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Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Verma: In 2008-09, £1,408 million, which represents 20 per cent of the UK's overseas aid budget, was allocated to the European Union and managed by the European Commission. Of this total, £1,048 million counted as part of the UK's total annual contribution to the European Union budget. The remainder was the UK's contribution to the European Development Fund for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries.



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The Secretary of State for International Development recently set out details of DfID's review of all funding of international agencies including the EC. This review will test each organisation to ensure the UK is getting maximum value from its aid money. This will include an assessment of the relevance of each block to the UK's objectives on poverty reduction and their ability to deliver results on the ground.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Verma: All UK aid allocations made through the EU are managed by the European Commission (EC). The Secretary of State for International Development recently set out details of DfID'sreview of all funding of international agencies including the EC. This review will test each organisation to ensure the UK is getting maximum value from its aid money. This will include an assessment of the relevance of each body to the UK's objectives on poverty reduction and their ability to deliver results on the ground.

People Trafficking

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The United Kingdom has developed close working relationships with other European Union member states and shares best practice with them. In setting up the National Referral Mechanism-the system used to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to support-the UK examined best practice available from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and other European states.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Neville-Jones: Victims of trafficking who have been compelled to commit crimes as a direct result of their trafficking situation will not normally be prosecuted. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and United

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Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) have issued guidance to prosecutors, police officers and immigration officers to this effect.

The guidance invites prosecutors to consider whether or not a charge would meet the test for crown prosecutors at the evidential stage. However, it is not legally justifiable to introduce a blanket ban on prosecutions as the Code for Crown Prosecutors must be applied in all cases.

Piracy

Questions

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The UK's approach to tackling piracy off the coast of Somalia remains unchanged. We recognise that the solution to piracy lies on land and are determined to play our part in the deterrence and disruption of pirate activity at sea while reassuring the shipping industry and encouraging capacity building in the region.

Royal Navy ships participating in counter-piracy operations are always trained and equipped with the required rules of engagement to counter any threats they may face. These have not changed since 11 May but are reviewed on a regular basis.

Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Astor of Hever: In 2010, Royal Navy assets assigned to counter-piracy operations have continued to deter and disrupt pirate activity while offering reassurance to shipping in the region and coming to the aid of vessels in distress. In April, six suspected pirates were transferred to Kenya for prosecution following an attack on a merchant vessel.

Close co-ordination between NATO, EU, and Combined Maritime Force counter-piracy operations and the shipping industry has meant the critical Gulf of Aden trade artery has seen only three successful attacks on merchant vessels following best management practice guidelines since 2008. Discussions across all international navies are now focused on achieving similar success in the Somali basin.

The solution to piracy lies on land, and the UK continues to play a leading role, through the contact group on piracy off the coast of Somalia, in taking forward discussions with international and regional partners, including the Somali authorities, on regional capacity building. This includes supporting UN projects within the judicial, penal and security sectors. The UK regularly engages with key regional partners to build relationships and encourage increased action against pirates, sharing the burden of prosecuting and imprisoning pirate suspects.



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Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Astor of Hever: In March 2010, eight suspected pirates transferred to Kenya in 2008 were found guilty of piracy and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. In April 2010, six further suspected pirates were transferred to Kenyan authorities and are currently on remand in Kenya, awaiting trial.

The UK is grateful for the judicial assistance offered by the Kenyan Government in support of the international community's efforts to rid the Indian Ocean of pirates emanating from Somalia. The Ministry of Defence continues to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure Kenya receives adequate legal support to aid prompt prosecutions and wider judicial capacity building.

Railways: Public Subsidy

Question

Asked by Lord Glenarthur

Earl Attlee: Details of historic expenditure on the railways is set out in National Rail Trends, which is published by the Office of Rail Regulation. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House and online at www.rail-reg.gov.uk.

Railways: Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Glenarthur

Earl Attlee: The provision of ScotRail's Anglo-Scottish sleeper services is a matter for Scottish Ministers, as is the provision of public funds for rail infrastructure outputs in Scotland. The provision of public funds for infrastructure outputs in England and Wales is a matter for the Secretary of State for Transport.

Railways: Signalling

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno



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Earl Attlee: The Cambrian Line scheme is a trial and the lessons learnt from this project will be carefully considered by Network Rail and the relevant industry stakeholders before any decision is made to extend this type of signalling more widely on the railway.

Schools: Academies

Questions

Asked by Baroness Morris of Yardley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Schools judged by Ofsted to be "outstanding" which choose to convert to academy status will all be expected to form a partnership with another school. We are confident that many schools will be able to broker such partnerships directly between themselves, as indeed many have already done. We trust school leaders to know what is best for their schools and their pupils and expect all outstanding schools to play an active role in supporting the wider system. Where third party brokerage is required, we are currently considering a range of options.

Asked by Baroness Morris of Yardley

Lord Hill of Oareford: We recognise that schools converting to academies may incur costs, such as obtaining legal advice on the documents necessary for setting up an academy, advice on the process for transferring staff and other costs. As a contribution to these costs, a grant of up to £25,000 will be made.

Schools: Citizenship

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We intend to review the national curriculum, and this will include the teaching of citizenship in schools. We will announce the detail of the process for the review in due course.

Somalia

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK remains concerned about reports of recruitment and use of child soldiers by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). Officials in Nairobi have previously raised this issue with the TFG as part of wider discussions, and are seeking to do so again as a matter of urgency.

On 16 June President Sharif publicly expressed his concern and reiterated that the TFG are fully committed to upholding existing laws and provisions against the recruitment of child soldiers. We are encouraged that President Sharif has ordered a full investigation and given clear instructions immediately to demobilise any children found to be in the military. The UK will follow up with the TFG on progress and implementation of that investigation, which should also make recommendations on how verification procedures can be strengthened to prevent recruitment of children.

Violence against Women and Children

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): My honourable friend the Minister for Crime Prevention will discuss with colleagues across government how to take forward the approach in this area.

As a first step, the coalition programme for government will consider how to use proceeds from the victim surcharge to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres, and give existing rape crisis centres stable, long-term funding.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We never comment on individual visa applications. The UK has a policy of engagement with the Government of Sudan on issues such as the North-South comprehensive peace agreement, the situation in Darfur, regional issues and counter-terrorism. This visit took place in the context of this engagement.


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