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What factors have contributed to the success of the welfare team at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre since the HM Inspector of Prisons report on Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre of 2006; what improvements can still be made; and how this achievement can be repeated in other detention centres. [HL5051]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The success of the welfare team at Harmondsworth can be attributed to an expansion in staff, who have been carefully selected for their personal qualities. They are supported and empowered by the senior management team at the centre to develop their role according to the needs of the detainees, and have established a good working relationship with staff of the local UK Border Agency and other organisations.
The work of the team continues to evolve in line with the changing needs of the detainee population. It seeks to improve the range of assistance that it can provide to detainees. The UK Border Agency is currently reviewing its welfare provision in its centres to identify and replicate best practice across the estate.
Whether arrangements are in place to ensure that children are not removed from the country when they are unfit to travel and that, where medical advice is received to this effect, the child and his or her parents or guardians are granted temporary admission. [HL4658]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The United Kingdom Border Agency fully considers known information regarding the health of each family member when planning a family removal. Should medical advice suggest that a child is unfit to travel, the removal would be deferred.
The policy surrounding family removals can be found in chapter 45 of the enforcement guidance and is publicly available on the UKBA website at: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/enforcement/detentionandremovals
Cases involving the detention of children are reviewed regularly to ensure that the decision to detain is based on the current circumstances of the case and that detention remains appropriate. Detention of children beyond 28 days is subject to ministerial authorisation.
Whether they are aware of any cases where females seeking asylum on the grounds of (a) sexual abuse, (b) domestic violence, (c) arranged or forced marriage, (d) trafficking, (e) female genital mutilation, or (f) family disputes arising from honour crimes have been deported from the United Kingdom without being given access to legal advice; and, if so, how many. [HL4941]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Individuals have access to legal advice at any time during the asylum process.
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In what circumstances industrial tribunals can award damages for injury to feelings in the absence of evidence of discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, nationality, age, sexual orientation or disability; and whether there is any maximum amount that can be awarded. [HL4656]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): Injury to feelings must be caused by an act of discrimination. Where there is no evidence of discrimination, an employment tribunal cannot make an award for injury to feelings. Where there is evidence of discrimination, and an award is made for injury to feelings, there is no limit to the amount that can be awarded.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): In his Statement on 6 February 2008, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister accepted the recommendation of the Chilcot review that,
The Government have made a commitment to take the necessary work forward swiftly, carefully and thoroughly. In terms of progress to date, an implementation team has been formed within the Home Office, drawing on the expertise of the intercepting agencies but separate from them and specifically tasked with addressing the Chilcot tests. This is overseen by a steering group of the interception community.
An advisory group of privy counsellors (AGPC) has also been established to advise the Governments implementation team. It comprises the right honourable Sir John Chilcot, my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell, the right honourable gentleman the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) from the original Privy Council review, together with the right honourable gentleman the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Michael Howard), who has
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A work programme has been drawn up and endorsed by the steering group, AGPC and Ministers. This is now being taken forward. Subject to the Chilcot tests being met, we would hope to bring forward legislation in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): It is possible that the content of a communication between an electronic commerce business and its customers could contain information of value to competitors of that business. The Government have made clear to business the importance of protecting commercial information and have announced measures they are taking to improve the protection of the information that they retain.
What advice have they issued to internet service providers about (a) obtaining consent from, and (b) informing internet users and website owners about, trials of new technologies that utilise deep packet inspection or cookies or both. [HL4867]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): The Government have not issued advice to the internet service providers (ISPs) on this issue. It is the responsibility of the ISPs to reach a view on whether any new service they provide is within the law.
The Government strongly support the use of technology that supports and enhances, rather than hinders and intrudes upon, the privacy of users data. Both the Information Commissioner and the Home Office have offered comments to internet users and ISPs on aspects of new services aimed at targeted advertising.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) produces advice for individuals about their rights and guidance for organisations on how to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 when using personal information and web sites. It is in contact with Google and other similar companies providing advice on the fair and lawful use of personal information. In January 2007 it published a personal information toolkit for the general public; in June 2007 it produced guidance to data controllers about collecting personal information on the internet and in November 2007 it launched a new website to provide tips and advice on safe social networking and to help young people protect their personal information. The ICO was also involved in producing an opinion of all the European data protection authorities which set out the data protection rules for search engine operators. The Government are not planning to instigate a further information campaign.
The use of computerised personal information in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998. The Information Commissioner administers and enforces the Act independently of the Government.
The Prime Minister asked Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Dr Mark Walport to conduct a consultation on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors as part of their independent Data Sharing Review. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice published the report on the Data Sharing Review in July. The impact of technology was one of the issues covered by the review's consultation paper and is covered extensively in the final report. More generally, the Government and the Information Commissioner's Office keep legislation under review in light of ever-increasing technological changes in the field of data protection. To this end, the Information Commissioner recently commissioned an assessment of the current legislation.
Whether they intend to issue further guidance to Ofcom on the relationship between internet service providers, search engines and the public's awareness of what information interception, storage and monitoring may occur when they use the internet. [HL4870]
Baroness Vadera: The Office for Communications (Ofcom) is the independent regulator for communication service provision in the UK. However, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has responsibility for enforcement of the Data Protection Act, and produces advice for individuals about their rights under, and guidance for organisations on how to comply with, the Data Protection Act 1998 when using personal information and websites.
Ofcom has a role in relation to media literacy, and it will be for Ofcom to decide whether it should commit additional resource to raising users' awareness of issues around personal data on the internet, including possible interception, storing and monitoring.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): Consent is a vital element of the Data Protection Act and any organisation that offers a service which involves the use of personal information has to be clear on how consent should be obtained. Any judgment about the adequacy of such arrangements is a matter for the Office of the Information Commissioner as the enforcement body for data protection legislation in the UK.
Whether they will hold a reception and parade in Northern Ireland for those service people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as requested in a recent campaign organised by the Belfast News Letter. [HL5007]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development (DfID) is in close touch with the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest provider of food assistance in Iraq, about those internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Nineveh plains who are currently without ration cards.
Until recently, the WFP has been unable to operate in this area due to security concerns. However, during the next few weeks, it is due to commence an operation to distribute food to IDPs who have moved to the Nineveh plains from other governorates and who have registered with the Iraqi Ministry of Migration but are currently without ration cards.
Funding for this food distribution operation will come from the $83 million which has been earmarked by the WFP to assist 750,000 IDPs in Iraq. DfID has made a contribution in 2008 of £2 million to the WFP for this work. The Iraqi Government have recently announced the provision of $40 million to the WFP.
What steps they will take to ensure that the level of supplies of food, fuel and humanitarian goods entering Gaza is restored to that specified in the agreement on movement and access, notwithstanding minor breaches of the ceasefire. [HL4578]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The 15 November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) does not specify levels of supplies to Gaza. The UK continues to call on both parties to implement the AMA and has repeatedly raised its concerns about the continued restrictions on access to Gaza with the Israeli Government, in public and in private. Most recently, we and other EU member states expressed concerns about access restrictions faced by the UN in providing assistance to Palestinian refugees in a letter from the European Union presidency and the European Commission to the Israeli authorities on 27 June. More tangibly, the UK will also support a UN access team to help get humanitarian supplies and personnel through crossings and checkpoints.
Moves towards a ceasefire in Gaza are very welcome. The ceasefire is an important first step to improve the daily lives of ordinary people on both sides. We hope that the militant groups will fulfil their commitment to cease attacks on Israel, and that Israel will ease restrictions on Gaza in line with its own commitments, ensuring that humanitarian aid and supplies can get through. We need to build on the opportunity that the ceasefire represents by working towards the reopening of the crossings between Israel and Gaza, under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Further to the Written Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 2 July (WA 41-42) on appointments to the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission, to what extent the Lord Chancellor has carried out his statutory community-reflective responsibilities in making appointments to the commission. [HL4888]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Justice (NI) Act 2002 provides that the Lord Chancellor, when making appointments to the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission, is to make such arrangements as will, so far as is practicable, secure that the membership of the commission is reflective of the community in Northern Ireland. The recent scheme to appoint a lay member to the commission included an outreach programme to give effect to the Lord Chancellors statutory duty in this regard.
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