Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA19

Written Answers

Wednesday, 24th June 1998.

UK Pensioners Living in Commonwealth Countries

Lord Stallard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to open negotiations with Commonwealth governments, with a view to establishing reciprocal arrangements for payment of increases to retirement pensions paid to retired United Kingdom citizens domiciled in Commonwealth countries to bring them into line with United Kingdom retirement pensioners living in any one of over 30 non-Commonwealth countries who currently receive all pension increases as for United Kingdom pensioners living in the United Kingdom; and what they are.[HL2088]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): State pensions paid to UK pensioners living in the major Commonwealth countries are not increased in line with pensions in the UK. There continue to be competing demands and constraints on social security spending in the UK. Therefore, the Government consider that it would be wrong to raise expectations that moves to unfreeze UK pensions paid abroad would be likely to attract priority in the current circumstances.

About 800,000 UK state pensions are paid to pensioners who live abroad. Four hundred thousand of these are not uprated, mainly paid to pensioners living in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It would cost some £250 million a year to unfreeze those pensions--that is, to bring them up to the rate which would be paid if the pensioners were in the UK.

Association of Chief Police Officers

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Chief Police Officers Ltd are subject to any scrutiny by the National Audit Office and, if not, why not; and[HL2281]

    Whether the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis in his role as (a) a director and (b) an executive committee member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Ltd is accountable to the Home Secretary; and[HL2282]

    To whom

    (a) the directors of the Association of Chief Police Officers Ltd who are executive committee members;

    (b) other executive committee members who are not directors; and

    (c) the other members of the Association of Chief Police Officers Ltd are accountable; and[HL2283]

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA20

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of all invoices which they have paid, with dates, to either the Association of Chief Police Officers or the Association of Chief Police Officers Ltd during the last five years.[HL2284]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Association of Chief Police Officers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO) is not part of the Home Office or any other government department. The National Audit Office audits the accounts and examines the regularity and propriety of government expenditure. The Home Office contribution towards the expenses of ACPO is subject to scrutiny in common with all other government expenditure.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is not accountable to the Home Secretary in either role. The officials of ACPO are accountable to the members of ACPO, and chief officers of police who are members of ACPO are locally accountable under existing arrangements.

The information requested on the invoices paid by the Home Office in respect of ACPO is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Law Commission Reports

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they are giving to Law Commission reports.[HL2424]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We very much value the work done by the Law Commission and welcome the close working relationship between the Commission and the department. The Home Office has the responsibility for considering the Law Commission's reports on the criminal law, although other departments often have an interest in their proposals. Law Commission reports are normally considered by an interdepartmental working group of officials representing all the interested departments. The Law Commission plays a valuable role in assisting and advising these working groups.

The consultation paper Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which described the Government's proposals for reform based on the Law Commission's recommendations in their report Offences Against the Person and General Principles (LC 218), was issued in February. This was based on the work of an interdepartmental working group on which the Law Commission was represented. The Law Commission reports on Involuntary Manslaughter (LC 239) and Corruption (LC 248) are currently under consideration by similar interdepartmental working groups which include the Law Commission. The Criminal Law Commissioner is also advising an Interdepartmental Working Group considering the Misuse of Public Office.

The Law Commission's work on Hearsay also contributed to the work of the Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses Group, which recommended that

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA21

an interdepartmental working group be set up to consider the Law Commission's report on Hearsay (LC 245) in the broader context, taking account of the discussion in the report Speaking Up For Justice. This working group will commence work shortly and will have the benefit of Law Commission membership.

Gulf War Veterans: Medical Assessment and Treatment

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will create regional centres at which sick Gulf War veterans can be assessed and treated.[HL1805]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Ministry of Defence, MoD, provides free clinical assessments for Gulf veterans at the Medical Assessment Programme, MAP, which is based at St. Thomas' Hospital in London and, if required, pays for travel and accommodation for Gulf veterans when they attend the programme.

The programme is based in central London because London is well served by rail and air links to all parts of the country. There are good medical reasons for using a single location with access to a wide range of facilities, as this enables interdepartmental referrals and laboratory or medical tests to take place without undue delay.

MoD has no plans at present to create regional centres for the assessment and treatment of Gulf veterans. However, all aspects of the work to address Gulf veterans' health concerns are kept under review and it is our intention later this year to commission an independent clinical audit which will address all aspects of the service provided by the MAP.

Treatment for Gulf veterans is not provided by the MAP. Treatment is provided either through the Defence Medical Services, for veterans who are still serving, or through the NHS, under the care of a GP, for those veterans who have left the Services.

School Reorganisation Proposals: LEA

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, under the School Standards and Framework Bill, local education authorities will be empowered to initiate school reorganisation proposals, including proposals affecting admission arrangements, for consideration by the organisational committee and where necessary the Adjudicator; and if so, what powers will foundation schools as admission authorities in their own right have to resist any such proposal.[HL2306]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Local education authorities will be able to propose to close any school, to open community and foundation schools

24 Jun 1998 : Column WA22

and to make prescribed alterations to community schools. A local education authority does not have the power to publish proposals to change the admission arrangements of a foundation school or a voluntary school. The only prescribed alteration they will be able to propose to a foundation school is an enlargement of its premises. They will also be able to propose that a community school changes its category to become a foundation school.

Any governing body may object to proposals made by an LEA. This will mean that the proposals are considered by the school organisation committee.

School Funding: Delegation

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Blackstone on 15 June (WA 115) in relation to school finance where it is proposed that there is to be "a new 100 per cent. delegation framework for the funding of schools by local education authorities", of what is the delegation framework to be 100 per cent.[HL2348]

Baroness Blackstone: The Government's intention is that funding should be fully delegated by LEAs to schools in respect of all functions other than those which clearly need to be carried out at the level of the LEA. As noted in my previous Answer, the final division of responsibilities and associated funding within the new framework will be informed by the outcome of the consultation.

Foundation Schools: Decisions on Proposals

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If and when a proposal under the School Standards and Framework Bill to close, enlarge or merge a foundation school is initiated by the local education authority, whether it is the case that the decision would be made by the organisation committee on the basis of unanimity and where unanimity cannot be secured by the adjudicator.[HL2349]

Baroness Blackstone: If objections are received to a proposal, then the school organisation committee will decide the proposals if the votes cast are unanimous and if they are not, the adjudicator will make the decision.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page