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24 Oct 2000 : Column WA17

Written Answers

Tuesday, 24th October 2000.

UNHCR Accounts

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the conclusions of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the Audit Report; and, in particular, what steps were taken to ensure that acquisition, disposal and valuation of fixed assets are properly recorded; and that advances to implementing partners are treated as working advances, and identified clearly in the accounts. [HL4115]

Baroness Amos: The Report of the Board of Auditors to the General Assembly on the Accounts of the Voluntary Funds Administered by UNHCR for the year ended 31 December 1999 was presented to the Standing Committee of the Executive Committee on 27-28 September 2000. The Standing Committee concluded that UNHCR had taken forward the major recommendations of the 1998 audit report.

The 1999 audit report on UNHCR will be discussed later this month at a meeting of the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly.

Sudan

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assistance they have provided to higher education and scholarships for Sudan in 1972; in 1982; and since 1997. [HL4050]

Baroness Amos: We have no such specific data for 1972 and 1982. We have not provided any assistance to higher education and scholarships since bilateral aid to Sudan was suspended in 1991. We provide assistance for humanitarian emergencies through the United Nations and international non-government organisations.

Runnymede Trust

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they or any government agency have given assistance, either financial or in kind, to the Runnymede Trust. [HL4158]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The Runnymede Trust received a grant of £16,778 from the Home Office Race Equality Unit in 1999 to set up a website to provide information of use to the minority ethnic voluntary sector. A list of the trust's funders can be found on its website at: www.runnymedetrust.org.

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Entry Refusal: Persons with Criminal Convictions

Lord Alli asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they have received to the consultation paper on the refusal of entry to the United Kingdom of those with criminal convictions. [HL4362]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Department (Mrs Roche) has received seven replies to the consultation paper. These were from the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association, the Law Society, Maria Fyfe MP, Jenny Jones MP, Sports Network and a member of the public. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The responses raised no fundamental objections to the proposals set out in the consultation paper. My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Department therefore intends to implement these, taking account of the comments received so far as possible. The relevant amendments to the Immigration Rules will be laid before Parliament for approval in due course.

Fuel Supplies

Lord Alli asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they have taken to reduce the risk of disruption to the fuel supply in the event of further blockades.[HL4363]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has been chairing a Fuel Task Force which comprises Ministers and representatives of the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, the oil industry, the police, the trade unions and others. Members of the task force signed a memorandum of understanding on 29 September. This establishes more robust systems to avoid disruption of fuel supplies. It commits signatories to establishing practical arrangements aimed at maintaining continuity of oil supply. In particular, it commits relevant signatories to establishing joint early warning systems and co-ordinated contingency plans; to joint emergency management systems; and to reducing the potential for intimidation of tanker drivers. Copies of the memorandum of understanding have been placed in the Library.

The task force is continuing to oversee work in support of the memorandum. As this concerns planning to respond to any future disruption, it would not be appropriate to give further details of this work.

Additionally, preparations are being made to ensure that properly trained and qualified military drivers would be available if required to help distribute fuel to essential users. If called upon, this would be provided

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under the normal arrangements for providing military assistance to ensure that essential supplies and services are maintained.

The events of last month demonstrated the importance of oil supplies to our economy and to our society. The economy relies on just-in-time supply chains. It benefits from their efficiency, but is vulnerable to disruption. It is not possible to eliminate all risk to oil supplies. Our aim has been the practical one of reducing the risk to the minimum.

Hillsborough Papers

Lord Alli asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Hillsborough papers considered by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith in his scrutiny will be available to the general public in the Liverpool Central Library.[HL4364]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Liverpool Central Library has completed the sorting and cataloguing of all the papers and they are now ready for public viewing.

My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Department (Mr Clarke) understands that Liverpool City Council will give priority access, which he supports, to the families of those who died in the disaster and to the survivors. The Lord Mayor made an announcement to this effect last Thursday during a conference organised specifically to discuss outstanding issues.

He is very grateful to the staff of both the House of Commons Library and the Liverpool Central Library for their efforts in this matter.

MAFF/NAWAD Concordat

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the bilateral concordat between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales will come into force.[HL4331]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Letters formalising the bilateral concordat between this department and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales were exchanged on 17 October 2000. The concordat, which is an agreement on the working relationship between the National Assembly for Wales Agriculture Department (NAWAD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, establishes for all matters relating to the Welsh Assembly's responsibilities for agriculture, fisheries and food, an agreed framework for co-operation between the administrations.

The Government are looking forward to continuing the close and constructive relationship that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has developed with NAWAD following the introduction of devolution on 1 July 1999.

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Copies have been lodged in the Library of the House and the document is on the Internet at http://www.maff.gov.uk/aboutmaf/devolve/devolve.htm. The Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales is placing copies in the Library of the Welsh Assembly.

Smoking Policy

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make all property in their ownership non-smoking.[HL4046]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): "Smoking Kills" committed all government departments to review their internal office smoking policies. The Department of Health has written to departments asking for progress reports. However, the precise policy to be adopted in each case is a matter for the department concerned.

Prostate Cancer

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 2 October (WA 203), what information they have on differences in the rates of incidence of, and mortality from, prostate cancer in differing racial groups in the area of each National Health Service Trust; which three areas had the highest rates, at the latest date for which figures are available, and which three the lowest rates; which racial group appears to have the highest risks; what research on this issue has been publicly funded; and what further research is planned; and[HL4197]

    What comparative information they have from other countries on differences in the rates of incidence of, and mortality from, prostate cancer in differing racial groups.[HL4198]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Office of National Statistics publishes data on cancer mortality and incidence. These data cannot however be broken down by ethnic group. Centrally collected Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data only provide information about treatment, and the data on ethnic groupings are unreliable.

At the Government's request, the Cancer Research Funders Forum (CRFF) made prostate cancer one of its first priorities. The CRFF commissioned a review of prostate cancer, which was published in October 2000. The review refers to research on variations in incidence and mortality from prostate cancer among ethnic groups. Work on United Kingdom ethnic minority groups shows that mortality is raised in Caribbean and West African migrants. In North America the mortality rate in African Americans is twice as high as in white Americans. Asian immigrants to the United States of America have a low incidence of prostate cancer, whilst Asians raised to adulthood

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in the USA are closer to that country's higher risk, thereby suggesting that environmental factors may influence incidence.

The Government are committed to increasing their funding for cancer research and by 2003 will be investing an additional £20 million each year in the infrastructure for cancer research, and an extra £4 million on prostate cancer research.


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