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Whether they have made an assessment of Oxfam's recent report which indicates that more than £7 billion of international aid money spent in Afghanistan in the past six years has not met the urgent humanitarian and development needs of the Afghan people because aid has been either insufficient or delivered ineffectively. [HL512]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Vadera): DfID welcomes Oxfam's latest report and agrees with a lot of its conclusions. DfID agrees that there needs to be a stronger co-ordination and greater alignment of aid with national and local priorities and increased use of Afghan resources; that further major reforms are required in public administration, anti-corruption and the rule of law; that sub-national governance needs to be reformed and resources channelled more directly to communities; that each PRT should develop a phased, conditions-based exit strategy; and that more investment is required by the donor community in the areas of health and education.
DfID also realises that while expectations for development in Afghanistan are high, improving the capacity of the Government and civil society in Afghanistan is a long-term process. We have seen evidence of some improvement and this will need to continue with full support from the international community.
The Government of Afghanistan recently outlined their views on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan in a draft aid policy paper. A key proposal within this paper is increased co-ordination behind the Government's own established national priorities. DfID and other like-minded donors fully support the proposals outlined and will help ensure that they are implemented. The Governments full plan for reconstruction and development, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), will be presented to the international community in March 2008.
Although it is the second-largest bilateral donor, DfID's £107 million commitment this year is small compared to US and multilateral financing, which accounts for a large proportion of the £2 billion plus committed to development in Afghanistan this financial year. This is why co-ordination of international assistance and improved effectiveness of aid is a major objective of DfID's policy support to Afghanistan.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): The national online matching service is still being trialled in two Learning and Skills Council (LSC) areas in the south-west and south-east. The emerging findings show that young people value a single point for information and application on apprenticeships, while employers value the opportunity to advertise their vacancies and receive applications through the vacancy matching service. There are no plans to publish a report on the trials. However, the current apprenticeships review will receive proposals from the LSC on the shape of the national online matching service. The review's report will be published early in 2008.
Lord Triesman: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and training providers endeavour to collect as much information as possiblebut we need to continue to ensure that individuals and employers in the local area know that they should go to the LSC and training providers to find this information. We will, in 2008, introduce an online matching service that will greatly improve our ability to collect data on the number of people seeking an apprenticeship place, and on the places available.
Lord Triesman: We have no information on how many aspiring apprentices fail to obtain an apprenticeship place. However, rises over recent years in numbers of apprentices participating and numbers of employers offering places informed our recent commitment to a major expansion of the apprenticeship programme, with funding to increase overall places from 250,000 today to more than 400,000 by 2010-11, provided high- quality employer places are available. We expect that the new national matching service, to be introduced online in 2008, will greatly reduce the risk of young people failing to find a suitable apprenticeship place.
Lord Triesman: We are introducing the national apprenticeship matching service in 2008. The apprenticeship review is considering the further reforms needed for young people to make an effective transition into apprenticeships, including in the area of information, advice and guidance.
Whether they will change the computer software of Government computers so as to make it impossible to transfer protected personal data held by them without complying with data protection principles and procedures. [HL474]
Lord Bach: I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on 21 November (Official Report, col. 1179). The review by the Cabinet Secretary and security experts is looking at procedures within departments and agencies for the storage and use of data. A Statement on departments' procedures will be made on completion of the review.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): It is not possible from the databases held centrally in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to match persons who have been prosecuted for driving offences with details of residency in the UK. Also statistics held centrally on fixed penalty notices issued for motoring offences are collected through aggregate returns which prevent any matching with other data sources.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): Our targets to improve adult functional literacy and numeracy skills over the next three years are ambitious and challenging, especially with respect to numeracy, and are necessary to ensure that 95 per cent of adults achieve functional basic skills by 2020.
We have put in place the investment to enable us to achieve this. A new numeracy strategy and marketing campaign in 2008 will drive higher demand for courses. More embedding of basic skills in vocational qualifications will increase the number of achievements, as well as
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With a target of all Skills for Life teachers qualified or working towards qualification by 2010, recruitment incentives and bursaries for Skills for Life teacher training, and new training routes for specialist Skills for Life learning support from September 2008, we are working to build a Skills for Life workforce that will support more learners and enable higher success rates.
The Skills for Life sector is well placed to respond to additional demand and the Skills for Life strategy has been benchmarked as the best in the world. It is crucial that we meet these targetsas well as our higher level skills targetsto ensure that Britain remains economically competitive in the long term.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We regard 19 countries that are primarily Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking as being part of the Latin American region. They are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
We can confirm that there are 15 British embassies in Latin America. We also have further diplomatic representation through our high commission in Belmopan, Belize, and several subordinate posts in Brazil and the Caribbean. We have a UK trade and investment office in Monterrey, Mexico. In total we have 22 diplomatic missions with UK-based staff across the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Ashton of Upholland) on 20 November (WA 54), what assessment has been made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission of the compliance of government departments with their public sector duties to promote good relations. [HL539]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Equality and Human Rights Commission (the commission) has not yet assessed the compliance of government departments with their public sector duty to promote good relations. The commission will proactively monitor the performance
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The Commission for Racial Equality was involved in work with a significant number of public sector organisations, including Whitehall departments, in relation to the race equality duty under the Race Relations Act 1976. This existing work on enforcement is being taken forward by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Whether, in light of the recent decision by the House of Lords in Watt (formerly Carter) v Ahsan, they will now include in their proposed equality Bill (a) specific prohibition of discrimination, harassment and victimisation by all political parties in all of their activities; and (b) positive action provisions that will enable political parties to take the necessary steps to prevent or compensate for disadvantage and to rectify under-representation at all levels and across all of their activities. [HL542]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Government are considering the content of the proposed equality Bill in light of the consultation that was completed in September. Matters under consideration include the application of discrimination law provisions to political parties, including positive action provisions. The Government intend to publish a response to the consultation, setting out policy for the Bill, in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Vadera): We have worked closely with other government departments, in particular with the Department of Health, and with civil society and professional groups to consider the recommendations of Lord Crisp's report. The Government's response to Lord Crisp's report will be issued shortly by the Inter-Ministerial Group. The response will provide a basis for taking forward those areas of work likely to be most useful in making a sustained difference to helping meet the health needs of developing countries.
Whether they will organise a campaign mobilising extra resources to prevent standards falling in United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the near east schools, especially in Gaza. [HL460]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Vadera): In January, DfID committed £100 million over five years to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This is core funding, allowing UNRWA to prioritise the most urgent issues. Fifty-four per cent of its proposed 2008-09 budget is for education. Rather than mobilising extra resources for a particular use, such as UNRWA schools, we encourage other donors to make similar long-term core funding commitments to UNRWA.
Lord Rooker: Commissioner posts for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission are advertised and filled through open competition which is regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.
In making appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission the Secretary of State pays due regard to Section 68(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 which instructs that he shall as far as practicable secure that the Commissioners, as a group, are representative of the community in Northern Ireland.
Under the Fair Employment (Monitoring) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has a statutory responsibility to monitor the religious profile of its workforce, and is statutorily obliged to report this information to the Equality Commission. The Equality Commission does not publish these figures where the staff complement is less than 25. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission employs 22 staff.
Whether they are discussing possible reforms of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); what kind of reforms they favour; whether there is any emerging consensus about reforms; and what is their attitude towards the proposal for chairmanship of the OSCE by Kazakhstan. [HL672]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Ljubljana reform road map, designed to strengthen the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), was concluded by agreement at the 2006 ministerial council in Brussels. The Government consider this to draw to a close the work on setting out the direction of OSCE reform. The Government would nevertheless remain open to suggestions on genuine improvements that respect existing commitments and the autonomy of the OSCE institutions and field missions.
The UK welcomed Kazakh aspirations to chair the OSCE in accordance with the principles and values of the organisation. At the 2007 ministerial council, agreement was reached by consensus on Kazakhstan's chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010. The Government encourage Kazakhstan to continue with its domestic reform process and uphold the commitments as outlined by its Foreign Minister at the ministerial council.
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