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Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many written parliamentary questions were tabled to her Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April; and how many did not receive substantive answers citing disproportionate cost as the reason. [131200]

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Clare Short: 574 written parliamentary questions were tabled to my Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000. Of these, five were not answered substantively because of disproportionate cost.


Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans her Department has to assist the development of the economy of Nepal; and if she will make a statement. [129553]

Mr. Foulkes: The objectives of the UK's development programme to Nepal are set out in the Country Strategy Paper, published in November 1998 (a copy of which I am placing in the House of Commons Library). More recently we have been working with other Donors to help the Government implement its Reform Programme which was announced at the Development Forum meeting at Paris in April. This focuses on key areas such as macro- economic stability and fiscal administration, creating an enabling environment for private sector development, financial sector reform, and better governance (including decentralisation, anti-corruption measures, and civil service reform).

Debt Relief

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the UK's progress towards meeting the G7 commitment on debt relief. [131188]

Clare Short: So far, eight countries have qualified for debt relief under the enhanced HIPC Initiative, which is fewer than we had hoped. Some countries who could benefit from HIPC debt relief are involved in conflict, or have failed to demonstrate their commitment to tackling poverty. At the Spring Meetings of the World bank and IMF in April, the Government's proposal to establish a joint World bank/IMF committee to oversee the implementation process was agreed. The committee has begun its work and should provide a focus for efforts to meet the target set by the G7 at the Cologne meeting, that three quarters of eligible countries start to receive debt relief before the end of 2000.

We have committed over $315 million to the Trust Fund established under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt Initiative to help the multilateral financial institutions fund their shares of HIPC costs. This is the largest contribution from any country. The figure includes our share of the substantial EC contribution for which we pressed; our contribution to the costs of the IMF delivering its HIPC debt relief is additional. We expect the whole of our commitment to be disbursed over the next three years.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the overseas visits (a) she and (b) the Parliamentary Under-Secretary will make during August and September. [131319]

Clare Short: I shall be going to Prague for 24 and 25 September for the World bank meetings. I have no other overseas visits planned for August and September though

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I do intend to visit the west of Ireland for my holiday. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary has no overseas visits planned for August and September.


Diplock Court System

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made on the review into the future operation of the Diplock court system; and when he expects a report to be published. [130422]

Mr. Ingram: On 14 December 1999, during the Second Reading of the Terrorism Bill in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary announced that in parallel with the passage of the Bill the Government would conduct a review of the Diplock court arrangements. The Review Group has now completed its work and presented its report to the Secretary of State. The report was placed in the libraries at Westminster on 4 July and I enclose a copy for information.

While the Government's overall objective remains a return to jury trial for all offences in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State agrees with the Review Group's recommendation that the time is not yet right for such a move. The Review Group's report also addresses a number of detailed points in relation to the operation of the Diplock court and will be considered further by the Secretary of State.


Director of Public Prosecutions

Maria Eagle: To ask the Solicitor-General when the Director of Public Prosecutions will publish his Annual Report. [131511]

The Solicitor-General: I can confirm that I have today placed copies of the Annual Report in the Libraries of the House.

Roisin McAliskey

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement concerning the possible prosecution of Roisin McAliskey. [131514]

The Solicitor-General: Further to the statement of the Home Secretary on 10 March 1998, Official Report, column 133W, that he would not order the extradition of Roisin McAliskey to Germany, the Crown Prosecution Service, in accordance with this country's obligations under Article 7 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, has considered whether to prosecute Roisin McAliskey in this country for the offences allegedly committed in Germany in relation to the Osnabruk bombing of 28 June 1996.

The test applied by the Crown Prosecution Service is the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors that applies to all prosecution will be commenced or proceeded with only if there is sufficient evidence to afford a realistic prospect of conviction and that prosecution is in the public interest.

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The Crown Prosecution Service, having taken the advice of Senior Treasury Counsel, has concluded that there is not a realistic prospect of convicting Miss McAliskey for any offence arising out of the Osnabruk bombing. It has reached that conclusion having taken into account the available evidence and the likely result of any argument that may be put forward by Miss McAliskey that to prosecute her now would be an abuse of process.

The Law Officers have been consulted and we agree with the conclusion reached by the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is not usual for the Law Officers to make announcements concerning consideration of individual cases. In this instance, the Home Secretary, in a written reply, 20 March 1998, Official Report, column 742W, said that this matter would be considered for prosecution in the United Kingdom. It is right that the House should be informed of the outcome of those considerations.


Further Education Colleges

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary concerning facilitating access to further education colleges in Wales by (a) single parents, (b) the long-term unemployed and (c) others; and if he will make a statement. [125561]

Mr. Hanson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State meets the First Secretary on a regular basis to discuss a range of issues including education and training. I also have regular discussions with the Assembly Secretary for Post-16 Education and Training.

The new arrangements for post-16 education and training in Wales will enable a coherent system between all providers of post-16 education and training, thereby increasing choice for all our people whatever their personal circumstances. It is envisaged that the new National Council for Education and Training for Wales (CETW) will fund a wide range of learner support measures that will enable more people to participate in training.

The National Assembly provides Access Funds for students who experience financial difficulties while studying or who are prevented from entering further education because of financial reasons. Further Education Access Funds have been substantially increased from £0.5 million in 1998-99 to a total of £13.3 million over the period 1999-2000 to 2001-02.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many police there were in Wales in (a) May 1997 and (b) July 2000. [130981]

Mr. Paul Murphy [holding answer 17 July 2000]: Figures are not held centrally for the months specified. At 31 March 1997, there were 6,593 police officers in Wales, and at 30 September 1999 there were 6,692 police officers.

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Assembly (Information Exchange)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on information exchange between the United Kingdom and the Welsh Assembly. [131064]

Mr. Paul Murphy [holding answer 17 July 2000]: The Memorandum of Understanding between the United Kingdom Government and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales published in October 1999 says in paragraph 9 that:

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