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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Foreign and Commonweath Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): In view of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, the British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) for Southern Africa will relocate from Harare to the UK at the end of March 2001. The team has played an important role in enhancing the capacity of the countries of the Southern Africa Development Community to contribute to international peace support operations. We will continue to look for alternative locations from which the team can carry on its work with the countries of the region.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary briefed the US Secretary of State in detail on the European Defence Initiative, its emphasis on improved capabilities and the essential role of NATO in ESDP. The US Secretary of State noted in his subsequent public comments that the Administration had a good understanding of the goals of the European Defence Initiative and that he and the Foreign Secretary shared a common belief that ESDP would strengthen NATO.
In a constructive discussion on NMD, the US Secretary of State confirmed US commitment to a missile defence system, but made clear that no decisions on how and when to deploy had been taken, and stressed the Administration's intention to consult Allies, Russia and others. The Foreign Secretary and the US Secretary of State agreed on the importance of combatting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. They agreed that our two countries should work together to counter such proliferation.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The British Council operation in Quito, Ecuador, will close in July 2001. The announcement was made on 13 November 2000. Existing higher education links and teacher exchange programmes will continue to be managed by the Council in the region.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The most recent records show that 217 Queen's Counsel and 1,555 judges in the ordinary Courts have been appointed in England and Wales since May 1997. I could not possibly say from my own knowledge how many, if any, attended any particular function, nor, given that such a fact is wholly irrelevant to the question of appointment, would it be appropriate for me to inquire.
The Lord Chancellor: No such guidelines exist. Current guidance makes it clear that the assessment of candidates will be based solely on merit against the criteria for appointment. Neither I nor anyone else involved with the appointment process would
The Lord Chancellor: Mr Hart sees papers only to the extent necessary to advise on general policy issues relating to judicial appointments. He is not and has never been involved in any way in decisions about individual judicial appointments.
Whether the Lord Chancellor has appointed any judges or Queen's Counsel who he was aware at the time were members of the Labour Party or an affiliated organisation, or who had made donations to the Labour Party.[HL923]
The Lord Chancellor: I do not, in the ordinary course, know if a candidate for judicial appointment is a member of, or has made a donation to, any political party or affiliated organisation, nor, were I to come to know, would I ever take such a fact into account in considering the question of appointment. Judicial appointments are based solely on merit. The one exception is in relation to the lay magistracy, who are only appointed if they pass a merit threshold, but where Local Advisory Committees also consider political affiliation of candidates, as a proxy for social background, so as to try to achieve lay Benches which are representative of the communities they serve: that has been the longstanding position, under successive governments.
The Lord Chancellor: No. I would not, in the ordinary course, know about donations to any political party, nor, were I to come to know, would I ever taken such a fact into account. My advice on such matters is based solely on the potential appointee's merits for the task proposed.
The Lord Chancellor: The Government accept the Law Commission's recommendations in Report No. 251, The Rule against Perpetuities and Excessive Accumulations, and will legislate when parliamentary time allows.
The Lord Chancellor: We have been engaged in a comprehensive review of the enforcement of civil court judgments since 1998. I announced by way of a Written Answer on 26 July 2000, Official Report, col. WA 67 the completion of Phase One of the review. The rules of court arising from this phase are currently being drafted. I also announced on 26 July last year the terms of Phase Two of the review. These were:
It would be a wasted opportunity not to attempt to go further and devise a single model encompassing not just civil court warrant enforcement agents, but other private sector civil enforcement agents collecting money for central or local government. This will involve my officials exploring systems across all areas of enforcement, and they will now examine various possible options, including issues surrounding a new
For this reason we will publish in late spring 2001 a Green Paper on the structure and regulation of enforcement, and a single piece of bailiff law, followed by a White Paper later in the year, setting out our proposals for legislation.
This approach offers the best prospect of ensuring that there are real gains from the Review. Continuing with the narrower focus would pass up the opportunity of achieving a fundamental improvement in our enforcement system.
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