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HMS "Illustrious"

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): HMS "Illustrious" undertook a port visit to Merseyside from 22 to 27 October 2009 as part of naval regional engagement, following her participation in exercises off the north-west coast. This also provided the Royal Navy with an opportunity to bring this year's Fly Navy 100 celebrations to the north of the UK.

The cost of the visit was approximately £77,000, which was met by public funds. This sum includes costs associated with the ship's berthing; the conservancy and environmental fees; stewarding and security; and site costs (ie road closures, provision of toilets for members of the public visiting the static park, site management and barriers).



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Separately, a reception was held onboard the ship on 23 October to mark the centenary of naval aviation. The cost of this was met by non-public sponsorship received by Fly Navy 100.

In addition, a Royal Marines Band concert, in aid of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, took place on 24 October. The marginal costs for this were funded by the charity.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The UK has diplomatic relations with more than 190 countries. The establishment of diplomatic relations and of permanent diplomatic missions takes place by mutual consent.

All of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's overseas missions have a responsibility to monitor and report on developments in their host countries. This includes monitoring and reporting on a country's human rights situation and raising particular concerns with the host Government.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): We currently do not plan to add a data field to the relevant leave-to-remain database from which the statistics are derived, because we are exploring a different and more cost-effective means to extract the information via our new and sophisticated reporting tools.

Checking the current and previous immigration status of all persons applying for further and indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom is mandatory for UK Border Agency caseworkers because the applicant's status will affect whether they are eligible to qualify for the category that they are applying for and whether their application carries a right of appeal. This information is noted and saved on the applicant's Home Office file.



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We are looking to link information sources to enable the report to be extracted. However, if this approach does not prove to be feasible, we will examine the business case for adding an extra data field and the options to achieve this end.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Comprehensive details of the numbers of cases where a notice of intention to deport on grounds of national security was served are not available for the period 2001-04.

During the period 2005 to end October 2009, the number of cases where a notice of intention to deport on those grounds was served is as follows:

2005-31 people;

2006-nine people;

2007-none;

2008-one person; and

2009-12 people.

Nine people have been deported on grounds of national security since 2005: three in 2006 and six in 2007.

Immigration: Detention Centres

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All staff at immigration removal centres and escorts who have contact with children are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau before they are employed. In very exceptional circumstances, essential workers may be employed provisionally while the checks are completed. In these circumstances, individuals are accompanied by a fully cleared member of staff while undertaking their duties and do not have free access to the removal centre or lone access to individuals detained.

Asked by Lord Hylton



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Lord West of Spithead: Service improvement plans setting out action to be taken to achieve those recommendations in individual HM Chief Inspector of Prisons' reports that are accepted are drawn up, agreed and generally sent to the inspectorate within two months of publication of final reports. Agreed service improvement plans are available in the House Library.

A similar approach was taken in relation to the recommendations in the Children's Commissioner for England's report and our response was sent to the commissioner in August.

Immigration: France

Questions

Asked by Lord Condon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The area of Calais known as "the jungle" was cleared on 22 September 2009, following commitments made by both the UK and French Governments under the Evian agreement. We continue to build on cross-border joint intelligence and enforcement work in order to dismantle organised immigration crime groups. In addition to this, we work closely with our French partners to improve port security and increase the number of returns flights.

As a result of these measures, in October 2009, 569 individual attempts to enter the UK illegally via the juxtaposed controls were detected, compared to 1,170 over the same period in 2008, a reduction of over 50 per cent.* In addition, the number of illegal entrants discovered in the UK, suspected of having entered through ports in Kent, has decreased from 204 in October 2008 to 132 in October 2009, a reduction of 36 per cent.

Asked by Lord Condon

Lord West of Spithead: The Joint Intelligence Unit [JIU] is an intelligence-sharing forum incorporating the UK Border Agency, Kent Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Department of Work and Pensions, Police Aux Frontières and L'Office Central pour la Répression de l'Immigration irrégulière et de l'emploi d'Étrangers Sans Titre (the French anti-trafficking

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unit). Its role is to build intelligence on both sides of the Channel, to target and dismantle organised immigration crime groups.

The JIU acts as a conduit for information and intelligence from the constituent investigating authorities and develops intelligence products to drive and support action against organised immigration crime. This will result in a stronger border, increased prosecution of facilitators, and improved co-operation between cross-border agencies.

Immigration: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The common travel area (CTA) comprises the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. One of the principles of the CTA is that a person's passport will be endorsed upon entry into the CTA. The holder is not required to obtain a further endorsement when travelling to another part, as long as they hold valid leave to enter/remain.

Immigration: Polygamy

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It has not proved possible to answer the Question tabled in the time before Prorogation, but I will write to the noble Lord separately.

Legal Services Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Claims for higher payments for legal aid work do not usually involve dishonesty and can arise from misunderstandings of the fee schemes, or failure to obtain sufficient evidence of clients' means. In these cases, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) recovers the monies due from future payments or by immediate payment of the full amount by the provider concerned. Contract sanctions or a formal warning may also be given if appropriate.

Where deliberate overclaiming or misclaiming is identified, the LSC can terminate the provider's contract and seek reimbursement of monies which have been overpaid. The LSC has a dedicated counter fraud team that investigates allegations of fraud against legal aid providers in accordance with relevant legislation and approved internal procedures. However if the provider refuses to co-operate with the investigation, the LSC terminates the contract and refers the matter to the police or other law enforcement body when there are sufficient grounds to do so. It is then for the police to decide how to take these matters forward and the LSC counter fraud team provides them with any assistance that may be requested.

Libya

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government have considered requests for compensation from Libya and taken soundings on the issue since the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1999. We did this in 2004, 2006, 2007 and most recently in February 2009. Libya accounted for its past support of the IRA in 1995 and on all subsequent occasions this matter has been discussed, Libya has stressed they believe the matter is firmly closed.

On 6 Sept 2009 my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced enhanced support for the campaign by victims and families of victims of IRA terrorism for compensation from the Libyan Government. This recognises the Government's assessment that the most likely way for the victims and their families to succeed is for them to address the Libyan Government directly, supported by the British Government. From 8 Sept the FCO-based Libya/Northern Ireland Reconciliation Unit was established to provide logistical support and advice to the campaign. The British Government themselves are not negotiating directly with Libya.



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Ministry of Defence: Headquarters

Question

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): I will write to my noble friend with the information requested shortly.

National DNA Database

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): It has not proved possible to answer the Question tabled in the time before prorogation, but I will write to my noble friend separately.

NATO: Baltic States

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Collective defence and deterrence remains NATO's core purpose. Under Article V of the Washington treaty, an armed attack against any ally is considered an attack against all 28. Threat assessments and the requirement for contingency planning are reviewed as required, and are routinely considered in the North Atlantic Council, NATO's Military Committee and Allied Command Operations.

With regard to the Baltic, NATO allies continue to conduct air policing in the region, with quick reaction alert aircraft operating out of Lithuania. As part of a UK initiative, Defence Ministers agreed in June that the NATO Response Force should be given an overt Article V territorial defence role including in the three Baltic states. In this capacity, the UK would support the NATO Response Force exercising in the Baltic region.



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NATO: Defence

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Collective defence and deterrence remains NATO's core purpose. Under Article V of the Washington treaty, an armed attack against any ally is considered an attack against all 28.


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