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The Lord Chancellor: The Government are carefully considering the judgment and recommendations made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Arthur v. Attorney General in the context of the current review of the Race Relations Act 1976.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Following an internal Home Office review last November, a copy of which is in the Library, we have decided to revise and extend the terms of reference of the Prisons Ombudsman. The revised terms of reference, which have been agreed with the Ombudsman, will come into effect from 1 May. They will allow the Ombudsman a wider role in considering complaints made by prisoners, by additionally including investigation of official advice upon which Ministers' decisions are made. A full copy of the Prisons Ombudsman's revised terms has been placed in the Library.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The new Framework Document is now complete and I am today placing copies of it in the Library. The Framework Document governs the relationship between the Prison Service and the core Home Office, setting out the roles of the principal players and bodies including the Prison Service Strategy Board to be chaired by me, the Minister for Prisons and Probation, within a framework of responsibilities and accountabilities. The document reflects the Government's commitment to take proper Ministerial responsibility for the service and the role of the Prison Service as a major component of the wider criminal justice system. It includes material about the planning framework and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
The Prison Service's KPIs are kept under review regularly to ensure that they reflect current key priorities for the service. For 1999-2000 the Prison Service will introduce new performance measures arising from the Home Office Public Service Agreement. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has approved new measures for escapes from contracted-out escorts, staff sickness, cost per prisoner and the time taken to respond to correspondence.
The KPI on overcrowding will be changed to measure the percentage of the prison population held two to a cell designed for one. This will better reflect the impact of overcrowding on individual prisoners.
Two existing measures will be discontinued next year: time out of cell and staff training. With the emphasis now being given to regimes designed to reduce re-offending, and the gradual introduction of in-cell TV, it is becoming more important to measure what prisoners do when out of their cells than the length of time they are unlocked. Staff training will remain important. A primary focus for the service in 1999-2000 is to gain Investors in People accreditation which requires evidence of properly targeted training and development for all staff.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights cover broadly similar areas but the definitions in the former are more specific and may give rise to rights which are not necessarily contained in the European Convention on Human
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The terms of reference for the Joint Committee have yet to be finalised and proposed to both Houses. However, it is envisaged that they will include the conduct of inquiries into general human rights issues in the United Kingdom, the scrutiny of remedial orders, the examination of draft legislation where there is doubt about compatibility with the incorporated convention rights and the issue of whether there is a need for a Human Rights Commission to monitor the operation of the Human Rights Act.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is a great deal of work to be done by public authorities across the United Kingdom to prepare for the commencement of the Human Rights Act 1998 and to ensure that it is assimilated successfully. The Government consider that preparing for the right of individual petition under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the other Conventions, and responding to any complaints which may be brought under those procedures, is likely to divert resources from implementing the Human Rights Act 1998.
Whether they have held discussions with their European Union counterparts over the adoption of the Schengen Agreement across the European Union; and[HL1762]
What effect the adoption of the Schengen Agreement across the European Union with regard to border controls will have on the resolution of the frontier dispute between Spain and Gibraltar.[HL1763]
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Thirteen of the fifteen member states of the European Union are now members of the Schengen arrangements. The Schengen acquis (the agreements and the rules adopted on the basis of them) will be incorporated into the framework of the European Union by the Schengen Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam, which it is expected will come into force on 1 May 1999. The Home Secretary announced to the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 12 March that the United Kingdom intends to seek to participate in those elements of the Schengen acquis which do not conflict with the maintenance of our frontier controls.
The United Kingdom has been fully involved in all discussions on the integration of the Schengen acquis into the European Union Treaty structures. The Government will discuss the precise terms of our participation with our European Union partners. The Government expect that Gibraltar's participation in the integrated Schengen acquis will be along similar lines to the United Kingdom. The Government believe that the United Kingdom's intended participation in Schengen will be seen as an indication of our positive approach to Europe and will serve to improve European Union co-operation generally.
Spain will acquire no extra powers or responsibilities when the Treaty of Amsterdam comes into force so far as the border between Spain and Gibraltar is concerned. The United Kingdom's frontiers protocol will confirm the right of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar to maintain frontier controls on persons seeking entry from other member states; it will also confirm the reciprocal right of other member states, including Spain, to maintain frontier controls on persons seeking entry from the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. In each case such controls must be exercised in a proportionate manner and for clearly defined purposes only. These purposes are specified in the protocol: in the case of persons exercising rights conferred by Community law, it is to verify their right to enter; and in the case of other persons, it is to determine whether or not to grant them permission to enter.
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