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Written Answers

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 2 March 2009

House of Commons Commission

Committees: Video Conferencing

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what assessment the Commission has made of the effectiveness of arrangements in place to facilitate the taking of oral evidence by select committees via video-conferencing. (259198)

Arrangements for video-conferencing by Select Committees are monitored by the Liaison Committee. The video-conferencing projection equipment in the Committee Rooms in Portcullis House is currently being updated to enhance the picture and sound quality of transmissions.

Houses of Parliament: VAT

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether valued added tax (VAT) is charged on VAT-liable items in each of the House restaurants, vending machines, bars and canteens; and whether retail prices on VAT-liable items have been reduced since December 2008. (258381)

VAT is payable on the sale of all restaurant and bar services and so all prices charged in the restaurants, bars and cafeterias in the House of Commons include VAT at the prevailing rate (currently 15 per cent.). Selling prices are rounded to the nearest 5 pence, and all prices were reduced in December 2008 if the impact of the VAT rate change was more than or equal to 5p.

VAT is also payable on food and drinks dispensed from vending machines. Prices were reviewed following the reduction in VAT in December 2008 but were unchanged due to the policy of rounding prices to the nearest 5p.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether the retail prices in the House of Commons gift shop for items which attract valued added tax were reduced following the December 2008 reduction in value added tax. (258382)

Prices in the House of Commons souvenir shops are set to the nearest 5p. The selling prices of all goods on which VAT is payable were reduced in December 2008 if the impact of the VAT rate change came to 5p or more.

Members: Email

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether hon. Members and their staff are (a) permitted and (b) able to install Pretty Good Privacy encryption software on their computers; and what support PICT provides to hon. Members’ offices in this regard. (258379)

Members and their staff do have the rights necessary to install their own software on their parliamentary computers. Members are responsible for the licensing and maintenance of any software that they install and, as the conditions of supply provide, PICT reserves the right to remove any software that is found to interfere with the proper operation of the hardware concerned, or the parliamentary network. This applies to encryption software. However, extra caution is needed with this type of product since, by its nature, it can prevent access and therefore could severely limit PICT’s ability to provide support after it has been installed.

PICT has recently completed an evaluation of encryption software and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) was found to be incompatible with Parliament’s current version of VPN (remote access) software. Therefore, this product is not recommended for users of that service. As part of the evaluation PICT has identified another product that can be deployed to Members’ loaned machines by PICT at no cost to Members. The software can also be acquired by Members at their own cost, if they wish to have it installed on machines that they have purchased through PICT.

Trade Unions

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Chichester of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 546W, on trade unions, what the estimated cost to the public purse of the provision of facilities for the exclusive use of trade unions was in each of the last three years. (258659)

Trade Unions: Political Levy

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 64W, on the political levy, if he will amend the staff handbook for House of Commons staff to inform them of their right to opt out of the political levies operated by those recognised trade unions which have a political fund. (258664)

Leader of the House

Legislation: Henry VIII Clauses

To ask the Leader of the House how many Henry VIII clauses were contained in primary legislation enacted in Session 2007-08. (258694)

Henry VIII clauses, which confer on Ministers the power to amend the statute itself by delegated legislation, or to amend other statutes, are included in legislation for a variety of reasons.

In some cases, such as section 6 of the Smoke Detectors Act 1991, they confer power to make significant and wide-ranging amendments to the parent Act. In other cases they may be used to make incidental and consequential amendments to existing Acts.

The Government do not routinely collect or hold information about the number of Henry VIII provisions so the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Members: ICT

To ask the Leader of the House if she will bring forward proposals to encourage hon. Members to use interactive digital technology to communicate with their constituents. (259036)

It is up to individual hon. Members how best to engage with their constituents, using interactive digital technology as well as other means. Hon. Members may use the Communication Allowance to meet the cost of designing and running a website which is intended to inform constituents of their work as a Member, to consult with constituents or local groups, or to provide contact information.

I would be interested to hear of any specific examples of good practice in this area.

Statutory Instruments

To ask the Leader of the House how many statutory instruments subject to the (a) negative and (b) affirmative procedure have been laid before the House in each year since 1990. (260074)

The information is only readily available on a sessional basis and is published each year in the Sessional Returns. The following table shows the number of statutory instruments laid before the House in each Session from 1990-91 to 2007-08.

Session

Affirmative instruments

Negative instruments

1990-91

201

1,072

1991-92

95

611

1992-93

277

1,723

1993-94

174

1,226

1994-95

188

1,316

1995-96

199

1,309

1996-97

151

903

1997-98

225

1,591

1998-99

178

1,266

1999-2000

180

1,241

2000-01

123

717

2001-02

262

1,468

2002-03

233

1,158

2003-04

207

1,038

2004-05

126

660

2005-06

271

1,583

2006-07

223

1,135

2007-08

257

1,049

To ask the Leader of the House how many statutory instruments subject to the (a) negative and (b) affirmative procedure have been debated in delegated legislation committees and their predecessor committees in each year since 1990. (260075)

The information, which is published each year in the Sessional Returns, is set out in the following table.

The total number of affirmative instruments considered in committee each Session will differ from the total number laid in that Session for a number of reasons: some instruments are considered on the Floor of the House or in a Grand Committee; some items which are not laid as instruments may be agreed by the House to be treated as such; instruments may be considered in the Session after the one in which they were laid; and instruments may be withdrawn before they are considered.

Information about the procedure to which an instrument was subject was not compiled before 1995-96.

Session

Affirmative

Negative

Other

Total

1990-91

139

1991-92

60

1992-93

199

1993-94

69

1994-95

126

1995-96

113

29

142

1996-97

94

14

108

1997-98

168

11

0

179

1998-99

149

28

0

177

1999-2000

156

16

2

174

2000-01

116

6

0

122

2001-02

217

41

0

258

2002-03

200

40

0

240

2003-04

169

16

0

185

2004-05

1109

8

0

117

2005-06

2241

329

0

270

2006-07

4186

515

0

201

2007-08

6188

24

0

212

1 Of which, one was not laid as an instrument but was agreed by the House to be treated as such.

2 Of which, nine were not laid as instruments but were agreed by the House to be treated as such.

3 Of which, two were not laid as instruments but were agreed by the House to be treated as such.

4 Of which, four were not laid as instruments but were agreed by the House to be treated as such.

5 Of which, three were not laid as instruments but were agreed by the House to be treated as such.

6 Of which, one was not laid as an instrument but was agreed by the House to be treated as such.

Northern Ireland

Hillsborough Castle

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what events he plans to host at Hillsborough Castle in 2009; and at what estimated cost. (257260)

Each year I host events (including the annual Royal Garden Party) at Hillsborough to acknowledge the significant contribution a wide range of people make to life in Northern Ireland and beyond. These as usual include representatives from the voluntary and business sectors, the police and armed forces. Each year the Northern Ireland Office publishes a list of receptions held and the overall costs of those events.

Wales

Departmental Public Consultation

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many public consultations his Department has carried out in the last 12 months; for how long each consultation was open; how many responses were received to each consultation; and what the cost was of conducting each consultation. (259730)

Departmental Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many staff in his Department were recorded as having been on sick leave for over 12 months on 31 December in each of the last five years. (257761)

Records for sickness absence are only available from April 2004.

The Wales Office is a small Department with less than 60 staff and therefore has had a very small number of staff on long term sick. In line with Cabinet Office guidance, we are unable to answer this question figuratively. This is in order to protect the privacy of individuals.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to link schemes with environmental benefits to the single farm payment. (253899)

The existing link between Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and environmental standards is provided by the requirements set under cross compliance. These standards are also a condition of entry to environmental stewardship which rewards farmers for additional positive management of the farmed environment under the rural development programme in England.

The Common Agriculture Policy ‘Health Check’ decision in November 2008 abolished the set-aside mechanism from January 2009. The UK supported this action on the condition that adequate measures were put in place to mitigate adverse environmental consequences. We were successful in achieving a new legal basis which allows member states to use cross compliance for this purpose.

Within this context, the Secretary of State asked Sir Don Curry to bring together key stakeholders to consider the impact of the loss of set-aside including investigating mitigation. Sir Don reported last July, since when we have been considering the details of how mitigation might be put into practice. We expect to be in a position to consult on possible mitigation measures shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which UK producer organisations have been funded from EU budget line 05 02 08 03 in 2008; and how much has been awarded to each. (256100)

Details of which UK producer organisations have been funded from EU budget line 05 02 08 03, and how much they have been awarded, are provided in the following table:

UK producer organisation

£

Abb Marketing Ltd.

111,911.52

Abbey View Producer Organisation Ltd.

250,500.00

Anglian Pea Growers Ltd.

186,579.83

Angus Growers Ltd.

708,335.73

ASA Peas Marketing Ltd.

-6,773.17

Aylsham Growers Ltd.

33,657.60

Berry Growers Ltd.

16,991.23

Britannia Salads P.O Ltd.

68,252.14

Checkers '83 Ltd.

2,354.69

Cottage Mushrooms Ltd.

246,679.16

East of Scotland Growers Ltd.

268,286.95

Fen Peas Ltd.

43,136.23

Fieldfresh Ltd.

13,032.64

Foxash Growers Ltd.

404,837.79

Fresh Growers Ltd.

406,147.31

Fruition PO Ltd.

1,186,619.38

Fruitlink (Wisbech) Ltd.

150,754.34

Glass Field & Pack Ltd.

401,944.94

Global Salads Ltd.

8,286.88

Green Produce P O Ltd.

430,988.72

Greenshoots Ltd.

728,926.74

Greenvale Fruit Packers Ltd.

21,239.08

Growco Producer Organisation

124,503.39

Growvale Ltd.

111,620.28

G’s Growers Ltd.

2,908,857.66

Holbeach Marsh Co-Operative Ltd.

90,194.21

Humber Growers Ltd.

95,662.72

Humber Pea Growers Ltd.

1,504.43

KG Growers Ltd.

3,170,052.01

Linfresh Foods Ltd.

57,237.22

Mid Kent Growers Ltd.

346,507.57

Mockbeggar Ltd.

526,332.55

Northern Mushrooms Ltd.

789,768.98

Northway Mushrooms Ltd.

365,598.48

Ormskirk Growers Ltd.

37,121.04

Plantsman Ardleigh Storage Ltd.

34,677.33

Red Star Growers Ltd.

148,101.52

S G T Ltd.

239,719.08

Scottish Borders Produce Ltd.

54,460.70

Sherwood Produce Ltd.

341,310.93

Snaith Salad Growers Ltd.

51,174.80

South Devon Organic Producers Ltd.

71,088.33

South Eastern Produce Ltd.

230,056.72

Springhill Farms (Pershore) Ltd.

380,977.30

Stemgold Peas Ltd.

56,066.87

Suffolk Produce Ltd.

187,665.47

Swaythorpe Growers Ltd.

76,309.13

The Asplins Producer Organisation Ltd.

667,941.55

The Berryworld Producer Organisation Ltd.

1,943,996.51

The Greenpea Company Ltd.

435,486.95

The Organic Mushroom Company Ltd.

395,869.17

United Mushroom Producers Organisation Ltd.

175,662.90

Waveney Mushrooms Ltd.

148,941.28

Well-Pict European Growers Ltd.

-3,705.29

West Fen Peas Ltd.

33,562.52

Wight Salads (Producer Organisation) Ltd.

371,748.65

Wrangle Growers Ltd.

98,928.47

Wye Fruit Ltd.

153,996.64

Total

20,601,687.80

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what expenditure is funded under EU budget line 05 02 08 10, Free Distribution of Fruits and Vegetables; which UK bodies received support under this line in 2008; and whether disbursements have been made from this budget line to (a) political bodies and (b) trades unions. (256137)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much late payment compensation has been paid under the Single Farm Payment scheme since its establishment; and what guidance his Department provides to farmers on the procedure for claiming such compensation. (259453)

£3.6 million late compensation has been paid under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) since its establishment to end January 2009.

This has been in the form of interest payments made to farmers who have received their full SPS payment after the 30 June closing date of the regulatory payment window for the 2005, 2006 and 2007 scheme years. The payments have been made under conditions set out by the Secretary of State, which are published on the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) website.

For the three scheme years to date, interest is paid at the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus 1 per cent., calculated from 1 July, subject to a minimum interest payment level of £50.

It is not necessary for farmers to claim interest as RPA makes interest payments once each final payment is made to the farmer for that scheme year, including payments made where entitlement adjustments have been completed.

Batteries: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effects on the environment of the disposal of batteries. (259329)

Disposing of portable batteries and accumulators can have a detrimental impact on the environment and on public and animal health. Some batteries contain hazardous substances such as cadmium, mercury and lead. Batteries disposed of incorrectly can lead to such heavy metals leaking into the ground, causing soil and water pollution and endangering wildlife

Further impacts may arise indirectly from the disposal of batteries, as they contain a range of metals that can be re-used. Disposing of such materials in landfill means that more resources have to be used to mine new metals.

The UK is currently transposing the EU Directive on Batteries and Accumulators, which aims to reduce the negative environmental impact of waste portable batteries. This includes regulations that ban chemicals such as mercury and cadmium (above trace levels) in new batteries. In addition, the UK is working to implement the directive’s requirements that we collect and recycle 25 per cent. of portable batteries by 2012 and 45 per cent. by 2016, which will dramatically reduce the amount going to landfill.

Compost

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many in-vessel composting sites have been licensed by the Environment Agency in each region of England. (258196)

The following table indicates the number of in-vessel and windrow composting sites that are licensed in each Environment Agency region to date. Prior to standard permits being introduced, the Environment Agency’s permit recording system did not distinguish between in-vessel and windrow composting and it would therefore incur disproportionate cost to collate figures for in-vessel alone.

Number

Anglian

51

Midlands

40

North East

21

North West

22

Southern

26

South West

18

Thames

29

Wales

10

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the (a) public health and (b) environmental effects of fortnightly waste collections; and if he will make a statement. (257065)

[holding answer 23 February 2009]: In order to help local authorities make informed decisions on waste management, DEFRA funded an independent research study (carried out by Enviros Consulting and Cranfield University) which looked into the environmental and health impacts of waste management, looking in particular at municipal solid waste. The report was published in 2004 and is available on the DEFRA website at this address:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/research/health/

Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the value of food (a) spoiled and (b) disposed of in each of the last six years. (257430)

Data are not available for the value of food spoiled and disposed of in each of the last six years.

However, WRAP undertook research in 2007 to quantify the amounts and types of household food waste produced in the UK.

According to research conducted in 2007, the estimated total annual cost of household food waste (avoidable and unavoidable) is £14.4 billion per year. The estimated annual cost of avoidable household food waste is £10.2 billion.

Foot and Mouth Disease

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what legal costs were incurred by his Department in relation to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in (a) 2001 and (b) 2007. (257429)

The resources needed to obtain the information in relation to the legal cost incurred by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, following the Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak in 2001, would be disproportionate and over the £750 threshold.

The legal cost incurred by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, so far, following the Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak 2007 is £27,030.05.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) lowest, (b) highest, (c) median and (d) mean monetary value of compensation claims awarded following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2007 was. (257435)

The monetary value of compensation awarded as a result of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2007 is as follows:

£

Lowest

75

Highest

94,500

Median

41,714

Mean

21,453

The compensation payable in such circumstances is set out in section 31(c) and in schedule 3, paragraph 3(5) of the Animal Health Act 1981. These provide that Government must pay compensation at the value of the animals immediately before they became infected or were killed. Each animal was assessed by an independent valuer or official veterinarian prior to being culled and this valuation formed the basis of the compensation paid to the owner. Some businesses will have received more than one award.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government’s policy is on encouraging applications by growers to be recognised as producer organisations for the purposes of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme. (252580)

The rural payments agency (RPA) publish comprehensive guidance about the scheme on their website, including information for prospective applicants. DEFRA, in conjunction with the devolved administrations and with the industry itself, has drawn up a national strategy in order to provide detailed advice that producer organisations (POs) can adopt with the aim of developing their businesses and gaining funding under the scheme. One of its aims is that this advice will encourage more growers to seek recognition under the scheme, either as new POs or as new members of existing ones. More generally, it is one of DEFRA’s aims to encourage greater collaboration across the food chain. We have commissioned English Farming and Food Partnerships to undertake work to promote awareness and interest in the scheme with a view to encouraging greater uptake.

Fuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the potential use of used cooking oil as a secondary fuel for use in static generator engines. (258232)

DEFRA has made funding available to enable the Environment Agency to develop an end-of-waste protocol for waste cooking oil. Waste cooking oil which is treated to the standards set out in the protocol is accepted by the Agency to have been fully recovered and to have ceased to be waste. However this protocol only applies to biodiesel for use in automotive engines.

Landfill

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his estimate is of the amount of food waste that goes to landfill each year. (258004)

The DEFRA-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) does not have data for the total amount of food waste that goes to landfill every year.

However, WRAP undertook research in 2007 to quantify the amounts and types of household food waste produced in the UK. According to its report, “The Food We Waste”, UK households waste 6.7 million tonnes of food every year: around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes we purchase.

Meat: Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what legislation governs levels of hormones in meat imported into the UK. (257801)

EU Council Directive 96/23 lays down measures to monitor certain substances and residues in animals and animal products. In terms of import controls this is implemented in England through the Products of Animal Origin Regulations (Third Country Imports) (England) 2006. The devolved Authorities have their versions of the Products of Animal Origin Regulations.

Metals: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of (a) the number of metal recycling sites affected by proposals to remove their exemptions from full environmental permitting, (b) the number of such sites which will (i) incur additional costs and (ii) risk closure under the proposals and (c) the cost to each site of obtaining the necessary planning approvals for their operations under the proposals. (257395)

In England and Wales there are currently 1,893 sites operating under the existing exemption from environmental permitting which applies to the recovery of scrap metal or the dismantling of motor vehicles.

Under the proposed amendments to the exemptions from environmental permitting which the Department put out for consultation last year, and using best available information, it is estimated that about one third of scrap metal sites which are currently exempt might need to apply for an environmental permit. No decisions have yet been taken on the outcome of the consultation process, and until the exemption thresholds are finalised, it is not possible to determine precisely how many scrap metal sites would require an environmental permit and associated planning approval in the future. Any additional costs incurred by such sites would vary, depending on the particular circumstances of each site.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Environment Agency takes to inspect businesses engaged in scrap metal (a) recovery and (b) treatment for compliance with the requirements of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007; what steps it takes to prosecute businesses which do not comply with the regulations; and what its budget for such enforcement activity for 2008-09 is. (257396)

The Environment Agency’s inspection regime for those scrap metal sites which require an environmental permit is determined by an Operator Pollution Risk Appraisal (OPRA), which assesses the environmental risks and hazards posed by and associated with an activity and how well they are being managed. Those scrap metal sites which qualify for an exemption from the need for an environmental permit are inspected on an annual basis.

Between April and December 2008, 97 scrap metal and end of life vehicles sites were subject to intervention by the Environment Agency including enforcement. This included shutting 78 sites down and bringing 19 sites into compliance. Sites which represent the highest environmental risk are dealt with as a matter of priority. During 2008, the Environment Agency carried out 14 prosecutions against operators treating, keeping, or storing waste illegally or breaching permit conditions involving metals and end of life vehicles only.

The Environment Agency works in partnership with the major trade associations, police forces, Home Office, DVLA, DEFRA and BERR in tackling waste crime. The agency spends about £15 million a year tackling illegal waste activity, which includes fly tipping and illegal wastes sites. It is not possible to say how much of this spend relates to scrap metal sites.

Pigmeat

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what guidance is given under the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative to purchasers of pork in the public sector on procurement of pork products bearing the quality standard mark; (255347)

(2) when he last reviewed Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative guidance on pork purchases.

The Department continues to update and improve the guidance on pork purchases provided under the PSFPI. On 19 January 2009 we published and disseminated a notice alerting public sector bodies to the EU ban on sow stalls from 2013 and its implications for the procurement of pork and pig meat products. This can be viewed on the PSFPI website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/awareness.htm

Work is in progress to develop a model specification for the procurement of pork and bacon which will provide additional guidance on the appropriate use of quality standards for the procurement of pork products.

Recycling: Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which 10 local authorities had the (a) highest and (b) lowest rate of (i) materials recycled, (ii) waste sent to landfill and (iii) production of energy from waste in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (254405)

Renewable Energy: Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated to compare the different processes used in the extraction of energy from waste; and if he will make a statement. (256952)

DEFRA has commissioned the following research projects which compare different processes used in the extraction of energy from waste:

Optimising inputs and outputs from anaerobic digestion processes (WR0212, carried out by the University of Southampton)

Carbon balances and energy impacts of the management of UK waste streams (WR0602, carried out by ERM)

Emissions from waste management facilities: frameworks for assessment of data quality and research needs (WR0608, carried out by ERM)

Impact of energy from waste and recycling policy on UK GHG emissions (WR0609, carried out by ERM)

The optimisation and impacts of expanding biogas production (AC0406, led by Rothamsted Research (North Wyke site) in collaboration with the University of Exeter and AEA Technologies). The project has not been completed, but has produced a report entitled “The optimisation and impacts of expanding biogas production”, which is published. The final report will also be published.

Of the aforementioned, two projects are complete (WR0602, WR0609); of which WR0602 has been evaluated through a peer review.

Project reports from the completed projects have been published on the DEFRA website and reports from the ongoing projects will be published in due course.

International Development

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of short-term projects set up in Afghanistan to aid reconstruction. (258639)

Central African Republic: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding has been provided by his Department to the Central African Republic in each of the last three years; and what funding is planned in each of the next three financial years. (255308)

Details on the Department for International Development’s (DFID) bilateral expenditure and imputed share of multilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) are contained in the DFID publication ‘Statistics on International Development’. This publication is available from in the Library and online at:

www.dfid.gov.uk

Relevant figures are produced in the table.

The Central African Republic does not have an individual allocation for funding over the next three years, as it is part of a wider regional programme. Allocations are made according to needs, and it is at this stage too early to sub-divide the main allocation.

DFID expenditure in the Central African Republic, 2005-06 to 2007-08

£000

DFID bilateral expenditure

DFID imputed multilateral shares

2005-06

2,320

2006-06

2,197

12,535

2007-08

1,134

5,816

Departmental Accountancy

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff were employed by his Department’s Internal Audit Department in each financial year since 1997-98. (258017)

The Department for International Development’s (DFID) Internal Audit Department (IAD) employed the following numbers of staff from 2004-05 onwards:

Number

2004-05

16

2005-06

17

2006-07

18

2007-08

15

2008-09 (to date)

17

IAD also supplements its in-house resources through using external consultants to deliver or support certain internal audit assignments.

Staff numbers are not available by Department within DFID for financial years prior to 2004-05 when a new human resources database was introduced.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make it his policy for his Department to sign the Information Commissioner’s Personal Information Promise. (258945)

The Government welcomed the Promise as a commendable initiative to raise awareness of the importance of effective data protection safeguards, particularly for those organisations with no similar commitments already in place.

The Government take data protection very seriously. Following the Cabinet Office Review of Data Handling Procedures in Government, Departments have implemented a raft of measures to improve data security.

The Ministry of Justice is considering actively with the ICO how the Promise might add additional value to those measures we have already signed up to. These include the Information Charters, the recommendations of the Data Handling Review and the Thomas/Walport Review and, of course, our legal obligations under the Data Protection Act and other legislation and regulations.

Zimbabwe: Cholera

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reports he has received on the operation of the UNICEF programme for distribution of potable water to the cholera-affected areas of Zimbabwe. (258289)

The Department for International Development (DFID) is working closely with UNICEF and the World Health Organisation to ensure potable water reaches those in need. Our support includes: help to establish a cholera command and control centre (to co-ordinate the response); distribution of cholera response kits; provision of potable water in affected areas; and essential medicines and other vital support to health systems.

Distribution of potable water has been arranged in three ways: by fixing infrastructure and bringing in chemicals; through drilling of local boreholes; and ultimately by trucking in daily supplies where immediate needs can only be met this way. Indications are that where such measures have been instigated they have made a significant contribution to reducing the worst effects of the cholera outbreak.

Communities and Local Government

Bed-and-Breakfast Accommodation: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many children under 16 years are living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation; and what steps are being taken to reduce that number. (258158)

Information about English local housing authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

Information on the number of dependent children (and expected children) in bed-and-breakfast style temporary accommodation (i.e. bed-and-breakfast hotels and other privately managed shared facility annexes) is reported quarterly by local authorities as at the last day of each quarter. This figure includes all children under 16 years old, and dependent children aged 16 to 18. On the 30 September 2008, there were an estimated 1,570 dependent children in bed-and-breakfast style temporary accommodation.

We have taken action to tackle the worst aspects of temporary accommodation use—families with children who were placed in cramped bed-and-breakfast accommodation for long periods of time. The effect of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003, which came into force on 1 April 2004, is that local authorities are no longer able to discharge their homelessness duty to secure suitable accommodation by placing households that include children or a pregnant woman in bed-and-breakfast accommodation except as a last resort and then for no longer than six weeks.

Furthermore, in 2005, we announced a target of reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation under the homelessness legislation. Following 12 consecutive quarters of decreases, the figure had fallen to 72,130 by the end of September 2008, and around 40 per cent. of local authorities have already met the target to halve the number of households in temporary accommodation by 2010.

We have provided over £200 million of homelessness funding to local authorities and the voluntary sector, to help them carry out this work.

Community Relations: Religion

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the Local Authority Guidance on including humanists and non-religious people in local authority religion and belief equality work produced by the Community Development Foundation. (259637)

Although some of the Community Development Foundation’s published resources mention non-religious groups in the cohesion or equality context, it has not produced any publication specifically on the inclusion of humanists and non-religious people in local authority religion and belief equality work.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy for her Department to sign the Information Commissioner's Personal Information Promise. (258949)

The Government welcome the Promise as a commendable initiative to raise awareness of the importance of effective data protection safeguards, particularly for those organisations with no similar commitments already in place.

The Government take data protection very seriously. Following the Cabinet Office Review of Data Handling Procedures in Government, Departments have implemented a raft of measures to improve data security.

The Ministry of Justice is considering actively with the ICO how the Promise might add additional value to those measures Departments have already signed up to. These include the Information Charters, the recommendations of the Data Handling Review and the Thomas/Walport Review and, of course, our legal obligations under the Data Protection Act and other legislation and regulations.

Eco-Towns

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has spent on (a) publicity, (b) public consultation and (c) legal costs on eco-town policy since 23 July 2007, identifying separately in each case expenditure on (i) consultants, (ii) support for non-governmental organisations and (iii) consultation materials and exhibitions. (259164)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 108W. This sets out details of spending on the eco-towns programme, including publicity, public consultation and consultant costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will estimate the amount of time spent by officials in her Department on the eco-town project since the publication of the eco-town prospectus on 23 July 2007; and how many officials in her Department are currently working on the project. (259165)

In common with the normal practice of the Department, we do not keep a record of time spent on specific policies and projects, so it is not possible to provide an estimate of official time spent on the eco-towns project since 23 July 2007. Currently nine officials are part of the eco-towns team, but there are also a number of other officials across the Department that contribute to the project, including those working in the areas of planning and climate change.

Eco-towns: Middle Quinton

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will publish the PricewaterhouseCoopers interim financial viability study of the proposed Middle Quinton eco-town. (257080)

The viability study prepared for us by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the eco-town proposal for Middle Quinton will be published shortly, alongside studies for other eco-town proposals.

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which organisations other than faith-based groups received grants under Round (a) one and (b) two of the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund programme; and how much each such organisation received. (259653)

The following table shows the non-faith based groups that received funding in the two rounds of the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund programme. These groups all received funding to assist them with work to build relationships with and between faith communities.

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund: Funded non-faith based organisations

Organisation

Amount awarded (£)

Round 1

African Support and Project Centre (ASPC)

4,900.00

Asian Virsa

5,000.00

Aylesbury Centre for Therapy (ACT)—The Lorrimore

4,940.00

Birmingham Ex-Offenders Service Team (BEST)

5,000.00

Blackburn with Darwen Education Development Trust

5,000.00

Bluestreak Arts

5,000.00

Broxtowe Community Celebration Group (BCCG)

4,740.00

BTWSC

5,000.00

Caravan-e-Adab

3,000.00

Centre for Bangladeshi Community Studies (CBCS)

36,120.00

Chaturangan

5,000.00

Craven Voluntary Action

4,050.00

Credits 4 You—(C4U)

4,845.00

Darwen Central Community Association

4,350.00

Faith in the Future Ltd.

4,530.00

Flash Musicals

5,000.00

Foleshill Women’s Training

5,000.00

Freightliners Farm Ltd.

25,569.00

Friends of Herd Farm

5,000.00

Global Arts Kingston

4,200.00

Harrow Association of Voluntary Service

16,143.00

Hewa Bora Community Development (HB-CODE)

2,568.77

Hyndburn Cultural Association

33,354.00

Hyndburn Women’s Forum

4,595.00

Indo-British Association (North)

5,000.00

Inside Track Regeneration Ltd.

5,000.00

Kala Sangam

15,000.00

Kalapremi (UK)

4,785.00

Keighley Asian Women and Children's Centre

25,933.00

Lincoln Area Regeneration Group (LARG)

3,397.00

Living History North East

30,000.00

London Tigers

5,000.00

Merton Voluntary Services Council

1,450.00

Milton Community Partnership (MCP)

4,000.00

Newcastle Bangladesh Association

4,000.00

Newham Voluntary Sector Consortium

27,300.00

Nomad Cultural Forum

5,000.00

NuMu (New Music)

4,975.00

One to One Children’s Fund

35,200.00

Q-News Media

20,000.00

Rise Phoenix

25,000.00

Rochdale Inner Area Sports For All Group

2,000.00

Rumworth Youth Support Group

5,000.00

Sandycroft Centre

4,996.00

Savile Town Young Women’s Network

4,840.00

Sceptre International Trust

4,830.00

Southern Brooks Community Partnership

5,000.00

SPLASH (South Poplar and Limehouse Action for Secure Housing)

35,000.00

St. Hilda’s East Community Centre (Faiths United)

21,827.00

The Lancashire Partnership Against Crime

4,400.00

Tinsley Parents and Children's Consortium

4,834.00

Voluntary Action Leicester

4,950.00

Weston Spirit

2,500.00

Windsor and Maidenhead Community Forum (WAMCF)

30,000.00

YASY (Youth Association South Yorkshire)

5,000.00

Round 2

AAINA Asian Women’s Group

11,500.00

Aik Saath

12,981.00

Al-Haqq Supplementary School

5,000.00

Asian Virsa

3,500.00

ATL (Yorkshire) Ltd.

15,000.00

Awaz Utaoh

28,250.00

Barnet Voluntary Service Council

3,600.00

BUCA (Burkina Community Association)

5,000.00

Citizenship Foundation

24,608.00

De Montfort Students’ Union

18,900.00

Echo of Afrika (EOA)

4,343.58

Ethnic Minorities Advocacy Group (EMAG)

2,300.00

Face

2,100.00

Finsbury Park Homeless Families Project

5,000.00

Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minority Support Group

5,000.00

Global Generation

15,322.00

Greater London Domestic Violence Project (part of London Action Trust)

21,660.00

Halesowen Asian Elderly Association

2,000.00

Hanley Crouch Community Association

4,917.00

Henna Asian Women’s Group

5,000.00

Hewabora Community Development (HB-CODE)

4,230.00

Indian Union, Oxford

5,000.00

Lambeth Congolese Community (LACOCO)

5,000.00

Leicester Rajkot Twinning Association

3,850.00

Minorities of Europe (“MoE”)

16,000.00

NCBI Leicestershire (National Coalition Building Institute)

5,000.00

OFFER (Open Forum for Economic Regeneration)

21,396.00

One World Week

28,625.00

PLIAS Resettlement

4,550.00

Pulling Together—Young Asian Women's Group

4,185.00

Race Equality Action Lewisham

19,070.00

RAIS Academy

4,500.00

Religions for Peace (UK)

29,930.00

Robin Hood Millennium Green Trust (RHMGT)

4,990.00

Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance (REMA)

17,250.00

South Craven Community Action

26,181.00

St. John’s Wood Adventure Playground

4,650.00

Tameside Third Sector Coalition (T3SC)

29,680.00

The Art House

4,990.00

The National Youth Agency

29,480.00

The Open Centre

20,320.00

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Trust

25,000.00

Three Faiths Forum

30,000.00

Torbay Voluntary Service

2,000.00

Toynbee Hall

17,287.00

Tyneside Cinema

29,980.00

Victoria Centre

15,000.00

Voice of Aston

15,275.00

Warwick District Faiths Forum (WDFF)

5,000.00

Women Connect First

12,000.00

Youth Association South Yorkshire (known as YASY)

20,000.00

Fire Services: Medals

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consideration her Department has given to provision of funding for the award of fire brigade long service medals; and if she will make a statement. (258824)

The Department already provides full funding for the award of Fire Brigade long service and good conduct medals through the Office of the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, located within Communities and Local Government.

Government Offices for the Regions: Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated cost in empty property business rates for the vacant property recorded on the e-PIMS database owned by the Government Offices for the Regions at (a) the Belgrave Centre, (b) the Westbrook Centre, (c) Riverwalk House, (d) 2 Rivergate, (e) Mast House and (f) Paradise Circus 77 is in 2008-09. (258537)

The property business rates for vacant space for the requested buildings as recorded on e-PIMS is as follows:

£

Belgrave Centre

14,550

Westbrook Centre

14,985

Riverwalk House

125,509

Rivergate

25,447

Mast House

16,761

Paradise Circus

72,815

Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which banks and building societies are participating in the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme. (258675)

The eight largest lenders covering 70 per cent. of the mortgage market—HBOS, Nationwide, Abbey, Lloyds TSB, Northern Rock, Barclays, RBS, HSBC—have agreed in principle to support the new scheme. We are now working with a wider group of lenders to finalise the scheme implementation plans and agree the draft Master Guarantee. All lenders will be invited to sign-up to the scheme in due course. RBS have confirmed that they will actively participate in the scheme once details are finalised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme to begin. (258676)

We expect the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme to be open for business with the first lenders in April now that the Banking Act, which is the legislative vehicle we have used to enable us to do this, has gained Royal Assent. The draft Master Guarantee is currently with lenders.

Lobbying

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1697-98W, on Lord Truscott, what information was given to Lord Taylor by her Department following his request for information on Newark as a growth point and related planning cases. (259460)

Baroness Andrews wrote to Lord Taylor in July 2008, giving him a factual update on recent planning proposals and growth point funding for Newark on Trent. All the information was in the public domain. She also informed him that the Government office for the east midlands had been asked to comment on an “Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report” for a proposed urban extension to the south of Newark, but had declined to comment—as to have done otherwise might have been seen to have prejudiced the Secretary of State’s quasi-judicial role in the event that an application is referred to her for a decision in the future.

Mortgages: Government Assistance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeowners are currently in receipt of assistance under the Homeowner Mortgage Protection Scheme. (256188)

On 3 December 2008, the Prime Minister announced additional support for homeowners facing financial difficulties through a new homeowners mortgage support scheme.

It became clear that legislative change was required. This was secured on 12 February when the Banking Bill received Royal Assent.

I wrote to lenders detailing the proposed key elements of the scheme in December. This letter is available at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/homeownersmortgagesupport

We are now working urgently with lenders and debt advisers to confirm the final design and implementation details, and to open the scheme for borrowers in spring 2009.

Ordnance Survey: Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated cost in empty property business rates for the vacant properties recorded on the e-PIMS database owned by Ordnance Survey is in 2008-09. (258536)

Ordnance Survey has had no vacant property qualifying for empty property business rates during 2008-09. Ordnance Survey has some space within one building which has been vacant since 2007, and for which it is actively seeking a tenant. £21,111.72 has been paid in unified business rates on this space during 2008-09.

Peter Housden

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to pages 22-3 of her Department’s Resource Accounts 2007-08, for what reason Mr. Peter Housden receives an interest-free housing loan; and for how many years he has received such a loan from her Department and its predecessor. (259578)

The loan was provided in 2002 when Mr. Housden worked for the DFES as part of a relocation package from Nottingham to London—the loan transferred to Communities and Local Government when Mr. Housden was appointed as permanent secretary on 24 October 2005. Packages of this kind are commonplace in many major organisations and are a key part of recruiting the very best candidates. The loan is counted as taxable income and is being paid back over a 10 year period. Rules governing loans are detailed in the Civil Service Code.

Refuges: Domestic Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the findings of the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Map of Gaps: The Postcode Lottery of Violence Against Women Support Services, on the provision of refuges by local authorities for victims of domestic violence. (257409)

We have taken note of the report and continue to recognise the important role refuges can play in helping the victims of domestic abuse. We also recognise that there is a range of support for those victims; some will be accommodated in refuges, but sanctuary schemes and mainstream local authority accommodation may be an option for others, while some victims will pursue independent solutions with help and advice from support schemes as necessary.

However it is for individual local authorities to identify any gaps in service provision and put in place appropriate solutions to address this. We would expect local authorities to build services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available data sources.

The Department have recently commissioned new research that will identify the current housing options available to households at risk of domestic violence, and to assess whether this provision meets current need. It will involve establishing the extent and type of temporary and settled accommodation available for households at risk of domestic violence in England, including the provision of housing related support services delivered to both temporary and settled accommodation, and to households’ own homes.

In 2003 the Government announced major investment in refuge provision in England in 2003-06. A total of £34 million capital was allocated and 511 units of accommodation were refurbished or newly built. More recently the Hostels Capital Improvement Programme (2005-07) funded six new and refurbished refuges at a cost of £4 million.

CLG provides essential revenue support for victims of domestic violence through the Supporting People Programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make an assessment of the (a) geographical distribution, (b) quality and (c) effectiveness of (i) refuges for victims of domestic violence and (ii) services for victims of rape in England; and if she will make a statement. (259603)

There is a range of support for survivors of domestic abuse. The homelessness legislation provides a safety net for survivors and some will be accommodated in refuges, but Sanctuary Schemes and mainstream local authority accommodation may be an option for others, while some survivors will pursue independent solutions with help and advice from support schemes as necessary.

The Department has recently commissioned new research that will identify the current housing options available to households at risk of domestic abuse, and to assess whether this provision meets current need across England. It will involve establishing the extent and type of temporary and settled accommodation (including refuges) available for households who have experienced or are at risk of domestic abuse in England, including the provision of housing related support services.

The Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) was introduced in 2003 and sets out the standards expected in the delivery of housing-related support services, including domestic abuse refuges (funded through the Supporting People programme). Its purpose is to drive up quality standards across the sector and to ensure that services evolve to meet the changing needs and aspirations of clients.

The QAF has been one of the major successes of the Supporting People programme. The majority of administering authorities continue to use the QAF today and there is also evidence that other areas across authorities, such as adult social care, are also adopting the QAF as the standard tool to measure the quality of services being delivered.

A national Supporting People Outcomes Framework was launched in summer 2007. The framework monitors the outcomes delivered by housing-related support services, including domestic abuse refuges, across England for a wide range of client groups.

The Government are rolling out sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs) across the country to support victims of rape. There are currently 27 SARCs and distribution is recorded by the Home Office. The Home Secretary has made a commitment to have one in each police force area by 2011. A method of assessing quality and effectiveness is currently being developed by the Department of Health. There are currently 36 ISVAs and there is a Government commitment to ensure all victims have access to an ISVA by 2011. Distribution of ISVAs is recorded by the Home Office and quality and effectiveness is currently assessed by regional Government offices.

Central Government do not collect information in respect of voluntary sector services for victims of rape.

Sheffield House: Empty Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated cost in empty property business rates for the vacant property recorded on the e-PIMS database of (a) Sheffield House, (b) Hempstead House and (c) the Community Development Foundation is in 2008-09. (258538)

The cost in business rates of the 1st floor Sheffield house being vacant during 2008-09 was £17,209.50. The estimated cost of business rates for the ground floor of Hempstead house being vacant was £14,823.

The Community Development Foundation property referred to is not vacant.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date he plans to inform Parliament of the findings and implications of his Department’s periodic review of Afghanistan strategy for 2008; and what form he expects this presentation to take. (256065)

Officials are preparing to publish shortly a paper outlining progress made in Afghanistan to date and the challenges we face going forward on the basis of the stocktake completed in December 2008. Parliament will be informed as soon the paper is ready. A copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Diplomatic Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the appointment of a new High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (253960)

This issue was discussed at the 26 January 2009 and 23 February 2009 at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels. Officials have also discussed the appointment with Peace Implementation Council partners.

The international community needs to find a credible successor to Miroslav Lajcak who can continue to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in moving away from ethnic divisions towards a better future for all its citizens.

China: Family Planning

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the government of China on trends in China’s population since July 2008; and if he will make a statement. (259019)

No discussions have taken place between the UK and the Chinese government on trends in China’s population since July 2008.

Conflict Resolution

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which dates the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Conflict Resolution Mechanisms has visited (a) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and (b) 10 Downing Street; and what the purpose was of each visit. (256829)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: The right hon. Jack McConnell MSP, the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Conflict Resolution Mechanisms is based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He met officials from the European Council, European Commission and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 9-10 December 2008 in Brussels and from the UN on 15-16 December 2008 in New York. Mr McConnell also met EU officials on 2-3 February 2009 in Bosnia. He plans to meet officials from the African Union shortly.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with the government of (a) the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and (b) Rwanda regarding the joint military operation involving their two countries in the East of the DRC; and if he will make a statement. (255053)

British officials have met senior representatives of the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda recently to discuss the ongoing military operations in eastern DRC. We have made clear our support for improved co-operation between the governments, and urged greater involvement by the UN in planning military action to ensure civilian protection is in place and human rights are upheld. The presence of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) militia is one of the fundamental causes of the instability in DRC. We welcome the commitment of the governments of DRC and Rwanda to addressing this.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to help strengthen the MONUC force in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (257352)

We fully support UN efforts to strengthen its peacekeeping Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). The UK was a co-sponsor of UN Security Council Resolution 1843, which allowed MONUC's strength to be increased by over 3,000.

Since the adoption of that Resolution, we have lobbied potential troop contributing countries and led calls for the reinforcement to take place as soon as possible. The UK has identified ways in which it could lend support to MONUC, including through secondment of a small number of appropriately skilled individuals to fill key vacant posts on the MONUC staff, including the post of Deputy Force Commander.

Departmental Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) letters and (b) e-mails received by his Department had not been responded to as at 15 December 2008. (244705)

Only correspondence received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Ministerial Support Unit (MSU) is logged centrally. To ask every department or overseas post within the FCO how many letters and e-mails had not been responded to by a particular date would incur a disproportionate cost.

MSU records are maintained on a rolling basis so it is not possible to identify how many pieces of correspondence had not been responded to as of 15 December 2008. Furthermore, we do not differentiate between types of correspondence so are unable to break down our response into the number of letters or e-mails we receive. However, I can confirm that, in-line with Cabinet Office guidance, of the 10,334 letters received from hon. Members in 2008, 87 per cent. were answered within 20 working days and of the 73,048 letters received from members of the public, 91 per cent. were answered within 20 working days.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how long on average it took his Department to send a substantive response to correspondence from members of the public in the latest period for which figures are available. (255589)

Only correspondence received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ministerial support unit (MSU) is logged centrally. To ask every Department or overseas post within the FCO how long on average it takes to issue a substantive response to correspondence from members of the public would incur a disproportionate cost.

MSU records do not allow us to identify the average length of time taken to substantively reply to correspondence from members of the public. However, I can confirm that of the 73,048 letters received from members of the public, 91 per cent. were answered within 20 working days.

Departmental Freedom of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of staff are employed to deal with requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in his Department. (255498)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has 10 staff in its information rights team who are responsible for managing freedom of information and subject access requests under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts respectively. However, a large number of staff in the FCO play a role in answering freedom of information requests and to find out exactly how many would incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Official Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been spent on (a) departmental Christmas parties and (b) staff entertainment in the last three years. (243736)

This information is not held centrally, and to provide it would incur a disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to advise staff of pension options available to them in relation to added years or additional voluntary contributions. (253273)

Our aim is that members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension built up to date, and also a projection of their pension on retirement if they continue in service to scheme pension age. The benefit statement prompts the member to consider boosting their pension and provides details of the civil service pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including options for making additional voluntary contributions and a calculator to work out costs for added pension (previously added years).

For technical reasons 2009 will be the first year we issue benefits statements to all scheme members.

New entrants are informed of pension options in the employment offer and are provided with a pension information pack.

Departmental Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which of the public appointments for which his Department is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restriction, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Department keeps in respect of such appointments. (254239)

Information on the public appointments for which the Department is responsible is published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/what-we-do/building-strong-relationships-ol/stakeholder-groups/non-dept-public-bodies/

Vacancies may be advertised on the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website at:

www.publicappointments.gov.uk

The process for making a public appointment, including guidance on political activity and eligibility criteria, follows the Cabinet Office publication “Making and Managing Public Appointments”. For appointments regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointments process also complies with the “Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies”. Copies are in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 23 June 2008, Official Report, column 75W, on departmental public expenditure, what his Department's forecast (a) net euro and (b) net US dollar exposure for the financial years (i) 2007-08 and (ii) 2008-09 was; and what revisions were made to those forecasts in light of foreign exchange movements. (243846)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) forecasted net euro and net US dollar exposure as follows:

(i) The FCO's net euro and US dollar exposure in 2007-08 was:

(a) Euro: €274 million

(b) US dollar: $917 million.

During this year all foreign currency requirements were met through making separate “spot” deals for each individual invoice, subscription payment or funds transfer to cover running costs at overseas posts. Variations from budget estimates caused by exchange rate fluctuations were compensated by the Treasury's Overseas Price Movements mechanism, and no central forecast of foreign currency requirements was made.

(ii) The forecast net euro and US dollar exposure for 2008-09 was:

(a) Euro: €180 million

(b) US dollars: $767 million.

This comprised our commitments for subscriptions to international organisations and UN peacekeeping missions and overseas posts' estimates of the sums required for their running and other costs given at the beginning of the financial year.

Following approval from HM Treasury to forward purchase this exposure, contracts were placed with the Bank of England for the period July 2008 to March 2009. We agreed these would be limited to 80 per cent. of the total, in recognition of the possibilities that estimates might not be completely accurate, and/or that due to the weakness of sterling, the full amounts might not be affordable.

In total, the following amounts were forward purchased for the period July 2008 to March 2009:

(a) Euro: €102 million

(b) US dollars: $559 million.

In the light of exchange rate movements, the budgets for 2008-09 needed to be revised as follows:

(a) HM Treasury were asked for an additional £5 million towards International Subscriptions.

(b) We identified that across all currencies a further £90 million would be needed by budget holders from within the FCO's own resources in order to maintain the purchasing power for overseas posts and pay additional peacekeeping costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of foreign exchange movements on subscriptions to international organisations paid through his Department’s budget. (243941)

The information requested is as follows:

Subscriptions to each international organisation in 2007-08

Subscription

£000

UN regular budget and other UN contributions

72,382

Council of Europe

19,620

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

20,962

Organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD)

12,826

Commonwealth secretariat

3,435

Organisation for security cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

3,223

Western European union/others

2,215

Total

34,663

Source:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Resource Accounts 2007-08.

(a) Subscriptions to each international organisation in 2008-09

Subscription

£000

UN regular budget and other UN contributions

73,507

Council of Europe

23,938

NATO

20,870

OECD

14,290

Commonwealth secretariat

4,343

OSCE

3,745

Western European Union/others

2,040

Total

142,733

Source:

FCO Supplementary Estimates 2008-09, 27 January 2009

(b) Subscriptions to each international organisation in 2009-10

The projected costs for 2009-10 are around £146 millions but are uncertain. In negotiating with international organisations as they set their budgets for 2009-10, the FCO will endeavour to limit budget increases to zero real growth. The fall in the value of the Sterling will have an impact on subscriptions paid in US Dollars and Euros. The FCO shares the burden of exchange rate movements on international subscriptions with the Treasury under the arrangement whereby HM Treasury funds 60 per cent. of any increase above a baseline of £102 million. Our foreign currency forward purchase contracts do include an element for our international subscription costs intended to help offset any further falls in the value of the Sterling.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost to his Department was of subscriptions to international organisations in 2007-08; what the cost was with regard to each international institution; and what the total cost is projected to be in 2008-09. (243942)

The information requested is as follows:

Subscriptions to each international organisation in 2007-08

Subscription

£000

UN regular budget and other UN contributions

72,382

Council of Europe

19,620

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

20,962

Organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD)

12,826

Commonwealth secretariat

3,435

Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

3,223

Western European Union/others

2,215

Total

134,663

Source:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Resource Accounts 2007-08

(a) Subscriptions to each international organisation in 2008-09

Subscription

£000

UN regular budget and other UN contributions

73,507

Council of Europe

23,938

NATO

20,870

OECD

14,290

Commonwealth secretariat

4,343

OSCE

3,745

Western European Union/others

2,040

Total

142,733

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effect on its budget and activities in 2009-10 of the Treasury’s decision to withdraw support for the overseas price mechanism. (258208)

We continue to operate the Overseas Price Mechanism internally to maintain the purchasing power of our overseas posts’ local budgets. The decline in the value of the sterling created a potential funding pressure of £60 million in the 2008-09 financial year (as of December 2008). At current exchange rates we expect an additional pressure of up to £30 million to continue our activities at current levels in 2009-10. This does not include the pressure on international subscriptions and peacekeeping. The impact of this shortfall has been minimised through delayed activity, by making additional efficiency savings, and implementing a strategy of forward purchasing of foreign exchange.

Departmental Surveys

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the Cultural Audit commissioned by his Department. (258207)

Departmental Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what use (a) his Department and (b) service providers under contract to his Department made of (i) 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers and (ii) revenue-sharing telephone numbers for calls from members of the public; for which services such numbers are used; what prefixes are used for revenue-sharing numbers; how much revenue has accrued from revenue-sharing numbers in each of the last five years; what consideration his Department has given to introducing 03-prefixed telephone numbers for calls to all such services; and if he will make a statement. (247342)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a Travel Advice line (0845 850 28290). The line offers an alternative method for accessing the same travel advice available on the FCO website. In the last six months, 2,642,989 people accessed FCO Travel Advice from the website, 52,251 used the Travel Advice phone line. Calls are charged at the standard rate from a British Telecom line (up to 5p/m) and the FCO receives no financial benefit from the arrangement. We are committed to providing the best possible service to British nationals seeking advice on living and travelling abroad and as part of this ongoing process the introduction of an 03 number will be considered as part of this year’s Review of Consular Services.

UKVisas became part of the UK Border Agency International on 1 April 2008. Until that time, UKVisas was part of the FCO. UKVisas did maintain a live 0870 public inquiry line, but this service is not now operational and is unlikely to be used in the future.

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1794W, what the (a) duration and (b) cost was of the training he received; and which organisations supplied the training. (245793)

Since June 2007, £6,700 has been spent on training for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on the presentation of foreign policy issues, and £85 on IT training.

Diplomatic Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many embassy and consular staff of each grade work in posts in (a) Germany, (b) France, (c) Russia, (d) China, (e) India, (f) Brazil and (g) the US. (255374)

The total number of UK civil servants currently serving at posts in these countries are as follows:

Number

Germany

34

France

45

Russia

68

China

157

India

129

Brazil

29

United States

149

We are unable, for data protection reasons, to break the figures down by grade.

European Parliament

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times he has visited the European Parliament on official business in the last 12 months. (259538)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has visited the EU Parliament on official business once in the last 12 months, on 8 October 2008.

Falkland Islands: Air Routes

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the economic effect on the Falkland Islands of recent increases in the cost of fares on the Falkland Islands airbridge; and if he will make a statement. (257811)

The South Atlantic Air-bridge contributes to the social and economic development of the South Atlantic Overseas Territories through providing a link to Britain and the outside world, contributing to tourism, the movement of freight, and facilitating business opportunities. The Ministry of Defence has not raised the cost of fares on the South Atlantic Air-bridge since August 2008, which was in response to the global increase in the price of oil.

Gaza: Diplomatic Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of reports from UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Abu-Zayd that Israel has stopped UN staff based in Gaza from using the diplomatic pouch; and if he will make a statement. (244763)

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) informs us that it has suspended the diplomatic bag in and out of Gaza since mid-November 2008 after incidents in early November when officials carrying the bag were turned back from Gaza. UNRWA is following up with the Israeli authorities and has not requested our assistance.

Group of Twenty: London Summit

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many unique visitors the website www.londonsummit.gov.uk has received. (258931)

The London Summit website received 74,922 unique visitors between 29 January 2009, the day the site went live, and 23 February 2009, the day before this response was prepared.

Guantanamo Bay: Detainees

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what dates the US authorities acceded to his request to return Guantanamo Bay detainee Mr. Binyam Mohamed to the UK; and what form the communication of this decision took. (256380)

Over the last 18 months we have worked long and hard to secure Mr. Binyam Mohamed’s release from Guantanamo Bay and return to the UK. After Military Commission charges against Mr. Mohamed were dropped in October 2008, we held a series of positive discussions with the US on the principle of his return.

President Obama’s Executive Order of 22 January 2009 required a case-by-case assessment of all those detained at Guantanamo Bay. The new US Administration agreed to our request that Mr. Mohamed’s case should be treated as a priority in this process. We concluded a written transfer arrangement for Mr. Mohamed’s release and return on 20 February 2009, leading to his return to the UK on 23 February 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date Mr. Binyam Mohamed is expected to return to the UK. (256448)

Mr. Binyam Mohamed returned to the UK on 23 February 2009 following his release from Guantanamo Bay.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the policy of the Government is in respect of the cases of (a) Shaker Aamer, (b) Ahmed Belbacha and (c) Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed currently detained at Guantanamo Bay. (259026)

In order to support efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the UK has sought the release and return of five individuals who had been legally resident in the UK prior to their detention.

As a result of our representations, Mr. Abdennour Sameur, Mr. Jamil el Banna, Mr. Omar Deghayes and Mr. Binyam Mohamed have been returned to the UK. The US have so far declined to agree Mr. Shaker Aamer's return but we have made clear that our request for his release and return stands, should their position change.

We are not seeking the release and return to the UK of Mr. Ahmed Belbacha, who we do not believe was here lawfully, or Mr. Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed, who we have no record of being in the UK.

Hezbollah and Hamas

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official contacts there have been in the last four weeks between the Government and (a) Hezbollah and (b) Hamas. (254721)

[holding answer 9 February 2009]: On 9 January 2009, our ambassador in Beirut attended a meeting of British parliamentarians with the Lebanese Foreign Affairs Committee. Representatives of all main political parties in Lebanon were present, including one MP from Hezbollah's political wing. During this meeting, our ambassador stressed the importance of all sides respecting the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which established the terms of the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in August 2006.

We do not believe it is productive to talk to Hamas directly. The Arab League has mandated Egypt to communicate with Hamas. We are in regular contact with both the Arab League and Egypt. Turkey, Syria, Qatar and others are also speaking to Hamas. The UK strongly supports intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Abbas which is the key for peace, stability and development.

Homecoming Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support his Department (a) has given and (b) plans to give to the Homecoming Scotland 2009 initiative. (257762)

Following a request from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Murphy), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has taken the following steps:

Details of the initiative were published automatically on all FCO English language post websites (approx 150 countries).

We asked Scotland’s 10 priority-country FCO websites to create a ‘feature box’ on their homepage. An example is on

http://ukincanada.fco.gov.uk/en

Further website publicity for this initiative will be provided during the course of the year.

Iran: Baha'i Faith

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the arrest and charge of seven members of the Baha’i leadership in Iran on 11 February 2009; and if he will make a statement. (258481)

We have received several worrying reports confirming that the seven leading members of the Iranian Baha’i community have been charged with spying for Israel, “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”—charges which could carry the death penalty. We are concerned about the conditions under which they are being detained and that they have been systematically refused access to their lawyer. Reports suggest that the seven individuals are due to face trial in the coming weeks.

We are monitoring the situation closely and have called for Iran to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings and to reconsider the charges brought against these individuals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Iranian authorities to allow independent observers to be present at any trial of the seven members of the Baha’i leadership in Iran charged on 11 February 2009. (258482)

We have called repeatedly for the Iranian government to release the seven leading members of the Iranian Baha’i community. Having been held for so long without due process, we are concerned that they may not receive a fair trial now that they have been formally charged.

My hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Bill Rammell, issued a statement on 16 February 2009, which was backed by an EU statement on 17 February 2009, expressing our concern and calling for the Iranian government to ensure that their trial is fair and to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings. The statement may be found at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/

We urge Iran to respect and protect its religious minorities and free all prisoners held due to their faith or religious practice.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which members of the pre-March 2003 Iraqi government have been detained by coalition forces or the Iraqi government since that time; for what period each was detained; whether each is still detained; and when charges were brought against each such detainee. (257964)

The following table shows the details requested by my hon. Friend:

Name

Position

Date captured

Date charged

Case

Ali Hassan Al Majjid Abdul Khafor

Revolutionary Command Council

23 September 2003

March 2006

Anfal case. Convicted. Sentenced to death.

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced to death

Abd Hamid Mahmoud Al Nassiri

National Security Advisor Presidential Secretary

24 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced to 15 years.

Tariq Aziz

Deputy Prime Minister

25 September 2003

April 2008

Merchants case, verdict pending.

Sulayman Ulwan Ibrahim Al Huryamis Al Nasiri

Deputy Director for Special Security, Personal Secretary for Uday Hussein

7 February 2005

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted

Mezher Norman Waheb Al Duri

Director of Iraqi Intelligence Service

18 March 2004

Pending release

Muzahim Sab Hassan Al Tikriti

Commander, Iraqi Air Force

25 September 2003

1991, Marsh Arabs

Jamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan Al-Tikriti

Assistant to Minister of Tribal Affairs, Secretary to Presidential Secretary

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Oklah Abd Sikr

In charge of Misan’s Ba’ath party organization, Member Security Committee in Misan

25 September 2003

February 2009

Friday Prayers. Verdict pending

Latif Nasif Jassim

Director Ba’ath Party’s Military Bureau

25 September 2003

February 2009

Friday Prayers. Verdict pending.

Mohammed Zmam Abdul Razak

Minister of Interior

February 2009

Friday Prayers. Verdict pending.

Watban Ibrahim Al Hassan

Minister of Interior/Presidential Advisor

25 September 2003

April 2008

Merchants. Verdict pending.

Hikmat Muzban Ibrahim Al Azawi

Finance Minister/Deputy Prime Minister

26 September 2003

Religious Parties

Muhammad Mahdi Al-Salih

Minister of Trade

25 September 2003

Kuwait, wasting national wealth, ethnic cleansing, Marsh Arabs

Zuhayr Talib Abd Al Salih

Director of Military Intelligence

25 September 2003

1991, Marsh Arabs

Waleed Hamed Tawfeek Al Tikriti

Brigade Commander for Republican Guards

29 April 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced, 15 years.

Amir Muhammad Al Ubaydi

Oil Minister/Presidential Advisor

25 September 2005

Marsh Arabs, wasting national wealth

Sameer Abdul Aziz Al Najim

Oil Minister/Presidential Advisor

25 September 2003

1991, Marsh Arabs, Friday Prayers

Lu’ay Khayrallah

Closest companion of Uday Hussein

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Furat Abdul Rasman Obaydi Al Ani

Director of Saddam’s State Establishment

25 September 2003

Pending release

Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan Al-Tikriti

Assistant to Minister of Tribal Affairs, Secretary to Presidential Secretary

25 September 2003

1991

Aziz Salih Al Noman

Ba’ath Party Official, Multiple government offices

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced

Ayyad Futuyyih Al Rawi

Republican Guard Commander

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced

Hamid Raja Sahiah Al Tikriti

Commander Iraqi Air Force

Unknown

Marsh Arabs

Taher Tawfiq Al Ani

Governor of Mosul, Multiple government positions

25 September 2003

Anfal—Acquitted Marsh Arabs

Ibrahim Ahmad Abd Al Sattar

Chief of Staff for Iraqi Armed Forces

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced, Life.

Muneem Kadhum Hussein Al Samaria

Bomb Maker

26 September 2003

1991, Marsh Arabs

Saif Al-Dein A Mashhadani

General Secretary of the Presidential Divan

25 September 2003

February 2009

Friday Prayers. Verdict pending.

Abid Hamid Mahmud Al Tikriti

President’s Personal Secretary, Multiple Government Positions

24 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced 15 years

Mizban Khidir Hadi

Revolutionary Command Council member

24 September 2003

April 2008

Merchants case, verdict pending.

Barzan Abdul Ghafoor Sulaiman Majid Al Tikriti

Commander Special Republican Guard

24 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Mahmud Dhiyab Al-Ahmadi

Minister of Interior, Minister of Irrigation, Minister of Housing

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Khamis Sirhan Bashir

Ba’ath Party Regional Chairman

3 February 2004

Pending Release

Moshen Khudr Abbas Al Khafaji

Ba’ath Party Official

10 February 2004

Religious Parties

Mohammed Zimam Adb Al Razzaq A Sadun

Minister of Interior

18 February 2004

February 2009

Friday Prayers. Verdict pending.

Hani Abdel Latif Tolfah Al Tikriti

Deputy Director of SSO

21 June 2004

1991

Saad Salhih Ahmad

Special Republican Guard

21 June 2004

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Suhayl Mohammed Juma Al Duri

High Ranking SSO Officer

10 September 2004

Release Pending

Q’aed Hussein Hueidi Al Awadi

Senior Ba’ath Party Official

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs, Assassination of Independent Figures.

Hussein Rashid Mohamed Al Tikriti

Commander, Republican Guard

25 September 2003

March 2006

Anfal case. Convicted. Sentenced, death.

Sultan Hashim Ahmad Al Jabburi Al Taie

Minister of Defense

25 September 2003

March 2006

Anfal case. Convicted. Sentenced, death.

Haitham Abdel Hamad

Director, Counter Intelligence

21 August 2003

Released.

Abdul Hameed Salman

Iraqi Intelligence Service

7 February 2005

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Abdul Kareem Hakim Nfoos Al Majeed Al Tikriti

Commander, Republican Guard

7 February 2005

1991.

Assad Mohamed Hasan Al Harke

Deputy Leader of Al-Islam

4 January 2004

Transferred to Kurdish Court

Salman Duaud Sallumi Al Azawi

Political Orientation Officer

8 January 1995

Released

Jassam Al Jabburi Awad

Director, General Security

18 January 2005

Deceased

Khalil Khadir Mohamed Al Salhat

Intelligence Service

26 September 2003

Deceased

Farooq Abdullah Yehya Hejazi

Intelligence Officer

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs, Secular Parties

Mahmud Fazi Al Hazza

Military Commander

25 September 2003

February 2009

Friday Prayers. Verdict pending.

Hazan Izbah Thalji Al Ubaydi

Director, Iraqi Intelligence

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Sa’adon Shakir Mohammed Ahmed Al

Member, Revolutionary Command Council

25 September 2003

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Hamid Yusef Hammadi

Presidential Secretary

24 January 2006

Marsh Arabs

Ghalib Umar Maudi Al Duri

Iraqi Intelligence Service

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Fadil Sulfaij Mohamed

Iraqi Intelligence Service

26 September 2003

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Mohamed Faraj Bilal Al Samarra

Official, National Monitoring Service

24 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Ma’ad Ibrahim Al Duri

Director, Foreign Intelligence

25 September 2003

Kuwait

Abd Hasan Al Majid

Deputy Director, General Security

25 September 2003

1991

Mohamed Khudyar Sabah

Director of M14 Operations

24 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Shihib Ahmad Hamada Ibrahim Al Abassi

Suicide Bomber Program Leader

26 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Ahmad Hussein Khudayir Al Samarra

Deputy Minister of Military Intelligence

25 September 2003

April 2008

Merchants case, verdict pending.

Hashim Hassan Al Majid

Governor of Babil and Kirkuk

24 September 2003

Marsh Arabs, Ethnic Cleansing

Abdul Hussein Mohamed

Ba’ath Party General Secretary

25 September 2003

Marsh Arabs

Fadhil Abbas Ibrihim AI Ameri

Commander, Al Mutaba’s Prison

25 September 2003

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Issam Rashid Hwaish

Director, Central Bank of Iraq

24 September 2003

April 2008

Merchants case, verdict pending.

Numan Hasan Suliaman

Iraqi Intelligence Service

22 December 2003

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Hamid Ismail Al Ruba’a

Republican Guard Official

29 October 2004

Released

Muzhir Taha Ahamad A Jabbori

Director, Iraqi Intelligence

31 December 2005

Marsh Arabs

Saaedi Toama Joubori

Minister of Defense

29 October 2004

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced, 6-15 years

Latif Mahal Humud Sabawi

Ba’ath Party Official

18 March 2004

May 2007

1991 case. Acquitted. Still held in Marsh Arabs case.

Sabir Aba Al Aziz Husayn Al Duri

Director, Military Intelligence

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced, 6-15 years.

March 2006

Anfal case. Convicted. Sentenced, death

Ayad Taha Shihab Al Douri

Station Chief, Iraqi Embassy in Turkey

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Acquitted.

January 2009

Fayli Kurds. Verdict pending.

Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafur

Ba’ath Party Secretary

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced, death

Farhan Mutlaq Saleh Al Jabori

Commander, Military Intelligence

25 September 2003

March 2006

Anfal case. Convicted. Sentence, life

Oais Abdul Razzak Al Athami

Governor of Kirkuk

25 September 2003

May 2007

1991 case. Convicted. Sentenced, 15 years.

Sufyan Maher Hasan Al Tikriti

Commander Republican Guard

25 July 2004

May 2007

1991 case. Acquitted.

Isle of Man: EU Grants and Loans

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding the Isle of Man has received from the European Union in each of the last five years. (244050)

Neither the Foreign and Commonwealth Office nor the Ministry of Justice, the UK Department responsible for the UK’s relationship with the Crown Dependencies, has knowledge of any funding received by the Isle of Man from the European Union in the last five years.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what occasions he has condemned (a) suicide and (b) other terrorist attacks in Israel; if he will place in the Library a copy of each such statement; and if he will make a statement. (242696)

We have consistently made clear that rocket attacks directed against Israeli civilians are utterly unacceptable. We led the work on UN Security Council Resolution 1860 which “condemns all violence and hostilities directed at civilians and all acts of terrorism”.

This has been our longstanding policy and over the last year we issued statements addressing both rocket attacks and suicide attacks.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said on 2 March 2008 “I condemn the rocket attacks against Israel”, and on 4 February 2009 “I utterly condemn this morning's suicide attack in Dimona”.

Further statements can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website,

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/latest-news/statements/

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of whether any of the weaponry or component parts thereof being used by the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza has been manufactured in the UK or exported by a UK-registered company (247806)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his statement to the House on 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 21:

“No arms exports are granted where there is a clear risk that those arms could be used for internal repression or external aggression, and that is surveyed very closely. Also, we have no evidence of any of the exports that he has pointed to being used in this operation.”—[Official Report, 12 January 2009; vol. 486, c.29.]

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the oral statement of 12 January 2009, Official Report, columns 21-38, on Gaza, what consideration he has given to referring the allegations made on the conduct of both sides to the International Criminal Court. (247882)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told the House on 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 504:

“allegations must be closely and speedily investigated. Obviously, the three key parties to that investigation are the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Government of Israel, and we are in touch with all of them.”—[Official Report, 19 January 2009; vol. 486, c.504.]

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the report of the Strategic Foresight Group on the Cost of Conflict in the Middle East. (257510)

The report of the Strategic Foresight Group on the Cost of Conflict in the Middle East highlights many of the negative consequences of the conflict. The Government share these concerns and continue to believe that a just and lasting peace is in the interests of all parties. We will continue to work to achieve such a peace.

Overseas Trade: Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on support for the overseas price mechanism before the decision to withdraw support was taken. (256962)

There were extensive discussions between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and HM Treasury at Ministerial and official level in the lead-up to the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review. They naturally covered the overseas price mechanism among other issues.

Sri Lanka: EU Action

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the Prime Minister’s discussion with his EU counterparts on proposals to call for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. (250063)

I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 29 January 2009, Official Report, column 739W. In a statement of 23 February 2009, EU Foreign Ministers called for an immediate ceasefire. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a joint statement with the US Secretary of State on 3 February 2009, calling for a temporary no-fire period. Copies of both statements will be placed in the Library of the House.

The UK remains committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka and international partners to secure a lasting solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka.

Torture

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors his Department takes into account when making decisions on requests formally to espouse a legal claim of torture. (253314)

Where the Government consider that another Government is responsible under international law for an injury to a UK national, it may in certain circumstances take over and formally espouse a claim against that Government. Before that stage is reached the claimants should have made all possible effort to secure settlement of the claim through local or other legal remedies, if such remedies exist.

Any individual request would be considered on a case by case basis. On receipt of such a request, the Government would consider what factors may be relevant at that time.

Uganda: Peace Negotiations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in peace talks with the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda, including talks with those who have recently defected from the LRA. (257351)

The Juba peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) resulted in a negotiated Final Peace Agreement (FPA) initialled and agreed by the Government of Uganda and LRA negotiating teams. The agreement was originally due for signature in early April 2008 by President Museveni of Uganda and Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, in Juba, Southern Sudan. Mr. Kony refused to attend the signing ceremony on that occasion and failed to honour further commitments to sign the agreement at a later date. The Government of Uganda in co-operation with the Governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan subsequently initiated military action against the LRA on 14 December 2008.

The FPA includes provision for reconciliation and the reintegration into Ugandan society of LRA defectors. The Government of Uganda has publicly stated that it is committed to honouring those commitments even in the absence of a signed FPA.

USA: Russia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government’s foreign policy of changes in US foreign policy towards Russia. (258696)

The Government welcome the Obama Administration’s readiness to make progress with Russia on non-proliferation and disarmament and other issues of importance, including Iran, security in Afghanistan and international economic reform.

The US Administration’s approach of engaging with Russia on key issues of mutual interest mirrors that of the UK. The Government will be working closely with the US Administration in this area.

Wang Bingzhang

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on (a) the detention of Dr Wang Bingzhang by the Chinese authorities and (b) the physical condition of Dr Wang Bingzhang; what representations he has made to his Chinese counterpart on the matter; and if he will make a statement. (258642)

We have received reports that Dr. Wang Bingzhang is being held in Shaoguan Prison in Guangdong Province. There have been serious concerns about his health, and he is known to have gone on hunger strike in 2006. There are also reports that he has been punished for perceived bad behaviour.

Wang’s case was last raised on an EU-China case list in October 2005.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to answer Question 242200, tabled on 5 December 2008, on Georgia. (258146)

This question was answered on 12 February 2009, Official Report, column 2202W. The delay in answering was due to administrative error.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to answer Question 246281, tabled on 17 December 2008, on the reorganisation of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. (258212)

This question was answered on 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 373W. I apologise for the delay in replying.

Zimbabwe: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. (258563)

[holding answer 25 February 2009]: We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, not least the on-going detention of political prisoners, credible reports of torture in custody and continuing suppression of peaceful protests.

The international community has agreed clear conditions for substantive re-engagement with Zimbabwe, including respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Initial indications of the new Government's commitment to respect for human rights and the rule of law include the release of political detainees. We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground closely.

Zimbabwe: Political Prisoners

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of political prisoners detained in Zimbabwe. (257817)

We understand there are roughly 30 to 40 political detainees in Zimbabwe. As I said in my press release of 11 February 2009, the release of all political detainees, and the rule of law more broadly, will be one of the conditions for sustained development support for the new Government.

The press release may be found at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/

Justice

Anti-Semitism: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) males and (b) females have been (i) prosecuted and (ii) convicted of verbally abusing Jewish children travelling to and from school in the last year for which figures are available. (259058)

Data held centrally by the Ministry of Justice on court proceedings do not include information about the circumstances behind each case beyond the description provided in the statute under which prosecutions are brought.

Civil Servants: Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many bonus payments were made to (a) senior civil servants and (b) other staff in the (i) HM Courts Service, (ii) HM Prison Service, (iii) National Offender Management Service and (iv) Youth Justice Board in the last 12 months. (257744)

The information requested is as follows:

(i) HM Courts Service

Across the MoJ, end year non-consolidated performance payments are paid to high performing members of the senior civil service (SCS) to reflect their individual contribution during the previous performance year. During the last 12 months, 35 members of the SCS in HMCS were paid non-consolidated performance pay for performance during the 2007-08 performance year.

Payments of non-consolidated performance pay to staff below the SCS may be either "end of year" payments or "in year" payments.

“End of year" payments of non-consolidated performance pay are made as part of the annual pay award to staff who have performed at a level beyond that which would normally be expected throughout the performance year. 1,676 staff in HMCS (including Ministry of Justice HQ and the Tribunals Service) received end of year non-consolidated performance payments in the last 12 months. Payments were made in August 2008 at the time of the implementation of the 2008 pay award for performance during the 2007-08 performance year.

“In year" payments of non-consolidated performance pay are one-off payments to staff who have made an exceptional contribution on specific occasions. It is not possible to provide details of these payments made to staff in HMCS in the last 12 months, as distinct from those working in other parts of the Ministry of Justice, other than at a disproportionate cost. However, during the financial year 2007-08, 5,327 staff in HMCS (including MoJ HQ and the Tribunals Service) received “in year" non-consolidated performance pay.

(ii) HM Prison Service

Since 1 April 2008 Her Majesty's Prison Service and the National Probation Service have been part of the National Offender Management Service.

Details of the number of awards of non-consolidated performance pay to staff in HM Prison Service is available for the calendar year 2008. This is the most up-to-date data available without incurring disproportionate cost. During 2008, 29 members of the SCS received non-consolidated performance pay. In grades below the SCS 6,587 staff received non-consolidated performance pay during this period.

In the National Probation Service during the last 12 months, payments of non-consolidated performance pay were made to the chief executives of the six Probation Trusts. These exceptional payments were made to recognise work involved from April 2007 to April 2008 in preparation for trust status.

(iii) National Offender Management Service

The National Offender Management Service was established as an agency on 1 April 2008. The NOMS agency consists of HM Prison Service and the National Probation Service. The information contained in (ii) above covers both parts of the NOMS Agency.

(iv) Youth Justice Board

In the 12 months to the 31st January 2009, the Youth Justice Board paid one member of the SCS non-consolidated performance pay. Thirty-five members of staff received "in year" non-consolidated performance pay. Twenty-one members of staff received "end of year" non-consolidated performance pay.

Coroners and Justice Bill 2008-09

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department will take if the Sentencing Council for England and Wales advises that there are insufficient resources to allow for the full implementation of an aspect of legislation, as provided for under the terms of clause 110 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, following the enactment of subsequent legislation. (257281)

The provisions in the Coroners and Justice Bill propose that a sentencing council will have a duty to monitor the impact of sentencing guidelines and to make assessments of the impact of Government proposals referred to it by the Lord Chancellor on prison, probation and youth justice services.

The proposed duties of the council in clauses 110 and 114 of the Bill are to make an assessment of the impact of guidelines or legislation, not to advise whether it is affordable. While it is proposed that the council will provide the Government with impact assessments it also proposed that it will remain the case that the Government alone are responsible for the way in which money voted by Parliament is spent and for making arrangements for the commencement of legislative provisions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to undertake a privacy impact assessment of the provisions on information sharing orders contained in the Coroners and Justice Bill. (258385)

The proposed information sharing clauses in the Coroners and Justice Bill would provide the power to make information sharing orders, providing certain conditions are met. The power in the Bill does not, in itself, allow personal information to be shared. Therefore, we do not plan to carry out a privacy impact assessment on the proposals in the Bill; rather such assessments will be a mandatory requirement for all orders proposed under the power in the Bill.

Crime: Economic Situation

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he has any plans to provide additional resources to (a) the police, (b) the courts, (c) the probation service and (d) prisons as a consequence of any changes to the level of crime during 2010 and 2011 resulting from the recession. (258568)

I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor’s reply on 3 February 2009, Official Report, column 1166W. There are no plans to increase the Department’s budget, which was agreed in the comprehensive spending review 2007. Forecasts of demand for services have been taken into account when agreeing allocations to business groups for 2009-10, and there are no plans to provide additional resources for this year. Forecasts of demand will again be taken into account when agreeing financial allocations to departmental business groups for 2010-11, but these have not yet been agreed. The Department has set up a Performance and Efficiency programme to deliver ways of working more efficiently in order to deliver our objectives from within existing budgets. Police funding is the responsibility of the Home Office and not the Ministry of Justice.

Crime: Victims

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps his Department has taken to improve the services provided to victims of crime. (258855)