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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We welcome the fact that Commonwealth Heads of Government will discuss the theme of trade, investment and development at their meeting in Edinburgh in October. This will be preceded by a Commonwealth business forum in London. We hope the Commonwealth will consider a wide range of measures to increase Commonwealth prosperity including the possible role of trade ministers.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: During 1996 the London diplomatic mission incurred a total of 1,676 unpaid parking fines, which is slightly more than the 1995 figure of 1,586. In February this year this department wrote to all diplomatic missions to give them an opportunity to pay off all outstanding parking tickets, or appeal to have the ticket cancelled. Since then payments totalling £48,640.00 have been received, compared with £11,600.00 in 1996. The table below shows only missions which have 11 or more fines outstanding.
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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: An Order in Council was made on 20 May which reduces both the cost of a five year multiple entry visa and the cost of a certificate of entitlement and completes the three staged increase in settlement visa fees designed to achieve full cost recovery in this category. The order also abolishes the fee for the confirmation of the right of abode (now obsolete). The order will come into effect on 10 June.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is long-standing practice not to comment on the detailed activities of the intelligence and security services. We are strongly committed to supporting the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Where relevant, we will consult the United States Government on our responses to the tribunal's requests for information. Within the constraints of national security we are as helpful as possible to the tribunal on such matters, and provide a similar level of co-operation as we would to the corresponding British authorities.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Enlargement of the Alliance is a matter for NATO and those countries which apply to join it. The United Kingdom and other allies are committed to announcing at the NATO Summit meeting in July that one or more countries will be invited to join.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have indeed received Mr. Rodley's latest report on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The UK co-sponsored a number of resolutions at the Commission on Human Rights in 1996 and 1997 based on Mr. Rodley's 1995 and 1996 reports, and generally supporting his work. We are committed to ensuring that promotion of human rights is at the centre of the UK's foreign policy.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The Armed Forces Pay Review Body has made recommendations on the pay of medical and dental officers in the Armed Forces. The review body recommends that the daily rate of basic pay should be increased by an average of 3.4 per cent. from 1 April. They have further proposed some significant changes to the pay structures of Service medical and dental officers which will see many forms of additional payments, such as consultant pay, consolidated into basic pay. The Review Body also mentioned that it welcomed the fact that the Ministry of Defence was, in future, proposing to base the pensions of Service medical and dental officers on representative rates of their own salaries rather than that of their combatant counterparts. These changes will serve to give a greater degree of comparability between the pay of defence medical staff and their counterparts in the NHS. The Government have decided to accept the review body's recommendations. Along with earlier recommendations of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, and the recommendations of the other review bodies, these will be staged, with 2 per cent. of the award being back dated to 1 April, and the remainder being payable from 1 December.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The statement is based on age participation rates for 1992 published by the OECD in 1995 in Education at a Glance, copies of which are in the Library. These rates are derived from the data supplied by my department, and by other countries direct to the OECD. They are the numbers of pupils and students of the relevant age expressed as a percentage of the population of the same age and they cover the whole of the UK. I am content for my department to continue to make this information available to the OECD to allow for a comparison of our performance with other countries.
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