|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The Department for Employment and Learning has taken action to reduce the waiting times for tribunal hearings by recruiting additional full-time tribunal chairmen and administrative staff and providing additional accommodation and a new IT system.
Baroness Amos: The Written Answer to the noble Lord on 11 June (WA 44) did not indicate that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs set the North/South Language Body's budget; rather it indicated that officials in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure were informed of the Southern contribution to the budget of the body.
Baroness Amos : On 4 November the Executive Board of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) agreed to provide a loan to help fund the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline. The IFC decision was taken by the IFC Executive Board on which 175 shareholders are represented by 24 directors, including the UK. The IFC loan, which will be at commercial rates of interest, is for around 4.5 per cent of the total cost of the BTC pipeline and accompanying Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) Phase 1 oil field development projects.
The BTC pipeline will provide an export route for oil from Azerbaijan's Caspian oil fields. The Governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkeythe countries through which the pipeline passesstrongly support the project and have negotiated agreements with BTC Corporation, the pipeline company. Azerbaijan, a low-income country, will benefit from significant revenues from the ACG oil field development. Georgia, also a low-income country, will benefit from transit revenues of up to 10 per cent of current GDP per year. The pipeline will help to strengthen cooperation between the three countries and increase their links to global markets. It will provide local employment and demonstrate the potential for foreign investment. The construction of the pipeline, which will be buried underground, has already started.
Responsible and transparent management of oil revenue will be vital if the BTC project is to achieve real development benefits for the people of the region. Working to achieve this will need to be a priority for the governments of the region, with support, assistance and oversight from civil society, the private sector and the international community. The agreement of BTC to "publish what it pays" and in turn the agreement of Georgia and Azerbaijan to "publish what they receive" are welcome steps. The UK will continue to work to increase transparency and build local capacity in decision making on the use of
The Department for International Development (DfID) is not providing any direct funding for the BTC project. DfID's role is as a shareholder of IFC and of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)whose executive board will consider finance to BTC on 11 November. The institutions carried out rigorous social and environmental, integrity, legal and commercial due-diligence procedures. In accordance with standard practice, DfID did not duplicate the due diligence undertaken by these institutions.
Over the past year, DfID officials have met with local and international NGOs, staff from IFC and the EBRD, BTC and representatives of the governments involved to build better understanding of the benefits and risks associated with the pipeline. In view of the project's complexity, DfID commissioned consultants to do an assessment of the BTC Environmental Assessment. They confirmed compliance with the IFC and EBRD policies and procedures. DfID will place a copy of this report in the House of Lords' Library.
The Government recognise that large-scale pipeline projects such as the BTC pipeline present risks as well as potential benefits. Project risks include the weak governance environment and the potential social and environmental impacts of the pipeline. The multilateral institutions have thorough environmental and social safeguards procedures and genuine expertise of working in the region. We believe that their engagement provides the best prospect that the BTC pipeline will be constructed and operated to the highest standards. The UK director at IFC therefore supported the project.
We are now focusing on ensuring that the project is implemented properly. In particular we recognise the importance of very strong monitoring including NGO and community representatives. We therefore pressed IFC to:
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) areas are currently recruiting extra staff in anticipation of the enactment of the Criminal Justice Bill later this year when the CPS will assume responsibility for making charging decisions in all but the most minor or routine cases. CPS areas are now reviewing resource needs to deliver the charging initiative and a co-ordinated approach to the recruitment of additional prosecutors is currently being introduced.
The main area that has had particular difficulties with recruitment is CPS West Midlands (specifically Birmingham). A study has recently been undertaken to identify the issues involved and a report and recommendations are currently under consideration. Any areas that the CPS consider may experience difficulties in recruitment will receive additional support from the Human Resource Directorate as appropriate.
Recruitment of prosecutors in CPS London area which has previously been a problem has now seen an encouraging upturn with a rolling programme of recruitment campaigns producing a positive response with good quality applicants.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page