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27 Feb 1998 : Column WA117

Written Answers

Friday, 27th February 1998.

Overseas Development Minister: New Statesman Interview

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement made in the New Statesman on 24 February by the Secretary of State for Overseas Development regarding single mothers working whilst on benefit was passed by the Strategic Communications Unit.[HL721]

Lord Whitty: The Secretary of State for International Development gave a wide ranging interview to the political editor of the New Statesman, which was published in its 20 February edition. I recommend that the noble Baroness read the interview. She may find it interesting to compare its content with some of the news reports of the interview.

Press Activity: Effect on Court Cases

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have accepted the recommendations of the National Heritage Committee in their report of press activity affecting court cases.[HL747]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Government is committed to obtaining an appropriate balance between the due administration of justice on the one hand and freedom of speech on the other. It has concluded that the committee's recommendations maintain that balance and has therefore accepted them in principle.

The Report recommended

(i) that there should be legislation forbidding payments to witnesses, and

(ii) that Section 2 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 should be strengthened so that it covers the collective or cumulative effect of pre-trial publicity in risking prejudicing a trial, as well as the effect of individual articles. This means that newspapers could not escape liability, as one case held they could, because a number of them had acted in a similar way and together had caused the prejudice.

Work is proceeding on the form which the necessary legislation should take. It will be brought forward when a suitable opportunity is found.

International Criminal Court: Sixth Preparatory Meeting

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament copies of documents to be considered at the Sixth Session of the Preparatory

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    Committee on the International Criminal Court, which meets from 16 March to 3 April; and whether they will publish a paper summarising the main issues still to be decided and the position of the United Kingdom on each of them.[HL638]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The only document to be considered at the Sixth Session of the Preparatory Committee which we have yet received is the report of the intersessional meeting from 19 to 30 January 1998 in Zutphen, The Netherlands. This report contains the draft Statute for the International Criminal Court. It is available on the Internet at http://www.igc.apc.org/icc. We placed a statement of Her Majesty's Government's policy on the International Criminal Court in the Libraries of the House on 24 February.

Algeria

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the evidence of state-sponsored disappearances in Algeria presented in the Human Rights Watch report Algeria: neither among the living nor the dead; and whether they will take any of the actions recommended in this report.[HL639]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We continue to be concerned about allegations of human rights violations in Algeria, including those contained in the latest Human Rights Watch report, and raise these concerns as part of our ongoing dialogue with the Algerian Government.

Iraq: Oil-for-Food Programme

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the United Nations' report on the implementation of the oil-for-food programme in Iraq; and whether they have made any independent assessment.[HL705]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We welcome the Secretary-General's report on the implementation of oil-for-food. His recommendations to improve and enhance the oil-for-food arrangements were embodied in Security Council Resolution 1153, adopted on 20 February, which was drafted by the UK.

The UK has been at the forefront of provisions to help the Iraqi people. We have consistently co-sponsored oil-for-food resolutions.

We have also provided £94 million in humanitarian aid since 1991, making us the second largest donor country.

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General Medical Services Funding

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what basis resources for general medical services (formerly administered by Family Health Service Authorities) are allocated to health authorities at present; and whether changes are contemplated that will more accurately reflect and cater for the increased needs of deprived populations than the current system of deprivation payments to general practitioners, based on Under-Privileged Area (Jarman) scores.[HL728]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): At present most general medical services expenditure is non cash-limited or demand-led and is funded nationally rather than from moneys allocated to health authorities. Cash-limited funds are allocated to health authorities according to a weighted capitation formula. Deprivation payments are made from non cash-limited funds and the Government are considering ways in which a more effective use of deprivation payments can be achieved.

Abortion Policy

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 16 February (WA 6-7), what is the total amount given to each of the organisations listed in that Answer since 1968.[HL709]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I regret that this information could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Brook Advisory Centres

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What role they envisage for the Brook Advisory Centres in delivering their target for reducing the rate of conceptions for girls below the age of 16 as outlined in The New NHS: Modern and Dependable.[HL724]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: In November 1997 the Government announced the development of a national programme to tackle the high rate of teenage conceptions in England. The principal aim of this programme is to reduce the number of teenage conceptions by supporting young people in deferring sexual activity and improving access to advice and counselling services, including contraception for those who are sexually active.

A consultation exercise on the national programme is currently under way. A wide range of organisations and individuals have been and will continue to be involved. These include professionals in primary and community health, education and social services as well as

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representatives of voluntary, community and user groups.

Local Brook Advisory Centres, along with other local services, can play a significant role in providing services for young people.

Zyloric Acid Tablets

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether doctors are entitled to prescribe 100mg and 200mg Zyloric acid tablets to National Health Service patients; how many such tablets were prescribed in 1996 and 1997; and what is the price per 100 tablets that the National Health Service pays the manufacturer.[HL720]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Doctors may prescribe Zyloric tablets on the National Health Service, but there is no 200mg preparation in tablet form. In 1996, 1.7 million 100mg Zyloric acid tablets and 3.3 million 300mg tablets were dispensed in the community in England. The net ingredient cost of 100 tablets was £10.96 for 100mg tablets and £28.07 for the 300mg tablets.

Information for the whole of 1997 is not yet available.

Reproductive Health Funding

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied that the funds they provide to organisations involved in the provisions of services, advice and information on reproductive health are not used by those organisations to campaign for the liberalisation of the abortion laws in Great Britain or abroad.[HL711]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government do not fund any organisation to campaign for or against abortion. Funding, via the Section 64 schemes and equivalent Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish schemes, is provided to assist national voluntary organisations with their central administrative costs. A number of grants are also awarded for projects which are innovative and of potential national significance, or which further the department's policy objectives by developing a particular pattern of service.

The Department for International Development funds a number of organisations involved in the provision of services, advice and information on reproductive health in poorer countries, including the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. These organisations are opposed to the promotion of abortion as a method of family planning.

We are not aware of any organisation receiving funding using it to campaign for the liberalisation of abortion laws in Great Britain or abroad.

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