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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has published its corporate plan for 2003 to 2006. The plan set out CAFCASS's key performance targets that I have set for CAFCASS in 200304. These targets are set out below:
The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The matter is under consideration as part of the Government's interdepartmental review of international human rights instruments.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Occasions on which the Government have chosen not to legislate in order to provide statutory authority for an action that is in any event lawful at common law are necessarily difficult to categorise. No list is maintained.
However, the Government recognise limits to the reliance that should be placed on non-statutory authority. For example, in accordance with Government Accounting, paragraph 11.3.33, departmental estimates should identify expenditure which rests on the sole authority of the appropriation Act. This is done by the use of symbols in the notes to the estimates. Departments are also required constantly to review continuing provision to ensure that it complies with the 1932 concordat (referred to in previous Written Answers) so far as possible.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons expects shortly to finalise the report of the full announced inspection of HMP Brixton which took place in September 2002.
This report has been delayed because the inspection team leader has subsequently been appointed as Governor of HMP Brixton, following informal, approaches made to him by the Prison Service before the inspection. The chief inspector was not informed of this before the inspection. The appointment of the team leader as governor of HMP Brixton was confirmed on 18 December 2002, while the report was still in draft and before it had been presented to Ministers or the Prison Service.
To make clear the independence of the inspectorate from the service it inspects, the chief inspector was initially minded to make available only a summary of findings and order a re-inspection. Given the investment of time and resources by the whole inspection team and the establishment, and the overriding need to make public the work of the inspectorate, the chief inspector will make the whole record of the inspection publicly available. However, HMP Brixton will be re-inspected later this year and a report on that inspection published in the normal way.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The report of the review of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, Breaking the Circle, was published in July 2002. The comments of consultees have now been fully considered and the Government's response is published today. Copies of response have been placed in the Library.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): It is not necessarily the case that the visiting hours at all immigration removal centres need to be identical. For example, individual centres service different operational priorities and, as such, will not have identical visiting requirements.
There has recently been an extension of the visiting hours at Lindholme Immigration Removal Centre and we have undertaken to review the visiting hours there and at Haslar Immigration Removal Centre. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Community Cohesion will write to the noble Lord when this review is complete.
Lord Filkin: There is no need to regularise the position of people who have been registered as British citizens as a result of administrative error. Subject to voluntary renunciation or, where there are grounds for this, deprivation of citizenship, such people will continue to be British citizens.
A person who is not a British citizen but who is issued, in error, with a passport describing him as such does not thereby become a British citizen. From 30 April anybody in this position who meets the requirements for registration under Section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981, as inserted by Section 13 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, will be entitled to registration as a British citizen.
What percentage of currently successful claims for compensation for a medical condition caused or aggravated by military service would fail if the standard of proof required were changed from reasonable doubt to balance of probabilities; and[HL2217]
What representations they have received from the ex-service community expressing concern about the proposal to change the standard of proof for compensation for a medical condition caused or aggravated by military service from reasonable doubt to balance of probabilities; and[HL2218]
What arrangements are in place to ensure that claims for compensation for medical conditions caused or aggravated by military service which are accepted by the Veterans Agency for war pensions are also accepted by the Ministry of Defence; and whether such agreement between the two bodies is desirable; and[HL2220]
Whether the disability awards given to ex-servicemen and women are commensurate with the levels of service given by those people in the course of their service careers.[HL2221]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The Ministry of Defence currently provides compensation for death and disablement caused or aggravated by service under two schemes, the War Pension Scheme (WPS) and the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS). Each scheme operates under separate legislation and the standard of proof applied to claims under the two schemes is different.
The attributable benefits elements of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme introduced attributable pensions in 1973. This applies to disablements leading to medical discharge; it considers claims against the balance of probabilities standard of proof in line with most other such schemes and the practice of civil courts. It places the onus of proof on the individual. We recognise that the use of different standards of proof for determining attributability under the two schemes is not well understood by claimants but it has not been considered appropriate so far to change these arrangements. This is an issue that has been considered within the current review of Armed Forces compensation arrangements. In March 2001, we published proposals for a new scheme based entirely on the balance of probabilities standard of proof. A number of respondents have expressed their concern that this would not be appropriate to the special status of the Armed Forces and the demands placed on them. This view has been particularly strongly represented by ex-service organisations. We have been in close consultation with these and other interested groups and will continue to work with the ex-service community in finalising the details of the new scheme. We expect to make a final decision on the broad design of a new scheme shortly.
Benefits awarded to medically discharged service personnel depend on whether the disablement is found attributable to service. The AFPS provides normal occupational pension scheme ill-health pensions (known as service invaliding pensions). Levels of these are based on rank and the length of service. Where a disablement is found attributable to service, both the WPS and AFPS provide attributable benefits related to rank and the medically assessed degree of disablement; in the case of the AFPS this usually results in enhanced pension benefits. These arrangements are also being considered in the light of wider good practice as part of our reviews of Armed Forces pension and compensation arrangements.
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