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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The choice of mediation mechanisms in any dispute between members of NATO would be a matter for the countries concerned.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As my noble friend is aware, Her Majesty's Government are not responsible for the accuracy of information carried on the Internet. However, in this case, we have pointed out to the US Embassy in London that a less misleading reference to the Act of Union would be helpful.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The 60 change measures are listed below. FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE 60 Change Measures 1. Improve the handling of defence export licence applications. 2. Reinforce services to Export Forum and other priority markets. 3. Improve export training and the number of secondments to and from the private sector. 4. 10 per cent. increase in fees for chargeable trade and investment services, which FCO retains. 5. Explore extension of existing EU co-operation over consular fees. 6. Reduce demand for consular services.
The Government strongly welcome the committee's report. We are committed to reforming and regulating the way political parties are funded. Public confidence in the political system demands that it is open, honest and transparent.
We will therefore legislate on the main findings of the report. To this end, we will publish a draft Bill before next year's summer Recess to allow political parties and other interested bodies to comment on what will be detailed and complex legislation.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate and Siemens Business Services are working on a plan to implement the new Integrated Casework Directorate (ICD), including a range of IT services, beginning on 26 October. It is envisaged that by the end of January 1999 all immigration after entry and asylum casework will have transferred to the ICD.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Applications for bail under the arrangements proposed in paragraph 12.8 of the White Paper will be considered under the same criteria as are used to consider bail applications from immigration detainees at present. The overriding consideration is whether the person is likely to comply voluntarily with any restriction imposed upon him, including any arrangements for removal.
The major difference in the proposed new arrangements is that bail hearings will be arranged automatically at approximately seven days from the initial detention and again 28 days later. There will be no right of appeal against refusal of bail. But, in addition to these automatic reviews, the existing rights of someone who is detained to apply for bail will remain substantially unaltered. The magistrate or adjudicator hearing the application will have the power to set the conditions of bail and decide whether and at what level any recognizance or security should be, having regard to all the circumstances.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The size of the future detention estate has not been determined and is likely to remain under review for some time. That is because the effectiveness of the White Paper proposals for improvement in pre-entry, on-entry and after-entry control and the asylum decision-making process all have a bearing on the use of detention. Our aim is that more people will be detained for shorter periods, leading to increased removals of illegal entrants and failed asylum claimants.
The Government have also taken seriously the concerns of Sir David Ramsbotham, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, and others about the inappropriateness of the use of prison for those detained under sole Immigration Act powers. To respond to these concerns requires more discrete Immigration Service detention centres. Over the next five years, the Government intend to reduce the use of prisons for this purpose, replace the centre at Harmondsworth, which has reached the end of its useful life, and, as resources allow, provide between 300-400 additional places. This programme will also provide an opportunity to ensure appropriate accommodation for men, women, families and those presenting control problems. Project planning for this programme is under way. We should be able to give more detailed information on proposals by the end of the year.
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