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Whether they will publish in the Official Report a copy of the resignation statement made by the councillors on Ascension Island following the visit by officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 14 and 15 March; and whether the Government will also publish any response they have made to this statement. [HL2891]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): A copy of the resignation statement released by the councillors on 20 March 2007 will be placed in the Library of the House. The Government do not intend to respond to the statement. The acting governor will respond to individual letters of resignation received from the councillors.
What requests they or the European Union have received from the Government of Bangladesh for technical or financial assistance in connection with their drive against corruption or their preparations for the forthcoming elections. [HL2800]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Our high commission in Dhaka and the Department for International Development (DfID) office in Bangladesh are in regular contact with the caretaker Government of Bangladesh and the responsible institutions regarding election assistance and the Government's drive against corruption and abuse of office. DfID allocated £1.1 million of funding in support of the now postponed parliamentary elections and has a £150 million programme in support of good governance which specifically targets corruption. We are not aware of any formal requests for assistance to the European Union from the Government of Bangladesh.
Lord Triesman: The caretaker Government of Bangladesh have made no commitment to a specific date for elections. We have encouraged the caretaker Government to make a public commitment to a roadmap for holding elections, which we believe would be in the best interests of the country and its people.
Whether they will make an assessment of the extent to which United Kingdom commercial banks are assisting ordinary customers by adherence to the European Union regulation that cross-border transactions should be treated as transactions within the single market and not as payments abroad, as they were treated before 1 January 2007. [HL2779]
Lord Davies of Oldham: Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 on cross-border payments in euros eliminates the difference of price between cross-border euro and national euro payments. This regulation has little practical impact in the UK given that the UK has chosen not to join the euro. In addition, the UK has chosen not to apply this regulation to sterling.
Currently, the UK banking industry is working closely with the European Payments Council to create a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). This should enable cross-border euro payments, such as credit transfers, direct debits and card transactions to be made more cheaply, easily and efficiently.
What plans they have to consult the United Kingdom commercial banks on a nationwide scheme to cancel all charges on current accounts in credit except the cost of chequebooks and cheque clearing. [HL2780]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government have no plans to consult on such a scheme. The issue of bank default charges is currently subject to an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The OFT is an independent competition and consumer protection authority and considers cases on the basis of the objective information it collects.
Whether they will offer to the Government of Botswana assistance in translocation of elephants to peaceful countries in Africa which wish to replenish elephant populations depleted by war and poaching. [HL2681]
What representations they will make to ascertain the willingness of Chad and the Central African Republic to accept a United Nations military force on their territories to prevent cross-border raids and to make possible the delivery of relief and
27 Mar 2007 : Column WA255
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We continue to work with the UN and other member states to seek to address any concerns raised by the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic about the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping force. We continue to urge the Government of Chad to improve regional security and work actively with non-governmental organisations operating in eastern Chad.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials pressed the Chad Foreign Minister, Alimat Allami, on 20 February to implement and abide by the terms of the Tripoli agreement which calls for a ceasefire between Chad and Sudan, and not to support armed movements, which destabilise the region.
In connection with the recent acquittal of six defendants at the court martial arising from the death in Basra in 2003 of Mr Baha Mousa and related matters, whether they will publish in full the observations of Mr Justice McKinnon. [HL2724]
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): Copies of the Judge Advocate's summing up in this case have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. On 13 February 2007, the Judge Advocate directed that his ruling at the close of the prosecution case should not be reported until after the conclusion of this trial.
The trial includes the sentencing stage. Corporal Payne, who has pleaded guilty to an offence of inhuman treatment of persons, is scheduled to be sentenced by the Court Martial Board on 30 April 2007. A copy of the judge's ruling will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses as soon as this soldier has been sentenced.
Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the document entitled 1QLR Internment procedure, dated 9 July 2003, as disclosed at the recent court martial of members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment and others. [HL2725]
Lord Goldsmith: Corporal Payne, who has pleaded guilty to an offence of inhuman treatment of persons, is scheduled to be sentenced by the Court Martial Board on 30 April 2007. In these circumstances, it is inappropriate to publish, at the present time, any document concerning internment procedure, as to do so may risk prejudicing the outcome to those proceedings.
In connection with the recent acquittal of six defendants at the court martial arising from the death in Basra in 2003 of Mr Baha Mousa and related matters (a) what assessments were made and by whom of the likelihood of conviction on each charge; and what record was made of such assessments; (b) what assessments were made and by whom of the public interest in laying each charge; and what record was made of such assessments; (c) what communications passed between (i) the chain of command and the Army Prosecuting Authority; and (ii) the Attorney-General's Office and the Army Prosecuting Authority; in relation to these matters; and what record was made of such communications. [HL2723]
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): This case was reviewed by senior prosecutors of the independent Army Prosecuting Authority (APA), who consulted me as is usual in the most serious and sensitive cases. The decision to charge the defendants was made by the APA prosecutors, following advice from one of the most senior and experienced criminal counsel in the country.
In reaching their decision, the APA military prosecutors, who have operational service experience, applied the evidential and public interest tests set out in the Code for Service Prosecutors. The APA prosecutors were satisfied that there was sufficient evidence and that it was in the public interest to prosecute each defendant on each charge. The APA files contain written records of their and counsel's assessments of this case.
The communications the APA had with the chain of command and with the Attorney-General's office took the form of correspondence, telephone calls and meetings. Copies of the correspondence have been retained together with case file records of matters affecting the case. Notes were also made of my meetings with the APA.
In connection with the recent acquittal of six defendants at the court martial arising from the death in Basra in 2003 of Mr Baha Mousa and related matters (a) whether they will identify the accused, specifying the offences with which each was charged and the outcome of each charge; (b) whether each of the accused made a statement under caution; and, if so, whether such statement was put to the court in evidence; and (c) who made sworn witness statements, specifying whether such witness statements were put to the court and whether the witnesses were examined and cross-examined. [HL2721]
Corporal Donald Paynecharged with three offences: (i) inhuman treatment of persons; (ii) manslaughter; and (iii) perverting the course of justice. He pleaded guilty to the first charge; the Judge Advocate dismissed the other two charges against him at the close of the prosecution case.
Sergeant Kelvin Lee Staceycharged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, alternatively common assault. The Court Martial Board dismissed the assault occasioning actual bodily harm towards the end of the prosecution case. The Judge Advocate dismissed the common assault charge against him at the close of the prosecution case.
Schedules providing details of the prosecution witnesses who made signed witness statements; specifying whether such statements were put to the court; and whether the witnesses were examined or cross-examined have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
In connection with the recent acquittal of six defendants at the court martial arising from the death in Basra in 2003 of Mr Baha Mousa and related matters, how many witness statements were taken in translation and whether any procedural flaws were identified in them. [HL2722]
Lord Goldsmith: Nine of the detainees, through the assistance of interpreters, provided the Royal Military Police with a total of 22 witness statements, which were recorded in Arabic. These statements were translated into English. The Army Prosecuting Authority has reported that there were some minor translation errors, but these caused no significant difficulty during the trial.
Further to the remarks by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Wales), Nick Ainger, on 5 March (Official Report, col. 1359) stating that apparently, between July 2005 and February 2006, six forced entries have been carried out, in each case, what was (a) the origin of the debt; (b) the amount of the original debt; (c) the amount for which the debt was enforced; and (d) the amount recovered as a result of the forced entry. [HL2748]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): I refer the noble Lord to the letter placed in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 March 2007 by my honourable friend Vera Baird, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. From information Her Majesty's Courts Service has received from 27 areas, forced entries were attempted in six areas between July 2005 and February 2006 but no forced entry actually took place. In the majority of cases the threat of forced entry coupled with the attendance of police was sufficient, though in some cases open premises were entered to arrest defaulters.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Regulation of Enforcement Agents consultation paper (CP2/07) sets out indicative costs which are based on the figures detailed in the Green Paper Towards Effective Enforcement. All the cost estimates included in the consultation paper are currently being reviewed and updated estimates will be provided in due course.
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the Chancellor in his Statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Chancellor's Statement on the five tests assessment in June 2003.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith on 5 March (WA 2), whether the advice of the law officers, or the fact that the law officers have been consulted, has been disclosed outside government during the past decade; and, if so, on which occasions.[HL2626]
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The law officers have consented to the disclosure of their advice on the following occasions in the past decade. The Government disclosed the advice of the law officers to the other parties in the course of legal proceedings (R v Secretary of State for Transport ex parte Factortame and Others) and it was quoted from in the Divisional Court judgment of 31 July 1997. The Attorney-General's advice of 7 March 2003 on the legality of military action against Iraq was published following a partial leak in 2005. Additionally, on occasion the law officers have consented to more limited disclosure of their advice (eg to counsel acting for the Government). (This does not include those rare occasions when the existence of law officers' advice has been inadvertently referred to without their consent.)
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