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Young People who Sexually Abuse

The Earl of Listowel asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): This Government are already taking a number of steps to address the needs and risks associated with young people who sexually abuse. The Home Office-sponsored Youth Justice Board issued in November effective practice guidance to youth offending teams to help to ensure that current work with young sexual abusers is as effective as possible. We are also funding a study into the characteristics of children and young people who sexually abuse. This is due to report in December 2005. In addition, we have established a two-year pilot developing assessment tools and programmes in three juvenile establishments for 15 to 21 year olds; and the Youth Justice Board is currently mapping services for young sexual abusers nationwide in conjunction with the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. This is due to report in the autumn.

The Home Office and Youth Justice Board have also set up an interdepartmental working group with the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills to look at the whole issue of young people who sexually abuse. We will consider the further timetable when this has completed its work and in the light of what resources will be required. Joan

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National Emergency Warnings

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

    Further to the Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 25 March (HL Deb, col. 652), what agreements they have reached with terrestrial, cable and satellite broadcasters that will ensure that any special national warning will be in a format that is accessible by those who have hearing and sight impairment.[HL2310]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Our current arrangement for warning the public about major emergencies involves using the broadcasters and their full range of services. This includes TV (with sign language or subtitles as necessary), radio including minority language broadcasts, Teletext, Ceefax and through websites. Such arrangements are appropriate to existing and anticipated threat levels.

These major emergency information procedures are separate from the National Attack Warning System (which my right honourable friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston described on 12 March). This system is maintained by the Government for use in general war to alert the public. However, plans also provide for a considerable amount of public education material to be produced in the period of tension which would precede the need to invoke use of the system. This would ensure that no members of the public were disadvantaged by disability or language needs. John B

Iraq: Postwar Reconstruction

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place a resolution before the United Nations Security Council to ensure United Nations support for a strategy for the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, when appropriate.[HL2294]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We will seek new UN Security Council resolutions to affirm Iraq's integrity to ensure a rapid delivery of humanitarian relief and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support a United States-led administration in post-war Iraq; whether they would participate in such an administration; on what experience an administration would be based; and how they envisage the timetable for reconstruction, based on a United Nations resolution.[HL2321]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In the days immediately following the cessation of military activity, a US-led military coalition will provide security. The United States Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), headed by General Jay Garner (Rtd), will co-ordinate civil relief and humanitarian asistance. UK personnel will be attached to ORHA.

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We aim to ensure UN endorsement, of and involvement in, post-Saddam administration of Iraq in order to secure the widest possible international support to rebuild Iraq as soon as possible. We are also discussing with partners the possibility of a UN Special Representative for Iraq.

A UN Security Council Resolution allowing the current Oil for Food programme to continue has now been unanimously passed. We will also seek new UN resolutions to affirm Iraq's territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq. We want to see Iraqis running their own affairs as soon as possible. bjc

European Security and Defence Policy: Effect of Differences over Iraq

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What implications they consider the policies of Germany and France towards Iraq have for the European Defence and Security Policy and for the formulation of a meaningful common foreign policy.[HL2297]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The European Union is continuing to make progress on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The detailed arrangements inplementing the Berlin plus agreement for the EU to make use of NATO assets and capabilities were recently agreed. This agreement has enabled the EU to launch the first military ESDP operation in Macedonia. Differences over Iraq have not prevented, and need not prevent, European nations working constructively together to achieve shared objectives in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and ESDP.

Iraq: Coalition Forces

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many countries are now providing (a) ground, naval and air forces and (b) logistical support for the United States-led coalition in Iraq; what is meant by a "coalition"; what are the coalition's objectives; and which countries are involved.[HL2322]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The military action against Saddam Hussein's regime has seen various levels of support by a broad coalition of over 40 countries. Some 20 countries are providing, or have offered, military forces to the coalition and supporting activity. Some other nations are providing logistical support. It is for the individual countries concerned to decide if they wish to declare publicly the nature of their involvement. The UK's overall objective for the military campaign is to create the conditions in which Iraq disarms in accordance with its obligations under UNSCRs and remains so disarmed in the long-term. bjc

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Regional Assemblies: Functions

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What powers and functions which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs currently exercises will be transferred to the proposed regional assemblies.[HL2177]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The White Paper Your Region, Your Choice [Cm 5511] sets out the functions that elected regional assemblies will have in chapter 4. The policy areas of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are addressed in paragraphs 4.49–4.53. Rural policy

4.49 The Government's aim is to sustain and enhance the distinctive environment, economy and social fabric of the English countryside for the benefit of everyone. In order to ensure this aim is met, all major policies are assessed for their rural impact. It will be important to ensure that elected regional assemblies "rural proof" their activities fully to take the rural dimension into account.

4.50 An elected assembly will:

    be responsible for delivering rural regeneration programmes (including the Market Towns Initiative);

    actively engage with the regional rural affairs forum;

    be the lead partner in implementing the regional elements of the England Rural Development Programme, through involvement in the regional programming groups which monitor and influence delivery by the Rural Development Service (the specific details of this role might be expanded once proposals come forward for a successor programme in 2006); and

    have a responsibility to ensure that countryside, landscape, recreation and rural issues are addressed

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    in other regional strategies, for example through regional planning guidance and regional cultural strategies. Environment

4.51 The Government's aim is to protect and improve the environment and to integrate the environment with other policies across all levels of governance within the UK and in international fora. Effective protection of the environment requires activity on many wide-ranging fronts—for example, from acting to limit global environmental threats (such as climate change) to safeguarding individuals from the effects of poor air quality or toxic chemicals.

4.52 An elected assembly will:

    make appointments to the Environment Agency's regional committee;

    prepare and implement a regional strategy for biodiversity in conjunction with other relevant regional strategies;

    prepare and oversee the implementation of the waste element of the regional spatial strategy;

    be consulted by the Environment Agency, Countryside Agency, English Nature and other relevant public bodies on their strategies, and consult them in turn.

4.53 Defra has undertaken a major consultation on flood defence arrangements. That consultation canvasses opinions on a regional role in flood defence responsibilities, taking into account the proposed establishment of elected regional assemblies. The findings of this consultation exercise will be considered as part of the Government's ongoing process of decentralising relevant responsibilities to elected assemblies.

The Government recently concluded from the Flood and Coastal Defence Funding Review that the responsibility for flood and coastal defence funding should not be passed to the future elected regional assemblies. But the Government announced that the new approach to flood and coastal defence funding will be subject to review after three years of operation, taking account of the Government's regional agenda among other factors.

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