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Written Answers

Wednesday, 10th June 1998.

Poverty Elimination Targets

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in putting in place within both bilateral and multilateral overseas aid programmes performance indicators by which progress towards poverty elimination targets can be measured.[HL2118]

Lord Whitty: In the White Paper on International Development the Government have committed themselves to the international development targets (IDTs), based on UN conventions and resolutions, and to measuring progress against these targets. Measuring progress towards the targets, including that of poverty elimination, will require an international effort involving other bilateral and multilateral donors, and our development co-operation partners. The UK is actively involved in the work going on in the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, with other development agencies, and with partner countries, to formulate appropriate indicators. Progress will be assessed as often as practical; movement in some indicators may only be discernible over periods of two to three years. Performance against DFID's own objectives, which closely reflect the IDTs, will be monitored and summarised in the annual departmental report. In addition, the department is working on the design of a new output and performance analysis (OPA) statement, which will be produced annually. The OPA will explicitly link DFID's performance against its objectives with progress towards the targets. It will include indicators of the performance of multilateral development institutions.

Direct causal links between development assistance and the targets may be difficult to trace. No one donor can or should claim sole credit for development outcomes on this scale. But we expect to be able to demonstrate that we continue to have a strongly performing programme, closely focused on our objectives and reflecting our overall aim of poverty elimination. Each project in our portfolio is designed using the logical framework approach, which provides the basis for rigorous monitoring and impact assessment. A clearly defined purpose is identified for each project, along with indicators of achievement and means of verifying these indicators.

Our existing system for assessing the performance and impact of our programme includes project completion reports (PCRs), which are required for projects above £500,000, and ex-post evaluations, which look in detail at the sustainable impact of selected projects. In addition, analysis of performance of ongoing projects is becoming increasingly rigorous.

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Progress on projects above £500,000 is now assessed annually using performance ratings. DFID is developing a computerised performance reporting system for management (PRISM), which will bring together this and other information to facilitate the analysis of departmental impact.

Commonwealth Development Corporation

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the privatisation of the Commonwealth Development Corporation is proceeding; whether the corporation has put forward proposals for offshore status; and how they are ensuring that the corporation remains fully part of their poverty eradication priority in international development programmes.[HL2122]

Lord Whitty: We intend to put legislative proposals to Parliament as early as possible to make CDC into a public/private partnership in order to increase the flow of investment to the least developed countries. Meanwhile, detailed work on the design of the partnership is continuing; tax treatment of CDC relative to similar organisations is one of the issues under consideration. In line with CDC's existing practice, the partnership will be required to make investments consistent with an investment policy which has a particular focus on the poorer developing countries.

Regional Airports: International Access Policy

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What changes they have decided to make to the policy on international access to regional airports in the United Kingdom following the consultation exercise on this issue earlier in the year.[HL2231]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The Government wish to encourage international access to regional airports by pursuing a policy of liberalisation. We have decided that open access to all UK airports, except Heathrow and Gatwick, should be offered to all of our bilateral air services partners, provided that UK airlines are also allowed to operate on the same routes. Officials will be writing to all of our bilateral partners where such access is not already available with details of this change of policy.

This change in policy will allow both UK airlines and the airlines of the country concerned to operate to and from that country on such routes without restrictions on capacity or frequency, and without the need for international aviation negotiations to establish such services. This will enable UK and foreign airlines to

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plan the development of services with confidence that future growth will not be limited by bilateral restrictions.

Air Quality Standards: Expert Panel

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made on the finance, management and policy review of the Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards.[HL2232]

Baroness Hayman: The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) has completed the first stage of the review, and we have decided to continue to sponsor the Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards. In the light of new evidence emerging on the effects of air pollution, and of growing interest in pollutants not yet covered by the panel, we believe that the need for expert advice on these issues remains. The expert panel is best placed to provide that advice. The panel has served the DETR extremely well over the last five years, and we are grateful for its very significant contribution to the development of air quality policy over the last five years.

The DETR will now review how the panel should operate in future, looking at all aspects of its management, including its membership and working procedures and at its work programme for the next five years.

Northern Ireland: Organic Production

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many hectares of land in Northern Ireland have been in (a) organic production and (b) conversion to organic production, in each year since 1988.[HL2063]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs) : Statistics are only available since 1995. These are as follows:

In ProductionIn Conversion
199519156
199616040
199717429
199817229

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland's expenditure on organic farming, including research and development, pilot projects, training, education and administration, in each year since 1988; and what proportion of this expenditure was on projects other than those established by the department. [HL2064]

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Lord Dubs: The Department's expenditure was as follows:

£
1988-89Nil
1989-9032,000
1990-9163,000
1991-9262,000
1992-9361,000
1993-9459,000
1994-958,000
1995-968,000
1996-9712,000
1997-9811,000

There was no expenditure on projects other than those established by the department.

Lord Alderdice asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the total amount paid by the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland to producers for organic production or conversion to organic production in each year since 1988.[HL2065]

Lord Dubs: No payments prior to 1997-98. In that year £2,078.40 was paid for organic conversion under the Organic Aid Scheme.

Northern Ireland: Audio-recording of Police Interviews

Lord Holme of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date they first gave a public undertaking to introduce audio-taping for the interviews of people held in connection with scheduled offences.[HL2067]

Lord Dubs: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland indicated the intention to introduce audio-recording of police interviews of terrorist suspects at the Labour Party's Annual Conference on 30 September 1997. Provision for this was made in the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill, published on 30 October 1997. The Bill received Royal Assent on 8 April 1998.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date they expect to introduce audio-taping for the interviews of people held in connection with scheduled offences, together with an appropriate code for its operation.[HL2068]

Lord Dubs: Preparation of a draft code of practice governing the audio-recording of police interviews with terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland is currently under way; the draft code will be presented for the approval of both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible. Audio-recording will commence as soon as possible thereafter.

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