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Where pupils are out of school without permission from the school the absence should be recorded as unauthorised. Information on total authorised and unauthorised absence is collected annually from schools but is not broken down by reasons for absence.
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 27 March 2003]: The Government's 2001 manifesto was "to enable every pupil to realise their talent with a radical extension of vocational courses to as many as 200,000 14 and 15-year-olds".
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Mrs. Liddell: The Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended) provides that the Boundary Commission for Scotland submit its reports to me. There is no requirement for the Commission to present its report with that of any other Commission.
Mr. Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive on whether the recommendations of the Office of Fair Trading on control entry requirements for community pharmacies can be introduced within one country of the UK but not another. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Scotland Office has kept closely in touch with the Scottish Executive on this issue. In terms of the devolution settlement, the Executive are free to take their own decisions on devolved matters. The Government and the Executive will continue to work together when dealing with responses to reports by the Office of Fair Trading, including their recent examination of the private dentistry market.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many laptop computers were used by (a) Ministers and special advisers and (b) officials in her Department in each year since 1995; how many were (i) lost and (ii) stolen; what their cost was; and if she will make a statement. 
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Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken by the (a) UN and (b) Afghan Transitional Authority to register the Afghan population for future democratic elections. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 2 April 2003]: The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) has been working closely with the Transitional Administration to develop a comprehensive programme of voter registration, on a country-wide and on a non-partisan basis, in anticipation of elections in 2004. UNAMA hopes to begin registration in August 2003, with a particular focus initially on rural areas where winter access would be more difficult.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 5 March 2003, Official Report, column 1066W, on Afghanistan, whether the programme of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants in Afghanistan has begun. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 2 April 2003]: The programme of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants in Afghanistan has not yet begun. Details of the programme remain under discussion in Kabul.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with Mr. Atkinson's lawyers since the publication of the UN working group on arbitrary detentions' opinion 16/2002. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted opinion 16/2002 on 29 November 2002. Neither Mr. Atkinson's UK lawyers nor any other lawyers acting on his behalf have contacted either the embassy or the FCO since November 2002.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 10 March 2003, Official Report, column 33W, what steps he is taking to secure the information necessary to determine if Mr. Atkinson's continued detention is of an arbitrary nature. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Mr. Atkinson's continued detention stems from the application of Dubai law. Mr. Atkinson, his family and his lawyers have repeatedly been informed that the question of the interpretation of local law can only be addressed by his solicitors through local lawyers. Our embassy in Dubai offered Mr. Atkinson's lawyers a list of local lawyers in May last year.
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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 5 March 2003, Official Report, column 1069W, when the Consul-General was informed of Mr. Atkinson's injury; and if he will make a statement about the circumstances of the riot in which Mr. Atkinson sustained the injury. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Our consular staff visited Jumeirah Central Prison in Dubai on 12 August 2002, immediately upon learning of disturbances at the prison. During the visit, Mr. Atkinson told our consular staff that some prisoners, including himself, had been beaten during the disturbances at the prison on 30 July 2002, when, we understand, police were called to quell fighting among local prisoners.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the research and development of calmative weapons for deployment by US forces in the Gulf. 
Mr. Rammell: We are deeply concerned about the overthrow on 15 March of the democratically elected government of the Central African Republic. As the first successful coup d'etat in Africa in over three years, it is a serious retrograde step. We condemn it unequivocally, as we condemn any unconstitutional seizure of power. We support the European Union declaration of 21 March that urges the resumption of political dialogue and early progress towards the restoration of the democratic process. We call on all parties in the region to support these aims and to respect the territorial integrity of the country.
Mr. Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is in frequent telephone contact with Colin Powell. They last met for bilateral discussions in Washington on 23 January 2003, and again on 26 and 27 March 2003, during which a number of foreign policy issues were discussed. They have also had discussions in the margins of the UN Security Council.
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Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his Answer of 13 February 2003, Official Report, column 1070, to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson), whether he has been notified that US forces plan to deploy CS gas to the Gulf. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United States administration in respect of the research, development and deployment of CS gas and pepper spray for US forces in the Gulf. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United States Administration in respect of deployment of (a) CS gas and (b) pepper spray to armed forces in the Gulf. 
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