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Written Answers

Monday, 10th July 2000.

Zambia: Teachers

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had with the government of Zambia on how to make good the fall in the number of teachers in Zambia following the recent evidence that more teachers there are dying of AIDS than there are students completing teacher training.[HL2969]

Baroness Amos: If the 1998 reporting (1,331 teacher deaths) is fairly accurate, and given the overall HIV infection trends in the adult population, Zambia will lose to AIDS annually about 2.8 per cent of its teaching force between 2000 and 2010.

To this should be added morbidity, based on approximate loss of 6 months of labour prior to full-blown AIDS, and 12 months' loss prior to death, giving a figure of 4.2 per cent loss of available teacher labour to 2010--i.e. 1,996 teacher equivalents per annum.

This has to be compared to national output of trained primary teachers of 2,226 per annum at present. The estimates in 1 and 2 are likely to be under-estimates, therefore the supply-demand is almost balanced at present.

Armenia: Demining Equipment

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have approved the export of demining equipment to Armenia.[HL3207]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Her Majesty's Government has recently approved the export of demining equipment for operations in Armenia. These will be used by the HALO Trust during humanitarian landmine clearance operations. This licence was granted for humanitarian purposes. It also reflects the determination of the Government to eliminate the scourge of landmines.

The UK remains committed to the OSCE arms embargo against both Azerbaijan and Armenia, which the UK interprets as covering all goods and technology in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 (commonly known as the military list).

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EU Enlargement

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the their statement on page 13 of the Command Paper Developments in the EU, July-December 1999 (Cm 4762) that "enlargement ... will reunite the European Continent", what is their definition of "the European Continent"; and in which period of European history it was united. [HL3033]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Enlargement will finally end the Cold War division of Europe. Countries which were divided for decades by political and economic barriers will participate once again as full and independent members of the European family of states. There are already 13 candidates for membership of the EU. The Amsterdam Treaty makes clear that any European state which conforms to the EU's political, economic and administrative criteria can join the Union. But no formal definition of a European state has been discussed with EU partners.

US National Missile Defence System

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest evaluation of the technical feasibility and expense of a United States National Missile Defence System. [HL3063]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We continue to discuss with the US many aspects of their possible National Missile Defence system. But we have made no formal assessment of the technical feasibility or cost to the United States of such a system. The US has made clear that these are two of the factors that the President will consider in deciding whether to proceed with the deployment of any such system.

Missile and Terrorist Attack: Threat Reduction

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What studies they are making of the relative future likelihood of missile attack or terrorist attack on the United Kindom and its major allies; and what global policies they believe are necessary to reduce the prospect of either. [HL3066]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: These potential threats to the United Kingdom are kept under constant review. The UK is an active participant in the international discussions on reducing the threats posed by both of these issues.

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Arms Control: NATO Policy

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What deliberations are taking place within the NATO Alliance on the place of arms control measures in defence and security policy.[HL3089]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: NATO defence and security policies take full account of the importance of arms control and disarmament. Arms control issues are currently being considered as part of the process initiated at the 1999 Washington Summit. A report on this work is due to be presented to NATO Ministers at their meetings in December.

River Danube: Clearance

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the work of clearing bridge debris blocking the Danube at Novi Sad is expected to begin; and when navigation is expected to resume.[HL3105]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal The European Commission have requested that urgency procedures be used throughout the EU legislative process in order to allow clearance work to begin before the end of summer 2000. The target date for the opening of a fully navigable channel at Novi Sad is spring 2001.

Theatres: Further Arts Council Review

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the roles and functions of theatres whose work falls outside the remit of the Boyden Report and the Arts Council of England report The Next Stage (which covers the 50 English Regional Producing Theatres).[HL3075]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Arts Council of England's paper The Next Stage, published on 18 May with the Boyden Report, specifically addresses the wider theatre ecology beyond the English regional producing theatres, to include receiving houses, medium and small touring companies as well as the national companies. ACE will now build on this in the next phase of its review, currently under way.

Theatre: National Policy

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have plans to launch a national policy on theatre in England. [HL3077]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Arts Council of England, as the national funding body for the arts in England, in consultation with the regional arts boards and the wider theatre community, is developing its national policy on theatre in England.

Theatres: Funding by Local Authorities

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan to make it a requirement that the cultural plans submitted by local authorities should make funding of theatres within their area a mandatory element of their budget provision. [HL3079]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have no such plans. Local authorities are being strongly encouraged to develop local cultural strategies but we do not anticipate that there will be mandatory elements in relation to theatres.

Below Average Income Statistics

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have incomes below (a) 20 per cent of average income; (b) 10 per cent of average income; and (c) 5 per cent of average income. [HL3177]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Households Below Average Income (HBAI) provides estimates of the number of individuals with household income below fractions of the Great Britain average. The fractions range from 40 to 100 per cent. Estimates are drawn from the Family Resources Survey. Income data at the very bottom of the income distribution are not regarded as sufficiently reliable to support estimates of the numbers below 5, 10 and 20 per cent of average income.

The number of individuals who lived in households with income below 40 per cent of the Great Britain average stood at 5 million in 1997-98, before the deduction of housing costs. The new edition of HBAI will be published on 13 July 2000 and will contain figures covering 1998-99.

Community Sentence Breach: Loss of State Benefits, Scotland

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the function of the (a) Procurator Fiscal in Scotland in referring to the court offenders reported to be in breach of a community order under the procedure contained in Part III of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill; (b) local authority social services department in Scotland; and (c) justice of the peace in Scotland[HL3070]

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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: As introduced into the House of Lords on 5 April 2000, Part III of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Bill provided, in Scotland, for the court to notify the Secretary of State (in practice the Benefits Agency) of the commencement of breach proceedings. Proceedings are commenced when the court issues a warrant to arrest the offender or requires him to appear before it.

The ultimate decision to return an offender to court for breach proceedings in Scotland is taken by the Sheriff or District Court (on which JPs sit). The court makes its decision on the basis of information about that breach, which is brought to the court's attention by a social worker or probation officer in whose area the offender resides.

The court concerned may be either the Sheriff or a District Court. However in practice the majority of community disposals made and any subsequent breach proceedings conducted occur in the Sheriff Courts.

In detail, the respective roles are as follows:

    (a) The Procurator Fiscal. When an offender appears before the court for breach proceedings, it is customary for the Procurator Fiscal to be present also. This is because of his involvement in the original criminal proceedings which led to the imposition of the community order, and because, if the offender disputes that he has breached the order, it will be the Procurator Fiscal (and not the social worker or probation officer) who will have to lead evidence to satisfy the court that there has been a breach. Because of this, it may happen that a local authority social work department asks the Procurator Fiscal to review the evidence before the matter is passed to the court for its decision as to whether to institute breach proceedings.

    (b) Local authority social work departments appoint a supervising officer, who is responsible for ensuring the offender's compliance with the terms of the community order in accordance with national standards and objectives. Where he considers that the offender has breached the order, the supervising officer submits a report to the court.

    (c) Justices of the peace sit in the District Courts in Scotland. They carry out functions in these courts in respect of breaches of community disposals similar to sheriffs in the Sheriff Courts. The District Courts are involved in the decision to commence breach proceedings, and in hearing breach proceedings, only where the original order was made in a District Court in the first instance.

Part III of the Bill, as amended at Report stage in the Lords on 27 June 2000, provides for the loss of benefit to occur only after the Sheriff or District Court has determined that an offender has breached his community order. The roles of the various parties in taking breach action are the same.

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