|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reports he has received indicating the involvement of UK banks in the money laundering activities of the late General Abacha; whether he is (a) budgeting for the return of such money to Nigeria and (b) arranging for its repayment; and if he will make a statement.
Ruth Kelly: The Financial Services Authority published a report in March 2001 following a three month investigation into the handling by banks in the UK of accounts linked to the late General Abacha. The investigation established that 23 banks had accounts linked either to General Abacha, family members or close associates and that in 15 of the banks significant control weaknesses were identified. Eight of the banks had corrected these weaknesses after the accounts were opened but seven banks were ordered to take action to rectify control weaknesses.
The return to Nigeria of any money held in accounts owned by the Abacha family or close associates is dependent on the Nigerian authorities prosecuting individuals for their offences and subsequently, if these individuals are found to be guilty, obtaining a confiscation order against them. If in its assessment of the benefits obtained by these individuals from the crimes they are convicted of, it is considered that assets are held in the UK, an application for enforcement of that order in the UK courts would then be required. I understand that no such confiscation orders have, as yet, been made in Nigeria. Although the proceeds of overseas confiscation orders revert to the Exchequer the government has powers to return such proceeds to overseas jurisdictions. The UK government would consider returning any money confiscated form the Abacha accounts to the Nigerian authorities.
Ruth Kelly [holding answer 7 March 2002]: Details of the expenditure on business euro preparations were set out in the Treasury's Fifth Report on Euro Preparations, published on 4 November 2001, copies of which were deposited in the Library of the House.
8 Mar 2002 : Column 646W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what initiatives there are to give smaller quoted companies more flexibility to seek approval from shareholders for non pre-emptive issues. 
Smaller quoted companies already have flexibility to allot shares on a non-pre-emptive basis where this is approved by a special resolution of their members. The Company Law Review recommended no change in this arrangement. I am considering this along with the Review's other recommendations.
Clare Short: Our response focuses on eliminating the poverty that causes child trafficking, and supporting and encouraging the work of governments, business, voluntary agencies and international organisations, such as the International Labour Organisation and UNICEF, which addresses this issue. It includes £3 million of support for specific ILO operations in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.
Clare Short: My Department has not undertaken any direct assessment of the level of exploitation of children by aid workers. No level of exploitation is acceptable in any circumstance. We welcome the attention the recent report of UNHCR and SCF-UK on exploitation amongst refugee children in West Africa has brought to this issue.
Clare Short: DFID is supporting the work of agencies such as Anti-Slavery International and Save the Children that collaborate with local civil society organisations to raise awareness of the issues of child labour and trafficking.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action she is taking to help developing countries implement the International Labour Organisation conventions on child trafficking. 
Clare Short: DFID is supporting the work of the International Labour Organisation to help developing countries implement Convention 182, on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, which includes trafficking, both through our four year Partnership
8 Mar 2002 : Column 647W
agreement, and through support to specific ILO operations such as the regional programme in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and China.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what conclusions she has drawn form the UNHCR report into the sexual exploitation of children by aid workers in Africa. 
Clare Short: The initial findings of the UNHCR and Save the Children-UK Assessment Mission are very disturbing. We welcome their openness in bringing this issue to public attention and strongly endorse the Framework for Action adopted. The agencies implicated by the allegations in the report must take urgent action to stamp out any exploitation uncovered of the people that they are there to protect.
Clare Short: The covert and illicit nature of child trafficking makes it very difficult to establish accurate statistics, but there is wide agreement and growing concern that evidence of the practice is growing in all regions of the world.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance her Department is providing to UK charities working in Africa to prevent the sexual exploitation of children by their overseas staff. 
Clare Short: UK charities and other aid agencies clearly have to take responsibility for the conduct of their staff, both those from the UK and those who are recruited locally. They need to ensure that they have policies and procedures in place to prevent the recruitment of unsuitable individuals, to monitor their programme operations, and to take action against staff who abuse children or misuse their authority in any other way.
Dr. Strang: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how much money to address HIV/AIDS was given by her Department to each international agency in each year since 199596 in (a) cash terms and (b) constant prices; 
8 Mar 2002 : Column 648W
We have also in this period provided funding to other international agencies with significant HIV/AIDS programmes, including the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, the EC, and the World Bank. However, it is not possible to determine the portion of our contributions used for HIV/AIDS work as opposed to other work of these agencies.
Mr Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what requests for financial assistance, and for what projects, have been made by the Sri Lanken Government to her Department in the last two years. 
Clare Short: We have agreed with the Government of Sri Lanka that DFID's programme will focus on inter-communal reconciliation, livelihood security for the poor in conflict areas and basic education. Details of our work in Sri Lanka are outlined in our Country Strategy Paper, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.
My officials have also been approached by the Government of Sri Lanka for new programmes to support social harmony through basic education and for confidence building measures in support of the peace process. Design of these programmes is underway.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|