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Written Answers

Thursday, 6th November 2003.

Northern Ireland: Post-primary Education

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the time-scale for the introduction of the alternative to the 11-plus entrance examination to grammar schools; and whether they will honour the decision of most respondents to their consultation paper that the basis of this alternative should be academic excellence. [HL4702]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The remit of the Post-Primary Education Working Group explicitly requires it to take account of the responses to the consultation on the Burns report, including the diversity of views on academic selection. In providing advice on options for future post-primary arrangements, the working group will therefore have regard to the range of views expressed in all strands of the Burns consultation, including the household response form. The advice of the working group will be carefully considered before decisions are taken about the next stage of the review, including the development of any alternative transfer arrangements.

North/South Implementation Bodies: Appointment of Chief Executives

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date each chief executive of Cross-Border Implementation Bodies was appointed to his or her position since creation; on what date each received their contracts of employment; and, if any are still outstanding, why. [HL4720]

Baroness Amos: A model contract was agreed between the finance departments for chief executives of North/South Implementation Bodies. It was issued in February 2002 to the Sponsor Departments, to allow them to finalise individual employment contracts. The current position on each contract is set out below.

BodyDate of appointment of Chief Executive Officer Date of receipt of contract or current position
Special European Union Programmes Body19 December 2000Contract not yet signed
Food Safety Promotion Board2 April 200325 June 2003
Lough Agency26 September 2000Contract not yet signed
Waterways Ireland29 January 2001Contract not yet signed
Irish Language Agency25 January 2002Contract not yet signed
Ulster Scots Agency14 April 2003Contract not yet signed
Trade & Business Development Body27 October 2000Contract not yet signed

Work is under way aimed at putting all of the necessary contracts in place.

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East Belfast: Vacant Buildings in Government Estate

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What buildings which they own in East Belfast are currently vacant.[HL4817]

Baroness Amos: There are currently 14 buildings vacant in East Belfast Parliamentary Constituency. They are as follows: 1. The former Police Station adjacent to Stormont Castle. This is owned by the Department of Finance and Personnel. 2. The Department for Regional Development owns the following 12 buildings which are vacant:

    2 Finvoy Street

    25 Finvoy Street

    31 Finvoy Street

    15 Parkgate Avenue

    22 Parkgate Avenue

    26 Parkgate Avenue

    21 Barnett's Road

    17-19 Connswater Street

    35 Upper Newtownards Road

    62 Upper Newtownards Road

    64 Upper Newtownards Road

    68 Upper Newtownards Road 3. Ormiston House, which was purchased by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission prior to the suspension of the devolved administration.

Northern Ireland: Police Overtime and Compensation Agency Payments

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much was spent in Northern Ireland during the months of June, July, August and September in 1996 and 2003 on (a) police overtime; and (b) compensation claims.[HL4818]

Baroness Amos: The information requested by the noble Lord is set out in the tables below:

Police Overtime

Amount £Amount £

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Compensation paid by the Compensation Agency

Amount £Amount £

Committee on Standards in Public Life

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it is expected there will be an announcement of new appointments to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.[HL5400]

Baroness Amos: The Prime Minister has appointed two new members to the committee.

The right honourable Gillian Shephard DL MP takes up appointment as the Conservative party nominee in succession to the right honourable Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market OBE. Baroness Maddock takes up appointment as the Liberal Democrat Party nominee in succession to Lord Goodhart QC. Both appointments are for three years in the first instance.

The right honourable Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market and Lord Goodhart are both stepping down from the committee on completion of their second terms of appointment. The Prime Minister would like to take this opportunity to thank them both for the valuable work they have undertaken on the committee over the past six years, and the significant contribution they have made to improving standards in public life.

Magistracy: Diversity

Lord Dixon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action it is taking to improve the diversity of the magistracy.[HL5399]

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): At the beginning of October, I published a national strategy for recruitment to the magistracy, setting out my plans to increase the number of appointments as a justice of the peace, and to encourage applications from people with a wider range of backgrounds. In furtherance of the national strategy, I am now amending my directions to the committees which advise me on magisterial appointments. The committees are asked to achieve a Bench which is broadly representative of the community which they serve. Following advice from Royal Commissions in 1910 and 1948, political association has hitherto been used as an indicator of social class in seeking to achieve that balance. I am satisfied that the way people vote is no longer a reliable guide to social perspective and standing. I am therefore introducing a new system; applicants will identify themselves against occupational and industrial groupings, based on standard classifications used by the Office for National Statistics. I am also telling the committees that there need be no lower age

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limit for applicants who can show that they have the key qualities needed for appointment. Copies of the national strategy document and of the new application form, which sets out the occupation groupings categories, have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Law Officers' Advice: Disclosure

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answers by the Lord President on 13 October (HL Deb, cols. 600–01), whether the advice given to them by the Law Officers was disclosed to the courts and the public in the Factortame litigation; and, if so, what is the justification for disclosing such advice in the course of judicial review proceedings but not to Parliament.[HL4892]

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The Law Officers' advice of 31 March 1987 was disclosed to the other parties in the Factortame litigation during the proceedings in the Divisional Court. The contents of the advice were set out by the court in its judgment of 31 July 1997 and thereby entered the public domain.

The issue in the Factortame case was whether, by including provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 that breached the EC Treaty, the Government had acted in a way that was sufficiently serious to give rise to liability to pay damages. The Law Officers' advice was disclosed to the other parties in these proceedings because it was relevant to an issue to be decided by the court, namely whether the Government had acted in reliance on legal advice. This was relevant to the question of whether its breach was sufficiently serious to give rise to a liability in damages.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the answer by the Lord President on 13 October (HL Deb, cols 600–01) whether the convention adhered to by successive governments that legal advice from the Law Officers is not publicly disclosed has been departed from; and, if so, in what circumstances.[HL4893]

Lord Goldsmith: The Government do not maintain records of occasions on which exceptions have been made to the convention against disclosure of Law Officers' advice.

I am aware of only two cases in which Law Officers' advice was disclosed. In both cases, disclosure was made for the purposes of judicial proceedings. In 1993, Law Officers' advice relevant to the subject matter of the Arms to Iraq inquiry was disclosed to the Scott inquiry. The advice was published in an annex to the inquiry report. Law Officers' advice on the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act was disclosed to the other parties in the course of the Factortame litigation in which Spanish fishermen were seeking damages from the Government for a breach of Community law.

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I am aware of three other cases in which the views of the Law Officers on a particular matter were disclosed, but not the actual advice. In February 1971, the substance of the Law Officers' advice relating to the UK's obligations to supply arms to South Africa under the Simonstown Agreement was published in a command paper (Cmnd 4589). In February 1993, the views of the Law Officers' advice were disclosed in the debate in the other House on the Maastricht Treaty. In March this year I set out in a written answer a summary of my view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq.

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