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4 Feb 2003 : Column WA17

Written Answers

Tuesday, 4th February 2003.

"Die Hauser"

Lord Janner of Braunstone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the Austrian Government to seek restitution of Egon Schiele's "Die Hauser", currently in the Leopold Foundation in Vienna, to the British heirs of Jenny Steiner.[HL1115]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The Government will give active consideration to making representations in this case, when all other available legal avenues of redress have been exhausted.

Afghanistan: Prisoners of War

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have discovered, or will seek to discover, the number of prisoners of war now held in Afghanistan by General Dostum and other military commanders; in particular what number is held in the fortress of Shiberghan; and whether the reputation of the United States and United Kingdom governments will suffer unless all surviving prisoners are brought to trial or released.[HL1137]

Baroness Amos: The British Embassy in Kabul receives periodic updates from the ICRC on prisoners held in Afghanistan by the Afghans. The latest information we have is that Shiberghan currently holds around 1,200 prisoners, half of them Pakistanis. We understand a number of prisoners were released from Shiberghan in February 2002 and some 50 Afghan prisoners were released in mid-January 2003 under a presidential amnesty. The international coalition has no control over prisoners held by Afghan authorities or other Afghan elements, although Her Majesty's Government continue to underline to the Afghan authorities the importance of them fulfilling their obligations under the international human rights instruments to which Afghanistan is party.

United Nations Employees: UK Employment Law

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether employees of the United Nations or any of the subsidiary organisations who are employed mainly or wholly in the United Kingdom are subject to employment law; and, if so, to which parts and why.[HL1164]

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Baroness Amos: In general, United Kingdom employment law does not apply to employees of the United Nations or the specialised agencies of the United Nations; those bodies generally have internal regulations relating to employment contracts. The United Nations and specialised agencies have immunity from suit and legal process as set out in the International Organisations Act 1968 and legislation made thereunder.

Government of Ireland Officials: Diplomatic Immunity

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any civil servants of the Irish Republic who work mainly or wholly in Northern Ireland have diplomatic immunity; if so, why; and where they are based.[HL1165]

Baroness Amos: Officials of the Government of Ireland accredited to Irish diplomatic and consular missions in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff enjoy diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities throughout the United Kingdom. Those based primarily in Northern Ireland have not sought such accreditation.

Death of Iain Hook: Israeli Defence Forces' Report

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the report from the Israeli defence forces into the circumstances of the death of Iain Hook, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, on 22 November 2002 in Jenin camp; and whether they have seen the related statement by Caoimhe Butterly made on the same day in Jenin Hospital.[HL1167]

Baroness Amos: We understand that the Israeli report is almost complete. We are unable to comment on any statements in connection with this case until we have had time to study fully all the relevant information.

Middle East: Quartet Road-map

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they accept that the 95 to 98 per cent offer by Prime Minister Barak during the Taba talks excluded strategic ring roads and settlement access routes which would have made a Palestinian state unsustainable; and what consequences this will have for the road-map being drawn up by the Quartet.[HL1168]

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Baroness Amos: No official record of the Taba talks exists and the Government are unable to confirm the precise details of offers made there.

A final settlement must provide for a viable Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel, both within secure and recognised borders. The Quartet shares this view, but has not sought to prejudge the precise outcome of territorial negotiations within this framework. We look forward to the Quartet publishing its road-map soon.

DfID's HIV/AIDS Funding in Southern Africa

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what methods they have decided to aggregate their HIV/AIDS funding for southern Africa from separate subject headings; and how this total relates to their response to the Global Fund. [HL1290]

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development has committed, subject to performance, 200 million dollars over five years to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The contribution made in 2002–03 was £50 million.

This sum is in addition to the funding that DfID provides for HIV/AIDS interventions in southern Africa. DfID support for HIV/AIDS work in southern Africa is made up of country-specific HIV/AIDS intervention projects (such as support to the South African Universities and Vice Chancellors Association), cross-sectoral programmes (for example, DfID's support to the National AIDS Council in Malawi) and regional initiatives (such as DfID's central and southern Africa regional HIV/AIDS programme). Information on DfID funding for HIV/AIDS is aggregated according to whether spend is primarily HIV/AIDS focused, contains a significant component of HIV/AIDS activity, and if it is a cross-cutting HIV/AIDS intervention.

Criminal Records Bureau: Unpublished Information

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether unpublished information concerning United Kingdom nationals and foreigners resident in the United Kingdom collected by or on behalf of the Criminal Records Bureau remains at all times within the legal jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. [HL584]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): As part of a package of measures introduced to improve the performance of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), manual inputting of personal information (such as name, date of birth and addresses during the past five years) provided by applicants on their application forms has been outsourced. This work is undertaken at the beginning of the process, and no information drawn from police

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or other data sources is involved. It is being undertaken on the Indian sub-continent—in common with the IT practice of many other organisations. The contractual provisions make it clear that the processing of data must be in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998, and security and other arrangements must be such that they do not involve a material increase to the risk of misuse of data.

Restorative Justice

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether restorative justice principles are now applied to all offenders aged 18 in England and Wales; and, if not, when they expect that this will be so. [HL1061]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We are developing restorative justice in appropriate cases for offenders of all ages including 18 year-olds. It is now used widely in youth justice, with a target of use in 100 per cent of referral orders and 75 per cent of youth offending team interventions by March this year. For 18 year-olds and other adults we are piloting its use within police cautioning, community and custodial sentences, including funding three major evaluation projects. We plan to publish a restorative justice strategy paper this year. It will aim to promote best practice and propose how restorative justice can be developed to best effect.

Young Offenders

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 8 November 2001 (WA 1078), what conclusions the Youth Justice Board has reached about providing independent lay representation to detained offenders aged under 18, on lines similar to those applying in Northern Ireland. [HL1062]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Secure training centres (STC) and local authority secure units (LASU) operate good advocacy/representation schemes for all young persons placed there, provided by organisations such as Voice for the Child in Care.

Young offender institutions, currently rely on Board of Visitors to provide independent representation. However, the Youth Justice Board is also in discussion with the National Youth Advocacy Service about providing a separate pilot advocacy service; and is considering the scope for wider operation in Young Offender Institutions.

Asylum Seekers: Accommodation

Lord Dixon-Smith asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With regard to the search for property suitable to be used as reception centres for asylum seekers,

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    whether they gave those responsible for briefing agents involved in the search specific instruction concerning consultation with local authorities and other interested parties; and [HL1230]

    With regard to the search for property suitable to be used as reception centres for asylum seekers, whether they consider that any briefing given to agents was both sufficiently clear and understood; and [HL1231]

    With regard to the search for property suitable to be used as reception centres for asylum seekers, whether agents seeking such properties were instructed to reveal to the present owners the purpose for which the property would be used if it were purchased. [HL1232]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) began a procurement exercise in June last year to find sufficient accommodation to support the induction centre for asylum seekers making their claims in London and the South East. This exercise was conducted in line with standard procurement procedures. The methodology used to evaluate tenders included consultation with the local authority.

Letters sent to relevant chief executives made it clear that the information about the proposal to use a specific hotel was commercial in confidence and should not be disclosed to persons other than those nominated by the chief executive to provide information about the proposal.

I am satisfied that members of the procurement section in NASS were aware of the procedure to be followed. NASS staff did not contact current owners of the hotels under consideration. Their contract negotiations were not with the current owner but with a third party. NASS would not be aware of the content of discussions between this third party and the current owner and could not require that the third party notify the current owner of the purpose for which the property would be used.

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