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Statute Law Database

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg):

(a) Subject to a few exceptions, the Statute Law Database currently holds electronic versions of all public general statutes that were in force on 1 February 1991 and all public general statutes that have been enacted since that date. The Statutory Publications Office is editing the data to reflect amendments made by subsequent legislation.

(b) The target for completion is the year 2000.

(c) The enquiry system will display the text as it was in force on any specified date after 1 February 1991. It will be possible to establish whether any provision of any public general statute is currently in force.

(d) Use of the Internet is one of a number of options currently under consideration.

(e) It is not economically practical to divide the database in the manner suggested. Moreover, incomplete information might be misleading.

Immigration Appeals: Selection of Tribunal Members

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor: All the above posts, apart from lay members of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, whose posts are only part-time, may be occupied on a full-time or part-time basis. All posts are filled by open advertised competition apart from a few occasions when I have directly seconded serving Circuit Judges to the Tribunal. Candidates for full-time positions must have served in a part time capacity for long enough to establish competence and suitability for full-time appointment. There are no statutory qualifications for

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appointment as a part-time Immigration Adjudicator. However, in practice, I will only consider persons who hold a seven-year general qualification within the meaning of Section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (i.e. a right of audience in any class of proceedings in any part of the Supreme Court or in all proceedings in the county courts or Magistrates' courts) who are advocates or solicitors in Scotland, or barristers or solicitors in Northern Ireland, of not less than seven years' standing. Part-time Chairmen of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal are normally recruited from the ranks of part-time Immigration Adjudicators.

Lay members of the Tribunal require no specific qualifications as such.

All applicants are required to submit the names of three persons able to comment on their suitability for appointment, together with application forms designed to seek out information which will enable them to be assessed against the published selection criteria. Apart from the statutory requirement mentioned above, these relate to age, health, character, legal knowledge and experience, skills and abilities, and personal qualities. Candidates must also be able to satisfy the physical requirements of the office. Selected applicants are interviewed by a three-member panel consisting of a member of the relevant judiciary, one of my senior officials and a lay person. In reaching their decisions, the panel would take into account the views as to suitability provided by the consultees, as well as the strength of the competition on that particular occasion. The recommendations of the panel would be submitted to me, but the decision on whom to appoint rests entirely with me.

All judiciary appointed to the IAA are subject to an initial induction programme that includes a two-day residential training course before they are permitted to sit. Special Adjudicators are then required to attend a further two-day residential course before they can be assigned to handle asylum appeals. There have been several recent appointments of new Adjudicators and Tribunal Chairmen who have previously sat in other jurisdictions (e.g. Recorders and Circuit Judges) who have had an abbreviated special/adjudicator course. In addition to the standard induction programme, each hearing centre has at least one formal training day per year, there is a two-day residential judicial conference every two years, as well as other occasional ad hoc training activities, as needs demand, such as those required by new legislation, or prompted by new precedents in case law. The ongoing performance/training of judiciary is monitored by the Chief Adjudicator and the President of the Tribunal, without seeking to impinge on the core principles that protect and govern the independence of the judiciary.

The total amount spent on judicial training during 1997-98 was £189,463.38 and the anticipated spend for this financial year (1998-99) is £146,000. The higher level spent in the previous year was in part due to additional funding being provided for the purchase of judicial benchbooks, and generic IT training for adjudicators.

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Immigration Appeals Tribunal: Members' Ethnic Origins

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the ethnic origins of Immigration Appeals Adjudicators, Chairmen of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and lay members of that Tribunal.[HL182]

The Lord Chancellor: There are a total of 248 Immigration Appeals Adjudicators, of whom 239 are designated as Special Adjudicators. There are also 39 Chairmen of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and 20 lay members of that Tribunal. Questions asking the ethnic origin of candidates for legal appointments to the Immigration Appellate Authorities have been included on application forms only since 1991. Candidates have never been under an obligation to answer such questions. However, from the information currently held, I can say that amongst the Immigration Adjudicators there are a total of 119 White, two West Indian, one Pakistani, one Chinese, two Asian, two African, one Euro-African and 120 whose ethnic origins remain unknown. Of the above who are designated as Special Adjudicators the breakdown is 90 White, one West Indian, one Pakistani, one Chinese, one Euro-African and 145 unknown. The ethnic origins of the Chairmen of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and the lay members of that Tribunal are unknown.

Slaughtered Cattle: Disposal of Carcases

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What disposal methods are being used to stockpile rendered offal from the BSE eradication scheme; and whether they can confirm that such offal has not been or will not be dumped at sea.[HL157]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Commission Regulation 716/96 requires that the carcases of cattle purchased under the Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS) are disposed of by incineration or rendered and destroyed; broadly similar provisions are contained in the Commission legislation governing the Selective and Offspring Culls. All these schemes are open only to animals showing no clinical symptoms of BSE.

A small proportion of carcases, including all offspring cull carcases, are incinerated direct and the ash landfilled in appropriately licensed sites. The majority of OTMS and Selective Cull carcases, however, are rendered and the resultant material--meat-and-bone meal (MBM) and tallow--is currently being safely and securely stored pending destruction.

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Some OTMS MBM is being burned in an appropriately authorised high temperature waste incinerator, and a number of renderers are burning tallow as a fuel. The Intervention Board Executive Agency, which has responsibility for the operation of the OTMS, has recently announced the award of the first large-scale contract for incineration of MBM with energy recovery. The board continue to negotiate with a small number of potential service providers about meeting the balance of their requirement for MBM incineration capacity.

The dumping of waste at sea is governed by regional and global treaties. In particular, the OSPAR convention on the Protection of the Maritime Environment of the north-east Atlantic prescribes stringent rules which preclude any dumping of rendered material at sea. Therefore no MBM has been or will be dumped at sea.

Forestry Strategy, England

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to publish the Government's Forestry Strategy for England.[HL269]

Lord Donoughue: On 8 December 1998 we published A New Focus for England's Woodlands, our forestry strategy for England, and a copy was placed in the Library.

The strategy sets out our priorities and programmes for the creation and management of woods and forests in England. It will help to focus discussion on how we, in partnership with other organisations, can work to ensure that England's woods and forests continue to provide benefits for England's people.

The strategy sets out a series of actions to help achieve our priorities and to help implement our key programmes. The strategy is not prescriptive. It sets out the framework for the Government's continued support for forestry in England and will guide the targeting of our resources in the years ahead.


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