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Race Equality

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: I will tomorrow be laying an order under Section 71 of the amended Race Relations Act 1976. The order brings into effect the code of practice, which will offer practical guidance to public authorities on how to meet their duty to promote race equality.

The statutory code of practice will come into effect on 31 May 2002.

Legal Aid: Asylum Cases

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The figures requested are shown below. The Legal Services Commission cannot differentiate asylum from wider immigration cases but the vast majority of cases listed are thought to be asylum. All figures for 2001–02 are provisional estimates and may be subject to year-end adjustments.

We believe that good quality publicly funded legal representation is very desirable in asylum cases to ensure that the facts are properly presented and the right decision is made as soon as possible.

The cash available for legal aid is set by the Lord Chancellor's Department according to the Supply Estimates agreed by the Treasury. The budget allocated to the Commission is split between the Community Legal Service (CLS) and the Criminal

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Defence Service (CDS). While overall spending on the CLS is limited by the Lord Chancellor in directions given to the commission, he has recognised the importance of legal representation in appeal proceedings and made an additional £60 million available last financial year for asylum cases.

MonthImmigration and Asylum Legal Aid Expenditure (£m)Total Legal Aid Expenditure (Civil and Criminal) (£m)
April 20003.8125
May 20004.3125
June 20004.9141
July 20006.5145
August 20005.7140
September 20004.9126
October 20006.8139
November 20007.0143
December 20009.7134
January 20019.7134
February 20019.1163
March 20018.6149
April 200111.5186
May 20019.5163
June 200110.0135
July 200110.5151
August 200110.3144
September 20019.0121
October 200110.1141
November 20018.8135
December 200110.3124
January 200210.3131
February 200212.6152
March 200216.7133

Damages: Court of Protection

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cases of substantial damages awarded to claimants have been to the Court of Protection since 24 May 2001. [HL4353]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is not possible to provide this information without a file by file investigation of the Public Guardianship Office's records. This could be done only at disproportionate cost.

South East Europe

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they assess recent developments under the South East Europe Stability Pact, in particular:

    (a) when they expect full navigation to be resumed on the Danube and war-damaged bridges to be restored;

    (b) what progress has been made with official programmes of small-arms collection and destruction since the end of NATO's Essential Harvest in Macedonia;

    (c) whether the regional clearinghouse on small arms is functioning in Belgrade; and whether it will have funds for buying weapons from civilians; and

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    (d) whether action against trafficking in women and children has led to arrests of organisers.[HL4351]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The stability pact is only one of the instruments used to deal with the problems of South East Europe. In the case of the issues raised:

    (a) The Danube Commission expects the river to be fully navigable in September following work at Novi Sad. European Commission-led work continues on the reconstruction of the bridges, with progress reliant on co-operation from the countries of the region.

    (b) The signing of the framework agreement by political party leaders on 13 August 2001 led to a cease-fire in Macedonia and made a political solution possible. NATO-led Task Force Essential Harvest oversaw the collection and destruction of over 3,800 weapons from the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army. Task Force Essential Harvest successfully concluded on 25 September 2001. Since then the Macedonian Government have focused on the implementation of the framework agreement and have recently proposed to Parliament two laws for the voluntary handing over of weapons.

    (c) The stability pact's small arms and light weapons clearinghouse opened in Belgrade on 8 May. It will focus on developing projects to address the cross-border flow of weapons and ammunition. HMG support this approach.

    (d) My right honourable friend the Prime Minister launched a successful initiative which has put in place a UK-led EU team in Bosnia Herzegovina to train the border service in measures to combat people-trafficking. But the countries of the region have the principal responsibility for combating traffickers in their jurisdictions. Arrests have been made but more needs to be done. The Stability Pact Task Force on Trafficking in Human Beings has been attempting to promote regional co-operation and a common approach to anti-trafficking legislation.


Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What comments they have on the poll undertaken by the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia which showed that 41 per cent of Spaniards questioned were in favour of granting Gibraltar some form of independence.[HL4411]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are aware of the poll to which the noble Lord refers. However, it is not our practice to comment on such polls or the methodology that underlies them. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht provides that, were the UK to relinquish sovereignty, the right of the first refusal would be given to Spain. Thus independence would only be an option with Spanish consent.

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Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    If Spain and Her Majesty's Government each agreed proposals on Gibraltar, how long they will give the Government of Gibraltar and its people to study the proposals before these are put to a referendum.[HL4412]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to him on 15 May (Official Report, col. WA 52).

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What actions they are taking through the Brussels Process, arising from the communiqué of 1984, to lift the ban on access to Gibraltar from Spain by air and ferry; and when the Government and the Government of Spain last had talks about this ban.[HL4413]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In accordance with the terms of the Brussels Communiqué, November 1984, the talks under the Brussels Process are aimed at overcoming all the differences between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar and at promoting co-operation on a mutually beneficial basis on economic, cultural, touristic, aviation, military and environment matters. These talks are ongoing.

European Aviation Safety Agency

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the European Aviation Safety Agency is due to start operating fully.[HL4331]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The draft EC regulation setting up the European Aviation Safety Agency is expected to come into force in summer 2002.

The agency is required to begin issuing certificates and approvals relating to aircraft design, production and maintenance, plus appropriate environmental certificates, 12 months from the entry into force of the regulation. There is a subsequent transitional period of 42 months to allow a smooth handover of these certification tasks from member states to the agency.

National Air Traffic Services, 17 May

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have concerning the failure of the air traffic control system on the morning of Friday 17 May; and what steps they are taking to ensure that this type of delay to air traffic does not happen again.[HL4455]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This is an operational matter for National Air Traffic Services (NATS). I understand the position to be as follows.

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The failure at the new Swanwick Centre occurred at 6.30 am on Friday 17 May and was identified and isolated to a particular workstation. Flow rates were immediately reduced to 50 per cent and in some cases departures stopped. The flow restrictions were progressively lifted, and 100 per cent capacity was restored at 11.30 am. NATS is carrying out an investigation into the cause of the problem.

Safety was not compromised in any way and there were no reports of any incidents.

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