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6 Jul 2000 : Column WA147

Written Answers

Thursday, 6th July 2000.

HIPCs: Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has so far been made with the initiative by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to encourage impoverished states to produce Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers.[HL3091]

Baroness Amos: The enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, agreed in September 1999, made a direct link between debt relief and poverty reduction. As a result, all countries that are eligible for World Bank concessional lending are producing a national Poverty Reduction Strategy. These strategies will be presented as part of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) to the Boards of the World Bank and the IMF for endorsement as the basis for lending programmes. The UK will use PRSPs as the framework for our assistance and we encourage other donors to do the same.

Good poverty reduction strategies take time to produce. To qualify for HIPC debt relief, which begins at Decision Point, countries need only produce an interim PRSP. Interim PRSPs should map out how a country will draw up a full PRSP, which should be in place, and being implemented, at Completion Point. The Joint Implementation Committee, which oversees progress on the HIPC Initiative, is also taking an interest in how the Bank and Fund are taking forward PRSPs.

The World Bank and the IMF have undertaken a lot of work to develop their thinking on PRSPs through workshops and the production of guidance to staff. This new approach requires the acquisition of new skills and adoption of a more facilitative approach so that countries have ownership of their poverty reduction strategies.

Eritrea: Food Relief

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take, either alone or in conjunction with other donors, to meet the severe food shortage in Eritrea which is expected to result from population displacement from agricultural areas during the recent conflict.[HL3081]

Baroness Amos: The EC is providing a total of 65,400 metric tonnes of cereals to be delivered to Eritrea this year. The UK contributes 17 per cent of the cost.

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In addition, the UK has committed humantarian assistance worth £885,000 to help meet the needs of the internally displaced in Eritrea so far this year, with a further £250,000 for Eritrean refugees in Sudan.

Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 173), what type and make of cars are used by the Cabinet Office.[HL2888]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government Car and Despatch Agency operates a fleet of 190 cars, on behalf of all government departments, as shown in the table below. Seven of these vehicles are owned by the GCDA but operated by the Cabinet Office (Infrastructure Division).

ManufacturerModelNumberCountry of Manufacture
Rover800/Sterling series35United Kingdom
400 series6United Kingdom
R451United Kingdom
Discovery2United Kingdom
JaguarJaguar/Daimler11United Kingdom
Limousine1United Kingdom
Vectra29United Kingdom
Cavalier1United Kingdom
NissanPrimera5United Kingdom

In addition, one vehicle is leased by the Cabinet Office (Infrastructure Division) from Lex, which was made in the UK; one car is leased by the Civil Service College from A.A. Clark Ltd, which was made in the EU. The Cabinet Office Security Facilities Division also leases 23 cars--five Ford Mondeos, 14 Ford Escorts, four Vauxhall Astras and one Peugeot 406.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 14th June (WA 203) on the type and make of cars used by the Law Officers' department, what types, makes and numbers of cars are supplied to the Law Officers' Department by the Government Car and Despatch Agency.[HL 3155]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my right honourable and learned friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

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Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale on 22 June (WA 40) on the type and make of cars used by the Scottish Office, what types, makes and number of cars are supplied to the Scottish Office by the Government Car and Despatch Agency for the use of Ministers and senior officials; and[HL 3162]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale on 22 June, what type, make and number of cars in each category are provided under contract by the Government Car and Despatch Agency for the use of Ministers and senior officials in the Scottish Office.[HL 3017]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I refer to the Answer given today by my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thornton about the cars supplied by the Government Car and Despatch Agency.

The agency provides two Rover saloons for the use of Scotland Office Ministers in London. The Government Car Service (Scotland), which is part of the Scottish Executive, also provides a range of cars for some UK Ministers in Scotland, Scottish Executive Ministers and others, including, where necessary, cars under contract from local private companies.

Scotland Office: Staff Numbers

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the number of staff in the Scotland Office immediately after the transfer of responsibilities to the Scottish Parliament and Executive; and what is the number now.[HL 3010]

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Following internal assessment, the Secretary of State and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury agreed that the size of the new Scotland Office should enable the Secretary of State and the Advocate General properly to discharge their functions. The agreement assumed that the office would build up to between 110-130 staff. On 1 July 1999 the Scotland Office (including the office of the Advocate General for Scotland) had 56 staff. There are currently 92 staff in post.

Young Males: Convictions

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of men under the age of 30 have a criminal record according to the latest figures available; what were the comparable figures 10 years previously; and what were the main categories of offence that men committed.[HL3053]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The latest research, based upon an analysis of convictions for standard list offences for males born in 1953, 1958, 1963 and 1968 is shown in the following table.

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Percentage with conviction by Year of birth
the age of1953195819631968

The principal offence (which is the offence for which the most severe sentence was given) at the first court appearance for those born in 1953 is shown in the following table.

Offence groupPercentage with principal offence at first court appearance in each group %
Violence against the person 9.4
Sexual offences 3.0
Robbery 0.6
Theft and handling50.2
Fraud and forgery 3.9
Criminal damage10.2
Drug offences 4.1
Other offences 5.1

Refugee Legal Centre: Funding

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to reach a decision on Section 23 grant-in-aid for the Refugee Legal Centre for the years 2000-01.[HL3014]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate is undergoing a period of rapid growth and expansion. The overall budget for financial year 2000-2001 remains under review but there is a provisional allocation of £6.681 million for grants for immigration advice and assistance under the terms of Section 23 of the Immigration Act 1971.

Officials are continuing to discuss the needs of the Refugee Legal Centre, which are also under review, and a final allocation will be given as soon as possible.

Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the protection offered to asylum seekers from Sri Lanka with a history of torture in the light of the report published by the Medical Foundation, Caring for the Victims of Torture.[HL3083]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: All asylum caseworkers receive training and instructions in dealing with applicants who are victims of torture. Any evidence of torture will be taken very seriously and caseworkers are aware of the need for sensitivity when interviewing victims of torture, as well as the United Kingdom's obligations to protect victims of torture. If there are grounds to believe that a person will, if returned, be

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subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, it would be inappropriate to remove them. In such cases, if the applicant does not qualify for asylum, a grant of exceptional leave would be considered.

Previous Medical Foundation reports have been referred to, and drawn upon, in the Home Office country assessment used by caseworkers since October 1998, and also in the latest assessment of April 2000. We are carefully considering the information provided in the latest Medical Foundation report, and will continue to engage in constructive discussions with all parties who have information on conditions in Sri Lanka.

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