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19 Oct 2000 : Column WA101

Written Answers

Thursday, 19th October 2000.

Human Rights Act 1998: Legal Aid Provision

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimate they have made of the cost to the legal aid budget over the next three years, as a result of the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL4057]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Thirty-nine million pounds has been allocated to meet Human Rights Act 1998 cases in each of the next three years.

Human Rights Act 1998: Life Support Withdrawal

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When a case involving an application for permission to withdraw life support from a patient in a permanent vegetative state last came before a United Kingdom court, and what was the court's decision: whether any case of this kind has previously gone before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg: and if so, whether the decision of that court differed from the judgment reached in the United Kingdom court: and what new considerations will United Kingdom courts be required to take into account in such cases following the incorporation of the convention into United Kingdom law.[HL4058]

The Lord Chancellor: The last case to come before a United Kingdom court involving an application for permission to withdraw life support from a patient in a permanent vegetative state was that of Re M & Re H. In this case, decided on 6 October, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the Family Division of the High Court, made a declaration that doctors can lawfully withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration from two women in a permanent vegetative state as this was in their best interests and did not constitute an infringement of Article 2 of the convention, the right to life. So far as I am aware, no case of this kind has as yet been before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In cases such as this, as in other cases under the Human Rights Act 1998, a court determining a question which has arisen in connection with a convention right must take into account any judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, to the extent that, in its judgment, it is relevant.

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Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999: Administrative Arrangements

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all details of road traffic accidents which occurred prior to the coming into force of the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999 and on which fees are potentially due to National Health Service hospitals, have been entered into the computer system of the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Benefits Agency; and, if not, when they expect this process to be completed; and[HL4155]

    Whether the number of staff employed at the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Benefits Agency in collecting fees due to National Health Service hospitals has increased, decreased or remained the same since April; and what the number of such staff is now.[HL4156]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The bulk of cases where there is potential NHS recovery will have been transferred to the new computer system by 1 December 2000. A small residue of complex cases will remain; these will be transferred by 2 February 2001.

There is the equivalent of 53 staff employed at the Compensation Recovery Unit in collecting NHS fees on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales. This number has remained the same since April 2000.

Immigration and Asylum Act 1999: Carriers' Liability Fines

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are, for each carrier, the number of contraventions and penalties imposed for contravening the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, and the value of fines outstanding.[HL4088]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Sections 40-42 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which enable the Secretary of State to demand charges of carriers in respect of the arrival of passengers without proper documents, have not yet commenced. The Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987 is still in force. Details of demands served under that Act were given in the Answer to the noble Lord on 18 October 2000 (Official Report, WA 91).

Detention Centres: Draft Rules

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consultations they have undertaken on the draft rules for detention centres; and whether they will submit these rules to Parliament for comment before they are finalised.[HL4116]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: As my honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office (Mrs Roche) explained to you in her response to your letter dated 6 September 2000, a lengthy consultation process has accompanied the drafting of the Detention Centre Rules and the intention has been to consult as widely as possible. Among those involved have been the leading interested non-governmental organisations--for example, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the Refugee Council, the Medical Foundation and the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees, along with a number of smaller groups. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, other government departments, the British

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Medical Association, Immigration Service staff, members of the Visiting Committees, and of course the contractors who currently run the establishments have also been consulted.

As I explained in the Answer I gave you on 9 October (Official Report, WA8), the Detention Centre Rules will be laid before Parliament after they have been "made". This is likely to be in the late autumn.

The procedure for this Statutory Instrument was debated and determined during the passage of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The rules are subject to the ordinary negative resolution procedure and as such will not be submitted to Parliament in draft form prior to finalisation.



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