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Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: When a federal state becomes party to a human rights treaty, all parts of that state are bound by its provisions. Article 50 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “the provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions”.

The UN Human Rights Committee, set up to monitor adherence to the ICCPR, should deal with violations by all tiers of government in the same way. In advance of a state's examination, the committee selects five members of the committee to look into that state's record. Drawing on the periodic report prepared by

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the state under review, they are able to consult widely, including using the UN network of experts and special rapporteurs, to help determine a list of issues that will be put to the state as well as the questions that the committee will ask on the day of the examination. Non-governmental organisations are also able to feed their concerns in to the UN Human Rights Committee in advance of the oral examination.

In addition, when a state fails to comply with its obligations, other states can raise concerns in the UN Human Rights Council or in the UN General Assembly, either by making statements, formulating resolutions or calling for special sessions or action by special procedures.

A new innovation in the UN Human Rights Council is the creation of a universal periodic review which is a state-to-state peer review mechanism with every UN country's human rights record being examined over a four-year period, on a rolling basis. This process has just started. The UK is aiming to ensure that all states participate actively in the process and use it as an opportunity to be self-critical about their own human rights record and commit to make improvements. It will take time and effort to build this system into a mechanism that can deliver real improvements in the human rights situation on the ground. However, the UK was one of the first to undergo the process and was therefore in a privileged position to be able to lead by example. We are now working with other states coming up for review to encourage them to engage positively in the process.

India: Property Legislation

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Our High Commission in New Delhi has raised the issue with both the authorities in Goa and at a national level. In particular, we have made it clear that there should be no confiscation of property acquired legally by British citizens.

The Government will continue to reiterate this message to the Indian authorities. Our travel advice has been updated to warn British citizens of the potential problems they could face in buying property in India. This can be accessed at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website at: www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/.

Inflation

Lord Steinberg asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Lord Steinberg, dated July 2008.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary question asking whether the Government has considered changing the make-up of the basket of goods and services used to assess inflation. [HL5159]

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for maintaining the basket of goods and services used in the calculation of the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

The CPI is based on the changes in price of a fixed basket of goods and services. So that the CPI remains representative of consumer spending patterns over time, the selection of items is reviewed each year and the make-up of the basket is then held fixed for the year. Annual changes are introduced in the February index each year when revised item weights are applied.

Israel and Palestine: Prisoners

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The Government follow Israeli detention operations closely and monitor the situation with regard to all Palestinian prisoners.

The Government believe that all Palestinian prisoners should have access to a fair trial and have called upon Israel to ensure that any actions it takes are in accordance with international law.

While we welcome Israel's release of two Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Members, we will continue to call for all elected members of the PLC detained by Israel to be either released or subjected to the due legal process.

Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised these issues with Israeli officials and will continue to do so.

Jury Service

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Jury service is a demanding duty with which members of the public are obliged to comply, and it is enforceable with criminal penalties. It is not therefore comparable with activities which individuals choose to pursue voluntarily. It would be unreasonable and unjustifiable in principle

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to require everybody over the age of 70 to undertake a compulsory duty of this nature, given that this is already some time after most people would expect to have come to the end of their working lives. The line has to be drawn somewhere and the lower and upper age limits for jury service of 18 and 70 respectively are sound.

Moldova

Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: In the past six months, my honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and my right honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury have held meetings with the Moldovan Minister of Finance.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The BBC World Service has ceased its Romanian language transmission following Romania's accession to the EU. We recognise that professionalism across all media is extremely important for the Republic of Moldova. We are looking at exploring opportunities for staff of the BBC World Service in Moldova to continue to work as a team, following the same journalistic standards acquired during their time with the BBC, for example, through the creation of a new press group. We have facilitated contact between staff of the BBC World Service in Moldova and a range of donors who may be able to support such an activity.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: In February 2008, the EU agreed to negotiate a successor agreement to the expired EU-Moldova action plan. The UK has played an active role in discussions about the nature of this agreement. A conference at Wilton Park from 14 to 18 October will give an opportunity to continue this debate as well as to discuss other Moldovan issues.

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Bach: Moldova regularly reports to the EU on progress made under the action plan. In addition, the European Commission published its annual progress report on the European neighbourhood policy action plan on 3 April 2008. The report welcomed the substantial progress made so far but noted that more work was needed on the effective implementation of reforms, particularly in the areas of judicial reform and corruption. A delegation from the Commission visited Moldova on 8 July to review progress and discuss plans for a new agreement.

Nigeria: President

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The then Foreign Secretary, my right honourable friend Margaret Beckett, made clear the UK's concerns about the flawed nature of Nigeria's April 2007 elections in her Statement of 23 April 2007 and urged those disputing results to do so peacefully through appropriate electoral tribunals. On 26 February the Presidential Election Tribunal upheld Umaru Yar’Adua’s election as President of Nigeria. An appeal against this decision has been made to the Supreme Court, which is expected to pass judgment shortly. Meanwhile, we recognise Umaru Yar'Adua as president and have pursued initiatives in a range of areas to further strengthen the close bilateral relationship between the UK and Nigeria, most recently during President Yar’Adua’s visit to the UK from 15 to 18 July.

Non-emergency Number

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The average number of telephone calls to the 101 number in each of the areas can be found in the table attached.



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PartnershipTotal callsPer head of population

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (May 2006 to date)

439,399

0.240

Cardiff (June 2006 to date)

142,210

0.448

Sheffield (June 2006 to date)

125,257

0.238

Northumbria and Tyne and Wear (July 2006 - March 2008)

296,202

0.212

Leicester City, Rutland, Melton and Harborough (September 2006 - December 2007)

70,629

0.154

London pilot running in Barking and Dagenham and Waltham Forest (February 2008 to date)

3,478

0.009

Northern Ireland Office: Communications Review

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: As this was an internal review I do not intend to place a copy in the Library of the House.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Mr Sidoti's terms and conditions of appointment, including the payment of his travel expenses, were approved by Ministers.

As set out in my written answer to the noble Lord on 2 June 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 42), as with public bodies, the principle that no appointee should be out of pocket as a result of his or her appointment was applied in relation to Mr Sidoti's appointment to the forum. The NIO has set up a number of other bodies in the past five years that do not fall within the definition of a public body. They are listed below:

Consultative Group on the Past

Robert Hamill Inquiry

Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

Billy Wright Inquiry

Bloody Sunday Inquiry



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Strategic Review of Parading

Prisoner Ombudsman


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