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Kosovo: Reconstruction Programme

2.57 p.m.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the UN is co-ordinating both the emergency reconstruction and long-term reconstruction of Kosovo. We are contributing to the emergency effort through our office in Pristina and working to ensure that the reconstruction effort--in which the EC and World Bank will play a leading role--is as effective as possible. For as long as Milosevic remains in power, our policy towards Serbia is to provide only essential humanitarian assistance.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that to secure the economic, social and democratic well-being of the people of Kosovo and indeed Serb Yugoslavia will demand every bit as much financial commitment as fighting the war itself, and that so far the sums of which we talk are small by comparison? Can my noble friend give the House a specific assurance that there will be no robbing of Peter to pay Paul and no cutting back on programmes to others in order to finance the reconstruction programmes in these two countries? So far as concerns Yugoslavia, does she agree that a great deal of subtlety will be necessary so that we encourage the positive and responsible elements within Yugoslavia's society who are crucial to its future, and do not throw all the country together in a negative attitude towards the rest of the world?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we are concerned to ensure the economic, democratic and social well-being of the region. It is for that reason that various countries and international financial institutions have come together to talk about the importance of the long-term

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reconstruction of the region. However, it is far too soon to place a monetary element on that although of course it will be looked at in due course.

With respect to the specific assurance which my noble friend has sought as regards other DfID funded programmes, the reconstruction effort in the region will not impact on the other programmes in the DfID budget. The question of where the money will come from will be part of that long-term discussion. As to responding to positive and responsible elements within Yugoslavia, I entirely endorse my noble friend's comments.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, having won the war, it is vital that we now win the peace. Perhaps I may press the Minister a little further. Earlier this week the Economic Secretary to the Treasury announced that 500 million ecus were to be set aside from the European budget for the reconstruction of Kosovo. Today in the Guardian newspaper it is announced that that sum will come from cutting EU development aid by 10 per cent and EU humanitarian aid--which is the only source from which Serbia can get any help--by 19 per cent. In other words, it sounds very like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Can the Minister say whether the Government will take the same view as the European Parliament, which is that the reconstruction of Kosovo is so important that new money must be found, in addition to what may be scraped from other parts of the European Union budget?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, there has been a very clear commitment by the Government that the money being spent through the DfID budget on development programmes across the world will continue. There have been on-going discussions about the European Union element of that budget and how that might be spent. I shall be happy to write to the noble Baroness to clarify exactly what decisions have been made in respect of that budget. We consider that it is important to carry out a needs assessment within the region before we get to the point of making decisions about how long-term money should be allocated. There is a commitment to look at the long-term reconstruction of the region and, in particular, to work with multilateral organisations to ensure that that reconstruction happens.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, what assessment has the Minister made of the American decision to give preference in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Serbia to localities whose leaders are pursuing democratic policies? To what extent do the Government intend to encourage the democratic movement?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, it is important that we distinguish between immediate humanitarian relief to a region and the amount we identify for its long-term reconstruction. As part of our undertakings within DfID, we have always alluded to the importance of looking at governance structures within the countries with which we are dealing in terms of long-term development. Working towards ensuring openness, transparency of government and the establishment of democratic institutions is very important indeed. We have to isolate

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the difference between the immediate humanitarian needs that we will meet and our long-term programme, which will focus on different elements.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford: My Lords, amid this understandable clamour for the rebuilding of Serb Yugoslavia and Kosovo, perhaps I may ask the Minister a practical question. What safeguards are being built into the provisions for the rebuilding of Serb Yugoslavia and Kosovo to protect the Albanian minority in Kosovo against the emergence of a future Milosevic in 20 or 25 years time, repeating what has gone on recently and our having to start all over again?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, this is clearly a subject which will be part of the long-term discussions to ensure political stability in the region. I do not think that anyone would want to see a repeat of what has happened in the region in the past few years. We have made every effort to ensure that the Albanian minority in Kosovo is protected as much as possible. This of course will continue. It would be impossible for me to give my noble friend the kind of guarantee that he seeks. We will continue to ensure that these matters will be taken on board in terms of the political, humanitarian and social development within the region.


3.16 p.m.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the level of malnutrition in the United Kingdom and what action they are taking to tackle it.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the Government's programme for monitoring nutritional status has shown that although most people are adequately nourished, there is a persistent rise in obesity. Eating a healthy and balanced diet and keeping physically active help people to maintain a healthy body weight. These messages are at the heart of the Government's health strategy.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that the Malnutrition Advisory Group of academics, hospital doctors, dieticians and members of primary care groups was set up last month because of concern that people are not aware of the nutritional status of the community? Some 15 per cent of children and up to 40 per cent of adults who are admitted to hospital are found to be suffering from malnutrition. In many cases it continues while they are in hospital and they then lose even more weight. Does the Minister think that the advisory group will influence people and make them aware of this problem?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Yes, my Lords. I take the opportunity to welcome the formation of the group. I am sure that the Department of Health, in particular, will welcome continuing dialogue with that group,

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which is drawing attention to some very important issues. No doubt many challenges face hospitals in dealing with the problem of ensuring that people receive appropriate food in hospital. The Government are very concerned to make sure that that happens.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, how much domestic science is taught in schools? Would not it be a good idea to encourage children to cook vegetables and to eat healthily so that they do not become overweight and develop diabetes in the future?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am sure all parents would welcome that. I am glad to say that there is a programme of teaching children to cook and giving them advice about balanced and proper diets. We expect that by the end of this summer some 15,000 children will have been through that programme.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, on the issue of malnutrition in hospitals, the Minister is no doubt aware of the Nuffield Trust report which showed that there were levels of malnutrition both on entry to hospital and on exit. Will the department ask the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to issue guidelines on nutrition for hospitals?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, my understanding is that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence does not consider malnutrition to be within its remit. However, we are taking the report seriously and considering our response to it. It is quite clear that the boards of NHS trusts need to ensure that proper programmes are introduced, and that monitoring takes place, with regard to the way in which food is provided in hospitals. The Commission for Health Improvement will take hospital nutrition into account in its rolling programme of local reviews.

Lord Acton: My Lords, are there any national statistics on the number of cases of anorexia? If so, are these rising or falling?

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