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12 Apr 2000 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Wednesday, 12th April 2000.

European Commission for Democracy Through Law

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce the appointment of the United Kingdom Member to the Council of Europe Venice Commission.[HL1970]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): I am pleased to announce that Professor Jeffrey Jowell QC has been appointed as the UK Member of the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (the Venice Commission).

Part-time Judicial Appointments

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Lord Chancellor has completed his review of the terms of service of part-time judicial office-holders in England and Wales following the judgment of the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland in the Starrs case.[HL2002]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and I have agreed new arrangements for part-time judicial appointments for which I am responsible. We accord the highest value to the maintenance of judicial independence for all judges, full-time and part-time, and the arrangements have been fashioned by us for that purpose.

I am placing in the Libraries of both Houses two joint statements signed by me and by the Lord Chief Justices setting out these changes for the following appointments in ordinary Courts in England and Wales:


    Recorders,


    Deputy District Judges,


    Acting Stipendiary Magistrates,


    Deputy Masters or Registrars of the Supreme Court,


    Deputy High Court Judges,


    Deputy Circuit Judges,


    Retired Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, Lords Justices and High Court Judges; and the following appointments in Northern Ireland:


    Deputy Resident Magistrate,


    Deputy County Court Judge,


    Deputy District Judge,

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    Retired Law Lords, Lord Justices and High Court Judges.

I have also decided that no useful purpose is served by retaining the separate offices of Assistant Recorder and Recorder and I will, accordingly, be recommending to Her Majesty that all serving Assistant Recorders should be appointed Recorders. In future, appointments will be made direct to Recordership through an openly advertised selection procedure.

I am also placing in the Libraries of both Houses, joint statements signed by me and by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales covering the following fixed-term appointments to Tribunals:


    Part-time Immigration Adjudicators


    Part-time members of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal


    Part-time members of the Income and Corporation Taxes Tribunal


    Part-time members of the Lands Tribunal


    Part-time members of the Pensions Appeal Tribunals


    Deputy Social Security and Child Support Commissioners


    Part-time Special Commissioners of Income Tax


    Part-time members of the Appeals Service (social security)


    Part-time Chairmen of the VAT and Duties Tribunal

The Secretary of State for Social Security and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have placed similar statements in the Libraries covering the following appointments for which they are ministerially responsible:

Secretary of State for Social Security


    Pensions Ombudsman


    Members of the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority

Chancellor of the Exchequer


    Members of the VAT and Duties Tribunal

These changes will come into effect immediately.

At a later stage, there will be a further announcement about the detailed aspects of these tribunal arrangements as they will operate in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales following consultation with the devolved administrations.

Crown Office List: Review

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the review of the Crown Office List.[HL2003]

The Lord Chancellor: My department has today published the Review of the Crown Office List. The Review was chaired by Sir Jeffery Bowman. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Elderly Patients and Diamorphine Misuse

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What monitoring is done of the use of diamorphine in the treatment of elderly patients in National Health Service hospitals; and what evidence the Department of Health has of such patients being overdosed with diamorphine.[HL1910]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Diamorphine is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and classified as a schedule 2 Controlled Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985. Accordingly there are strict controls over its prescription, requisition, storage, and supply.

Department of Health guidance (Guidelines for the Safe and Secure Handling of Medicines, commonly known as "the Duthie report") issued in 1988, recommends that a register of the receipt, supply and use of Schedule 2 Controlled Drugs is kept at ward level as good practice. More recently, the controls assurance initiative, launched by my honourable friend the Minister of State of Health, Mr Denham, in November 1999, sets out the "organisational" controls expected to be in place in hospitals across a range of areas. In March of this year, the National Health Service Executive issued a revised controls assurance standard to NHS hospitals--Safe and Secure Handling of Medicines (Medicines Management). This reflects the principles of the Duthie report and can be utilised by hospital personnel and independent auditors to check compliance with statutory, mandatory and best/good practice.

Recent allegations of misuse of diamorphine are being investigated by the hospitals concerned.

Comprehensive Spending Review

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With what authority did the Lord Sainsbury of Turville announce a definitive spending commitment arising from the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.[HL1802]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The £25 million additional money to be made available to the North West for research will be provided over the years 2001-02 to 2003-04, the period of the next Spending Review, the outcome of which will be announced later this year. The funding can be accommodated within the department's baseline without affecting the already announced allocations to the Research Councils, to other funded bodies, and to programmes and schemes such as the Joint Infrastructure Fund, Foresight LINK Awards and University Challenge.

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Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In addition to the spending commitment arising from the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review announced by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville, what other commitments have been determined; and when will they be announced to Parliament.[HL1803]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: There are no current plans to announce any commitments over and above the department's already published allocations up to 2001-02 before the outcome of the Spending Review later this year.

Pig Industry: Insolvencies

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to submit a plan for assistance for those faced with insolvency in the pig industry.[HL1829]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): We have no plans to submit a separate scheme on the lines suggested. It is envisaged however that the pig industry restructuring scheme, announced on 30 March as part of the Action Plan for Farmers, will include an outgoers element, which may be applicable to pig breeders faced with insolvency.

BSE: Monitoring Plans

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What monitoring for BSE in cattle do they propose to undertake in 2000-01.[HL1968]

Baroness Hayman: In line with advice from SEAC, the Government's Scientific Advisory Committee on BSE, the Government propose to test for BSE in 10,000 cattle aged over five years slaughtered under the Over Thirty Months Scheme. This programme will start in April 2000. It will follow on from last year's similar survey of almost 4,000 cattle. The aim of this second survey will be to monitor the decline in the BSE epidemic in the UK.

This initiative will be additional to the EU-wide testing programme of casualty and fallen stock which was agreed in the Standing Veterinary Committee on 4 April with UK support. It will start in January 2001, and require the UK to examine about 7,000 cattle annually.

BSE

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any cases in which maternal transmission of BSE has been demonstrated.[HL1776]

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Baroness Hayman: We are not aware of any such cases. SEAC has, however, concluded that there is some epidemiological evidence of maternal transmission at a low level although it did not rule out the possibility of factors of genetic susceptibility.


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