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Poor Countries: Debt Relief

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Five countries have now reached decision point under the enhanced HIPC initiative (Uganda, Bolivia, Mauritania, Tanzania and Mozambique) and are receiving debt relief. All five benefit from the UK Government's decision to provide 100 per cent relief to countries qualifying under the HIPC initiative.

G7 Finance Ministers, meeting in Washington at the time of the IMF Spring Meeting last month, reaffirmed their wish to see the IMF, the World Bank and eligible countries co-operate closely to secure the implementation of the HIPC initiative with the aim that the eligible countries reach their decision point by the end of 2000, in line with the Cologne target (three-quarters of eligible countries).

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much of the 100 billion US dollars in debt relief announced at the G8 summit in Cologne last year had already been promised under the Naples terms; how much has not been delivered; and, in the case of Tanzania, what has been its reduction in debt service under the latest Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.[HL2329]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of the $100 billion of debt relief promised under the enhanced HIPC initiative, approximately $30 billion will be provided as relief under traditional debt relief mechanisms (Naples terms rescheduling from Paris Club creditors). The remaining $70 billion of debt relief will further reduce the debts of countries that would otherwise have had unsustainable debt burdens remaining, even after traditional debt relief mechanisms.

In the case of Tanzania, the assistance provided by the HIPC Initiative will amount to $2 billion--more than half of the country's total debt. The assistance provided by the IMF will cover on average 58 per cent of debt-service obligations to the Fund and the World Bank's assistance will cover over 69 per cent of Tanzania's debt service obligations to the Bank. Overall, the assistance provided under the HIPC Initiative will mean that Tanzania's ratio of debt service to exports will fall from 25 per cent to approximately 9.5 per cent in 2000-01 and then to 5 per cent in the future.

Gold Reserves: Sale

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the analysis of the World Gold Council that the Chancellor's decision to sell to date 120 tonnes of the United Kingdom's gold reserves has cost £25 million.[HL2424]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The UK's programme of gold sales were part of a prudent medium term programme to restructure the reserves which aims to achieve a better balance in the Government's portfolio. There will be times when currencies depreciate and times when they appreciate. Having a diversified portfolio avoids being too exposed to any one asset.

Aldershot Garrison

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Aldershot Military Garrison or parts of it are being prepared for sale.[HL2026]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): There are currently no plans to sell any Army Estate within the Aldershot Garrison. A scoping study is under way, however, to explore the possibility of redeveloping Aldershot Garrison through a Public Private Partnership project, and it is conceivable that this may identify surplus land. The feasibility stage of this study is not due to report until the end of this year.

General Social Care Council

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to establish the General Social Care Council.[HL2517]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We propose to establish the General Social Care Council on 1 October 2001.

Originally, we had intended to establish the new council on 1 April 2001. However, the GSCC Advisory Group, set up to consider the requirements for a well functioning council, has recommended October 2001 as a more appropriate start date. This will allow sufficient time to complete the many tasks that have to be undertaken for the council to begin its important work. The Care Standards Bill, which is currently before this House, proposes vital functions for the GSCC that will increase the level of safety offered to the public. We see it as being in the best interests of the public and the GSCC itself that sufficient time is allowed in order to deliver a council that is ready and able to take forward these vital functions.

The GSCC Advisory Group will be continuing its role until the council is established in shadow form.

Food Origin Labelling

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 8 May (WA 207), whether they have specifically raised within the European Union

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    the question whether all meat products will be separately identified in the same manner as beef.[HL2392]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have raised the need for a review of origin labelling rules with the European Commission and other member states. This review would include consideration of meat products. We have also raised the issue in the wider international forum of the Code Alimentarius Commission's Committee on Food Labelling.

Young Asylum-seekers:Faster Decision-making

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make it a priority to speed up the processing of asylum claims of young asylum seekers over and above those of other applicants.[HL2367]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The need to speed up the processing of asylum claims of young people has already been recognised and a dedicated team was established at the end of March this year to deal with these applications. The Integrated Casework Directorate is looking at ways of speeding up the decision-making process for these cases still further and to speed up asylum decision-making as a whole.

State Pension: Investment Equivalent

Lord Blackwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the annual sum that would need to be invested during a normal working lifetime to accumulate a capital sum on retirement that would secure the equivalent income from investments to that promised by the current state pension.[HL2343]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): It is estimated that a man would need to save about £450 a year and a woman about £750 a year over a full working life (49 years for a man and 44 years for a woman) to save a capital sum that would generate an income in retirement equal to the basic state pension.

Lord Blackwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the capital sum that would need to be given to a pensioner retiring today to enable him to secure the equivalent income from investments to that promised by the current state pension.[HL2342]

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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It is estimated that a man aged 65 would need a capital sum of about £50,000 and a woman aged 60 about £70,000 to secure an income in retirement equal to the basic state pension.

Act of Union: Bicentenary

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 16 March (WA 230), which indicated that relations with the Irish Government were a factor to be taken into account in their decision not to mark the bicentenary of the creation of the United Kingdom, and in view of the fact that the Irish Government is holding events to mark the bicentenary, why they consider that relations with that Government would be damaged if they were to mark the bicentenary.[HL2271]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my noble friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 9 May, Official Report, col. 1364.

As we have made clear, although we have no plans at present for a formal commemoration of the 200th anniversary on the 1801 Act of Union we fully recognise the historic significance of that Act. We do not believe that our bilateral relations with Ireland would suffer as a result of marking the bicentenary. However, it is the long established practice of the Government to take into account the views of its partners on all matters that might have a bearing on international relations.

Kashmir

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the tension on the line of control between India and Pakistan.[HL2310]

Baroness Scotland of Asthad: The tension in Kashmir, including along the Line of Control, is a cause for concern. We continue to encourage India and Pakistan to find, through dialogue, a just and lasting solution acceptable to the people of Kashmir.


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