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Aer Lingus Crash

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what (a) summaries and (b) microfiche records of the report of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch into the Aer Lingus Viscount crash of 24 March 1968 have been retained. [68834]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The investigation into the accident that occurred to the Aer Lingus Viscount aircraft on 24 March 1968 was conducted by Air Accident Investigation officials of the Irish Department of Transport and Power. The AAIB participated in the investigation. The Irish report was published in September 1970.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Parliamentary Calendar

45. Mr. Bradshaw: To ask the President of the Council what proposals she has to introduce reform to the parliamentary year. [66807]

Mr. Tipping: I would like to see how the experiment on Thursday sittings agreed by the House on 16 December works before making further proposals.

Standing Committee on Regional Affairs

46. Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the President of the Council if she will make a statement on her proposals for the reactivation of the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs. [66808]

Mrs. Beckett: I announced on 14 January 1999, Official Report, columns 446-47, that a proposal would be put to the Modernisation Committee to revive and adapt the standing committee on regional affairs. A memorandum setting out the proposal will shortly be sent to the Committee and I hope they will report on it in the near future.

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 476

European Political Institutions (Travel and

Communications)

47. Mr. Jack: To ask the President of the Council when she plans to announce amended arrangements for travel to, and communications with, European political institutions. [66809]

Mr. Tipping: My right hon. Friend the President of the Council has said before that the scheme to allow Members to visit EU institutions would be extended. I can announce today that, from the next financial year, Members will be able to claim re-imbursement of travel and subsistence expenses for one visit either to the main EU institutions or to the national Parliament of any EU Member state. The Scheme will be reviewed after a year to see if it is possible to allow two visits in the second year.

Parliamentary Questions

49. Mr. Flynn: To ask the President of the Council what plans she has to introduce a question period for questions without notice. [66811]

Mrs. Beckett: I take questions without notice every Thursday after announcing the business. The Prime Minister also takes questions without notice every Wednesday. I have no plans to extend this procedure.

Iraq

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the President of the Council if she will establish an ad hoc Select Committee on military action against Iraq. [66810]

Mrs. Beckett: I have no plans to do so.

Parliamentary Procedures Reform

Mr. Dismore: To ask the President of the Council what representations she has received concerning the procedure for putting non-contentious, technical law reform Bills recommended by the Law Commission before Parliament; and if she will make a statement. [67302]

Mrs. Beckett: I have recently met the Chairman of the Law Commission to discuss this matter. There already exists an expedited procedure for Law Commission bills. This issue may also be considered by the Modernisation Committee in the course of its current inquiry into a second forum or main committee.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the President of the Council what plans she has to propose reforms of parliamentary procedure in respect of uncontroversial Bills implementing Law Commission recommendations. [67301]

Mrs. Beckett: Standing Order No. 59 already provides for the second reading of Law Commission bills to be taken in second reading committee rather than on the floor of the House. I have no immediate plans to propose other reforms of this procedure, but it may be relevant to the Modernisation Committee's current inquiry into the possibility of establishing a second forum or main committee.

Law Commission Recommendations (Bills)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the President of the Council how many Bills based on Law Commission recommendations have been enacted in each of the last five years. [67304]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 477

Mrs. Beckett: The figures are set out in the table. The total of 20 includes two Statute Law Revision Acts and two Consolidation Acts with amendments giving effect to Law Commission recommendations.

YearNumber
19943
19957
19968
19971
19982

Mr. Dismore: To ask the President of the Council what was the length of time of the debates which took place at each parliamentary stage of each of the Bills introduced to implement Law Commission recommendations in each of the last five years. [67303]

Mrs. Beckett: The figures in the table relate to the total amount of debating time on the floor of the House of Commons and do not include any committee proceedings. Law Commission proposals formed only part of some of the bills. Bills taken through all their stages without debate are recorded as having taken less than one minute.

Debating time
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 199454 hours 54 minutes
Sale and Supply of Goods Act 19941 hour 44 minutes
Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 19942 minutes
Finance Act 199536 hours 46 minutes
Sale of Goods (Amendment) Act 1995Less than 1 minute
Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 199533 minutes
Civil Evidence Act 19953 minutes
Law Reform (Succession) Act 19951 minute
Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 19951 minute
Statute Law (Repeals) Act 19951 hour 12 minutes
Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996Less than 1 minute
Family Law Act 199619 hours 8 minutes
Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996Less than 1 minute
Damages Act 19963 minutes
Housing Act 199625 hours 24 minutes
Education Act 1996 (consolidation Act)Less than 1 minute
Schools Inspection Act 1996 (consolidation Act)Less than 1 minute
Theft (Amendment) Act 1996Less than 1 minute
land Registration Act 1997Less than 1 minute
Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 19984 hours 8 minutes
Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998Less than 1 minute

Salary Payments (Euros)

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the President of the Council what plans she has to meet requests from right hon. and hon. Members for the payment of their salaries in euros. [67273]

Mr. Pearson: To ask the President of the Council if she will make arrangements for right hon. and hon. Members to have the option of receiving their salaries in euros. [66509]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 478

Mrs. Beckett: There are no plans to offer right hon. and hon. Members the option of receiving their salaries in euros while the United Kingdom is outside the single currency zone.

Lords Amendments

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the President of the Council how many amendments to legislation made in the House of Lords were (a) approved and (b) rejected by this House in the 1997-98 session; and how many of each were Government amendments. [67607]

Mrs. Beckett: In the 1997-98 session, the House of Commons considered 1,685 amendments made by the House of Lords to bills originating in this House. This House agreed to 1,615 of these amendments (four with amendments of its own) and disagreed to 70. To give precise statistics as to how many of each were Government amendments would incur a disproportionate cost. However, the House of Lords Public Bill Sessional Statistics for Session 1997-98 is a document which is in the public domain. This contains information concerning Government defeats in the House of Lords, stating in each case whether these were subsequently reversed by the House of Commons.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Immigration Appeals

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department how many persons appointed to chair immigration appeal tribunals have left office before the end of their respective terms during the period of office of the present president of the immigration appeal tribunal; and how many of them are (a) women and (b) members of ethnic minorities. [68482]

Mr. Hoon: No person appointed to chair Immigration Appeal Tribunals has left office before the end of their appointment during the period of the present President of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, His Honour Judge David Pearl.

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what are the duties of the Vice-President of Administration of the Immigration Appeals Authority; when the present appointment was made and at what salary; how many (a) informal and (b) formal complaints about the vice-president have been made since his appointment; and what was the outcome of the complaints. [68487]

Mr. Hoon: The post of Vice President of Administration of the Immigration Appellate Authority does not exist. The Immigration Appellate Authority consists of Immigration Adjudicators and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. The Compliment of the Adjudicators consists of; one Chief Adjudicator; one Deputy Chief Adjudicator; 4 Regional Adjudicators; 29 full-time Adjudicators; and 213 part-time Adjudicators. The compliment of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal consists of one President; 4 Vice Presidents; 25 part-time legal members; and 26 part-time lay members. On the matter of complaints I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 1 February 1999.

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 479

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department how many (a) informal and (b) formal complaints have been made to his Department about the activities and attitudes of immigration appeal adjudicators by other adjudicators in each of the last five years; how many were from (a) women and (b) people from ethnic minorities; and what was the outcome of each complaint. [68486]

Mr. Hoon: No such complaints are recorded as having been made to the Lord Chancellor's Department between 1994 and 1996.

In 1997 there were three informal complaints. Two of them were from a female member of a minority ethnic community. One of these complaints was resolved by agreement between the parties and the other was superseded by further discussions and correspondence. The third complaint was discussed with the individual concerned and no further action taken.

In 1998 there were four informal and two formal complaints, all from a female member of a minority ethnic community. The complainant requested that the matters of substance raised in the informal and one of the formal complaints should be recorded but did not seek further action. The Lord Chancellor determined in relation to the other formal complaint that the adjudicator concerned should have made more careful enquiries in handling of complaint from solicitors and not have referred to the "promulgation" of a determination.

The Lord Chancellor is considering one informal complaint made this year by a female member of a minority ethnic community.

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department on what date the post of research and policy adjudicator at the Immigration Appeals Authority was created; how the person chosen was selected and by whom; and what steps were taken to ensure that the method of appointment was free from race and gender prejudice. [68485]

Mr. Hoon: Following an announcement in Parliament on 18 December 1996, Official Report, column 752, that the then Government intended to review Asylum and Immigration Appeals, the Regional Immigration Adjudicators asked one of their number, Dr. H. H. Storey, to prepare a paper which could be submitted to the Lord Chancellor's Department, setting out the Authority's response to that Review. Dr. Storey prepared the paper and it was submitted to the Lord Chancellor's Department in May 1997. From that date Dr. Storey has, with the endorsement of the present and previous Chief Adjudicator, continued to work on research projects for the Authority, in addition to his normal duties. Dr. Storey was originally chosen because the Regional Adjudicators considered him to be the person best qualified for the position. He is a former University Lecturer and an expert on European and Human Rights law.

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department when the European panel of the Immigration Appeals Authority was established; for what purpose and by whom; how and by whom its membership was recommended and appointed; and what steps were taken to ensure that the method of appointment was free of race and gender prejudice. [68484]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 480

Mr. Hoon: A European Panel was established in 1997 by the Chief Immigration Adjudicator as a result of specific concerns expressed by practitioners that it occasionally happened that cases with complex European issues were listed before relatively inexperienced Adjudicators. The intention was to create a core of Adjudicators who could be trained in European law, and that this core be widened as quickly as possible. The first group of Adjudicators were nominated by Regional Adjudicators. All full-time Adjudicators in post as at November 1998 have now been trained and are on the Panel.

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if it is mandatory for the Chief Adjudicator of the Immigration Appeal Authority to report the nature and number of complaints of race or gender prejudice or discrimination by members of the authority about other members to his Department. [68483]

Mr. Hoon: The Chief Immigration Adjudicator is responsible, in liaison with the Lord Chancellor, his officials and the Court Service, for the efficient operation of the Adjudicators' system. The Lord Chancellor would expect the Chief Immigration Adjudicator, and all other Tribunal Presidents or Tribunal Heads, to inform him of any complaint against a member of the judiciary, whether it is from a member of the public or a fellow member of the judiciary.


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