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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people in Ribble Valley waited (a) between six and 12 months, (b) between 12 and 18 months and (c) over 18 months for an in-patient appointment; 
(3) how many people from the Ribble Valley died while on an NHS waiting list between 1994 and 2000. 
Ms Stuart: In England prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) are not available by instalments. To introduce payment on a sliding scale, by instalments or by direct debit, would inevitably increase administrative costs. This would in turn lead to higher season ticket fees, and so reduce the potential savings and make them less attractive for those who continue to use them. However, we recognise that some people may have difficulty in finding the fee for an annual PPC in one payment, which is why we have also made PPCs available for four- monthly periods at a cost of £31.40.
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Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the level of absenteeism was in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its related public bodies in the last year for which figures are available; what his estimate is of the total cost of this level of absenteeism to public funds in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hain [holding answer 18 July 2000]: In 1999-2000 staff in the Department took an average of eight days of sickness absence. Based on an average salary cost (including superannuation and national insurance) the cost to the FCO was £5.5 million. These figures include absences at the FCO's only Executive Agency, Wilton Park, which employs around 40 staff, and the FCO's non-departmental public bodies, all of which employ fewer than seven staff. The cost of this level of absenteeism in the previous four years would have been £5.3 million in 1998-99, £5.3 million in 1997-98, £5.4 million in 1996-97 and £5.4 million in 1995-96. The average number of days of sickness absence in the British Council's operations in the United Kingdom in 1999-2000 was 5.3 days at a total cost of £726,829. The cost of this level of absenteeism in the previous four years would have been £701,882 in 1998-99, £680,825 in 1997-98, £660,401 in 1996-97 and £640,589 in 1995-96.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports he has received regarding the demonstrations held in the Kailali district of Nepal and in Katmandu by bonded labourers demanding their freedom; 
Mr. Gorrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to reduce the obstacles presented to citizens from the Indian sub-continent wishing to visit their immediate family in the UK. 
Mr. Vaz: The 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act provided for the restoration of appeal rights for people refused visas to visit close family members in the UK. The new appeal right, which will apply to many visitors from the sub-continent, will come into effect from 2 October, and will provide a further, independent review of refusal decisions.
We are making every effort to improve the visa service, particularly in the sub-continent. At my request, there was an independent high level review of the Immigration Section in Islamabad last month, which made recommendations for improvements in the service there. We are in the process of implementing those.
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Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the study of the options for repatriating the Ilois People to the Chagos Islands was commissioned; what it has cost to date; when it will be completed; what epidemiological studies have been undertaken of the displaced Ilois People since their evacuation from their home islands; and if he will place in the Library copies of Government papers relating to the evaluation of such studies. 
Mr. Battle: The initial stage of the feasibility study of the physical problems and possible environmental impact of any resettlement in the outer islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory was commissioned in March. The work to date will cost about £55,000. It is being borne by the Government of the territory. The first report, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House shortly, has identified the need for further study and data collection of issues such as the availability of groundwater. This could take up to 12 months. The timing of more detailed work is uncertain at present. In part it will be influenced by the outcome of the further scientific studies identified by the consultants.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British ambassadors and high commissioners on 1 January in each of the last 10 years were (a) women and (b) members of an ethnic minority; and if he will express the number in each category as a percentage of the total number of ambassadors and high commissioners. 
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on bilateral relations with Moldova and his Department's assessment of the political situation in that country. 
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Mr. Vaz [holding answer 25 July 2000]: Bilateral relations with Moldova are good. Our Ambassador in Bucharest is also accredited to Moldova and he and his staff visit regularly. Her Majesty's Government, through Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development technical assistance, support projects designed to promote economic and democratic development. This year bilateral assistance has supported a range of projects including police training, training of journalists, an education programme for teachers and work in the conflict prevention field. The Under-Secretary of State for International Development opened the Department for International Development's office in Chisinau in June 2000.
Her Majesty's Government hope that the current debate over the constitutional issues in Moldova will not undermine the prospects for economic reform. HMG remain concerned about the situation in Transdniestria and support the work of the OSCE Mission to Moldova in promoting a political settlement. HMG continue to press Russia to comply with commitments made at the OSCE Istanbul summit in November 1999 to complete withdrawal from Moldovan territory by the end of 2002. Her Majesty's Government have contributed £100,000 to the OSCE voluntary fund to assist with this withdrawal and has offered, in principle, to provide resettlement training for the Russian troops based in Transdniestria.
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