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Concessionary Fares for Disabled People

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The cost of such schemes would depend on the extent of the reduction in fares and on the definition adopted for each category of person. At present concessionary travel schemes are a matter for individual local authorities, but the Government have announced the intention to introduce a minimum half fare scheme for pensioners.

Rail Fare Increases

Lord Milverton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: On average, rail fares have fallen in real terms over the past two years. Despite this, many unregulated off-peak fares continue to increase. In some cases, the increases are clearly not justified by performance.

Northern Ireland: Ceasefire Breach

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The judgment for the Secretary of State to make, under Section 3(8) of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998, is whether an organisation has not been established or is not maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire. In

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reaching a judgment, she takes into account all the factors set out in Section 3(9) and such other factors as are in the circumstances relevant.

Preparations for EMU: Standing Committee Minutes

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the most recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Preparations for EMU.[HL1080]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer held the most recent meeting of the Standing Committee on 27 January 1999. I have arranged for copies of the minutes to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Commonwealth Development Corporation

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in discussions with the Treasury and the Inland Revenue on the Commonwealth Development Corporation's tax status; and [HL969]

    What tax concessions they are planning to grant the Commonwealth Development Corporation; and [HL970]

    What is their view of the consequences of the delay in progressing the Bill for the establishment of the Commonwealth Development Corporation public/private partnership; and [HL971]

    What steps they will take if no agreement is reached with the Treasury and the Inland Revenue on a tax effective status for the Commonwealth Development Corporation.[HL972]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have agreed the broad principles for a tax solution that will provide the Commonwealth Development Corporation Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the required tax efficiency. Work is continuing on the details. Necessary amendments to the CDC Bill will be introduced at the appropriate time. We do not anticipate that this work will delay the creation of the PPP.

Asylum Seekers: Legal Aid

The Earl of Dartmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of legal aid for asylum seekers in (a) 1998 and (b) 1988.[HL889]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The information requested is not available. The data collected by the Legal Aid Board and the courts does not identify separately applications made for legal aid by asylum seekers. However, the amount paid out for Legal Advice and Assistance in respect of all

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immigration and nationality matters, for 1988 and 1998 was as follows.



We are taking measures which will help to bring expenditure on legal advice and assistance for immigration matters under control, and to improve the quality of advice that people receive. In particular, from 1 January 2000, it is intended that all legally aided civil advice and assistance will be provided by quality assured suppliers, under contract with the Legal Aid Board. The incompetent and unscrupulous advisers who have contributed to the rapid and sometimes wasteful growth in expenditure on immigration and asylum work will no longer qualify.

In October 1998, following publication of the board's report on Reforming the Civil Advice and Assistance Scheme, I asked the board to study immigration and asylum issues further, focusing on measures to deal with the potential shortfall in suppliers after the introduction of exclusive contracting; alternative methods of providing services; and the need to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the immigration appeals system. The board will soon be delivering its report to me and it will be published in due course.

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