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26 Feb 2007 : Column WA283

Written Answers

Monday 26 February 2007

Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The Government are committed to undertaking a review of the 2004 Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. This review will look at progress made against the recommendations of the 2004 strategy.

In reviewing progress, a range of retrospective indicators will be employed, such as the British Crime Survey's alcohol-related crime and perceptions of drunk and rowdy behaviour statistics, Office for National Statistics data and General Household Survey data on alcohol consumption, and the Department of Health's Survey of Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use Among Young People. These are all readily available and in the public domain and can be used to inform discussions on the Government's Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy.

Armed Forces: Agent Orange

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The published peer-reviewed evidence is of sufficient quality and quantity to recognise a statistical association between exposure to Agent Orange and chronic lymphatic leukaemia, soft tissue sarcoma, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chloracne. There is limited evidence of an association with respiratory cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma and porphyria cutanea tarda. Limited evidence means that the studies are not consistent in outcome and that the possibility that the findings might be due to chance or bias cannot be ruled out. These associations have only been recognised in heavily exposed populations. Currently, the scientific evidence does not support the

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conclusion that associations between exposures and adverse health effects are causal.

Since 2005, MoD officials have been in regular contact with the Canadian authorities on the facts surrounding the spraying of Agent Orange at Gagetown in 1966 and 1967. We have followed closely the Canadian Government's initiative announced in August 2005. This had three main tasks: first, to establish those present, including foreign military units, at Gagetown since 1952, including in 1966, and 1967; secondly, to review the history and science of herbicide spraying; and thirdly, to assess the health risks from the herbicides based on the products used and likely exposure dose. Much of this work has been reported or final reports are awaited.

Scrutiny of the published peer-reviewed evidence on Agent Orange and its adverse health effects has been carried out by MoD officials. The Canadian authorities have provided information on UK units present at Gagetown in 1966 and 1967 and details of locations and areas sprayed and of weather conditions. Findings of the Canadian study so far are that the exposure to Agent Orange resulting from normal activities during 1966 and 1967 was very low and unlikely to increase risk of adverse health. We will continue to monitor results emerging from the Canadian project.

British Citizenship

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: A child born in the United Kingdom to an asylum seeker will have an entitlement to register as a British citizen if, while still a minor, the father or mother becomes a British citizen or becomes settled in the UK and an application is made for the minor's registration.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We will place in the Library of the House the stock letter used by the British consulate-general in Hong Kong to confirm whether a person holds or has ever held British nationality.

Chad: Genocide

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): A joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development team is visiting Chad. Officials met with the Chadian Foreign Minister, Ahmat Allami, on Tuesday 20 February and raised our concerns over the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and the violence spilling over from the conflict in Darfur, particularly affecting the security of refugees and internally displaced people.

Together with our partners in the UN Security Council, the UK also supported the presidency statement of 15 December 2006, which called on the Government of Chad to “do all it can to protect its civilian population”, and expressed its “grave concern regarding the increase in military activities of armed groups in eastern Chad”.

Children: Healthy Eating

Baroness Howe of Idlicote asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We welcome Ofcom's announcement on tightening the rules on broadcast advertising of food and drink to protect children from encouragement to eat foods high in fat, salt and sugar. This is a complex area and Ofcom has sought to strike a balance which protects the health of our children but also considers the impact on our broadcasting industries.

Parliament has placed clear duties on Ofcom to ensure that any regulatory interventions they propose

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must be proportionate, appropriately targeted and soundly based on evidence of impact.

Under this package of measures, in households where children's viewing includes a large number of programmes targeted at adults as well as programmes for children and young people, children under 16 would see 41 per cent fewer high fat, salt and sugar foods and drinks advertisements. For under-9s, the reduction would be 51 per cent. This represents a significant reduction, which Ofcom has deemed proportionate.

Ofcom's new rules will be fully implemented from 1 July 2007 at the same time as new Committee on Advertising Practice restrictions for non-broadcast media.

We are monitoring closely the impact of television restrictions and other measures across all media in order to see whether there is going to be a real change in the nature and balance of food promotion. The department will conduct an interim review in 2007, and we will undertake a more detailed review in 2008. On that basis, the Government will decide whether future action, through new (for non-broadcast) or existing legislation, is required.

Crime: Police Cells

Baroness Stern asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: No children under the age of 18 have been held in police cells under Operation Safeguard.

Crime: Rape

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Published national statistics include all offences of rape that are recorded as crimes by police, including cases where the victim has reported to the police and been examined at a sexual assault referral centre. They exclude cases that are “no crimed” because they meet one of the following criteria:(i) there is additional verifiable information that a crime did not take place;(ii) the crime was committed outside the jurisdication of the recording force; (iii) the crime constitutes part of a crime already recorded; or (iv) the reported incident was recorded as a crime in error. Each sexual assault referral centre (SARC) operates according to local protocols with respect to how anonymous third-party

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referrals are reported to the police. We are working with the national SARC steering group to develop a consistent approach to crime recording in these circumstances.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Where a crime is recorded by a police force and additional verifiable information that an allegation is false comes to light, this is one of a number of circumstances in which an allegation will be recorded as a “no crime” by the police. “No crime” data are not included in published national statistics but are available to other police forces on request. Where a person has been arrested for perverting the course of justice or wasting police time on the basis that they have made a false allegation, their details would appear on the police national computer, and would therefore be accessible to other forces.

Under the IMPACT programme, we are developing a national police data-sharing system that will improve the ability of the police service to manage and share intelligence and other operational information to prevent or detect crime. The exact scope of the information to be included on the system is still under consideration, but would need to comply with data protection requirements, including that sharing the information would be fair, necessary and proportionate for a policing purpose.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: If an offence of rape is “no crimed”, it should be reported monthly on the recorded crime return made to the Home Office. However, offences which have been “no crimed” do not feature in the recorded crime statistics published by the Home Office.

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Reported allegations of rape should not be double-counted. If the same allegation of rape is made in several different police force areas, it is the force in which the alleged offence occurred which will be responsible for recording it. If the same allegation has already been recorded in any other force areas, the alleged offence should be “no crimed” in accordance with the guidance contained in Section C of the Home Office Counting Rules and the details transferred to the force responsible for recording. The guidance on “no-crimes” is available at: 07.pdf.

Eritrea: Deaths in Custody

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UK remains deeply concerned about Eritrea's human rights record and about the reported death of Fessehaye Yohannes. The detention without charge by the Eritrean Government of members of minority religious groups, journalists, leading political figures and members of civil society is unacceptable and contravenes international human rights agreements to which Eritrea is a party.

On 14 February, our ambassador in Asmara expressed the UK's concern at reports of Fessehaye Yohannes' death in custody to the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The UK is in close touch with the German presidency of the EU, and our other EU partners, on this and other human rights issues in Eritrea.

We make our concerns about the human rights situation in Eritrea known to the Eritrean Government whenever possible. We will continue to remind Eritrea of its human rights obligations, including through the EU political dialogue with Eritrea.

EU: Foreign Minister

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, including provisions for an EU Foreign Minister, was agreed by all member states on 29 October 2004. However, following the no votes in France and the Netherlands, there is at present no consensus among member states on the future of the constitutional treaty. The way forward will be discussed at the European Council in June. The Government make no presumption as to the outcome of those discussions. My right honourable friend the Minister for Europe made a Written Ministerial Statement on 5 December 2006 regarding the UK's approach to these discussions. This remains the Government's position (Official Report, cols. WS10-11).

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: EU Nationals

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) employs 18 non-British EU nationals in non-reserved executive posts as band C language teachers in FCO services. These appointments were made in accordance with the Office of the Civil Service Commissioners' code on recruitment. The first recruits to Civil Service posts were selected on merit through fair and open competition in 1999. However, FCO Language Training has used fee-paid teachers from EU countries since at least 1974 and continues to do so. Some of the 18 were originally fee-paid teachers who were subsequently selected for permanent contracts in 2002.

The FCO also sometimes hosts non-British EU nationals on secondment from other EU Ministries of Foreign Affairs. These positions are usually offered for one year on a reciprocal basis.

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