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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government announced on 12 June a substantial package of constitutional reforms. That package includes the creation of a new supreme court to replace the existing Appellate Committee of the House of Lords; and the establishment of a new judicial appointments commission, on a statutory basis, to recommend candidates for appointment as judges.
These are issues of profound constitutional importance, and the Government will consult widely on how best to take each forward. We intend to publish on 14 July a consultation paper on a judicial appointments commission and a new supreme court. The consultation period will run until November 2003, after which the Government will develop policy proposals, taking into account responses to consultation. At the conclusion of that process, legislation on these issues will be introduced at the earliest opportunity.
Lord Irvine of Lairg announced to the Lord Chancellor's Department Select Committee his intention to consult on the future of the rank of Queen's Counsel. We therefore intend to publish a consultation paper on this issue, also on 14 July, with consultation closing in November. We will announce the Government's next steps early in 2004.
A consultation paper on court working dress was published on 8 May, with responses sought by 14 August. The Government will be discussing the outcome of the consultation, and how best to take the matter forward, with the senior judiciary.
The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Prime Minister explained on 30 April that some had understood there might be such a period; but that it must now be over and, as he had
All Government departments recognise the importance of ensuring that all Parliamentary Questions are answered accurately and promptly. However, in order to provide a full and accurate reply, it is sometimes necessary to await the outcome of consultation and discussions.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): The current contract between the Government of Mozambique and the Crown Agents in the customs service is due to end on 30 June 2003. The
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): In preparation for recent operations in Iraq a number of extant equipment programmes were accelerated and brought into service. These included the stand-off Storm Shadow precision missile, new tactical radiation monitoring equipment and temporary deployable accommodation. Other new equipment was acquired for the particular circumstances of the operation. Examples include the new obstacle breaching line explosives system, enhanced medical diagnostic and monitoring equipment, a vehicle decontamination system and the blue force tracking situational awareness system that comprised one part of UK ground forces' combat identification capability. In addition to these, the capability provided by some extant equipment, such as the personal role radio and other secure communications systems, was substantially enhanced; and some other systems, including the Maverick anti-armour guided missile, were utilised operationally for the first time.
Post operational reporting will provide analysis and an assessment of equipment deployed on operations in Iraq. It would, therefore, be premature for me to provide a detailed assessment of the performance of new equipment and any effect of operational use at this stage.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The posters are aimed at school age children, are phrased in clear and simple English, and seek to promote a greater understanding of our new partners in the EU. The language on Poland was drafted in consultation with the Polish Cultural Institute. It makes quite clear the tremendous contribution that the people of Poland
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK does not currently provide any funding to the South-East European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), which is still not operational. The UK has, however, encouraged SECI to focus on a limited number of deliverables, in line with Europol standards. These are essential for SECI effectively to fulfil its principal function, namely the exchange of intelligence information between participants. Individual countries decide whether to mount operations based on this information. In the meantime, the UK retains an observer in Bucharest to assess SECI's capacity and the UK will review its position if and when significant progress can be demonstrated.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We do not plan to make such proposals to the OSCE. While there is no progress towards a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, the chances of increasing joint co-operation in the region are minimal. But we continue to seek ways to support the OSCE's project work in combating trans-border crime in the region.
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