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Divorce and Separation

Helen Jackson: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what proposals the Lord Chancellor has to provide divorcing and separating couples with access to information, legal help, mediation and counselling services. [155724]

Jane Kennedy: The Government continue to finance both mediation and legal advice and representation through the Legal Services Commission. The Lord Chancellor also provides funding for marriage and relationship support organisations, which will increase to £4.5 million in 2001-02 and £5 million in 2002-03. Officials are currently working with the Legal Services Commission in order to pilot proposals to tie these services more closely together, in Family Advice and Information Networks, which will be able to provide a range of information and help to those experiencing family problems, either directly or by referring them to other local support and information agencies. These proposals will build on research evidence, in order to enable us to provide the information and help that people want at the time that they need it. We expect piloting to begin by October 2001.

Dispute Resolution

Mr. Pond: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans she has to promote alternative dispute resolution in the settlement of disputes involving Government. [155726]

Jane Kennedy: My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor has today announced an initiative on the settlement of Government disputes through Alternative

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Dispute Resolution. Under this initiative, Government Departments and agencies make these commitments on the resolution of disputes involving them:

There may be cases that are not suitable for settlement through ADR, for example cases involving intentional wrongdoing, abuse of power, public law, Human Rights and vexatious litigants. There will also be disputes where, for example, a legal precedent is needed to clarify the law, or where it would be contrary to the public interest to settle.

Government Departments will put in place performance measures to monitor the effectiveness of this undertaking.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the meetings and conferences organised by his Department and agencies of his Department which have been (a) cancelled and (b) postponed owing to foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. [155363]

Mr. Lock: The Court Service has postponed a circuit management conference on its Western Circuit. The conference was scheduled to be held at a hotel on Dartmoor, within a restricted area, on 15 and 16 March. It was postponed after consultation with MAFF and with Dartmoor National Park.

The Legal Services Commission has cancelled two meetings (one in Cumbria and one in the south-west of England) and changed the venue of one meeting in Wales, in accordance with MAFF advice.

No other meetings or conferences in the Lord Chancellor's Department, its agencies, or other departments reporting to the Lord Chancellor have been postponed or cancelled because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.



Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the position of the Guatemalan Government on the territorial integrity of Belize; what boundaries to Belize Her Majesty's Government recognise, and on what legal basis; and if he will make a statement. [152847]

Mr. Battle: The Government of Guatemala are currently working within a process, jointly with the Government of Belize and facilitated by the Organisation

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of American States, to demarcate its boundary with Belize. The United Kingdom welcomes and supports this process.

The United Kingdom continues to regard the 1859 Treaty as defining the boundary between Belize and Guatemala.

Canadian Parliamentarians

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons invitations to meet Canadian parliamentarians during their visit to London on 5 to 7 March were extended by his Department to Labour and Liberal Democrat hon. Members who took part in a visit to Canada in 2000, but not to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chiselhurst (Mr. Forth), the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) and the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) who were also part of the UK parliamentary delegation to Canada. [153992]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 16 March 2001]: The FCO was glad to be able to make a number of programme arrangements for Mr. Speaker Milliken's first visit to London after his appointment. However, the FCO did not arrange all aspects of his programme, nor of the visit made at the same time by the Chairman of the Canada-UK Inter-Parliamentary Association, Mr. John Harvard.

We understood that those hon. Members not invited to earlier events would be invited to another function.


Mr. Patrick Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he is taking to persuade the Israeli Government (a) to lift the restriction on movement it has imposed upon Palestinian towns and villages and (b) to comply with its obligations to uphold access to education and freedom of movement. [154715]

Mr. Wilson: Bilaterally and with European Union partners, we have in confidential demarches, public statements and in discussions during ministerial and official meetings, urged the Government of Israel to end the policy of closure, which restricts movement, including access to education. European Ministers renewed their call on Israel to end the closures at the General Affairs Council on 19 March.

Great Lakes Region

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts on holding an international conference on achieving peace, security and democracy in the Great Lakes Region. [154776]

Mr. Wilson: Along with our EU partners we continue to fully support the holding of an international conference on the Great Lakes Region but share the view that this should only be convened once there has been significant progress towards implementation of the Lusaka and Arusha agreements.

India and Pakistan (Nuclear Industry Contacts)

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a

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statement on the Government's policy on contacts between UK nuclear industry personnel and nationals of India and Pakistan. [155731]

Mr. Wilson: Our policy on contacts with India and Pakistan on nuclear issues is set out in a statement to Parliament by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd) on 10 July 1998, Official Report, columns 687-88W. However, where contact between UK nuclear scientists and nuclear industry personnel and Indian and Pakistani individuals is judged not to be of proliferation concern, we will, on a case-by- case basis, consider making an exception to the policy.

We have decided to make such an exception for an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) research co-ordination meeting on nuclear reactor decommissioning which, following a request by the IAEA, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL) have agreed to host. Participants from several countries, including India and Pakistan, will be invited to attend the meeting, to be held in the United Kingdom in May 2001. In view of our policy we were consulted by BNFL on the IAEA proposal. We firmly support the work of the IAEA and the safe decommissioning of nuclear reactors and judge that the meeting will not in any way assist the development of weapons of mass destruction. We will continue to consider future cases individually.

Entry Clearance Service

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government will take to reform and update the entry clearance service. [155727]

Mr. Vaz: The Government will invest £7.2 million from the Capital Modernisation fund over the next three years in improved technology for the entry clearance (visa) service. This will help deliver a fairer, faster and firmer service, with benefits for visa applicants and for their sponsors in the UK. It will also contribute to the Prime Minister's target of enabling all public services to be delivered electronically by 2005.

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