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Parliamentary Mail Services

Earl Attlee asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): I regret that the House faces considerable difficulties as a result of the current industrial action. I understand that normal outward-bound mail (that is, mail that is put in "external" mail boxes with either a frank or a stamp) is being collected by Royal Mail and stored for onward transmission as soon as possible at its south London mail centre. There is no guarantee as to the time of its ultimate delivery. With regard to inward-bound mail, Royal Mail is making efforts to extract Houses of Parliament mail from normal mail flows and to make deliveries.

The current advice from the Parliamentary Postmaster is that any items for delivery to Members should be placed in the internal mail system, addressed to the Member concerned at "House of Lords". These items will be sent to the Member in a mail forwarding pouch. Royal Mail has given a firm commitment that these items will be delivered as instructed by Members.

I understand that items posted by special delivery are currently being collected from and delivered to the House as normal. In addition, deliveries by Datapost of the Minute and Hansard, to Members within central London who receive this service, are unaffected.

Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2002–03

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): Information about the Ministry of Defence's performance during the last financial year is contained in the Ministry of Defence annual report and accounts for 2002–03, which will be laid before the House today as HC 1125.

Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and it will also be available on the Ministry of Defence website.

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Elections 2004

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to go out to consultation on the draft statutory instruments making provision for the conduct of European parliamentary elections and the local and Greater London Authority elections combined with them in 2004.[HL5218]John B — WA10 - WA11

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): My right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs have today issued a joint consultation document seeking views on draft statutory instruments which would make provision for the conduct of European parliamentary elections in Great Britain and Gibraltar, for the combination of polls of these elections and certain other elections in England and Wales, for amendments to the Greater London Authority election rules, and for giving effect to the Government's announced intention to move the date of the English local council and Greater London Authority elections in 2004, so that they take place at the same time as the European parliamentary elections.

Comments are invited from key stakeholders and interested parties for the deadline of 11 December 2003.

Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of the House and will also be available on the OPDM and DCA websites.

Industrial and Employment Tribunals

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many applications were made to industrial or employment tribunals in each of the years from 1972 to 2003; and what were the median amounts of compensation awarded in each year in each of the jurisdictions covering unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and race discrimination.[HL4997]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Please find attached a table which shows the number of tribunal applications registered by the Employment Tribunals Service in Great Britain in each of the years from 1973 to 2003. We are unable to provide statistics for 1972.

The second table provides a breakdown of the median amounts of compensation awarded for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and race discrimination in each year from 1990 to 2003. Information prior to 1990 is not readily accessible and could only be produced at disproportionate cost. John B — WA12 - WA13

YearRegistered Tribunal Applications

(1) The information on the number of applications registered prior to 1985–86 is only available on a yearly basis.

Source: Employment Tribunals Service and Labour Market Trends/Employment Gazette.

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YearUnfair Dismissal £ Sex Discrimination £ Race Discrimination £
1996–97(1)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available

(2) Due to changes in the Employment Tribunals Service computerised records in 1996, statistics for 1996–97 are not available.

Source: Employment Tribunals Service and Labour Market Trends.


Employers' Liability Insurance

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to assist with the cost of obtaining employers' liability insurance.[HL4952]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Government do not intend to make direct pricing interventions. These would serve to establish a gap between premiums and costs, which lay

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behind the present difficulties in the employers' liability insurance market.

More broadly, the Government are engaged in a wide range of actions and initiatives designed to help business to obtain EL insurance at a reasonable price.

We will report in the autumn on the progress that has been made and any further steps we intend to take. bern

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to ensure that the full 1 billion dollar top-up required for the heavily indebted poor countries trust fund is provided so that it can play its part in the granting of debt relief; and how soon they expect that objective to be fulfilled.[HL4932]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The UK Government remain absolutely committed to the rapid and full implementation of the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative to ensure that it delivers a robust exit from unsustainable debt for the world's poorest countries.

As a result of the deterioration in global growth prospects and the decline in terms of trade, some HIPC countries are at risk of exiting the initiative with unsustainable levels of debt. At the G8 summit in Kananaskis in June 2002, the UK took a leading role in pushing for agreement to provide additional funding—so-called "topping up"—to support countries that reach completion point with debt levels that have deteriorated due to exceptional and exogenous factors. It was agreed at this summit that G8 and other donors would meet the estimated 1 billion dollar shortfall in HIPC trust fund financing. At the subsequent technical meeting in Paris in October 2002, pledges were made by creditor countries. The UK provided 120 million dollars against the shortfall of 1 billion dollars.

Topping up is agreed on a country-by-country basis, and so far only one country—Burkina Faso—has received topping up at completion point, which the UK strongly supported. The UK is committed to supporting topping up for countries whose debt levels have risen above the 150 per cent debt-to-export threshold as a result of exceptional and exogenous factors. In addition, the UK supports a change in the methodology to exclude additional bilateral assistance from the calculation of topping up at completion point, which could provide an additional 1 billion dollars to support poverty reduction.

The HIPC initiative has an important role to play in maximising the resources available for poverty reduction in developing countries. However, unless there is an increase in the volume of resources available

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from donors to poor countries, additional debt relief would simply reallocate resources from one form of financing to another, and from non-HIPC poor countries to HIPC countries, without adding to the overall financing available for poverty reduction. Furthermore, all HIPC countries would still need additional aid to meet the Millennium Development Goals even if all of their debt from the World Bank and IMF were forgiven. That is why the UK's proposal for an international finance facility is so important. It can provide the much-needed substantial increase in resources that debt relief alone would not achieve and that could be disbursed by way of grants and additional debt relief. Rebo

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