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Norplant Litigation

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The information requested is not presently available. For legal aid, the net cost of the Norplant litigation has yet to be determined.

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Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the names of the firms of solicitors and barristers who represented the legally aided claimants in the Norplant litigation.[HL4483]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Legal Aid Board awarded a contract to Messrs Freeth Cartwright Hunt Dickens to undertake the generic work, that is work common to all the claimants' cases. They also acted for the majority of the legally aided

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claimants in the non-generic work, that is the work specific to their individual claims. Messrs Irwin Mitchell were also instructed to undertake non-generic work by a large number of the claimants.

Counsel most heavily involved were Laura Cox Q.C., Peter Goldsmith Q.C. and Oliver Thorold.

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many legally aided claimants obtained compensation in the Norplant litigation.[HL4484]

The Lord Chancellor: Compensation was obtained by one claimant in the Norplant litigation. However, as there was no order for costs and the legal costs exceeded the amount of compensation agreed, the statutory charge had to be applied resulting in the claimant receiving nothing.

The contract for the generic work in the Norplant multi-party action was issued under the Legal Aid Board's multi-party actions arrangements 1992. Since then, the board has introduced greater control measures for these cases by implementing some of the proposals set out in its consultation document, When the Price is High, which was launched in 1997.

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many legally aided claimants there were in the multi-party Norplant litigation.[HL4485]

The Lord Chancellor: Legal aid certificates were issued to 324 claimants. Writs were issued in 189 legally aided cases and the remaining 135 certificates were discharged without proceedings having been served.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have now received the results of the leak enquiry into the second hearing of the Law Lords on the case of General Pinochet; and what are the conclusions of that report.[HL4582]

The Lord Chancellor: I refer to the noble Lord to the written parliamentary Answer that I gave him on 30 July 1999 (Official Report, WA 234).

Immigration Appeal Tribunal: Lay Members

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether recent vacancies for lay members of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal were advertised in accordance with the Nolan Rules; if so, in which journals they were advertised and on what dates; and what are the criteria for the posts and how many vacancies exist.[HL4625]

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The Lord Chancellor: Although judicial appointments are not subject to the Nolan Rules, my usual policy is that part-time tribunal appointments are advertised in the appropriate journal and applicants appointed following an application and interview. Job descriptions and statements of eligibility and criteria are available for applicants for each office. Anticipated legislative changes to the lay membership of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal has meant that recruitment of lay members has not been undertaken for some time, although a register was kept by my Judicial Group of those who would wish to be considered for appointment should further vacancies arise. Following retention in the Immigration and Asylum Bill of a lay element to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, 27 such vacancies have now been identified. In order to ensure that appointments to these vacancies are made at the earliest opportunity, I exceptionally agreed that an abbreviated recruitment campaign should be undertaken by my Judicial Group. To this end those that had previously registered an interest in appointment as a lay member of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal were sent a job description and statement of eligibility and criteria for appointment and were invited to complete and return an application form. A copy of the job description and eligibility and criteria for these posts will be sent to the noble Countess by my officials. Forty four completed applications were returned to my Judicial Group. All those who are eligible will be interviewed by a panel consisting of a senior member of my Judicial Group, a senior judicial member of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal and a lay member from my panel of lay interviewers. Successful candidates will be appointed for an initial period of one year, subject to the satisfactory completion of their initial training period. Thereafter, subject to the recommendation of the President of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, and the availability of the work, appointments will be renewed for periods of up to three years until the statutory retirement age has been reached.

BSE in Sheep

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the incidence of BSE in sheep broken down by the age of the sheep concerned.[HL4664]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Although it is known that sheep experimentally fed BSE-infected cow brain can succumb to the infection, BSE has not been detected in the national flock. Figures for the incidence of BSE in UK sheep do not therefore exist.

Official Veterinary Surgeons and Meat Hygiene Inspectors

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of appointment letters for all Official

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    Veterinary Surgeons and Meat Hygiene Inspectors appointed by Ministers since the inception of the Meat Hygiene Service in 1995.[HL 4404]

Baroness Hayman: I have arranged for sample copies of the documents used for appointing Official Veterinary Surgeons and Meat Hygiene Inspectors to be placed in the Library of the House, along with a note explaining the appointment process. Copies of all appointment documents issued since 1995 could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all official veterinary surgeons working directly for, or on contract to, the Meat Hygiene Service receive a formal letter of designation, signed by the Minister, once their competence to act as official veterinary surgeons is established followed by a formal letter of appointment as an authorised officer to a particular premises, also signed by the Minister in accordance with Section 8(1) of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995.[HL 4626]

Baroness Hayman: All Official Veterinary Surgeons (OVSs) working directly for, or contracted to, the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) receive formal letters of designation signed by the Minister (or a person authorised to sign on behalf of the Minister) once their competence to act as an OVS is established. The Minister also issues warrants of authorisation to designated OVSs which appoint OVS to licensed premises generally under Regulation 8(1) of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulation 1995. The appointments are not confined to particular named premises. However for the sake of clarity we are planning to tighten up the wording used. Similar arrangements apply in respect of the appointment of OVSs under The Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995.

Meat Hygiene Service

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans for the Meat Hygiene Service to adopt the "Better Regulations Enforcement Concordat".[HL 4444]

Baroness Hayman: Yes. The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) is currently in the process of formally adopting the Enforcement Concordat.

Information relating to the policies and procedures to be followed under the concordat will shortly be disseminated to all MHS staff and plant occupiers. In addition an article describing the changes will be placed in the Meat Hygiene Enforcement Report.

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Crops: Integrated Administration and Control System

Lord Norrie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many field inspectors are employed to check on farmer compliance with the rules of the Integrated Administration and Control System in the United Kingdom; whether these inspectors are expected to assess the standard of crops grown in order to decide whether a farmer is eligible for arable area payment; and, if so, where the required standards are defined.[HL 4546]

Baroness Hayman: There are 355 field inspectors currently employed in compliance checking in the United Kingdom.

The rules concerning the sowing and maintenance of crops are set out in the 1997 Arable Area Payment Scheme Explanatory Guide and the 1998 update to that guide. The field inspectors will check to see that these rules have been complied with.


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