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13 Jun 2002 : Column WA43

Written Answers

Thursday, 13th June 2002.

Child Abuse Investigations

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have taken action to review the procedures followed and personnel employed in complex child abuse investigations, and in particular to issue guidance to agencies on record-keeping and information-sharing in such cases.[HL4722]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Inter-agency guidance on the strategic management of complex child abuse investigations is published today in response to Recommendation 22 of Lost in Care, the report of the tribunal of inquiry into the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974.

This new guidance builds on the key principles for investigating organised or multiple abuse set out in the Government's child protection guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children, published in 1999. It has been developed by an inter-agency working group, chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which drew together the experience of a number of police forces, local authorities and voluntary organisations which have been closely involved in undertaking complex child abuse investigations.

The guidance is aimed primarily at the police and social services. It focuses on the specific issues highlighted in Recommendation 22 of access to records and information-sharing, and it also provides practical advice on key inter-agency issues such as setting up and closing an investigation, victim and witness support and media handling. The guidance also addresses concerns raised by those who have questioned the investigative methods used in inquiries, including the methods used to contact potential witnesses and the treatment of alleged offenders.

Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Library.

G8 Summit, Kananaskis

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they will seek to make in building a new partnership for Africa's development at the forthcoming G8 summit in Kananaskis.[HL4525]

Baroness Crawley: The Government welcome the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as an African owned and led initiative. NEPAD has set up teams to work in five areas, which are peace and security, economic and corporate governance, infrastructure, central bank and financial standards, and agriculture and market access.

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We are working with our G8 partners to develop a strong response to NEPAD at the Kananaskis Summit through the G8 Action Plan for Africa. We are focusing on the key areas of conflict, trade, education, health, development assistance and debt, where G8 policies affect Africa.

Child Labour

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the scale of child labour; and what should be done about it.[HL4695]

Baroness Crawley: The most recent report from the International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 246 million working children: 179 million of them are engaged in the worst forms of child labour that endanger their physical, mental and moral well-being.

The Government will continue to support partners that tackle child labour internationally, nationally and locally, and to promote policies that support poverty elimination and social justice for children. My department has recently published a paper, Liberating Children—combating hidden and harmful child labour. which looks at why there are so many children in harmful work and suggests how everyone—governments, international organisations, business and civil society—has a part to play in tackling this persistent problem.

Business Taxation: EU Code of Conduct

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they reconcile the assurance given by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 5 April 2000 (HL Deb, cols 1295–96) that they would promote the European Union code of conduct with the Channel Islands "within the framework of their constitutional arrangements" and the Written Answer given by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 21 May (WA 91) "to protect the UK tax base, the Financial Bill includes the reserve power to bring within the charge to tax under the controlled foreign companies (CFC) legislation all CFCs that are located in overseas jurisdictions where harmful practices continue to be prevalent".[HL4620]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Clause 88 in the Finance Bill gives the UK the reserve power to introduce regulations in the UK to protect the UK tax base. The clause concerns the UK tax liability of UK resident companies and does not affect the constitutional arrangements with the Channel Islands.

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Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 21 May (WA 92), whether they wish harmful aspects of the tax regimes in the European Union and their dependent or associated territories to be terminated in the absence of similar agreements and standards everywhere else in the world.[HL4622]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government support fair tax competition and the abolition of harmful tax measures on as wide a geographical basis as possible. Regarding the code of conduct, the UK supports the timetable agreed by the ECOFIN on 26–27 November 2000 regarding the rollback of harmful measures.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 21 May (WA 92), whether any extensions or delays have been granted to Luxembourg or any other European Union member states in their implementation of ECOFIN's requirements on business taxation; and, if so, what they are.[HL4623]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No extensions or delays have been granted.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 21 May (WA 91), whether they will conduct an independent analysis of the effect on the economies of the Channel Islands, the Crown dependencies and the City of London of introducing ECOFIN's requirements on taxation before such requirements are introduced.[HL4624]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have held a number of meetings with Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to discuss the EU tax package.

The authorities in Jersey and Guernsey have recently announced that they intend to recommend to their respective Parliaments that they should move to exchange of information on savings income.

In announcing the decision in Jersey, the President of Jersey's Policy and Resources Committee, Senator Pierre Horsfall, said, ''We believe that the impact of this change on our economy is likely to be negligible and that our customers will welcome the certainty this will provide looking forward''.

In announcing the decision in Guernsey, the States Supervisor said, ''It is also in the Island's best long-term economic interests since it protects both our finance industry's competitiveness and the Island's reputation as a responsible and co-operative jurisdiction''.

The Government do not believe that further analysis would add anything useful, but are always willing to discuss issues with the Islands.

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The effect on the economies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man of adopting the principles of the Code of Conduct on Business Taxation would depend on the nature of the tax changes introduced to replace the current harmful features. The purpose of the Code of Conduct on Business Taxation is to remove practices that distort competition, and in particular those that discriminate against residents.

Regarding the City of London, the Government's support for the draft Directive on Savings followed extensive discussions with interests in the City, which indicated clearly that an approach based on exchange of information rather than a withholding tax was the right way to proceed. The Government introduced legislation in 2000 requiring details of UK savings income of EU residents to be collected and reported to the Inland Revenue. And the UK has no tax measures considered to have harmful features by the report of 29 November 1999 of the Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 21 May (WA 92), which countries have signed up to the international standards of fair tax competition. [HL4625]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation was agreed in 1997 by all 15 EU member states.

Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed the standards of fair tax competition as most recently set out in the OECD's 2001 progress report.

Of the 35 jurisdictions identified by the OECD in its 2000 report as meeting the criteria of tax havens, the following 28 jurisdictions have since changed their legislation or made commitments to co-operate with the OECD principles: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, the Republic of the Maldives, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Niue, Panama, Samoa, the Republic of the Seychelles, St. Lucia, the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Tonga, Turks and Caicos and the US Virgin Islands. A further six jurisdictions made commitments to co-operate prior to publication of the 2000 report: Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Malta, Mauritius and San Marino.

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