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Offshore Accounts

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information on which to base such estimates is not available.

ROF Bishopton: Sourcing of Productsafter Closure

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): There are currently no alternative sources in the United Kingdom for most of the products currently produced for MoD at Royal Ordnance, Bishopton. We have considered carefully the future supply of propellants currently made at Bishopton and are satisfied that sufficient and reliable alternative sources exist overseas to meet future MoD requirements. Royal Ordnance will, of course, remain responsible for meeting all its commitments under existing contracts for MoD.

School Organisation and Admission Issues: Lead Adjudicator

Lord Sheppard of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has appointed Sir Peter Newsam as the lead adjudicator. He has wide-ranging experience for this post, gained from his time as education officer to the Inner London Education Authority, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and Director of the Institute for Education. Further appointments of adjudicators will be made in February.

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General Pinochet: Extradition Proceedings

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What have been the legal costs incurred by the Crown up to 31 December 1998 on the case brought for the extradition of General Pinochet.[HL531]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): It is not possible to separate out the cost of proceedings against General Pinochet from other cases conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service. Details of counsel's costs are not currently available. A figure will be agreed shortly.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the costs of the Crown in the case for the extradition of General Pinochet will be refunded by the Spanish Government; and whether there is a cap on the amount of expenses the Spanish Government are prepared to pay for.[HL600]

The Lord Chancellor: Extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain are governed by the European Convention on Extradition 1959 (the convention) which was given force in our domestic law by the European Convention on Extradition Order 1990. The position in English law is also regulated by the provisions of the Extradition Act 1989. Article 1 of the convention imposes an obligation on the contracting parties to surrender fugitives whose extradition is sought by another party to the convention in respect of proceedings for a criminal accusation or the carrying out of a sentence of imprisonment, provided the requirements of the convention are met. Article 24 of the convention provides that the expenses of bringing an application for extradition in the territory of the requested party are to be borne by that party.

By virtue of the United Kingdom's obligations, the costs of preparing and presenting the Kingdom of Spain's case will be borne by the Crown Prosecution Service. While there is no specific limit on such spending, the Crown Prosecution Services will provide value for money by ensuring that only an appropriate number of suitably qualified and experienced staff are engaged on the case and by negotiating reasonable remuneration for counsel based on a fair assessment of the number of hours expended in its preparation and presentation, taking account of the complexity and gravity of the case.

As extradition arrangements are reciprocal, the cost of extraditions requested by the United Kingdom from Spain are borne by Spanish authorities.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Queen's Counsel were employed by the Crown Prosecution Service in the case for the extradition of General Pinochet.[HL528]

The Lord Chancellor: One, Mr. Alun Jones QC.

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Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Queen's Counsel were employed by the Crown Prosecution Service in each of the hearings before the House of Lords for the extradition of General Pinochet.[HL527]

The Lord Chancellor: Because of the unusual legal complexity and gravity of the case, one Leading Counsel, Mr. Alun Jones QC, and one Junior Counsel, Mr. James Lewis, were instructed to 19 October 1998. They have since acted throughout. Mr. Jones QC was not present for the judgment of the House of Lords on 25 November 1998. Three further Junior Counsel, Professor Christopher Greenwood, an expert in international criminal law, Mr. David Elvin, an expert in constitutional law, and Miss Campaspe Lloyd-Jacob, an extradition research assistant, have been instructed for various hearings before the House of Lords when their special expertise was required. The total number of Junior Counsel appearing at any one time has, however, never exceeded three.

Law Lords: Reputation for Impartiality

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to take any further steps to restore the reputation for impartiality which has traditionally been enjoyed by the Law Lords.[HL541]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government do not perceive it to be necessary to take any further steps in relation to the reputation of the Law Lords. They maintain complete confidence in both the impartiality and the appearance of impartiality enjoyed by all levels of the judiciary. However, in my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, on 11 January (Official Report, 11 January 1999, col. WA 11), I referred to the steps I have already taken to ensure that any potential conflict of interest is disclosed to the parties.

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What procedures are available in the event of it becoming necessary to terminate the judicial duties of a Law Lord.[HL540]

The Lord Chancellor: Under Section 6 of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876, a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary holds office during good behaviour, subject to removal on the address of both Houses of Parliament.

Food Standards

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish (a) the draft Food Standards Bill and (b) their proposals for funding the Food Standards Agency.[HL713]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): My right honourable friend the Minister yesterday published the draft Food Standards Bill for public

28 Jan 1999 : Column WA168

consultation, along with a consultation paper setting out our proposals for meeting new costs of the Food Standards Agency through a levy on certain food premises. He has placed copies of both documents in the Library of the House.

The draft Bill moves us closer to fulfilling another important manifesto commitment--the setting up of an independent Food Standards Agency with the aim of protecting public health in relation to food. The agency will play a major role in strengthening consumer confidence.

It provides for a responsible, open and authoritative body charged with protecting public health in relation to food and with powers to act throughout the food chain. The agency will work with all interested parties to develop soundly based, balanced policies that command the public's confidence. It will discharge a range of important functions in support of its goal, advising Ministers and the new devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and helping all its stakeholders to meet the challenge of safe food.

The Bill provides for the Food Standards Agency to be a UK body. The Government will consult with the new devolved authorities to establish whether they are content to proceed with legislation on a UK basis in the way proposed in the draft Bill.

We want our proposals to be subject to full scrutiny, so that we can get it right from the start. The consultation that begins today seeks comments from all interested parties over the next eight weeks. The draft Bill will also be scrutinised by a Select Committee of Members of this House constituted for this purpose. We will refine our proposals in the light of the comments we have invited. If legislative time permits, we hope to be in a position to introduce the Bill during this session of Parliament.

We have already made considerable progress in strengthening the present arrangements in preparation for the agency. The challenge now is to ensure that the changes we propose meet the robust standard that consumers and businesses alike can expect.


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