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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): I believe that not only this House, but also the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, will join me in looking forward to Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee as a joyous occasion and a very special milestone. It will be a time both for looking back at the central part which the Queen has played in the affairs of this country and the Commonwealth over the preceding 50 years; and for looking forward to the continuation of Her Majesty's unique contribution for many years to come.
A Ministerial Committee, under the chairmanship of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, was set up last year to help to co-ordinate arrangements with Buckingham Palace. I have made the following recommendations which Her Majesty has approved and which have the support of the Leaders of the Devolved Administrations and of Opposition Parties.
The Queen will attend a National Service of Thanksgiving in St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday 4 June 2002. That day will be a Bank Holiday in place of the Spring Bank Holiday, which would otherwise fall on 27 May in 2002. The day before, Monday 3 June, will be an additional Bank Holiday for the Golden Jubilee.
The Queen hopes to travel within the United Kingdom as widely as possible during the summer months of May to July, and especially the weeks running up to and following the Bank Holiday weekend. She has agreed to visit the Armed Forces on 27 June and to open the Commonwealth Games in Manchester on 25 July and close them on 4 August. She will undertake a Commonwealth visit in the autumn. The Queen has also agreed to a grant of certain civic honours--city status and Lord Mayoralty--to mark Her Jubilee. Other elements of the programme will be announced in due course. It is Her Majesty's express wish that there should be no undue expenditure from public funds on the programme of celebrations.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: I have published today the Women's Unit document Women's Social Attitudes 1983-1998. Copies have been placed in the Library and the report is also available on the Women's Unit web-site.
The report provides valuable, comprehensive information about women's attitudes, tracking continuity and change over time wherever the data allow this. It shows the impact of age, occupation, education and income level, and motherhood on women's attitudes across a range of issues.
The topics reported upon in the publication are women's attitudes to: Government and Politics; Welfare and Social Security; Money; Paid Work; The Family; Health and Genetics; Education and Science; Environment and Transport. The final chapter explores young women's attitudes.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): No change in the law is required. In the case of the conjoined twins known as "Jodie" and "Mary", decided on appeal in the Court of Appeal, the parents were given permission for a further appeal to the House of Lords but chose not to exercise it. The Official Solicitor representing Mary was also given permission to appeal. All the arguments on behalf of Mary were advanced in the Court of Appeal, including the moral, ethical and legal arguments submitted by the Archbishop of Westminster and the Pro-Life Group. In deciding not to appeal to the House of
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government have no plans to introduce a special tax relief for people who employ carers. However, we recently announced a package of measures worth more than £500 million over three years, which will improve financial support for carers. The package includes a proposal to increase the earnings limit for Invalid Care Allowance from its present level of £50 per week, after allowable expenses, to a figure equal to the Lower Earnings Limit, which is currently £67. This will allow carers who are able to combine work with their caring responsibilities to keep more of their earnings.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Legislation governing public service pensions requires public service pensions to be increased annually by the same percentage as state earnings related pensions (additional pensions). My noble friend Lady Hollis announced in a Statement on benefits uprating on 9 November 2000 (Official Report, col. 1689), that benefits such as additional pensions will be increased by 3.3 per cent, in line with the annual increase in the Retail Prices Index up to September 2000. Public service pensions will therefore be increased by 3.3 per cent from 9 April 2001, except those which have been in payment for less than a year, which will receive a pro-rata increase.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Contrary to the report of the New Economics Foundation, banks are not provided with a hidden subsidy. Funds loaned out to customers must either be obtained from depositors or the sterling money market, both of which usually require the payment of interest.
The Financial Services and Markets Act has put in place a framework for the regulation of financial services, with the Financial Services Authority assuming the responsibility of ensuring that banking regulation is clear, serves customers' needs and promotes competition. In addition, following the publication of the Cruickshank Report in March, the Government have recently announced a package of measures to promote competition in the banking sector.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Her Majesty's Government have given careful consideration to the recommendations of the Maclean Report and have noted the widespread support given to them by industry interests. The Government's intentions in respect of the recommendations will be announced shortly.
Baroness Amos: The main achievement was the adoption by the Council and the Commission of a Declaration on the European Community's Development Policy. This was a milestone for the EC. The Declaration provides the EC, for the first time, with a clear operational framework for all EC development assistance, with poverty reduction as the principal objective. This was an important UK objective in our published strategy for working with the EC. The Development Commissioner, Poul Nielson, also presented a comprehensive Action Programme for implementing the Declaration. He emphasised the multi-dimensional nature of poverty, the need to work within countries' own poverty
We strongly welcomed the Declaration and the Commission's plans for implementing the new policy. It remains essential to turn the operational framework into reality on the ground. We will be reviewing how we can help to ensure that this is achieved.
The Council also adopted an important new framework for preparation of EC Country Strategy Papers. This clarifies the need to collaborate closely with other donors and to focus on poverty reduction strategies developed by the partner country.
The Council briefly reviewed the actions that have been taken to follow up the overall evaluation of EC programmes which had been discussed in May 1999. These included the adoption of an overall statement of EC development policy.
The Council adopted a Resolution on Communicable Diseases which welcomed a recent Commission Communication and called for an Action Programme to implement it. The Council agreed on the need for a coherent approach to tackling these diseases which threaten poor people and hinder efforts to reduce poverty. Conclusions on the 6th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change were also adopted.