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Viscount Bridgeman asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We remain satisfied with the review criteria set out in the consultation paper on a code of practice for voluntary retention of communications data. These matters were fully considered and debated by Parliament during the passage of the ATCS Act.

Viscount Bridgeman asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are satisfied that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 provides for lawful acquisition by public authorities of communications data only where this is demonstrably necessary and proportionate.

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Asylum Applications: Delays

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in apologising for the delay in resolving an application for asylum which has been outstanding for two years (in correspondence PO 10542/3), and adding that some cases are taking longer to process at this time of heightened security, the Minister of State at the Home Office, Ms Beverley Hughes MP, meant that all cases were taking longer to process, or all cases from particular countries, or individual cases where the applicant was considered to be a potential security risk.[HL4797]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My honourable friend, the Minister of State at the Home Office, was referring to particular cases.

Basic Disclosures

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will make public the responses to the consultation paper seeking views on whether applications for basic disclosures should be routed through registered bodies.[HL4961]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: On 9 April the Home Office issued a consultation paper seeking views on the independent review team's recommendation (Official Report, Commons, 27 February 2003, col. 33–36WS) that applications for basic disclosures should be routed through registered bodies. The consultation period closed on 30 June; 352 responses were received. I have today placed in the Library an analysis of those responses. We will consider carefully the views expressed in response to the consultation before deciding how best to proceed with the introduction of the basics service.

Extradition: Draft Code of Practice

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will make public the responses to the draft code of practice on the use of police powers under the Extradition Bill.[HL4960]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am today drawing the House's attention to the publication of the responses received by the Home Office to its consultation on a draft extradition code of practice.

The draft code of practice, which sets out the application and operation of police powers under Part 4 of the Extradition Bill, was published on 9 June 2003 and comments on the draft were invited by 8 September 2003.

Twenty-nine responses were received in total. Twenty-six authors have given permission for their responses to be made public and these are now available in the House Library and can also be viewed on the Home Office website at

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www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crimpol/oic/extradition/bill/documents.html.

We will be publishing our response to the representations in due course.

Millennium Dome

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To whom English Partnerships is accountable for management of the Dome.[HL4650]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): English Partnerships is a non-departmental public body sponsored by and accountable to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. In this role the office has an agreed framework within which English Partnerships is accountable to the office for the discharge of its financial and management responsibilities, such as the management of the Dome. In addition, English Partnerships is accountable to Parliament by statute for all resources under its control.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    From whom English Partnerships derives authority for expenditure on security and maintenance of the Dome; and whether the expenditure is subject to any limits.[HL4651]

Lord Rooker: English Partnerships (EP) owns land on the Greenwich peninsula and the Dome itself. It is therefore responsible for the maintenance and security of the Dome.

EP is required to expend the minimum level of resources needed to maintain the Dome for its intended purpose. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister approves the overall level of expenditure for maintenance and security. The Dome is used for a number of one-off events throughout the year and the income generated is used to reduce the management and maintenance costs to EP.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much income, after the deduction of related expenditure, has been generated from events held at the Dome since its closure to the public in January 2001.[HL4652]

Lord Rooker: Since its closure to the public in January 2001, a net income of £918,000, excluding VAT, has been generated from commercial events held at the Dome. The first such event was held on 31 December 2001—none was possible before then due to the decommissioning activity at the Dome.

A number of other events of public benefit have been held in the Dome. These have been agreed by English Partnerships on the basis of no income, because of their nature and the public benefits delivered, but in all cases English Partnerships' costs have been fully covered by the event organisers. Examples include the London Respect festival, AEG's roller hockey community day, and other charity events.

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Court Service: Staffing

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the present levels of staffing throughout the Court Service; and if not, what steps they are taking to address the issue.[HL4749]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): Overall the staffing levels across the Court Service are adequate to meet the delivery targets of the agency.

Crown Courts have seen staff allocation increased in recent years due to additional sitting days. The average number of full-time equivalent persons employed in Crown Courts rose by 41 between 2000–01 and 2002–03.

County Courts have seen a decrease of 148 full-time equivalent persons between 2000–01 and 2002–03. This reduction was in line with estimated savings from enhancements to IT systems.

Although overall staffing levels are adequate there are local issues from time to time, which can create short-term difficulties.

Fines: Enforcement

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What their plans are for measuring improvements in fine enforcement performance.[HL4959]

Lord Filkin: Securing a sustained improvement in fine enforcement and increasing confidence in the criminal justice system are key government priorities. That is why back in June this year we announced a seven-point plan to secure the level of enforcement improvement required.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs is taking forward a wide-ranging programme of change to deliver the seven-point plan. As part of this we have undertaken a review of the existing fine enforcement payment rate target to test whether it provides the right focus for those involved in enforcement activity and are now making changes.

As well as criminal fines properly due, the existing target includes, among other things, civil payments and judicially remitted fines. We have now reviewed it so that the target is to collect a set proportion of fines which are properly due. This will provide a clearer focus for magistrates' courts committees and enable relative performance to be more easily assessed.

The effect of the revised form of measurement is to change the existing target of 68 per cent. to a value of 75 per cent. Performance data under the new measure will first be available from January 2004 and information under both the old and the new measure will be available for at least the remainder of 2003–04. Performance in areas no longer captured by the payment rate target will be monitored and managed separately.

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Implementation of the overall fine enforcement programme will in time enable targets to be set at higher levels.

International Development: Financing

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy concerning the proposal to the G8 meeting held in June, by the President of Brazil, for a tax on international arms trading.[HL4624]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The IMF and World Bank are currently carrying out further work on all development financing mechanisms. This work will include all proposals for international taxes designed to generate additional development resources, including proposals for a tax on international arms trading. The IMF and World Bank have been asked to report to the development committee at the 2004 spring meetings, and to the IMFC at the 2004 annual meetings.

The Government are committed to finding the most effective way of mobilising the additional development resources that are necessary if the Millennium Development Goals are to be met. This is why the UK has proposed an international finance facility.


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