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Written Answers

Volume 711: debated on Wednesday 10 June 2009

Written Answers

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Diplomatic Relations

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government with which member states of the United Nations the United Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations. [HL3993]

The UK does not have diplomatic relations with Bhutan or Somalia.

Bilateral relations with Bhutan are friendly. We conduct business with Bhutan through our high commission in New Delhi and via the Bhutanese honorary consul, who is based in the UK and spends half the year in Bhutan.

Somalia does not have diplomatic representation in the UK and the security situation in Somalia does not allow us to have a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu. However, we acknowledge the Transitional Federal Government as the current Government in power in Somalia and deal with them on that basis.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which are the member states of the United Nations where the United Kingdom’s diplomatic representative is not resident in the state concerned. [HL3994]

The table below shows those countries where the UK has a non-resident ambassador or high commissioner, and where those ambassadors or high commissioners are resident.

Country

Ambassador/High Commissioner resident in:

Andorra

Madrid

Antigua and Barbuda

Bridgetown

Bahamas

Kingston

Benin

Abuja

Burkina Faso

Accra

Burundi

Kigali

Cape Verde

Dakar

Central African Republic

Yaounde

Chad

Yaounde

Comoros

Port Louis

Congo (Republic of)

Kinshasa

Côte D'Ivoire

Accra

Djibouti

Addis Ababa

Dominica

Bridgetown

East Timor

Jakarta

El Salvador

Guatemala City

Equatorial Guinea

Abuja

Gabon

Yaounde

Grenada

Bridgetown

Guinea Bissau

Dakar

Haiti

Santo Domingo

Honduras

Guatemala City

Kiribati

Suva

Kyrgyzstan

Astana

Laos

Bangkok

Lesotho

Pretoria

Liberia

Freetown

Liechtenstein

Berne

Madagascar

Port Louis

Maldives

Colombo

Mali

Dakar

Marshall Islands

Manila

Mauritania

Rabat

Micronesia

Manila

Monaco

Paris

Nauru

Suva

Nicaragua

San Jose

Niger

Accra

Palau

Manila

Paraguay

Buenos Aires

Samoa

Wellington

San Marino

Rome

Sao Tome and Principe

Luanda

St Kitts and Nevis

Bridgetown

St Lucia

Bridgetown (but we have a resident commissioner in Castries)

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Bridgetown

Surinam

Georgetown

Swaziland

Pretoria

Togo

Accra

Tonga

Suva

Tuvalu

Suva

Vanuatu

Suva

Internet: Security

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 7 May (WA 143), why the Internet Watch Foundation's list enables internet service providers to block child sexual abuse images if they are hosted abroad but does not enable them to block websites hosted abroad promoting violent extremism and terrorism. [HL3607]

The IWF acts as a reporting centre for images of child sexual abuse, criminally obscene images and websites containing incitement to racial hatred. Of these, only child sexual abuse images are illegal to view, and therefore the IWF list comprises only those sites.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will advise the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has just called for the enactment without delay of a justiciable Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland inclusive of economic, social and cultural rights, that the enactment of such a proposal was not part of the Belfast agreement. [HL3991]

All the concluding observations of the committee will be addressed in the UK’s sixth report under the covenant, which is due in 2014.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 19 May (WA 302), what are the special circumstances which will require extra human rights in Northern Ireland and not in the rest of the United Kingdom. [HL3999]

The Government will consult on a potential Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland in due course. The question of whether there is a need for additional rights to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland will be fully explored during consultation.

Political Organisations

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the criteria by which it is decided that a political organisation or persons within a political organisation or their actions are subversive of the national interest of the United Kingdom. [HL3943]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria are taken into account in deciding that the security services should monitor the internal workings or participate in the proceedings of political organisations regarded as working against the national interest of the United Kingdom. [HL3944]

Section 1 of the Security Service Act 1989, as amended, sets out the functions of the Security Service. These include the protection of national security from “actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means”.

Prisons: Officers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are considering using prison officers as learning advocates. [HL3973]

The prison officer role is central to the reducing reoffending agenda, one aspect of which is the education, training and employment pathway. Prison officers are prepared for their role by means of a one-year foundation training programme incorporating an eight-week prison officer entry level training course and a level 3 national vocational qualification in custodial care (CCNVQ). Since September 2007, all new officers must complete the NVQ in their first year. Module GJ2 of the CCNVQ—“support individuals in custody to take part in purposeful activities”—is optional but to date 1,169 new prison officers have either obtained or are currently working towards this unit. This NVQ module requires prison officers to demonstrate that they are encouraging prisoners to take part in purposeful activities which include educational, recreational and work activities.

There are no plans as yet to introduce a central policy on prison officers acting as learning advocates.

Railways: European Services

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions have taken place with rail operators in other European Union countries on expanding destinations for European services using High Speed 1. [HL4074]

The Government are keen to encourage competition on High Speed 1 from 2010 and to expand the number of European destinations available by rail from the UK. Discussions have been held with rail operators in a number of other European Union countries on providing such services. These discussions are ongoing. It will be for the future operator of High Speed 1 to market the railway and to agree terms of access with international train operators.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who will be responsible for regulating applications by open access operators for providing additional rail services from the United Kingdom to Europe following the sale of High Speed 1 and Eurostar United Kingdom; and what steps will be taken to encourage additional or alternative rail services through the Channel Tunnel. [HL4076]

Potential open-access operators that wish to utilise High Speed 1 will negotiate access rights with the holder of the concession to operate the railway. Before 1 October 2009, any such negotiations would be supervised by the Department for Transport; from that date, they would be supervised by the Office of Rail Regulation. The High Speed 1 concession will incentivise the concessionaire to encourage new operators to offer international services through the Channel Tunnel.

Railways: Eurostar

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the relative value for money obtainable by the Government for different options for disposing of Eurostar United Kingdom, including (a) sale in its existing form; and (b) reorganisation without a new shareholder. [HL4075]

The Government are not engaged in a sale of Eurostar UK Ltd. The Government continue to examine ways to best further the development of Eurostar in conjunction with our international partners. Our objectives in doing so are to develop services and the offering to passengers and to secure the best long-term value of the UK’s share in Eurostar in the interests of the taxpayer. The value of any options in relation to the future of Eurostar will be benchmarked against the projected opportunities, risks and commercial prospects of maintaining the Government’s interest in Eurostar UK Ltd in its present form.

UN: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of the submissions to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at its 42nd session in Geneva from 4 to 22 May were related to Northern Ireland. [HL3988]

This information is detailed on the committee's website at www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies.cescr.cescrs42.htm.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why no Northern Ireland Office representatives were present in Geneva in May when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. [HL3989]

The Ministry of Justice led a delegation of officials from several government departments and devolved Administrations. Most of the issues raised in relation to Northern Ireland in the combined fourth and fifth periodic report fell within the remit of the Northern Ireland Executive. Given the limited role for the Northern Ireland Office in relation to this examination, it was not considered to be an effective use of public money to send Northern Ireland Office officials to the examination.