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Lord Williams of Mostyn: As stated in my reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, on 3 March (Official Report, col. WA 201-202) our reason is that accepting such additional complaints procedures could present an undesirable distraction in relation to the vital work of preparing for and bedding down the Human Rights Act.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The European Convention on Human Rights is drafted in general terms; the other instruments referred to are more specific. Although they cover broadly similar areas it is not possible to say definitively what rights are contained in each as they are living instruments which evolve over time and their interpretation depends upon the developing case law. We believe that the United Kingdom is compliant with all these instruments.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: As stated in my reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, on 4 March (Official Report col. WA 201-202) our reason is that accepting such additional complaints procedures could present an undesirable distraction in relation to the vital work of preparing for and bedding down the Human Rights Act.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: As stated in my reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, on 4 March (Official Report, col. WA 201-202) our reason is that accepting such additional complaints procedures could present an undesirable distraction in relation to the vital work of preparing for and bedding down the Human Rights Act.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are making good progress in preparing the large amount of subordinate legislation needed to complete the regime created by the 1998 Act. We intend to make the drafts of the instruments available on the Internet in due course. We hope to bring the new regime into force by the end of June or as soon thereafter as we can.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes. Following consultation with the Metropolitan Police Committee and the Commissioner, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has approved the following objectives for the Metropolitan Police in 1999-2000:
Again with my right honourable friend the Home Secretary's approval, following consultation with the Metropolitan Police Committee, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is publishing at the same time an Efficiency Plan for 1999-2000 which aims for efficiency gains of 3.5 per cent.
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is sending copies of both these plans to all right honourable and honourable Members in the other place whose constituencies fall wholly or partly within the Metropolitan Police District and he is arranging for copies to be placed in the Library.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: A note entitled 'Estimates of public expenditure on asylum seeker support' has been placed in the Library and circulated to interested parties. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is also today publishing an Information Document which sets out further details of the proposed asylum support arrangements. He is arranging for copies to be sent to every Member and placed in the Library.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Home Secretary (Mr. Straw), the Minister of State at the Lord Chancellor's Department (Geoff Hoon) and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Kate Hoey), represented the United Kingdom at the Council. The main matters dealt with were as follows: 'A' points
The Council agreed as 'A' points, among other things, draft rules on the Europol pension fund, an extension of the mandate of the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) management team, draft rules governing the transmission of personal data by Europol to third states and bodies, a report on the activities of EDU/Europol in 1998, and a Regulation determining those nationals of
The Presidency sought information from individual member states on the progress they had made on agreeing the mandates for the appointment of Europol Directors, and on completing the exchange of bilateral notes with the Dutch Government which will govern the position of Europol Liaison Officers.
The Presidency also reported the latest state of play concerning the draft rules of procedure to be adopted by Europol's Joint Supervisory Body. This matter will be considered again at the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) in May.
On the issue of the extension of Europol's mandate to cover forgery of money and means of payment, the Presidency confirmed that Coreper would re-examine an outstanding issue relating to the legal definition of the term 'forgery of money and means of payment'. Eurodac
The Council reached political agreement to freeze the text of the draft Protocol to the Eurodac Convention (adding illegal immigrants to the fingerprinting database for asylum seekers), pending the introduction of a First Pillar instrument after the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam. It was noted that the opinion of the European Parliament on the draft Protocol was still outstanding and that a number of member states still had national parliamentary scrutiny reservations. Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters
The Presidency noted continuing reserves on issues relating to territorial application and data protection. One member state was urged to join agreement with the others on the 'remote approach' to satellite network interceptions of telecommunications within the member states. In the absence of agreement, the Presidency concluded that this issue would go back to Coreper and the relevant working group. Effect of the transition from the Maastricht to the Amsterdam Treaty on civil law conventions
The Council discussed opinions by the Commission and the Council Legal Services arguing that, after entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, ratification of the Brussels II and Service of Documents Conventions should be suspended as soon as Community instruments to replace them had been tabled. The Commission confirmed its intention to table replacement proposals reflecting exactly the content of the current conventions. The United Kingdom, with support from another member state, took the position that suspending ratification as soon as the Commission tabled a proposal, rather than when the instrument was adopted by the Council, risked leaving a legal vacuum.
The Presidency sought, and achieved, political agreement that member states should be free to continue the ratification process until any superseding Community instruments were adopted by the Council.
The Presidency reported on the current state of play. They hoped to make swift progress on the negotiation and to ensure proper arrangements were made for the Lugano countries in the context of any Community instrument. The United Kingdom took the position that there were strong political and legal arguments for continuing to discuss revision of the Brussels Convention as a convention, and that freezing discussion would send the wrong signal to the non-European Union States concerned. Internal Market and Consumer Protection
The Presidency reported on the current position in respect of draft Directives on late payments, electronic signatures, consumer guarantees and distance selling of financial services. Definition and integration of the Schengen Acquis
Under this agenda heading, my right honourable friend, the Home Secretary announced the United Kingdom's intentions regarding future participation in the incorporated Schengen provisions, the Free Movement Chapter of the Treaty of Amsterdam and Justice and Home Affairs matters generally. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary made it clear that, while we would maintain our frontier controls in line with the Amsterdam Treaty Protocol, we wished to co-operate in all other JHA areas which did not conflict with this objective, and notably police, customs and judicial co-operation in criminal matters. Other Business Asylum procedures
The Commission introduced a paper on harmonised procedures and called for discussion in the coming months. The paper stresses the importance of balancing the efficiency of the asylum process with fairness to the applicant. The Commission will submit formal proposals after further consultations. The Ocalan case
One member state welcomed the General Affairs Council Declaration of 22 February and said further work was needed to ensure respect for human rights and a fair trial for Ocalan, including the presence of international observers and avoidance of the death penalty. There was no discussion. Readmission clauses in association agreements
There was a call for the Council to adopt a common position on the inclusion of a standard clause on readmission in all third country agreements. It was agreed that comments on this item would be passed to the General Affairs Council. Mutual recognition/access to justice
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary gave notice of the United Kingdom's intention to table two papers for the Council's attention, one dealing with mutual recognition of court decisions and judgments, the other with access to justice in civil matters. Second Protocol to the Customs Information System Convention
In the afternoon, Justice and Home Affairs Ministers met their counterparts from the CEEs and Cyprus. There was an exchange of views between the CEEs and Cyprus, and European Union member states, on the adverse effects of corruption, and on the steps necessary to combat corruption in both the public and private sectors.
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