|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Access to the 1911 Census Records is a matter for the Registrar General and all correspondence relating to the closure of that census for 100 years is referred to him.
There was wide public consultation between March and May 2000 on the setting of the discount rate for personal injury awards under Section 1 of the Damages Act 1996. Eighty-four responses were received. HM Treasury were consulted as part of that exercise pursuant to Section 1(4) of the Act, which requires the Lord Chancellor to consult the Treasury before making any order under Section 1(1).
However, I did not discuss the rate, or my reasons for setting it at the level chosen, with either the Secretary of State for Health, the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any other Minister, in advance of taking my decision. The decision was mine and mine alone. My function was to set the discount rate at the right level in accordance with the law.
The Lord Chancellor: During the passage of the Financial Services and Markets Bill, Ministers stated that the Rules for the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal would cover the circumstances in which tribunal hearings were not held in public. They also gave commitments that the tribunal would comply with best practice as laid down by the Council on Tribunals. The council's Model Rules favour, for tribunal proceedings, a presumption of publicity with provision for private hearings. This approach is followed in the procedure rules for the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal. These were laid before Parliament on 10 July 2001 after limited consultation which followed the terms of the Code of Practice on Written Consultation. A number of ministerial statements were made on publication by the Financial Services Authority of its decision notice. These statements did not specifically address procedures at the tribunal stage.
Whether it will be necessary to train Ministers and civil servants in central government departments in the practical implications of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 before it can be brought into force in respect of them. [HL371]
The Lord Chancellor: Each department will need to determine for itself what operational training--that is training relating to the procedures and processes to be used in dealing with requests for information--is needed and how to deliver that training. My officials will provide guidance to departments on the broad issues which should be covered in such training. This detailed training is best provided in the period immediately prior to the introduction of the Act's provisions to a public authority.
In the meantime my officials are providing awareness training to departments and interest groups within government. The aim of this training is to ensure that departments know what actions they need to take now to prepare for the implementation of the Act. This training began in April and will continue throughout the year, though the content of the training will change to reflect developments as they occur.
Presentations have been given to a number of departments and also to cross departmental groups including: Permanent Secretaries, the Senior Group on Data Protection and Freedom of Information, and the Government Information Service.
The Lord Chancellor: Neither we nor the Information Commissioner can know at this stage how long it will take to recruit the staff necessary to enable her to perform the functions required under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The commissioner and my officials are working together to ensure that the Act can be implemented as quickly and effectively as possible.
The Lord Chancellor: The number of departments and officials in central government bears some relation to the population of the state in question. For example, central government in the United Kingdom is some 15 times the size of that in the Republic of Ireland. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that it will take longer to prepare those working in central government in the United Kingdom for the implementation of legislation than in the Republic of Ireland.
The Lord Chancellor: As with any other activity, departments must act within their legal powers and not contravene any other relevant common or statute law, such as the common law duty of confidence and the Human Rights Act.
Once a freestanding lawful basis has been established, departments must then ensure that their data matching is carried out in compliance with the eight data protection principles laid down in the Data Protection Act 1998 (or in reliance upon one of the Act's limited exemptions). Among other things, the principles require personal data to be processed fairly and lawfully and for limited purposes; to be accurate; not kept for longer than necessary; and held securely.
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question on the rate of long-term illness and disability among lone parents out of work (HL381). I have been asked to reply in his absence.
Estimates of lone parents with a long-term disability are available from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and are included in its household dataset. Those not in employment consist of those who are unemployed or inactive. Data for 1991 are unavailable as disability status using the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) definition is only available on a consistent basis from 1998.
In autumn (September-November) 2000, the estimate of the rate of long-term disability among lone parents who were not in employment was 32.1 per cent. This is an increase of 5.4 percentage points since autumn 1998.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Commission has not made a "ruling" in this respect but has made proposals for revising the EC public procurement directives. The proposals are the subject of continuing discussions in the Council and the European Parliament and the Government are optimistic that the final version will make express provision for best practice in the award of PFI and other major contracts.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|