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Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The Government continue to press the Indonesian Government bilaterally and multilaterally to assist the efforts of international humanitarian organisations in the return process. The Department for International Development has also provided substantial funding to the International Organisation for Migration and UNHCR to assist the repatriation of refugees.

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Universal Primary Education

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest assessment of progress towards the goal of primary education; when they now expect that goal to be fulfilled; and what action they are taking to speed the process. [HL133]

Baroness Amos: In April 2000, the World Forum on Education in Dakar will assess the progress that has been made since the Education for All Summit in Jomtien in 1990. It will note that 130 million children (two-thirds of whom are girls) still do not or cannot go to school. The forum will pay particular attention to analysing why some countries, including some of the poorest, have managed to achieve considerably more than others.

We believe that the international development target of universal primary education by 2015 can be achieved if four keys actions are taken:

    (i) a real and sustained commitment by the governments of developing countries to securing universal primary education. Donor countries and international agencies cannot provide appropriate strategic assistance if commitment is lacking locally;

    (ii) education needs to be properly resourced. Developing countries will need to reallocate resources away from less productive areas, like military spending. But they will also need to use education budgets more effectively, including moving public finance away from the traditional focus on tertiary education;

    (iii) work on primary and basic education needs to move from an approach based purely on projects towards a sector-wide approach, designed and led by developing country governments. Donors will need to work together around a focused, agreed strategy;

    (iv) the approach to education will need to be linked to policies on health, sanitation, livelihoods and rural transport which affect education. Governments will need to address the obstacles that prevent children from enrolling in school, as well as the reasons why so many drop out. Policies will have to be particularly focused on girls, who may face barriers of prejudice and discrimination.

We will continue to work closely with developing country governments, international agencies and civil society to promote such actions and to design and implement coherent strategies for universal primary education. Our assistance will make the greatest difference if it is designed to support governments' own anti-poverty strategies which prioritise primary education for all.

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WTO Negotiations: Poorest Developing Countries

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assistance they have provided to the poorest developing countries (a) within the African, Caribbean and Pacific group; and (b) in Asia specifically to support them during the World Trade Organisation trade negotiations in Seattle. [HL138]

Baroness Amos: The Government have committed over £15 million to trade-related capacity building programmes largely in relation to the next round of WTO trade negotiations.

Among countries in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group, the UK is supporting bilateral technical assistance programmes in Malawi (£0.25 million), South Africa (£0.1 million), Zimbabwe (£0.5 million) and the 14 CARICOM countries in the Caribbean (£1.1 million). In Asia, assistance has been provided to Bangladesh (£0.56 million). This technical assistance comprises advice, studies and training in trade policy and negotiating skills.

ACP and Asian countries also benefit from UK contributions to multilateral advisory and capacity building programmes managed by the WTO, UNCTAD, the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat. These are designed to prepare developing countries to participate in the new round of WTO trade negotiations, seminars on key issues for the WTO negotiations, training for trade policy officials and a handbook for trade negotiators from developing countries.

A full list of UK support for these activities has been placed in the Library of the House.

Sierra Leone

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that there is an adequate response to the United Nations consolidated appeal for Sierra Leone. [HL184]

Baroness Amos: The Secretary of State for International Development is doing all she can to persuade other bilateral donors to contribute. She intends to invite fellow development ministers to London early in the new year to discuss this issue.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that their lead on the urgent funding of the programme to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate the estimated 45,000 combatants in Sierra Leone is followed by the international community. [HL185]

Baroness Amos: The Secretary of State for International Development has so far committed £6.5 million to the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme for combatants in Sierra Leone. A substantial part of this is pledged to

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the World Bank's Multi Donor Trust Fund. In addition to a contribution of US 9 million dollars from the Bank, four other countries have so far offered or are actively considering an offer of support for the programme through the fund.

Additional pledges are needed urgently in order to reach the overall estimate of the cost of DDR, and the Secretary of State is intending to press Sierra Leone's case for further donations with development ministers early in the New Year.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 29 November (H.L. Deb., cols. 658-9), whether any Cabinet Minister, including the Prime Minister, is free to make whatever comments he wishes about General Pinochet.[HL152]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): I refer the noble Lord to my Answer given to him on 11 November (Official Report, WA 185).

Female Circumcision

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to enforce the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985; and with what results.[HL163]

Lord Bassam of Brighton : The relevant authorities take this offence seriously, but female genital mutilation (FGM) is deeply steeped in the cultures and traditions of those communities who practise it and it is rarely reported. There have been no prosecutions to date. New government guidance Working together to safeguard children to be issued in the new year recommends that in local areas where there are communities who traditionally practice FGM, the policy of area child protection committees (on which the police are represented) should focus on a preventive strategy involving community education.

Police Vehicle Recovery

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe it is proper for police forces to seek to have their own vehicles recovered free on the back of a commercially managed call-out system; and whether or not this practice would tend to increase the cost of recovery services to the public.[HL164]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: Police powers to arrange for the removal of vehicles from the highway are contained in the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Removal of Vehicles Regulations 1986. Under this legislation the precise arrangements adopted by police forces for the safe recovery of vehicles, including the terms and conditions of individual contracts entered into by the police and contractors to carry out the work, are an operational matter for individual chief officers of police.

Police vehicle recovery contracts vary from force to force, but the norm is for police forces to pay a commercial rate for the recovery of their own vehicles. A few police forces may have negotiated free recovery but there is no evidence to suggest this would increase the cost of recovery services to the public because most police vehicle removals are effected by the use of police powers and thus attract the prescribed statutory fee.

Emergency Services

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many emergency services there are; and whether they believe it to be misleading for a commercial organisation to promote itself as the "Fourth Emergency Service".[HL165]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The term emergency services in primary legislation commonly covers the police, ambulance and fire service. However, there are other services that can provide emergency response, for example Ministry of Defence bomb disposal or the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue. These organisations are also granted certain exemptions to allow them to carry out their functions; for example, the use of blue lights.

It is for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to rule on whether advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful. In August 1999, the ASA published their adjudication on the use of the term "Fourth Emergency Service" by the Automobile Association, finding the advertisement acceptable. The claim is qualified by the preceding words "To our members, we are the Fourth Emergency Service".

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