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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): Since May 2001 we have received three representations about the possible miscarriage of justice in the case of Alami and Botmeh; one from Dr Nabil Sha'ath, the Palestinian Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, and two representations from Tony McNulty MP and Kevan Jones MP on behalf of their constituents.
Baroness Amos: The most recent EU Common Position on Zimbabwe sanctions (2002/145/CFSP) imposed an asset freeze on 79 members of Mugabe's regime. Twenty-eight accounts containing funds totalling £513,000 have been frozen in the UK and crown dependencies. We are continuing to work with UK financial institutions to identify and freeze more accounts and funds belonging to the targeted individuals.
Baroness Amos: Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has already raised our concerns about the location and likely impact of the security fence with the Government of Israel. While we fully understand Israel's need to take steps, within the law, to protect itself from terrorist attack, lasting security can only be achieved through a negotiated peace.
We are particularly concerned that the construction of the 360km long fence will involve the seizure of more Palestinian land. As described in the Israeli media, it would run east of the Green Line for most of
Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Consulate General in Jerusalem are monitoring the situation closely. Officials have travelled to Palestinian areas affected by construction of the fence to talk to farmers and other villagers and to see for themselves its impact. We will continue to make our concerns known to the Israeli authorities.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The agency made forecast volumes of the expected number of criminal record checks available to all bidders during the tendering process. However, no volume forecasts are contained within the contract. These forecasts were based on work which had been undertaken by consultants for the Home Office prior to the establishment of the Criminal Records Bureau and the contract with Capita.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Criminal Justice Bill was published on 21 November setting out radical legislation to re-balance the Criminal Justice System in favour of victims, witnesses and communities. The Bill was preceded by the White Paper Justice for All, and we are today publishing the responses received in relation to the consultation exercise. Justice for All invited comments on three specific issues: a trial by judge alone, trial of 16 and 17 year-olds in Crown Courts and new measures to tackle domestic violence.
Two hundred and forty-two responses have been received by the Home Office, Lord Chancellor's Department and Crown Prosecution Service. The majority of these responses went wider than the three consultation issues and commented generally on the
As previously stated, jury trial will continue to be the norm for the vast majority of serious cases. The Criminal Justice Bill safeguards this central principle of our justice system. What we are doing is recognising and seeking to deal with a small number of cases where there are clear difficulties in conducting a trial by jury. Our proposals deal with the very real problems of managing trials in certain fraud and other complex financial cases and in cases involving jury tampering and the risk of intimidation. Some fraud trials can last for months; police protection, which the court orders in cases where there is a serious risk of jury intimidation, can be extremely intrusive. Such trials can and do place an excessive and unreasonable burden on the members of the jury. Our proposals, which are based on the recommendations of Sir Robin Auld, address these problems by giving the judge the discretion to order a trial to take place without a jury. After careful consideration we have decided to legislate to give them effect in the Criminal Justice Bill.
Seventy-nine of the respondents commented on the strengthened youth courts proposals. The majority of these favoured the government option to allow the Crown Court the discretion to try 16 to 17 year-olds in the Crown Court. There was a strong opposition in principle to the removal of trial by jury for juveniles and strong support for the creation of a specialised youth court and for the training of magistrates, judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and other staff. The Government are now considering how best to take this forward.
Ninety-one of the responses commented on the domestic violence proposals but not all of the 91 commented on all of the proposals. For each proposal the majority who gave a view were in favour. The proposals were: reviews following domestic violence murders, extending the use of restraining order, making breach of non-molestation order a criminal offence, anonymity for victims of domestic violence and improved liaison between the civil and criminal courts.
Alongside the main consultation exercise outlined in the White Paper, we consulted with the legal profession on possible legislation to require the defence to disclose, in advance of trial, unused expert witness reports and lists of witnesses that they propose to call to give evidence. The consultation ran from 15 August until 16 September.
As a result, the Government have modified our proposals. We now plan to require the defence to disclose only the names of experts who have been consulted and not the content of their report. The defence will also be required to disclose witness lists as proposed.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Courts Bill, which was introduced in this House last Thursday, includes provisions to enable the Government to fulfil the commitment made in the White Paper Justice for All to establish an executive agency with responsibility for the administration of all the courts in England and Wales, except the House of Lords.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Figures relating to the number of people committed to prison for non-payment of the community charge, council tax, are listed below. Information concerning the number of those committals subsequently declared unlawful by the High Court is not collected centrally and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
|Year||Committals to prison|