Previous Section Index Home Page

12 Mar 2003 : Column 278W—continued


Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK service personnel are stationed in Sudan. [101600]

Mr. Ingram: One.

Territorial Army

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Non-Regular Permanent Staff over 60 are employed in the TA; and in which districts. [102206]

Dr. Moonie: The number of Non-Regular Permanent Staff (NRPS) aged over 60 employed in the TA in each of the districts or divisions, as at 1 January 2003, is shown in the table:

District/divisionNumber of NRPS
HQ 2 Div20
HQ 4 Div10
HQ 5 Div5
HQ London District(4)
HQ Northern Ireland(4)

(4) Denotes fewer than five

(5) Figures are rounded to the nearest five and totals may not therefore always equal the sum of the constituent parts

Vaccine Schedule (Gulf Deployment)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what validation was obtained for studies of vaccines in humans that are now being administered to troops sent to the Gulf. [95929]

Dr. Moonie: Service personnel are routinely offered a range of vaccinations to protect against disease. Service personnel deploying to the Gulf region are also offered vaccination against anthrax. All these vaccines are licensed products. The Medicines Control Agency's licensing process requires the licence applicant to conduct studies into the efficacy and safety of their product.

Vaccination against smallpox is being offered to a cohort of specialist NEC personnel and certain medical personnel some of whom are deploying to the Gulf region. The smallpox vaccine is not currently licensed, but is being used on the basis of expert medical advice.

Written Questions

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many named day written questions were tabled to the Department between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003; how many that received a holding answer were given a substantive answer (a) within three days, (b) within seven days, (c) within 14 days, (d) within 28 days and (e) over 28 days later; and what procedures the Department has in place to monitor performance on answering (i) parliamentary questions and (ii) ministerial letters. [99435]

Dr. Moonie: 444 named day written questions were tabled to the Ministry of Defence between 15 October 2002 and 24 February 2003. Of this number, 153 questions received a holding reply and one remains

12 Mar 2003 : Column 279W

outstanding. The information could be broken down into the timescales requested only at disproportionate cost.

Parliamentary questions tabled to the Ministry of Defence are recorded on a database and progress of all parliamentary questions is monitored closely.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on performance of departments in replying to ministerial correspondence. The Report for 2001 was published on Friday 24 May 2002, Official Report, column 674W. The Report for 2002 will be published in due course.


Animal Welfare

Norman Baker: To ask the Solicitor-General how many people in the United Kingdom are banned from keeping animals for life. [100356]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

These figures are not recorded.


Caroline Flint: To ask the Solicitor-General what plans she has to propose amendments to the law on provocation; and if she will make a statement. [102043]

The Solicitor-General: Two questions have arisen for consideration in recent months: first, whether the law as interpreted by the courts is sound, which includes the question of how the law operates in practice; and/or whether a review of the sentencing guidelines is needed.

The Home Secretary and the Law Officers with the assistance of the Director of Public Prosecutions are currently considering whether there are grounds for a review of the law of provocation and/or a reference to the Sentencing Advisory Panel. I refer to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) on 28 February 2003 for more details of the work being carried out by the Law Officers and the DPP.

In December 2002 the Court of Appeal reviewed the sentences imposed on two defendants convicted for the manslaughter of their partners by reason of provocation. The Law Officers referred the sentences to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that they appeared to be unduly lenient and that the existing sentencing guidelines did not appear to reflect adequately the seriousness of the offence. Among the other observations in its judgment, in declining to increase the sentences imposed on these defendants the Court of Appeal held that it could not consider whether new guidelines were justified in this difficult area without advice from the Sentencing Advisory Panel.

Ultimately the responsibility for the criminal law and for making references to the Sentencing Advisory Panel falls to the Home Secretary.

12 Mar 2003 : Column 280W


Child Care Tax Credit

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many current recipients of childcare tax credit he estimates will lose out from April on account of the rate that such credit will operate for a minimum period of four weeks. [98673]

Dawn Primarolo: When it is introduced in April, the working tax credit will include a child care element which provides more flexible support for the costs of eligible child care.

In response to concerns raised by parents paying child care costs weekly, who may have short increases of child care costs during the school holidays, we are bringing forward regulations making a minor change to the system to allow parents to take account of changes in costs lasting less than four weeks. This will allow parents with fluctuating costs to have their tax credit based on their average child care costs, including any short-term fluctuations. The Inland Revenue will issue clear guidance for parents and child care providers on how the system will work from April.

Debt Relief

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what discussions officials from his Department have had with representatives of other developed countries regarding the provision of additional relief for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries at the completion point of their relief initiatives; [102008]

John Healey: The UK takes a strong lead in the international debate on debt relief. The issue is discussed at most major international meetings, including the Annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World bank, which are attended by representatives from all member countries, including developing countries. The UK will use the forthcoming spring meetings of the IMF and World bank to push for increased efforts on debt relief.

The staffs of the IMF and World bank have prepared a paper on the options for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries to obtain technical assistance to facilitate the resolution of disputes, including those with commercial creditors. The UK will press for a full discussion of this issue at the spring meetings.

The UK also believes that where countries have to contend with external shocks, such as sharp falls in the price of key export commodities, we must form a broad consensus on the need for topping-up at completion point to ensure a lasting exit from unsustainable debt. We will work with our international partners to develop

12 Mar 2003 : Column 281W

more realistic and generous rules for its provision, including agreement that the calculation of topping-up should exclude voluntary bilateral provision of additional 100 per cent. relief, to ensure that this functions as truly additional relief.

The UK has also been leading the debate on how to raise additional finance for development, including debt relief. The Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development have proposed an International Finance Facility (IFF) that will double the amount of development assistance in the years to 2015 from US$50 billion to $100 billion. This money will be disbursed mainly in the form of grants, including debt relief. This proposal is being worked up through the G7 and other forums in the run up to the G8 heads of state summit in June.

Officials meet regularly with their counterparts in other developed countries, and in a variety of international organizations, to discuss a wide range of issues.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the heavily indebted poor countries which have had full debt relief from the UK. [102009]

John Healey: The UK always goes further than is required under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC) and provides 100 per cent. debt relief. Under the HIPC initiative a country receives interim debt relief on payments due when it reaches Decision Point and subsequently the debt is irrevocably cancelled at Completion Point. To reach Decision Point and demonstrate their commitment to poverty reduction, a country must prepare an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), to get to Completion Point they need to develop a full PRSP, and usually make progress in implementing it for one year.

Of the 42 countries classified as HIPCs four are currently expected to have a sustainable burden of debt after traditional debt relief. Of the remaining 38 countries, 26 have now reached Decision Point with US$62 billion in debt relief committed compared with the $100 billion total. Six of these countries have reached Completion Point and have had the totality of their debts owed to the UK irrevocably cancelled. For the 20 countries still at Decision Point the UK provides 100 per cent. relief on debt service payments, and stands ready to irrevocably cancel their stock of debt at Completion Point. Out of 12 countries yet to reach Decision Point, eight are currently affected by conflict and this makes their progress in the HIPC initiative difficult. For these countries yet to reach Decision Point the UK holds in trust any debt service payments made until they can be returned to fund poverty reduction. The UK is the only creditor to operate this policy and has called on others to follow its lead.

The HIPCs that have reached completion point are: Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda

The HIPCs that have reached decision point are: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, The Republic of the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana,

12 Mar 2003 : Column 282W

Honduras, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tomé et Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Zambia.

The HIPCs yet to reach completion point are: Burma*, Burundi*, Central African Republic*, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo*, Republic of the Congo*, Côte D'Ivoire, Lao PDR, Liberia*, Somalia*, Sudan* and Togo.

Next Section Index Home Page