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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): We do support the addendum to memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cessation of hostilities signed on 4 February between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The addendum aims to strengthen the MoU which was signed at Machakos on 15 October 2002 and extended on 18 November 2002. It contains many new and welcome initiatives to build confidence between the parties and make more unlikely the sorts of outbreaks of fighting which we have seen recently in Western Upper Nile.
The VMT will investigate alleged violations of the MoU by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A. The VMT will report to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) MoU Committee chaired by the Kenyan special envoy, Lt-General Sumbeiywo.
Baroness Amos: Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials first discussed Zimbabwe in relation to the Cricket World Cup with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at a meeting on 5 July 2002. A minute recording this meeting has been placed in the Library of the House. FCO and DCMS Ministers and officials met the ECB and the Professional Cricketers'
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General is responsible for appointing Treasury Counsel. In doing so, he may consult widely and his consultations could extend to the Lord Chancellor if he so chose.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 22 January (WA 98), whether reliance on the so-called Ram doctrine is compatible with a modern system of public law, including the principles of legality and legal certainty; and, if so, how; and[HL1302]
In what circumstances and upon how many occasions during the past five years Ministers of the Crown and their departments have relied upon the Ram doctrine as the legal basis for the exercise of their public powers; and[HL1598]
What were the circumstances that gave rise to the Ram doctrine.[HL1599]
The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Ram doctrine reflects a well-established principle of constitutional law. Like many other persons, Ministers and their departments have common law powers which derive from the Crown's status as a corporation sole. Ministers and their departments also exercise prerogative powers of the Crown. Common law and prerogative powers may be limited by statute either expressly or by necessary implication and in this respect are subject to direct parliamentary control. The courts have recognised the legitimacy of these principles.
The principles governing the use of the annual Appropriation Act to provide authority for the exercise of functions by government departments where such functions may involve financial liabilities extending beyond a year are stated in the Public Accounts Committee Concordant, 1932 (see Annex 2.1 of Government Accounting 2000).
During the past five years, as in previous periods, the common law powers of the Crown have often been relied upon as the legal basis for government action. Common law powers form the basis of such governmental actions as entering into contracts, employing staff, conveying property and other management functions not provided for by statute either expressly or by implication. To require parliamentary authority for every exercise of the common law powers exercisable by the Crown either would impose upon Parliament an impossible burden or produce legislation in terms that simply reproduced the common law.
Finally, the circumstances that gave rise to the Ram doctrine are that the Ram opinion (the text of which was made available when an earlier Question [HL595] was answered on 22 January 2003) was given when the Ministers of the Crown (Transfer of Functions) Bill was being considered. This Bill later became the Ministers of the Crown (Transfer of Functions) Act 1946. The opinion addresses the need for legislation to confer power to add new functions to exisiting government departments by order. At that time Ministers were considering machinery of government changes following the Second World War.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: No. Equality legislation is devolved to Northern Ireland and the decision to move towards a single equality Bill was made by Ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive in light of the particular history and circumstances there.
With the current suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Northern Ireland Ministers agree that the work should progress so that on their return local Ministers will have fuller information upon which to base their future decisions on the issue.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government's package of corporation tax reforms included measures to boost corporate investment by removing tax distortions. The withdrawal of payable tax credits on dividends was just one part of these measures. Pension funds and others will share in the long-term benefits from these changes to corporation tax.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Field work associated with the Krebs badger culling trial was suspended during the foot and mouth disease outbreak as a disease control measure. Normal field operations resumed fully during 2002. An additional £300,000 was made available to the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) (£50,000 to provide additional manpower during the busiest part of the year and £250,000 for additional survey work). £900,000 was made available for replacement traps etc.
During 200203 an additional £3 million has been made available to the State Veterinary Service (SVS) to recruit staff to help clear the backlog of overdue TB tests and to cope with the increase in numbers of TB breakdowns. Local veterinary inspectors who carry out much of the routine and backlog TB testing have significantly stepped up their work on behalf of Defra, resulting in an increased spend in this area as well. Veterinary Laboratories Agency costs associated with laboratory diagnosis of bovine TB have also been increased substantially. It is not possible to identify separately the proportion of these additional resources which were directed to badger culling trial areas.
In addition, new contracts were placed with the CSL to collect badgers killed in road traffic accidents at a cost of £90,000 and with ADAS to work on TB99 questionnaires at a cost of £150,000.
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