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21 Mar 2000 : Column WA17

Written Answers

Tuesday, 21st March 2000.

UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture: UK Contribution

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the amount of the United Kingdom's contribution to the United Nations' Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture; and how does the rate of contribution compare with contributions made by other comparable countries.[HL1539]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The United Kingdom's contribution to the United Nations' Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture was £130,000 in 1999. The UK's contribution was the second largest in 1999. The UK's contribution in 1998 (£130,000) was the third largest.

Select Committee on Human Rights: Legal Adviser

Lord Archer of Sandwell asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Further to his Answers of 17 February (WA 161), whether a Legal Adviser to the proposed Joint Select Committee on Human Rights has been appointed.[HL1639]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): Yes. Professor David Feldman, currently Barber Professor of Jurisprudence and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Birmingham, has been appointed with effect from 1 September 2000. If a committee is appointed before that date, Professor Feldman will be available to assist it on an ad hoc basis.

Job Applicants: Sexual Orientation

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their views on the growing practice by employers of asking for details on job applicants' sexual orientation; whether they will make it clear that employers should not discriminate against a job applicant who declines to give this information; and whether they have taken advice on the compatibility of this practice with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL1487]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government encourage employers to ensure that they do not discriminate in their recruitment processes. I understand that some employers may consider it appropriate to monitor applications with a view to

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ensuring that discrimination does not take place in their recruitment procedures. Some job applicants will feel, however, that their sexual orientation is not something a prospective employer need be aware of, and no employer should discriminate against applicants who choose not to declare their sexual orientation for whatever reason.

Individual employers should seek legal advice on whether this practice complies with the Human Rights Act and other laws.

Spoliation Advisory Panel

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the names of those who have been appointed to the Spoliation Advisory Panel; and whether the members represent organisations or have been appointed in an independent capacity.[HL1357]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport expects to announce details of the membership of the panel within a very few weeks. Members will not be representing interested organistations but will be appointed in an independent capacity, with expertise and experience relevant to the work of the panel.

"Family": Definition for Tax Purposes

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the definition of "family" used by the Inland Revenue.[HL1500]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: There is no statutory definition of family in the Taxes Acts.

For the purpose of Working Families' and Disabled Person's Tax Credit, family is defined as a married or unmarried couple responsible for a child, or a young person in non-advanced education, who is a member of the same household for whom at least one of them is responsible, or as a lone parent who is responsible for such a child or young person.

Army Cadet Force

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present strength of the Army Cadet Force in the United Kingdom; in which three counties it is strongest; and in which three counties it is weakest.[HL1484]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The latest available statistics give the total strength of the Army Cadet Forces as 42,550. The three Army Cadet Force contingents that are strongest numerically are:

Humberside and South Yorkshire17,079
Yorkshire North and West14,016
Leicestershire and Northamptonshire13,051

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The three Army Cadet Force contingents that are weakest numerically, excluding the Isle of Man, the Orkneys and the Shetlands, are:

Gwynedd362
Bedfordshire362
Powys436

These statistics are as at 31 December 1999; this is the latest date for which the statistics are available.

Military Support for Relief Work

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they are putting in place to ensure rapid and effective contributions by the Armed Services to relief work in humanitarian emergencies wherever they occur.[HL1422]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are well-established procedures between the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence for calling on military support for relief work in overseas humanitarian emergencies. These procedures are reviewed as a matter of routine following every operation.

Services Cotswold Centre

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Services Cotswold Centre is to close; if so, (a) how they propose to provide in one place the services for families suffering marital breakdown or other turbulence--for example, a creche, counselling and a small school for stressed children, as well as accommodation; and (b) what saving the closure represents; and whether the money is being ring-fenced for family welfare.[HL1434]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government reaffirm their high regard for the work of the Services Cotswold Centre on behalf of Army families. The Centre is, however, under-utilised and a working group has recently been set up to explore alternative means of providing the service and to identify a solution that offers better value for money. The centre will not be closed until an appropriate alternative solution is in place. I shall write further to the noble Baroness when the position is clearer and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

War Widows' Pensions

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Ministry of Defence widows under the age of 60 are in receipt of both a Forces Family Pension and an attributable Forces Family Pension.[HL1472]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are no widows in receipt of both a Forces Family Pension and an attributable Forces Family Pension. A widow may receive either a Forces Family Pension or an attributable Forces Family Pension from the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, but not both. A widow of a serviceman who dies for reasons attributable to service may receive a family pension from the AFPS and a War Widow's Pension from the DSS War Pension Scheme.

Armed Forces' Meat Supplies

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will require the Ministry of Defence to buy British chicken, lamb, beef and pigmeat; and, if not, why not.[HL1492]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The supply of food to our Armed Forces is contracted out to "3663". The MoD does not specify the source from which our contractor should obtain meat (or any other products) but expects them to seek the best market price, consistent with meeting our quality standards; indeed to do otherwise would contravene European law. I am as keen, however, on seeing our servicemen and women eating British products as I am for our contractor to secure the best value for money. Accordingly, our contractor is required specifically to give full consideration to British products, which we look to them to buy wherever they are competitive. Currently all beef for consumption by our UK-based service personnel is British. In addition, 100 per cent of our pork; some 50 per cent of our bacon and gammon; and 30 per cent of our chicken is being sourced in the UK.

Northern Ireland: Smoking-related Deaths

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many deaths due to smoking related causes occurred in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years.[HL1462]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: The number of deaths due to smoking related causes for each year from 1989 up to 1998, the latest year for which such information is available, is as follows:

Number
19891,972
19901,883
19911,873
19921,896
19931,931
19941,891
19951,843
19961,855
19971,824
19981,778


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