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Written Answers

Wednesday, 14th July 1999.

Law Lords: Facilities and Resources

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

    What is the procedure for determining the needs of the Law Lords in performing their judicial functions on behalf of the House of Lords from year to year; and[HL3408]

    Whether the Law Lords are formally consulted from year to year about their needs in performing their judicial functions on behalf of the House of Lords.[HL3409]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): It is the responsibility of the Principal Clerk of the Judicial Office to keep the needs of the Law Lords constantly under review. If new facilities or resources are required, these will be brought to the attention of the Clerk of the Parliaments.

Sevso Case: Decision not to Prosecute

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 25 June 1999 (WA 111) that no further evidence has recently been submitted in the affair of the sale of the Sevso silver, whether the Crown Prosecution Service has sought access to any written statements and documents submitted to the court on behalf of the Marquess of Northampton by his solicitors, Lane and Partners, in the Sevso case (Marquess of Northampton v. Allen & Overy and Peter Mimpriss) in which allegations were made of fraud and fraudulent misrepresentation; and, if not, whether they will now seek to obtain the documentation from the Marquess of Northampton or his solicitors.[HL3397]

The Lord Chancellor: Responsibility for investigating allegations of criminal misconduct, including the seeking and obtaining of evidence, rests with the police and not the Crown Prosecution Service. It would not be appropriate for the Crown Prosecution Service to seek to obtain evidence.

The decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute in respect of the Sevso silver was taken after

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a careful review of the evidence obtained in the course of the police investigation, including a quantity of material supplied by Lane & Partners, solicitors acting for the Marquess of Northampton.

Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill: Human Rights Act

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in connection with the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL3679]

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 (Appropriation) Bill are compatible with the convention rights.

Press Complaints Commission: Meetings with Home Office

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What meetings have been held between Home Office Ministers and the Press Complaints Commission since 1 January 1999 to discuss:


    (a) the Government's criminal memoirs review; and


    (b) the extension of the Press Complaints Commission's power to investigate complaints of its own volition; and which Ministers attended such meetings.[HL3370]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I met the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, on 27 April to discuss these issues. No such meetings have taken place with any other Home Office Ministers.

Magistrates' and Crown Courts: Number of Defendants Prosecuted

Lord Janner of Braunstone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the total number of defendants (a) in magistrates' courts; and (b) in Crown Courts since 1992.[HL3448]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Data for England and Wales and Northern Ireland are given in the tables.

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Number of defendants prosecuted at magistrates' courts, for all offences in England and Wales(1) and Northern Ireland, 1992-97

199219931994199519961997
England & Wales(1)2,029,9101,956,2711,947,1651,836,3071,919,4941,855,333
Northern Ireland36,45038,45337,66736,65934,81134,471

(1) In England and Wales there is a known shortfall in recorded data for 1992 and 1994-96.


Number of defendants tried at Crown Court for all offences in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, 1992-97

199219931994199519961997
England & Wales97,76583,09685,93288,95885,89891,295
Northern Ireland1,3041,2731,2171,2491,2051,128

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Identity Cards

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the problems that have to be overcome to bring a United Kingdom voluntary identity card scheme in line with those European Union countries where identification schemes exist.[HL3456]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In any proposal to introduce an identity card scheme the Government would need to be satisfied that this would bring appreciable benefits, that these would not be outweighed by potential drawbacks and that they could not effectively be achieved in other ways.

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps have already been taken in the review of the need to introduce a voluntary or mandatory identity card scheme; and when the review is likely to conclude.[HL3457]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We have been looking again at the issues surrounding verification of identity, including the developing technologies. This work is continuing and no date for its conclusion has been set.

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What objections have been made to them by civil liberties groups against the introduction of any national identity card schemes.[HL3455]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No recent approach has been made to the Home Office by civil liberties groups on the subject of a national identity card.

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the obstacles to be overcome to extend the driver's photograph identity card to a national card.[HL3458]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The use of a photocard driving licence as a single identity card would be complicated by the prescribed European Union format for driving licences, which leaves little room for other functions; handling card withdrawals and driving disqualifications would also be complex.

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Race Relations Act

Lord Stallard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish their response to the Commission for Racial Equality's Third Review of the Race Relations Act.[HL3682]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the Government's response to the Commission for Racial Equality's Third Review of the Race Relations Act 1976. In deciding their response, the Government have taken into account the Better Regulation Task Force's report on anti-discrimination legislation and the Equal Opportunities Commission's proposals for updating the Sex Discrimination Act, to which we are also responding today.

The Government recognise that, although significant progress has been made since the Race Relations Act was introduced 23 years ago, there is much to be done before we achieve a truly inclusive society. Institutional racism, as highlighted by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, has to be tackled in a number of ways, of which the legislative framework is only one.

The Government want the public sector to set the pace and lead by example. This approach is reflected in our response.

Prisons/Probation Panel

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will indicate what progress has been made on the appointment of a joint prisons/probation panel to accredit the design and delivery of work with offenders designed to reduce re-offending.[HL3683]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The following independent experts have been appointed to the Panel:

Name
Mrs Hilary EldridgeDirector, Lucy Faithfull Foundation
Dr Dawn FisherConsultant Forensic Clinical Psychologist, Llanarth Court Psychiatric Hospital
Prof Don GrubinProfessor of Forensic Psychiatry, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Dr Moira HamlinClinical Psychologist formerly with University of Bristol Health Trust
Dr Norman HoffmanSenior Adviser, Abt Associates Incorporated, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Dr Doug LiptonSenior Research Fellow, National Development and Research Institutes Incorporated, New York
Prof Mike MaguireProfessor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Cardiff University
Dr Janice MarquesChief of Programme Development and Evaluation, California Department of Mental Health
Dr William MurphyProfessor of Psychiatry, University of Tennessee
Dr Frank PorporinoSenior Partner, T3 Associates, Ottawa, Canada
Prof Peter RaynorProfessor of Applied Social Studies, University of Wales, Swansea
Mr Simon ShepherdClinical Psychologist and Chief Executive, European Association for the treatment of Addiction

The panel will also include nominated representatives of the Home Office, the Prison Service, the Association of Chief Officers of Probation and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation.

The panel will, under the chairmanship of Sir Duncan Nichol, start work later this year.


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