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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): I have today published a draft Defamation Bill which has been prepared to show in detail how the Government would implement proposals for a number of important reforms to bring defamation law up to date and to improve and simplify the procedures.
The proposals include a new summary procedure to allow judges to dispose quickly of straightforward and less serious defamation claims; a new defence of offer of amends; and a reduction, from three years to one year, of the time within which defamation proceedings can begin.
As drafted, most of these clauses would apply to England and Wales only. The Government will consider how far it may be appropriate for some or all of the reforms to be adopted in Northern Ireland and Scotland, taking into account the similarities as well as the
The Lord Chancellor: My policy objective on judges' lodgings is to provide accommodation affording satisfactory working conditions and appropriate levels of security, privacy and comfort to High Court judges when they are on circuit; and to do so in an economic, efficient and accountable manner.
Last July I instructed the chief executive of the Court Service to carry out a review of the current lodgings and to submit a report making recommendations concerning the optimum means of managing and staffing lodgings. Copies of the report have today been placed in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): Since they were established, the regulators of the privatised utilities (gas, electricity, water and telecoms) have made many appearances before Select Committees, 11 in the last 18 months alone. The Government believe that the regulators should continue to use parliamentary and other channels to do all they can to explain the basis for their decisions. It is, of course, for Parliament itself to decide whether, in the light of the existing scrutiny of the activities of the regulators by various bodies, increased parliamentary scrutiny is required.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Since the 1970s weights and measures legislation has by stages required products, including potatoes, sold by reference to quantity to adopt metric units. Potatoes may continue to be sold by the pound until the year 2000 where they are sold loose and are not pre-packed.
|Principal Findings and Final Report (The MVA Consultancy)||July 1995|
|Choice of Travel Time (TSU University of Oxford)||Oct 1993|
|Review Specification of Model Elasticities (HFA)||May 1993|
|Exploratory Social Research (Accent Research)||Oct 1992|
|Review of Technology (Newcastle University)||Sept 1992|
|Urban Economy Impacts (PA Cambridge Econ. Cons)||Dec 1993|
|Review of Available Evidence on Public Reactions (TSU Poly. of Central London)||July 1992|
|Commercial Vehicle Reactions (John Fearon Consultancy)||Feb 1993|
|Employer Assisted Car Travel TRL)||Aug 1993|
|Demand Effects of Travel Time Reliability (Cranfield Inst. of Technology)||Feb 1993|
|MEPLAN CC Scenario Test Reports (Marcial Echenique & Partners)||April 1994|
|Disaggregation of LTS Data (Steer Davies Gleave)||June & Dec 1993|
|Bus Operation Supply Effects (TAS Partnership)||Aug 1994|
|Highway Reliability Supply Effects (Steer Davies Gleave)||Nov 1993|
|Local Area Case Studies (HFA)||Feb 1995|
|Operational Procedures for Assessment (Marcial Echenique & Partners)||April 1994|
|Administration Systems (Touche Ross)||Dec 1994|
|Structure of APRIL model (Marcial Echenique & Partners)||Jan 1995|
|ARIL Implementation Report (Marcial Echenique & Partners)||April 1995|
|Increase on previous year (£m)||16||55||31||45||62|
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: To confirm fraud, corroborative evidence from a third party, such as an employer, or an admission from the customer is required. Cases in which this occurred are categorised as "confirmed fraud". To omit all instances where the evidence strongly points to the claim being fraudulent, but not enough evidence is available to confirm fraud, would have given an incomplete picture of incorrectness in the payment.
Within the report the suspicions of fraud were categorised into four levels:
level 1: could be genuine. Customers might have reported the change but not necessarily timeously
level 2: mild suspicion that fraud exists but no proof
level 3: strong suspicion that fraud exists but no proof
level 4: certain that a fraudulent situation has been discovered but insufficient information/evidence to establish the fraud.
The evaluation report shows clearly that the introduction of the agency has proved successful and is a sound basis on which to build. It also sets out the many improvements that have resulted from agency status, both in the agency's specific areas of responsibility, and their positive impact on the work of this department as a whole.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The repair and maintenance of all buildings has been standard rated since the inception of VAT, although alterations were initially zero-rated. The Budget of 1984 introduced standard rating for works of alteration to all existing buildings but it was conceded during the debate that approved alterations to listed buildings would be allowed to retain the existing zero rate.
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