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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Ethiopia

Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has for providing development assistance to Ethiopia; and if she will make a statement. [155072]

Clare Short: Since the signature by Ethiopia and Eritrea of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in June 2000, we have been reviewing our development relationship with Ethiopia. As part of this process, we held a seminar to discuss papers commissioned from academia and civil society to help update our understanding of current politics, governance and civil society; the economy; poverty; and food security.

Last November I visited Addis Ababa and discussed these issues with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. We informed him that we intended to focus as a first priority on food security, and undertook to consider whether we could contribute to the development of the private sector in Ethiopia.

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Effective support to help reduce poverty in Ethiopia will depend on continuing peace and stability and the full and speedy implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in Algiers last December. We have been encouraged by recent progress. We have supported the peace process through the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) with a contribution of £535,000 for an emergency survey of mines and unexploded ordnance undertaken by the UN Mines Advisory Service. We are also supporting UNMEE through our assessed contribution to peacekeeping operations.

The overall objective of our assistance will be to support the Government of Ethiopia's Poverty Reduction Strategy. In food security, we will work for long-term sustainable improvements and reduced vulnerability to cyclical drought. We will support the provision of financial assistance through the World Bank, IMF and European Commission. We will also provide technical assistance to strengthen the World Bank's work with the Government on the 2001 Public Expenditure Review and on Food Security, and plan to do so on the Poverty Reduction Strategy process. We are also considering technical support in food security and education to the European Commission.

We also envisage providing support for Food Security (including rural roads). In the private sector we will explore options for facilitating Ethiopia's effective engagement in international markets and ways in which the enabling environment for private investment can be improved. We plan to help strengthen district level road maintenance capacity. We are investigating how to support the Government's poverty monitoring capacity. Other possible areas of intervention include improved governance and support for a more effective civil society.

The implications of HIV/AIDS for Ethiopia's development will be considered throughout the programme. We plan to support the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa, which is sponsored by UNAIDS.

We will continue to provide direct humanitarian relief and food aid where there is a clear need and where we are well placed to help.

On current plans we expect to spend up to £30 million over the next three years: these figures are indicative and subject to adjustment in the light of developments.

DEFENCE

Army (Scotland)

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) establishment strength, (b) actual strength and (c) level of undermanning in percentage terms of establishment against actual strength was for the (i) Highlanders, (ii) Black Watch, (iii) Royal Scots, (iv) Royal Highland Fusiliers, (v) King's Own Scottish Borderers, (vi) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, (vii) Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and (viii) Scots Guards on 1 March in each year from 1995 to 2001; what initiatives are under way in Scotland to address issues of recruitment and retention; and if he will make a statement. [154086]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 20 March 2001]: The information requested is as follows.

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EstablishmentTrained strengthPercentage ±
Highlanders
199559770317.6
19965976488.5
1997659616-6.5
1998658583-11.4
1999658507-22.9
2000658500-24
2001608494-18.8
Black Watch
1995597591-1
1996597555-7
1997597514-14
1998597539-9.7
1999597511-14.4
2000703508-27.7
2001670566-15.5
Royal Scots
1995597543-9
1996663562-15.2
1997663495-25.3
1998663508-23.4
1999663471-29
2000597470-21.3
2001608515-15.3
Royal Highland Fusiliers
19957037435.7
1996703617-12.2
1997703595-15.4
1998703621-11.7
1999703581-17.4
20005976264.9
2001607532-12.4
King's Own Scottish Borderers
1995597594-0.5
1996597575-3.7
1997597546-8.5
1998597567-5
1999597507-15
2000597549-8
2001638585-8.3
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
19955975980.2
1996597523-12.4
1997597557-6.7
1998597593-0.7
19995976010.7
20005975980.2
2001609591-3
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
19954114140.7
19964113739.2
1997411386-6.1
1998411372-9.5
1999411372-9.5
2000411403-1.9
2001499415-17
Scots Guards
199559769316
1996597566-5.2
1997597529-11.4
1998597520-13
1999597531-11
2000597558-6.5
20016096435.6

Note:

The figures are at 1 January each year


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A revision of the Army's recruitment management structure has brought together the field Army, the Territorial Army and the Army Training and Recruiting Agency's resources and expertise to run coherent recruiting campaigns in each of the UK regions, including Scotland. This co-ordinates local and national recruiting activities to best effect. Specifically in Scotland, the Army has recently awarded a trial one-year contract to a commercial consultancy company who will undertake on the ground recruiting activities, in partnership with the existing recruiting organisation, bringing commercial expertise into this area and utilising the company's wide-ranging contacts and database. The company intends to introduce an innovative programme of promotional and marketing activity, highlighting the wide range of career opportunities that the Army provides. Final selection of recruits will, however, remain firmly with the Army.

Army retention is being tackled as a high priority. Our aim is to maintain good levels of retention through policies that genuinely reflect the priorities of our people and their families, both generally and those on deployment. A raft of measures has already been introduced, including acceptance of the latest pay award, and these appear to be having an impact on retention. These measures are not confined to Scotland, but apply throughout the Army in the UK and overseas.

Racial Discrimination

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures have been taken against those (a) responsible for racial harassment of Ian Bannister and (b) responsible for setting up a photoshoot with soldiers dressed in Klu Klux Klan regalia and the officers commanding these soldiers. [154067]

Mr. Spellar: The Army has no record of any claim of racial harassment from Ian Bannister. The Royal Military Police are, however, currently undertaking an investigation to examine the circumstances behind the incident with the photograph.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been issued to the 2nd Parachute Regiment concerning members posing for photographs with Nazi regalia. [154066]

Mr. Spellar: The Army is committed, through the Chief of the General Staff's Equal Opportunities Directive, to eradicating all forms of discrimination by developing policies, practices, and procedures within the framework of the law which do not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind. This policy is reiterated in Commanding Officer's Equal Opportunities Policy Statements and Action Plans.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme will be published; what the cause of the delay has been; if the review will consider the use of retrospective legislation as a remedy for the perceived injustices; and if he will make a statement. [154047]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy) on 16 March 2001, Official Report, column 756W. The review has taken longer than expected

22 Mar 2001 : Column: 296W

mainly because of knock-on effects from delays to the Joint MOD/DSS Compensation Review which proved more complicated than anticipated. Consistent with the long-standing public sector pension policy, there are no plans to introduce changes to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme retrospectively.


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