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Baroness Amos: The Government's policy on assistance to Afghanistan was set out by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development on 8 December in response to a Parliamentary Question from Neil Gerrard MP. In her statement, Clare Short made clear that, because of security concerns, we are continuing to advise British aid workers against returning to Afghanistan. This means that DFID is not able to support NGOs that send expatriates back into the country. This restriction does not apply in the same way to the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN agencies because of their specially mandated role under international agreements.
We consider that we have a duty of care towards people employed by the NGOs we fund in situations of armed conflict and physical instability. This includes people of all nationalities (expatriate and local) employed through DFID funding. We seek to ensure in all such situations that our funding does not drive NGO staff to imprudent behaviour by motivating them to take undue risks in conducting their work or discharging their obligations towards us.
The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Sure Start is a vital element in the Government's work to improve services and other support for young children and their families. We have committed £540 million over the next three years, including £452 million in England, to achieving Sure Start's objectives. Sure Start is an interdepartmental strategy, and its success will require active partnership within government and a continuing commitment to
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The right honourable John Taylor MP has been appointed as a full representative from the minority parties as a replacement for Mr. Mike Hancock MP, who becomes a substitute representative.
We have already demonstrated our commitment by introducing tough new measures in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to deal with young offenders; drug misusers; sexual, violent and racist offenders; and those whose anti-social behaviour blights the lives of so many of our citizens. As part of our overall strategy, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary also announced on 21 July 1998 (Official Report, cols. 913-916) that the Government were making available through the Comprehensive Spending Review £250 million over the next three years for a new crime reduction programme. In addition extra resources were made available to the police, the Prison Service and the probation services. The programme is based on concrete evidence of what is effective in reducing crime and tackling its causes. We are publishing today a briefing paper entitled Reducing Crime and Tackling Its Causes, which sets out further details on the crime reduction programme and the range of initiatives which has been developed so far, including important projects on domestic burglary and targeted policing. Copies of the paper have been placed in the Library.
Domestic burglary is one of the most common crimes and causes enormous distress to victims. In addition to the measures in the crime reduction programme, we have decided to bring into force in December the provisions of Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997. This provides for minimum sentences of three years for those convicted for a third time of this offence and will ensure that those who commit this crime repeatedly are severely punished.
Lord Carter: Before exports of British beef can resume under the Date Based Export Scheme (DBES), the UK must slaughter all offspring born after 1 August 1996 to BSE cases confirmed before 25 November 1998 (the date of the Commission Decision on the DBES). When new cases of BSE occur, any offspring born after 1 August 1996 must be slaughtered without delay.
We have known for some time that this cull would be necessary and started it on a voluntary basis in August. We have been waiting for formal adoption of the Commission Decision in order to make it compulsory and ensure that the cull is properly carried out. Regulations are being laid before the House today for this purpose.
Since the cull started on a voluntary basis in August we have with the co-operation of the farming community culled over 1,000 animals. The compulsory cull, which will come into force in January, will ensure that all remaining offspring animals are slaughtered and clear the way for the resumption of beef exports.
Lord Carter: At the end of November 1998, stocks of OTMS tallow stood at 185,000 tonnes. Over 53,000 tonnes of tallow have been sold to renderers to burn as a fuel to power the rendering process. The Intervention Board has commissioned a leading firm of environmental engineers to report early in the new year on the opportunities for the large scale destruction of OTMS tallow in accordance with the requirements of Commission Regulation 716/96. The board's aim is to conclude early supply contracts which take full account of the need to protect human and environmental health and yield the best return for the taxpayer.
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