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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): We comply with the recommendation. It is important to read the relevant parts of the text of the recommendation in context and as a whole. The recommendation clearly envisages that the constitutional or legal provisions of some countries allow judges to be appointed by the government. (In England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the Lord Chancellor is responsible for appointing, or advising the Queen on the appointment of, virtually all judges. The most senior appointments are made by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister following advice provided by the Lord Chancellor.
The recommendation proposes that in such circumstances there should be guarantees to ensure that the appointment procedures are transparent and independent in practice and will not be influenced by reasons other than merit. One of the examples of such guarantees suggested is that the authority which
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor announced a contingency reserve of £1 billion in the Pre-Budget Report to help meet our international defence responsibilities. The Ministry of Defence has been drawing down against this amount to meet the cost of military preparation to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1441. The Chancellor has now announced an additional three-quarters of a billion pounds to be made available in this financial year for further commitments should this prove necessary.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No such estimate of the costs of such operations over the timescale suggested has been made. If there is a government change in Iraq, the UK Government believe that the role of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions will be vital in addressing the reconstruction of Iraq in the aftermath of any war and are liaising closely with allies on this issue.
The Government are committed to giving all the nation's children the best start in life and have thus increased financial support for families with children through increased child benefit and the introduction of the integrated child tax credit. The Government's approach is based on providing support for all families with children, combined with offering more help to those who need it most, when they need it most. This includes families on lower incomes, those with children under one and parents of disabled children. Similarly, families with more children are eligible for more support.
The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We are deeply concerned by reports of religious intolerance in Uzbekistan. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs raised human rights concerns with the Uzbek ambassador in London on 10 February. Our ambassador in Tashkent drew attention to the issue of religious prisoners in Uzbekistan in a public speech last October.
The UK, along with all EU partners, supported the Irish resolution on religious intolerance at last year's session of the Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), and we cosponsored a resolution at the UN General Assembly in November last year on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There is no universally accepted definition of the phrase "weapons of mass destruction", but it is generally held to refer to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We regularly urge Israel to resolve international concerns about its nuclear status by acceding to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state and to enter into a full safeguards agreement with the IAEA. We also use our regular bilateral contacts with them to raise the issue of Israeli accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
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