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European Court of Human Rights: Judgments

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When and how they intend to give effect to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in the following cases: (a) Faulkner (30308/96 on 30/11/99); (b) Hashman and Harrup (255494/94 on 25/11/99); (c) Murray (18731/91 on 08/02/96); and (d) A (in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland) (25599/94 on 23/09/98). [HL7469]

Further to my Answer of 10 January 2006 (WA 34-42), the latest position on implementation is as follows:

(a) Faulkner (Application no. 30308/96)

The non-statutory scheme for the provision of legal aid in Guernsey continues to operate well. Procedures are ongoing for the enactment of a statutory scheme. Tenders for the provision of criminal and civil legal aid services to the States of Guernsey have now been received. It is anticipated that the panel of legal aid providers and the appointment of an individual to the statutory office of legal aid administrator will be approved in early 2007. Subordinate legislation to give effect to these proposals will then need to be approved by the States of Guernsey. It is expected that a statutory legal aid scheme will be in place by spring 2007.

(b) Hashman and Harrup (Application no. 255494/94)

The Lord Chief Justice and the President of the Queen's Bench Division have agreed to issue a practice direction on bindovers, which is currently being prepared. It is expected that the practice direction will be issued in early 2007.

(c) Murray (Application no. 18731/91)

Public consultation on a number of amendments to police powers closed on 14 June 2006. As a result of the comments received the Northern Ireland Office is undertaking a full equality impact assessment of the proposed changes. It is anticipated that the process will be complete in spring 2007 and the statutory amendments made to the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 will be commenced.

(d) A (in relation to Scotland and Northern Ireland) (Application no. 25599/94)

Northern Ireland has introduced a provision which corresponds to Section 58 of the Children Act 2004 by abolishing the defence of reasonable chastisement in Northern Ireland in relation to all charges apart from summary charge of common assault. The relevant provision is Article 2 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 which came into operation on 20 September 2006. There has been no change in relation to Scotland since my Written Answer of 10 January 2006. However, as the noble Lord may already be aware, the Committee of Ministers did consider the implementation of this case in June 2006 and has postponed consideration until 2007 pending case law. The Government are of the view that the existing law in Scotland, namely Section 51 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, as well as the Human Rights Act 1998, are already compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce an effective mechanism to secure the rapid implementation of binding judgments by the European Court of Human Rights. [HL7470]

The Government are committed to implementing all European Court of Human Rights judgments fully in accordance with the United Kingdom's international obligations. Most judgments against the UK are implemented promptly by the lead government department. Delays occur in a few cases, sometimes because of the need for legislation, or because of debate as to the action required to implement the judgment. In cases where judgments are not promptly implemented in their entirety, interim measures may be taken to prevent a recurrence of the violation. The Government do not therefore propose to introduce any new mechanism for the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights since the Government are of the view that existing procedures are already effective.