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24 Nov 1999 : Column WA9

Written Answers

Wednesday, 24th November 1999.

New Deal: Civil Service Employment

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have been employed in the Civil Service under the New Deal for the young and unemployed.[HL28]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Based on information provided by Civil Service departments (including their agencies) participating as employers in the New Deal, the position as at 1 October 1999 is as follows:

New Deal starts since programmes began
Department (including its agencies)Age 18-2425 and overTotal
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food9211
Cabinet Office819
Culture, Media and Sport033
Education and Employment42522447
Environment, Transport and the Regions819
Foreign and Commonwealth Office303
Government Communications Headquarters000
Home Office448
International Development000
Lord Chancellors404
National Assembly for Wales13316
Northern Ireland Office8816
Scottish Executive22022
Social Security56056
Trade and Industry33639
HM Treasury28937
Charity Commission808
Export Credits Guarantee Department404
Government Offices for the Regions303
Intervention Board213
Lord Advocates303

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, South Africa

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will comment on the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in South Africa.[HL29]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government

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Meeting which took place in South Africa from 12 to 15 November.

The meeting welcomed Nigeria back into the Commonwealth and Nauru as a full member.

The meeting took significant decisions on the future of the Commonwealth, the promotion of democracy and human rights, Pakistan and debt, trade and development.

Commonwealth Heads agreed my right honourable friend's proposal that we establish a high-level group, under the chairmanship of President Mbeki, to review the role of the Commonwealth in the 21st Century. In addition to South Africa, the UK, Australia, Fiji, India, Malta, Singapore, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe will be on the group. It will report to the next Heads of Government Meeting in Australia in 2001.

Commonwealth Heads re-affirmed the fundamental political values enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. We sent a strong message to General Musharraf in Pakistan calling for a speedy restoration of democracy and the immediate release of Nawaz Sharif and the others detained with him. We agreed that Pakistan should remain suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth.

Heads discussed the special theme of People-Centred Development: the Challenge of Globalisation. We agreed the Fancourt Declaration, which provides a broad agenda to which all Commonwealth countries agreed to work. Heads agreed that globalisation should bring benefits to all, provided it is a genuine force for liberalisation and is accompanied by structural reform and improved competitiveness. We agreed that the new round of WTO trade negotiations should have a development focus, should cover agriculture, services and industrial products and should be balanced.

Heads expressed concern about the impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. My right honourable friend announced over £22 million of UK assistance for HIV/AIDS related projects, including: £14 million for development of a low-cost vaccine; £7.5 millon for the implementation of an HIV/AIDS strategy in Southern Africa; and £1.2 million to train more than 700 VSO volunteers to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa.

The Second Commonwealth Business Forum was held in Johannesburg immediately before the Heads meeting. It highlighted the importance of links between government and the private sector throughout the Commonwealth.

Heads elected Don McKinnon to succeed Chief Emeka Anyaoku as Commonwealth Secretary General. Heads paid warm tribute to Chief Anyaoku's service over the last 10 years.

My right honourable friend held formal bilateral meetings with President Clerides of Cyprus, President Obasanjo of Nigeria and Prime Minister Vajpayee of India, had a meeting with Caribbean Commonwealth Heads and had the opportunity for informal discussions with many of the other Heads present.

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He also arranged for copies of the Durban Communique and the Fancourt Commonwealth Declaration on Globalisation and People-Centred Development to be placed in the Library of the House.

Weights and Measures: Use of Imperial Units

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 30 July (WA 234), whether, and if so when, the Council of Ministers has adopted the Commission's proposed amendment to Directive 80/181 on units of measures, making it compulsory for British retailers to display weights and measures of goods for sale in metric units; what steps have been taken to alert retailers, including street traders, to the change in the law which will come into effect on 31 December 1999; and what advice has been given to retailers as to how, in practice, they are to comply with the instruction that imperial measures should henceforth be displayed only as "supplementary indications".[HL21]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Directive 80/181/EEC on units of measurement was amended in 1989 by Directive 89/617/EEC so as to specify

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31 December 1999 as the date after which metric units must be used in all member states for the sale of loose goods by weight.

To assist small retailers and their customers with the change to metric units, DTI has set up a helpline and issued information packages. Local authorities have also raised awareness among retailers. The UK Weighing Federation estimates that at least 99 per cent of traders will have converted to metric units by 31 December. A final round of advertising is being undertaken in the trade press.

Social Exclusion and Mental Health Problems

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they have given to the report of the National Association for Mental Health's inquiry into social exclusion and mental health problems; and what action they will take in relation to its recommendations.[HL39]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We welcome the report as a contribution to the debate on social exclusion. The Government already have a full programme for tackling the social exclusion of those with mental health problems.

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