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26 May 1999 : Column WA89

Written Answers

Wednesday, 26th May 1999.

Kosovo Refugee Return

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement in paragraph 6 of the report by the Secretary of State for International Development of the meeting of the French, German, Italian, United Kingdom and United States development Ministers in London on 22 April on the subject of Kosovo refugee return that all partners intend to work for strong international financial institutions and European Union support for countries of the region indicates that the United States does not propose to participate except through the international financial institutions.[HL2571]

Baroness Amos: The statement in paragraph 6 of the report does not indicate that the United States intends to participate in support to countries of the region only through the international financial institutions. Indeed, all those countries that attended the meeting on 22 April are expected both to work for strong multilateral support to the countries in the region through the international financial institutions and the EU and to provide bilateral assistance.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement in paragraph 5 of the report by the Secretary of State for International Development of the meeting of the French, German, Italian, United Kingdom and United States development Ministers in London on 22 April on the subject of Kosovo refugee return, recommending the exploration of whether NATO humanitarian assistance could be brought into effect more quickly in Albania, has been put into effect.[HL2570]

Baroness Amos: NATO (AFOR) is working in co-operation with UNHCR and the Government of Albania in the humanitarian effort to support refugees and communities hosting refugees. NATO is liaising closely with the Emergency Management Group which is co-ordinating humanitarian operations. NATO assistance is taking the form of food delivery, refugee transport, humanitarian flight handling and infrastructure repairs. Military personnel are also actively involved in site identification and camp construction.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement in paragraph 2 of the report by the Secretary of State for International Development of the meeting of the French, German, Italian, United Kingdom and United States development Ministers in London on 22 April on the subject of Kosovo refugee return that it is important to avoid arrangements which favour one section such as the Kosovo Liberation Army above others indicates that they have been avoided.[HL2569]

26 May 1999 : Column WA90

Baroness Amos: The statement in paragraph 2 of the report makes the point that finalising longer-term democratic structures too soon after the successful conclusion of the military campaign risks excluding some elements of Kosovar society. It could, for example, take time for all refugees to return home and to participate in the democratic process. We intend to avoid setting up arrangements which favour one group over another.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposal in paragraph 2 of the report of the Secretary of State for International Development of the meeting of the French, German, Italian, United Kingdom and United States development Ministers in London on 22 April on the subject of Kosovo refugee return, to the effect that NATO should be reinforced by providing humanitarian experts who could ensure that humanitarian and military aspects were properly linked, has been put into effect.[HL2568]

Baroness Amos : The Government are committed to advising and co-operating with the humanitarian assistance efforts of NATO forces in the region. To this end, the Department for International Development (DfID) has two NATO liaison officers working with Kosovo Force and Albania Force to strengthen the civil-military relationship and promote effective co-ordination in the plans for refugee return.

China Western Poverty Reduction Project

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the population transfer aspects of the proposed China Western Poverty Reduction Project have been the subject of local consultation in accordance with World Bank guidelines; whether environmental assessment of the project has been published; and, if either of these conditions has not been satisfied, whether they will instruct the United Kingdom Director of the World Bank to vote for reference of the project to the inspection panel.[HL2618]

Baroness Amos: The World Bank's staff appraisal report on this project has yet to issue, and DfID officials are seeking information from bank staff in Washington. As this is classified as a category B project for environmental purposes, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been carried out. This has been published only in Chinese in China. We expect an English version to be available shortly.

The independent inspection panel investigates complaints from private individuals (or civil society organisations on their behalf) who believe they have been or will be harmed by a bank supported project because the bank has not followed its own policies and procedures. It is then for the panel to decide whether the request for an inspection is within its mandate.

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Kosovo Refugees: UNHCR Capacity

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether funding, staffing and programming by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Macedonia and Albania are adequate; and, if not, whether they can help further to strengthen existing HCR capacity.[HL2623]

Baroness Amos: The Government continue to offer and to provide assistance to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to strengthen its in-country operating capacity to deal with the outflow of refugees from Kosovo. We are funding a series of airlifts (over 50 to date and further flights are planned) to enable UNHCR, as well as other operational agencies, to deploy quickly personnel and relief supplies to the region. The Department for International Development (DfID) has set up a logistics cell at Tirana airport to speed up the flow of aid into Albania and provided a similar aircraft handling team for Skopje airport. We have provided two convoys of 14 trucks and drivers to strengthen UNHCR's relief operations in Albania. DfID, through its humanitarian support offices in Skopje and Tirana and its London staff, continues to work closely with UNHCR to identify further ways in which we can support its work.

Public Bodies: Minority Representation

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is being taken to increase the representation of women, members of the ethnic minority groups and disabled people on the boards of public bodies.[HL2683]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): In June 1998, the Government launched a new initiative to increase the participation of under-represented groups in public life. Details of the Government's plan of action, including individual departmental plans, were published in Quangos: Opening Up Public Appointments, copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.

The action plan has now been updated. This requires all departments to continue their work towards the equal representation of women and men in public appointments, a pro-rata representation of members of ethnic minority groups and the increased participation of disabled people in public life. Individual departmental plans have also been updated and contain specific goals and objectives for the period 1999-2002. The revised plans were published yesterday, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The plans will also be made available electronically on the Internet.

26 May 1999 : Column WA92

Northern Ireland: Religious Studies Examinations

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many students in Northern Ireland completed the religious studies examinations at both GCSE and A-level set by the Council for Curriculum, Examination and Assessment for the years 1988 to 1998.[HL2492]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): The available information is as follows (figures supplied by the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)):

YearGCSEGCE A-levelGCE AS-level
198810,444675--
198911,330768--
199010,66681184
19916,928938148
19927,1531,006147
19937,3931,234145
19947,7271,247107
19957,2931,21686
19967,0961,31890
19976,4471,419106
19986,5241,453103

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consultations have taken place between the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland and the four main Churches in the Province over the past three years with particular regard to the review of the A-level syllabus and the provision of the A and AS syllabuses, in view of the responsibilities these Churches have for the core programme in religious education in the years prior to these examinations.[HL2493]

Lord Dubs: The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has informed me that a major consultation on proposals for a new advanced level syllabus took place in 1996, the results of which were reported to CCEA's then Religious Education Committee. Membership of that group was based on nominations from a wide range of bodies reflecting the various religious traditions in Northern Ireland.

CCEA has also indicated that the last formal contact with representatives of the four main Churches was in April 1997 when among other matters an opportunity was taken to discuss the developments taking place in the A-level arena.


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