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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Consolidated Fund Bill are compatible with the convention rights. A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Britain's productivity gap with countries such as the US, France and Germany is substantial--up to a third. The Chancellor announced in his Pre-Budget Report that the Government's long-term economic ambition for the next decade is that Britain will have a faster rise in productivity than its main competitors as it closes the gap. The Government are putting in place the policies to achieve this aim, as set out in the Pre-Budget Report.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Neither the Commission nor the Council has undertaken any investigation of which we are aware to quantify the level of tax evasion within the EU and the reasons for it or quantified any economic benefits of this directive. In short, the Commission has undertaken no cost-benefit analysis.
Contracts with solicitors firms will cover the full range of criminal defence services including advice and assistance. Our intention is to contract for all criminal advice and assistance work from October 2000. The structure of these contracts will be informed by the pilot currently being carried out by the Legal Aid Board.
The Lord Chancellor: The Legal Aid Board has only recently offered contracts in public law work to solicitors and other agencies and the exact number of contracted providers will not be known until the end of December 1999. Five organisations have been offered legal aid contracts for advice and assistance in public law, four of which are located in the London legal aid area and the other in the Birmingham legal aid area.
The Lord Chancellor: The costs to the Crown of Senator Pinochet's appeal to the House of Lords that were incurred following the House of Lords' ruling on the 25 November 1998 were as follows: the Crown's representation, £250,900; Senator Pinochet's representation, £151,361.
After the original decision of the House of Lords was set aside on 17 December 1998, the court ordered that any further costs be borne by each party. Therefore, the Crown paid no further costs towards Senator Pinochet's representation for the re-hearing which concluded on the 24 March 1999.
The Lord Chancellor: The delay in concluding the inquiry was due to the original investigator suffering a serious illness. However, both he and his successor (both appointed by the Clerk of the Parliaments) have concluded that no person or persons were responsible for a leak of the Pinochet judgment. Their conclusion is that the press articles just before the publication of the judgment on 24 March, which were surprisingly accurate in some respects, were the result of skilful journalism.
The Lord Chancellor: The costs incurred by Senator Pinochet in respect of both the order and adjudgment of the House of Lords of 25 November 1998 (the first hearing of the appeal) and the order of the House of Lords of the 17 December 1998 (petition to have the first judgment vacated) were paid out of central funds under an order of the House of Lords made in accordance with Section 16 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. No costs were ordered (or paid) in respect of the order and adjudgment of the House of 24 March 1999 (second hearing of the appeal).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): UN human rights work in Angola is indispensable to securing a lasting peace in that country. We voted in favour of UNSC Resolution 1268 establishing the United Nations office in Angola (UNOA). We strongly support the inclusion of human rights elements within that office. We will be providing funds for the common costs of UNOA in accordance with established UN scales of assessment.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have made clear on a number of occasions our view that the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on 7 May was a tragic accident. That remains our view. The circumstances which led to the accidental bombing were considered in detail within NATO at the time. We apologised to the Chinese Government, with whom our bilateral relations have been restored.
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