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11 Jul 2001 : Column WA75

Written Answers

Wednesday, 11th July 2001.

Legal Services Commission: Funding Criteria

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Lord Chancellor will amend the guidance given to the Legal Services Commission, under Section 23 of the Access to Justice Act 1999, so as to prescribe the criteria to be used by the commission in order to comply with the positive obligations imposed by Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights. [HL113]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I am confident that the scope of the Community Legal Service and the criteria used to decide funding applications in ordinary cases are compliant with the ECHR and need no amendment. However, in the light of the recent High Court judgment in the case of R -v- Legal Services Commission and Lord Chancellor's Department ex parte Jarrett, I intend to amend the criteria used to decide exceptional applications for funding in cases that are outside the scope of the scheme. The Legal Services Commission will shortly publish a new draft for consultation and it will take effect as soon as possible after that. Meanwhile, the commission will use the criteria in the consultation draft in deciding whether to refer applications to me under s.6(8)(b) of the Access to Justice Act 1999.

Legal Services Ombudsman's Annual Report

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the annual report of the Legal Services Ombudsman for 2000-01.[HL267]

The Lord Chancellor: The Legal Services Ombudsman has today published her tenth annual report and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Asylum Appeals: Transfer to Appellate Authority

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many files relating to asylum applications which had been refused are awaiting transfer to the appellate authorities. [HL109]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): Provisional data indicate that on 30 May 2001 there were approximately 33,000 appeals lodged with IND which had not yet been sent to the Immigration Appellate Authority.

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For every appeal lodged, IND has to review the grounds advanced and may as a consequence need to reconsider all the circumstances of the case. Appeals are not forwarded to the IAA until this consideration has been completed and appeal papers have been prepared.

Slopping Out in Prisons

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many inmates in HM Prisons in (a) England and Wales and (b) Scotland respectively are contained in conditions in which they are required to slop out and in which establishments they are being detained; and what are the relevant categories of inmates kept in such conditions; and[HL143]

    What is their programme and timetable to end the practice of slopping out in HM Prisons in (a) England and Wales and (b) Scotland.[HL144]

Lord Rooker: There are no prison establishments in England and Wales where slopping out is part of the standard operational regime. Twenty-four hour access to sanitation is provided in normal location accommodation by means of integral sanitation, electric unlocking, manual unlocking or open access.

There are three wings across the prison estate on normal location where manual unlocking at night is still undertaken by officers. Buckets are also provided in these wings for prisoners as an alternative to calling an officer to manually unlock them. These wings are:

Dartmoor C Wing, which currently holds 34 Category B prisoners.

Exeter D Wing, which currently holds 40-45 young offenders.

Swansea B Wing, which currently holds four Category B prisoners.

Integral sanitation was not provided in these wings originally because the intention was either to close them or carry out refurbishment work. Plans to refurbish the wings are currently being developed for consideration.

Not all cells in segregation units and health care centres, which are not usually classified as normal location, have integral sanitation, and there is currently a programme under way to provide integral sanitation in such cells where this is considered to be appropriate. However, there will continue to be a proportion of cells in these facilities where sanitation is not provided for operational reasons.

The Scottish Executive should be approached about matters relating to the Scottish Prison Service.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in identifying the cause of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease; and when they expect to report to Parliament on this matter.[HL81]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The current epidemic has been caused by a specific strain of the foot and mouth virus (PanAsian Strain O) which has occurred in a number of countries around the world. The precise means of the introduction of the virus into Great Britain is unknown and the subject of continuing investigations, but is most likely to have been introduced in imported meat or meat products.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest information on the relative importance of the mechanisms for the spread of foot and mouth disease and in particular spreading by the wind, movements of vehicles and machinery, farm workers and itinerant contract workers, wild animals, and recreational walkers on footpaths and in open country.[HL82]

Lord Whitty: Each infected premises is subject to epidemiological investigations to determine the source of infection and therefore the most likely means of transmission. The results of these investigations on the first 1,706 infected premises are given in the following table:

Number of casesPercentage of cases
Dairy tanker5<1%
Infected animals845%
Local spread1,38181%
Other fomite(2)91%
Under investigation1428%


(1) Cases infected by windborne spread from infected pigs.

(2) A fomite is defined as any inanimate object capable of carrying the virus.

Windborne spread has not been a feature of the current epidemic because only 10 pig herds have become affected so far. Pigs are the major source of virus for windborne spread because of the relatively large excretion of virus from their respiratory tracts, as compared to that from cattle, sheep and goats.

Local spread is the attributed source of infection when infected premises are within 3km of another infected premises and there are a number of possible sources such as farm machinery and vehicles, contaminated roads, feed lorries and local aerosol transmission. The last of these is impossible to attribute specifically to individual infected premises as it cannot be distinguished from other means of local spread.

Itinerant contract workers have been identified as the most likely source of infection for a number of infected premises associated with personnel in the above table. Wild animals have not been identified to

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be the source of infection for any infected premises. No outbreak has been specifically attributed to recreational walkers. Provided they follow the advice and guidance provided, the risk of spread by walkers is very small.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest information on the cause of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the Craven area of North Yorkshire (the "Settle rectangle"). [HL83]

Lord Whitty: Epidemiological investigations are still in progress as to the source and mechanisms of spread of infection in the Settle/Clitheroe area. Investigations are focusing on the movement of animals, people or vehicles from an infected area as both the source and the mechanism of spread in the area.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has decided what period must elapse between the last notification of foot and mouth disease in England and Wales and the reopening of the Over Thirty Month Scheme. [HL179]

Lord Whitty: The Over Thirty Month Scheme has been suspended, other than in Northern Ireland and for casualty animals in Great Britian, due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The scheme will be reopened as soon as the processing capacity, which has been diverted to deal with the foot and mouth outbreak, can be made available to the scheme.

Peaches: EU Marketing Standards

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek any change in the European Union directive which states that from 1 July a peach may not be offered for sale unless it has a minimum diameter of 56 mm.[HL158]

Lord Whitty: Officials met representatives of one of the multiple retailers last week to discuss their concerns about the EU marketing standards for peaches and now await their written proposals on amendment of the marketing standards in respect of organic produce. Subject to wider consultation with UK interests, officials stand ready to explore the possibility of changes to the standards with the EU Commission and other member states in the autumn.

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