Political tension in Basra has increased following the recent withdrawal of the Fadila political party from the United Iraqi Alliance (the main Shi'a coalition). This has on occasion erupted into violence. The challenging security situation and the legacy of a distorted command economy have slowed economic development in Basra and unemployment is high. The Government are working to build the capability of local institutions, including through the work of the provincial reconstruction team (PRT). Basra's elected provincial council was the first to write its own provincial development strategy—the key to unlocking central Government investment. The Basra Development Forum has also been an important step towards building a closer co-operation between provincial authorities in Basra and central authorities in Baghdad to help improve the situation.
Muthanna and Dhi Qar were transferred to Iraqi security control last year. Both provinces remain stable and their local authorities have shown themselves capable of managing the challenges they face. Unemployment is high in Dhi Qar, as well as in Muthanna. The Dhi Qar PRT is pursuing a range of projects, from basic infrastructure, water purification and electrical sub-stations, through to an amusement park and museum in Nasiriyah, and support for Dhi Qar artists' groups to improve the quality of life for local citizens. The Muthanna PRT is working with the provincial government to carry forward projects aimed at the province's most pressing problems: unemployment, agricultural reform, water, electricity and transport. In both al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar, the PRTs are working with the provincial authorities to build their budgetary planning capacity.
We already consider requests for assistance from British overseas posts to Iraqi nationals who have left Iraq after threats of violence because of their work as interpreters with the British army. As I said in my response to my hon. Friend on 23 April 2007, Official Report, column 914W all such requests for assistance are dealt with on a case by case basis, taking account of individual circumstances.