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8 Sept 2003 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 8th September 2003.

Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and Judges: Appointments

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

    Who is now responsible for (a) the appointment of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and (b) the appointment of judges in England and Wales.[HL3824]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The current procedure for the appointment of Lords of Appeal in the United Kingdom is that the Prime Minister receives advice from me as Lord Chancellor before making recommendations to Her Majesty the Queen. I carry out the responsibilities of Lord Chancellor in relation to judicial appointments that are made by the Lord Chancellor and those on which advice is provided to the Prime Minister and those on which recommendations are made to Her Majesty the Queen.

The Judiciary

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have reason to call into question the competence, integrity or industry of any judges appointed since 1 May 1997.[HL4204]

The Lord Chancellor: As I have stated in the foreword to the consultation paper Constitutional Reform: a new way of appointing judges, England and Wales are well served by judges of the highest calibre. At all levels of our justice system we are fortunate to have a strong independent judiciary respected nationally and internationally. This of course applies to the judiciary in Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as in England and Wales. The proposals which the Government have announced do not stem from any doubts about the competence, integrity or industry of the judiciary, whether appointed before or since 1 May 1997.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have concerns about the ability of any judges to achieve impartiality and fairness in trials involving members of the ethnic minorities or those living unorthodox lifestyles.[HL4205]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government are satisfied that judges deal impartially and fairly with trials, irrespective of the background of any of the people involved in the proceedings.

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Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it has been their policy to appoint as judges those whom they regarded as the most ableand suitable for such office.[HL4206]

The Lord Chancellor: The overriding principle is, and has been, that judges are appointed on merit and that those appointed are the most able and suitable.

Personal Injury Claims

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Section 2(4) of the Law Reform Act 1948 should be repealed for all personal injury claims so that patients' rehabilitation could be provided by the National Health Service, with the cost recouped from the insurer, thereby providing funds to develop widespread rehabilitation facilities.[HL4239]

The Lord Chancellor: The report of the Chief Medical Officer, Making Amends, recommended that Section 2(4) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 should be amended so that the costs of future care in any award for clinical negligence made against the National Health Service should no longer reflect the cost of private treatment. That recommendation is currently the subject of consultation. The Government intend to consider the implications of the recommendation for personal injury claims generally.

Civil Partnerships

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

    How the absence of legal protection for unmarried opposite-sex cohabiting couples with children, by way of access to a civil partnership registration scheme, encourages such couples to remain together and to remain jointly responsible for the upbringing of their children.[HL4256]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government believe that both parents should be involved in their children's upbringing. Unmarried fathers can obtain parental responsibility for their children by agreement with their partner or, where appropriate, by application to court. Provisions contained in the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which received Royal Assent on 7 November 2002, when brought into effect will enable unmarried fathers to obtain parental responsibility by registering the birth of their children jointly with their partners.

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Northern Ireland: New TSN Status

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What areas of Northern Ireland have been given Targeting Social Need status; what are the criteria for selection; who makes the selection; and what the benefits are for such areas.[HL3864]

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): There are no "New Targeting Social Need (New TSN)" status areas. Ideally targeting is aimed towards those who are in most need. Where programmes are delivered to individuals, departments must identify who are the most deprived and who need the particular service. Measures such as benefit entitlement, entitlement to free school meals etc can be used.

Some programmes (for example, rural development, urban regeneration, etc) are delivered on an area basis and in these cases, areas must be identified for targeting. The Northern Ireland multiple deprivation measure assists with area-based targeting. It ranks electoral wards on the basis of relative deprivation. As well as an overall measure of multiple deprivation it includes separate domain measures including employment, income, health, etc which can be applied individually as appropriate.

Another consideration in targeting resources on an area basis is that the areas to which one type of programme is appropriate, for example, urban regeneration, may not be appropriate to other types of programme, such as rural development or forestry. The need for a particular service must also be taken into account. While areas may have similar overall levels of deprivation, their specific need for particular government services such as housing, employment, schools, transport etc may differ.

Northern Ireland Civil Service: Hidden Disabilities

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What provision they have made for members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service who have a hidden disability such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, in promotion boards and similar procedures.[HL3907]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Candidates who declare a disability are asked to identify any special requirements they may need at interview or test. Reasonable adjustments are made in accordance with the nature of the disability.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they make for candidates for entrance into the Northern Ireland Civil Service who may be dyslexic or dyspraxic or have another hidden disability.[HL3908]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Reasonable adjustments are made in accordance with the nature of the

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disability. This can include setting aside the normal academic requirements for administrative posts, or additional time to sit tests etc. Guidance is taken from bodies such as the British Dyslexia Association in deciding what is reasonable in specific cases.

Northern Ireland: Tourism

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 6), what part-funding the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has provided to groups for events and projects which could benefit tourism on the north coast of County Antrim.[HL3910]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The answer given to the noble Lord on 7 July (WA 6) was incomplete. Please find below the original full answer and additional information as requested. I apologise for the error.

Financial assistance is available from several government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies for the sustainable development of tourism throughout Northern Ireland including the north coast area of County Antrim. Accommodation development, amenity and visitor attractions, marketing programmes and events are among the areas which could be eligible for support under a variety of grant schemes.

One specific initiative which applies to the North Antrim coast area is the Natural Resource and Rural Tourism Initiative (NRRTI). Jointly developed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the initiative is aimed at developing tourism in selected rural areas throughout Northern Ireland. Some £3.3m of the NRRTI funding has been made available during the period 2002–06 to promote and assist the development of sustainable projects which will increase the tourism potential in the Glens and north coast area of County Antrim.

In order to build on achievements to date, a masterplan for the area will be developed as part of the recently announced ministerial initiative for the Giant's Causeway. The development of tourism beyond the Causeway itself will have a number of benefits including easing pressure on the site, assisting in encouraging visitors to stay longer in the locality and thus increasing spending.

In addition, grant aid has been awarded to the following organisations under DCAL's Water-Based Tourism Measure funded under the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace II):

£
Glenmore Fishery, Ballycastle4,825
North Coast Angling, Portrush49,300
Predator Boat Charters, Cushendall26,100

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In response to your most recent question the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has part-funded the following events/organisations which may benefit tourism on the north coast of County Antrim.

This is broken down as follows:

Project/EventAmount (£)
NI Milk Cup360,000
North West 200120,000
NI North Coast Air Spectacular17,500
Glenmore Fishery, Ballycastle4,825
North Coast Angling, Portrush49,300
Predator Boat Charters, Cushendall26,100


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