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The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The Secretary of State has today announced his decisions on the eight areas in which the earnings top-up pilot scheme will operate from October 1996. He has also placed in the Vote Office the draft rules of the scheme.
The rules setting out the scheme list by postcode the eight pilot areas in which earnings top-up will be paid; four at a higher rate (Scheme B) and four at a lower rate (Scheme A). The two benefit rates are intended to test the relative effectiveness of different levels of assistance in meeting the aim of the scheme; to help lower-paid people to move into work and be better off there.
The areas have been selected from an original shortlist using wholly objective criteria related to unemployment rates, vacancy rates, population density and operational feasibility. They are areas from which we expect to be able to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of this approach if extended nationally.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): The UN secretariat advises that the amount claimed by the US Government in respect of US involvement in UN operations in Somalia from May 1993 was 62,589,748 dollars and that claimed by US companies was 29,629,500 dollars. The amount paid out to the US government was 60,718,045 dollars. US companies have been paid in full.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We continue to believe that a lasting solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka can only be achieved through peaceful negotiation. We welcome the Sri Lanka Government's initiative in proposing a wide ranging devolution package as the basis for negotiation. We hope that talks on a sustainable settlement will be resumed. We have called on both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties and to protect the civilian population in the current conflict.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities that General Abacha's three year timetable for a return to civilian democratic rule is too long, and the importance of a rapid resumption of political activity leading to free and fair elections. We have also made clear our deep concern about abuses of human rights. We deplore the imposition of long prison sentences on the alleged coup plotters and the death sentences on Mr. Saro-Wiwa and others following a flawed judicial process.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Government's policy is to support sales of UK defence equipment where this is compatible with our political, strategic and security interests. At all times, we have followed our established and public practice of considering individual sales to Peru and Ecuador on a case by case basis, in accordance with the international guide-lines to which we are committed. We shall continue to process applications on a case by case basis. Some licence applications for the export of military equipment were not approved during the period of heightened tension between Peru and Ecuador. The recent reduction in tension between the two countries is encouraging.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The Government wish to encourage innovative but sustainable and appropriate uses for the Royal Naval College and its peripheral buildings. There may be scope for some new build or development of the site but only in accordance
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