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7 Jan 2003 : Column 63Wcontinued
Keith Vaz: To ask the honourable Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission how many (a) Clerks of the House and (b) Clerks of Committees are (i) black and (ii) Asian. 
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Clerk of the House. Of these, 241 (approximately 80 per cent.) have completed ethnic monitoring forms, which are voluntary. The figures for members of staff in post on 31 December 2002 were:
2.07 per cent. declared themselves to be Asian
2.59 per cent. declared themselves to be Asian
31. Vera Baird: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor's Department what steps the Lord Chancellor is taking to amend the appointments system to increase the diversity of the judiciary. 
Yvette Cooper: Since taking up office in 1997 the Lord Chancellor has introduced many improvements to the judicial appointments process aimed at promoting equality of opportunity and greater diversity within the judiciary, as follows:
Piloting an assessment centre
Removing lower and upper age limits for most appointments
Setting up a work shadowing scheme
Arranging events about judicial appointments to talk openly about the appointments procedures and encourage applications
Publicising criteria and appointments procedures, including on diversity, in booklets, on the LCD website and in a video
Publishing the Judicial Appointments annual report since October 1999, which includes statistical information about the appointment of women and people of minority ethnic origin
Liasing with the legal profession on diversity issues, for example, through the Joint Working Party on Equal Opportunities in Judicial Appointments
Introducing a salaried part-time working facility and flexible part-time sitting arrangements for those who have had career breaks for family reasons
Abolishing the system of appointments to the High Court bench by invitation only
Involving judicial and lay members in more aspects of the selection process
Amending the appointment criteria following recommendations by the Joint Working Party on Equal Opportunities in Judicial Appointments
Confirming publicly that homosexuality is not a bar to appointment
Confirming that advocacy experience is not a prerequisite for judicial appointment
Supporting appraisal and mentoring schemes
Improving application and consultation forms and guidance
Researching factors that affect (especially) women and ethnic minority lawyers in deciding whether to apply to be judges
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Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will take steps to contact parents who have reported prevention of access to their children in Germany to the Child Abduction Unit, to determine if their problems remain and offer them assistance as appropriate; and what progress has been made on Lady Meyer's case. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Child Abduction Unit discharges the Lord Chancellor's functions as Central Authority under the 1980 Hague and European Conventions. Article 21 of the Hague Convention enables applications via the designated Central Authorities to make arrangements for organising or securing the effective exercise of rights of access, and the European Convention enables a person who has obtained in one Contracting State a decision on rights of access to apply via the Central Authorities for the purpose of having the decision recognised or enforced in another Contracting State. Any parent resident in England and Wales whose child is resident in Germany may apply to the Child Abduction Unit; but there are no plans to contact parents who have reported difficulties but have not made such an application.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will take actions against countries that deny British parents reasonable access to their children held abroad. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Lord Chancellor is designated as the Central Authority for England and Wales and Northern Ireland under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and European Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on the Restoration of Custody and Children. Should there be clear evidence of countries which are contracting states to those conventions holding children of British parents and denying those parents reasonable access to their children in breach of their obligations under the conventions, consideration would of course be given to all appropriate courses of action to rectify the situation.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if the Lord Chancellor's Department will produce a yearly report presenting the results of legal proceedings abroad sought to settle disputes related to child abduction. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Child Abduction Unit, which discharges the functions of the Lord Chancellor as Central Authority under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and European Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on the Restoration of Custody and Children, maintains statistics on applications under those conventions in respect of children brought to and taken from England and Wales.
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A summarised version of those statistics appears as part of the annual report of the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee, the latest version of which was published in October 2002. A copy is in the Libraries of both Houses and is also available on the OSPT website.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will list legislation involving protection for survivors of domestic violence which has not been brought into force, stating the reasons in each case. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Section 60 of Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996 has not been implemented. This section would give the Lord Chancellor the power to make rules to allow a prescribed person, or category of person, to act on behalf of survivors of domestic violence.
It was not implemented in 1997 with Part IV in order to give the courts, police, practitioners and others time to become familiar with the new law and gain experience in its operation before considering the introduction of new procedures and responsibilities of this nature.
The Lord Chancellor's Department commissioned research to assess the effectiveness of current remedies for domestic violence and understand the practical impact on individuals of third party applications. The research report has now been considered by our Domestic Violence Advisory Group, which includes representation from the police, voluntary sector, judiciary and others. The group concluded that the problems identified in the research would not be most effectively addressed by implementing section 60. A sub-group of the advisory group will now consider these problems and recommend how best to tackle them.
The local e-voting electoral modernisation pilot programme is the responsibility of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. In conjunction with the Electoral Commission, the Office of the e-Envoy and local authorities, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is exploring what more can usefully be donebefore, during and after the electoral processto ensure the e-voting pilot programme takes full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the advent of new technologies. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's aim is to engage with and better inform voters and other key stakeholders of the electoral process, increase the opportunity for voting and maintain the integrity and security of the ballot.
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fixing of a hearing date by the Immigration Appellate Authority in the last year for which figures are available. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Information is not kept on the average length of time from the explanatory statement receipt to the fixing of a hearing date by the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA). However, for immigration and asylum cases received in the 12 months period ending 30 June 2002 the average time from receipt was:
15 weeks to the Substantive Hearing.
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