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Homosexual Rights

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to include reference to homosexual rights in the 'Good Governance and Human Rights' section of his Department's publication 'Focus International, Britain's Overseas Territories'. [138534]

Mr. Battle: Focus International briefings are occasional publications on topics in which Britain has a particular interest. The July 2000 briefing on Overseas Territories was produced in direct response to Overseas and UK public interest in the territories arising from the publication of the White Paper on Overseas Territories in

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March 1999. It included a reference to our requirement for Overseas Territories to revise legislation to decriminalise consensual homosexual acts in private between adults.


Legal Aid

Mr. Gill: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will provide a schedule of the types of legal cases that are eligible for legal aid. [138272]

Mr. Lock: Public funding (formerly legal aid) is available, subject to eligibility criteria, for all civil cases in England and Wales unless specifically excluded by schedule 2 of the Access to Justice Act 1999. Legal aid is available for all criminal cases which are serious enough to meet the interests of justice criteria set out in section 22(2) of the Legal Aid Act 1988.


Domestic Violence

31. Mr. Rapson: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the policy adopted by the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure effective prosecution in cases of domestic violence. [137167]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service regards violence in the domestic context as a serious matter and will prosecute wherever it is proper to do so.

It is committed to working with others in the criminal justice system to achieve effective prosecutions in this difficult area.

The Crown Prosecutors will consider the full range of prosecution options whether or not the victim is willing to attend the trial as a witness.

Crown Prosecution Service

32. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Solicitor-General what guidance he gives to the Crown Prosecution Service on consultation with victims on decisions about whether to prosecute. [137168]

The Solicitor-General: The Code for Crown Prosecutors was reissued last month. It sets out among other things the relationship between the CPS, victims and the public interest. The Code explains that the CPS prosecutes on behalf of the public at large and not just in the interests of any one individual.

The Code at paragraphs 6.7 and 6.8 makes it clear that Crown Prosecutors should always take into account the consequences for the victim of the decision whether or not to prosecute, and any views expressed by the victim or the victim's family as that is part of the public interest.

Prosecutors should already carry this out in appropriate cases, but additional guidance is being considered to improve this process.

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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the operation of the Crown Prosecution Service. [137165]

The Solicitor-General: The significance of the Human Rights Act on the work of the CPS was recognised at an early stage, and a high priority was given to ensure the CPS was well prepared for the implementation of the Act on 2 October 2000.

In consultation with other prosecuting agencies and leading external human rights experts, the CPS developed a comprehensive training course for CPS prosecutors. The training programme reached nearly 2,500 prosecutors and selected caseworkers before 2 October 2000.

This training programme and the continued guidance and advice that CPS staff receive has ensured that cases giving rise to human rights issues have been dealt with in a professional and effective manner. We had expected that human rights problems would be raised in ordinary cases, and that they would be dealt with in the ordinary way. This has proved to be the case.

The Human Rights Act has meant that the courts are considering many new arguments. A number of cases raising human rights points are already going to the appeal courts. Where such cases have an impact on the criminal justice system as a whole and need to be litigated and resolved urgently they may be fast tracked to the appeal courts.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Solicitor-General what arrangements he has put in place for reviewing the work of the CPS Inspectorate; and how he measures the effectiveness of the Inspectorate. [137161]

The Solicitor-General: My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and I routinely meet the Chief Inspector to discuss the work of the Inspectorate and the issues emerging. We receive and consider the Annual Report of the Chief Inspector together with reports of each Area inspection and thematic review undertaken. An Advisory Board is at present being established to ensure that the Inspectorate activity is targeted on those matters which most influence the performance of the CPS itself and the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system as a whole.

Criminal Libel

33. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Solicitor-General what impact incorporation of the European convention on Human Rights into UK law has had on his policy on permitting prosecutions for criminal libel; and if he will make a statement. [137169]

The Solicitor-General: CPS prosecution policy is contained in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The Code outlines the two-stage process in the decision to prosecute. The first stage is the evidential test, which states there must be sufficient evidence to provide a "realistic prospect of conviction". The second stage is the public interest test. The CPS will only start or continue when the case has passed both tests. The Code also states that each case must be considered on its own facts and merits.

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The revised Code, which was launched on 11 October 2000, has been amended to reflect the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998. The Code states

Cases involving criminal libel will be considered in accordance with the principles outlined in the Code.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Bill

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Solicitor-General when he notified the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament that he did not intend to refer the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Bill to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. [138278]

The Solicitor-General: An official in the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers wrote to the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament on 22 September 2000 to notify him that I did not intend to refer the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Bill to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council under section 33(1) of the Scotland Act 1998.


Millennium Dome

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of National Lottery grants has been spent on the Dome during 2000 to date. [135577]

Janet Anderson: Between 1 January 2000 and 31 October 2000, £139 million of Lottery money was paid to the New Millennium Experience Company. This amounts to 10.4 per cent. of the £1,340.5 million which has been paid to all grant recipients during the same period.

Lottery Funding (The Olympics)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the effect of National Lottery funding on Britain's Olympic performance. [134822]

Kate Hoey: The performance of the British Team in Sydney was the best showing since the 1920 Games. This was achieved through the focus, determination and talent of our athletes, harnessed and given a chance by the Lottery funding and other support that they and their coaches receive. Over £80 million has been paid to athletes and their sports from the National Lottery since 1997.

I have met with the Performance Directors of the Olympic Sports, together with the British Olympic Association, to discuss ways of building on the success of Sydney and I shall shortly be having a similar meeting with the Chief Executives of the sports governing bodies.

Fitness Industry

Mr. Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the economic contribution of the fitness industry, consisting of private health and fitness clubs, public sports and leisure facilities, to the economy. [137044]

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Kate Hoey: The Government recognise the contribution that the fitness industry makes to the overall economy and the wider health benefits of increasing participation. There are a number of different independent estimates of the specific economic benefits of the fitness and leisure industry based on estimates of the economic benefits of sport as a whole. However, these estimates tend not to be sensitive enough to give a reliable estimate of expenditure within specific sectors. I understand the Leisure Industries Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University is currently developing a new model which aims to provide a more accurate picture of the economic impacts of different sectors of sport, including the health and fitness markets. Sheffield Hallam University is intending to publish the first results from this work shortly.

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