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Northern Ireland: Selective Schools

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No decisions have been taken about academic selection or new arrangements for post-primary education. Officials from the Department of Education for Northern Ireland will be discussing these issues with key education partners and representatives of parents over the coming weeks. The Government's aim is to develop a modern and fair education system which addresses the weaknesses of our current arrangements and enables all children to fulfil their potential.

Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

6 Nov 2002 : Column WA127

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Irish Government signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities on 1 February 1995. The Irish Government ratified the convention on 7 May 1999 and it came into force on 1 September 1999.

The UK Government signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities on 1 February 1995. The UK Government ratified the convention on 15 January 1998 and it came into force on 1 May 1998.

Belfast Agreement: Implementation

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they monitor progress by the Irish Government in compliance with the obligations of the Republic of Ireland under the Belfast Agreement of April 1998; and whether such matters have been discussed by the two Governments since 1998.[HL6353]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We regularly discuss implementation by all parties of obligations under the agreement.

e-commerce Electronic Signature Trust Services

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to promote the take-up of e-commerce electronic signature trust services.[HL6232]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Government are fully committed to the tScheme for the approval of trust services, and are also looking at ways to increase the take up of these services. To this end the e-envoy is preparing consultation papers on digital signatures for citizens and businesses which will explore ways of promoting take-up; we hope to issue these papers early in the new year.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

6 Nov 2002 : Column WA128

    As of 30 October 2002, how many companies have achieved fully registered status with the tScheme for electronic signatures.[HL6233]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: There are currently three companies which have achieved tScheme-approved status. These companies are the Royal Bank of Scotland, Trutis and BT Ignite.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What their methodology is for measuring the success of the tScheme for electronic signatures; and whether the methodology demonstrates the scheme to be a success.[HL6234]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Electronic Communications Act 2000 gives the Secretary of State a time-limited power to establish a statutory scheme to approve cryptographic service providers and establishes the objectives of such a scheme. It is a matter for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as to whether this power will be used.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the implementation of electronic signatures in the United Kingdom under the tScheme has delivered a situation where electronic signatures are interpreted as being an acceptable legal authorisation of and for business; and what criteria they employ whereby this can be measured adequately.[HL6235]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Electronic signatures are accepted as legally admissible under the Electronic Communications Act 2000. They are being increasingly used in business, and the tScheme has done valuable work in setting common standards for approval.

e-Government Interoperability Framework

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the implications for data privacy of the e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) standards introduced in September 2000.[HL6329]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The e-Government Interoperability Framework has no implications for data privacy as it covers technical standards for exchanging data only and does not cover the type or content of the data being exchanged. The e-Government Interoperability Framework does not therefore impinge on data protection policies.



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