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Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



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Lord Brett: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo we are working with the international community, particularly the World Bank, European Commission, International Monetary Fund and UNDP, to increase transparency in the DRC. We are supporting government institutions to develop a more efficient and transparent public financial management system, and are working to improve the quality of government audit and budgeting processes.

We continue to encourage British companies trading in natural resources from DRC to do so in a way which is socially, economically and environmentally responsible, and to adhere to the voluntary guidelines set out by the OECD. Our strategy for DRC places a strong emphasis on greater transparency and better management of the minerals sector, including in Eastern DRC. We are strong supporters of DRC efforts to fully implement the extractive industry transparency initiative (EITI). Together with the World Bank and the DRC Ministry of Mines we are currently developing a multi-year mining sector reform programme which aims to transform the way the sector is managed and ensure that the Government extends their control over all mining activities in DRC.

Baroness Kinnock, Minister for Africa, visited Uganda in February and raised the issue of transparency in the oil industry with the Foreign Minister and President Museveni stressing the importance of a transparent and responsible framework for the management of oil revenue and encouraging the Government to sign up to the EITI. She also discussed this with the EU head of mission in Kampala who agreed with the need for concerted efforts in this area.

Distress for Rent Rules 1988

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): A search of archived records failed to trace any policy documents that led to the Distress for Rent Rules 1988. However, further research identified a public consultation paper entitled Consultation Paper on the Distress for Rent Rules 1983, dated March 1987 which was issued by the Lord Chancellor's Department and a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): As stated in the previous Answer of 5 May 2009 (WA95), the MRC has funded one project relating to human somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The award, held by the University of Newcastle, aims to improve the efficiency of SCNT in human oocytes. The project will not derive stem cells for use in the treatment of patients.

EU: Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Once the European Council and the European Parliament achieve a consensus and the alternative investment fund manager directive is adopted, the Government are required to implement it under Articles 288 and 291 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Failure to do so within the time allowed in the directive for its implementation would be a breach of EU law, entitling the EU Commission to bring infraction proceedings against the United Kingdom under Article 258 of the treaty.

The FSA commissioned an assessment of the effects of the proposals in the directive which can be found on its website at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/other/Impact_of_AIFM_Directive.pdf.

European Protection Order

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): As I said on 11 March, the Government have three months from the publication of the proposal to decide whether to opt into this proposal. The Government are still undertaking the process required before it is able to officially express an opinion on opt in. As soon as this process ends the House of Lords European Union Select Committee will be informed and I will ensure that the noble Lord is informed at the same time.



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Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Brett: Procedurally, approval of the European Union Council of Ministers is not required for the intended visit of High Representative Baroness Ashton to Gaza. Baroness Ashton visited Gaza on 18 March.

Health: Drugs

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. The MRC is an independent body which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The MRC does not hold comprehensive information on research papers relating to the 15 studies reported in the response given on 4 December 1984 (Official Report, Commons, col. 172-4W), and for other studies on the side effects of benzodiazepines funded until 1996. To obtain this information would require accessing and reviewing numerous hard copy documents and could therefore only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Since 1996 the MRC has funded five grants relating to benzodiazepines, which have all now ended. The details of these grants are:

Professor S Killcross, University of York/Cardiff University-the role of the amygdala in conditioned fear and anxiety (1/11/1998-30/9/2004 £309k);Dr J Pratt, University of Strathclyde-the neurochemistry of benzodiazepine withdrawal; a focus on glutamate and dopamine (1/9/1997-31/8/1998 £39k);Professor D Stephens, University of Sussex- a pilot study on the kindling hypothesis of dependence on sedative-hypnotic drugs (1/2/1996-31/1/1997 £37.5k);Professor D Stephens, University of Sussex-sensitisation to repeated withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines (1/9/1999-31/08/2004 £1.2m); and

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Professor A M Thomson, Royal Free and UCL Medical School-modulation of morphologically defined inhibitory synapses by benzodiazepines barbiturates and steroids (1/1/96-31/12/98 £352k).

Health: Teenage Pregnancy

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The target of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy is to halve the under-18 conception rate by 2010, compared to the 1998 baseline rate. The latest available data (for 2008) show a reduction of 13.3 per cent since baseline.

We will not know what level of reduction we will have achieved against the target until February 2012, when the 2010 data are published. Progress to date is behind the required trajectory. Nevertheless, teenage pregnancy rates are at their lowest level for over 20 years.

The table below shows under-18 conception numbers and rates for each year from 1998 to 2008.

Table 1: Under-18 Conceptions for England: 1998-2008
YearUnder 18 conceptionsUnder 18 conception rate*

1998

41,089

46.6

1999

39,247

44.8

2000

38,699

43.6

2001

38,461

42.5

2002

39,350

42.7

2003

39,553

42.2

2004

39,593

41.6

2005

39,804

41.3

2006

39,170

40.6

2007

40,366

41.7

2008

**38,750

**40.4

Source: Office for National Statistics and Teenage Pregnancy Unit, 2010

* per thousand females aged 15-17

** 2008 data are provisional

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: The budget allocated for 2009-10 by the Department for Children Schools and Families to support the work of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group is £46,500.

The budget allocated for 2009-10 by the Department of Health to support the work carried out by the Teenage Pregnancy National Support Team is £670,000.



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Independent Networks Co-operative Association

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): There are no plans for government to make these requests. In the Digital Britain Report, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills committed £150,000 to INCA over three years, to support the development of local and regional networks.

Internet: Usage

Question

Asked by Lord Acton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): 10.2 million adults, representing 21 per cent of the UK adult population, are estimated never to have used the internet according to the Office for National Statistics report The National Statistics Omnibus Survey published in August 2009. The information may be found at http://www.statistics.gov. uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=8.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Legal aid is available without reference to the client's financial resources for an

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application to the First-tier Tribunal (mental health), and for Deprivation of Liberty cases in the Court of Protection.

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not create an automatic right to civil legal aid. It may however require legal aid to be provided in certain circumstances, depending on the nature of the proceedings, and the capabilities of the client. The rules of the civil legal aid scheme aim to satisfy the requirements of Article 6, as demonstrated, for example, by the means-free provision available in mental health tribunal and Deprivation of Liberty proceedings, and by the potential for any client to apply for exceptional funding on human rights grounds.

Marine Environment: Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

Lord Brett: The Department for International Development (DfID) has been supporting a number of Commonwealth institutions including the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit and the Commonwealth Human Ecology Unit, in developing a Commonwealth strategy on fisheries. This strategy considers marine protected areas as future components of, rather than solutions to, more effective fisheries management. Previously DfID has also worked with Commonwealth Secretariat to examine trade and governance-related aspects of fisheries, including illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, and the impacts of fisheries access agreements on Commonwealth states.


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