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28 Nov 2006 : Column WA37

Written Answers

Tuesday 28 November 2006

Anti-social Behaviour Orders

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The qualitative aspect of the study highlighted a wide range of views on a number of issues, but there were few common themes underlying the findings. We are therefore conducting further analysis of the data. We aim to explore further the perceived effectiveness of ASBOs from the perspective of practitioners, perpetrators and communities affected by anti-social behaviour, and factors that contribute to the effectiveness of ASBOs. We also aim to draw out good-practice lessons from the findings. Publication is now planned for the new year.

Aviation: Climate Change

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Stern report did not find that there is a need to reduce air travel—it very clearly set out that, rather than sectoral targets, flexibility in abatement across targets, time periods and countries is essential to ensure that costs are kept down to a manageable 1 per cent of 2050 GDP.

The Department for Transport expects to publish a progress report on the air transport White Paper (ATWP) by the end of 2006. The report will set out progress so far and take account of developments since publication, including the Stern report.


Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: A study of competition in the UK passenger transport industry was carried out by the TAS Consultancy on behalf of the Commission for Integrated Transport in 2004. This drew on work for the Department for Transport. The department continues to keep the bus market under review.

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Census: Ulster-Scots

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Lord Laird dated 28 November 2006.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking why the question about ethnic groups in the 2007 census test in England does not include Ulster-Scots; and why it included Northern Irish. I am replying in her absence. [HL211]

The question asking for national identity in England includes a category for “Northern Irish” to reflect user requirements identified through extensive consultation. The question also includes categories for “English”, “Welsh”, “Scottish” and “Irish”. A similar demand for the recognition of “Ulster-Scots” as an identity/ethnicity category in England did not emerge from the consultation and consequently the 2007 test question in England does not include a specific category, though people who wish to identify themselves in this way can do so through the write-in response option.

The prime purposes of the 2007 census test is to assess the effect on response of posting out census forms and including a question on income, and to assess the feasibility of the major innovations in the proposed 2011 census design. The topics and questions for the test were selected on the basis of widespread consultation since the 2001 census involving local authorities, central government departments and other users of census data across the UK, but are not necessarily those that will be included in the census in 2011. The programme of consultation and testing is continuing and in particular a further consultation exercise on the ethnicity, identity, language and religion questions will be launched shortly.

It is important to note that space constraints on the census questionnaire will limit the number of response categories that can be used for each question.

It will not be possible to confirm what questions are to be included in the 2011 census until the consultation and testing programme is complete and formal approval is given by Parliament in 2010.

A White Paper setting out the Government's proposals for the 2011 census in England and Wales is scheduled to be published in autumn 2008.

Chad: External Attacks

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): An assessment team from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is currently visiting Chad and the Central African Republic to examine the humanitarian situation and to consider the options for UN deployment in Chad and the Central African Republic. We are pressing for the UN to report back quickly with its findings.

We are aware that the Central African Republic, like Chad, is vulnerable to externally organised attacks. With our international partners, we continue to monitor the security situation in the Central African Republic and the impact of regional conflicts on the country.

Corruption: Overseas Looting of Public Assets

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): There is no reliable estimate of the extent of corrupt misappropriation or looting of public assets in developing countries or of the facilitation of this by United Kingdom nationals or companies.

The Government take very seriously the issue of the corrupt misappropriation of public assets in developing countries and foreign bribery by UK companies and nationals. The Government will fund a new international corruption group to strengthen the UK's capacity to investigate and hence detect, deter and prosecute corruption occurring between developed and developing countries.

The Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit within the City of London Police will increase the capacity to investigate, and to bring to successful prosecution, cases of foreign bribery by UK businesses and nationals operating in developing countries. The Proceeds of Crime Team within the Metropolitan Police will increase the capacity to investigate and recover the proceeds of money-laundering by politically exposed persons, through the UK's financial system. Assets will be recovered and returned to their country of origin. The repatriation of stolen assets will provide these countries with additional resources for poverty reduction.

The UK also works internationally to provide assistance, under the mutual legal assistance scheme, in situations where individuals or Governments in developing countries want to bring a prosecution against one of their own nationals residing in the UK.

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The Government are also working through the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to improve international co-operation on asset repatriation. UNCAC allows the freezing of assets to take place at an earlier stage. We plan to play a constructive role at the first conference of parties to UNCAC in Jordan in December.

Courts: Enforcement Officers Guidance

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): In accordance with our responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act, my department is conducting an internal review of the decision that the guidance, or part of it, should be withheld. Once the review, which can take up to six weeks, has been completed, the outcome will be communicated to the applicant.

Crime: Rape

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The relevant case file was destroyed in August 2003 in accordance with routine records management practice. The decision to refer was in fact taken before March 2001 by the then Solicitor-General. From the judgment of the Court of Appeal, it is clear that his reason for referring was a belief that, on the facts alleged and found by the jury, the sentence imposed was unduly lenient—a proposition with which the Court of Appeal agreed.

The position on unduly lenient sentence referrals generally is that the law officers’ consideration of cases is predicated on the basis that the conviction is safe. Law officers take into account the facts and circumstances of the case as it was put in the Crown Court and receive advice on sentence from lawyers involved in the prosecution. Advice on sentence is also received from experienced specialist barristers not previously involved in the case, as well as from lawyers in our own department. A case may not be referred to the Court of Appeal unless a law officer is satisfied that the sentence imposed was unduly lenient—that is to say that it fell outside the scope of what a judge could reasonably have passed in the case.

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Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is carefully considering the implications of these two cases. It is accepted that certain decisions made by Crown prosecutors were incorrect. Guidance for CPS staff will be issued.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: There are no rules in legislation or guidance to be followed by prosecutors that allow complainants to prevent material satisfying the tests for disclosure in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 from being brought to the attention of the defence, unless the material is sensitive in nature, in that its disclosure would create a real risk of serious prejudice to an important public interest. In such cases, the material would have to be put before a judge, to determine whether it was necessary to disclose the material to the accused, in order for the accused to have a fair trial.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: At the time of the original trial, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was aware of only one alias. This related to the previous convictions that the reviewing Crown prosecutor decided incorrectly were not relevant for the purposes of disclosure.

Since then, it has been discovered that the complainant has used several identities and made a number of false allegations. The CPS was not aware of this at the time of the trial or the request on appeal for an increase in sentence and, therefore, the information could not have been disclosed. None of this information was known to the Attorney-General's Office at the time of the decision to seek a review of the sentence.

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Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: No. None of this information would have been part of the case papers that were sent to the then Solicitor-General who made the application to increase the sentence and he would not, therefore, have been made aware of this material.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: No. I was not made aware of any of these matters before Mr Blackwell's successful appeal.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: The decisions in relation to disclosure were not in accordance with the existing guidance or, indeed, the spirit of the CPIA. The previous convictions for offences of dishonesty, and other material going to the reliability of the complainant’s evidence, should have been disclosed, although whether it was actually deployed at trial would have been a matter for the defence.

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The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) was in force at the time of this investigation and the subsequent proceedings. It then required the prosecution to make primary disclosure to the accused of any material that, in the prosecutor's opinion, might undermine the prosecution case. This test was subjective and based on the opinion of the individual Crown prosecutor, but it was supplemented by guidance for police officers and prosecutors. The guidance gave examples of potentially undermining material, including previous convictions or cautions of a witness, any other information that cast doubt on the reliability of a witness, or evidence of a motivation for making false allegations. The guidance stressed that previous convictions for offences of dishonesty would normally be relevant to a witness’s credibility and should therefore be disclosed.

On 8 September 1999 (Warren Blackwell was convicted on 7 October 1999, a month later), a special CPS policy circular stipulated that all previous convictions of prosecution witnesses had to be disclosed to the accused, save for those relating to minor road traffic matters, regardless of their age or whether they were spent.

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