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Drug Treatment Services

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he proposes to set targets for the reduction in waiting times for drug treatment services. [90899]

Ms Jowell: The United Kingdom Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator's Annual Report and National Plan details that by 2002 all Drug Action Teams will be required to have established a locally agreed maximum waiting time for admission into a drug treatment service and be monitoring agencies' performance. The Department currently has no plans to set a maximum centrally for waiting times for drug treatment services.

One of the conditions for local authorities to receive Drug and Alcohol Specific Grant moneys in 1999-2000 (about a quarter of them will) is to achieve three targets:



    A reduction in the time spent by problem misusers in waiting for an assessment of their needs, after engaging with a service, to 48 hours.


    A 10 per cent. increase in the proportion of decisions to approve funding made within two weeks of a misuser having been formally assessed as needing funding for a service.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Russia (Nuclear Waste)

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the extent of the problem of Russian ships storing decaying nuclear waste; and if he will make a statement. [91770]

Mr. Hoon: We are concerned about the poor state of repair of some Russian vessels around the Kola Peninsula used to store spent nuclear fuel and a lack of safe storage for this material ashore. A fuller assessment is set out in our "Background Brief" entitled "The Nuclear Environment in North-West Russia". This is available on the FCO website and I am placing a copy in the Library. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has personally seen some of the storage ships during his visit to Murmansk in February and has announced over £3 million of assistance.

We are actively working with the Russians, both directly and through international donor groups, to identify suitable projects. For example, Britain has offered to assist with the licensing of interim storage casks that would permit offloading spent fuel from the Lepse, a storage barge in a particularly unsafe condition and presently moored in Murmansk harbour.

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further plans his Department has for assisting with the safe handling of nuclear waste in Russia; and if he will make a statement. [91769]

Mr. Hoon: We are in discussion with the Russian authorities, other international donors and industry experts to identify the priorities in what is a highly complex and large scale problem. An important prerequisite is a framework agreement with the Russian Government to

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deal with certain key issues such as the taxation, liability and auditing of nuclear assistance projects but we are looking forward to getting action on the ground at the earliest possible date. This process requires the input of various Departments here and we have convened a working group to co-ordinate the work.

New Deal (Young People)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many individuals his Department has recruited under the New Deal for Young People. [91888]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office to my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) on 25 May 1999, Official Report, column 116.

Departmental Publications

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the purpose of the publication, "Britain: Creativity, Innovation and Quality, Design Guidelines for Implementing the Strapline for a New Identity for Britain"; how many requests for copies have been received; which consultants were engaged in the selection process for the logo; and if he will make a statement. [91842]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member for Buckingham to the answer I gave to him on 11 May 1999, Official Report, column 117.

There have been requests for 702 copies of the guidelines.

No design consultants were engaged in the selection process for the logo. The conception and development of the strapline were undertaken internally by FCO officials and endorsed by Ministers.

Iraq

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 15 December 1998, Official Report, column 419, on Iraq, what action he has since taken to support the Indict campaign. [91789]

Mr. Hoon: We continue to support the Indict campaign. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary sent me a personal message of support to Indict in March when the campaign held a meeting in the House to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the Iraqi chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabjah. I recently discussed the campaign with my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) and plan to speak at an Indict function in the margins of the Labour party conference. FCO officials are in regular contact with Indict representatives to offer advice and support as appropriate, and have briefed other governments on Indict's work.

Nationality Applications (New Delhi)

Mr. Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how long applicants to the

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High Commission in New Delhi for British nationality wait for an initial interview; and what instructions he has issued to expedite dealing with applications. [92192]

Mr. Hoon: All applications for registration as a British citizen made to our overseas missions are passed to the Home Office for a decision. This process, at present, takes 20 months.

However, those resident overseas who feel that they may already have an entitlement to British nationality through circumstances of birth or descent are normally advised by the British mission to submit a passport application in order to establish their claim. They may be required to attend an interview if the entitlement is not clear.

All our overseas missions are governed by the Citizen's Charter. They aim to process properly documented passport applications within five working days.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's efforts to assist in finding a solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. [92019]

Mr. Hoon: We believe a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka can be reached only through a political settlement. We have made clear that we are ready to help in the search for peace if both sides ask us to play a role.

Dependent Territories (Environment)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what follow-up action he has taken to the conclusions of the Conference on the Environment in the Dependent Territories, organised at the Zoo, Regents Park, on 29 and 30 June by his Department, in relation to (a) degradation of coral reefs and (b) mangrove swamps. [90729]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 20 July 1999]: I thank my hon. Friend for his valuable contributions to the recent conference, "A Breath of Fresh Air", about environmental issues in the UK's Overseas Territories. We are now establishing with Overseas Territories' governments the best ways to protect these key habitats, with support where appropriate from new funding announced in the March White Paper, "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity".

We are also publishing a report commissioned by the British Indian Ocean Territory Government on the problem of coral mortality in the Chagos Archipelago. We have commissioned an educational video for use in the Overseas Territories about key themes discussed at the conference, including coral reefs and mangrove swamps.

Tajikistan

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's policy towards the peace process in Tajikistan; and if he will support an extension of the UN Mission of Observers there. [92154]

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Ms Quin [holding answer 20 July 1999]: The Government fully support the peace process in Tajikistan and the efforts of the United Nations. We welcome recent positive developments and hope the constitutional referendum and Presidential elections will be held on time later this year. We supported renewal of the mandate of the UN observer mission for six months when it was last discussed in the Security Council in early May and agreed by UN Security Council Resolution 1240.

East Timor

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to support the proposed United Nations mission in East Timor; what level of troop deployment is planned for the mission; and what plans he has for UK troop deployment there. [92155]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 20 July 1999]: We have despatched seven British police officers with UN Bosnia experience and two Military Liaison Officers to East Timor. The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), which has a British head, is now at full strength and consists of 241 international staff members, 420 UN volunteers, 280 civilian police, 50 Military Liaison officers and 4,000 East Timorese staff. We have no plans to deploy further police or military personnel to the territory.


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