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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women what recent discussions she has had with Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions on pension rights for women. [43807]

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Ms Hewitt: Last week I wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions highlighting the work that his Department has carried out in ensuring that pension reforms had improved women's rights.

Currently over 1.1 million female pensioners are in receipt of the minimum income guarantee and the new pension credit will benefit lower income pensioners, of whom two-thirds are women.

I also asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ensure that his officials continue to liaise with officials from the Women and Equality Unit so that they can remain informed of the progress on pensions reforms as they affect women and that the development and implementation of pensions policy is analysed by gender so that potential benefits for women can be identified.


Select Committees

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions he has been invited to appear before a Select Committee since 1997. [37692]

The Prime Minister: Since 1997, I have received four formal invitations to appear before a Select Committee.

Equipment Leasing

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the equipment leasing arrangements entered into by his Office in each of the last four years; and what the cost is to public funds in each case. [39085]

The Prime Minister: Equipment should be leased when it offers better value for money than direct purchase bearing in mind the products whole life costs and quality to meet (but not exceed) the requirement. These costs include maintenance, running and disposal costs, not simply initial costs.

Leasing costs for office equipment incurred in each of the last four years are as follows:

2 May 1997 to 31 March 1998107,892

Lord Levy

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Prime Minister which ministers of foreign Governments Lord Levy has met at his request in the last six months. [41864]

The Prime Minister: In his capacity as the Prime Minister's envoy, Lord Levy meets a range of contacts, including Ministers of foreign Governments. In the last six months, Lord Levy has discussed the Middle East peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority Minister for Planning and International Co-operation Nabil Sha'ath, King Abdullah of Jordan, Former

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Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Illah Khatib, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Moroccan foreign Minister Mohammed Benaissa, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi, and Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Bin Yahia.

He also met President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and the Venezuelan Vice President and Foreign Minister to discuss bilateral relations.

Lord Levy has also met a number of more junior Ministers in his role as the Prime Minister's envoy.

Parental Leave Directive

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the (a) financial costs and (b) benefits to his Office of the Parental Leave Directive. [42483]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office today.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what his Office's policy is towards age discrimination. [42583]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office today.

Safiyatu Hussaini

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Prime Minister if he raised the case of Safiyatu Hussaini during his meetings with representatives of the Nigerian Government in February. [44895]

The Prime Minister: The case was not raised during my meetings, which focused on other issues.

The Nigerian Government is well aware of the Government's concerns over the sentence of death by stoning passed on Safiyatu Hussaini. We have made our concerns over the case known at a number of levels within the Nigerian federal system.

Ms Hussaini's case is currently before Sokoto State Sharia Court of Appeal, which has said it will give its decision on the appeal on 25 March. If the sentence is confirmed, there is scope for further appeals thereafter. Ms Hussaini is supported by a strong legal team and the Nigerian Human Rights Commission.

The British High Commission in Abuja is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

Phase Three Implementation

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the implications for Government policy of the implementation of Phase Three. [45890]

The Prime Minister: The Government's policy agenda focuses on sustaining a strong economy and making improvements in productivity and enterprise, continuing welfare reform and increasing social justice, driving through public service reform particularly in education,

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health, crime and transport, and taking a leading place at the centre of Europe and the wider international community.

Unpaid Advisers

Mr. Beith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the names of the unpaid advisers appointed by him since June 1997, stating in each case (a) the date of their appointment, (b) the duration of their appointment and (c) the project or projects on which they have been engaged. [43373]

The Prime Minister: At 25 March, I had appointed the following unpaid advisers to work with the new Forward Strategy Unit (FSU):

Lord Birt, my unpaid strategy adviser, has an over- arching role on a number of projects supported by the FSU.

Previous unpaid advisers who have been appointed by me and the issues on which they advised are Lord Stevenson (education), Lord Simon (the civil service), and Lord Birt (crime).

Rehabilitation International's Charter

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Prime Minister what response he has made to representations on the Government's support for Rehabilitation International's Charter for the Third Millennium, presented to him on 5 July 2000 and the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Charter's call for a UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People; and if he will (a) publish the response in the Official Report and (b) place copies in the Library. [45511]

The Prime Minister: I have received representations on this matter.

I welcomed Rehabilitation International's Charter for the Third Millennium in July 2000. In doing so, I said that I believed that it would form the basis of a global consensus on priorities for at least the next decade. This absolutely remains the Government's view.

At the UN General Assembly in November a resolution calling for an international convention on disability, as envisaged in the charter, was adopted. The resolution has now established an ad hoc committee to consider proposals for an international convention on the rights and dignities of disabled people. It is likely that the committee will meet this summer. We will want to work closely with other on the committee to ensure that the convention is clearly focused and its aims and objectives are consistent with member states' national interests and responsibilities.

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In addition, there have been two further important international developments.

In the meantime, the Government continue to focus here on action to take forward our commitment to comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people in the UK. This policy presently ensures that the UK is ahead of many other countries in legislating for and promoting civil rights for disabled people.

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