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Ms Harman: The Government set out in its Manisfesto its proposal to ask Parliament to set up a Joint Committee to undertake a review to look at codifying the key conventions of the Lords and developing alternative forms of scrutiny that complement rather than replicate those of the Commons; the review should also explore how the upper chamber might offer a better route for public engagement in scrutiny and policy making. We also said we would legislate to place reasonable limits on the time bills spend in the second chamberno longer than 60 sitting days for most bills.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will take steps to ensure that the presentation of judgments in Immigration Appeals Tribunal cases is such that, when it determines that an application has no merit, the basis on which the Tribunal has considered the case as having no merit and the fact that the determination does not necessarily reflect the merits that the case may have but which fall outside the Tribunal's remit, are made clear; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) succeeded the Immigration Appellate Authority on 4 April 2005. The AIT procedure rules (SINo. 230 (L1.)) make provision that parties to an appeal hearing must be served with a written determination containing the appeal decision and the reasons for it. Similarly, where the AIT determines an application to reconsider the original Tribunal decision, the rules provide that the reasons for the decision, which may be in summary form, must be served in written form upon the parties to the appeal. Beyond these provisions, the approach as to form and content of determinations is a matter for the Tribunal judiciary.
The latest provisional information shows that at the end of March 2005 the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) had the following outstanding work: 25,304 Adjudicator appeals, 5,217 applications for permission to appeal to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT) and 4,783 substantive IAT appeal hearings. This covers all asylum and immigration work, including family visitor visas. There has been no backlog at the Adjudicator tier though there have been delays at the permission application and substantive appeal stages of the IAT. It is provisionally estimated that 2,000 IAT appeals were affected by these delays and could be classified as backlogged. On 4 April 2005 the commencement of section 26 of The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004" introduced a unified appeals system under the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). All outstanding work from the IAA and the IAT has been transferred to an equivalent appeal stage within the AIT.
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Ms Harman: There is currently no vacancy in the office of Lord Chief Justice. If in the future a vacancy does occur, the procedure will be that my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor will advise the Prime Minister who will make a recommendation to Her Majesty. Once the Queen has approved the appointment, this will be announced by No. 10 Downing street.
Mr. Davidson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what reports the Department has received from the Electoral Commission on the conduct of the north east regional assembly referendum; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: There have been none as yet. However, under section 5 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 the Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to prepare and publish a report on the administration of the referendum. I understand that the Commission proposes to do so in the autumn of this year.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many (a) confirmed instances, (b) allegations and (c) estimates of (i) postal votes being delivered to the wrong address, (ii) postal votes being delivered that had not been applied for, (iii) postal votes not being delivered that had been applied for, (iv) postal votes not being delivered in time for them to be returned, (v) postal votes being delivered in the wrong envelopes, (vi) people receiving both postal votes and polling cards, (vii) people receiving more than one postal vote and (viii) applications for postal votes for people being made at an address where they do not live and that they do not use for correspondence have been reported to the Department for each parliamentary constituency in relation to the 2005 general election. 
The Electoral Commission, under Section 5 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, has a statutory duty to report on the administration of all parliamentary general elections. Information about postal votes will be included in the Electoral Commission's report on
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participation and turnout at the 2005 general election, to be released later in the summer. The Government do not collect centrally the information requested.
Ms Harman: The Government remain committed to their manifesto commitment to reviewing the experience of the new electoral systemsintroduced in the devolved administrations, the European Parliament and the London Assembly. The Government have no plans to change the voting system.
Ms Harman: The Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to report on the administration of UK parliamentary elections. The Commission has already published its report 'Securing the vote' on 20 May 2005, including reporting on the administration of the general election 2005. Further reporting will follow in the coming months. In addition, The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, will also be publishing a report based upon the findings of their assessment team who were invited by the Government to observe the election. They indicated before the election that their report should be published between four to eight weeks after the election.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action is being taken by his Department to close the gap between those achieving the highest and lowest levels of academic attainment in Northern Ireland. 
the continued recognition of social deprivation and education underachievement in the formula used to determine schools' budgets. £48 million has been allocated to schools in 200506 under this element of the formula;
the implementation of the new post-primary arrangements which will provide all pupils with access to a much wider range of courses, including vocational courses, regardless of where they live or the school they attend.
This was highlighted in the Chief Inspector's report published on 24 May and my Department will continue to give this important issue the attention it deserves. I would also expect schools and support agencies to consider appropriate actions and interventions on the ground.
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