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Legal Education and Conduct: Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee Report

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct has today published its sixth annual report, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Medical Treatment: Advance Directives

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

    Further to the Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 20 November 1997 (H.L. Deb., cols. 742-44), whether they will introduce a measure to give legal effect to advance directives, where the clinical circumstances are such as the patient has considered.

The Lord Chancellor: The Law Commission Report on Mental Incapacity published in 1995 includes recommendations relating to advance statements (sometimes referred to as advance directives). As I indicated in my Written Answer to the noble Lord, Lord Peston, on 23 October 1997, the Government do not consider that it would be appropriate to legislate on the basis of these recommendations without fresh public consultation. It is hoped that a consultation paper will be issued shortly.

Disability Living Allowance: Life Awards

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In how many cases in which disability living allowance was granted for life is the award now subject to review.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Information is not available in the form requested. When life awards of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are made, the individual is considered likely to continue to satisfy the qualifying conditions. If evidence of change becomes available, those awards will be reviewed in the normal way. Three hundred and sixty thousand reviews were carried out in DLA cases during the year ended March 1997. Statistics are not maintained on whether the review involved an award that had been made for life, or for a fixed period, or if benefit had been disallowed.

Prisoners' Pay

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the average level of prisoners' pay (a) nationally and (b) at Her Majesty's Prison Drake Hall in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord William of Mostyn): Figures for average rates of prisoner pay nationally are not now specified or collated centrally. Governors determine the allocation of resources for their establishments within overall totals, including rates of pay.

For most establishments, the starting point for calculating rates of pay is an average of about £7 a week. However, rates will vary in the light of the resources, amount and type of work available, incentives and earned privileges schemes in operation, and other factors at each establishment.

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The average rates of pay at Her Majesty's Prison Drake Hall for the years concerned were:

Year£
1994-956.27
1995-966.77
1996-976.54
1997(1)6.80

(1) To 30 November 1997.

At present, the range of pay at Her Majesty's Prison Drake Hall is from about £5.50 to about £11.00 per week.


Firearms Incidents

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In relation to firearms incidents in each of the last three months in each of:
    (a) each division of the London Metropolitan Police Area;
    (b) the whole London Metropolitan Police Area;
    (c) the United Kingdom minus the London Metropolitan Police Area;

    for each category of firearm:
    (i) how many incidents involved firearms stolen from personal firearms and shotgun certificate holders;
    (ii) how many incidents involved weapons stolen from dealer certificate holders;
    (iii) how many incidents involved weapons legally held by the offender;
    (iv) how many incidents resulted in fatalities; and
    (v) how many incidents resulted in injury.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No information is yet available for the last three months.

The latest available figures relate to the calendar year 1996, and are as follows:

Notifiable offences recorded by the police in which firearms were reported to have caused injury--1996

United Kingdom (excluding Metropolitan Police) Metropolitan Police
Fatal injuriesOther injuriesFatal injuriesOther injuries
Shotgun2697111
Pistol432601355
Rifle--21----
Imitation firearm--22--1
Supposed/unidentified firearm355--4
Other firearm2138--1
All weapons (excluding air weapon)745931472
Air weapon--1,403--151
Total741,99614223

Statistics for each division of the Metropolitan Police area are not readily available. Information for 1996 about whether the weapons were stolen or legally held is not available.


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Firearms Legislation: Consolidation

Lord Swansea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to introduce a Bill to consolidate the various enactments relating to firearms and shotguns from 1968 to 1997; and if so, when.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government accept the need for a consolidation of the firearms legislation but no decision has yet been taken about timing. This will depend upon both available parliamentary time, and also whether the need for further legislative changes arises from our general consideration of the effectiveness of the current controls.

Alcohol and Young People

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to address the problem of under-age alcohol consumption in the light of the Report, Young Teenagers and alcohol in 1996 published by the Office for National Statistics.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The findings of the Office for National Statistics report support those of other surveys and research, which indicate worrying levels of alcohol misuse by young people. The statement by the Ministerial Group on Alcopops on 17 July made clear the Government's concern about this problem and set out the action which we expect all concerned, including the industry itself, to take.

Strasbourg "Victim" Test

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

    Further to the statements of the Lord Chancellor on the Human Rights Bill on 24 November 1997 (H.L. Deb., cols. 830-34); what are the practical advantages of adopting in United Kingdom law the Strasbourg "victim" test in place of the British "sufficient interest" test of standing to bring proceedings regarding a breach of convention rights against a public authority.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Adopting the Strasbourg victim test reflects our commitment to bringing rights home. The reasons for the approach taken in the Human Rights Bill have less to do with practical advantage, although it will preclude the bringing of academic cases where no victim or potential victim is involved, than with a desire to reflect in our domestic arrangements the circumstances in which cases do now go to Strasbourg and which after this Bill takes effect will be raised in our courts.

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Hunting: Manifesto Commitment

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their commitment to allow a free vote on the abolition of blood sports includes the provision of parliamentary time for any such Bill to be debated; and if not, whether they feel they have fully met their manifesto commitment.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The manifesto commitment did not extend to the provision of parliamentary time for a Bill to outlaw hunting. We delivered our manifesto commitment when members in another place voted on the Second Reading of the Wild Mammals (Hunting with Dogs) Bill on 28 November, in a free vote.

Service Personnel: Compensation Review

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the arrangements for compensating service personnel for death or injury due to service.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Government share a number of concerns about the anomalous and complex nature of the current arrangements for paying compensation to Service personnel who are killed, injured or suffer serious illness as a result of their service. Experience from the Gulf conflict and operations in Bosnia underlines the need for arrangements which properly reflect the special nature of the commitment which Servicemen and women make to the defence of our country.

We have therefore decided there should be a comprehensive review of the arrangements for compensating Service personnel (or their dependants) and for the payment of death and invaliding pension benefits. Our aim is to devise a modern, fair and simplified scheme which could apply to all Service personnel injured or killed on peacetime duties--in training or on operations--where death or injury was attributable to military service, to replace the current complex arrangements.

The main aim of the review will be to recommend new arrangements for the future, but it will also examine the extent to which personnel currently serving may be able to benefit from a simpler and more comprehensive approach. The War Pensions Scheme will continue to be available to existing ex-Service personnel.

The review will be conducted jointly with the Department of Social Security, the department responsible for the War Pensions Scheme. We intend to publish the results of the review in a consultation document.

A review of compensation for Service personnel was recommended in the House of Commons Defence Committee Sixth Report into Gulf War illness, published earlier this year. We hope that the whole House will support the initiative we are now taking.

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