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Turkey: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Kurdish Human Rights Project's report raises issues of serious concern. Prime Minister Erdogan has called for a zero

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tolerance approach to torture, and many of the instances of sexual abuse alleged in this report would probably fall into that category. I am sure they will be investigated with the same care which the Turkish Government have shown by their other measures to combat impunity. Those include the abolition of incommunicado detention, and reforms facilitating the prosecution of those charged with torture—which have led recently to a number of high profile cases.

A decision on whether Turkey has met the criteria for opening accession negotiations will be taken by the European Council in December, on the basis of an objective and thorough report by the Commission. The UK is determined to help Turkey to pass this test, including by practical assistance to the Government's efforts to promote and protect human rights. Our programme of recent bilateral assistance to Turkey has included a project to build the capacity of non-governmental organisations campaigning for the rights of women in the south-eastern region. lynne

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 March 2003 (WA 84), whether they will now give their current definition of weapons of mass destruction.[HL1155]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government's current definition of weapons of mass destruction is the same as that given to the noble Lord in my Answer of 3 March 2003 (Offical Report, col. WA 84).

Regional Planning Guidance: Gypsies and Travellers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What references there are to Travellers or Gypsies in the regional planning guidance documents.HL1093]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The general presumption in regional planning guidance (RPG) had been that it should meet the housing requirements of the whole community and not distinguish or discriminate between any particular groups within the community. However, more recently, regional planning bodies have recognised the need to ensure that development plan authorities make adequate provision for Gypsies and Travellers. Policy 28 of RPG8 for the east Midlands and both the submitted policy CF6 and the revised policy CF5 in my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister's proposed changes to RPG 11 for the west Midlands refer to the needs of Gypsies and Travellers. In other regions RPG does not yet contain policies for Gypsies and Travellers.

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Nursery Classes and Pre-school Playgroups

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children are now in local education authority nursery classes in (a) England and (b) Wales; and[HL1036]

    How many nursery classes there are in (a) England and (b) Wales; and [HL1037]

    What is their estimate of the number of pre-school playgroups in (a) England and (b) Wales.[HL1040]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The information is not available in the form requested.

There were 331,300 children in maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained primary schools in England in January 2003. The number of maintained primary schools in England with nursery classes was 6,400. The number of maintained nursery schools in England was 475. The latest figures on provision for three and four year-olds in England were published in a statistical bulletin Provision for children under five years of age in England—January 2003 which is available on the department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/.

The department's best estimate of the number of pre-school playgroups in England as at January 2003 is 10,100.

Information on early years education in Wales is a matter for the Education Department of the Assembly for Wales.

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the monies given by local government annually to the pre-school playgroup movement in (a) England and (b) Wales.[HL1041]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: This information is not held centrally. It is a matter for each local authority to determine spending in their area based on local need and circumstances. The position in Wales is a matter for the Welsh Assembly.

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further initiatives they propose to assist nursery education in (a) England and (b) Wales.[HL1055]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: By April 2004, six months ahead of target, every three and four year-old is guaranteed a free part-time early education place in either the maintained, voluntary or private sector.

We are building on the well received foundation stage as part of the national curriculum and have appointed a new Foundation Stage Director to develop and deliver expert support at regional level as part of the National Primary Strategy. Together with the registration and inspection of all settings by Ofsted, this will ensure high quality nursery education for all children.

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Finally, we are committed to developing Children's Centres, integrating early education with full day care, health and family support. Sixty-one Children's Centres have been approved and the Chancellor recently announced in this pre-Budget review that we will create 1,000 Children's Centres by 2008.

The position in Wales is a matter for the Welsh Assembly.

Royal Parks: De-icing

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Health and Safety Commission will take enforcement action under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 against the Royal Parks Agency for failing to keep cycle lanes in the Royal Parks of London free from snow and ice.[HL1080]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Health and Safety Commission cannot take enforcement action under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that has statutory duties to make adequate arrangements for the enforcement of the Act and to appoint inspectors with powers to enforce health and safety law. Inspectors, however, exercise these powers in accordance with the commission's enforcement policy statement.

HSE inspectors will review health and safety policies and procedures with the Royal Parks Agency to ensure de-icing treatments are being implemented in a reasonable and sensible way.

Sport and Physical Activity: Young People

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the success of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's public service agreement for the spending round 2000, to "raise significantly year on year, the average time spent on sport and physical activity by those aged 5–16."[HL1062]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): As noted in the DCMS annual report 2003 (Cm. 5920), the results of Sport England's Young People and Sport National Surveys indicated that the average time per week spent on sport and physical activity by those aged five to 16 went from eight hours 23 minutes in 1999 to eight hours 12 minutes in 2002.

This target was replaced following the 2002 spending review with the PSA target that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport shares with her right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to increase the percentage of school children who

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spend a minimum of two hours each week on high-quality PE and school sport within and beyond the curriculum. Detailed data are now being collected for the first time—for publication in April—on progress against the new target. Rebo

Green Tourism: Merseyside

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What help is being given to local authorities to further green tourism in Merseyside.[HL1126]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Tourism is a discretionary service for local authorities and is not directly funded by central government.

Councils awarded beacon status for "Promoting Sustainable Tourism" will be announced on 6 April 2004. Tourism destinations across England will potentially benefit from the subsequent dissemination of examples of best practice.

The Destination Management Handbook, published in March 2003, jointly by the English Tourism Council (funded by DCMS) and the Tourism Management Institute, guides tourism destination managers on a sustainable approach.

In April 2003 DCMS gave strategic responsibility for tourism in the north-west to the North West Development Agency (NWDA).

The NWDA's sub-regional tourism partner is the Mersey Partnership, which works with six local authorities to develop and market tourism. Green initiatives include the development of a green tourism website, the Mersey Waterfront Regional Park initiative, and a regional pilot of the Green Tourism Business Scheme, a means of rewarding tourism businesses who follow environmentally-friendly policies.

In July 2003 NWDA and English Nature published a study that identified regional projects to benefit the economy, the natural environment, and quality of life. The study's 39 proposals included nine eco-tourism projects in Merseyside. A steering group, chaired by English Nature, is currently working to refine the outline proposals and to consider how best to take them forward.


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