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What are the duties of the Lord Chancellor; when, by whom and by what means they were conferred on the holder of that office; and by what means and authority they can be alienated; and[HL3473]
What are the privileges of the Lord Chancellor; when, by whom and by what means they were conferred on the holder of that office; and by what means and authority they can be alienated; and[HL3474]
What were the powers, duties and privileges of the Lord Chancellor on 30 January 2003; which, if any, of them have since been alienated; and by whom, by what means and under what authority such alienation has been accomplished.[HL3475]
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The office of Lord Chancellor is an ancient one under the Crown. In latter days the Lord Chancellor has been a Minister of the Crown and head of the judiciary as well as Speaker of your Lordships' House. The office has a wide range of powers, duties and privileges which have been conferred over time by the sovereign, by law, by custom and usage, by charters and other instruments, and by your Lordships' House. They can be alienated by primary or secondary legislation, by agreement with the conferring authority and others, or by amendment of the relevant legal instruments. The Government will be publishing a consultation document in September setting out the issues to be addressed in relation to the Lord Chancellor's roles that do not relate to the Speakership, his functions as departmental Minister or his judicial capacity.
None of the important powers, duties or privileges of the Lord Chancellor has been alienated since 30 January. Although it was announced on 12 June that the Office of Lord Chancellor is to be abolished in its present form, I have been appointed as Lord Chancellor in order that I may continue to exercise the powers of that office for the transitional period. Certain responsibilities in relation to children and families including responsibility for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) are to be transferred to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills. These changes have not yet been given formal legal effect. An initial transfer of functions order under the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975 is expected to be made at the Privy Council meeting on 17 July and will be laid before Parliament in the usual way. This order is intended to transfer
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Unemployment statistics at district council level are only available from the claimant count. At May 2003 the number of claimants in the Strabane District Council area stood at 1,147, which represents 5.0 per cent of the resident working age population. This compares with a rate of 3.3 per cent for Northern Ireland as a whole. Over the past 12 months the number of claimants in the Strabane District Council area has decreased by 7.9 per cent compared with a 5.4 per cent decrease for Northern Ireland as a whole.
Government is using a variety of methods to help reduce the level of unemployment in the Strabane area. It is one of the areas for targeted initiatives drawing together the relevant statutory, voluntary and community organisations and employers in a new level of partnership aimed at helping individuals who are jobless, particularly the long-term unemployed, to identify and address their particular barriers to employment and thereby making them more ready to take up available job opportunities. Staff from Strabane Social Security Office actively work with unemployed people and numerous groups in the Strabane area to encourage and support the movement from benefits to work.
Invest NI is also working with Strabane District Council to deliver a Business Start programme specific to the area. This programme falls within the auspices of Invest NI's Accelerating Entrepreneurship Strategy which aims to encourage an increase in the rate of business start-ups throughout Northern Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is also contributing to reducing unemployment in the Strabane area. Several economic community-based projects have been funded in the area over the past six years and recent initiatives include the new West Tyrone Rural Leader +
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am satisfied that Her Majesty's Government acted in accordance with its obligations in the matter described by the noble Lord. As I have previously made clear, every school in Belfast was invited to participate and the contribution of every school that responded was included on the DVD. There was no selection process.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Education and Library Boards provide a comprehensive library service for all persons who live, work or undertake courses of study in their area, regardless of the race, nationality or culture of those who use the service.
The Northern Ireland curriculum affords opportunities for schools to ensure that all pupils develop a knowledge and understanding of the similarities and differences between the cultural traditions which influence people who live in Northern Ireland.
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