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Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor: In relation to the Crown Court and county courts, only Chepstow and Monmouth county courts have closed since November 2001. A proposal to close Gateshead county court is currently going through public consultation, but no final decision has been made. Public consultation has also taken place on the proposal to close Gravesend county court. Following the consultation the decision has been taken that the court will not close until an alternative venue can be found in Gravesend to hold hearings.

No Crown Court closures are planned, with the exception of the satellite Crown Court at Knutsford, where public consultation started on 10 April. There is an on-going process of consultation in relation to the civil courts which started with initial consultation through the Modernising the Civil Courts consultation process in 2001. This is looking to future methods by which the civil courts will deliver services. The aim is to maintain a sitting presence in current locations and in fact I anticipate an overall increase in the number of places where sittings take place, particularly in rural areas where there is a civil justice need not currently being met.

The Government's policy is that decisions on the number and location of magistrates' courts in England and Wales are for the individual magistrates' courts committees to determine, in consultation with their local paying authorities. Although the department collects details concerning the closure of magistrates'

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courthouses only quarterly in arrears, we are aware so far that since November 2001 Arundel magistrates' courthouse was closed on 1 December 2001 and Bridgenorth and Leominster courthouses were closed on 31 January 2002.

The magistrates' courts committees are not statutorily required to inform the Lord Chancellor's Department of proposed courthouse closures. However, a paying authority can lodge an appeal to the Lord Chancellor against a proposed courthouse closure. The department has received seven appeals that concern the proposed closure of the following courthouses:

Magistrates' Courts Committee Area Courthouse
KentTunbridge Wells
North YorkshirePickering
Thames ValleyThame
WiltshireTrowbridge, Devizes

Terrorism: Causes

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any progress has been made on proposals to convene a major international conference to examine the causes of terrorism; and what action they have taken in this regard. [HL3443]

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The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The next meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Working Group which discusses this issue will take place in October. The UK is actively involved in discussions in this forum.


Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Gibraltarians will be entitled to vote in any referendum which may be called to decide the future constitution of Gibraltar. [HL3528]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The number of those entitled to vote in any referendum on the future of Gibraltar would be determined by the franchise criteria to be established at the time. The franchise criteria for the 1967 referendum were set out in an Order in Council in 1967.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 12 March (WA 64–65), whether the Chief Minister of Gibraltar has the right to vote on decisions reached at talks under the two flags, three voices formula. [HL3617]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I explained in my previous Answer to the noble Lord on 12 March, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar would participate in the Brussels Process with his own and distinct voice on the British side of the table: a formula known as three voices, two flags. It would be for the people of Gibraltar to decide in a referendum whether any proposals that emerge from the current Brussels Process talks should be implemented.

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to reassure the people of Gibraltar that they will act in accordance with the preamble to the 1969 Constitution which states that the British Government "will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes". [HL3670]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have repeatedly made clear that they stand by the constitutional commitment set out in the preamble to the 1969 Gibraltar Constitution. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister reaffirmed this in another place on 18 and 20 March.


Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied by the progress made on the reconstruction of Kosovo over the past 12 months. [HL3666]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Much has been achieved over the past year. Successful elections in November, in which both Kosovar Albanians and Serbs participated, led to the establishment of the new provisional institutions of self-government. With the active support of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo and the rest of the international community, progress is being made on rebuilding Kosovo's infrastructure and developing its economy. Kosovo's health, education and social service systems are also being developed.

The UK has contributed to this progress through the Department for International Development's bilateral programme for reconstruction and development, which totals £5 million in 2002, along with a contribution of £2 million to the 2002 Kosovo consolidated budget. The UK has also provided £21 million to the European Union's programme in Kosovo, which totals 175 million euros in 2002.

Iraq: Exports

Baroness Billingham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any goods subject to strategic controls have recently been approved for export to Iraq. [HL3696]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Following consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry recently approved a licence to export laboratory equipment for use by secondary schools in Northern Iraq. The export included 6.25kg of sodium sulphide, which is subject to the Dual-Use Items (Export Control) Regulations 2000, as amended. The UN Iraq Sanctions Committee approved this export to Iraq under the Oil for Food programme (OFF). Under OFF Iraq is allowed to export unlimited quantities of oil to fund the purchase of humanitarian goods. The export is consistent with the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria.

Defence Medical Agencies

Lord Brookman asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the quinquennial review of the defence medical agencies.[HL3514]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): As my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Moonie) indicated in his Written Answer in another place on 15 December 2000 (Official Report, cols. 274–275W) to my honourable friend the Member for Gedling (Mr Coaker), the review has covered the functions and organisation of the Ministry of Defence's four medical agencies—the Defence Secondary Care Agency (DSCA), the Defence Dental

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Agency (DDA), the Defence Medical Training Organisation (DMTO) and the Medical Supplies Agency (MSA)—and other aspects of medical provision. He announced the results of the initial phase of work in his Written Answer in another place of 17 October 2001 (Official Report, cols. 1223–24W) to my honourable friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr Wright).

The review team has now completed its work and we have placed a summary of its conclusions in the Library of the House. In brief, the main points are that:

    there must be a clearer focus on delivery of the two key defence medical outputs—deployable operational medical capability, and timely appropriate healthcare for service personnel;

    accountability for the delivery of these outputs by both central and single-service authorities must be defined unambiguously, as part of a clear tri-service strategy and plan;

    the Surgeon General (SG), working to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, will be empowered to undertake effective oversight and direction of the DMS in meeting the key output requirements, including those elements which remain under single-service management;

    a stronger partnership will be established between the DMS and the National Health Service;

    management capabilities throughout the DMS will be strengthened, drawing on expertise from the parent services and, where relevant, the NHS.

The Defence Medical Services will be re-aligned and restructured to focus more effectively on the two key defence medical outputs. The DSCA will be disestablished on 31 March 2003, with its training-related functions transferring to an expanded medical training agency, and healthcare commissioning being undertaken by a new group within the Surgeon General's staff. The MSA has now transferred into the Defence Logistics Organisation as of 1 April 2002.

The review has provided an important opportunity to take stock of the progress that has been made since the announcement of the new strategy for the DMS at the end of 1998. It is no surprise that it has concluded that while much has been done over the last three years, there are further steps to be taken—and changes to be made—that will help the process of restoring DMS capability and ensuring that key defence medical outputs are delivered. The Government are committed to achieving those aims and, subject to the normal consultative process, to implementing the outcome of the review.

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