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EC Aid to Poorest Countries

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): The table below gives figures for the percentage of EC official development assistance (ODA) spent in the world's poorest countries from 1992 to 2001. Figures for 2002 will be available by June.

Proportion of EC ODA going to the worlds poorest countries 1991–2001 (£ millions)

YearAid to poorest countriesTotal EC aid% to poorest countries

We welcome the positive steps that have been taken to increase the proportion of EC aid going to the world's poorest people and its quality. This remains a priority for the UK Government. We are working through the annual budget setting process, the current revision of the Asia and Latin America Regulation and the mid-term review of the Mediterranean and Middle East regulation (MEDA) to secure an increase in the share of EC aid spent in low income countries towards the government target of 70 per cent by 2006.

We are pressing the EC to pursue its reform efforts vigorously in order to implement the November 2000 development policy statement which for the first time made poverty reduction the central objective of EC development programs.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funding they have made available for wildlife projects in Burma; and how this money is being spent.[HL2837]

Baroness Amos: The UK's environmental work consists of ensuring we contribute to improve the quality of the global environment in areas set out by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last year, such as sanitation and water, renewable energy, bio-diversity and oceans. Currently in Burma, the UK (the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) provides funding through carefully selected agencies to protect and conserve biological and cultural diversity. These include projects on wildlife and forest conservation and creating capacity within local communities. In the current financial year 2003–04 our assistance in these areas will amount to around £122,000.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funds are currently available to assist internally displaced people in Burma and to provide education for Burmese refugees in refugee camps on the Burma border.[HL2838]

Baroness Amos: DfID assistance for refugees in camps on the Thai-Burma border has focused mainly on meeting food needs and on UNHCR's protection role.We are not currently supporting programmes

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focused exclusively on meeting the needs of displaced people inside Burma.

Financial assistance last year amounted to just under £2 million. DfID is also providing support to refugees through the European Commission. In 2002, the European Commission allocated 3.5 million euros (£2.5 million) for these purposes, 20 per cent of which is attributable to the UK Government.

For the financial year 2003–04, DfID's overall allocation for bilateral programmes for Burma is currently £4 million. Additional support will continue to be made available for Burmese refugees outside the country.

Guantanamo Bay: UK Detainees

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether British officials have recently visited Guantanamo Bay.[HL2950]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): British officials paid a fifth visit to Guantanamo Bay between 21 and 28 April 2003. The officials were from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Security Service.

The purpose of the visit was to ask questions relevant to national security, to establish the identity and nationality of a detainee believed to be British and to check on the welfare of all UK detainees.The identity and British nationality of the detainee concerned was confirmed. There are therefore nine UK detainees in Guantanamo Bay. All were seen by the visiting officials.

The FCO official saw all the UK detainees individually. US officials observed all the meetings. The FCO official passed family messages and mail to the detainees and brought replies back to the UK which have now been passed to the detainees' families. Detainees are able to send and receive mail through the camp authorities and ICRC. Delivery can be slow.

The FCO official asked all the UK detainees about their health, medical and non-medical treatment, diet, accommodation, exercise and other camp facilities.

The UK detainees appeared to be in sound physical health. The medical issues raised by them are being addressed by the camp's medical services. The medical facilities available to the detainees are the same as those for US military personnel at Guantanamo Bay and are of a high standard.

Overall, the UK detainees thought the diet provided satisfactory though repetitive. The detainees continue to be housed in accommodation with individual sleeping, washing and toilet facilities. They continue to have access to exercise, to practise their religion and to an expanded collection of reading material, which continues to include the Koran and Bible.

The FCO official did not see or hear of mistreatment of UK detainees by the camp authorities.

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The visiting official found the camp authorities open and co-operative within limits dictated by security considerations.

Iran: Arms Embargo and UK Exports

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any goods subject to the national arms embargo have recently been approved for export to Iran.[HL2951]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government have recently issued a licence for the export of night vision goggles which are of military specification. These goods are for use on the Iran/Afghanistan border against heroin smugglers, and the export is funded by the UN Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP). The UN offices in Vienna have confirmed that this application is legitimate. Her Majesty's Government are therefore satisfied that these goods would only be used for the end-use stated, and there is no risk of these goods being diverted for use by the Iranian military.

Income Support: Actively Seeking Work Rules

Lord Addington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the number of people between age 50 and retirement age, broken down by gender, who are not employed and who have been exempted from the actively seeking work rules.[HL2707]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The information requested is set out in the table:

People claiming income support aged 50 or over who are exempted from the actively seeking work rules1 ('000s)



Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, November 2002.


1. Figures do not include income support claimants in receipt of attendance allowance, invalid care allowance (claimant), industrial injuries benefit, disability living allowance, severe disablement allowance, statutory sick pay, incapacity benefit or disabled person's tax credit, lone parents, residential care or nursing home cases, claimants in hospital or those with caring responsibilities (ie with carer premium).

2. Men aged 60–64 claiming income support do not need to satisfy the actively seeking work conditions.

3. Figures are based on a 5 per cent sample and therefore subject to variation.

4. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred and expressed in thousands.

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Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2003

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they introduced the variety of changes in fees payable under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003/547).[HL2763]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: HM Treasury's Fees and Charges Guide says that the normal objective for charging schemes for statutory services should be full cost recovery. The various changes in the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2003 reflect this guidance.

EU Proposed Disability Directive

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support or sponsor the European Union Disability Directive proposed for adoption in this European Year of Disabled People.[HL2859]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We are not aware of such a directive. If the EU was to propose a disability specific directive, the Government would consider it in the normal way.

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