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19 Apr 2000 : Column WA99

Written Answers

Wednesday, 19th April 2000.

Chechnya: Tuberculosis

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the World Health Organisation has reported or will report on tuberculosis in Chechnya and adjoining regions, on the probable consequences for public health in Russia and eastern Europe and on the necessary preventative measures; and if not; whether they will ask the WHO to do so.[HL1919]

Baroness Amos: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported a steady increase in the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in the North Caucasus. Although no data are available on the TB incidence rate within Chechnya, WHO believes the increase there is likely to be particularly pronounced.

WHO have reported that the increased incidence of TB in the North Caucasus is likely to have negative consequences for public health and place greater strain on the Russian TB health services. In the North Caucasus, they are working to improve the capacity of local health institutions in Ingushetia to diagnose and treat TB.

Russia-wide, the WHO is involved in a number of activities, in preparation for a $100 million World Bank loan for TB control.

DfID is contributing over £2 million to TB programmes in Russia, plus an additional $300,000 to WHO for its work in the North Caucasus, including TB control programmes.

CDC: Forward Plans

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the forward plans of CDC Group plc will ensure that (a) over the next five years more than 70 per cent of its new investments will be in countries with a Gross National Product per capita of less than US$1,740 based on World Bank data published in 1998; and (b) more than half its new investment each year will be in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.[HL2005]

Baroness Amos: At the end of 1999 84 per cent of CDC's total investment portfolio was in poorer countries and 51 per cent was in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. CDC plans its business strategy taking account of the requirements placed on it by its investment policy. These are entrenched by means of the special share. It is a requirement that over a rolling five year period 70 per cent of new investments should be in poorer countries. The aim of making at least 50 per cent of new Investment each year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia is a target, and success in meeting it may be affected by local factors outside

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CDC's control. It is the intention of CDC year on year to strive for compliance with it. CDC is taking steps to structure its deal generation capacity in such a way as will ensure an adequate deal flow from the countries targeted under the investment policy.

Zimbabwe: Resettlement Funding

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide a detailed breakdown of the £44 million they have contributed to President Mugabe's land reform programme, including specific project assistance and dates of disbursement, coupled with details of how such expenditure has been targeted towards poverty alleviation in a cost effective way.[HL1904]

Baroness Amos: A grant of £20 million was agreed with the Government of Zimbabwe in 1981. This funded 42 resettlement projects for the benefit of refugees and landless people following the Independence war. British funds were used for land demarcation and fencing, provision of water and sanitation, construction of schools, clinics, and other buildings, also crop packs and training. The grant was largely disbursed by 1989; however it was eventually closed in 1996 with £3 million unspent. Over a similar period, the counterpart funds to £27 million in programme aid were used by the Government of Zimbabwe to fund its share of the programme.

An ODA evaluation in 1988 found that the majority of families settled had benefited considerably through the provision of increased opportunities for income generation and the availability of services such as health and education. The programme had also been successful from the national economic perspective having an economic rate of return of approximately 21 per cent. The Zimbabwean Comptroller and Auditor General carried out a value for money study of the programme in 1993. Despite identifying a number of shortcomings, the study concluded that the exercise was well planned in accordance with clear policies and procedures. It had benefited mainly the landless rural poor, most of whose standard of living had significantly improved.

Scandinavian Countries: Development Assistance

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they see any difference between the economy, politics and culture of the United Kingdom and those of the Scandinavian countries which could account for any divergence between the volume and quality of overseas aid given by the United Kingdom and those countries; and, if so, what those differences are.[HL1951]

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Baroness Amos: The Government recognise the high priority given to development issues in Scandinavian countries. This has been reflected in their levels of development assistance. We are not in a position to explain the divergence of UK and Scandinavian performances except that the values of the political leadership have been very different over large periods of time.

The Government are committed to poverty elimination and to the international development targets that mark progress towards that goal. This goal is being supported by increasing levels of UK development assistance together with a strong commitment to improve its effectiveness. The Government's approach has received a very positive assessment from the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

BSE/New-variant CJD

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any one official or department has an overall co-ordinating role for BSE/new-variant CJD; which official or department that is; and what their co-ordinating role is.[HL1929]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): No, but the departments involved work closely together on these matters.

European Union Committee: Washington Visit

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked the Chairman of Committees:

    What was the purpose of the visit by Sub-Committee B of the European Union Committee to Washington between 9 and 12 April; how many members and officers took part in the visit; and what was its total cost.[HL2036]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The visit was made as part of Sub-Committee B's inquiry into e-commerce: policy development and co-ordination in the European Union. The purpose of the visit was to learn from United States experience in the regulation of e-commerce. The Sub-Committee met representatives of the US National Co-ordinating Committee for e-commerce, the US Department of Commerce, the National Telecommunications and Information Agency and the United States Congress. Four members of the Sub-Committee, accompanied by the Clerk and the Specialist Adviser, took part in the visit. The total cost was £21,560.

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Elderly Patients: Abuse

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they have given to the dossier sent to the General Medical Council by Dr Rita Pal of Sutton Coldfield, which detailed cases of abuse of elderly patients in NHS hospitals overdosed with diamorphine; and what action they are taking in response to it.[HL1911]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The West Midlands Regional Office of the National Health Service Executive and the General Medical Council are carrying out separate investigations into the issues raised by Dr Pal. The GMC will consider any issues raised about the fitness to practice of individual doctors whilst the Regional Office will consider issues about the hospitals and health authorities. The West Midlands Regional Office and the GMC will be meeting shortly to ensure that these investigations proceed quickly.

Last year the Government asked the Health Advisory Service to review the standards of care for older people on acute hospital wards. The resulting report Not because they are old was issued to all NHS trusts. The Government have made it absolutely clear that high standards of care must be achieved. We are addressing the needs of older people through the National Service Framework, which will be published later this year. This will set out a framework to ensure that all older people are treated with dignity and receive the highest standards of care.

Stunning and Pithing

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to ban pithing.[HL1656]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: In the light of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee's advice that there is no reason to change United Kingdom practices of stunning and pithing during slaughter of cattle, the Government have no immediate plans to do so. Such a ban however is contained in current proposals from the EU Commission setting out controls on Specified Risk Materials in the European Union. These proposals are under negotiation and the final outcome will reflect discussions now under way.

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