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Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Government Response

Lord Bach asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are today publishing an action plan setting out how the Government propose that the report's recommendations will be taken forward. For each of the areas covered by the recommendations of the inquiry, the plan sets out the

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main programme of work, who will have the lead responsibility for taking the work forward and how we will review and assess the outcomes of the work. This is the beginning of the process, and we will revise and develop the plan as the work proceeds. There will be a full day's debate in the House on these issues on Monday 29 March.

Family Law: Seventh Protocol

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

    When they intend to introduce legislation to remove inconsistencies in the United Kingdom's family law provisions so as to enable them to ratify the Seventh Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL1456]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): In the White Paper which preceded the Human Rights Act, the Government made clear their commitment to ratifying the Seventh Protocol of the ECHR. In order to ratify this protocol, the Government need to abolish or equalise three minor rules of law in England and Wales which treat husbands and wives unequally and which are therefore incompatible with Article 5 of the Protocol. This change will require primary legislation. The Government will introduce the necessary legislation when parliamentary time allows. Similar rules to the three rules in question also exist in Northern Ireland. Two of them form part of the subject matter of a consultation paper which will be published shortly by the Law Reform Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland. Ultimately, legislation will be within the competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly. There is also one other minor rule of law in Scotland which is incompatible with Article 5. Legislation to change this will be within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

Aid and International Development: Paid Staff

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In relation to the process of aid and international development, what is their estimate of the number of people employed in the United Kingdom and overseas by (a) the Government in full-time positions; (b) the Government in part-time positions or as consultants; and (c) United Kingdom non-governmental organisations.[HL1591]

Baroness Amos: The estimated average number of people employed in the United Kingdom and overseas in relation to the process of aid and international development is as follows:


    (a) 1,130 full-time staff directly employed by DFID;


    (b) 500 technical co-operation officers directly employed by DFID;


    (c) 19,000 paid staff employed by non-governmental organisations.

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Airborne Stand-Off Radar

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the operational requirement for the Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) was not amended to take account of new technology revealed by the Radar Technology Insertion programme providing a greater and more advanced capability.[HL1557]

The Minster of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Operational requirements are a statement of military need against an assessed threat. As such, they do not specify how the capability should be provided and, indeed, are deliberately expressed in generic terms to maximise the scope for competition and allow for innovative proposals from industry. On ASTOR, proposals were received from three companies. Evaluation of the bids is nearing completion and it is not, therefore, appropriate to provide specific comments on the merits of them. I can, however, give an assurance that our assessment takes full account of operational effectiveness, technical capability, industrial participation proposals and through life best value for money.

Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill: Human Rights Act

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in connection with the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill, a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL1685]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have today made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill are compatible with the convention rights.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their approach to sexual and reproductive health.[HL1686]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My right honourable friend the Minister for Public Health has today announced that the Government will be developing an integrated strategy that covers the whole of sexual and reproductive health. This will tackle the continuing increase in the growth of sexually transmitted infections, particularly among teenagers and gay men, and the highest level of teenage conceptions in western Europe. Proposals will be developed on the basis of extensive consultation with the range of professionals and organisations whose support will be vital to achieving effective action. We will publish the strategy next year.

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Northern Ireland Assembly: Transition Programme

Lord Blease asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish details of the induction and training arrangements known as the transition programme, designed to assist Members and committee ancillary personnel of the Northern Ireland Assembly, with particular reference to:


    (a) the core seminars programme;


    (b) the functional services seminars;


    (c) the relevant briefings programme; and


    (d) the international programme; and


    what future similar events are planned under the transition programme.[HL1418]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): Please find attached notes on the transition programmes to date.

The New Northern Ireland Assembly--Transition Programme

The Transition Programme has been designed, with the participation of local and international advisers, to assist Members and Committees of the Assembly in their preparations for the effective functioning of the Assembly when it takes on its full powers after the transitional period.

The Programme's objective is to provide as comprehensively as is practicable a background briefing about the responsibilities and issues facing the Assembly. It is not intended to address or consider issues of policy arising with regard to the future.

The Programme set out below has been developed on an ongoing basis in consultation with the Party Offices in the Assembly, so as to respond as speedily as possible to what Assembly Members need.

The ground to be covered is potentially very extensive, but the time which Members can give to it is necessarily limited. With this in mind the Programme has been planned as a series of short seminars/workshops, lasting no more than one day in a conference centre or other appropriate locations. The seminars/workshops are informal and participative, using background material for consideration and discussion with a number of appropriate Northern Ireland Civil Servants under the guidance of independent experts and facilitators, drawn from Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Ireland and abroad.

The Programme

The Programme has been designed to have four components:

I. A short series of seminars/workshops dealing with core subjects with which every Member of the Assembly will wish to be familiar. These seminars take priority and are the basis from which specialised

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subjects have been pursued. This component has been completed, the CORE subjects and the dates of seminars were:


    Tuesday 29 July 1998 and Thursday 27 August 1998


    An Overview of the Northern Ireland Government (including roles and responsibilities of Northern Ireland departments).


    Thursday 30 July 1998 and Tuesday 25 August 1998


    Public Finance.


    Monday 7 September 1998


    The Northern Ireland Assembly and the European Union.


    Wednesday 9 September 1998


    North/South Co-operation.


    Thursday 24 September 1998


    The Northern Ireland Assembly--Relationships with other UK Assemblies.

II. A series of functional seminars/workshops focusing initially on key areas of government activity which are likely to be of general interest to Members, not least Members of particular Assembly Committees:


    Monday 21 September 1998


    Health and Social Services.


    Thursday 1 October 1998


    Agriculture.


    Tuesday 6 October 1998


    Public Health.


    Wednesday 28 October 1998


    Equality.


    Thursday 29 October 1998


    Environment.


    Tuesday 17 November 1998


    Education.


    Thursday 26 November 1998


    Social Security and Child Support.


    Friday 11 December 1998


    Culture and Recreation.


    Friday 15 January 1999


    Economic Development.

This component is also now completed. However, in response to Members' needs further short half day briefings and seminars are planned.


    Wednesday 27 January 1999


    The Ombudsman & The Northern Ireland Audit Office.


    Thursday 1 February 1999


    Government Purchasing.


    Wednesday 17 February 1999


    Scottish Office Briefing.


    Thursday 25 February 1999


    The Legislative Process for Assembly Staff.

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    Friday 26 February 1999


    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


    Friday 5 March 1999


    Private Finance Initiative.


    Thursday 11 March 1999


    Planning Appeals Commission


    Friday 12 March 1999


    Disability Issues.


    Wednesday 24 March 1999


    Equal Opportunities Issues.


    Thursday 25 March 1999


    Pharmacy Services.


    (Date to be arranged)


    Ethnic Minorities Issues


    Wednesday 12 May 1999


    Young People and the Assembly.


    Friday 14 May 1999


    Energy.

Three Seminars under the overall title of 'Helping the Assembly to Work' are planned to be held.


    (Dates to be arranged)


    Constitutional Framework.


    (Dates to be arranged)


    Legislative Processes.


    (Dates to be arranged)


    Non-Legislative Processes.

A further seminar on 'Business and the Assembly' is also planned.

III. An international component funded by the United States Government and the European Union focusing on:

(a) United States Programmes--The Task of Government


    (1) To analyse and discuss the best practices and models available in functional areas of government focusing heavily on skills and competency.


    (2) To bring together elected representatives and administrators from Northern Ireland in a non-political environment to discuss public policy, policy analysis and policy formulation.


    (3) To visit legislatures and meet representatives and administrators and discuss their successes and failures in attempting to deliver good government.


    (4) To look at federalism in the United States and discuss relevant issues for Northern Ireland's legislators.


    (5) To analyse, discuss and observe good examples of public private partnership, legislative relations and legislative resources.


    The first part of this component has taken place with a party of 15 Assembly Members completing the programme at Boston College from 18-25 November 1998. The second element took place from 12-19 December for a party of NI Party Staffers and Committee Clerks.

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(b) The European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission in Brussels--3 day Conference in Brussels 3-6 November 1998.


    The objective of the Conference and visit was to allow members of the Assembly to interact and build direct links with those who work at the administrative heart of Europe in Brussels.


    The President of the European Commission, Jacques Santer, and other Commissioners met the Assembly Members giving them the opportunity to explore ways in which they can have an impact within the European Institutions. This was achieved through workshops on policy issues selected by the Assembly Members themselves, and led by officials directly involved.


    The work of the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee and their relevance to Northern Ireland were also explained.

IV. A supplementary programme of events will be required to address needs identified in discussion with Party representatives. This could involve working in partnership with appropriate institutions and providers, e.g., the Industry and Parliament Trust. Provision for these will be made within the available resources.


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