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International Fund for Needy Victims of Nazi Persecution

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Foreign Secretary has announced that the UK's £1 million contribution to the fund will be divided in the following way: two-thirds will go through the World Jewish Restitution Organisation to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for projects providing medical care to needy survivors of Nazi Persecution in the Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova. The remaining third will go to the Board of Deputies of British Jews for needy survivors in the UK. Non-Jewish survivors will also be able to apply to these organisations for assistance.

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Poland: Outstanding Debt

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have a bilateral debt agreement for £1.576 billion with Poland when no outstanding export credit loan to any other country exceeds £0.5 billion; what transactions this debt covers, and what are its implications for Poland's entry into the European Union and NATO, and consequent need to meet extra expenditure.[HL2518]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) have world wide exposure and commitments to the order of £30 billion. The United Kingdom has signed debt rescheduling agreements with 55 countries involving some £7 billion. The amount outstanding under the Polish debt agreement currently stands at £900 million. It arose following non-payment under a wide range of capital goods contracts entered into by UK companies prior to 1984. Half of the outstanding Polish debt was written off by 1994. The remainder is due to be repaid by 2009. Poland's ECGD exposure places it outside their top ten, and its figure for unrecovered ECGD claims is by no means the highest. The Polish government is maintaining a tight stance on macro-economic policy. Foreign direct investment, which is non-debt creating, remains high (around £4 billion in 1997 and £5.5 billion expected in 1998). We therefore do not expect Poland to experience problems in servicing its debt in connection with its NATO and EU membership preparations.

Attorney General's Office: Reviews

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the reviews currently being undertaken by the Attorney General's Office will be published during the parliamentary summer recess.[HL2780]

The Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Attorney General's Office is not at present undertaking any reviews.

SFO: Disclosure and Statutory Superintendence

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the decision of the Department of Trade and Industry, on the advice of the Serious Fraud Office, not to appeal the 1988 judgment of the Licensed Dealers Tribunal in the matter of TWH Management Ltd., which found, inter alia, that there had been "no false market" and "no breach of the Takeover Code" in certain share transactions, in case failure would have prejudiced the forthcoming Guinness prosecutions, had been discussed with the then Attorney General; and[HL2580]

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    Whether the decision not to disclose to the defendants in the second Guinness appeal in 1996 (despite the undertakings given by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)) the letter of 13 January 1989 from Mrs. J. D. Olson of the SFO to the Department of Trade and Industry advising against any appeal from the judgment of the Licensed Dealers Tribunal in the matter of TWH Management Ltd, in case the forthcoming Guinness prosecutions were prejudiced, was discussed or agreed with the then Attorney General; and[HL2581]

    How many meetings and discussions have been held between employees of the Serious Fraud Office and the Attorney General and his staff on the matter of the Guinness prosecutions and the subsequent appeals; and, further to the Written Answer of the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 30 June (WA 77), whether this involvement indicates more than a "statutory superintendence" role of the Attorney General in the prosecution of the Guinness trials; and[HL2582]

    Whether a failure by the Serious Fraud Office to disclose a relevant document to the defence in criminal proceedings, in breach of undertakings to the court, would fall within the scope of the "statutory superintendence" referred to in the Written Answer of the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 30 June (WA 77).[HL2583]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Attorney General has routine meetings with the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to discuss departmental business, including, in general terms, the conduct of cases of high profile or particular difficulty. These are supplemented by additional meetings to discuss specific cases and issues as appropriate. However, statutory responsibility for the conduct of all cases remains with the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, who, together with her staff and prosecuting counsel, are responsible for day-to-day operation decisions in relation to particular cases.

The Questions tabled by the noble Lord are, in part, hypothetical and in part founded on assertions of fact which I do not necessarily accept. He should seek in the manner set out in my Answer of 30 June 1998, the assistance of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, who can determine the extent to which it is appropriate to respond.

Corporal Punishment

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 25 June (WA 44), whether they intend to protect all children "living away from home" from corporal punishment, as recommended in Sir William Utting's Report People Like Us.[HL2643]

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The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Corporal punishment is not permitted by law, with the exception that a parent or someone acting in loco parentis is entitled to administer corporal punishment which is reasonable in all the circumstances. Legislation prohibits corporal punishment in children's homes, foster care and registered care homes. The Government would not expect any public sector employee to use corporal punishment.

Current legislation does not specifically prevent the use of corporal punishment by private foster carers. Children Act guidance on assessing the suitability of private foster carers states that social workers should explore the (private) foster carers' views on discipline, including their preparedness to accept that corporal punishment is inappropriate for children who are privately fostered. The department is currently reviewing the safeguards around private foster care in the light of recommendations in the report People Like Us.

AIDS: Deaths of Homosexual Men

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many men in the United Kingdom died of AIDS as a result of homosexual intercourse in each of the three most recent years for which figures are available.[HL2682]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Public Health Laboratory Service routine HIV/AIDS surveillance reports indicate that the numbers of reported male deaths due to AIDS where infection was associated with sex between men were:

    1995: 967

    1996: 750

    1997: 280 The reduction over these three years is thought to be due to the introduction of highly active antiretroviral treatment. However, the 1997 figure may be artificially low due to delay in ascertainment of deaths.

AIDS Death and Age of Consent

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the effect on the number of men in the United Kingdom likely to die from AIDS as a result of homosexual intercourse if the age of consent were lowered to 16 years; and, if so, what were the main conclusions of these studies.[HL2683]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We are not aware of any research carried out in this area.

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Powered Indoor/Outdoor Wheelchairs

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funding arrangements exist for indoor and outdoor powered wheelchair provision in the United Kingdom; and[HL2742]

    Whether the budget for the provision of indoor and outdoor powered wheelchairs remains ring-fenced.[HL2743]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Additional funding has been made available to health authorities since 1996-97 specifically to meet the cost of the introduction of powered indoor/outdoor wheelchair provision. The additional funding has been allocated in phased amounts each year as services have built up over time. The current intention is to add the money recurrently to health authority baselines from 1999-2000.

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What performance management procedures exist for the indoor and outdoor powered wheelchair funding scheme and the separate wheelchair voucher scheme.[HL2744]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Statistical information on the implementation of the two wheelchair initiatives is collected on a quarterly basis and is monitored by the National Health Service Executive. Progress on implementation is also performance-managed through NHS Executive regional offices. Regional Directors of Performance Management have recently been reminded of the importance of ensuring implementation of these changes for service users.

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