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Written Answers

Monday, 15th October 2001.


Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that any move they make against terrorism, their bases, weapons and funds will include all groups operating in the United Kingdom. [HL739]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): The Government are determined that this country should not be used as a base for the planning and preparation of terrorism, both within the United Kingdom or overseas. The extension of the proscription regime earlier this year to include international terrorist organisations demonstrates this Government's commitment to change the climate in which supporters of terrorism seek to operate in this country. The United Kingdom has no intention of becoming a place of refuge for international terrorists and their supporters.

To this end the Government are looking at a package of finance measures to strengthen existing legislation against terrorism. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has said, this will include further measures to tackle the funding of terrorists. In addition, the Proceeds of Crime Bill will be introduced shortly and contains measures to remove illegally-gained assets from criminals, including terrorists.

Asylum Seekers Voucher Scheme

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made in their review of the voucher scheme for asylum seekers; and what changes they propose to make. [HL749]

Lord Rooker: The Home Secretary intends to report on the reviews of the voucher and dispersal schemes when he announces his proposals about immigration and asylum policy later this month.

Paul Wright and Zahid Mubarek

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the deaths in official custody of Paul Wright (1996) and, Zahid Mubarek (2000) will now be the subject of inquiries satisfying the five criteria laid down in the case of Jordan v United Kingdom.[HL776]

Lord Rooker: An independent investigation into the circumstances of Paul Wright's death in Leeds prison in 1996, ordered by Mr Justice Jackson, is under way and its findings will be made publicly available.

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My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has been granted leave to appeal against the judgment of Mr Justice Hooper, published on 5 October, that an independent public investigation must be held into the murder of Zahid Mubarek in Feltham Young Offender Institution in March 2000. It is therefore inappropriate to comment further at present.

Trafficking in Human Beings

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish legislation penalising trafficking in persons; and whether they will do so in draft.[HL777]

Lord Rooker: The Government are committed to ensuring that strong measures are in place to penalise people trafficking. We have signed the Trafficking Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, which requires the specific criminalisation of trafficking in human beings.

The Government are also currently negotiating a binding European Union Instrument: a Framework Decision, which requires the criminalisation of trafficking in human beings for the purposes of exploiting their labour and services or for sexual exploitation. The instrument is being considered by the European Scrutiny Committee and the Select Committee on the European Union. Under its provisions the UK will be required to have implemented the instrument within two years of its adoption.

A decision will be made on the legislation needed to implement the UN and EU agreements after the EU Framework Decision has been adopted and we will bring forward measures when parliamentary time allows. Any legislation to implement the UN and EU agreements will take account of the outcome of the consultation exercise on Setting the Boundaries, the report of the Sex Offences Review, which made recommendations for a new offence of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The Government will continue to keep the situation under review.

Gibraltar: Ministerial Level Talks

Lord Varley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have agreed a date with Spain for the resumption of ministerial level talks on Gibraltar under the Brussels Process.[HL513]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): Ministerial level talks with Spain on Gibraltar under the Brussels Process took place in London on 26 July.

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Wilton Park Executive Agency

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Wilton Park Executive Agency performed against the targets agreed for 2000-01; and what are the agreed targets for the current year.[HL521]

Baroness Amos: Wilton Park met all four of the agreed targets set for the 2000-01 financial year, for income, cost recovery, the number of conference participants and cost per head to the FCO overall. Wilton Park's performance in 2000-01 and targets for the current year are shown below.

2000-01 targets2000-01 peformance2000-02 targets
Cost recovery82.3%87.4%86%
Number of conference participants2,4003,0932,400
Cost to FCO per participant£224£134£203

The number of conference participants in 2000-01 was significantly higher than in previous years. This has had a significant impact on the cost-per-participant figure.

Antarctic Treaty Secretariat

Lord Stone of Blackheath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there has been any decision on the location of the proposed Antarctic Treaty Secretariat.[HL522]

Baroness Amos: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs confirmed to Dr Adalberto Rodriquez Giavarini, Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, during their talks in London on 17 July that, in response to commitments made by the Argentine Minister of Defence, Dr Horacio Jaunarena, in Buenos Aires on 6 July to strengthen the civilian scientific elements of Argentina's Antarctic programme, the UK would join a consensus on the location of the proposed Antarctic Treaty Secretariat. This was relayed to the recent meeting of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM XXIV) in St Petersburg. The texts of the Argentine and UK Statements of 6 July and 17 July respectively have been deposited in the Library of the House.

Lord Ashcroft

Lord Newby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Dr Denis Macshane on 20 July (H.C. Deb., 484W), whether they will place in the Library of the House any correspondence the Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has had with the lawyers of Lord Ashcroft subsequent to this letter of 26 January.[HL700]

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Baroness Amos: As Minister responsible, my right honourable friend Peter Hain, the Minister of State, wrote to the noble Lord on 8 August. Copies of the letter have been placed in the Library of the House.

Electricity from Renewables

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the objective, advocated by Greenpeace and others, of achieving 100 per cent electricity from renewables within 40 years.[HL711]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Longer term targets for renewables are currently being considered as part of the wider energy review that is due to report at the end of the year. When this is complete we will have a better idea of what might be achieved over the next 40 years and the costs which would be attached to different courses of action, though over such a timescale as 40 years any scenarios are bound to be very speculative.

Children's Education: Parental Responsibility

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the statutory or other basis for the statement in paragraph 3.38 of their White Paper, Schools Achieving Success, that "Parents are responsible for establishing good behaviour at home, for getting their children to school and for supporting schools and teachers in setting standards for good behaviour at school"; and whether they are confident that all parents, including non-residential fathers, are aware of and accept these responsibilities.[HL756]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Most parents take seriously their responsibilities towards their children. We brought in home-school agreements through the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act to ensure that all parents understood and accepted their responsibilities in relation to their children's education. All schools are required to set up home school agreements, in consultation with parents, which should make clear in non-legal terms what home and school's role and responsibilities in the education of children should be. An agreement can cover aspects like ensuring a child attends school and supporting the school in maintaining good behaviour and discipline. A school should encourage all parents (including non-resident parents) to sign this once it is agreed so they know where they stand.

Reinforcing parental responsibility is something we have also taken action on, through introducing parenting orders. The parenting order (Section 8 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998) forms part of the drive

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to provide parents with increased support and to assist them in developing better parenting skills. It is not intended to punish parents but to reinforce parental responsibility. It aims to help and support parents in controlling the behaviour of their children. Parents attending counselling sessions receive assistance in improving their parenting skills and learn how to enforce consistent standards of behaviour or respond more effectively to challenging adolescent demands. They can also be required to ensure, for example, that their child goes to school every day or is home by a certain time at night.

Parents have a legal duty to secure suitable full-time education for their children of compulsory school age, either by registering them at a school or by making other arrangements. If a child fails to attend their school regularly, their parents are guilty of an offence and could be liable to a fine. The courts may also impose a parenting order.

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