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Iraq: Legality of Armed Force

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

Lord Goldsmith: In a Written Answer on 17 March in response to a question from Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, I set out my views of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq. This statement was a summary of my view of the legal position, rather than a detailed consideration of the legal issues. The statement was nevertheless consistent with my detailed legal advice. As the Lord President made clear in her reply of 13 October, there is a long-standing convention adhered to by successive governments, and reflected in paragraph 24 of the ministerial code, that legal advice from the Law Officers is not publicly disclosed. This is consistent with paragraphs 2 and 4d of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002: Litigation Costs

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Goldsmith: Litigation services under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 are provided to the Secretary of State for the Home Department by the Treasury Solicitor's Department. The cost of these services to 5 November 2003 is £303,414.12, excluding disbursements incurred but not yet paid. This does not include the costs of one small category of proceedings under the Act in respect of which no separate record of costs is kept.

In so far as the noble Lord is also asking about the costs of legal aid in respect of proceedings under that Act, the Legal Services Commission does not record the expenditure by reference to individual Acts. I am therefore unable to provide a figure for such costs.

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Crown Prosecution Service: Staffing

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent Crown Prosecution Service work is delegated to agency staff, and what action is being taken to bring this work in-house.[HL5085]

Lord Goldsmith: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) employs temporary agency staff to cover short-term pressures in workloads and to cover vacant posts whilst recruitment campaigns are under way. For these reasons, there will be a continuing need for temporary staff though the CPS seeks to keep its use of agency staff to the minimum.

CPS staff numbers have increased significantly since March 2001. As permanent staff numbers have increased, the need for agency staff has reduced. The total expenditure on agency staff represented 1.23 per cent of total CPS staff costs in 2001–02 and was reduced to 1.04 per cent in 2002–03. The CPS is continuously undergoing recruitment drives in order to recruit permanent staff and as a result reduce agency costs.

In addition the CPS also employs lawyer agents to work as advocates for the CPS in the magistrates' courts. In 2001–02, lawyer agents covered 124,000 sessions in the magistrates' courts out of a total of 414,000 (30 per cent) and in 2002–03, 120,000 sessions out of a total of 412,000 (29 per cent). The cost of employing lawyer agents to act as advocates for the CPS has reduced from £9.9 million in financial year 2001–02 to £9.6 million in 2002–03. Lawyer agents represented 4.03 per cent of total CPS staff costs in 2002–03. These figures do not include the use of counsel in the Crown Court.

The CPS is increasing the number of its own higher court advocates and designated caseworkers and providing opportunities for development of its own staff through new training programmes including the Law Scholarship Scheme.

Iraq: Post-Conflict Risks

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 8 October (WA 62), whether the assessments issued by the Joint Intelligence Committees on Iraq prior to the conflict included an assessment of the risk of obstruction, resistance and armed opposition to the occupation of Iraq.[HL4808]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Joint Intelligence Committee intelligence assessments are exempt from disclosure under exemption 1(a) and 1(c) of Part 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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European Parliament

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will raise the question of the seat of the European Parliament in the Inter-governmental Conference and in particular whether it should move from Strasbourg to Brussels.[HL4983]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Given the heavy agenda of the IGC, we do not expect to be able to discuss the locations of the European Parliament buildings, although the current arrangements for the EP are far from ideal. Clear messages from the Parliament itself, however, about its wishes on the venue for the plenary debates can make a genuine contribution to the pressure for change.

Global Conflict Prevention Pool

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much of the £74 million budget for 2003–04 of the Global Conflict Prevention Pool has so far been spent or firmly committed.[HL5000]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Up until September 2003, £25.4 million of the Global Conflict Prevention Pool's total budget for the financial year 2003–04 (£74 million) has been spent. At present we anticipate spending the whole of the budget before the end of the 2003–04 financial year. Because funds are disbursed across a range of strategies (currently 15) information on commitment levels is not immediately available. I will write to the noble Lord with this information shortly.

UNDP: Small Arms and Demobilisation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What support they are giving to programmes of the United Nations Development Programme for collecting and destroying small arms and light weapons.[HL5001]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK is one of the main donors to the work of the United Nations Development Programme Small Arms and Demobilisation Unit with £7.5 million committed over the period 2001–04. This funding supports a global programme of weapons collection, stockpile management, capacity building and destruction within the context of disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and community development.

Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many and which United Nations agencies are taking part in the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum; and what are the future plans of this organisation.[HL5002]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF) is a small think tank which was established in October 2000 to strengthen the knowledge base and analytical capacity of the United Nations system in the fields of conflict prevention and management, peace-making and peace-building by providing United Nations personnel with access to scholars, experts and practitioners outside the intergovernmental system.

As an organisation, it has undertaken some facilitation of meetings with the UN Secretariat on issues that have on occasion included other UN agencies such as UNDP and UNICEF.

In its work CPPF seeks to collaborate with an increasingly broad network of partner institutions that work on conflict prevention and peace building in regions of concern. Since its inception it has undertaken activities in areas such as Afghanistan, the Andes, Central Asia and South Eastern Europe. Full details of their activities can be found at http://cppf.ssrc.org.

The Department for International Development (DfID) has allocated £1,050,000 in support of CPPF with funding from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool.

Export of Small Arms to South and Central America

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have evidence that British-made or brokered small arms have been reaching Brazil or other central and southern American States; and whether the availability of such arms encourages gun crime.[HL5003]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We do from time to time approve licences for export of small arms to Brazil and other South and Central American States. We consider all applications for such licences carefully on a case by case basis taking fully into account the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria.

We also share the concern of the noble Lord about the links between small arms and gun crime in many countries including in South and Central America. In Brazil, we have been happy to contribute £786,000 to a project in support of the work of the Viva Rio NGO in the field of small arms issues. Working in some of the poorest parts of the city, this project aims to raise awareness of the issues in the community, and to collect and destroy small arms. In Peru we have contributed £500,000 to a project in support of the work of the UN Regional Centre for Latin America on this important problem. This project brings together police and law enforcement agencies across the continent to tackle trafficking of small arms through marking, tracing and safe disposal of such weapons.

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