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Viscount Craigavon: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her response, in particular the apparent commitment of the Government to this very important area. While at present NGOs in this field may have reconciled themselves to the level of funding which the Government are to give them over the next few years, will HMG keep under review the effects that these fairly substantial cuts may have on NGOs, in particular the smaller ones that find it very difficult to raise large percentages of their project funds and in general NGOs that over the years have developed considerable skill and expertise in this very important field?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Viscount on asking his Question today, bearing in mind that tomorrow is World Population Day. I am sure that the whole House will congratulate him, given that he always manages to table a Question on this subject every year. The noble Viscount asked me specifically whether the Civil Society Challenge Fund would review its funding arrangements for NGOs. I assure him that we intend to review this matter on a continuous basis. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has agreed that in the first three years of the Civil Society Challenge Fund, funding for NGOs working in the area of reproductive health will be 85 per cent, 70 per cent and 50 per cent.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, as the funding is to be reduced over three years, which is an improvement on a reduction in the first year of 50 per cent, can the noble Baroness tell the House where the matching funding is to be found? I believe that in the Minister's response to the noble Viscount she implied that matching funding should be found in the developing countries, which are, as she is well aware, under stress at the moment.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the overall funding in this area will not be reduced. All our figures show a continuing rise in the area of reproductive health. It is only in the area of the Civil Society Challenge Fund that there has always been matched funding under what is called the JFS. However, there was a slightly different arrangement for reproductive health NGOs which had 100 per cent funding. Our funding overall has increased, not decreased. As to matching funding, we expect it to come from, for example, other international institutions such as the UN or foundations.
Baroness Rendell of Babergh: My Lords, does the Minister agree that continuous funding is necessary in one area of reproductive health; namely, putting an end to female genital mutilation? Fifteen thousand
Female genital mutilation is a basic violation of women's rights. Our multilateral partners--for example, the World Health Organisation, UNFPA and UNICEF--are working to persuade governments to tackle FGM as both a human rights abuse and a public health concern. FGM has been reduced in 28 African countries where it is practised. It has been banned in law by one third. So some improvements are being made.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is there additional and separate funding to deal with the problem of AIDS? The noble Baroness mentioned sexually transmitted diseases. AIDS is the most serious concern world-wide and in particular in Africa.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, there is not a separate fund for AIDS. Funding is through bilateral and multilateral donors and through the Civil Society Fund. AIDS is one of the areas we are looking at. My noble friend Lady Rendell will ask a Question on the subject tomorrow.
Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the United Nations joint programme on HIV and AIDS published last week a chilling report predicting that two-thirds of today's 15 year-olds in Botswana will die of AIDS by the age of 50? Do the Government accept the analysis and conclusions of that report, in particular the call for a massive increase in political will--I was pleased that she referred to that earlier--to fight the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa?
What instructions have been given, in particular in the area of health education, to our representatives who have been sent to the World AIDS Conference--sadly, there are no Ministers--which opened in Durban yesterday?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, my department is extremely concerned that the development gains we have made to date, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are being eroded by the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. I agree with the noble Lord that political will is extremely important. We have seen its importance in countries like Uganda where leadership from the top has been important in taking forward AIDS awareness programmes.
At the Durban conference we have representatives from both the Department of Health and the Department for International Development. Clearly there are scientific, health and development issues which we need to consider across the board.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, I understand that there have been exploratory discussions between the Police National Training College and two universities about the possibility of accrediting courses in detection and investigation of crime. However, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary awaits firm proposals. Any degree courses would require validation by a degree awarding body. We welcome the partnership between universities and employers in designing vocational degree courses which meet the needs of specific industries.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply. Does she agree that while detectives in fiction have not been short of intellectual erudition--for example, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Maigret, although Inspector Clouseau must be excluded since the little grey cells were not working for him--the detective's role in police forces is not highly regarded? Unfortunately it does not seem to lead to the higher ranks.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on his extensive knowledge of crime fiction. It is difficult for me to comment on the status of different categories of employment in the police force. However, I believe that training is extremely important in the difficult area of investigatory work. The Government are delighted that the National Police College at Bramshill is thinking about extending and developing this training, in particular for serving police officers of senior rank.
Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate: My Lords, does the Minister agree that while academic excellence in any area is to be welcomed, we also need practical expertise? One recent problem, if I may draw on my experience over many years as a detective, has been the policy of tenure in police forces whereby police officers in the CID, for example, are rotated after a fixed period of three or five years with no account taken of their experience and ability. As a result, the concept of a career detective is destroyed. Does the noble Baroness agree that that is to the disadvantage of crime detection? It leads, for example, to the Metropolitan Police advertising for retired detectives to return on short-term contracts.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, expertise in any area is extremely important. Expertise in an area of this kind is time consuming to develop and build up. Where it has been acquired I share my noble friend's
Lord McNally: My Lords, are the Home Office and individual police forces making enough effort to recruit graduates into the police force? We need a well-educated police force to combat modern crime. In the past, there have been prejudices in individual police forces against the graduate recruit, something which joined-up government should discourage.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. There is now much scope, with larger numbers of young people and mature students going to university, for increasing the recruitment of graduates into the police force. A number of police forces run programmes for serving officers to acquire degrees while they are members of the police force. That again is greatly to be welcomed. A course for a BA in Police Management has been validated by Sheffield University. It is run by Merseyside Police for their serving officers. We greatly welcome more of that joined-up thinking between individual police forces and universities.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, following the question on practical experience from the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, will university degree courses be one of the matters on which the noble Lord, Lord Birt, will advise the Government?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Birt, will advise the Government about all aspects of dealing with crime by young people, including the training of police officers.
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