of the international presences in Kosovo is to provide a secure environment. UNMIK and KFOR are committed to working together to respond to the needs of all vulnerable communities and individuals.

The regional centre of the OSCE in Pristina intends to establish a women's victim support system to facilitate UNMIK police assistance to vulnerable young women and children who had been victims of abduction, rape, trafficking or prostitution.

Belgium: British Missions and the Union Flag

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will instruct British ambassadors in Belgium that the Union flag should be flown each day over each British embassy in Brussels.[HL949]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have reiterated the general rules of flag flying: British missions are expected to fly the Union flag on working days during office hours. Ambassadors have discretion not to fly the flag where this could pose a security risk or offend local sensitivities.

India: Religious Tolerance

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will discuss with the Government of India the Orissa State Government Order of November 1999 concerning religious conversions and the Uttar Pradesh Bill concerning the use of buildings for religious purposes; and whether they will raise the compatibility of these measures with the constitution of India and international covenants.[HL958]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We regularly raise our concerns over incidents of religious intolerance with the Indian authorities. We will continue to press them to uphold the values of secularism enshrined in the constitution.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what criteria they decide to support or oppose the holding of weapons of mass destruction by another sovereign state.[HL964]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK works to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) with the ultimate aim of a world free of all WMD. The UK supports universal adherence to the relevant WMD treaties: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapsons, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.

Chile: Presidential Inauguration

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who will represent the United Kingdom at the inauguration of President Lagos of Chile next month.[HL1128]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My honourable friend John Battle, Minister of State for Latin America, will represent Her Majesty's Government.

Bicameral Democracies: Non-elected second chambers

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which bicameral democracies in Europe and North America possess a wholly or mainly non-elected second chamber.[HL1037]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The following states of Europe or North America have second chambers which are wholly or mainly non-elected.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Dom Naroda has 15 Members who are all appointed (10 from the Federation of Bosnia and 5 from the Republika Srpska).

Germany: the 69 Members of the Bundesrat are appointed by the La nder.

The Russian Federation: the Soviet Federatsii has 178 Members who are high ranking regional authorities appointed within their constituencies.

The United Kingdom: of the 666 Members of the House of Lords, 92 are hereditary peers, 548 are life peers and 26 are archbishops or bishops.

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Canada: in the Canadian Senate all 105 members are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Serbia and Kosovo: Deaths, Injuries and Homelessness

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people were (a) killed, (b) wounded and (c) rendered homeless in each of Serbia and Kosovo during the periods 1 November 1998 to 21 March 1999, 21 March 1999 to 10 June 1999 and since 10 June 1999 respectively.[HL1039]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: We do not have any reliable figures for numbers killed, wounded or displaced in Serbia for the dates given. We would not expect the Serb authorities to release reliable figures.

In Kosovo, we estimate that at least 10,000 Kosovo Albanian civilians were killed between June 1998 and June 1999. Most of these deaths occurred in the period between March and June 1999. Up to the start of the NATO campaign, according to the UNHCR, 200,000 Kosovo Albanians were displaced internally, with around 70,000 refugees outside Kosovo. As a result of Serb repression around 850,000 Kosovo Albanians were forced to leave Kosovo between March and June 1999; up to half a million more were made homeless within Kosovo. NATO's intervention made possible the return within weeks of over 90 per cent of the refugees.

There were 430 murders reported in Kosovo between 12 June 1999 and 25 December. There are no figures available for woundings. KFOR's presence has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of reported major offences from over 300 in the last week of June to fewer than 50 in the last week of November last year.

Mozambique: Landmine Clearance

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Pursuant to the letter of 31 January from the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Hain, to the Chairman of the Select Committee on the European Union, what is their estimate of the number of kilometres of roads and electricity transmission lines together with hectares of land which remain to be cleared of landmines and other explosive devices in Mozambique and the Zambezia Province.[HL1044]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: There has been no comprehensive landmine survey of the entire territory of Mozambique and the National Demining Institute in Mozambique has no reliable information on the total area affected by landmines. A Canadian sponsored survey of the entire country is in progress and should be completed by the end of this year. Reliable information should then be available.

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Police Pursuit Driver Training

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I expect to be in a position to send the noble Lord a substantive reply by 10 March 2000.

Charity Accounting

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to alter the Charity (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 1995.[HL1179]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: A clear framework for charity accounting is important for the public's confidence in the integrity of charity. In general, the 1995 regulations have worked well. My right honourable friend the Minister of State at the Home Office (Mr Boateng) is today publishing a consultation document about how to keep the regulations up to date. The proposed changes reflect the new exposure draft of the statement of recommended practice (SORP) for accounting by charities, as well as proposals for some charities that follow other SORPs. My right honourable friend would welcome views by 30 April.

I have arranged for copies of the consultation document to be placed in the Library.

Youth Justice

Lord Dixon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to implement nationally the youth justice provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which have been piloted.[HL1180]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Pilots of most of the youth justice provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 have been operating in 10 areas since September 1998. They cover the operation of the multi-agency youth offending teams; the final warning scheme, which will replace cautioning for young offenders; and the reparation order, action plan order, child safety order and parenting order. The pilots have helped to identify good practice in delivering these measures and are being evaluated by a team from Sheffield, Hull and Swansea Universities. A copy of its most recent report, published in December, is in the Library. Building on the experience of the pilots the Government have decided to implement the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provisions for youth offending teams on 1 April 2000 and for the final warning scheme and four community-based orders on 1 June 2000.

Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Action Plan

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the first annual report of progress on the implementation of the action plan

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    they published in March 1999 as part of the Government's reponse to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report.[HL1181]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary will publish the first annual report tomorrow. It will set out details of progress made on each of the areas covered by the recommendations of the inquiry and will identify action still to be taken. It will show that there has been substantial progress across the criminal justice and education systems. But there is much more to be done and it is vital that all the public services covered by the inquiry's report maintain their determination to deliver the highest standards of service to all members of society regardless of their race.

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