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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Former Civil Servants (Pensions)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on outstanding pension commitments to former Rhodesian civil servants agreed at the time Zimbabwe became independent. [129136]

Mr. Foulkes: At Independence, the pension rights of both retired and serving public servants were preserved under the Zimbabwe Constitution, determined during the Lancaster House negotiations. The Government of Zimbabwe are responsible for the payment of pensions to

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former Rhodesian civil servants. That constitution guarantees the continued payment of pensions to former Zimbabwe public servants, wherever they reside. Occasionally, there have been delays in pension payments being made as a result of shortages in foreign exchange, but, these apart, the Government of Zimbabwe have consistently honoured their obligations. There is no provision in the Constitution to protect the value of externally paid pensions against the effects of fluctuating exchange rates.

EU Aid

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with European commissioners about the EU's delivery of aid to developing countries; and if she will make a statement. [129515]

Clare Short: I have frequent exchanges with Commissioners Nielson and Patten about EC aid to developing countries. It is in sore need of reform. We are working for full implementation of our detailed strategy (a copy of which is in the Library of the House) which requires the European Commission and other EU member states radically to improve the poverty focus and effectiveness of EC development assistance. There is a growing commitment to reform. The reduced number of Commissioners responsible for development, the improvements incorporated in the renegotiation of the Lome convention and the recently published strategy for development are significant advances, but implementation of the promised reform remains to be achieved.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with her European counterparts regarding the provision of EU development aid to countries in conflict. [128712]

Clare Short: The general issue of the role of development assistance in countries in conflict has been discussed frequently, most recently at the informal meeting of European Community Development Ministers in Lisbon in January, which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State attended. Further discussion was also held during part of a seminar held in Paris, jointly hosted by the French and Portuguese Development Ministers, on 30 June. The position in a number of specific countries, notably Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia and Eritrea, was discussed at the meeting of the Development Council on 18 May.

All development programmes, including the European Community's, need to develop more effective methods for targeting development assistance to countries in conflict. The UK and other member states have urged the Commission to undertake work in this area. Provisions on the issue of peace-building and conflict prevention and resolution were included in the new EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement. The Commission are currently developing guidelines to help officials design programmes that address potential sources of conflict.

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CABINET OFFICE

Civil Service Recruitment

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when she will publish the Fifth Annual Civil Service Fast Stream Recruitment report. [129927]

Marjorie Mowlam: The annual Civil Service Fast Stream Report was placed in the Libraries of the House earlier today. It covers the year from 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000, and reports the results of Fast Stream competitions completed during that period and action undertaken for future competitions.

The report shows that there has been progress in broadening the diversity of Fast Stream recruits. In particular, for the first time the Civil Service has reached parity in the numbers of successful men and women applicants to open Fast Stream schemes. The standard of entry to the Fast Stream Development Programme has remained consistently high. In line with the experience of other major employers, the Civil Service did not fill all its Fast Stream vacancies in 1999, with specialist areas a particular source of concern.

Constituency Statistics

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) of 28 June 2000, Official Report, column 564W, how many requests her Department has received from hon. Members for statistics compiled at constituency level since 1 May 1997; if she will state in each case (a) the name and party allegiance of the hon. Member, (b) the date the request was received, (c) the date the information was provided and (d) the subject matter; and what has been the total cost since 1 May 1997 of meeting such requests. [129723]

Mr. Stringer: The information is not held centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

TREASURY

Stamp Duty

Mr. Pendry: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward the stamp duty relief for transfers of local authority housing stock, which was announced in the Budget, to include all such transfers made since the announcement. [130094]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I am pleased to say that measures will be brought forward in Report Stage of the Finance Bill to ensure that transfers of housing from local authorities to registered social landlords taking place after 21 March will benefit from the new exemption. This will apply whether or not the social landlords concerned are constituted as charities.

Transfers under the large-scale voluntary transfer programme offer benefits for tenants and the programme reflects the Government's commitment to generate private finance to repair and improve the condition of social housing. Bringing forward the extension of the Stamp Duty relief to the earliest possible date following the

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Budget announcement will help local authorities making transfers between 22 March and Royal Assent to the Finance Bill.

Local authorities who have made relevant transfers upon which Stamp Duty has been paid will be able to make claims to the Stamp Office for repayments as soon as Finance Act 2000 becomes law.

Spectrum Auction

Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if the receipts from the third generation mobile spectrum auction which have already been received are to be treated under resource accounting rules as capital receipts; [128068]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 28 June 2000]: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has provisionally decided to classify the receipts from the auction of licences for the third generation mobile spectrum as current receipts (rents) in the UK national accounts, and to accrue the receipts over the period of the licences, according to the treatment it sees as best fitting the principles of the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95). ONS are consulting Eurostat about the classification. The treatment of the proceeds under resource accounting will require an accruals, rather than a cash, basis of accounting for the receipts.

Fuel Duty

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with his European partners with regard to revenue loss as a result of differential road fuel duty rates between member states; and if he will make a statement. [128181]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 5 July 2000]: EU member states are free to set excise duty levels in accordance with an agreed structure and current UK policy on the taxation of road fuel is fully in accordance with the provisions of the relevant EC Directives.

Euro

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which foreign target group in the UK is to receive material as part of the Euro 2002 Information Campaign of the European Central Bank. [128136]

Miss Melanie Johnson: We understand from the European Central Bank that there are no plans at present to distribute Euro 2002 information campaign material within the UK.

Ministerial Code

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) on how many occasions since May 1997

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Ministers in his Department have made a declaration of interest to their colleagues under circumstances envisaged in Paragraph 110 of the Ministerial Code; [129152]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Information relating to internal advice and consultation is not disclosed under Exemption II of the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information".


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