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School Curriculum: Global Dimension

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The booklet, Developing a Global Dimension in the School Curriculum was prepared by the Department for International Development (DfID), working in partnership with my department and other bodies with expertise in development education. It is aimed at governors, headteachers and teachers with a responsibility for curriculum planning and demonstrates how the content of what is taught can be informed by international and global matters, thus preparing pupils to live effectively in a global society. The booklet was published on 7 July. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has recently announced targets to reduce the size and number of documents sent to schools, as part of his general drive against bureaucracy. The booklet will therefore not be sent automatically to all schools. It will be available free of charge from DfID and will be advertised in my department's publications, Spectrum and Teacher's Magazine. We are also investigating ways to promote the document on the Internet.

Sex and Relationship Education Guidance: Circulation to Ethnic and Religious Groups

Baroness Uddin asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: Ethnic minority and faith communities were involved in the consultation on the draft guidance issued on 16th March. The document was sent to a wide range of groups and individuals and comments were received from the main Christian denominations and representatives from the Islamic, Jewish and Sikh faiths. We did not receive any comments from secular groups specifically representing ethnic minority interests. The guidance published on 7 July was sent to all those who had commented during the consultation.

25 Jul 2000 : Column WA36

Monetary Policy Committee: Interest Rate Determinants

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that the Monetary Policy Committee takes into account, when considering the level of interest rates, that in May 2000 the retail prices index, excluding mortgage interest payments (RPIX), would have been 1.6 per cent and not 2 per cent if the depreciation component for owner-occupied houses had not been introduced into the index in 1995.[HL3332]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is tasked to meet the Government's 2.5 per cent inflation target, which is defined in terms of the 12-month rate of increase in the Retail Prices Index excluding mortgage interest payments. The MPC monitors and takes account of all relevant economic variables, including house prices, when setting interest rates to meet the inflation target.

Tobacco-related Tax Revenue

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 11 July (WA 21), whether they will now publish in the Official Report the amount of money which was raised in the last financial year from tobacco-related taxes; and, if not, why not.[HL3393]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 11 July.

Asylum Law: Solicitors' Expertise

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to paragraphs 88 and 89 of the Audit Commission Report Another Country, whether they accept that solicitors competent in immigration law are not necessarily competent in asylum law.[HL3319]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Solicitors competent in immigration law are not necessarily competent in asylum law. All Legal Services Commission suppliers, however, have to meet strict quality standards in order to undertake publicly funded work in their chosen specialist areas, including immigration and asylum. Contracts, however, require that suppliers take on funded work only in areas where they are qualified.

25 Jul 2000 : Column WA37

Public Trust Office: Key Performance Targets

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the key performance targets for the Public Trust Office Executive Agency for 2000-01.[HL3570]

The Lord Chancellor: The following table sets out the key performance targets that I have set for the Public Trust Office for 2000-01.

Public Trust Office Executive Agency Key Performance Targets 2000-01

1. To carry out accounting transactions within target timesTo bring to account at least 99 per cent of receipts and payment transactions within turnaround targets.
2. To achieve investment performance targets.(a) On an annual basis to ensure that 85 per cent of all measured funds perform in line or better than their model based on stock market indices. (b) On a three-year rolling basis to ensure that 80 per cent of all measured funds perform in line or better than their model based on stock market indices. The benchmark to be the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers (APCIMS) indices. The Office will aim to introduce an income element from 2001-02.
3. To achieve service standards.To achieve 95 per cent of the Public Trust Office Service Standards.
4. To achieve targets for collection of private receivers' annual accounts (Protection Division) and for review of annual accounts filed by both private receivers and in Public Trustee receiverships (Protection and Receivership Divisions).(a) To review 95 per cent of accounts received within eight weeks of receipt (to apply to both Protection and Receivership Divisions). (b) To collect 90 per cent of accounts within six months of the due date; 95 per cent within nine months of the due date; and 100 per cent within 12 months of the due date (to apply to Protection Division only).
5. To achieve targets for the visiting of Public Trust Office clients.(a) To visit all existing Receivership Division clients in the course of the year. (b) To visit all new clients within one year of the Public Trustee being apointed receiver. (c) To double the number of visits undertaken to Protection Division clients in 2000-01 from 2,000 to 4,000. (d) 100 per cent of urgent visits at the direction of the Court of Protection to take place within four weeks of the direction being given.
6. To achieve financial performance and targets.(a) To come within the Change Programme budget for 2000-01. (b) To lay the PTO's annual report and acounts 1999-00 before Parliament before the summer recess. (c) To reduce debtor days in the Office's Protection Division from 94 to 85 days and in the Receivership Division from 96 to 85 days.


Fuller details of the Office's plans and targets are given in its Business Plan, which is available from the Public Trust Office.

25 Jul 2000 : Column WA38

Access to Justice Act 1999, s. 78: Unified Bench

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When Section 78 of the Access to Justice Act 1999, concerning the unification of the stipendiary bench in England and Wales, will come into force.[HL3569]

The Lord Chancellor: Section 78 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 will come into force on 31 August 2000.

Section 78 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 contains certain provisions relating to the Stipendiary Magistrates' Bench; namely the amalgamation of the Metropolitan and Provincial Benches to form one national jurisdiction throughout England and Wales, and a change of title from Stipendiary Magistrate to District Judge (Magistrates' Courts).

The unification of the bench will mean that it will have a single judicial head, the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), who will be responsible for the administration of the bench. The Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) will be supported by a Deputy Senior District Judge (Magistrates' Courts).

Acting Stipendiary Magistrates will be known as Deputy District Judge (Magistrates' Courts).

These changes are part of the Access to Justice Act reforms to improve the efficiency of Magistrates' Courts. The newly unified bench will allow greater flexibility in the allocation of judges to hear cases and respond to fluctuations in workloads.

District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) will continue to complement and work alongside the 30,000 lay magistrates, providing an efficient partnership in delivering the criminal justice process.

I am very pleased to announce these measures, as I believe that they will recognise the professional standing of the Stipendiary Magistracy and the importance of the work undertaken by the Magistrates' Courts as a whole.

25 Jul 2000 : Column WA39

House of Lords Reform: Compromise Negotiations

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement made by the Lord Chancellor that the Weatherill Amendment to the House of Lords Bill was "a compromise negotiated between Privy Counsellors on Privy Council terms" (H.L. Deb., 30 March 1999, col. 207), who were the parties to the negotiations; and where and between which dates did the negotiations take place.[HL3203]

The Lord Chancellor: The parties to the negotiation were the Lord Chancellor and Viscount Cranborne. Several meetings took place between 29 June and the end of November 1998. The places where the discussions took place are irrelevant.

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