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Firearms

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many legally held firearms have been destroyed in the last 12 months for which figures are available, as a consequence of the authority to hold such a firearm being (a) withdrawn and (b) given up by the holder; and of those firearms how many were (i) handguns, (ii) rifles of .22 calibre, (iii) rifles over .22 calibre, (iv) shotguns and (v) other firearms. [121258]

Mr. Ingram: The Chief Constable has advised me that the following firearms, legally held on certificate, were destroyed during the period 1 May 1999 to 30 April 2000.

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FirearmsNumber
Shotguns1,199
Handguns414
Rifles268
Air Rifles299

It has not been possible to give a more detailed breakdown.


Performance Targets (Social Security)

Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what performance targets have been set for the Social Security Agency for the current financial year. [122440]

Mr. George Howarth: The following targets have been set with the objective of continuing to provide high levels of service to customers. I am satisfied that the targets represent a demanding challenge for the Agency. The targets will be included in the Agency's 2000-03 Strategic and Business Plan, which is due for publication this month. A copy of the Plan will be placed in the Library. The targets are as follows:


1. Customer Satisfaction
90 per cent. of customers to regard the Agency's services as satisfactory or better.
2. New Deal initiatives
To increase the numbers of Lone Parents participating in the scheme by 25 per cent. year on year.
To have 5 per cent. of those Partners of the Unemployed targeted agree to participate in the scheme.
3. Resource Management
To achieve cash efficiency savings of the order of £1.4 million.
4. Benefit Accuracy
Disability Living Allowance--To pay the correct amount in at least 88 per cent. of cases.
Incapacity Benefit--To pay the correct amount in at least 95 per cent. of cases.
Income Support--To pay the correct amount in at least 89 per cent. of cases.
Jobseeker's Allowance--To pay the correct amount in at least 91 per cent. of cases.
5. Fraud
To achieve a 5 per cent. reduction in the level of fraud and error in Income Support and Jobseeker's Allowance.
6. Financial Recovery
Recovery of overpayments--£3.7 million.

PRIME MINISTER

Post Office

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Prime Minister when he will publish the Performance and Innovation Unit's report on the social value of rural post offices; and if he will make a statement. [121126]

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to publish the Performance and Innovation Unit report on the Post Office. [120480]

The Prime Minister: The Performance and Innovation Unit report on the Post Office network will be published shortly.

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Asylum Seekers

Mr. Evans: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the departments which have spent money directly or indirectly on asylum seekers in the years (a) 1995, (b) 1996, (c) 1997, (d) 1998, (e) 1999 and (f) 2000 to date. [119451]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 April 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 9 May 2000, Official Report, columns 332-33W.

Social Exclusion

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Prime Minister if he will define social exclusion. [120672]

The Prime Minister: Social exclusion is a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown.

Aircraft

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Prime Minister if he is evaluating proposals for acquiring aircraft for his official use. [118108]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 10 April 2000]: No. As my answer to the hon. Member of 3 April 2000, Official Report, column 279W, made clear, decisions on which aircraft to use will be determined on cost, the numbers of people travelling with me, security and business considerations and the availability of aircraft. There is no dedicated aircraft which is solely for my use.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Zimbabwe

Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on arms sales to Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [122442]

Mr. Robin Cook: The Government's policy on export licence applications for Zimbabwe was set out in my statement to the House of Commons on 3 May 2000, Official Report, columns 149-62.

As I informed the House, the Government decided last week, in the light of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, to refuse from 3 May all applications for new licences for Zimbabwe for goods and technology listed in part III, schedule 1, of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, as amended (commonly known as the Military List).

This included all new licence applications for spare parts in connection with previous contracts. We also began a review of all extant export licences for Zimbabwe.

In line with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's statement of 9 February 2000, Official Report, columns 184-85W, the Government will not grant export licences for dual-use equipment where there is a clear risk that the equipment would be used in the Democratic

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Republic of the Congo. Other applications for Standard Individual Export Licences to export dual-use equipment to Zimbabwe will be considered on a case-by-case basis against the national criteria and those in the EU Code of Conduct.

We have now completed the review of extant licences foreshadowed in my statement of 3 May. The Government place considerable importance on UK companies being able to honour their contractual obligations. They do not, therefore, revoke existing licences except in exceptional circumstances. Zimbabwe has now regrettably placed itself in that category. We have, therefore, decided to revoke all extant Standard Individual Export Licences for goods and technology on the Military List (with the possible exception of one extant licence for de-mining equipment already in Zimbabwe) and to remove Zimbabwe as a permitted destination from all Open Individual Export Licences for goods and technology on the Military List.

In addition, Zimbabwe is a permitted destination on four Open General Export Licences (OGELs) and two Open General Transhipment Licences (OGTLs) which allow the export of goods and technology on the Military List. Zimbabwe will now be removed from the coverage of these licences. Amended copies of these licences will be placed in the Library of the House.

We will remove Zimbabwe as a permitted destination from the coverage of extant Open Individual Export Licences for dual-use equipment. Exporters affected by this measure may, however, submit applications for Standard Individual Export Licences for this equipment. Such applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis against the criteria as described above.

We will also be prohibiting transhipment of goods on the Military List to Zimbabwe via the United Kingdom without a licence, by means of an amendment to schedule 3 of the EG(C)O.

The effect of this is that we now have a national arms embargo on Zimbabwe. We will be requesting the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to take the necessary measures to implement the same embargo.

The Government will continue to monitor events in Zimbabwe closely.

China

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Government policy towards China and human rights discussions in the United Nations. [121501]

Mr. Hain: The United Kingdom has a wide-ranging relationship with China. As Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council we regularly discuss an extensive range of international interests and responsibilities including global and regional security, as well as political, financial, economic and environmental issues.

The UN Commission on Human Rights considered a resolution tabled by the United States on the human rights situation in China on 18 April. We voted against a Chinese sponsored "No-Action" motion to guillotine discussion on a US sponsored resolution. The EU Presidency condemned the continuing restrictions upon

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the fundamental freedoms of thought, expression, religion, assembly and association. on behalf of the EU, the Presidency also made it clear that it was vital that the human rights dialogue with China should continue and be kept under regular review.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Trend: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement on the Sri Lankan Government's imposition of emergency regulations on 3 May. [121581]

Mr. Hain: I last met the Sri Lankan High Commissioner on 20 January when he paid a courtesy call on me.

We are concerned by the possible restrictions on civil liberties and press freedoms following the introduction of the regulations by the Sri Lankan Government and hope that they will be lifted as soon as possible. It is not clear how the regulations will be implemented. We shall continue to monitor the situation.


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