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13 May 2003 : Column WA27

Written Answers

Tuesday, 13th May 2003.

House of Lords: Video-conferencing Facilities

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will consider installing video-conference facilities in the House to enhance communications with other institutions, in particular the European Parliament and its Members. [HL2814]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Officials are currently examining the feasibility of installing video-conferencing facilities in a Lords' Committee Room.

Prison Suicides

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many:

    (a) men; and

    (b) women committed suicide while in prison in England and Wales in (i) each of the last five years; and (ii) the current year to date. [HL2640]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The table covers the 422 apparently self-inflicted deaths between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2002.


There have been 38 self-inflicted deaths in 2003 (to 1 May 2003) of which 30 were male and eight were female.

Al Muhajiroun

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the recent statement made by the spokesman for Al Muhajiroun in which he supported the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York and the attacks on British soldiers and the police in the United Kingdom in the name of Jihad. [HL2690]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the Government condemn statements of this kind. We have been in close touch with the relevant police and

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security authorities about the work they have undertaken surveilling, monitoring and evaluating evidence that might be used in any prosecution. As the noble Baroness knows, the detailed operational functions lie with those authorities. Decisions on prosecutions lie with the Crown Prosecution Service. We have always made it clear that those who step over the line will be prosecuted.

Homeless Households: Temporary Accommodation

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to issue their consultation paper on temporary accommodation for homeless households. [HL2818]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): I am today issuing a consultation paper on temporary accommodation for homeless households. The consultation paper sets out and invites comments on proposals to: strengthen existing homelessness legislation, such that placing homeless families with children in B&B hotels for longer than six weeks will not be permitted; issue statutory guidance to clarify existing minimum standards for all temporary accommodation used by housing authorities to accommodate homeless families and individuals under the legislation; issue statutory guidance on additional standards that should apply to B&B hotels where this is used by housing authorities to accommodate families with children for less than six weeks, or other households and individuals for any length of time, under the legislation; and issue statutory guidance on the arrangements that should be put in place to ensure that all households placed in temporary accommodation by housing authorities under the legislation receive support to ensure that their health, education and social services needs are met.

Responses to the consultation are invited by 5 August 2003. A copy of the consultation paper has been placed in the Library of the House.

Cyprus: Accession to EU

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether citizens of member states of the European Union who are (a) visiting or (b) resident in Turkish Northern Cyprus will have unrestricted movement to Greek Southern Cyprus following the accession of the Republic of Cyprus as a member state of the European Union. [HL2595]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): From 1 May 2004, EU citizens will enjoy the right to live and work in the Republic of Cyprus in line with EU law. The exercise of those rights as far as the north of Cyprus is concerned will be subject to the provisions of the relevant protocol to the accession treaty and any subsequent legislation adopted under that protocol.

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The protocol suspends the application of EU law in those parts of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus do not exercise effective control.

Currently a number of the restrictions hitherto applied to crossings of the Green Line have been lifted. It is too soon to say what effect these will have on the situation after accession. It will be for the Republic of Cyprus and the European Commission to agree on the application of EU laws after accession.

Boris Berezovsky

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Amos on 28 April (HL2427), whether President Putin has ever raised any matters concerning Boris Berezovsky with the United Kingdom government. [HL2598]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: President Putin has never raised any matters concerning Mr Berezovsky with my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, but his officials have done so with their UK counterparts.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will arrange for all United Kingdom Embassy websites to highlight the coming into force on 30 April 2003 of certain sections, particularly 13, of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. [HL2677]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office has produced information material and guidance on registration procedures for the NIA Act 2002 which are included on its own website at

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is shortly to provide a link to these guidelines on its website. Posts with their own websites will also be asked to mention the Home Office site.

Seafarers' Welfare: ILO Provisions

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to ratify the International Labour Organisation Seafarers' Welfare Convention 163 (1987) and the International Labour Organisation Seafarers' Welfare Recommendation 173 (1987). [HL2573]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Government have no plans to ratify ILO Convention No.163 because the Government

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cannot commit themselves to supplying welfare services for seafarers currently provided by non-government sources. The Government note that only 12 member states of the ILO, which has a membership of over 170 countries, have so far ratified. There is no procedure for ratifying an ILO recommendation. The United Kingdom is currently addressing this important question by active participation in a major ILO project to consolidate in modern form the various instruments on welfare and living conditions of seafarers within a new convention.

London Underground PPP

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the reported decision by W.S. Atkins plc to withdraw from a five-year private finance initiative contract with the London Borough of Southwark after only two years because the margins had failed to reach their expectations, what provisions there are in the public/private partnership contracts for the London Underground to prevent a similar withdrawal in future, given that Atkins has a 20 per cent stake in the infraco Metronet, which is contracted to maintain and upgrade 70 per cent of the Underground network. [HL2591]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: As a condition of financial close of the London Underground PPP each Metronet shareholder, including W.S. Atkins, has committed £35 million of equity and raised bank guarantees to support the commitment. The PPP contracts contain no provision for the consortia to withdraw.

Each PPP contract prevents a shareholder disposing of more than 25 per cent of its equity interest in a PPP company until 2010. Thereafter, the contracts give London Underground the right to object to any new shareholder that it considers lacking in fitness and propriety to hold an equity stake in a PPP consortium.

Disability Legislation

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to be able to add to their response to the debate on disabled people on 30 April (HL Deb, col.701–739) in regard to further legislative provision to improve their well-being and status.[HL2804]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Since the debate on 30 April, my honourable friend in another place, the Minister for Disabled People, has laid before Parliament draft regulations to implement the disability provisions of the EU Employment Directive. Subject to parliamentary approval, these provisions will come

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into force on 1 October 2004. Among other matters, they will end current employment and occupational exclusions in the Disability Discrimination Act, bringing within scope of the Act over 1 million additional small employers and 7 million jobs in which 600,000 disabled people already work. We will publish a draft Disability Bill later this year which will contain further measures to extend disabled people's civil rights in a number of areas. Announcements will be made in due course.

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