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The presidency outlined the progress that had been made during the early stages of negotiations on the Commission’s proposals to combat sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking.

The presidency presented work on the implementation of the non-binding resolution on judicial training, aimed at improving the training of judges in EU law and legal systems.

The presidency reported on the recent conference about succession and wills held in Prague in April. It had been successful in gaining a clearer view of all the issues related to succession and wills in a European context. The Commission expects to bring forward a proposal during the Swedish presidency.

Under any other business, the presidency drew the council’s attention to the responses that it had received from member states about justice ministries’ experiences of the financial crisis. It also updated the council on the status of negotiations on the free trade agreement between the EU and Korea. Slovenia presented information about the Beyond Winning project which is being run by the alternative dispute resolution in Rome. The project is intended to facilitate the use of mediation in cross-border cases. Slovenia announced that it had just taken over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe and would be holding a conference on procedural rights in October.

House of Lords: Financial Support for Members


The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): On 19 May 2009 I informed the House that the House Committee had agreed to commission an independent external review of the financial support available to Members of the House and that detailed proposals relating to the terms of reference and conduct of the review would be discussed at the committee's next meeting on 23 June.

Many Members responded to this announcement by stressing the need to act urgently. On 9 June, therefore, the House Committee agreed by correspondence

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to seek an external, independent review of financial support for Members conducted by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) with the following terms of reference:

“To review options for the system of financial support for Members of the House of Lords, given its current role and composition; and to make recommendations.

In conducting the review, SSRB will have regard to:

clarity and transparency;

accountability and public acceptability;

value for money;

differing attendance patterns of Members;

the geographical spread of the membership of the House;

the financial consequences for Members in participating in the work of the House; and

schemes operated in comparable circumstances by other institutions”.

It is expected that the SSRB will complete this review by the end of October 2009.

The Lord Speaker, as chair of the House Committee, wrote to the Prime Minister on 9 June asking him to refer the House Committee proposal to the SSRB. The Prime Minister announced on 10 June that he had now done so.

The SSRB is eager to ensure that Members contribute to the review and it will be putting forward proposals for consultation as soon as possible.

Legal Aid


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): On 4 December I announced that I was asking my officials to lead a short study which would bring together the evidence about the issues facing the advice sector on the ground. I asked them to examine:

the impact of the recession and the demand for civil legal advice;

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the impact of civil legal advice fixed fees on local providers—financially and in terms of the type of work they are taking on;the initial experience of community legal advice centres, including the impact on other providers in the area; and trends in funding from sources other than the community legal service, including local authority funding, national lottery funding, charities, central government departments, and others.

Since my announcement, the study team has held meetings with relevant bodies and interested parties and visited advice providers and funders in Bangor, Bristol, Caernarfon, Cardiff, Cornwall, Cumbria, the East Riding of Yorkshire, the London Boroughs of Camden and Wandsworth, Manchester, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Tyne and Wear. These meetings provided invaluable information about what is happening on the ground and about the views of those whose day to day task is to help those suffering from legal problems.

We have been assisted in this task by a steering group including members of the bodies representing the not for profit advice sector and solicitors in private practice, as well as a range of other interested parties and government departments. I am very grateful for the help we have received from the steering group, and from the helpful and constructive attitude they have taken throughout the study.

I look forward to working with the steering group to identify the steps we should take to implement the study’s recommendations. It is my intention that a full action plan will be prepared and published in September. I shall keep both Houses informed of developments in this very important area of work.

Copies of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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