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Overseas Territories Governors and Parliamentary Delegations

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Governors are not necessarily expected to be present when United Kingdom parliamentary delegations visit their territories. It depends on many other considerations, including the purpose of the visit, the length of advance notice and the Governor's own commitments.

Overseas Territories: Trade Union Membership

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Trade unions are permitted in all Overseas Territorities for both public and private sector employees, except for members of the police in the Turks and Caicos Islands and St Helena. In the latter legislation work is in process to remove this prohibition. The issue of trade unions is not applicable in Pitcairn, where there is no former employer, nor in the British Indian Ocean Territory, where all personnel are covered by UK or US law relating to military personnel. In the British Antarctic Territory, where there is no permanent population, staff are employed under UK employment legislation.

High Commission Locally Employed Staff in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

Baroness Uddin asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Currently data on locally engaged staff are not held on an individual basis but in staff years. The number of LE staff years by grade working in New Delhi, Islamabad and Dhaka is:

New DelhiIslamabadDhaka
LE I12.001.002.01
LE II29.1010.0015.00
LE III100.8087.5013.02
LE IV93.0053.0024.20
LE V139.0074.0043.80

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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have raised the issue of the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma at the United Nations Security Council. [HL4117]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have raised our concerns over Burma with our Security Council partners. But there is no consensus at the moment for Security Council engagement on Burma issues. We nevertheless ensure that Burma is on the agenda for all other appropriate UN bodies, such as the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly, both of which have annual resolutions condemning the human rights violations against the ethnic minorities in Burma.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have urged the European Union to raise the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities with Burma's military regime. [HL4118]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK works with EU Partners through the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy to maintain pressure on the Burmese Government to improve their human rights record. Repression of the ethnic minorities in Burma is a serious concern of the EU and has been included in regular EU statements. The terms of reference for the next EU Troika mission requires them to meet not only Aung San Suu Kyi but also representatives of ethnic minority groups. The last Troika mission, in 1999, had a firsthand account of the plight of ethnic minorities from ethnic representatives in Rangoon.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will urge the European Union to produce a declaration concerning the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma in line with the European Union's initiative concerning human rights abuses against Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy. [HL4119]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The EU regularly calls upon the Burmese regime to enter into substantive dialogue, not only with Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, but also with ethnic minority leaders. For example, the EU Presidency statement of 7 October supported the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to initiate dialogue between the Burmese authorities, democratic parties and ethnic minorities. The statement of 28 September, about the SPDC's treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi following her second attempt to travel in recent weeks, also included a call for such dialogue.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have raised the issue of the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma at the recent United Nations Millennium Summit. [HL4121]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Prime Minister took advantage of the brief time available to him in the plenary session of the UN Millennium Summit clearly to register his dismay at the latest negative developments in Burma. Our deep concern for the human rights of all Burma's people is well known: we will continue to press for improvements in this area.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the situation of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma fits within the international legal definition of genocide. [HL4120]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I refer the noble Lord to my response during the debate on Burma in the House on 2 October (Official Report, 2 October, col. 1223).

Mr James Mawdsley

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they have received to the conclusion of the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention and arrest, on the wrongful imprisonment of James Mawdsley by the government of Myanmar; and what information they have on his present condition. [HL4249]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Burmese Ambassador, Dr Kyaw Win, called on my honourable Friend, the Minister of State, John Battle, on 16 October to inform him that his government had decided to deport James Mawdsley. He made no reference to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention's decision that James was being held arbitrarily.

As the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, is already aware, James has now been released and returned to the UK on Saturday 21 October.

Dangerous and Severely Personality Disordered Persons

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the outcome of their consultation on their proposals for managing dangerous people with severe personality disorder and what progress has been made on their proposals.[HL4378]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Government's proposals for those who are Dangerous and Severely Personality Disordered (D and SPD) address a long-standing challenge to public safety by ensuring that effective powers of detention and high quality services are available to deal with this group. The consultation period for these proposals ended on 31 December 1999. A summary of the analysis of the consultation will today be placed in the Library, together with copies of individual responses, where permission to publish was not withheld.

Of those expressing a preference, the majority of respondents to the consultation exercise preferred option B as the more effective way of providing high quality services for this group. The Home Affairs Committee in its report published on 14 March, strongly supported option B. The Government attach great weight to these views.

However, the Government have decided that, before taking final decisions on how best to provide services for this group in the long term, they need to pilot and to evaluate the assessment process and the various treatments available for this group within existing service structures. This period of piloting and evaluation will, however, take place at the same time as the expansion of dedicated specialist facilities within both Her Majesty's Prison Service and the NHS, and the introduction, as soon as parliamentary time permits, of new powers of detention for the assessment and treatment of this group.

Following the recent Spending Review, my right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Department (Mr Boateng) announced during the summer the allocation of substantial resources to pilot and develop new services for those who are D and SPD. This will mean 320 new specialist secure places across the Prison Service and the NHS by the end of the Spending Review period .The first pilot project at Her Majesty's Prison Whitemoor has already begun and the first NHS pilot at Rampton Hospital will commence in November.

At the same time, we are pressing ahead with the preparations for those legislative changes which will be required under either option. For example, arrangements for the assessment process and detention, and for safeguards and review, will apply whether those detained are held in existing services or in a new third service. Following the recent review of the Mental Health Act 1983, the Government believe that these changes can be made as part of wider changes to that Act. The effective implementation of new arrangements will require the provision of new, high quality, specialist services for this group which will be part of the process of service development and piloting. Access to these services will be managed through a plan of care and treatment appropriate to the individual. Subject to the results of the pilot projects, these powers would be available for this group as soon as they have been implemented. These proposals will be published in detail in a White Paper before Christmas.

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