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22 Jan 1998 : Column WA257

Written Answers

Thursday, 22nd January 1998.

Zimbabwe Land Acquisition: Compensation

Lord Gisborough asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will bring pressure on the Government of Zimbabwe to compensate farmers adequately if their farms are being confiscated or redirect any aid to Zimbabwe to those farmers.[HL171]

Lord Whitty: We have already told the Government of Zimbabwe that we expect any acquisition of land to proceed in accordance with Zimbabwe's laws, its constitution and its international obligations. Zimbabwe's 1992 Land Acquisition Act requires the Government to pay compensation, and provides access to the courts if the amount of compensation is disputed.

El Nino

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the widely forecast El Nino emergency in Southern Africa, and the projected loss of life and damage to homes and crops in the region during the coming months.[HL135]

Lord Whitty: We are closely monitoring the possible effect of El Nino and weather abnormalities in Southern Africa. The expected severe drought has yet to materialise in the region, with favourable rains occurring in most countries and surface water reserves higher than for many years. Governments in the region are well sensitised to the potential threat and have instigated contingency plans including planting drought-resistant crops, agricultural input distribution programmes and the adoption of water conservation measures. Many farmers have responded to the forecast of drought by planting early. We have helped individual governments through a variety of projects, including development of early warning systems, rural water supply programmes and the offer of administrative and logistical support for relief programmes if needed.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend, in the light of recommendations from the Southern African Development Community, to support preventive actions in the region in advance of any damage to agriculture as a result of the El Nino emergency.[HL136]

Lord Whitty: The Department for International Development (DFID) contributed to the cost of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional drought policy conference in Gaborone last November and a DFID professional adviser attended.

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We are supporting the SADC food security, training and advisory unit in Harare and have offered further support in the event of any emergency.

Asia: Financial Difficulties

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the likely effects on the economy that will arise from the financial crisis in the Far East; and what steps they have in mind to mitigate these effects, particularly on employment, either separately or jointly within the European Union.[HL116]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Financial difficulties to date in Asia are not expected to have a major direct impact on the UK economy, but the situation is still evolving and is being kept under close scrutiny. The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England will continue to take account of developments in setting interest rates. The UK is playing an important role in helping resolve Asia's financial problems, co-operating closely with Asian countries and fully supporting the IMF in seeking to restore confidence in the region.

Workers in Financial Markets: GNP Estimates

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the activities of those working in financial markets count as productive "work" to be included in measurements of gross national product for use either within the United Kingdom or by international organisations; and how recent activities in financial markets in East Asia figure in measurements of national "growth".[HL41]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. Tim Holt, dated 22 January 1998.

I have been asked to reply, as Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to your recent question on financial markets.

The UK's estimates of gross national product (GNP), which are compiled to international standards and definitions, do include estimates for the output of those working in financial services including the financial markets. In accordance with these definitions, the estimates include financial companies' gross trading profits but these exclude securities dealers holding gains and losses from trading in securities. Therefore, the fall in the value of the East Asian stock markets should not affect GNP estimates directly.

Economic activity which takes place outside of the United Kingdom will only be reported indirectly via the balance of payments. These accounts cover trade in goods and services, investment income from foreign

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direct or portfolio investment and interest from bank loans and deposits, as well as the financial transactions underlying such trade and investment. However, no estimates exist on the likely impact of recent events in East Asian financial markets on the UK's balance of payments.

Economically Significant Work

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 5 November (WA 295) in relation to the work currently being done in the Office of National Statistics on economically significant unpaid work, whether they are content to use as a definition of "working":

    "All those who are


    (1) employees,


    (2) self-employed,


    (3) employees temporarily not at work, or


    (4) those in work-related government training";

    and of "not working" (Written Answer by Mr. Keith Bradley on 10 December (HC Deb. WA 600) those who are:


    "(1) unemployed or


    (2) inactive"

    and, if so, what is their definition of the word "inactive", and whether it includes mothers looking after small children and other carers caring for their families.[HL39]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. Tim Holt, dated 22 January 1998.

I have been asked to reply, as Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), to your recent question on the definitions of working used in analyses recently undertaken in relation to time use.

The internationally standard International Labour Organisation (ILO) categories of economic activity which are generally used by ONS are defined as follows:

Employed: people aged 16 or over who did some paid work for more than one hour, those who had a job that they were temporarily away from (on holiday for example); those on government-supported training and employment programmes; and those doing unpaid work for a family business.

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ILO unemployed: people without a job who were available to start work in two weeks and who had either looked for work in the previous four weeks or who were waiting to start a job they had already obtained.

"Economically active" people are those who are either employed or ILO unemployed.

Economically inactive: people who are neither in employment nor ILO unemployed (which might include mothers looking after small children and other carers caring for their families if they were neither doing paid work nor were ILO unemployed).

The exploratory work currently being undertaken by ONS on time use, recently reported on the amount of paid and unpaid work. The results of this are based on a range of activities undertaken by all respondents over a 24 hour period, divided into 15 minute slots. The respondents were selected to be representative of society at large and will have included both economically active and inactive individuals.

The results in terms of time spent on paid and unpaid work refer to the complete sample. Within this sample mothers with young children, and carers caring for other family members typically registered a range of paid and unpaid activities during the day.

Proposals are currently being developed for a major time use survey to be undertaken, which would enable a more detailed assessment of the scale and nature of unpaid work.

Varicose Vein Treatments: Comparative Trials

Baroness Robson of Kiddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether trials have been conducted by the NHS in order to establish comparative rates of morbidity and mortality following the treatment of varicose veins by:

    (a) surgery; and

    (b) the Fegan compression-sclerotherapy technique;

    and, if not, whether they will encourage the carrying out of such trials.[HL180]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): As part of our national programme for research and development the health technology assessment programme is to commission a three year trial at the University of Sheffield to assess the cost-effectiveness of the treatment of varicose veins. Patients will be randomised to three groups--conservative treatment (lifestyle advice, compression hosiery, etc), injection sclerotherapy, and surgery.

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