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5 Dec 2001 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Wednesday, 5th December 2001.


Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What help has been given to Cuba following Hurricane Michelle.[HL1423]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The Department for International Development has agreed immediate funding of £250,000 for the populations worst affected by the flooding in Cuba which followed Hurricane Michelle. Funding has been allocated through the International Federation of the Red Cross (to deliver shelter materials and medicines) and the United Nations Development Programme (for its work on immediate needs for food production and food security, health and social infrastructure, communication and housing).

Osama bin Laden

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that in the event of Osama bin Laden being captured by British forces in Afghanistan he will not be handed over to American forces unless the United States gives an undertaking that he will not be subjected to the death penalty.[HL1434]

Baroness Amos: Any request from another state for the transfer of a person within our control will be dealt with in accordance with our international obligations and domestic law.


Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they, or the European Union collectively, last discussed with the Government of Iran matters relating to the treatment of Baha'is in Iran, in particular the confiscation of houses, exclusion from higher education and the desecration of cemeteries; and what response they receive.[HL1499]

Baroness Amos: The EU sponsored UN General Assembly resolution on human rights in Iran, passed by the Third Committee on 30 November, reaffirmed international concern about the situation of Baha'is and other religious minorities.

The international Baha'i community has told us that any improvements in the treatment of Baha'is in Iran over the past year (for example, reductions in prison sentences) have been due to the fact that outside bodies, including the UK Government, have pressed the Iranian authorities over their treatment of religious minorities and Baha'is in particular.

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Asylum Seekers

Baroness Sharples asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which places asylum seekers are entitled to travel outside the United Kingdom; and which United Kingdom-generated documents verifying their identity allow them to travel back and forth outside the United Kingdom borders.[HL1667]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): In general asylum seekers are expected to stay in the country where they have sought protection until their applications have been finally determined and therefore no travel documents are issued.

Conspiracy Provisions: Criminal Justice Act

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have made for the review of the conspiracy provisions in the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998.[HL1863]

Lord Rooker: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is pleased to say that the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, has accepted his invitation to carry out the annual review of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998.

Written observations about the operation of the Act should be submitted to Lord Carlile c/o room 324, 3rd Floor, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT by 31 April 2002.

Securities Prospectus

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the European Commission's plan for a single European Union securities prospectus; and how they will ensure that start-up small firms and second-tier markets will benefit from any proposed harmonised stock market listing procedures that result from any such prospectus. [HL1629]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Her Majesty's Government are committed to ensuring that the Prospectus Directive achieves the goal of an effective single passport for issuers of securities (identified as a priority for the completion of the single European market in financial services at the Lisbon Council in spring 2000), and that it meets the aim of reducing the cost of raising capital in the EU for all companies, including small and medium sized companies (SMEs).

However, the directive, as currently drafted, could lead to an increase in disclosure costs. It is important that the Prospectus Directive provides for different models of initial information disclosure for different sorts of securities and different sorts of issuers and that an appropriate balance is struck between protecting

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the interests of investors and the need to keep the cost of raising capital as low as possible.

To this end, Her Majesty's Government are consulting with the private sector on an ongoing basis, and HM Treasury Ministers and officials are in close touch with the European Commission, the Belgian Presidency, the European Parliament and other member states so that the necessary changes to this directive can be secured.

Holy Cross Protest

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made in resolving the problems experienced by schoolchildren attending the Holy Cross School in Northern Ireland. [HL1489]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Government condemn the appalling scenes witnessed during the course of the Holy Cross protest. There is no justification for preventing young children and infants from attending school. These children are the victims of the inability of adults from both communities in Northern Ireland to live together in peace. The Government, working alongside officials from the Devolved Administration, have facilitated dialogue between both sides. We welcome the recent decision by the residents to end their protest and the restarting of direct dialogue between the parents and residents. The Government hope that now the children will be able to continue with their education without fear or threat of intimidation.

Northern Ireland Police Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe the existing police emblem and police service flag deterred recruitment to the police service in Northern Ireland over the years; and whether they will publish the results of any independent studies of the relationship between symbols and recruitment.[HL1526]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government accept that the reasons individuals do not join the police are many and complex. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, observed in this House in the debate on 23 October:

    XThe Patten Report recognised that encouraging Catholic recruits to the RUC was not as simple as changing the name and removing the 'Royal' prefix. Patten said that symbols associated with one side of the constitutional debate inevitably went some way to inhibit the wholehearted participation in policing of the other side. . . . The Government accept that".

The Northern Ireland Statistic and Research Agency's Community Attitudes Survey 2000 shows that 26 per cent of Roman Catholics and 22 per cent

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of Protestants believe that the symbols, including the badge, of the police service deter the recruitment of Catholics to the police. A copy is available in the House of Lords Library.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received objections to the abolition of the Royal Ulster Constabulary's symbols from people in Northern Ireland; and what they are doing to take account of their views.[HL1527]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government launched the statutory consultation process on the draft Police Emblems and Flags Regulations on 19 November. The Government have already received a range of comments. These will be taken into account as part of the consultation process.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether applicants to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary, have been asked by the Consensia Partnership whether they have any relatives serving or who have served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary; what is the purpose of the question; whether the answer is used to discriminate against those who answer positively; and what is the legal basis for any discrimination.[HL1528]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It was the practice prior to the current competition for applicants wishing to serve in the police to be asked whether they had any police relatives. The information has been used for monitoring purposes only and included in monitoring data submitted to the Equality Commission. The rationale for asking the question was to enable the police to demonstrate that having a relative in the police did not affect the impartiality of the recruiting process.

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On which dates the draft design for the badges and emblems of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland were first made known to: (a) the Social and Democratic Labour Party; (b) the Government of the Republic of Ireland; and (c) the chairman of the Board of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.[HL1557]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The designs were made available to the SDLP and the Government of the Republic of Ireland on 19 November, the day the consultation on the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations was launched by the Minister of State, Jane Kennedy.

The chairman of the policing board met the Minister on 11 October. At this meeting, while he was not shown the designs, he was told that work had been undertaken on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office by design consultants.

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