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Whether a regulatory impact assessment has been carried out to ascertain the cost, practicality and purpose of the European Union's proposal to mark by electronic implants millions of sheep in the United Kingdom annually. [HL2004]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): A draft partial regulatory impact assessment on sheep and goat electronic identification was produced in December 2006 and further updated in November 2007.
What assessment they have made of morale in the Armed Forces, particularly the Army's infantry and logistical units; and whether they are considering measures to improve morale where necessary. [HL1910]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There is not an exact measure of morale but an assessment is made based on the continuous attitude surveys (CAS) as well as visits to meet personnel by senior staff and bodies such as the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and Directorate of Operational Capability.
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Our aim is to maintain morale and promote stable levels of retention through policies that genuinely reflect the priorities of our people and their families while optimising their operational effectiveness. Therefore, for example, we have improved pay and introduced new equipment. We have improved accommodation and continue to do so pledging £8 billion over a 10-year period. We have also made improvements to travel allowances to permit personnel to get home more easily and we continue to refine the operational welfare package while also promoting measures such as work/life balance and career breaks to improve the day-to-day lives of service personnel and their families.
However, it is true that there are significant challenges in keeping some groups up to strength. Consequently some areas, for example the infantry and medical specialist, are busier than intended. Retention measures such as commitment bonuses, re-engagement packages, and financial retention initiatives (FRI) continue to be used to encourage longer service, improve morale and reduce voluntary outflow. There is a FRI in place for infantry soldiers at the four-year point, and more than 2,000 soldiers have signed up for this package.
Baroness Crawley: DfID's objectives for CDC are that it should: invest in the creation and growth of viable private businesses in poorer countries to contribute to economic growth for the benefit of the poor, and secondly, that it mobilise private investment in these markets both directly and by demonstrating profitable investments.
In 2004, we agreed an investment policy with CDC which obliges it to make (a) 70 per cent of new investments in developing countries with less than $1,750 GNI/per capita and the remaining 30 per cent in countries below $9,095 and (b) 50 per cent of new investments in sub-Saharan Africa or south Asia. Both targets are measured on a five-year rolling basis. CDC has adopted a set of responsible business principles which covers areas such as the environment, health and safety and social and governance issues. It is prohibited from making investments in the following areas: manufacture of military equipment, illegal drugs, gambling, pornography or tobacco.
Any possible sale of CDC is governed by Section 18 of the CDC Act 1999, which requires the Secretary of State to ensure that the Crown (or a wholly owned subsidiary of the Crown) retains at least 25 per cent of CDC's ordinary share capital and continues to hold its special share in CDC. Section 18 may be amended or repealed by statutory instrument, but such order must first be approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.
How much of the £50 million Congo forest fund has been distributed; what organisations, agencies or governments have benefited and by how much in each case; and what procedure is in place to monitor progress; and [HL1677]
In what ways the Congo forest fund is helping (a) to slow the rate of deforestation; (b) local communities to develop livelihoods consistent with the conservation of the forests; and (c) to strengthen the work of international partners in the region. [HL1678]
Baroness Crawley: The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBF) is currently in its inception phase. Funds will be available for spending from 1 April 2008. We have carried out consultation with international partners, governments and civil society in the region to identify funding criteria, distribution and monitoring mechanisms. Our first recommendation will be presented at the conference on Financing Mechanisms for Sustainable Management of the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem in Tunis on 21 and 22 February.
Lord Rooker: Since 1999 the Government have published on an annual basis a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total of all ministerial travel overseas. Details for such travel in 2007 will appear in the next annual report and information regarding previous years are available in the Libraries of the House.
What plans they have for ensuring that gender equality is reflected in the Department for International Development's work; who is responsible for ensuring that is the case; and whether any possible staff reductions will affect it. [HL1758]
Baroness Crawley: Gender is an essential part of DfID's work to eliminate poverty overseas. The third millennium development goal (MDG) specifically promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women, and evidence also shows that gender equality is key to the achievement of the other MDGs.
In line with the commitment in the UK Government's White Paper (2006) to give greater priority to gender equality, DfID carried out an evaluation of how effective the department has been at achieving gender equality and women's empowerment. This led to a three-year gender equality action plan (GEAP).
A network of gender champions has been established across the department consisting of deputy directors, who are responsible for promoting gender equality. They report on progress against the GEAP in their divisions on a quarterly basis to the senior gender champion who is the director general for Policy and International Division and a member of DfID's top management team. Gender equality issues are reflected as a target within our first departmental strategic objective in DfID's corporate performance framework, linked to our new PSA Delivery Agreement for 2008-11.
DfID will regularly review the gender equality action plan and revise it in the light of progress made and new challenges. A report on the first year's implementation of the plan will be published in April 2008.
DfID has a gender equality (duty) scheme and associated action plan covering the period 2007 to 2010. The central diversity team has a systematic process in place to monitor the agreed actions. The action plan is a living document and while the aims will stay the same, the diversity team is in the process of updating the plans to reflect any changes and to show progress. This will feed into DfID's 2007-08 Annual Diversity Report.
What direct support they are giving to the churches, the International Labour Organisation and other groups in Brazil which are attempting to combat the use of forced labour in the production of food for biofuels. [HL1922]
Baroness Crawley: DfID does not give direct support to groups in Brazil that are attempting to combat the use of forced labour in the production of biofuel crops. We are aware that some cases of forced labour are reported in Brazil and monitor the situation. We are engaged in policy discussion with the Brazilian Government on how sustainable biofuels production can contribute to poverty reduction. DfID also supports the development of sustainable biofuels through our support to the Inter-American Development Bank's Sustainable Energy and Climate Change (SECCI) Fund.
The UK Government are working with industry to develop sustainability standards for biofuelsincluding on social and labour dimensionsand reporting to ensure that these recognise poverty as well as environmental concerns. From 2011 the UK Government
25 Feb 2008 : Column WA101
Baroness Crawley: The Department for International Development (DfID) is aware of the measures being taken forward by the Government of Bolivia to eradicate forced labour. The Bolivian Ministry of Labour and the National Commission for the Eradication of Forced Labour have been working since 2004 on this issue, which particularly affects indigenous people, especially Guarani indigenous communities in the Chaco region.
DfID ended its bilateral programme of support to Bolivia in March 2006, and since then has not provided assistance directly to the Government of Bolivia. However, the Government of Denmark, through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), has a programme to promote the rights of indigenous peoples, which includes the eradication of forced labour.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): I have sent the noble Lord a history of the statue, its repairs and works planned. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House.
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