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Children's Legal Services: Proposed NDPB

Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor: I am pleased to announce that the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Health, the First Secretary for Wales and I have agreed to set up a new service, when legislative time permits, which will combine the present Family Court Welfare function

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provided by the Probation Service, the Children's Branch of the Official Solicitor's Department and the Guardian ad Litem and Reporting Officer Service which local authorities currently provide. I will take responsibility for the new service, which will be set up as a non-departmental public body. The service will cover England and Wales and will serve the High Court of the Family Division, County Courts including Care Centres and Family Proceedings Courts.

An inter-departmental project team to set up the new service has been established, which my department will lead. The project management framework to be adopted will ensure close liaison with the relevant services in creating the new organisation.

Judicial and QC Appointments

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they intend to do to ensure that appointments to the professional judiciary and as Queen's Counsel are made fairly and on merit and that there are proper safeguards in the appointments procedures against discrimination on the grounds of race or gender.[HL3908]

The Lord Chancellor: I have appointed Sir Leonard Peach, until recently Commissioner for Public Appointments and currently Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland and a Civil Service Commissioner, to provide a report to me on the operation of the appointments procedures in relation to all Judicial and Queen's Counsel appointments and in particular to advise on:


    The appropriateness and effectiveness of (a) the criteria and (b) the procedures for selecting the best candidates;


    The extent to which candidates are assessed objectively against the criteria for appointment; and


    The existence of safeguards in the procedures against discrimination on the grounds of race or gender.

Sir Leonard Peach will also make recommendations, as appropriate, to me for further developments in the selection procedures for Judicial and Queen's Counsel appointments. In preparing his report, Sir Leonard Peach will have full access to all aspects of the appointments process and members of the legal profession and judges will be among those he will consult.

Lord Hoffmann

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in recent months objections have been raised to Lord Hoffmann taking part in judicial cases.[HL3753]

The Lord Chancellor: Lord Hoffmann's participation was objected to in the related cases of D. R. Lange v. J. B. Atkinson and another (New Zealand) (heard in the Privy Council) and Reynolds v.

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Times Newspaper Limited and others (heard in the House of Lords). These cases were heard on subsequent weeks in June. Lord Hoffmann sat on neither appeal.

Schools: Religious Education

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Blackstone on 7 July (WA 103), how many primary and secondary maintained schools failed to provide daily collective worship during the most recent year for which figures are available.[HL3808]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The most recent figures are given in the annual report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for 1997-98. These show that 98 per cent. of primary schools inspected made satisfactory or better provision for their pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, though 10 per cent. did not have a specific daily act of collective worship. Ninety-one per cent. of secondary schools inspected made satisfactory or better provision for their pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, though 70 per cent. did not comply fully with the requirement to have a specific daily act of worship.

Student Loan Debt Sales

Lord Bach asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the future of the competition to sell a third portfolio of student loan debt.[HL3917]

Baroness Blackstone: We have successfully completed two sales of student loan debt in the financial years 1997-98 and 1998-99.

A decision on the future timing of the third sale will be taken following the implementation of the new student support arrangements later this year, the 2000 Review and the outcome of the Review of Administration of Student Support, which is also due to report in 2000.

The postponement of the third sale will have no impact on borrowers. Sold loans will remain in the hands of the private sector owners and the remainder will stay in public ownership. The Student Loans Company continues to administer all loans as before.

New Deal for Young People and DfEE

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many young people on the New Deal Scheme have been taken on by the Department for Education and Employment since April 1998.[HL3826]

Baroness Blackstone: Since April 1998 the Department for Education and Employment has taken on 376 persons under the New Deal for Young People.

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Pesticides Safety Directorate: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Pesticides Safety Directorate.[HL3843]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): We are pleased to announce that the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Pesticides Safety Directorate were laid before Parliament on 22nd July 1999. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

I should like to congratulate all staff on their achievements during the year.

Central Science Laboratory: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Central Science Laboratory.[HL3844]

Lord Donoughue: We are pleased to announce that the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Central Science Laboratory were laid before Parliament on 22 July 1999. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

I should like to congratulate all staff on their achievements during the year.

Farming and Rural Conservation Agency: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency.[HL3845]

Lord Donoughue: We are pleased to announce that the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency were laid before Parliament on 22 July 1999. Copies are being placed in the Library of the House.

I should like to congratulate all staff on their achievements during the year.

Meat Hygiene Service: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Meat Hygiene Service.[HL3841]

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Lord Donoughue: We are pleased to announce that the 1998-99 Annual report and Accounts for the meat Hygiene Service were laid before Parliament on 22 July 1999. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

I should like to congratulate all staff on their achievements during the year.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.[HL3842]

Lord Donoughue: We are pleased to announce that the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science were laid before Parliament on 22 July 1999. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

I should like to congratulate all staff on their achievements during the year.

British Cattle Movement Service: Standards of Service

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the standards of service for the British Cattle Movement Service.[HL3840]

Lord Donoughue: The British Cattle Movement Service is making available its standards of service to organisations in the cattle industry and other groups with an interest. We have put a copy of the BCMS Citizen's Charter in the Library of the House.

BCMS is committed to issuing all cattle passports within 10 working days of receipt of a valid and complete passport application: and also to updating its database of cattle movements in all cases within 10 working days of receiving a valid and complete notification that an animal has moved. These are demanding standards, which I am confident BCMS will meet.

Copies of the BCMS Citizen's Charter will be sent to all cattle farmers in Great Britain later in the year.


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