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5 Jun 1996 : Column WA125

Written Answers

Wednesday, 5th June 1996.

Police Search Warrant: Wording

The Marquess of Ailesbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the wording of the warrant which police must obtain when wishing to enter private premises uninvited.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): Sections 15 and 16 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1994 have effect in relation to the issue to constables under any enactment (including any Act passed after this Act) of warrants to enter and search premises. Section 15(5) provides that a warrant shall authorise an entry on one occasion only. Section 15(6) provides that a warrant shall specify the name of the person who applies for it, the date on which it is issued, the enactment under which it is issued, the premises to be searched, and shall identify, so far as is practicable, the articles or persons sought. Section 16(2) provides that a warrant may authorise persons to accompany any constable who is executing it. Section 16(3) provides that entry and search under a warrant must be within one month from the date of its issue.

Judges' Clerks

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will undertake not to delegate their obligations under Section 98 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 to the Court Service Agency.

The Lord Chancellor: On its establishment as an Executive Agency on 3rd April 1995, the Court Service assumed responsibility for appointing judges' clerks on the Lord Chancellor's behalf. No delegation has occurred, or will occur. The Court Service continues to be part of the Lord Chancellor's Department.

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the increasing workload of the senior judiciary, whether they can confirm their past assurances to the judges that no change will be made in the quality and standing of judges' clerks without full consultation.

The Lord Chancellor: Responsibility for this subject is now exercised on my behalf by the Chief Executive of the Court Service. I have accordingly asked the Chief Executive to reply direct.

Letter to Lord Ackner from the Chief Executive of the Court Service, Mr. Michael Huebner, dated 5th June 1996.

The Lord Chancellor has asked me to reply to your Question about the quality and standing of judges' clerks.

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I can confirm that no change will be made in respect of the quality and standing of judges' clerks without full consultation.

Lord Ackner asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they propose to take to meet the concerns of the senior judiciary at the proposal to reduce the maturity, the experience and the proficiency required for appointment as Clerk to a Lord Justice and to a Judge of the High Court under Section 98 of the Supreme Court Act 1981.

The Lord Chancellor: Responsibility for this subject is now exercised on my behalf by the Chief Executive of the Court Service. I have accordingly asked the Chief Executive to reply direct.

Letter to Lord Ackner from the Chief Executive of the Court Service, Mr. Michael Huebner, dated 5th June 1996.

The Lord Chancellor has asked me to reply to your Question about the appointment of judges' clerks.

There is no proposal to reduce the maturity, the experience or the proficiency required for appointment as clerk to one of Her Majesty's judges under Section 98 of the Supreme Court Act 1981. The calibre of candidates applying for these posts continues to be assessed by a Recruitment Board consisting of experienced Court Service staff and a High Court Judge, normally recently retired.

As an additional measure of proficiency a keyboard skills/word processing test was introduced for the recruitment campaigns held in 1995 and 1996. These arrangements were discussed in detail with a High Court Judge nominated by the Lord Chief Justice to consider the recruitment of judges' clerks. This consultation process will be maintained.

Cattle: Permission to Graze Set-aside Land

The Earl of Balfour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they propose to implement the EU Commission regulation authorising the UK to permit cattle aged over 30 months to graze on set-aside land.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): I welcome the Commission's agreement to our request to allow cattle to graze set-aside land in view of the difficulties currently facing our cattle farmers. The relevant Commission regulation, which is expected to come into force shortly and will run until 31st August, requires the UK authorities to take the measures necessary to ensure that only cattle aged over 30 months are permitted to graze set-aside and that the existing rules restricting lucrative use of set-aside land are observed. We shall therefore be laying before Parliament a Statutory Instrument subject to negative resolution procedure which will require those farmers wishing to take advantage of this facility to return a simple form to the Agriculture Departments. The Instrument will also

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enable authorised persons to inspect cattle on set-aside land to ensure compliance with the regulations.

Producers may allow another farmer's cattle to graze their set-aside but they may not receive any payment in cash or kind for the use of the set-aside as grazing.

We will be writing to all cattle farmers early next week explaining how they can take advantage of this provision. Farmers should not begin to graze cattle on set-aside until receipt of their notification form has been acknowledged by the Agriculture Departments as to do so would jeopardise set-aside payments and associated crop area aid payments.

Europe: Human Rights

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer given by Baroness Chalker of Wallasey on 21st May 1996 (WA 89), whether they will give examples of instances in which the European Court and Commission of Human Rights have failed to give full weight to the principle that free societies have the right, within limits, to choose for themselves the human rights policies that best suit them.

Lord Chesham: We have made clear our views on a number of the judgments with which we were dissatisfied. Our primary concern now is to encourage the Strasbourg institutions to take full account of the need to allow for diversity.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will accept the option protocol so as to enable individuals within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom to have resource to the Human Rights Committee in relation to alleged breaches of human rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and not protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Chesham: We do not believe that becoming a party to the First Optional Protocol under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights would significantly enhance the protection of human rights in the United Kingdom.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which member states of the Council of Europe have accepted the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enabling individuals to have recourse to the Human Rights Committee for alleged breaches of the covenant, and which member states have not yet done so.

Lord Chesham: The following member states of the Council of Europe have accepted the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,

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Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine.

The following member states have not done so:


    Albania, Andorra, Greece, Liechtenstein, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which rights and freedoms secured by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are not secured by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Chesham: While there are a number of differences between the two instruments, the principal rights and freedoms conferred by the covenant are also conferred by the Convention.

UN Human Rights Committee: Annual Report

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will take steps to ensure that the United Nations Human Rights Committee is allocated sufficient resources to enable it to publish its full annual report.

Lord Chesham: The United Nations publishes separately each year the Human Rights Committee's report to the General Assembly, states parties' reports to the Committee and summary records of oral examinations. With the help of voluntary contributions, the UN has also produced compilations of such previously published materials though timing is dependent on resources and priority is given to publishing current materials.

Israel: Nuclear Programme

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have discussed Israel's nuclear programme with the governments of (a) Egypt, (b) Jordan, (c) Iran and (d) the United States.

Lord Chesham: It is not our practice to disclose details of confidential exchanges with other governments.


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