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19 Jul 2000 : Column WA93

Written Answers

Wednesday, 19th July 2000.

UNHCR: Administrative Expenditure

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What amounts were paid by the United Nations to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to cover administrative expenditure in the last three years for which accounts are available.[HL3211]

Baroness Amos: We understand that, over the last three years (1998-2000), UNHCR received a total of US$66,918,423 from the Regular Budget of the United Nations to cover the cost of some 220 administrative posts. This was broken down as follows:


    1998: US$23,304,500


    1999: US$23,259,223


    2000: US$20,354,700

Sudan

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to increase funding for English language learning projects in Sudan.[HL3358]

Baroness Amos: There are no English language learning projects in Sudan funded by Her Majesty's Government. We provide assistance for humanitarian emergencies through the United Nations and international non-governmental organisations and will continue to do so.

Mr Mohamed Omer Haji

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, on humanitarian grounds, they are taking up with the government of Yemen the case of Mr Mohamed Omer Haji, a Somali refugee, facing possible execution for apostasy from Islam.[HL3288]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Our Ambassador in Sana'a raised the case of Mohamed Omer Haji with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah al-Sayedi on 9 July and made clear our concerns. We understand that Mohamed Omer Haji has not yet been sentenced. The court in Aden convened on 12 July and was immediately adjourned. The next hearing is due to take place on 19 July. We will continue to monitor the case and stand ready to raise the matter again with the Yemeni Government.

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Belize: Border Dispute

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received about the Belize-Guatemala border dispute.[HL3356]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Prime Minister of Belize raised the dispute during his visit to the UK on 13-18 June. He met my right honourable friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Development Secretary and my honourable friends Mr Battle, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State, and Mr Spellar, Armed Forces Minister.

As all Ministers he met made clear, the UK fully supports Belize's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We welcome the talks currently taking place between Belize and Guatemala under the auspices of the Organisation of American States. We also welcome the meeting that took place on 7 July between the Guatemalan and Belizian military, and hope that this signals the full resumption of peaceful military to military contacts, and a positive dialogue to resolve this dispute.

Afghanistan: Export of Demining Equipment

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have issued an export licence for mine-clearance equipment to Afghanistan.[HL3410]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Following consultations with this department and the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry recently issued a licence for the export of mine clearance equipment for the use by the HALO Trust to aid their demining activities in Afghanistan. This licence was granted for humanitarian purposes. This decision does not affect the Government's continued support for the EU Common Position on arms exports to Afghanistan.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their current policy towards the British Indian Ocean Territory.[HL3411]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The territory's immigration laws and policy are currently the subject of an action in the High Court. We are aware that some of the Ilois community have expressed an interest in returning to settle on the outer islands of the archipelago. We have been studying the feasibility of settlement on the outer islands, which have been uninhabited for 30 years, and the potential environmental impact. This work is not complete and we will continue it.

Recently we have sponsored a group of Ilois to visit the outer islands to see conditions there for themselves.

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We shall maintain our sovereignty over the BIOT as for as long as our treaty obligations require it. Thereafter, we stand by the undertaking we have made that we would cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius.

Merrywood School, Bristol

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the date when the Secretary of State for Education made the decision to close Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol.[HL3350]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment reached his decision on Bristol's proposals to close Merrywood School on 10 April 2000.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol will help to reduce the number of accidents to children travelling to and from school.[HL3351]

Baroness Blackstone: In reaching his decision on the proposals to close Merrywood School, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment fully considered all the information available to him. The safety of routes to alternative schools was not raised as an issue by objectors to the proposals. Funding is, however, to be made available to improve vehicular access to one of the receiving schools: Hengrove Secondary. Bristol Local Education Authority's transport policy will apply.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussions they have had concerning the playing fields of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol.[HL3352]

Baroness Blackstone: I am not aware of any discussions having taken place regarding Merrywood's playing fields. As the noble Lord is aware, the Government are committed to preventing the indiscriminate disposal of school playing fields and want to ensure that playing fields needed by schools and local communities are retained. To this end, the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requires local authorities to obtain the written consent of the Secretary of State before disposing, or changing the use, of any playing field that has been used by a maintained school in the past 10 years. I can confirm that no application has been received from Bristol to dispose, or change the use, of the playing fields at the Merrywood School.

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Non-food Crops: Consultation

Lord Elder asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the response to the consultation on non-food crops launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 7 April.[HL3436]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Thirty-seven replies were received to this consultation, and we have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of the House, and also to be made available for public inspection in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's library at Whitehall Place, The proposal for a government-industry forum on non-food crops was widely welcomed. The Government are now studying the responses in detail and considering how to put the proposals into effect.

Pesticides Safety Directorate: Annual Report

Lord Elder asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the 1999-2000 annual report for the Pesticides Safety Directorate. [HL3437]

Baroness Hayman: The 1999-2000 annual report and accounts for the Pesticides Safety Directorate were laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Defence Evaluation and Research Agency: Key Targets

Lord Gordon of Strathblane asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What key targets have been set for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency for the financial year 2000-2001. [HL3394]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Key targets set for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency for the financial year 2000-2001 are set out as follows. Key Target 1 Consistent with Treasury requirements, to achieve at least a 6 per cent return on capital employed. Key Target 2 To increase new business income (from customers other than the UK MoD) from £137 million forecast to be achieved in 1999-2000 to £165 million. Key Target 3 To increase the number of staff elected as fellows of professional bodies by 5 per cent from a baseline at 31 March 2000.

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Key Target 4 To achieve on time 90 per cent of the agreed milestones on work for MoD customers. Key Target 5 To maintain the level of MoD customer satisfaction as measured by core questions. Key Target 6 Over a period of three years (1998-1999 to 2000-2001), to achieve a 20 per cent increase in peer reviewed publications per professional. For 2000-2001, this translates into achieving a figure of 7.1 publications per 100 professionals from a baseline at 1 April 2000 of 6.3. Key Target 7 Over a three-year period from 1998-1999 to 2000-2001), to increase by 50 per cent the number of scientific teams assessed as "world-class" in the technical assessment exercise. For 2000-2001, this translates into achieving 24 from a current baseline at 1 April 2000 of 19.


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