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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government do not consider that international human rights standards reflect any particular religious tradition. The ideas and values underpinning the notion of human rights come from a wide range of religious, philosophical, ideological and cultural traditions. Human rights, by definition, are universal. They have also been elaborated collectively by states, particularly through the organs

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of the UN in such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various UN human rights treaties; and at a regional level in Europe, Africa and in the Americas. All UN member states, regardless of their populations' religious make-up, are bound under the UN charter to promote respect for human rights. All have also become bound voluntarily by international human rights treaties. The Government consider that all states must fulfil their international human rights obligations.

Human Rights: Freedom of Religion


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Harare Commonwealth declaration of 1991 enshrines the Commonwealth's commitment to the liberty of the individual under law and equal rights for all Commonwealth citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed, or political belief. The Commonwealth actively supports the adoption and ratification of international and regional human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, across its 53 country membership and helps to enhance the capacity of institutions in member states to promote, monitor, and protect human rights.



Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Our Ambassador called on the Iraqi Human Rights Minister, Wijdan Salim, on 13 April 2009 to raise the issue of Camp Ashraf and make her aware of the level of interest in this issue in the UK, including in Parliament. Minister Wijdan assured our ambassador that doctors and medical supplies were permitted to enter the camp. The Minister also confirmed that families were allowed to visit the camp. Also on 13 April, consular officials at our embassy in Baghdad visited the camp to clarify whether any of the residents warrant UK consular assistance.

We remain concerned that the human rights of all residents of Camp Ashraf are fully observed. There is no evidence to suggest that the Government of Iraq intend forcibly to relocate the residents to a country where they have reason to fear persecution based on

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their political opinions or religious beliefs, or where substantial grounds exist to believe they would be tortured.

The International Committee of the Red Cross follows developments at the camp closely. It also discusses on a confidential basis the camp with the People’s Mujaheddin Organisation of Iran (MeK), the Iraqi authorities and the US, which retain a presence at the camp in a monitoring and advisory capacity.

Maryam Kallis


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We were given consular access to Mrs Maryam Kallis on 8 April 2009. We raised the urgent need for consular access (under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Syria is a state party) within 24 hours of her arrest on 14 March 2009, and repeatedly followed up at both official and ministerial levels with the Syrian authorities thereafter. We have also requested a full explanation of the reason for her detention.

Mental Health: Northern Ireland


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): On 1 April 2008 lead responsibility for prison healthcare was transferred to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. Additional funding was provided to develop mental health services within prisons. This has facilitated the recruitment of specialist staff to improve the services available for those prisoners suffering from mental health problems and strengthen the interface between healthcare in prison and in the community.

As the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety now has lead responsibility, I have copied your question and my response to the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey.

Northern Ireland Office: Energy Initiatives


Asked by Lord Laird

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The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The 170 initiatives referred to in the previous Answer relate to the efficiency initiatives the department committed to as part of the 2004 spending review and were not specifically energy efficiency initiatives.

These initiatives were identified as part of a co-ordinated exercise across all business areas to identify efficiency savings as part of the 2004 spending review (SR04). Due to the number of initiatives and the amount of underlying detail it would be possible to provide details of all initiatives only at disproportionate cost as outlined in previous Written Answer HL1593. However, the Northern Ireland Office’s revised efficiency technical note, which is published on the internet at, provides an overview of the Northern Ireland Office’s SR04 efficiency programme and the workstreams within which the savings were planned.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff


Asked by Lord Laird

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Revised environmental allowance referred to in the Answer given on 18 December—Official Report, Column WA 72was first introduced in 1991 but paid only to staff working in prisons and police stations. It was extended in 1992, as previously explained. The Answer on 10 February—Official Report, Column WA 180made clear that the Northern Ireland Office does not pay danger money.

Prisons: Northern Ireland


Asked by Lord Hylton

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The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Her Majesty’s Government currently have no plans to establish such a commission for Northern Ireland. Following the devolution of criminal justice and policing functions, the establishment of such a body would be a matter for the Northern Ireland Administration.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: On 9 January the Prison Service published its action plan in response to the recommendations. I am advised by the service that, to date, 17 of the 43 procedural and management recommendations have been fully implemented with the others partially actioned. The review team is due to report shortly; its report will include an assessment of implementation. The review team was asked to address the 44th recommendation.

Roads: Litter


Asked by Lord Mawson

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): Within London, litter clearance on the verges of the A40 is carried out every seven days by the affected London boroughs, with the central reserves being cleared every six weeks. Transport for London is responsible for the other sections of the A40 within London (called the Westway) and carried out litter clearance on 23 March eastbound and 30 March westbound.

Three district authorities and the Highways Agency are responsible for verge clearance on the A40 between London and Oxford. The Highways Agency carried out nearside verge clearance for the section within its responsibility (the Denham area) in the week commencing 6 April, and because they require scheduled closures the central reserves were last cleared in the week commencing 29 December. South Buckinghamshire District Council, Wycombe District Council and South Oxfordshire District Council carry out clearances at regular intervals, the most recent of which were between 17 and 21 April.

The Highways Agency is responsible for litter clearance on the M11. Between junctions 4 and 5 northbound litter was cleared at six locations from 31 January 2009 and 21 April 2009. Between junctions 7 and 4 southbound litter was cleared at nine locations between 24 January

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2009 and 22 March 2009. Between junctions 7 and 9A litter, is cleared on a daily basis. Between junctions 9 and 14 litter was cleared in the week commencing April 13, with hot spots being targeted in the week commencing 20 April.

Somalia: Pirates


Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government are working hard with the international community to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia but the long-term solution will be to address the root causes of piracy. Somalia will play a leading role in this with support from, and in co-operation with, the international community, as reaffirmed during the UN-led meeting on Somalia in Brussels on 23 April 2009. Lord West (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office) and I discussed the issue of piracy with Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister, during his visit to the UK on 20 and 21 April 2009.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary also discussed piracy with the Leader of Somaliland, Dahir Rayale Kahin, on 6 March 2009. Officials have discussed the issue with the Somaliland authorities since.

We are aware of Somaliland aspirations for independence but our position remains the same as the rest of the international community: that we do not currently recognise Somaliland as an independent state. We will not therefore be seeking international support for recognition of Somaliland.

Vehicles: Licences


Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Vehicle Operators and Services Agency checked approximately 1 per cent of heavy goods vehicles at Dalar Hir, and 1.3 per cent at Liverpool in the year April 2008 to March 2009 expressed as a percentage of goods vehicles passing through Holyhead and Liverpool ports in 2007.

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