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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Presidents of Hungary and China will pay State Visits to the United Kingdom this year. Announcements of State Visits are not normally made more than about six months in advance.
Amnesty International report that the use of torture remains widespread in China. Their report on Hungary makes no allegations of torture. The Parliamentary Officer of Amnesty International (UK) can supply further information if required.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Copies of the consultation paper will be placed later today (Monday 24 May) in the Libraries of both Houses. It will also be available on the Lord Chancellor's Department website at www.open.gov.uk/lcd.
The Queen's Proctor does not keep statistics of matrimonial causes where he intervenes or shows cause. The following figures have been compiled by identifying Queen's Proctor files on which court fees
(a) Which cases were withdrawn;
(b) Which cases were settled either in court or out of it and what sums were settled; and
(c) What judgments were handed down.[HL2423]
The Lord Chancellor: On 17 November 1997, the group plaintiffs (then 109 in number) submitted to judgment against them on the principal issues. Two cases (Robb v. East London and City Health Authority and Unitt v. Bristol and District Health Authority) were tried as separate actions. Judgment was given for the defendants on 8 May 1998. Eighty of the underlying cases were then discontinued as a result of the judge's findings. Ten cases were settled. These were: Smallwood v. East London and City Health Authority, Eels v. Barking, Havering and Brentwood Health Authority (BHBHA); Wainman v. BHBHA; Ford v. BHBHA; Virdi v. BHBHA; McClure v. East Kent HA; Crawford v. Dalley; Bushby v. Cambridge HA; Elliott v. Dr. Xaavier; and Haxton v. North East Essex HA. The sums awarded were confidential between the parties and were, for that reason, not disclosed in open court. Further medical examinations and negotiations took place in the remaining cases: this resulted in discontinuance or withdrawal of the remaining cases. Four cases are currently outstanding for trial. It is anticipated that they will be tried in the Autumn term of 1999.
I am not in a position at present to give details of the costs paid specifically to the firm of solicitors acting under contract with the Legal Aid Board as their claims have yet to be assessed by the court. A final detailed assessment was adjourned by the court until June 1999, in order to allow the costs of private clients to be assessed at the same time.
The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The review will focus on the organisation of the public sector ombudsmen in England. The terms of reference of the review allow all aspects of the legislation covering the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Health Service Ombudsman and Local Government Ombudsmen to be considered, including the appointment procedures.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The yards capable of building and fitting out a carrier of 40,000 tonnes are: Harland and Wolff in Belfast; Kvaerner Govan in Glasgow; Marconi Marine Ltd, previously known as VSEL, at Barrow in Furness and Birkenhead; and Swan Hunter in Wallsend. Depending on the design selected, there may be a need for their facilities to be enhanced. The yards are registered in the UK.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The Department of Trade and Industry's survey of international price comparisons will be looking at products which are representative of UK consumers' spending, and which are readily available in other countries so that meaningful price comparisons can be made. It is not possible at this time to say whether contact lenses or spectacles will be covered by the study.
Under UK competition legislation, responsibility for monitoring markets and considering allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, abuse of monopoly position or restrictive trade practices lies with the Director General of Fair Trading. If anyone has evidence of price fixing or other anti-competitive practices concerning the supply of contact lenses, spectacle lenses or spectacle frames, they should bring this to the attention of the Director General so that he can investigate.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): We have never suggested that intolerance is confined to one side of the political spectrum. As my earlier Answer made clear, the phrase "extreme right wing groups" is not a technical term.
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