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Omagh Bombing: "Panorama" Programme Court Challenge

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The cost of these actions is not yet known, nor is it settled what proportion of the costs will have to be paid out of public funds.

It is likely to be some time before the whole costs are known. Emergency legal aid was granted to Mr Rushe subject to him satisfying the statutory financial criteria. That assessment will be completed shortly. If the applicant is eligible I am advised that the taxed bill of costs from the applicant's solicitor will not be received until later next year. Payment will be made within 30 working days of receipt.

I am advised by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has not yet received an account of its counsel's costs although it is expected next month. In that action, the court has ruled that the issue of costs be adjourned for further consideration.

Court fees are designed to include the costs of the court, including judicial time, and the fees due in each action will be paid by whoever falls liable to pay the respective costs.

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Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act: Ethical Review Process

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the arrangements for requiring establishments designated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to have an ethical review process.[HL4470]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has requested the Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate to carry out a review of the operation of the ethical review process to see what improvements can be made in the way in which local reviews are carried out to enhance animal welfare. The terms of reference of the review are as follows:

    To review the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation of the Ethical Review Process, as set out in PCD Circular 3-498 issued on 1 April 1998, and in particular to consider:

    (a) whether the aims of the process, as specified in paragraph 3 of the Annex to the Circular, have been achieved;

    (b) what problems may have been encountered; and

    (c) what the resource implications have been and to recommend any changes in the arrangements and to identify best practice.

The review will take account of the views of all the stakeholders in the process, including certificate holders and licensees under the 1986 Act, and animal welfare organisations. The inspectorate have been asked to report by the middle of 2001.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act: Investigations Scrutiny

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration has been given to incorporating an independent element in future investigations by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate of allegations against establishments and individuals licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [HL4468]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The introduction of an independent element into future investigations under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 has been considered.

It has been concluded that the appointment of a small independent scrutiny team, drawn from the Animal Procedures Committee, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State would be the best and most practicable means of providing assurance that any future inspectorate investigations have been carried out with the necessary objectivity and thoroughness. The Government are grateful to the committee for agreeing to undertake this role following an approach to them in June 2000.

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Investigatory Powers Tribunal

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements have been made for the appointment of members of the tribunal to be set up under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.[HL4469]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: On 2 October, Her Majesty the Queen appointed eight members to the new Investigatory Powers Tribunal by Letters Patent for a period of five years. Lord Justice Mummery has been appointed as president of the tribunal and Sir Michael Burton as vice-president. The remaining six members of the tribunal are Sheriff Principal John Colin McInnes QC, Sir David Calcutt QC, Sir Richard Gaskell, Mr Robert Seabrook QC, Mr Peter Scott QC and Mr William Carmichael.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Luxembourg on 17 October; and if he will make a statement. [HL4439]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary attended this Council meeting. The main matters dealt with at the meeting were as follows:

The list of A points was agreed in full, including the three items outstanding from the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council held on 28 September.

Draft framework decision on money laundering, the identification, tracing, freezing, seizing and confiscation of instrumentalities and the proceeds of crime:

There was a broad political orientation subject to certain parliamentary reserves and the European Parliament opinion to a common minimum maximum penalty of four years and that all Member States should be obliged to lift reserves in respect of tax offences to the 1990 Council of Europe money laundering convention's provisions on confiscation of assets. The Council also agreed a declaration to the effect that minimum maximum penalties would be considered on a case by case basis for future instruments.

Draft convention on improving mutual assistance in criminal matters, with particular reference to the fight

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against organised crime, the laundering of the proceeds of crime and financial crime:

There was broad agreement, on the basis of a Presidency discussion document, to the principle that legal assistance should not be refused solely on the grounds that an investigation concerned a tax offence or involved the lifting of bank secrecy. A number of Member States considered that such measures should be subject to judicial control; others also raised the practical difficulties involved in supplying lists of bank accounts in the absence of a central register. The Commission acknowledged that Member States would have flexibility in how they chose to abolish grounds of refusal founded in bank secrecy or tax matters; they should nonetheless aim to establish efficient systems for providing assistance in such matters. Work on the convention would continue at expert level on the basis of the discussion document.

Presentation of the conclusions of the seminar from 13-15 September on the laundering of the proceeds of organised crime in Europe:

The Presidency presented the conclusions. There was no discussion.

Proposal for a Council decision establishing a Community mechanism for the co-ordination of civil protection in the event of emergencies--presentation by the Commission:

The Presidency and the Commission presented their respective proposals. Two Member States welcomed the call for an assessment of respective national capabilities with a view to greater co-ordination between existing national structures. Others argued for a European Civil Protection Agency and a third for more European Union-financed training.

Other items:

I proposed a greater operational role for the Chief Police Officer's Task Force and proposed using a Council decision to place this work on a more formal footing. The Presidency concluded that the Council should return to this as necessary.

One Member State registered the need for Justice Ministers to have greater involvement in discussions concerning Organization de Lutte anti-Fraud.

Finally, the Council adopted conclusions regarding the ETA murder the previous night in Spain.

On the afternoon of 17 October, the Justice and Home Affairs Council met jointly with the Ecofin Council. I represented the United Kingdom.

Following a debate on strategy towards more effective co-operation in the financial sector, law enforcement and judicial co-operation, the Council adopted conclusions, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

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