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China: One-child Policy

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Along with EU partners, we will be expressing our concern about the human rights situation in China in the common statement on country situations at the forthcoming 57th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Discussion on this EU common statement is under way. We will be pressing for the statement to include a call for the rights of the child in China to be recognised.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration: Public Access

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, members of the public must submit complaints to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration through a Member of Parliament (the "MP filter"). The operation of the filter was examined as part of a review of the Public Sector Ombudsmen in England, which was completed last year. We are currently considering all the responses to a consultation paper on the review, issued in June last year. An announcement on the outcome of the consultation and the next steps will be made before Easter.

Legacy plc and the Millennium Dome

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

8 Mar 2001 : Column WA40

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I refer the noble Baroness to my answer of 15 February to Baroness Gould of Potternewton (WA 53). Legacy's preferred bidder status expired on 14 February and the Government are no longer in negotiation with the company. The existing competition was terminated on 15 February and a new process is now being set up.

NMEC Chief Executive: Meetings with Ministers

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what dates in January and February Lord Falconer of Thoroton met Mr P-Y Gerbeau.[HL993]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I met Mr P-Y Gerbeau at a New Millennium Exerience Company (NMEC) board meeting on 18 January, which was his last day as NMEC chief executive.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to fill the vacancy on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; and [HL746]

    What steps they are taking to redress the community imbalance on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; and [HL940]

    When the vacancy on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission will be filled; and whether they will ensure that any appointment will contribute to redressing the community imbalance on the Commission. [HL941]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Secretary of State is satisfied that the commissoners, as a group, are representative of the community of Northern Ireland. Appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission are made according to the guidelines issued by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and with regard for the Secretary of State's statutory duty under Section 68(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The Government have recently indicated that we wish to make further appointments to the commission. An advertisement inviting applications appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on 23 February.

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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to provide further funding to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.[HL864]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We have always made clear that we would be prepared to consider any bid by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission for further funding, provided it was supported by a properly costed business case. Any bid would need to be considered against the other pressures on the Northern Ireland Office's budget. A bid from the commission was received during the Christmas break and is currently being considered.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the code of conduct for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in its dealing with organisations and individuals.[HL942]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. The Chief Commissioner has been asked to write to the noble Lord. A copy of his letter will be placed in the Library.

Northern Ireland Committee for the Administration of Justice: Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What government agencies have funded the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland over the last 20 years; on what basis; and how much funding was provided. [HL747]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Computerised records from 1993-94 to date indicate that the Northern Ireland Office has not funded the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland. Information prior to this period is not readily available.

Strategic Communications Unit

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent and in what ways the Strategic Communications Unit uses e-mail and newsgroup postings to communicate its message to the public.[HL800]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Strategic Communications Unit is responsible for the Downing Street website. Users can register on the 10 Downing Street site to receive regular news updates by e-mail. The Downing Street website does not currently host any newsgroups.

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The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent the Strategic Communications Unit is involved in the delivery of the news section of the re-launched United Kingdom online website. [HL912]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As with all government internet sites, the No 10 site, which is produced by the Strategic Communications Unit, is available via the UK online citizen portal. In addition, the Strategic Communications Unit is represented on the UK online editorial board alongside representatives from across government and the devolved administrations.

Broadband Networks

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent their commitment of £30 million to develop rural broadband services will contribute to the delivery of broadband connectivity throughout the UK; and [HL858]

    Whether the strategy outlined in UK online: the broadband future is consistent with the pledge to make the United Kingdom the best place among the G7 for broadband services by 2005. [HL859]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The new £30 million challenge fund will enable the devolved administrations and regional development agencies to test innovative schemes for extending broadband networks.

This fund and the other actions outlined in the recent report, UK online: the broadband future, are a significant contribution towards ensuring that the UK has the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005. The strategy was devised in consultation with industry and has been warmly welcomed by the CBI and Institute of Directors.

The further development of the strategy will be informed by the work of the UK online Broadband Stakeholder Group.

Slaughterhouses: Inspection of Animals and Animal Carcasses

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of any new proposals before the Council of Ministers relating to the inspection of animals and animal carcasses in slaughterhouses.[HL978]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Food Standards Agency advises that the only proposals before the Council of Ministers relating to the inspection of animals and animal carcasses in slaughterhouses of which they are aware are those published in July 2000 concerning the consolidation

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and simplification of food hygiene legislation, including those relating to meat.

The agency has also circulated a recent Commission discussion paper on risk based meat inspection that refers to the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to public health's opinion on post-mortem procedures for fattening pigs raised under controlled circumstances. The paper also includes suggestions relating to the possible integration of ante-and post-mortem inspection into a hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP)-based system.


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