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Iraq

Questions

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): As an Iraqi national, Mr Al-Zaidi is subject to the legal system of Iraq, which meets international standards. There are no grounds for the Government to intervene.

Asked by Lord King of West Bromwich

Lord Malloch-Brown: The US held responsibility for the security and administration of Camp Ashraf until 1 January 2009. Responsibility was then transferred from the US to Iraqi authorities. The modalities of the transfer had been discussed by both sides with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. Prior to the transfer, the US received assurances from the Iraqi authorities towards their clear commitment to the humane treatment and continued well-being of the camp residents. The US retains a presence at the camp in an advisory/monitoring capacity.

The Government of Iraq have stated that no Camp Ashraf residents will be forcibly transferred to a country where they have reason to fear persecution. The Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights visits the camp and has delivered assurances to a representative body of the residents. The International Committee of the Red Cross follows developments at the camp closely and continues to visit. It also discusses on a confidential basis all of the issues surrounding the camp with the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MeK) and the Iraqi and US authorities.

While no specific representations to the Government of Iraq have been made, our embassy in Baghdad has requested a call on the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights to make known the level of interest in this issue in the UK and to remind the Iraqi Government of its earlier assurances. In addition to this, as stated by my honourable friend Bill Rammell, Minister of State for the Middle East, during an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall on 25 March 2009 (Official Report, Commons, col. 90WH) “the British embassy in Baghdad is pursuing the possibility of a visit by a consular official to Camp Ashraf” to ascertain whether any of its residents might be entitled to consular assistance.

Iraq: Gay People

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): EU member states, including the UK, supported a demarche on 8 March 2009 by the Czech EU presidency to Iraqi Vice President Tareez al-Hashemi and to the head of the Iraqi Prime Minister's office denouncing the death sentences of 117 individuals on death row. The understanding from our US colleagues is that these individuals have been sentenced for charges related to murder, terrorism, insurgency and kidnapping. The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and works proactively with EU partners for its abolition around the world. Since autumn 2007 there have been no reports of any executions being carried out by the Government of Iraq. Our embassy in Baghdad has requested a call on the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights and will seek to raise this issue with it.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office remains in contact with vulnerable groups and organisations such as the UK-based Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group. We are aware of some media reports of violence committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation. Homosexuality is a culturally sensitive issue in Iraq, as in much of the Middle East. In Iraq, the legal position is unclear. The law appears to criminalise homosexual acts with individuals under the age of 18. We are seeking to clarify whether homosexuality is criminalised per se. The UK continues to press the Government of Iraq and members of the Iraqi council of representatives to protect all of Iraq's communities, regardless of faith, political persuasion and sexual orientation and to take tough action against those responsible for violence and intimidation.

Justice: Sharia Law

Question

Asked by Baroness Falkner of Margravine

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): In July 2008 Oxford University's Family Law and Policy Unit held a seminar under Chatham House Rules, at which leading Muslim academics and practitioners gave their views on Sharia law in family cases and Sharia councils. The ministry encouraged the university to convene this conference and members of ministry staff attended it. In October 2008, Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, Secretary-General of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the UK and Ireland, met my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw), when my right honourable friend made clear that Her Majesty's Government were wholly opposed to any system of Sharia law running separately from the established laws of the United Kingdom.

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National Brownfield Forum

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The National Brownfield Forum has been established, and following a preliminary meeting last year, held its first full meeting in February.

The forum's remit is to oversee the implementation of the national brownfield strategy, to improve co-ordination on contaminated land and brownfield policy between Government, devolved Administrations, regulators and practitioners, and to encourage the exchange of best practice and knowledge.

The forum will meet quarterly and report to Ministers annually on progress. No special financial provision has been made at this stage, and any operational expenses will be covered by the two responsible departments, CLG and Defra.

NHS: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The definition of “qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff”" used by the NHS Information Centre to categorise these staff within the NHS Workforce Census is “staff registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC)”.

Staff within this group are engaged primarily in front-line services, for the direct treatment of patients, though some nurse managers may spend time in wider liaisons and roles linked to administrative functions.

On 25 March 2009, figures were published for the 2008 NHS Workforce Census. The following table outlines the total number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff.



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Headcount
2008

Qualified nursing, midwifery & health visiting staff

386,112

Nurse consultant

859

Modern matron

5,270

Community Matron

1,521

Manager

7,595

Registered nurse—Children

13,776

Registered midwife

25,664

Health visitor

11,190

District nurse

10,446

School nurse

1,447

Other 1st level

299,129

Other 2nd level

9,215

Qualified nurses with unknown classification

-

Copyright (c) 2009 The NHS Information Centre. All rights reserved.

Police: Databases

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): An individual may have their DNA profile included on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) for one of two reasons. If the person is arrested for a recordable offence and detained in a police station then the police have powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) to take a DNA sample from them and submit a profile derived from it to the NDNAD. Alternatively, a profile may be retained if the person volunteers to provide a DNA sample in the course of a police investigation and agrees in writing for their DNA profile to be stored on the NDNAD.

The NDNAD is operated by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) on behalf of police forces. Information on whether an individual has a record on the NDNAD is restricted to legitimate users of police computer systems. If an individual wishes to find out whether their DNA is on the NDNAD they should approach the police force that they think may have taken their sample, and make a subject access request to ask whether their details are recorded on the NDNAD. The police force can then carry out the necessary procedures to check this.

Polygamy

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

Lord Patel of Bradford: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.



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Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Baroness Warsi dated April 2009

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your question asking what assessment has been made of the number of polygamous households in the United Kingdom (HL2635).

The Office for National Statistics produces estimates of the population by marital status. These estimates cover single (never married), married, widowed and divorced statuses. No assessment is made of the number of polygamous households.

Sudan: Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Enforced returns of non-Arab Darfuris to Sudan have been suspended since July 2008 and will continue to be suspended until a forthcoming country guidance case has been heard by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal later this year. Individuals are entitled to seek voluntary return to their country of nationality at any time and the UK Border Agency would not attempt to prevent such returns.

Mr Adam Osman Mohammed returned to Khartoum under the voluntary return scheme in August 2008. He travelled to South Darfur some months later and was reportedly killed.

Terrorism

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Any unlawful terrorism-related material that the police cause to be removed through an informal approach connected to the preparation of a Section 3 notice would meet the criteria set out in Sections 3(1) and 3(7) (taken together with Sections 3(8)) of the Terrorism Act 2006. We are aware that informal contact from the police has resulted in removal of a range of material.

This has included content such as video footage of violence and accompanying encouragement to viewers to engage in violent extremism.



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Terrorism: Internet

Questions

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Due to the nature of the internet, it is impossible to give a precise assessment of how much unlawful material is contained in an ever-changing number of websites based in any one country.

The PREVENT element of the Government's recently published strategy for countering international terrorism (CONTEST) recognises that extremist websites and content can play an important role in radicalisation, and Government keep these matters under constant review. As noted in CONTEST, we assess that most material of concern is hosted overseas.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

Lord West of Spithead: We are actively engaged in discussions on this issue through a number of multilateral and bilateral channels, including with European Union partners, with whom we are considering a full range of options. Attempting to remove material is not the only option and brings practical difficulties due the nature of the internet.

As with unlawfully terrorism-related material hosted in the United Kingdom, police can make informal approaches to internet service providers to request removal of the material, although there is no guarantee that this will be successful. We understand that in a small number of cases—comprehensive data not being available—terrorism-related material has been removed from websites hosted overseas following informal contact from UK police in the course of their duties. This is an operational matter for the police.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

Lord West of Spithead: To date, no notices under Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006 have been issued to internet service providers outside the UK.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

Lord West of Spithead: We are working with a range of companies that provide filtering and/or parental control software to help them to strengthen the protection

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their products give against terrorism-related material, giving users such as parents and schools greater opportunity voluntarily to restrict access to certain categories of material that may be harmful or offensive.


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