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Written Answers

Volume 702: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

Written Answers

Monday 16 June 2008

Agriculture: Seasonal Workers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will lift the current restrictions on the Seasonal Workers Agriculture Scheme and allow a further 5,000 permits to be granted. [HL3708]

For 2008, the quota for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme is 16,250. There are no plans to lift the current restrictions or allow an increase in the quota.

Agriculture: Sheep

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Rooker on 20 May (WA 113) and Lord Darzi of Denham on 22 May (WA 205), why, if the likelihood of BSE in sheep is near zero, it is necessary to remove the spinal cord for a non-existent health risk. [HL3940]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 10 March 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 193).

While bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has not been found in the United Kingdom sheep flock, and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) has advised that the prevalence of BSE in the UK sheep flock may be zero and in the worst case that no more than 10 flocks would be affected, SEAC has also advised that maintenance of current surveillance levels and risk reduction measures such as the feed ban and specific risk material (SRM) controls would minimise the risk of an epidemic and risk to human health were BSE ever to enter the sheep flock. In addition, a possible human health risk from atypical scrapie cannot, at present, be ruled out. For these reasons, precautionary SRM controls on sheep and goats remain in place.

The requirement to remove sheep spinal cord as SRM is set out in directly applicable European Union legislation. Any potential changes to these controls would need to be supported by the European Commission and have the support of other member states and the European Parliament before they could be implemented in the UK.

Airports: Passport Queues

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How often the queues being monitored by staff of the Border Control Agency at Heathrow's immigration control exceed the European Economic Area (EEA) queuing benchmark time of 25 minutes; how often they exceed the non-EEA queuing benchmark time of 45 minutes; and what proportion of total queues monitored this represents. [HL1619]

The accompanying table shows the most recent queuing performance figures for Heathrow. The queuing averages are well within the benchmarks and we will continue to work on reducing the occasions where those figures are exceeded.

Annex A: Most Recent Queue Performance Figures

Heathrow —TN1

Heathrow —TN2

Heathrow —TN3

Heathrow —TN4

Non EU/EEA 1 March 2008 to 28 March 2008

Average queue time

10 minutes

9 minutes

11 minutes

11 minutes

Per cent over benchmark

3% 4 of 122 measures

0% 0 of 120 measures

2% 2 of 121 measures

2% 2 of 81 measures

EU/EEA 1 March 2008 to 28 March 2008

Average queue time

4 minutes

4 minutes

4 minutes

4 minutes

Per cent over benchmark

0% 0 of 123 measures

0% 0 of 120 measures

0% 0 of 120 measures

0% 0 of 80 measures

The figures provided do not constitute part of national statistics as they are based on internal management information. This information has not been quality assured under national statistics protocols and should be treated as provisional.

Armed Forces: Bowman

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the delay in implementing the Bowman BCIP 6 upgrade affects the safety of troops in theatre, given that the upgrade includes situational awareness software. [HL3974]

Bowman combat infrastructure and platform (BCIP) 4F is currently being upgraded to BCIP 5 with the uplift beginning in FLEET. The Army will make a decision on the timing of the upgrade in July 2008.

There is currently no agreed programme post-BCIP 5 (ie, there is no BCIP 6), although the department is working to define plans for future capability releases which will be considered as part of the routine planning process.

The current BCIP 4F allows limited situational awareness which will be considerably enhanced by the BCIP 5 upgrade currently under way, allowing secure data and secure voice interoperability with allies.

Armed Forces: Nimrod

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the L-3 Wescam camera was installed in RAF Nimrod aircraft; where and by whom these cameras were installed; how long the installation took; and how much it cost. [HL3889]

The L-3 Wescam camera was installed on RAF Nimrod aircraft in 2003. The work was carried out by both RAF and BAE Systems personnel at RAF Kinloss; the installation took approximately four months to complete at a total cost of just under £2.7 million.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What type of wiring was used in the installation of L-3 Wescam cameras in RAF Nimrod aircraft; and whether such wiring was fully appropriate for its purpose. [HL3890]

RAYCHEM 55A-0813 and RAYCHEM 55A-0823 wiring was used in the installation of the L-3 Wescam camera on RAF Nimrod aircraft in accordance with MoD regulations governing the specification of wiring on RAF aircraft.

Aviation: Taxation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions they have had with the Government of the United States regarding plans to tax airlines per plane rather than per passenger. [HL4038]

The consultation on the proposed aviation duty closed on 24 April 2008. This consultation considered all aspects of the duty, including basis and scope of the duty, possible exemptions, impact of the inclusion of freight and transit/transfer traffic and the operation of the duty.

During the formal consultation period, government officials met extensively with a wide range of stakeholders, including with representatives of the US Government.

Bolivia: British Embassy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 2 June (WA 3) regarding which parliamentarians have stayed at the British embassy in Bolivia this year why that Answer made no reference to the visit covered by the Written Answer by the Minister of State for the Middle East, Dr Kim Howells, on 8 January (Official Report, Commons, 443W). [HL4042]

My response of 2 June (Official Report, col. WA 3) referred to the calendar year of 2008, during which time only one parliamentarian, my honourable friend the Minister for the Middle East, Kim Howells, has visited Bolivia. However, since June 2007, there has indeed been one other visit by a parliamentarian—the visit of the honourable Member Andrew Mitchell—who visited Bolivia from 19 to 20 November 2007, accompanied by the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft. On both these occasions, the visiting parliamentarians stayed at our ambassador's official residence.

Climate Change

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they expect to announce the consultation process for the successor to climate change agreements for industry which expire in 2011. [HL3969]

Sector associations, which manage climate change agreements on behalf of their industry members, have already been informed of the Government's intention to consult on the form and content of the new climate change agreements. Informal consultations have already taken place, and are continuing. A formal consultation document will be issued in the summer.

Cluster Munitions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What further consultation they will undertake before signing the draft convention on cluster munitions recently agreed in Dublin. [HL3971]

As I made clear in the House on 3 June (Official Report, col. 79) we plan to sign the treaty in Oslo in December. Ratification will follow once both Houses have approved the necessary implementing legislation. We are committed to moving forward as speedily as possible.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What limitations will be imposed on the United Kingdom as a signatory to the convention on cluster munitions; and what descriptions of munitions of this kind the United Kingdom will continue to be permitted to manufacture and use. [HL3972]

Article 1 of the text of the convention adopted in Dublin on 30 May prohibits future states parties from using, developing, producing, otherwise acquiring, stockpiling, retaining or transferring to anyone, whether directly or indirectly, cluster munitions. It also prohibits future states parties from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in prohibited activity. Article 19 prevents future states parties from entering reservations against the convention.

The text offers, for the first time, an internationally agreed definition of cluster munitions, based on certain physical and technical criteria. Munitions not falling under the definition of a cluster munition are outside the scope of the convention and are not subject to its provisions. One such munition is the ballistic sensor-fused munition, which is due to enter service with the UK Armed Forces in 2012. As I made clear in the House on 3 June (Official Report, col. 80), Dublin participants were satisfied that this weapon will serve its military purpose without contributing to the post-conflict humanitarian problems which the convention is designed to address.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the categories of, and the estimated number of, cluster munitions they need to destroy as a signatory to the convention on cluster munitions; and what is the book value of such munitions. [HL3973]

In line with the provisions of the adopted convention on cluster munitions, the UK will be disposing of:

56,000 L20A1 extended range bomblet shells, with M85 sub-munitions and a net book value of £33 million; and

4,270 CRV-7 multi-purpose sub-munitions, with M73 sub-munitions and a net book value of £1.6 million.

Crime: Hate Crimes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 20 May (WA 174), how they define a hate crime; and whether the term “hate-crime” (whether or not hyphenated) is in any Act of Parliament currently in force. [HL3921]

The hate crime definition was agreed by the Association of Chief Police Officers to be:

a hate incident is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by hate or prejudice; and

a hate crime is any incident which contributes to a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.

Hate crime is not specifically mentioned in any Act of Parliament. However, any act of violence will be brought under the appropriate legislation as determined by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The law as it stands protects everybody from violence such as assault, criminal damage or harassment. It also protects people from incitement to any offence, including offences such as harassment and criminal damage as well as all forms of violence. Existing legislation ensures aggravated sentencing for any offence which is motivated by hostility on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Guidelines ensure that there are a range of further aggravating factors which the court must take into account when sentencing. These include the vulnerability of the victim, additional degradation of the victim, and the offenders working in a group or gang.

Crown Estate

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Crown Estate provides sustainable development, has measures to alleviate climate change and promotes new technologies in its property portfolios. [HL3964]

The Crown Estate attaches great importance to sustainable development across its portfolio. The Crown Estate believes that its stewardship role on its estates should leave a legacy for future generations and be an example to others. It aims to operate as a lean and enterprising organisation that uses resources efficiently; minimises emissions to land, air and water; curbs the production of waste and increases recycling; and conserves and enhances those parts of the estate rich in biodiversity and architectural and historical value.

Detailed information can be found in their annual report and on the Crown Estate website at

Cuba: Prisoners

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made representations to the Government of Cuba encouraging them to abide by the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners; and, if so, what was the result. [HL3750]

We have made no representations to the Government of Cuba on the UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.

However, our embassy in Havana continues to monitor the situations of political prisoners who are reported to be suffering ill health without adequate medical treatment and maintains contact with their supporters, including their immediate families. We regularly raise the issue of political prisoners with the Cuban authorities both in London and Havana and call for their immediate release. Most recently, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Meg Munn, raised the issue of the release of political prisoners with the vice-president of the National Assembly of People's Power, Jaime Crombert Hernandez-Baquero, in November 2007 and with Cuban Vice Foreign Minister, Eumelio Caballero, in April 2008.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made representations to the Government of Cuba concerning the health and treatment in prison of Dr José Luís García Paneque, the former head of the independent news agency Libertad, presently serving a 24-year sentence. [HL3751]

I refer the noble Lord to my responses on 2 June (Official Report, cols. WA 7-8). We are particularly concerned about those political prisoners, such as Dr. Paneque, who are reported to be suffering poor health yet are not provided with adequate medical treatment. Our embassy in Havana continues to monitor Dr Paneque's case and maintains contact with his supporters.

Cuba: Torture

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 2 June (HL3559), what is their definition of torture; and why they do not class beating or fear of beating in Cuban prisons as torture in that Answer. [HL3896]

The definition of torture in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) is:

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”.

Former political prisoners have accused the Cuban Government of cruel and degrading treatment and torture. No independent body, including the International Committee of the Red Cross or the UN Special Rapporteur, has access to Cuban prisons and to date no conclusive evidence has emerged. We are therefore unable to verify such claims. I refer the noble Lord to my response of 2 June (Official Report, col. WA 8) for details of our human rights dialogue with Cuba.

Data Loss: Police Inquiries

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many reports of lost or stolen material relating to information given to inquiries into historic police activity they have received since 2001. [HL3862]

The Government have been made aware of a breach of security, involving a loss of data, in connection with the Rosemary Nelson inquiry and the theft of a laptop from one of the barristers involved in the Billy Wright inquiry.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they intend to provide capacity to detain an additional 1,400 persons in detention centres; whether in reaching this decision they took into account conditions in existing detention centres; and how they intend to improve the overall management of detention centres. [HL3882]

The recent announcement by the Minister for Borders and Immigration to expand the capacity of the Immigration Removal Centre estate is to ensure that we have sufficient space to detain immigration offenders in order to effect their removal from the UK.

The UK Border Agency now removes an immigration offender every eight minutes. This includes failed asylum seekers, overstayers and a record number of foreign prisoners.

Challenging targets have been set to increase the rate of removals, backed up with a doubling of enforcement resources.

Detention is necessary to ensure that immigration offenders do not abscond while the final stages of their removal are being arranged. It can also be used to “fast track” new asylum claims by housing applicants in centres with dedicated teams of case workers. This allows their cases to be decided quickly, leading either to faster integration in the UK for successful applicants, or faster removal for those whose claims are refused.

Existing centres are constantly reviewed to ensure that the safest, most secure and humane conditions are in place, subject to the constraints of the facility.

When new centres are planned, the latest designs are considered to ensure that value for money is obtained and any lessons learnt from existing centres are included to improve staff and detainee safety and well-being.

The management of the centres is undertaken by both HM Prison Service and private contractors under the supervision of the UK Border Agency. Regular reviews are undertaken by UKBA to ensure that agreed standards and procedures covering both security and welfare of detainees are being met.

Centres are also subject to regular inspections by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and independent monitoring boards review the standard of care provided to the detainees.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 31 March (WA 133), what is the latest situation in respect of the future funding of the e-MERLIN radio-telescope project. [HL3891]

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is responsible for making decisions on the funding of e-MERLIN, and no decision has yet been taken by STFC on its future level of investment. STFC has, however, made it clear that the e-MERLIN project is part of its strategy for radio astronomy and that it will discuss the issues, with its partners, the University of Manchester and the North West Development Agency, in deciding how to take forward the project.

European Court of Human Rights: Judges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether judges of the European Court of Human Rights or civil servants in the Court's registry decide which pending cases should be given priority and which judges should act as rapporteurs. [HL3987]

The decisions as regards which cases should be given priority, and which judges should act as rapporteurs, are matters for the judges of the European Court of Human Rights in accordance with the Rules of Court.

Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides that “applications shall be dealt with in the order in which they become ready for examination. The Chamber or its president may, however, decide to give priority to a particular application”.

Rule 49 provides for the president of the section to which the case has been assigned to designate a judge as judge rapporteur in relation to individual applications. Under Rule 50, for Grand Chamber proceedings, the president of the Grand Chamber designates the judge rapporteur. Under Rule 48, regarding inter-state applications, the Chamber constituted to hear the case shall designate one or more of its judges as judge rapporteur.

Female Genital Mutilation Act

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prosecutions there have been under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. [HL3805]

There have been no prosecutions under the 2003 Act. However, the Act is designed to help to prevent this deplorable and unacceptable practice from happening in the first place and anecdotal evidence suggests that it is doing this. It is also being used to raise awareness among relevant professionals, including police forces and others in the Criminal Justice System and those involved with healthcare, social services and the education sector so that girls at risk can be identified. And there is evidence that the law is being pursued vigorously. The Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Command, for example, has specifically targeted female genital mutilation and produced a comprehensive training pack which has been disseminated widely to London's schools and many other agencies. Ultimately, educating communities to abandon the practice is the best way forward to break the cycle of mutilation and the Act continues to be widely used for that purpose.

Flooding: EU Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:

At what time and in what proportion payments have been received from the €162 million allocated to the United Kingdom from the European Union Solidarity Fund in response to flooding in 2007; what amounts are outstanding; and when they are scheduled to be paid. [HL4047]

The Government are in the process of finalising the arrangements for the receipt of the funding from the EU Solidarity Fund: €162.4 million (which amounts to around £110 million at the exchange rate at the time of application). We would expect to receive this funding shortly.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

How much of the €162 million allocated to the United Kingdom from the European Union Solidarity Fund in response to flooding in 2007 has been disbursed; where and on what it has been spent; and on what basis the allocation of these funds has been prioritised against competing claims. [HL4048]

The receipt from the EU will be used to defray costs incurred by central government, totalling the full amount of €162.4 million (£110 million at the exchange rate at the time of application). The Government will separately make available a total of £31 million additional funding to English local authorities and the devolved Administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Health: Diabetes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the National Service Framework for Diabetes at its halfway stage, with particular reference to retinopathy screening and treatment. [HL3975]

We are planning to publish our progress report on the Diabetes National Service Framework during summer 2008.

Screening for diabetic retinopathy was a target in the Diabetes National Service Framework and has been included in the Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2008-09. Copies of this publication are available in the Library. Data from the local delivery plan returns (end March 2008) indicate that 89.4 per cent. of people with diabetes have been offered screening for diabetic retinopathy in the previous 12 months.

Health: Ethical Sourcing of Equipment

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions they have had with the National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency regarding ethical sourcing of surgical instruments; and [HL3867]

What discussions they have had with National Health Service trusts regarding ethical sourcing of equipment for clinics, hospitals and surgeries. [HL3868]

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) is looking carefully at the issues surrounding ethical procurement on the department's behalf. NHS PASA has engaged with a number of key stakeholders inside and outside the healthcare sector on the wider issue of ethical trade and recognises the need for a collaborative approach to addressing the issues meaningfully and sensitively.

NHS PASA and NHS Supply Chain have been active members of the British Medical Association Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group since its inception in August 2007, established in response to specific concerns over labour standards in surgical instrument manufacture.

In November 2007, the department and NHS PASA issued Procuring for Health and Sustainability 2012: A Sustainable Procurement Action Plan for the health and social care sector in England. Copies of this publication have been placed in the Library. Within this action plan, NHS PASA and NHS Supply Chain have committed to working with relevant partners to map the supply chains of two commodity areas including surgical instruments. This will aid in the understanding of the social impacts and ethical issues associated with National Health Service procurement. The healthcare sector will be kept informed of the progress.

An ethical procurement framework is being developed in partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative, including supporting materials with a target to launch this autumn. The work will seek input from representatives from procurers in the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the devolved authorities.

NHS Supply Chain has introduced a supplier code of conduct which clearly outlines requirements for ethical trading. It has communicated it to all its current surgical instrument suppliers and has introduced it as part of the selection process for the contract renewal due in October 2008.

Health: MRSA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will test imported pig and poultry meat for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus in view of the infection in four European Union countries; and whether they will begin taking sample tests of live pigs and poultry in Britain, together with meat for retail sale. [HL4035]

We have no plans to test imported pigs, poultry and their meat for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus. The FSA has not previously conducted any surveys for the presence of MRSA in raw meats (whether imported or home-reared) at the point of retail sale. At present, the FSA does not intend to conduct such a survey as the results would not change policy advice on the handling of meat.

The UK is taking part in an EU-wide survey which includes testing for MRSA in breeding pig herds, running from January to December. The issue of MRSA in other livestock species is actively monitored by the Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) group. At present, there is no evidence that food-producing animals form a reservoir of MRSA infection in the UK and the organism has not been detected in farmed livestock in the UK. The sub-group concluded that broadening the scope of work in this area should only be considered if recommended by colleagues specialising in public health and that, in the absence of such recommendations, speculative investigation of other species for MRSA was not an appropriate use of the limited resources available.

Health: Prescribing and Dispensing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements are made for public and patient consultation when a GP practice applies to dispense medicines in their area. [HL3922]

Immigration: A8 Countries

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many citizens from each of the A8 countries have registered under workers registration procedures in the United Kingdom. [HL3937]

Not all A8 migrant workers need to register under the worker registration scheme. However, information on those A8 workers who have registered on the worker registration scheme since it commenced in May 2004 is available on the following link at monitoring_report/

The figures referred to are not provided under national statistics protocols. They have been derived from local management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change.

The information requested is available from the Accession Monitoring Report, a copy of which is available in the House Library

Immigration: Information

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information about life and challenges in the United Kingdom is made available in Eastern European communities for those planning to work in the United Kingdom. [HL3933]

Several leaflets inform migrants from Eastern Europe of their rights and responsibilities when coming to work in the UK, some of which are available in the languages of the target audiences. The leaflets provide information on how to meet the requirements to work legally in the UK, as well as information on workers’ rights such as the minimum wage and health and safety. Also included are contact details of useful organisations that can provide further advice.

The publications are:

Living and Working in the UK: Rights and responsibilities of nationals from the new member states from 1 May 2004. This can be found online at:

Living and Working in the UK: Rights and responsibilities of nationals from Bulgaria and Romania from 1 January 2007. This leaflet can be found online at:

Working in the UK: Know your rights and how to get help and advice. This leaflet can be found online at:

Working in the UK: Your rights at work. This leaflet can be found online at:

There is also an extensive question and answer section on the UKBA website for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, which covers their free movement rights and work authorisation requirements.

Immigration: Polish Citizens

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their estimate of the number of Polish citizens who were resident in the United Kingdom in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2007. [HL3936]

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 Roberts of Llandudno dated June 2008.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Question concerning the estimate of the number of Polish citizens who were resident in the United Kingdom in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2007. (HL3936)

Estimates of the numbers of Polish nationals living in the UK are provided in the table below. The estimate for 1990 is based on the Labour Force Survey, all other estimates are from the Annual Population Survey. 2006 is the latest calendar year for which data are available. No comparable estimates are available for 1980.


Estimate of Polish nationals living in the UK









Immigration: Temporary Entry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons granted temporary entry to the United Kingdom are currently registered as having failed to depart within the given period. [HL3607]

It is not currently possible to provide an Answer to this Question as the information requested does not form part of the national control of immigration statistics and could be obtained only by the detailed examination of individual records at disproportionate cost to the business.

Border Force Officers at ports and airports have a wide range of powers which they use to operate immigration controls and to tackle immigration-related crime. These include the power to grant temporary admission at any stage in the case consideration process. Temporary admission may be granted to passengers who cannot immediately satisfy the immigration officer that they qualify for leave to enter the UK. Such passengers may be temporarily admitted pending further investigation.

However, not all persons who are granted temporary admission are subsequently refused entry and removed from the UK. Indeed, a passenger may be granted leave to enter the UK following an initial period of temporary admission, provided they can satisfy the immigration officer that they qualify for leave to enter.

Indonesia: West Papua

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are co-operating with the Interpol red notice against Colonel Siagian Burhanuddin of the Indonesian army in West Papua. [HL3881]

We are not aware of an Interpol red notice against Colonel Siagian Burhanuddin, but we do know that Colonel Burhanuddin was indicted by the UN's Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor. However, both Indonesia and East Timor have insisted that it is for their respective countries to resolve these human rights issues between them.

The UK has consistently expressed concern to both the Indonesian and East Timorese Governments about impunity for those responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor. These issues are pursued through their bilateral Commission for Truth and Friendship. We have encouraged both Governments to make the Commission for Truth and Friendship a process that enjoys the confidence of the victims and the international community. A report on events during the 1999 independence vote is expected to be published by the Commission for Truth and Friendship shortly.

Malaysia: Crashed Bomber

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will organise an expedition to the likely crash site in Malaysia of the Liberator Bomber KL 654, which was lost in August 1945 with eight airmen. [HL4003]

The defence attaché in Kuala Lumpur and a member of his military staff accompanied a team from the Malaysian Armed Forces on an expedition to the crash site in January 2007. The team conducted a comprehensive investigation of the crash site and recovered a number of items which enabled them to confirm the identity of the aircraft. Forensic examination established that none of the items recovered were human remains. The MoD succeeded in contacting a number of next-of-kin of the crew and they were informed of the results of the expedition. There are currently no plans to undertake a further expedition.

Millennium Fund: Projects

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Davies of Oldham on 7 May (WA 74–5), what are their definitions of “public good objectives” and “public good purposes”; and whether these definitions take into account the history of terrorism in Northern Ireland. [HL3858]

When the Millennium Commission was established in 1994, commissioners identified five project themes that they wished to support throughout the UK. These were:

encouraging environmental sustainability;

investing in education;

revitalising our cities;

supporting our communities; and

promoting science and technology.

Each project-awarded grant was required to address at least one of these themes. Each individual project also had a specific project purpose defined in its grant agreement.

These five project themes, together with the project-purpose definition for each individual project, are the public good objectives and public good purposes referred to in the earlier Answer.

The Big Lottery Fund advises that the project themes, individual project purpose and the linkage to public good objectives and purposes, are sufficiently broad to take account of the circumstances of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 28 April (WA 8–9) concerning the chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, how the figure of 70 days required from the chairman was calculated; by whom; and on what basis. [HL3402]

It was initially estimated that the chair of the Bill of Rights Forum would require 60 days working on forum business. This figure was calculated by Northern Ireland Office officials.

In July 2007, members of the forum, including representatives of all political parties, requested that the work of the forum should be extended until 31 March 2008. It was therefore necessary for government to increase the number of days the chairman was required to work to 70.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 12 May (WA 113), what were the “changing resource requirements for work” within the remit of the Northern Ireland Office division which sponsored the Bill of Rights Forum. [HL3731]

The division referred to in my Answer of 12 May (WA 113) formed part of the political directorate of the Northern Ireland Office, and had responsibilities in relation to a range of issues including elections, human rights, equality, extradition and contested security cases.

Further details of the work undertaken in these areas during the financial year 2002-03 and the financial year 2003-04 can be found in the relevant departmental reports available at: report_2003.pdf and report_2004.pdf.

Official Visits: Irish President

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 6 May (WA 56) concerning official visits of the President of the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland over the past five years, how many unofficial visits she made during that period; and what was the cost for the United Kingdom.[HL3836]

President McAleese has made no official visits to Northern Ireland over the past five years.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they support the proposed European Union pesticide regulations. [HL3942]

The Government agree that plant protection products should be properly controlled, and support much of the proposed regulation, particularly where it would improve harmonisation and help level the playing field in pesticide availability. The Government are, however, concerned that the proposals for hazard cut-off criteria could remove some active substances which are very important for agriculture and horticulture, but without securing any meaningful benefit in terms of consumer safety. We are pressing for changes to address these concerns.

We understand that the presidency is considering a revised proposal for presentation to the June Agriculture Council.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the reliability of their estimate of the population of the United Kingdom. [HL3904]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl, Director of Macroeconomics and National Accounts, to Lord Tebbit, dated June 2008.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Question on our assessment of the reliability of our estimate of the population of the United Kingdom. I am replying in her absence. (HL3904)

The accuracy of the United Kingdom (UK) mid-year population estimate is dependent on the quality of data available to measure components of population change (births, deaths and migration). International migration is the hardest component to measure.

Of the data sources used to estimate population estimates:

the Census provides a reliable base; estimates of the reliability of the latest Census have been published and are available here: www.statistics.;

birth and death registrations are considered to accurately reflect numbers of events occurring in this country; and

international migration is difficult to estimate, though good use is made of available sources, but estimates are subject to a margin of confidence (as is discussed below).

The principal source of international migration data is the International Passenger Survey (IPS). As with all surveys, the IPS is subject to sampling variability. Standard errors, a measure of how much a sample estimate differs from the true value because of random effects, can be calculated from IPS estimates.

All sources also have non-sampling errors, such as non-response and errors in the answers given by respondents to surveys. In common with all national statistics institutes that estimate population change from a census, the ONS does not currently provide a single error measure to summarise the sources of uncertainty in estimation.

Each time data become available from a new census, the ONS is able to review the accuracy of population estimates made since the previous census by using the newly available information. The comparison that followed the census in 2001 highlighted the difficulty of estimating migration accurately.

It is considered that errors accumulated particularly in the latter half of the decade as the volume of migration flows increased in the late 1990s.

The need to improve migration and population estimates and provide more information on their accuracy has been recognised by the ONS for some time. In particular, the National Statistician commissioned an interdepartmental task force to look at how international migration estimates could be improved. It made recommendations in five broad areas to improve the compilation and presentation of international migration statistics, as follows:

improving the data available on numbers entering and leaving the United Kingdom;

making effective use of new and existing administrative and survey data sources;

improving local population estimates and projections used in allocating resources and developing services;

improving the public reporting of population and migration statistics; and

establishing a wider range of timely indicators and analysis to inform the evidence base on migration and its impacts on policy and public services.

On 4 February 2008, the Minister for Local Government announced to the House that a cross-government programme would be put in place to improve population and migration statistics, driven by senior officials from central government and the Local Government Association, and led by the National Statistician. It will take forward the recommendations of the 2006 interdepartmental task force on migration statistics.

This is high priority work for the ONS and other government departments and is being progressed with due pace. Future progress will be reported through the improving migration and population statistics page on the website:

Some changes have already been put in place. For example, the sample size of the International Passenger Survey was increased to collect more information on the flows of emigrants and further changes have been made to the IPS to enhance the coverage of migrants as they enter or leave the UK. Improvements were also implemented in 2007 to the methodology used for distributing migrants to the local authority level in the mid-year population estimates.

Religious Freedom

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in determining applications for asylum, the Home Office takes into account information on the situation facing apostates from Islam to Christianity in their home country. [HL3894]

All asylum applications are considered with great care on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the criteria set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and 1967 Protocol by fully trained decision-makers, taking account of the latest country information and case law. Information about the situation of apostates is reflected in the country information that is made available to decision-makers by the UK Border Agency Country of Origin Information (COI) Service.

The COI Service provides accurate, objective, sourced and up-to-date information on asylum seekers' countries of origin.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a right to strike has been established by European law or a combination of human rights legislation and European law. [HL3903]

The right to freedom of assembly and association is guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is for the national law of each member state to determine whether and to what extent it may give any additional collective action rights. This was reflected by the European Court of Justice in the Viking Line and Laval judgments: the right to take collective action (including the right to strike), as recognised in EU law, is to be protected, and may be restricted, in accordance with Community law and national law and practice.

Waste Management: Brofiscin Quarry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Environment Agency Wales has selected and published a remediation option for Brofiscin Quarry; and, if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House. [HL3911]

I am informed by the Environment Agency Wales that the Environment Agency has identified a remediation solution it would recommend for Brofiscin Quarry. This involves the treatment of polluted surface water and continued monitoring of surface and groundwater. An executive summary of the remediation options appraisal will soon be available on the Environment Agency's website. A CD of the full appraisal is available on request. I will place a hardcopy of the summary and the CD in the Library of the House.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Environment Agency Wales has decided upon a list of “appropriate persons” in relation to remediation works at Brofiscin Quarry; if so, who they are; and whether they will be required to contribute to the costs of remediation. [HL3912]

I am informed by the Environment Agency Wales that the Environment Agency has not yet formally concluded its “appropriate person” determination in respect of Brofiscin Quarry. It expects to do so shortly in compliance with the relevant legislation and statutory guidance. Encouraging voluntary remediation is an important objective of the contaminated land regime and the Environment Agency is currently exploring opportunities for such an approach.