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15 Apr 2002 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Monday, 15th April 2002.

London Magistrates' and Youth Courts: Adjourned Trials

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the figure for the number of times (total and percentage) the London magistrates' courts and London youth courts have had to adjourn trials

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    over the past year; and how many of those were because of a lack of court time.[HL3531]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The details are not available for the whole of last year. However the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority (GLMCA) has conducted a monthly survey starting in June 2001 and I can provide details for the six months between June and November 2001 shown in the following table.

The GLMCA has now adopted the national monitoring scheme that has been rolled out to all magistrates' courts from January 2002 which will collect data for all cracked and ineffective trials. Data from this scheme is not yet available.

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MonthTotal casesNumber of adjourned casesPercentage of adjourned casesNumber of cases adjourned due to lack of court timeCases adjourned due to lack of court time as a percentage of all adjourned cases

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National Archives

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the national achives Bill; and what its objective will be.[HL3569]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government have at this stage no plans to publish a national archives Bill. I am considering whether we should review the present provision for the safe keeping of records, especially in the light of the rapid growth in the use of digital media for creating and storing records. A proposal to put forward a Bill to revise present legislation relating to archives and to the management of records is a possible outcome but it is too early to say whether this will happen or what the objectives of such a Bill might be.


Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they and other regional powers are able to assist Indonesia in disarming Laskar Jihad and rival militants, dismantling training camps, removing landmines, and deporting infiltrated foreigners; and[HL3518]

    Whether they are exploring with the government of Indonesia the practicality of stationing international human rights observers in Sulawesi and Maluku.[HL3519]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): We welcome the agreements brokered by the Indonesian Government between the warring factions in Maluku and Sulawesi to end the fighting. This is the

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first small step to reconcile the warring communities and start the process of reconstruction and repatriation. We agree that firm law enforcement is needed to allow space for reconciliation efforts to take root.

The UK, with our EU partners, has urged the Indonesian Government to build on this early, fragile peace and to implement in full its security and law enforcement obligations under the terms of the peace agreements. The Department for International Development (DfID) has pledged more than £4 million to help to establish the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Conflict Prevention and Recovery Unit in Jakarta. We are also awaiting a report from the recent European Union Rapid Reaction Team visit to both provinces which should also allow us to consider the scope for further practical assistance.

We continue to monitor closely events in Maluku and Sulawesi through our embassy in Jakarta. Additionally, we draw on a large international presence already active in the provinces such as the permanently stationed UN resource centre in Maluku. However, we do not currently feel that international monitors would be broadly acceptable in Maluku or Sulawesi.

China: Human Rights

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that progress on China's human rights record over the past six months is satisfactory; if not, what action they intend to take to draw attention to China's human rights record at the current annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission; and whether they will

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    be sponsoring a resolution censuring the human rights situation in China.[HL3665]

Baroness Amos: China's human rights record remains unsatisfactory. Our policy of critical dialogue is intended to encourage fundamental change over the long term. The 11 March General Affairs Council agreed that the EU at the UN Commission on Human Rights would convey its deep concern at the serious violations of human rights in China and the lack of progress in a number of areas. However, the EU will not sponsor a resolution on China. We will also continue to raise our concerns directly with the Chinese Government.

Iraq: UN Weapons Inspectors

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.[HL3668]

Baroness Amos: We have repeatedly urged Iraq to co-operate with the UN, particularly on weapons inspections. Security Council Resolution 1284—a UK initiative—offered for the first time the suspension of UN sanctions as an interim step pending the complete elimination of Iraq's WMD, which would in turn lead to the full lifting of sanctions. We support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to persuade Iraq to co-operate with the UN through renewed dialogue, while making it clear that there can be no watering down of Iraq's obligations under UN resolutions.

Central Asia

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take to develop Britain's relationship with the countries of central Asia.[HL3669]

Baroness Amos: The Government will continue to work bilaterally, with partners, and with the OSCE, for a secure, stable and prosperous central Asia, by encouraging and supporting political and economic reform, good governance, regional co-operation, and legitimate security measures in the context of a proper respect for human rights. The Government opened an embassy in Tajikistan in December 2001 and plan to establish a diplomatic presence in Kyrgyzstan in 2002 with a full embassy there in 2003–04.

Wandsworth Prison: Healthcare

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to rectify the situation at the healthcare unit of HM Prison Wandsworth where physically ill and mentally ill patients are accommodated together and there is an extreme shortage of nurses.[HL2959]

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): Prisoners in the healthcare centre at Wandsworth who are suffering from mental illness are normally held in the psychiatric ward away from those patients who have only physical illnesses. However, against the background of a rapid rise in the prison population, it is sometimes necessary, because of the pressure on psychiatric bed spaces, temporarily to locate mentally disordered patients on another ward.

There are currently 18 nursing vacancies at Wandsworth. The prison has advertised to fill those vacancies on several occasions, most recently in March 2002. In the mean time, nursing cover is being provided by existing staff on overtime, and bank and agency nurses. Eleven of the nursing complement at the establishment are mental health nurses and an additional 16 mental health nurses are available from the nursing bank.

Notwithstanding these staffing vacancies, the quality of care being provided to prisoners at Wandsworth remains of a good standard and they are receiving appropriate treatment. Wandsworth is one of 22 establishments in which NHS-funded mental health in-reach services are being developed during 2001–02 to meet commitments in the NHS Plan (2000) aimed at improving mental health services for prisoners. A multi-disciplinary team offers a range of services to prisoners similar to those available from NHS community mental health teams. The regime for prisoners in the healthcare centre is supported by a daycare centre, occupational therapy and education sessions.

Animal Rights Extremism

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult shooting and fishing organisations, as well as the police, regarding the focus of animal rights attention on their activities.[HL3682]

Lord Rooker: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, Mr Ainsworth, met the National Angling Alliance and the Countryside Alliance late last year to discuss animal rights extremism. Shooters and anglers are not currently a major focus for extremist activity, but the meeting was useful and constructive.

Internet Access

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they respond to the joint study by IBM and Local Futures delineating a growing digital divide between rural and urban areas; and what plans they have to address the problems outlined by the study.[HL3159]

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The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Government are committed to ensuring that everyone in the UK who wants it will have access to the Internet by 2005.

In September 2000 the Government set out a comprehensive strategy for achieving universal access in the UK Online annual report. The Office of the e-Envoy is leading the drive to get the UK online.

Further details of the UK online strategy can be found at

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