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Mr Phillip Wilson (Stephen Darren Boch)

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is not the practice to disclose personal information of such a nature without the consent of the subject, unless there is a clear public interest ground for doing so.

Asylum Seekers: Appeal Conditions

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

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is a right of appeal under Section 65 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 against a decision relating to entitlement to leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, which is exercisable if that decision was taken on or after 2 October 2000, when that section came into force.

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The right of appeal is normally suspensive. That is to say, anyone who has made an appeal cannot be removed while the appeal is pending.

However, the right of appeal is not triggered until an allegation is made that the decision breaches the person's human rights. Once the appeal right has been triggered, there is a 10 working day period for lodging the appeal and the person will not be removed during that period unless he or she agrees to depart voluntarily.

A statement indicating a possible intention to make an allegation or to appeal at some point in the future is not sufficient to trigger an appeal and therefore does not prevent removal.

People appealing against immigration decisions made before 2 October 2000 cannot benefit from Section 65 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which is not retrospective. We have given assurances that such people, if they have human rights concerns, may make a separate human rights claim and will have an opportunity to appeal.

We wish to make it clear that we will not provide an opportunity for an appeal on human rights grounds where the human rights issue has been fully considered at an earlier appeal or by the courts or where the human rights claim is based solely on facts which the adjudicator at an earlier appeal or the Immigration Appeal Tribunal or higher court has not accepted. We expect claims by those who wish to benefit from an independent review of their case from a human rights perspective to give some clear indication of how their human rights arguments could result in a different decision. Alternatively, they may of course present a claim based on relevant evidence or circumstances which have arisen since the earlier appeal was dismissed.

Human Rights Convention: Protection of Atheists and Agnostics

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

    Whether they will ensure that any legislative measure they introduce forbidding religious discrimination also forbids discrimination on the ground of lack of religious belief.[HL1154]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Minister in charge of a Bill must give his or her view about the compatibility of the Bill's provisions with the Convention rights. The case law of the European Court on Human Rights has established that Article 9 of the Convention protects atheists and agnostics.

Asylum Applications: "Safe Countries"

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

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    Whether they have prescribed a list of safe countries of origin to be used by the members of the Immigration Service in determining applications for asylum; and, if so, whether they will publish the list.[HL1181]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There is no list of safe countries of origin used in determining applications for asylum. Each asylum claim is considered on its individual merits.

The former "white list" of designated countries was abolished on 2 October 2000, when Part IV of, and Schedule 4 to, the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 came into force. This was part of a wider package of far-reaching reforms to the appeal process in the 1999 Act.

Illegal Immigrants on Eurostar

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have imposed charges of £2,000 on rail freight operators in respect of illegal immigrants hidden on freight trains through the Channel Tunnel from 1 March, but have not imposed similar charges on Eurostar in respect of the nine illegal immigrants hidden under its passenger trains on 2 March. [HL1187]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The civil penalty provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 were extended to the Channel Tunnel rail freight operation from 1 March 2001 in response to the rising numbers using this method to enter the United Kingdom illegally. The provisions are deisgned to ensure that those responsible for the rail freight operation take the necessary precautions to secure freight wagons against this abuse, which has become more widespread following the introduction of the civil penalty for road vehicles in April 2000.

The civil penalty provisions do not apply to passenger trains using the Channel Tunnel and there was no power to impose a penalty in the case cited where the persons concerned were concealed in a compartment beneath a Eurostar train.

European Telecommunications Market: Liberalisation

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the Lisbon European Summit's call for a fully integrated and liberalised telecommunications market within Europe by the end of 2001 will be delivered.[HL1077]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government consider that four key elements will contribute to the delivery of a fully integrated and liberalised telecommunications market within Europe:

    concluding work on the legislative proposals following the European Commission's 1999 communications review. The Government

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    welcome the fact that, by the end of June, the European Parliament and the Council will have undertaken first readings of the four most important proposals for Directives--Framework, Access, Authorisation and Universal Service & Users' Rights--arising from the 1999 review. It will continue to work to ensure that final agreement is reached as soon as possible on these proposals as well as on others--on spectrum policy and communications data protection--that are not yet so far advanced in negotiation;

    introducing greater competition in local access networks and unbundling the local loop. Fixed wireless access (FWA) offers a competitive alternative to wireline local access networks. The roll-out of FWA systems will be facilitated by harmonised use throughout Europe of the radio frequency bands identified by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPR). Many Community member states have already allocated these bands for FWA and have granted--or are planning to grant--licences to operators. The Government also welcome the Parliament and Council Regulation on unbundled access to the local loop that came into force in January. This provides valuable underpinning for further development and expansion of unbundling throughout the EU. In the UK the first loops have now been unbundled, and BT is accepting orders for co-location of other operators' equipment at all of its exchanges. OFTEL will continue to work with all interested operators to see that unbundling can proceed in accordance with commercial demand. The Government consider that the basis exists for a fully competitive market in higher bandwidth services to develop quickly;

    meeting frequency requirements for future mobile communication systems in a timely and efficient manner. The Government welcome the recognition in the Commission's Communication on spectrum management of the value of spectrum as an economic resource and of the need for its effective strategic management. The precise mechanisms for Community involvement in the spectrum management process are being taken forward in negotiations on a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Parliament. The Government are playing an active part in these negotiations, with a view to ensuring that Community involvement is truly strategic and does not duplicate the activities of the CEPT; and

    ensuring the availability of low-cost, high-speed networks for Internet access. 34 per cent of UK homes and half of UK small businesses now have an Internet connection. Penetration in the UK is behind that in Scandinavia but ahead of the rest of Europe. OFTEL's international benchmarking programme showed that UK residential consumers had the cheapest or nearly the

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    cheapest prices for off-peak and peak services. Due to swift and early regulatory intervention, the UK is among the front-runners on unmetered Internet access and is one of only seven countries in the OECD to offer unmetered peak access. A number of Internet Service Providers, including BT itself, are already offering services based on a flat-rate wholesale interconnection product mandated by OFTEL. This will lead to an increase in both penetration and usage of Internet access in the UK. Action is also being taken by

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    OFTEL to ensure that leased lines, providing always-on access, are available on competitive terms to consumers.

The eEurope Action Plan 2002 is taking these actions forward at Community level and is on track. The Government fully expect the Stockholm European Council later this month to reinforce the importance of completing the integration and liberalisation of the telecommunications market and of ensuring rigorous enforcement of the Community regulatory framework based on competition principles.

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