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Whether they have plans to develop the micro-credit lending programme, pioneered by Professor Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, to alleviate poverty, particularly among women, in the work they are doing in other developing countries. [HL785]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): I was delighted that Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Prize. Professor Yunus has inspired the growth of microfinance worldwide.
Microfinance has been shown to be very useful in reducing poverty and reaching the millennium development goals. Poor households use microfinance to raise their income, build-up their assets and protect themselves against unexpected events and shocks. I use the term microfinance rather than micro-credit because in addition to small loans, poor households use a variety of other financial services such as savings and remittances.
The White Paper on International Development published in 2006 commits to tackling barriers to access to financial services and to supporting microfinance initiatives in partnership with banks and regulators. DfID has supported microfinance and financial sector development projects in more than 25 countries and has contributed approximately £165 million in total to these projects. DfID also supports microfinance through global initiatives such as the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening (FIRST) Initiative.
Microfinance of course is not the only answer though, and DfID will continue to spend large resources on education, health and other programmes of direct relevance to improving the lives of poor households.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 13 December (WA 210-11) regarding the visit by officials from the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to Nepal, whether they will place in the Library of the House the note that was sent to the Government of Nepal. [HL924]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The note is a draft record of a meeting that took place in Kathmandu on 22 November. It ascribes certain statements and opinions to Nepalese Ministers who attended the meeting. It would be inappropriate to publish the document before receiving confirmation
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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The membership and qualifications of the independent advisory group to the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) is a matter solely for the UKHTC, which is an independent organisation.
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 19 December (WA 304), whether the proposals outlined in the Barker review of land use planning can be properly evaluated without the financial implications being considered. [HL1112]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): In developing their proposals for legislative or policy change in the light of the Barker recommendations, the Government will carefully consider all the implications, including financial implications. We have set out our intention to produce a White Paper on planning later in the year which will be subject to consultation.
Further to the Written Statement by Lord Truscott on 21 November 2006 (WS 32), why £10 million of end-year flexibility (EYF) entitlement in respect of the modernisation of the post office network remained unspent; what is meant by Royal Mail representation; what was the original budget for this; and why £630,000 of the EYF entitlement in respect of it remained unspent. [HL1264]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): Under the Post Office Network Urban Reinvention programme, up to £30 million was allocated for an investment grant scheme to improve sub post offices on a matched funding basis. There was an unspent balance of £10 million from this funding allocation at
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Royal Mail representation relates to the use of commercial financial and legal advisers who have been employed on work on the future financing of Royal Mail and Post Office Limited. The estimate requests additional money from central DTI funds that were unspent in 2005-6 to be used for this purpose.
What is their assessment of the concept and practice of community chaplaincy, as it has so far been developed, for resettling offenders after custodial sentences and for preventing their re-offending. [HL1084]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): We welcome community chaplaincy schemes as an invaluable part of the Reducing Re-offending Faith and Voluntary and Community Sector Alliance. As stated in the Government's Five Year Strategy for Protecting the Public and Reducing Re-offending, we want to build on work such as the successful community chaplaincy projects which bring in faith groups to work with prisoners before and after their release. Such schemes are an excellent example of the contribution that faith communities and volunteers can make. NOMS Chaplaincy is supporting a two-year post to assist with the development of community chaplaincy, working with stakeholders including prisons, probation and regional offender managers.
Whether the adoption by the Department for Communities and Local Government of the national default retirement age of 65 is compatible with its responsibility as the lead department for equality and human rights; and [HL1176]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Within Communities and Local Government there is no default age for retirement for staff below the Senior Civil Service grades, allowing an individual to continue work provided they receive satisfactory reports and have a good attendance and conduct record.
Whether they have made changes to the Rural Payments Agency payments system for farmers to allow for HM Treasury's accounting rule changes; and whether they have explained the changes to all stakeholders. [HL1073]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Rural Payments Agency has an accounting system based on Oracle financials that meets all standards as set out by HM Treasury in the Financial Reporting Manual and has received unqualified audit opinions on its accounts for all financial years since its creation up to and including 2005-06.
Whether support to be given in schools to the institution of marriage will be confined to marriage between persons of the opposite sex, or whether it will be extended to other lasting relationships between persons of the opposite or same sex.[HL1199]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Department for Education and Skills guidance issued to schools on sex and relationship education asks schools to teach children about the significance of marriage and stable relationships as key building blocks of society. Schools have a legal duty to have regard to this guidance.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is currently reviewing the secondary curriculum, including provision for personal, social and health education where issues to do with parenting, family life and relationships are usually taught. This review will be subject to a public consultation shortly.
On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Sutton Place local authority secure children's home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL797]
On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Red Bank local authority secure children's home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November.[HL798]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes
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Lord Davies of Oldham: Consideration of the Irish Government's role in part-funding the Commissioners of Irish Lights operations needs to reflect the increased reliance in the past year on joint support services for the three general lighthouse authorities, such as the fleet of ships, now reduced in size. A bilateral, official-level meeting this month will assess the scope for progress in the light of that trend and take account of possible impacts on the institutional framework arising from the St Andrews agreement.
39 x Bahamas, 8 x Italy, 7 x UK, 7 x Bermuda, 6 x Marshall Islands, 6 x Netherlands, 5 x Portugal, 5 x Malta, 4 x Panama, 2 x Liberia, 2 x St Vincent & Grenadines, 2 x Japan, 1 x Finland, 1 x Cyprus, 1 x Barbados, 1 x Germany, 1 x France, 1 x Ukraine, 1 x Russian Federation and 1 x Dutch Antilles.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): It is not possible for a single pension scheme to be eligible for assistance from both the financial assistance scheme (FAS) and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
To be eligible for the Pension Protection Fund, a scheme must not have commenced wind up before 6 April 2005. The PPF was established to pay compensation to members of eligible defined benefit pension schemes where there is a qualifying insolvency event in relation to the employer and where there are insufficient assets in the pension scheme to cover the PPF levels of compensation.
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