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Democratic Republic of Congo: Arms Embargo

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Following consultations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry issued a licence for the export to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of body armour and military helmets. This equipment will be used by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who are part of the United Nations operation in the DRC.

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UN Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1493 (2003), adopted on 28 July 2003, implemented an embargo on the provision of arms and any related material to all armed groups operating in the east of the country. Operative Paragraph 21 of the SCR provides an exemption to the embargo for "supplies of non-lethal equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use . . . ".

Service Attributable Pensions

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to pay further ex-gratia compensation for the incorrect deduction of tax from Service attributable pensions.[HL446]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The report of the internal inquiry into the incorrect deduction of tax from Service attributable pensions recommended that, in addition to the Inland Revenue refund and repayment supplement, consideration should be given to further compensation for those affected by the error. The Inland Revenue allowed a significant concession in waiving the time limits that normally apply in refunds of tax. However, representations have been made that the Ministry of Defence should pay further compensation to those pensioners for whom the effect of the error persisted over a considerable number of years. The Government accept that, where individuals suffer a financial loss as a result of the Government's administrative errors, then the onus is on that department to restore those individuals to the position they would have enjoyed had the errors not occurred. The Ministry of Defence has already accepted responsibility for the errors which led to tax being wrongly deducted and has apologised unreservedly. We further accept that, in certain cases, payments made so far have not provided full compensation for the cost of the errors to individuals.

We have therefore decided that further ex-gratia compensation will be paid to those who were in receipt of pensions outside the normal six-year Inland Revenue repayment period. Compensation will be calculated by applying compound interest, using the retail prices index plus 2 per cent, to the tax wrongly deducted, net of the estimated repayment by the Inland Revenue. We will also pay ex-gratia compensation, calculated in the same way, to those who suffered from the related error of delays in payment of benefits under the Armed Forces pension scheme, including using the Inland Revenue repayment formula for compensation for errors within the normal six-year period. Payment will be made as quickly as possible.

It will, however, take some months to complete all payments because the necessary data on each individual are held mainly on manual records. We deeply regret the errors made but we hope that this offer of compensation will draw matters to a satisfactory conclusion.

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Finally, I would like to express my considerable gratitude to those pensioners, in particular Major John Perry and Captain John Lewis, who have worked tirelessly to bring this matter to our attention and to help with its resolution.

Armed Forces' Pay Review Body: Service Medical and Dental Officers

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the final recommendations are of the Armed Forces' Pay Review Board on the pay of Service medical and dental officers.[HL480]

Lord Bach: The supplement to the 2003 report of the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body making final recommendations on the pay of Service medical and dental officers has been published today. Copies of the supplement are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House.

The review body recommends a final increase of 6.8 per cent for all Regular and Reserve defence medical services medical and dental officers, in addition to the 3.2 per cent interim award already implemented on 1 April 2003, representing a total increase of 10 per cent. The review body also recommends a pay increase of 3.225 per cent for medical and dental cadets and an out-of-hours supplementary payment of £8,500 to junior doctors. In addition, the review body recommends that there should be no further increase in the values of sustained

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quality payments, trainer pay and distinction awards, above the interim 3.2 per cent increase already implemented.

The cost of these recommendations to the defence budget, including the interim award already implemented, will be some £14.5 million. This will be met within existing departmental expenditure limits.

The review body's final recommendations are to be accepted in full, with implementation effective from 1 April 2003.

Schools: Attainment of Pupils

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, and if so to what extent, girls are performing better in maintained schools than boys; and whether, if this is the case, there are significant variations in this respect between ethnic groups.[HL249]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The tables below show, for pupils in maintained schools in England, the attainment of boys, girls and all pupils from different ethnic backgrounds at key stages 1, 2 and 3 and GCSE/GNVQ in 2002. The figures indicate the proportions of pupils achieving:

    (a) level 2 or above at key stage 1

    (b) level 4 or above at key stage 2

    (c) level 5 or above at key stage 3

    (d) 5 or more grades A*–C GCSE/GNVQ

    Reading Writing Maths
    Ethnic GroupBoysGirlsAllBoysGirlsAllBoysGirlsAll
    (a) Key Stage 1—Percentage of pupils achieving level 2 or above
    Black Caribbean758580758680838885
    Black African758279768480828684
    Black Other778682778882868887
    New Codes818985839287909291
    All ethnic groups808884829086899190
    (b) Key Stage 2—Percentage of pupils achieving level 4 or above
    Black Caribbean587366596361788280
    Black African627267646665767977
    Black Other627569646765828483
    New Codes718076737474878787
    All ethnic groups707974737373868686
    (c) Key Stage 3—Percentage of pupils achieving level 5 or above
    Black Caribbean406452455047435047
    Black African486556495351475249
    Black Other476958525553485652
    New Codes587163646463656362
    All ethnic groups587566676767666766

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    5 A*–C
    Ethnic GroupBoysGirlsAll
    (d) GCSE/GNVQ—Percentage of 15 year-old pupils achieving
    5 or more grades A*–C
    Black Caribbean233831
    Black African344740
    Black Other304538
    New Codes212925
    All ethnic groups445549

Schools: Parenthood Education

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all children are being taught in school the responsibilities and consequences attendant on the conception of a child; and if so, whether they consider that this education is successful; and[HL326]

    Whether they consider that young people are adequately educated and prepared for responsibilities of parenthood.[HL327]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Through personal, social and health education (PSHE) all pupils should learn about taking on responsibility and the consequences of their actions in relation to sexual activity and parenthood. Sex and relationship education should give young people a clear understanding of the arguments for delaying sexual activity. There has been a 10 per cent fall in the under-18 conception rate since 1998. This is an encouraging sign of progress in implementing the teenage pregnancy strategy, a key element of which is improved sex and relationship education.

The Government believe that parents are the principal providers of guidance about parenting and family life. The introduction of citizenship education alongside the PSHE framework, providing for pupils to be taught about responsibilities whether moral, social, or parental,

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effectively complement the personal and social development of pupils provided at home.

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