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The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: By assigning the spectrum licences for third generation (3G) mobile telecommunications services by auction, the Government ensured that the licences went to those that valued them the most and are likely to make the best use of them. The auction also introduced a new entrant to the UK market for mobile telecommunications, which will benefit consumers by increasing competition, spurring innovation, and bearing down on prices.

Despite the current difficult conditions affecting the telecommunications sector world-wide, all of the UK operators are proceeding with plans to roll out 3G networks, and government expect UK consumers to be among the first in the world to benefit from 3G services. Oftel regularly reviews competition in mobile markets and could use either sectoral powers or Competition Act powers to address potential failures in competition. Rebo

Employment Tribunal Membership: Freemasonry Question

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: First, I would like to reassure the noble Lord that the answer to the ''Are you a Freemason?'' question has no impact on this selection process. The decision on appointment as a lay member to an employment tribunal will be based on how far applicants meet the published criteria. Whether or not candidates are freemasons has no bearing on their suitability for these posts.

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The Home Affairs Select Committee's third report Freemasonry in the Police and the Judiciary, published in March 1997, recommended that a register should be established in order to promote greater openness about membership of the freemasons in the criminal justice system. Although the Select Committee's report had found no clear evidence of freemasonry exerting any improper influence within the criminal justice system, it concluded that suspicions about the influence of freemasonry were damaging to the credibility of the criminal justice system, and that the greatest cause of the suspicions was the secrecy surrounding freemasons. On 17 February 1998 the Home Secretary announced that the Government accepted the committee's proposal.

Consistent with the Government's response, the Lord Chancellor decided that new appointees to judicial office for which he was responsible in both the civil and criminal justice system should be required to declare whether or not they are freemasons. Employment tribunal lay members act in a judicial capacity and it is the policy of my department to adopt the same approach to these appointments. Equally we are committed to transparency in public appointments.

The Government believe that the requirement to disclose membership of the freemasons as a condition of appointment of the application form for these appointments is not incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and does not represent unfair discrimination. Rebo

Mandatory Labelling Schemes

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their annual budget for programmes that help United Kingdom retailers comply with mandatory labelling schemes resulting from European Union directives; and[HL4163]

    What is their annual budget for educational and promotional information campaigns aimed at United Kingdom consumers on mandatory labelling schemes resulting from European Union directives.[HL4164]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: There is no single or fixed government budget for either. Departments with responsibility for the particular legislation will allocate funds for these purposes as required. Requirements will depend on the scope and age of the legislation concerned.

Strata Florida: Proposed Windfarm

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have registered an objection to the proposed windfarm near Strata Florida Abbey in mid-Wales; and, if so, on what grounds.[HL4221]

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: No application has yet been made under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's consent to construct and operate a windfarm at Strata Florida. If an application is made, it will be advertised and an opportunity given to those who wish to make representations to do so.

Women Offenders

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Governement:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord Rooker on 29 November 2001, (HL Deb, cols 456-7), whether they have decided to establish a board responsible for women in the criminal justice system as recommended by the Lord Chief Justice.[HL4066]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): Since I last responded to this Question from my noble friend on 29 January 2002 (Official Report, col. WA 23) the Government have announced the establishment of a new Correctional Services Board which will set the overarching strategy for the correctional services, monitor performance, review allocation of resources and encourage joint working. An early focus for the board will be the need to improve services in relation to 18 to 20 year-olds, with the potential to expand this focus to other groups, including women. The development and direction of the work of the board will be informed by the review of the operation of the youth justice system, which provides a useful model for the distinct treatment of a particular group of offenders, including women. Rebo

Terrorism and International Terrorism: Definitions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will define what they understand by (i) terrorism; and (ii) international terrorism; whether their policy is the same in both cases; and what is that policy.[HL4112]

Lord Rooker: The Terrorism Act 2000 defines "terrorism" as the use or threat, for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, of action which involves serious violence against a person or serious damage to property, endangers a person's life, creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously disrupt an electronic system.

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 defines an "international terrorist" as a person who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of international terrorism, is a member of an international terrorist group or has links with an international terrorist group—where terrorism has the same definition as set out in the Terrorism Act 2000.

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The Government are completely opposed to all forms of terrorism, from whatever quarter, and will take firm action to combat it under the powers provided by Parliament.

Brigadier Stephen Saunders

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made by the Greek authorities in bringing to justice those who, on 8 June 2000, murdered Brigadier Stephen Saunders, the United Kingdom Defence Attaché in Athens; whether they are satisfied with this progress; and, if not, what action they intend to take.[HL3834]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): In the Government's view, it is vital that the investigation into the murder of Brigadier Saunders is brought to a satisfactory conclusion and those responsible brought to justice. We co-operate very closely with the Greek Government, who lead the investigation, and they, like we, remain committed to pursuing the case. Operational details of the case must clearly remain confidential. I personally discussed it with Prime Minister Simitis, Foreign Minister Papandreou and Public Order Minister Chrysohoides on 26 March. Rebo

Russian Federation: Religious Freedom

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that any of the following events demonstrate denials of freedom of conscience and religious liberty by the Russian Federation:

    (a) the refusal of entry to Russia for Bishop J Mazur on 19 April;

    (b) the picketing of the Bishop's cathedral in Siberia, during a religious service on 21 April;

    (c) the removal of a current Russian visa from the passport of the Reverend S Caprio at Moscow airport, on or before 11 April; and

    (d) difficulties and delays imposed on 3 April on the building of a Roman Catholic church in the city of Pskov; and whether they will raise these matters with the Russian Government, directly and multilaterally, in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL3937]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK is committed to the promotion and protection of religious freedom and we condemn instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith or belief. Her Majesty's Government are aware of these events and are watching developments closely. The European Union has collectively called on the Russian Federation authorities to clarify the cases of Bishop Jerzy Mazur and Father Stefano Caprio. We continue

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to be concerned at the difficulties faced by some religious organisations in Russia. We have regularly raised our concerns with the Russian authorities and will continue to do so.

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