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We are committed to reducing alcohol related crime, violent crime and anti-social behaviour on a number of fronts, including educating young people, campaigns encouraging people to drink more responsibly, and tough enforcement when those who drink too much cause harm to themselves and others. We also need those who retail alcohol to work in partnership with Government, the police and local authorities to reduce these risks. The majority of alcohol retailers behave responsibly, but a minority conduct irresponsible promotions or practices-the mandatory code will stop these where they take place.
banning irresponsible promotions, such as drinking games, speed drinking, women drink for free, and all you can drink for £10;
banning pouring drinks directly into the mouths of customers;
ensuring free tap water for customers; and
ensuring that all on trade premises offer small measures of beers, wine and spirits to customers.
In addition, we will also introduce a mandatory licensing condition to ensure that all those who sell or supply alcohol have an age verification policy in place requiring them to ask anyone who looks under 18 for proof of age by providing appropriate identification.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): An earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck Haiti, near the capital Port-au-Prince at 16:53 local time on 12 January. Numerous significant aftershocks followed the initial quake. This is a major international humanitarian disaster and a tragedy for the people of Haiti. In Port-au-Prince, the tremors destroyed more than 20 per cent. of buildings. At the epicentre 10 miles away, 80 to 90 per cent. of buildings were damaged. It is clear that the scale of the human tragedy is enormous. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that the Haitian emergency was the "most serious humanitarian crisis faced by the United Nations" in decades, surpassing those caused by the Asian tsunami, the recent Pakistan earthquake and cyclone Nargis in Burma.
The Haitian Interior Minister has estimated that the death toll could reach 200,000 with many more injured and an estimated 3 million people affected. The United Nations estimates that at least 2 million of these people will require immediate relief assistance for the next six months. So far, we know of one British citizen who has lost his life in the earthquake, Frederick Wooldridge, who worked for the UN Mission in Haiti. We pay tribute to the important work of Mr. Wooldridge and others like him in the UN Stabilisation Mission, working for the security and stability of Haiti. We have received reports that other British nationals are missing but do not have any further information to give at this stage.
The Department for International Development's response began within an hour of the earthquake and we had an assessment team in the air within 10 hours. Relief agencies are having to overcome enormous challenges to get help into the affected areas and we share their frustration and the urgency of meeting desperate needs. Damage sustained by the main airport in Port-au-Prince, together with air traffic control restrictions, meant that getting into Haiti was difficult. The British Government's own search and rescue team of 64 people were in the neighbouring Dominican Republic in the early hours of the morning of Thursday 14 January. The first UK search and rescue team was established in Port-au-Prince on 14 January and since then have been searching for trapped people. They have so far rescued three people alive from the debris and helped treat many more. I would like to pay particular tribute to the professionalism and dedication of our team in Haiti, made up of members of the UK Fire and Rescue Service as well as volunteer medical staff, and DFID staff.
DFID announced an initial contribution of £6.2 million on 14 January. These funds are already providing immediate relief in the form of the 64-person UK search and rescue team; £1 million to help the UN's humanitarian agency provide 30 or more staff to help with co-ordination; £2 million for the World Food Programme for logistical
support, including trucks and other vehicles, and humanitarian base camps, to get assistance to those in need in Port-au-Prince and remote areas; £l million for the Red Cross to support urgent medical care; and £300,000 to World Health Organisation for disease surveillance work.
DFID announced a tripling of funding to £20 million on 18 January and we will make further funding decisions based on the ongoing assessment of needs and discussion with the United Nations and Government of Haiti. We have agreed to help the Red Cross fly supplies from Panama into Haiti over the coming days. We are considering options for how the UK could deliver further relief supplies to Haiti.
A shortage of trucks and fuel, exacerbated by the airport's limited capacity to receive, warehouse, and dispatch relief supplies, continues to hamper relief efforts in and around Port-au-Prince, although road access from the Dominican Republic is possible and the port at Cap Haitian in the north of Haiti is operating. Getting food in through shattered infrastructure is an enormous problem. This is why we have made an early contribution to the World Food Programme for logistical support.
Needs are huge with food shortages in many areas, but food distribution is accelerating, with the World Food Programme distributing emergency rations to over 70,000 people yesterday (Monday), up from 20,000 on Friday. Large numbers of doctors and other health staff are arriving. There are at least nine field hospitals operational in Haiti as well as a 1,000-bed hospital ship. DFID has provided £200,000 funding for a specialised surgical team from Merlin to operate for the next two weeks in Haiti. The team of 11 medical staff should be on the ground in Haiti later today.
International co-ordination in such disasters rests with the United Nations. However, given the extensive damage to UN headquarters and their loss of staff, they are struggling to meet demands, and the US is bringing vital resources to bear. Our £1 million funding allocation to OCHA is being used to bolster capacity and we have sent a humanitarian adviser to support United Nations operations .The British Government are willing to support further secondments and have offered staff to the World Food Programme. We are also looking at whether practical assistance can be given to the Government of Haiti.
Together with the United Nations, we are working with the US humanitarian teams and military. We have an adviser working in the USAID operations room in Washington liaising with American counterparts. The EU humanitarian working group met to discuss the situation in Haiti on Friday, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, the Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting yesterday to discuss the immediate humanitarian response and also longer-term recovery and reconstruction. We will support that process and press for strong EU co-ordination and commitment to Haiti.
We are following the security situation very closely, both for our teams and for the wider operation. Ban-Ki-moon yesterday called for an additional 2,000 troops and 1,500 police for the peacekeeping mission. We hope that the UN Security Council will approve this and that these personnel will be mobilised as a matter of urgency.
The challenges that lie ahead are formidable. Access to food, water, shelter and medicines are the immediate concern for the people of Haiti and those involved in the disaster response. Haitians will also need law and order, electricity, and a return to something approximating normality if people are to begin the grieving process and start to rebuild their lives. We did not have a bilateral development programme with Haiti before the earthquake, and our focus will be on ensuring a substantial effort from the EU, World Bank and other multilaterals to provide the long-term reconstruction support that Haiti will need.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I have today laid before the House the UK Foreign Bribery Strategy, CM 7791. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office, and online at: www.justice.gov.uk/publications/foreign-bribery-strategy.htm. This follows my written ministerial statement of 15 October 2008, Official Report, column 44WS.
The overarching aim of the strategy is to reduce the involvement of UK nationals and companies in foreign bribery and the harm it causes. Our work is grouped under four strategic objectives: strengthening the law, supporting ethical business, enforcing the law, and international co-operation and capacity building. Throughout, the strategy draws on the wide-range of responsibilities across Departments, devolved Administrations, law enforcement, prosecution authorities and regulatory agencies which contribute to the overarching aim.
This strategy will be implemented and monitored through a Foreign Bribery Strategy Board, made up of officials from across Whitehall Departments, devolved Administrations, law enforcement, prosecution authorities and regulatory agencies. We will measure success through the delivery of specific pieces of work and the UK's performance in international anti-corruption surveys and corporate studies. The work will be informed by continuing dialogue with domestic stakeholders and international partners, and by analysis of trends from overseas corruption assessments and research. We will review the strategy in 2012 in the light of our next OECD evaluation, and provide annual progress updates to Parliament.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw):
Today I published a consultation paper entitled "Controlling Costs in Defamation Proceedings-Reducing Conditional Fee Agreement Success
Fees". The paper sets out the Government's interim proposal to reduce the maximum success fee currently permissible under a conditional fee agreement in defamation proceedings, while it considers Sir Rupert Jackson's "Review Of Civil Litigation Costs", published on 14 January, for longer-term reform.
Conditional fee agreements (CFAs), a type of "no win no fee" agreement, were first made enforceable in 1995 to improve access to justice for consumers of legal services. Changes introduced in the Access to Justice Act 1999 further extended their use and attractiveness to claimants. However, in the light of experience over the past decade, it has become clear that-in publication proceedings in particular-the balance has swung too far in favour of the interests of claimants and against the interests of defendants, for whom access to justice needs to be a reality too.
CFAs allow lawyers to take a case on a "no win no fee" basis. This means that if the case is lost, the lawyer does not get paid. However, if the case is successful, the lawyer can recover his costs as well as an additional uplift or "success fee". The Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2000 currently prescribes the maximum success fee that lawyers can charge at 100 per cent. in all categories of case, including publication proceedings. That 100 per cent. maximum was intended to allow lawyers to cover the costs of those cases which failed with a success fee from those which won. The consultation paper proposes that the maximum permitted success fee in defamation and some other publication proceedings in England and Wales be reduced to 10 per cent..
The Government have been concerned for some time about the impact of high legal costs in defamation proceedings, particularly the impact of 100 per cent. success fees. The Government do not believe that the present maximum success fee for defamation proceedings is justifiable. Evidence shows that the success rate of defamation actions does not justify such a generous success fee. This view is supported by the conclusions of the "Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report", available at:
The proposal in the consultation paper is intended to be an interim measure to complement changes introduced on 1 October 2009 designed to control the costs of individual cases, while the Government give detailed consideration to the recommendations from Sir Rupert Jackson. The proposal to reduce success fees would help reduce the costs further and limit the potential harmful effect that very high costs could have on the publication decisions of publishers.
Copies of the consultation paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Department's website at: www.justice.gov.uk.