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9 Apr 1998 : Column WA167

Written Answers

Thursday, 9th April 1998.

Millennium Gift Aid

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the cost of Millennium Gift Aid will be set against the budget for the Department for International Development.[HL1134]

Lord Whitty: The cost of Millennium Gift Aid will not count against the budget for the Department for International Development. The Inland Revenue have estimated the cost of the extra tax relief for individual giving will be £15 million in 1998-99, £25 million in 1999-2000 and £20 million in 2000-2001. This tax relief will be eligible to be counted as official development assistance (oda) from the UK.

Health Programmes in Poorer Countries: Effects of Funding Cuts

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank are carrying out cost/benefit analyses of the cutbacks in health sector provisions in client countries and the subsequent increase in infectious diseases documented by the World Health Organisations.[HL1284]

Lord Whitty: A perceived resurgence of infectious diseases is caused by multiple factors and linking them explicitly to any interaction such as changes in health sector provision is difficult. Infectious diseases are intimately associated with overall levels of poverty and social provision within a community, the development of infrastructure and the economies of the client countries involved. It is standard practice that the costs and benefits of World Bank loans are appraised at the time of loan approval. Over recent years both the World Bank and the IMF have commissioned specific pieces of work looking at the impact of national efforts to manage public spending and increase the effectiveness of health sector action on the health status of populations in poorer countries.

Peru: Population Control Programme

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Nations Fund for Population Activities or the International Planned Parenthood Federation are funding or supporting the Peruvian Population Control Programme; and, if so, to what extent.[HL1161]

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Lord Whitty: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) programmes of assistance to Peru promote the rights of women and men to better sexual and reproductive health, including full information and free choice about contraceptive methods and services. In their dialogue with Peruvian authorities both organisations actively promote the standards of reproductive health care agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

Agriculture Council, 31 March

Baroness Young of Old Scone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 31 March.[HL1355]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food chaired the fourth meeting under the United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union Council of Agriculture Ministers on 31 March in Brussels. I represented the United Kingdom. My honourable friend Win Griffiths (Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Welsh Office) was also present.

My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food convened the Council expressly to consider the Commission's proposals, published on 18 March, for changes to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the framework of Agenda 2000. The Council debate on this vital issue was held in open session, and was thus available in full to the media and to other interested parties. There was also an important political dimension to the debate: reforming the CAP in tandem with changes to the EU's future financing provisions and to its regional and structural policies are essential steps to prepare for further enlargement of the European Union. It is significant that the formal opening of the enlargement negotiations with six applicant countries took place in Brussels on the same day.

A wide range of views on the Commission's CAP reform proposals was expressed in the Council. No Minister denied that there was a need for reform to take place, nor that the process should begin forthwith. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was able to conclude that the UK Presidency would now begin an intensive programme of technical examination of the Commission's proposals, leading to a further discussion in the Agriculture Council in late May.

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My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was also able to establish, as President of the Council, that there was unanimous agreement amongst member states to defer until 1 January 1999 implementation of last July's Commission Decision on Specified Risk Materials. During this period, measures taken by member states on a national basis to protect the health of their populations will be maintained.

Law Commission Reports: Implementation

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give effect to the recommendation of the Law Commission for England and Wales, as set out in its 32nd Annual Report (Law Com No. 250; HC 565), to give priority in their legislative programme to implement the Law Commission's recommendations on mental incapacity, offences against the person, forfeiture of leases, manslaughter, contracts for the benefit of third parties, hearsay in criminal cases, punitive damages and shareholder remedies.[HL1298]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have already announced that the Government will take forward the Law Commission report on Contracts for the Benefit of Third Parties when legislative time permits.

The Government have published consultation documents on the Commission's reports on Offences Against the Person and Mental Incapacity. Decisions on the way ahead in these two areas must await the outcome of those consultations.

The Law Commission have themselves gone out to further consultation on part of their report on Forfeiture of Leases.

The Government are considering their response to the Commission's reports on Hearsay, Involuntary Manslaughter, Aggravated, Exemplary and Restitutionary Damages and Shareholder Remedies.

All Law Commission reports, whether or not implemented, play a valuable role in the clarification and development of the law. If the decision is made to implement the recommendations of a report by legislation, the Government will then assess its appropriate priority, taking into account competing pressures on the legislative programme.

General Chiropractic Council

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to issue the Commencement Order relating to the formal establishment of the General Chiropractic Council; whether they have approved that organisation's business plan: when they propose to confirm the appointment to the council of the members of the Council-Designate; and when they propose that the register should be opened.[HL1393]

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The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Further progress towards implementation of the Chiropractors Act 1994 is dependent on satisfactory completion of the necessary preparatory work by the Council-designate. Subject to discussion and agreement with the Chairman-designate on a feasible timetable for this work, we expect to be in a position to approve the business plan shortly. The first Commencement Order to establish formally the General Chiropractic Council, and to enable it to undertake certain functions, will be made as soon as possible thereafter.

Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors: Careers Service Funding

Lord Thomas of Macclesfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What functions are ascribed to the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting under Section 6(1)(e) of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1997, and whether the board receives funding in respect of these functions.[HL1453]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The board is required to provide a careers service (Statutory Instrument 1993/629). Funding for this is not authorised by statute and is the subject of separate approval by the Treasury until March 1999, after which new arrangements will be introduced.

Northern Ireland: Analysis of National Curriculum Tests at Key Stage 3

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish data for Northern Ireland showing for secondary schools, grammar schools, all state schools, independent schools and all schools taken together, the number and percentage of schools and 14 year old pupils in each of the years 1994 to 1997 taking National Curriculum tests in the following subjects: mathematics, English and science, including for each category of school, the number of schools and the number of 14 year old pupils.[HL1230]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): 1996-97 was the first year of statutory assessment in Northern Ireland, so information is not available for earlier years. Independent schools are not covered by the statutory curriculum and assessment requirements. Information in respect of grant aided schools for 1996-97 is shown as follows.

Number and Percentage of Pupils and Schools Taking Key Stage 3 Assessment Tests

English Mathematics Science
TotalNumber sitting tests%Number sitting tests%Number sitting tests%
GrammarPupils in Year 109,0058,43993.78,42993.68,39993.3
SecondaryPupils in Year 1017,07414,97087.714,99987.815,04788.1
AllPupils in Year 1026,07923,40989.823,42889.823,44689.9

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Because of a boycott of assessment by some teachers, no results were available for some schools and only partial results for some other schools.

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