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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have introduced a number of special measures to help young witnesses achieve their best evidence. These include video-recorded evidence-in-chief, evidence by live link, screens around the witness box and giving evidence with the assistance of an intermediary. National roll-out of the intermediary special measure is now almost complete. These special measures are available subject to the agreement of the court. An independent evaluation in 2004 found that 76 per cent of young witnesses were satisfied with special measures.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Dedicated support already exists for young witnesses. In cases where a charge is brought, young witnesses have access to support from joint police/Crown Prosecution Service witness care units. These provide the young person or their parent/guardian with information about the progress of the case. In cases that go to trial, they will undertake a detailed needs assessment to provide support and information to attend court. This will include the relevant Young Witness information pack.
At court itself, the witness service provides support to young witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales. In 2006-07, the most recent year for which figures are available, Victim Supports witness service helped almost 31,000 young witnesses (under-18). Some areas offer additional support from young witness support schemes.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government plan to issue a toolkit based on an evaluation of six existing young witness support schemes to help practitioners establish local schemes to support young witnesses. We have worked with practitioners on the content of the toolkit and will continue to do so on our plans to distribute the toolkit and to encourage and support areas to adopt the good practice. We expect to be able to issue the toolkit this autumn and subsequently support areas to adopt good practice.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are intending to publish the response to the consultation document Improving the Criminal Trial Process for Young Witnesses in the autumn. The publication of the government response has been delayed due to the need to analyse the volume of responses to the large number of questions asked in the consultation paper.
What funding they provided in matching the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Funds help for Landmine Disability Supports work in Cambodia; and what support they are giving the charity to make the wider importance of its achievements known. [HL4245]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development (DfID) supported Landmine Disability Supports work in Cambodia from January 2003 to March 2007 with a grant of £147,000 through the Civil Society Challenge Fund.
The fund requires that all projects include an element of dissemination of information and networking. The grant for Landmine Disability Support made a provision of £7,525 for information, promotion and educational materials.
Lord Davies of Oldham: DCMS is currently developing options for consultation to exempt low impact (de minimis) licensing activities from the scope of the Licensing Act 2003. As part of that work we are taking into account the recommendations made by the Live Music Forum and discussing draft exemptions with representatives of the music sector. We are aiming to consult from the autumn and to have exemptions in place by the spring 2009.
Lord Tunnicliffe: The UK Government do not hold data on how much assistance is given to Mauritania by the EU to cover humanitarian and onward repatriation costs. We know that most migrants who make their way from Mauritania to Spain through irregular channels are not Mauritanian nationals. In response to the increased numbers in 2006, the European Commission provided a programme of assistance, financed under the rapid response mechanism, for a period of six months. The budget for the unit as a whole was €2.45 million, and one element of the programme was assistance with voluntary returns.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: In 2007, the Highway Code and other official driver learning materials were substantially revised, including the content relating to first aid advice for road users. Every theory test taken by learner drivers and riders contains at least one first-aid question drawn from an item bank of 42 such questions. The item bank was recently expanded, with input from technical experts, including St John Ambulance. Candidates should, therefore, learn about first aid as part of their preparation for the theory test.
What progress they have made on consultations for establishing (a) a joint parliamentary national security committee; and (b) a National Security Forum, as outlined in the March 2008 National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom (Cm 7291). [HL4546]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The contractors of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance signed a legally binding agreement with the MoD on 3 July 2008 to deliver the two future aircraft carriers in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Moreover, timely delivery will allow the contractors to reduce their costs and thereby maximise their reward under the incentive arrangements within the contract.
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: Initial operating capability is expected to be declared once the vessels have successfully completed a period of sea training and inspection. This is expected to take approximately four months following the in-service dates, which have been previously announced as 2014 and 2016.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The main investment decision for the fleet tanker element of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) programme is currently expected to be made during 2009. A contract will be placed with industry after that decision has been taken.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The total numbers of locally engaged staff employed in the visa sections at our high commission in Abuja and deputy high commission in Lagos are 56 and 109 respectively. The majority are Nigerian citizens, but the precise number is not available at present, as a breakdown of such staff by nationality is not routinely kept.
Decisions on visa applications are made only by entry clearance officers (ECOs). Both posts in Nigeria employ several locally engaged ECOs. They are all British citizens and have been trained and received security clearance to the same level as ECOs posted from the UK.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 15 July (WA 142) concerning bonuses for employees of the Northern Ireland Office, what contingency is made for bonuses in the allocation of funds to each department. [HL5045]
Under what headings the £480 million earmarked by the Department for International Development for development work in Pakistan during 200811 will be broken down; and what safeguards there will be to ensure that the expenditure benefits those most in need. [HL4691]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The £480 million that the Department for International Development (DfID) plans to provide to Pakistan in aid between 2008 and 2011 is a commitment included in the development partnership agreement signed by Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Shaukat Aziz in November 2006. Pakistan has made commitments in this arrangement to poverty reduction, sound public financial management and respect for human rights.
The funds that we are making available will be committed under four headings as set out in the country plan, which was recently launched by the Secretary of State for International Development in Pakistan. These headings are:giving people access to better health and education services;making government more effective (by helping to improve capability, accountability and responsiveness of government systems);making growth work for everyone, through more sustainable and inclusive policies and programmes; andensuring that the international community works better together to improve development outcomes.
DfID has a rigorous set of procedures to safeguard funding and ensure that it benefits those most in need. Overall progress on the country programme is measured by means of quantifiable, time-bound targets, supported by a detailed business plan. Individual programmes and projects also include a performance measurement framework with measurable targets. Progress against these targets is assessed by means of annual reviews. These reviews, which also include a comprehensive risk analysis, ensure that DfID funds are being used effectively and are achieving their intended results.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 14 July (WA 120) concerning the employment of monitors by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, what equality process is used in employing monitors. [HL5042]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 14 July (WA 122) concerning the amounts paid to Northern Ireland parades commissioners, what were their terms and conditions of employment; and what was paid to each commissioner since 2005. [HL5043]
Baroness Crawley:Information relating to the parades commissioners remuneration, terms and conditions and individual salaries can be found in the Parades Commission annual report and financial statements. Copies of these reports are held in the Library.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): A comprehensive victims strategy was developed for Operation Pentameter 2. This included advice for front-line police on appropriate victim engagement; guidance on onward referral to support in the United Kingdom or through the International Organisation for Migration voluntary return schemes; and the provision of a 30-day reflection and recovery period for all identified victims. During the campaign, the Office for Criminal Justice Reform invested additional resources into the Poppy project, which resulted in service-level agreements being put in place with refuges across the country. The Scottish Government put aside additional resources to reimburse local authorities for the cost of supporting victims with no recourse to public funds during the campaign.
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