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19 Nov 2001 : Column WA111

Written Answers

Monday, 19th November 2001.

Overseas Aid: Coercive Population Programmes

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Lord Grocott on 25 October (HL Deb, col. 1120), whether and in what circumstances a ban on the use of United Kingdom overseas aid in programmes involving enforced non-voluntary abortion and compulsory sterilisation could adversely affect work to combat HIV in developing countries.[HL1182]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): UK development assistance is not used to support programmes involving enforced non-voluntary abortion or compulsory sterilisation.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Lord Grocott on 25 October (HL Deb, col. 1120), which organisations currently in receipt of United Kingdom overseas aid implement HIV prevention programmes that involve enforced non-voluntary abortion and compulsory sterilisation.[HL1183]

Baroness Amos: UK development assistance is not used to support programmes involving non-voluntary abortion or compulsory sterilisation.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Lord Grocott on 25 October (HL Deb, col. 1121), on what basis he stated that this year the United States Government had increased their funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from 25 million dollars to 39 million dollars; how much of this is used in China; and, in the light of his remark that this funding is not that different in crucial respects from United Kingdom funding for the UNFPA, how much of the funding is used in coercive population programmes.[HL1184]

Baroness Amos: The United States' contribution to UNFPA's core resources in 2001 totalled US 21.5 million dollars, after a deduction of US 3.5 million dollars, equivalent to UNFPA's annual programme budget for China. The contribution is also subject to a tax deduction. The US Senate is currently considering authorising a contribution of US 40 million dollars to UNFPA for 2002.

The US Administration's view is that UNFPA's programme is not connected to abuse or coercion and that UNFPA does not and has not condoned coercion in China. We agree with that view.

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Afghanistan: Opium Poppy Cultivation

Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Baroness Amos on 5 November that "in July last year the Taliban effectively banned opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan" (HL Deb, col. 98), whether the ban is still in force; if so, whether it has been effective in preventing such cultivation; and, if not, whether the opium poppy is now grown in that country.[HL1222]

Baroness Amos: The Taliban announced a ban on opium poppy cultivation last year but not on the stockpiling or trafficking of drugs. According to the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, opium production in the areas under Taliban control was 21 tonnes in 2001 compared with 3,139 tonnes in 2000. It is not clear whether the ban is still in force or how the recent advances by the Northern Alliance will affect opium poppy cultivation.

The opium poppy planting season in Afghanistan is from October to December. And the crop is usually harvested between April and July. It is too early to tell how much opium is currently being grown in Afghanistan or how much will be harvested next year.

UN World Conference Against Racism

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the recent United Nations World Conference against Racism.[HL1264]

Baroness Amos: The UN World Conference Against Racism (Durban, 31 August–8 September) has reinforced efforts to fight racism, intolerance and discrimination wherever they occur. The final declaration and programme of action will be presented to the UN General Assembly during its current session in New York. When published, the declaration and programme of action will be available on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (www.unhchr.ch).

Kainos Community Prison Wings

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the reoffending rate among prisoners discharged since 1996 from wings of three prisons in Dorset, Kent and Suffolk managed with the help of the Kainos Community; and how this compares with reoffending by ex-prisoners who had served sentences of similar length in the rest of the prison system; and[HL1187]

    Whether the Prison Service or its management board are proposing to discontinue current experiments with Kainos Community prison wings; and, if so, why.[HL1188]

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): After financial and other difficulties with its predecessor organisation, Kairos-Apac, the Kainos Community began the operation of Kainos communities in the wings of four prisons in May 1999. The Prison Service Management Board agreed in September 1999 that these should be permitted to continue, without any commitment of public funds and for a limited period, while they were evaluated. The evaluation was to be done by independent researchers and paid for by Kainos. The board would reach a decision on the future of the programme in the light of the evaluation.

The evaluation was completed in September 2001. The Kainos trustees provided the board with a copy of the evaluation report and asked the board to take an early decision on the future of the programme because Kainos' own funding for the programme would cease at the end of 2001.

Among other matters the evaluation examined the one-year reconviction rates of prisoners who had been through the Kainos programme and a comparison group of nearly 14,000 prisoners with similar sentence lengths and from similar prisons. The reconviction rates for the Kainos sample was 23 per cent and for the comparison sample 26 per cent. This difference is not statistically significant and the evaluation report found that there was no basis for concluding that Kainos community prisoners have reconviction rates that are significantly lower than would be expected for similar released prisoners as a whole. Other Prison Service programmes designed to reduce reoffending typically show statistically significant reductions of 10 per cent in future reoffending against expected rates.

In the light of this finding, the board decided that the Kainos Community should no longer continue to operate in prisons when its present programmes came to an end. The board respects the commitment of the Kainos trustees and of the staff and volunteers who gave their time to the programmes. But it is determined that effort and scarce resources in prisons are devoted only to programmes which can demonstrate their effectiveness.

The evaluation report remains the property of the Kainos trustees. On 9 November they kindly gave permission for the executive summary to be placed on the Home Office website and this is being done. I am also placing a copy in the Library. I hope that the trustees will be able to publish the full report soon.

Trafficking in Human Beings

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they are making, in co-operation with European Union and other partners, to deter and punish those who traffic foreign women into the United Kingdom for the purposes of forcing them into prostitution.[HL1261)

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Lord Rooker: The Government are committed to putting in place effective measures to combat the trafficking in human beings and to penalise those engaged in this abhorrent practice. To this end, the United Kingdom has signed the Trafficking Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime which requires the specific criminalisation of trafficking in human beings.

At the European Union level, we have reached provisional agreement on the text of a European Union Framework Decision on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. The draft framework decision will require member states to adopt a common definition of trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, to criminalise the defined behaviour and to impose common minimum maximum penalties. Following its adoption by the Council, the framework decision will require that member states implement its provisions within two years.

A decision will be made on how best to implement the UN and EU agreements after the framework decision has been adopted and a number of measures are currently being considered. The Government will also take into account the outcome of the consultation exercise on Setting the Boundaries, the report of the Sex Offences Review. This made recommendations for a new offence of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Last year we set up Project REFLEX, which is a multi-agency task force chaired by the National Crime Squad, to co-ordinate anti-trafficking operations and develop the intelligence and strategic planning to underpin them. It is now well established and has resulted in some major successes involving partners overseas in tackling people trafficking.

Broadband Technologies

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the recently-announced target from Oftel of making the United Kingdom the best environment for e-commerce by the end of 2002 is consistent with their own policy in this area of the United Kingdom having the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005.[HL1168]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Oftel does not have a target related to e-commerce. The Government's targets can be found in Spending Review: Public Service Agreements 2001-2004; (Cm 4808, July 2000) and UK Online: the broadband future (Feb 2001).


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