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18 May 2000 : Column WA29

Written Answers

Thursday, 18th May 2000.

Pakistan, India and Kashmir: UK-funded NGO work

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which British and foreign non-governmental organisations, which are active in Pakistan, India and Kashmir, received funding directly or indirectly from the British Government in the fiscal years 1997-98 and 1998-99; and whether they will provide details of the funding provided by each organisation.[HL2307]

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development (DFID) is currently supporting in excess of 70 projects, implemented through British non-governmental organisations, in Pakistan and India. It would be difficult to delineate in the way requested because we are not funding any projects specific to Kashmir. We will place a list of these organisations in the Library of the House.

The Lord Lieutenancy

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many counties in the United Kingdom are currently without a Lord Lieutenant, and whether in future, when a Lord Lieutenant retires, they will do their best to ensure an immediate succession.[HL2269]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The County of Gwent and the Lieutenancies of Berwickshire, Lanarkshire and the Western Isles are currently without Lord Lieutenants. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister endeavours to submit names to Her Majesty the Queen in a timely fashion to avoid any interregnum. Delays can arise for a variety of reasons such as the death of a Lord Lieutenant or a resignation on grounds of ill-health.

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a resident of a county of England could be appointed as Lord Lieutenant for a county in Scotland.[HL2270]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There is no statutory requirement in respect of a Lord Lieutenant's residence. Given the nature of a Lord Lieutenant's duties, it would be unlikely for a Lord Lieutenant to be appointed who did not have a residence in, or in very close proximity to, the Lieutenancy in question.

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the County of Berwickshire is currently without a Lord Lieutenant and when they expect an appointment to be made.[HL2268]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The former Lord Lieutenant of Berwickshire, Major General Sir John Swinton, retired on 21 April on reaching 75. Work on the process of identifying a successor is well in hand. On this occasion staff changes in the Office of the Secretary of Commissions for Scotland regrettably contributed to the delay in the process.

Rural Social Exclusion: Ministerial Network

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 2 May (WA 157), what examples they can give of the successful "chasing of progress on the implementation of previous Social Exclusion Unit reports".[HL2331]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Ministerial Network has met twice under its new remit, on January 31 and May 15 2000.

At the first meeting my right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office agreed a future work programme to chase progress on the implementation of previous social exclusion reports with ministerial colleagues. At the second meeting the Network discussed follow-up implementation of action from the SEU report on school exclusions and truancy.

My right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office now plans to hold three further meetings. These will take place in June and July, to follow up implementation of action from the SEU reports on rough sleepers, teenage pregnancy and 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training.

My right honourable friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office will report progress on implementation across all these areas to the Prime Minister once the meetings have taken place.

"Lovebug" Computer Virus

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 28 February (WA 41) concerning government computer network protection, and given the self-replicating nature of the "ILOVEYOU" e-mail virus, which creates an equivalence with a "pingstorm" attack, whether they remain satisfied that their servers and routers are adequately protected.[HL2359]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The "LOVEBUG" virus is not a PINGSTORM attack, but what is in Internet parlance a "worm".

Government departments were advised of appropriate countermeasures promptly and the effect on their operations was small.

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The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any departmental computer systems were infected by the "ILOVEYOU" e-mail virus; if so, which departments: and to what detrimental effect.[HL2360]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Each Government department is responsible for its own security and they are not required to respond individually to the Cabinet Office. However departments are encouraged to report in confidence all IT security incidents, including virus infections under the Unified Incident Reporting and Alert Scheme (UNIRAS), which is co-ordinated by the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC).

Although some departments and agencies have yet to make their report to UNIRAS, initial returns suggest that the virus affected in the region of one-third. The actual effect on these departments' computer systems was limited, with the main impact being on the availability of e-mail systems. There were almost no reports of damage to the integrity of systems nor were computer networks delivering critical functions significantly affected.

Tribunals: Review

Lord Currie of Marylebone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to Sir Jeffery Bowman's recommendation in his report on the Crown Office List that there should be a comprehensive review of the present structure, jurisdiction, procedures, remedies and routes of appeal of tribunals.[HL2518]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I welcome Sir Jeffery Bowman's recommendation. It has been 43 years since the last thorough review of tribunals. The number of tribunals has grown greatly since then. There has also been a fundamental change in the nature of, and pressures on, their work. I have therefore decided that there should be a wide-ranging, independent review of tribunals.

Its terms of reference will be:

    "To review the delivery of justice through tribunals other than ordinary courts of law, constituted under an Act of Parliament by a Minister of the Crown or for purposes of a Minister's functions; in resolving disputes, whether between citizens and the state, or between other parties, so as to ensure that:

    There are fair, timely, proportionate and effective arrangements for handling those disputes, within an effective framework for decision-making which encourages the systematic development of the area of law concerned, and which forms a coherent structure, together with the superior courts, for the delivery of administrative justice;

    The administrative and practical arrangements for supporting those decision-making procedures

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    meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights for independence and impartiality;

    There are adequate arrangements for improving people's knowledge and understanding of their rights and responsibilities in relation to such disputes, and that tribunals and other bodies function in a way which makes those rights and responsibilities a reality;

    The arrangements for the funding and management of tribunals and other bodies by government departments are efficient, effective and economical; and pay due regard both to judicial independence, and to ministerial responsibility for the administration of public funds;

    Performance standards for tribunals are coherent, consistent, and public; and effective measures for monitoring and enforcing those standards are established; and

    Tribunals overall constitute a coherent structure for the delivery of administrative justice.

    The review may examine, in so far as it considers it necessary, administrative and regulatory bodies which also make judicial decisions as part of their functions."

The review will be led by Sir Andrew Leggatt, supported by Dame Valerie Strachan, and a team of expert advisors. It will operate in an open, consultative way, involving and seeking views from as wide a range of interests as possible. I have asked Sir Andrew to report to me by 31 March 2001.

ECOFIN Exchange Rate Discussions

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 20 April (WA 139), and in the light of the depreciation of the euro against the pound sterling and other currencies since its launch on 1 January 1999, on what occasions the Chancellor of the Exchequer has raised the problem of undervaluation of the euro with his fellow members of ECOFIN (Economic and Finance Council of Ministers); and with what results.[HL2317]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As I set out in my Answer on 20 April, the Chancellor of the Exchequer meets regularly with other Ministers in the Economic and Finance Council of Ministers (ECOFIN), and a wide range of economic and financial issues are discussed.

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