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The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Judicial Appointments annual report, covering the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, is published today. This year's report shows that:
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The UK Government are supporting efforts to harmonise and enhance weapons controls in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region through assistance to NGOs, such as Saferworld and SaferAfrica, and to governments such as Mozambique and Tanzania.
Saferworld and SaferAfrica also assisted the Government of Tanzania in the development of a comprehensive national action plan on small arms, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The UK continues to fund the implementation of this plan and is also providing funds for detailed, countrywide assessments of the small arms problem in Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia. These assessments should serve as the basis for detailed national action plans in the future.
At the AU/NePAD peace and security workshop held in Addis Ababa in February 2003, SaferAfrica ensured that arms issues were included on the agenda. Small arms are one of the eight priority issues identified in the NePAD action plan.
This work is funded under the Global Conflict Prevention Pool's small arms and light weapons strategy, a £20 million programme designed to reduce armed violence and weapons proliferation around the world. Rebo
Baroness Amos: Currently, about half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa rely upon "traditional" agricultural commodities (in particular cocoa, coffee, tea and cotton) for over 50 per cent of their exports. These commodities also underpin the livelihoods of millions of some of the poorest people in the region, even in countries where agriculture's relative importance, as measured by macro-economic indicators, is less significant.
The long-term decline in commodity prices, and the associated negative shift in the producers' terms of trade, has been well documented since at least the 1950s. The current fall in prices is, however, particularly severe. By 2002, the IMF estimated that world cotton prices had fallen to a 17-year low and coffee prices has reached a 30-year low. This trend is the consequence of several factors including:
Declining commodity prices have serious consequences for developing countries and poor people. But this impact primarily stems from their dependence upon a narrow range of commodities rather than the movement in price itself. The key to tackling this problem therefore lies in economic diversification. Diversification is however a long-term objective. In the interim, the UK Government, through their bilateral and multilateral development programme, are supporting a range of innovative approaches to assist commodity-dependent exporting countries (and poor people in those countries) reduce their vulnerability to volatile commodity prices.
The UK's policy on commodities will be set out in the forthcoming UK Government and industry report Assisting Commodity Producers. This report will consider how UK industry and government can work together to address the negative impact of commodity dependence. Furthermore, the Government are working to secure a more development-friendly reform of international agriculture trade rules and to reduce the impact of trade distorting policies; for example, reform of the common agricultural policy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): I refer the noble Lord to the Ministry of Defence paper; Implementation of the Immunisation Programme Against Biological Warfare Agents for UK Forces During the Gulf Conflict 199091 dated 20 January 2000, a copy of which is
Lord Bach: Skill Force is a nationwide Ministry of Defence-originated and Department for Education and Skills-supported youth initiative to re-engage disaffected 14 to 16 year-olds with mainstream education. There are currently 23 teams operating in around 100 schools with 3,000 participants. Pupils drop two GCSE options in favour of a more vocationally based education. Skill Force mainly uses former military instructors who have recently left the armed services to deliver a wide range of key skill-based subjects to young people who are in danger of becoming disaffected with the formal academic education system.
Evaluation of the first 12 schemes showed that Skill Force had been very successful in reducing truancy and exclusions by around 80 per cent, and had had a positive impact upon behaviour. As a consequence, DfES has helped to fund a further 11 schemes which have been operating for a year as part of the Behaviour Improvement Programme.
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