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15 Jan 2009 : Column WA157

15 Jan 2009 : Column WA157

Written Answers

Thursday 15 January 2009

Afghanistan: Development


Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK supports the channelling of development assistance both through local councils or traditional shuras and through community development councils, provided such assistance is responsive to community-identified needs, and is linked to the Government of Afghanistan. This is an important way to build trust and legitimacy between communities and government.

Asylum Seekers


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): There are no plans to regularise the position of long-resident asylum seekers and other immigrants following calls for an amnesty. The Government have ruled out an amnesty and this remains our position.

Benefits: Jobseeker's Allowance


Asked by Lord Skelmersdale

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Jobseeker's allowance recipients may receive access to full-time education or training through the New Deal programme. Recipients are currently required to participate in the mandatory New Deals when they have been receiving benefit continuously for either six months, if aged 18 to 24, or 18 months (or 18 out of the previous 21 months if there has been a break in their claim) if they are aged 25 or over. In the New Deal for Young People, one of the four mandatory options is full-time education or training. The New Deal 25 Plus contains

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an intensive activity period of at least 13 weeks and one option is work-focused training.

The Flexible New Deal will replace these programmes from October 2009 in the first roll-out areas. It will be a mandatory programme for people unemployed for 12 months, though some may enter earlier. Participants may be offered full-time training on the programme where it is felt necessary for their return to work.

People in certain disadvantaged groups (such as ex-offenders, homeless people, people with literacy and innumeracy needs and others categories) may, subject to capacity, voluntarily enter the New Deal programme at any time and from the first day of their claim.

In addition, from October 2008, DWP introduced changes that mean that the 16-hour study rule in JSA will no longer be a barrier to short employment-focused training. Those who have been receiving JSA for more than six months—or those whom personal advisers believe need urgent help to update skills—will be able to take part in full-time employment-related training for up to eight weeks. In the autumn a pathfinder was set up in the West Midlands to test this new approach and we are encouraging Jobcentre Plus personal advisers to use it at a local level. We are also ready to consider requests to extend the eight-week limit from the most effective city strategy pathfinders, or to look at other innovative proposals.

It does remain a requirement of receiving jobseeker's allowance that the recipient meets the labour market conditions of being available for and actively seeking full-time work. Consequently, just as with the New Deal programmes, a claimant taking part in such training will be moved from jobseeker's allowance and on to a training allowance for the duration of their placement.

Meanwhile, it is recognised that short, full-time training can assist some people in an early return to work, and jobseeker's allowance customers are permitted to study full time for two weeks each year. This flexibility is being used to provide pre-employment training as part of local employer partnerships. A person may, of course, take up other forms of full time training at any time but if the labour market conditions could not be satisfied he or she would not be entitled to jobseeker's allowance while undertaking such training.

British Overseas Territories


Asked by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have developed a financial services strategy aimed at providing targeted UK assistance to territories where specific vulnerabilities, highlighted in the National Audit Office report, have been identified. Initial discussions on the

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strategy took place in early 2008 with Whitehall partners and governors. Further discussions were held in April and May 2008 with territory Attorneys-General, police commissioners and territory regulators. This has been followed up with a programme of bilateral engagement with the relevant territory agencies with the aim of drawing up detailed action plans designed to improve capacity and compliance with international standards. The strategy was also discussed with the territories during the annual Overseas Territories Consultative Council meeting in London in October 2008. The Government will continue to work with the Overseas Territories to further develop and implement these action plans.

Colombia: Human Rights


Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Officials from our embassy in Bogota took part in the delegation to Curvarado and San Jose de Apartado on 26-28 November, alongside officials from other EU partners, the European Commission, the UN, and civil society organisations such as Peace Brigades International. They did so to reflect our very serious concern, shared by international partners, for the plight of human rights defenders and communities at risk in Colombia, including in Curvarado.

The communities in Curvarado and San Jose de Apartado told the delegation about the continuing threats and intimidation they face, and described a deterioration in the local situation over the past 18 months. Separately, Colombian state officials outlined the measures they are taking to promote these communities' safety, and improve the overall human rights situation in the area. The delegation made clear the EU's support for the human rights defenders who follow and accompany these communities.

Courts: Racism


Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The recent decision by a magistrates’ court not to impose a banning order against an individual who pleaded guilty to the offence of racist chanting during the match between Middlesbrough and Newcastle United on 29 November 2008 is both disappointing and surprising.

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The local race harassment case group, which is chaired by the Crown Prosecution Service and includes police, BME and Safer Community representatives from the local authorities, the North East Refugee Service and others, will review this case and take further action if appropriate.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Football Banning Orders Authority have advised that there is no national pattern of courts refusing to impose banning orders following conviction for racist chanting. Convictions for offences of racist (or indecent) chanting committed during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 football seasons resulted in the imposition of 14 banning orders.

The law is clear that a banning order should be imposed against a person convicted of a football-related offence in connection with a regulated football match, including racist chanting, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that making an order would help to prevent violence or disorder in connection with regulated matches.

Crime: Assault


Asked by Lord Monson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The requested information is shown in the table below:

Number of persons ordered to pay compensation for crimes involving physical assault (1) resulting in injury 1998-2007
£100 or less£101-£250£251-£500£501-£1000Over £1000





























































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Crime: Domestic Violence


Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): As much of government funding is devolved locally we are unable to identify what has been spent on outreach programmes because local areas will decide how best to prioritise their funding based on local needs.

However, one example is that the Government are providing £30 million (between 2007-11) to help safeguard children by supporting the expansion and integration of the NSPCC helpline services and, on 27 November 2008, Ed Balls announced £22 million for family intervention projects and a “think family” approach across England to help more families at risk, allowing all local authorities to deliver intensive family support for the most vulnerable families.

Another example is the Supporting People programme which provides a significant proportion of revenue funding for housing-related support for victims of domestic violence. In 2006-07, spend on services for victims of domestic violence was £61.6 million, compared with £59.3 million in 2005-06.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord West of Spithead: Children are not covered in the current government definition because they are already covered by child protection legislation and procedures. However we do acknowledge the issues raised about widening the definition of domestic violence to include under-18s and consideration of the definition will be covered in our National Domestic Violence Delivery Plan for 2009-10.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord West of Spithead: This information is not collected centrally.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

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