Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

19 Mar 2001 : Column WA121

Written Answers

Monday, 19th March 2001.

European Security and Defence Policy: NATO Access

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which assets and capabilities belonging to NATO the European Union is seeking guaranteed access, as stated in Section (2) of the appendix to Annex 7 of the Presidency Report to the Nice Council on the European Security and Defence Policy.[HL964]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The European Union seeks guaranteed access to NATO's planning capabilities, so that NATO planners can contribute to the EU's examination of strategic military options and so that NATO can provide operational planning for an EU-led operation using NATO assets and capabilities. This is set out in Section (1) of the appendix to Annex VII. The EU is not seeking guaranteed access to any other NATO assets and capabilities. NATO intends to put in place arrangements to provide for the presumption of availability of other NATO capabilities and common assets. This means NATO will in principle be ready to provide such support, but will decide case-by-case on the release of assets for an EU-led operation.

NATO Security Threat Review: US Participation

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that the new United States administration is invited to participate in a review by NATO of the security threats faced by its member countries and of what would be the appropriate prioritised response to such threats.[HL1021]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: As a NATO member, the US routinely participates in all alliance discussions on security threats faced by its member countries and in formulating responses to those threats.

NATO Analysis of Missile Proliferation

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements, if any, have been agreed with the new United States administration on an analysis to be undertaken by NATO per se on the extent of missile proliferation and on the policies which should be pursued by NATO in response.[HL1022]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: NATO continues to analyse the threat posed by missile proliferation and to develop responses to this threat as an ongoing requirement within the alliance.

19 Mar 2001 : Column WA122

Arms Control: Discussions with US

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had with the new United States administration on priorities for arms control and disarmament as part of a common approach to global security; and what has so far been the outcome of such discussions.[HL1023]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Prime Minister and President Bush agreed that we should work to obstruct and deter new threats resulting from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. A key element of this strategy would be to continue nuclear arms reductions where possible and strengthened WMD and missile proliferation controls and counter-proliferation measures. The Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State Colin Powell agreed last month to establish a counter-proliferation task force to take forward the proliferation aspects of this work.

Steven Bryant

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the authorities in Morocco for the release of Mr Steven Bryant in view of the fact that it is likely that he has spent more time in a Moroccan gaol for drug offences than would be expected if he had been dealt with by the British authorities and judicial system for similar offences.[HL1028]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Mr Bryant has been tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with Moroccan law. We have to respect the laws and sentences of other Sovereign States. We have no basis in international law to make representations on Mr Bryant's behalf because the sentence he received under Moroccan law exceeds the sentence he may have received if he had been tried under British Law.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any indications of when Mr Steven Bryant will be released from a Moroccan gaol.[HL1029]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Mr Bryant is due for release on 3 March 2003. Before his release he must pay court fines of DH300,00.00 (about £19,354). If he cannot pay the fines he will have to serve additional time in prison. The amount of extra time would be for the court to decide.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any prospect of Mr Steven Bryant serving a proportion of his Moroccan prison sentence in a United Kingdom gaol.[HL1030]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The UK and Moroccan Governments hope to be able to sign and ratify a bilateral prison transfer agreement soon. Once this has been done, Mr Bryant will be able to apply to serve the remainder of his sentence in the UK.

19 Mar 2001 : Column WA123

Zimbabwe: Commonwealth Team

Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on 28 February (WA 133), what is the purpose of the Commonwealth team which is being sent to Zimbabwe to report back to the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on 19 and 20 March; and what are its terms of reference.[HL1057]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Commonwealth Secretariat is considering the terms of reference for the team. The Foreign Secretary has urged the Commonwealth Secretary General to broaden the team's mandate from land reform to include wider areas of international concern.

Police Sickness Management Policies

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the implications for sickness management policies, an appeal is to be lodged against the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of R v Sussex Police Authority ex parte Stewart. [HL339]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I understand that, having being refused leave to appeal by the Court of Appeal, Sussex Police Authority sought leave to appeal from the House of Lords. This was refused on 2 November 2000. No further appeal in the proceedings is possible.

As a result of the judgment in this case, it is clear that a police officer's "ordinary duties" under the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 (as amended) should be interpreted to include operational duties. It is likely that this interpretation will result in more officers being certified to be permanently disabled from performing the ordinary duties of a police officer.

Under the Pensions Regulations it is, however, a matter for the police authority to decide whether or not an officer should be retired on health grounds. If there is, in the view of the police authority, a sufficient range of duties that an officer is capable of undertaking there is no requirement for it to set a date for retirement. The Court of Appeal made this point in its judgment.

It would, however, be more satisfactory if the current regulations were to be amended so that it is clear in future that a police officer is not permanently disabled from police duties if able to perform a sufficient range of the duties expected of his or her rank. We therefore expect to consult the police service about the precise terms of revised regulations later in the year.

19 Mar 2001 : Column WA124

Driving a Bus while using a Mobile Phone

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many bus drivers were successfully prosecuted in 2000 for a driving offence involving the use of a hand-held mobile phone.[HL861]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: For England and Wales there is no separate offence of driving a vehicle using a mobile telephone and any prosecution is likely to be for driving without due care and attention, for which there were 54,789 prosecutions resulting in 45,509 convictions in 1999 (latest available figures). The employment status of a defendant is not recorded centrally.

It is also possible for such drivers to be prosecuted or issued with a fixed penalty for not being in proper control of a vehicle (Regulation 104 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986), but such cases cannot be separately identified in the statistics collected centrally.

Similarly, for Scotland the offence is not separately identifiable. There were 4,148 offences of careless driving with a charge proved in Scottish Courts in 1999.

For Northern Ireland, prosecutions data for calendar year 1999 and 2000 are not available.

e-mail: Service Provider Checks

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the practice of internet service providers checking e-mail subject lines for malicious code, for example to filter out the Kournikova virus, would constitute a breach of terms of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.[HL911]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Section 3(3) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 provides that interception of a communication is lawful if it is conducted by, or on behalf of, a person who provides a telecommunications service (which includes Internet Service Providers) and it takes place for purposes connected with the provision or operation of that service. An example of this might be to prevent interference with the operation of a system by a virus.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page