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12 Jan 2009 : Column WA109

Lord Bach: In order to give effect to the Hirst (No2)judgment, it is anticipated that Section 3(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 would need to be repealed or amended either by primary legislation or remedial order. The Government will consider which legislative remedy is most appropriate once their proposals for implementing the judgment have been finalised following the second public consultation on this issue.

Immigration: Children


Asked by Baroness Stern

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The UK Border Agency does not keep central records for the country of birth and schools attended by children held in immigration removal centres.

It is not possible to confirm the age of children when they arrived in the UK as it would rely on information provided by their parents which may not be accurate.

The table attached shows the greatest number of days that any child has been detained in an immigration removal centre. All children were detained as part of a family unit.

Data are not available for 2004.

Year (1 April—30 March)Number of Days detained







2008 (year to date)


The average length of time that children are held in detention is, however, significantly lower, with most families being released or removed within seven days of being detained.

Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord West of Spithead: The information requested is not held centrally and to try to establish it would be at disproportionate cost. Even then, the UK Border Agency might not be able to confirm dates of arrival as it may rely on the accuracy provided by the parents; neither does the agency routinely collect details of schools attended by children.

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Immigration: Detention


Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The information requested is not collected centrally and could be obtained only through examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

Immigration: Georgia


Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All entry clearance officers receive full training before taking up their postings overseas. Their decisions, including those approving the issue of a visa, are regularly reviewed by an entry clearance manager to ensure that they are correct and in accordance with the UK Immigration Rules.

The allegations that Georgian staff working in the visa section at the British embassy in Tbilisi are involved in corrupt activities, as reported by Zuram Kachlishvili, are currently being investigated by the UK Border Agency's International Group (Operational Integrity Section).

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

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Lord West of Spithead: All applications for UK visas are considered on their individual merits and in accordance with the Immigration Rules. An application will be refused only if the relevant requirements are not met, and all applicants who are refused a visa are advised of their appeal rights. The exercise of a right of appeal will have no bearing on the outcome of any future application that the applicant may lodge.

India: Orissa


Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The next EU-India human rights dialogue is due to be held in 2009, though the date has not yet been fixed. We expect religious freedom and minority rights in India, including the recent attacks in Orissa State, to be included on the agenda.

Interception of Communications


Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): I refer the noble Baroness to the Written Ministerial Statement given by the Lord President of the Council on 30 March 2006 (Official Report, col. WS 116). There is nothing further to add to this Statement.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is one of a number of similar avenues of redress under various UN instruments. In 2004, the UK acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Government published on 4 December 2008 the conclusions of a review of the operation of this protocol (Official Report, col. 11 WS). The findings suggest that the first three years of operation of the protocol have not provided sufficient empirical evidence to decide either way on the value of other individual complaint mechanisms. The Government will need further evidence, over a longer period, to establish what the practical benefits are.

International Economies: Germany


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HM Treasury monitors economic developments in key international economies on an on-going basis. This includes monitoring and analysis of the main factors affecting the German economy. This analysis feeds into our forecast for the global economy published in the Pre-Budget Report and Budget.

Iraq: Looting


Asked by Lord Avebury

Lord Davies of Oldham: In 2003 the UK introduced the Iraq (United Nations) Sanctions Order in response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483. The order makes it an offence to deal in an item of Iraqi cultural property, if it was illegally removed from Iraq after 6 August 1990. The UK is also a signatory to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. This places an obligation on the UK to prevent the import of items looted from Iraq's museums and assist the Government of Iraq to secure their return. The Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 also helps strengthen the law in this respect as it makes it an offence to deal in tainted cultural objects.

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In addition, the Government have secured the assistance of the UK art trade in locating and identifying material looted from Iraq. My department has also provided funding to the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council for the creation of a website offering advice to anyone wishing to purchase art and antiquities, to help them avoid purchasing illegally traded cultural property:

In September 2006, the Metropolitan Police formally returned to the Iraqi Government an 11th century manuscript and an ancient Aramaic incantation bowl, confiscated from illegal traders in 2003.

The British Museum and others are working with museum colleagues and the British Army in Iraq on the protection of archaeological and other heritage sites and has, in the past, offered practical advice and assistance on the damage and scale of looting at the Iraqi Museum. The British Museum is also working with the British Army on its Operation Heritage Initiative which offers assistance to the Iraqis on the protection of cultural heritage.



Asked by Lord Hanningfield

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government hold regular meetings with members of the Government of Japan on a wide range of issues, both in the UK and overseas. To provide information on the full range of meetings that have taken place at both official and ministerial level would incur disproportionate cost as the information is not centrally held.

However, the following meetings have recently taken place:

my honourable friend the Minister of State, Bill Rammell, held a meeting with Mitoji Yabunaka, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs on 9 October 2008 in London;my honourable friend the Minister of State, Bill Rammell, held a meeting with Kyoko Nakayama, Minister of State for the Abduction Issue on 11 November 2008 in London; andmy right honourable friend the Prime Minister met Prime Minister Taro Aso at the G20 Conference on 14 November 2008 in Washington.



Asked by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): No such informal soundings have yet been received.



Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We assess that the instability in Somalia is having a negative impact on some areas of Kenya's border with Somalia. There have been incidents of border incursions by Somali-based militia, kidnappings and unrest in the border towns of El Wak and Mandera. Extreme elements in Somalia have stated publically that should Kenyan troops cross the border into Somalia, they would retaliate.

The Government have worked with the Kenyan authorities to improve security along the Kenya-Somalia border. We are also working closely with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and international partners to find a sustainable solution to the instability in Somalia.

Ministry of Defence: Future Business Unit


Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Future Business Group of the Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation manages technology research demonstrations, provides advice and assurance on the employment of new technology across DE&S and helps ensure that DE&S takes a coherent approach to the delivery of Urgent Operational Requirements.

For the financial year 2008-09, the Future Business Group has a budget of £114 million available to support the conduct of demonstrations. Its current strength is 60 people.

National Probation Service: Discrimination


Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): One case has been raised with NOMS. It concerned an allegation that a probation area had never assessed the race equality impact of any of its employment policies, and was therefore in breach of its statutory race equality duty.

As this is an on-going matter, the commission is not in a position to divulge information concerning a response to the complaint.

In relation to the other four individual complaints, the commission does not normally pass on the information unless the individual concerned has specifically requested it to do so.



Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We will continue to take every opportunity to remind the Government of Nepal of the need to implement the Supreme Court's order to criminalise enforced disappearances and establish a Disappearances Commission in line with international standards as soon as possible. We have also encouraged the Government to live up to their commitment to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, based on consultation with victims and civil society. Impunity for previous human rights abuses continues to be one of the major challenges for the new Government of Nepal. During my visit to Nepal in July 2008, I encouraged the Government to live up to their responsibilities and promises to defend human rights, provide justice to victims of human rights abuses and prosecute those who have broken the law.

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