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Iraq: Resettlement

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Prime Minister's statement on Iraq of 8 October 2007, Official Report, columns 21-38, how many Iraqis are eligible to receive a package of financial payment for resettlement. (157121)

I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's written ministerial statement of 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 27-28WS. Around 260 of locally engaged staff in Iraq have worked for us for 12 months or more and would therefore be able to apply now for financial assistance, or the other options set out in the statement, should they be made redundant or be forced to resign their jobs in what we judge to be extraordinary circumstances. We expect that most if not all of our currently employed locally engaged staff in Iraq will become eligible in due course. Officials are currently looking at the numbers of serving staff who have worked for us for 12 months or more that would be eligible for assistance. We will provide further details at the end of the month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Iraqis worked for the British Government in each year since 2003 but do not qualify for a package of financial payment for resettlement. (157123)

We estimate that about 20,000 Iraqis have been employed since 2003. The large majority were for very short periods, especially in 2003 and 2004, and do not qualify for assistance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the packages of financial payment for resettlement to begin to be made to Iraqi staff. (157124)

It is important to ensure that robust mechanisms are in place to administer the scheme fairly and effectively. I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s written ministerial statement of 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 27-28WS, which promised a further announcement on the implementation of the scheme before the end of the month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps were taken to ensure (a) the safety of and (b) recognition of the contribution made by local Iraqi staff prior to 2005. (157125)

Locally engaged Iraqi staff working for our armed forces and civilian missions in Iraq have made an invaluable contribution to the UK’s efforts to support security, stability and development in the new Iraq.

At all times since 2003, we have recognised a duty of care to our serving Iraqi staff and have taken a range of measures to fulfil that.

In 2003-04, the environment in which our locally employed work force served was not the same as from 2005. The policy announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 8 October in the House is about recognising our particular debt of gratitude to those who have had a sustained association with us in uniquely difficult circumstances.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who the approving authority is in determining which Iraqi staff qualify for a package of financial payment to aid resettlement. (157126)

The scheme will be administered by employing Government Departments, working with the Home Office and other interested Departments. We will announce further details of the administration of the scheme by the end of October.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Prime Minister’s statement on Iraq of 8 October 2007, (1) which occupations qualify as professional staff. (157127)

(2) what the difference is between staff and professional staff with regard to local Iraqi staff.

Professional staff include interpreters, translators and other Iraqi staff serving in similarly skilled roles necessitating the regular use of written or spoken English.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what coordination he has had with his counterparts in the local region on the resettlement of local Iraqi staff. (157129)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Prime Minister’s statement on Iraq of 8 October 2007, which countries are included in his definition of local region. (157130)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his estimate is of the cost of a single financial payment to aid resettlement for an Iraqi in (a) Iraq and (b) elsewhere in the region. (157131)

I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s written ministerial statement of 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 27-28WS, which promised a further announcement on this issue before the end of the month. The size of the payments is likely to be linked to salary and would therefore vary according to the individual’s job, and his/her employing Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from where the aid resettlement package for local Iraqi staff will be funded. (157132)

The costs of the total package, including resettlement or admission to the UK and financial assistance, will be shared between employing departments and the Home Office.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the agreed circumstances are in which local Iraqi staff may receive admission to the United Kingdom. (157137)

I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s written ministerial statement of 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 27-28WS.