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Kuwaiti Prisoners in Iraq

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Her Majesty's Government continue to play a leading role in the Tripartite Commission process, which, under the chairmanship of the International Committee of the Red Cross, works to resolve the cases of the 600 or more Kuwaitis missing since the Gulf War. We regret that Iraq has refused to attend the meetings of the commission and its Technical Sub-Committee since January 1999, thereby hindering further progress. It is appalling that to date Iraq has provided information sufficient to close only three of the case files. We continue to work with the ICRC and other commission members to overcome these obstacles, and sent a delegation to consultations in Geneva on 21 June for this purpose. We also support the work of Yuli Vorontsov, appointed under UNSCR 1284 (a UK initiative) as co-ordinator for this and other Kuwaiti issues. My honourable friend the Minister of State, Peter Hain, discussed with Mr Vorontsov last week his efforts to secure renewed Iraqi engagement.

Sierra Leone: Liberian Support for Rebels

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: There is increasing international concern over reports of close links between the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone and supporters in Liberia. The EU has recently expressed deep concern at President Taylor's failure to prevent

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arms and other supplies from reaching the rebels in Sierra Leone from the territory of Liberia.

We are taking forward our discussions with international partners on these issues. We welcome the EU's decision on 13 June to delay signature of the National Indicative Programme for Liberia in the light of concerns about Liberian activities.

Holders of Diplomatic Immunity: Serious Offences

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many serious offences were alleged to have been committed in the United Kingdom in 1999 by persons entitled to immunity by virtue of their employment by a diplomatic mission or an international organisation.[HL3086]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: From a community of over 17,500 persons entitled to immunity, 36 serious offences, allegedly committed by such persons, were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1999. "Serious Offences" are defined in accordance with the 1985 White Paper on Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges; i.e. as offences that would in certain circumstances carry a penalty of 12 months' imprisonment or more.

Council of the European Union: Forthcoming Business

Lord Sewel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the forthcoming business in the Council of Europe for July; and list the major European Union events for the next six months.[HL3087]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: This calendar is primarily concerned with European Union matters, but certain other relevant events are also included. Events and dates quoted are based on the information available on the date of issue.

European Calendar: July-December 2000

3-7StrasbourgEuropean Parliament Plenary
7-8ParisSocial Affairs Council (informal)
10-11BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
15-16ParisEnvironment Council (Informal)
17BrusselsECOFIN Council
17-18BrusselsAgriculture Council
19TokyoEU/Japan Summit
20BrusselsBudget Council
20-21LilleCulture Council (Informal)
27BangkokASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial
28-29BangkokASEAN Post Ministerial
28-29MarseillesJustice and Home Affairs Council (Informal)
August There are no Councils scheduled for this month. September
3-5BiarritzAgriculture Council (Informal)
15ParisEU/Ukraine Summit
9-10VersaillesECOFIN Council (Informal)
18-19BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
25-26BrusselsAgriculture Council
28BrusselsInternal Market/Consumer Council
28Justice and Home Affairs Council?
02LuxembourgTransport Council
03LuxembourgTelecommunications Council
09-10LuxembourgGeneral Affairs Council
10LuxembourgEnvironment Council
13BiarritzEuropean Council (Informal)
2 (tbc)ParisEU/US Ministerial meeting
16-17LuxembourgLabour and Social Affairs Council
17LuxembourgECOFIN JHA Council
19-21SeoulEurope/Asia Summit
23ChinaEU/China Summit
23-24LuxembourgArgiculture Council
25LuxembourgEducation Council
30 (tbc)ParisEU-Russia summit
30 (tbc)ParisEU/Canada Ministerial
07BrusselsECOFIN Council
07BrusselsEnvironment Council
09BrusselsEducation/Youth Council
13MarseillesEuro-Mediterranean Summit
16BrusselsResearch Council
14MarseillesEuro Mediterranean Summit (possible)
17BrusselsFisheries Council
20-21BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20-21BrusselsAgriculture Council
23BrusselsCulture/Audio Council
23MontbeliardEuropean Conference Ministerial
23-24BrusselsBudget Council
27-2BrusselsECOFIN Council
27-2BrusselsLabour and Social Affairs Council
30BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
30BrusselsInternal market/consumers Council
29-30GaboroneEU/SADC ministerial
01BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
04-05BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
04BrusselsTelecommunications Council
05BrusselsEnergy and Industry Council
07-08NiceEuropean Council
14-15Brussels Fisheries Council
18BrusselsEnvironment Council
18BrusselsEcofin Council
18EU/United States Summit
19BrusselsEnvironment Council
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
19EU/Canada Summit
20-21BrusselsTransport Council

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Iran: Foreign Secretary's Proposed Visit

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is proposing to travel to Iran.[HL3107]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The visit to Iran of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has been postponed, owing to the busy schedule and travel commitments of Dr Kamal Kharrazi, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both he and Dr Kharrazi are keen for the visit to proceed and will be consulting to find a mutually convenient date.

Human Rights Act 1998: Commencement Orders

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

    When they propose to make commencement orders under the Human Rights Act 1998 providing for the coming into effect of the provisions of the Act.[HL2994]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): We propose to make commencement orders under the Human Rights Act 1998 providing for the coming into effect of the provisions of the Act in due course.

Violent and Sexual Offences: Sentences

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many sentences were passed under Section 2(2)(b) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 in the last year for which figures are available; and what proportion of Crown Court sentences passed for violent and sexual offences did this represent.[HL2986]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The requested information is not collected centrally.

However, findings from a research study of sentencing practice published in Home Office Research Study 180 show that, from a sample of 1,800 Crown Court cases, eight, or 3 per cent, of offenders convicted of violent offences and five, or 6 per cent, of those convicted of sexual offences were given a longer than normal custodial sentence under Section 2(2)(b).

Rehabilitation of Offenders: Review

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the announced review of the rehabilitation periods contained in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 will begin; what form the review will take; and what will be the composition of the review group.[HL2987]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: We are currently considering the form and scope of the review. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary will write to the noble Lord as soon as he has formed a view on these matters.

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