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Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between 23 May and 2 June 2003

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Positive Activities for Young People

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the replacement of Splash programmes with the Positive Activities for Young People scheme. [114204]

Paul Goggins: I have been asked to reply.

Splash and Splash Extra were an important part of last summer's programme of school holiday diversionary activities for young people living in high crime areas, which saw over 90,000 young people taking part in a wide range of activities. We intend to build on this success this year, by absorbing the Splash schemes, along with the Connexions Summer Plus programme, into a new single programme of positive activities for young people to provide year round out of school activities for eight to 19-year-olds.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Afghanistan

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's assessment of the total poppy crop in Afghanistan is for (a) 1991, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2002; and if he will make a statement. [114356]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Since 1994, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has conducted an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. This concluded that the extent of cultivation in the last three years was:

Hectares
200082,000
20018,000
200274,000

The largest cultivation level, of 91,000 hectares, was recorded by the UNODC in 1999. There are no generally accepted figures for cultivation in 1991.


Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's strategy is on opium sourced in Afghanistan that gets transported to the UK. [114357]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK is working with the Afghan Government to achieve their stated goal of eliminating opium production by 2013. We are co-ordinating international anti-narcotics assistance to Afghanistan. With the endorsement of the Afghan Government, and in consultation with other

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international stakeholders (especially the UN), the UK has developed a long-term strategy. This identifies four key areas where assistance should be targeted: improving Afghan law enforcement capability; rural reconstruction to generate alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers; capacity-building for Afghan drug control institutions; and establishing prevention/treatment programmes to tackle addiction.

We are also working with governments along the main trafficking routes to disrupt the drug trade.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much money the Government spent on their programme to eradicate poppy production in Afghanistan in 2002; and how much the Government intend to spend on this programme in 2003. [115361]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: At the Tokyo Reconstruction Conference for Afghanistan in January 2002 the UK pledged £200 million over five years for development. The conference acknowledged that measures designed to contribute to the elimination of opium poppy cultivation should be included in all reconstruction programmes.

In 2002–03 the UK spent £70 million on development in Afghanistan. This included £2 million on livelihoods programmes which promote the creation of alternative forms of licit livelihood for Afghan poppy farmers. The UK has also provided approximately £24 million of assistance for the development of Afghan drug control capacity.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the success of the Government in meeting its PSA target to contribute to the reduction of opium cultivation in Afghanistan by 70 per cent. in five years with complete elimination in 10 years. [115362]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The elimination of cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan in 10 years is an ambitious target which has been embraced by the Afghan Government and included in their own national drug strategy, endorsed by President Karzai on 19 May.

A UK plan for assisting the Afghan authorities with implementation of their strategy is being finalised. It outlines a broad approach that balances the building up of Afghan drug law enforcement with the promotion of alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers. Achievement of sustainable reductions in cultivation levels will also depend on whether a secure environment can be maintained in Afghanistan which enables central Government to assert its authority over the provinces and which allows the development community to implement reconstruction programmes. We have always been clear that we expect poppy production to rise before it falls in later years. This is inevitable given the poverty, the need for alternative livelihoods and the need to build a strong central Government in Afghanistan which can implement an effective eradication strategy.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the development of a justice system in

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Afghanistan that meets international standards; and what his assessment is of the adequacy of resources available to develop such a system. [114876]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Progress in this sector is gathering speed after the appointment of a Judicial Commission in October 2002. The Judicial Commission has established a programme of work together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to which the UK has contributed £0.5 million, with a further £0.5 million pledged for later this year. Work on the programme is ongoing: a scoping study of existing infrastructure has already been completed across much of the country, and the Commission is actively reviewing the civil and penal codes.

Italy is the lead nation for co-ordinating international assistance to the Afghan justice sector with the Transitional Administration. It has estimated that the development and running of the Justice Sector will require approximately £18 million per year (figure drawn from the Afghan National Development Budget 2003). Part of that sum can be met from the Afghan National Budget. Italy, the US and other donors are contributing significant sums to the Law and Order Trust Fund and to the Judicial Commission programme for reform of the Justice Sector enabling the reform programme to proceed.

In addition the UK is funding work by the NGO Penal Reform International on penal reform in Afghanistan.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) men and (b) women in Afghanistan have received police training. [114877]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Germany is the lead nation for co-ordinating international assistance on police reform with the Afghan Transitional Administration. The Germans, assisted by other nations, have trained 1,300 men and 40 women at Kabul Police Academy. The UK ran a two week training course in Kabul in January attended by five male senior Afghan police officers, two of whom subsequently attended a course at the International Police College in the UK. These are the only figures that we can break down by gender. However, a further 25 Afghan police officers have been trained in Germany, as well as 340 officers in India, 60 in Turkey and 30 in Iran.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely production level of cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004; and what percentage that represents of levels in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2001. [115498]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. They are in the process of completing the 2003 survey. The final results will be available in the autumn. The 2004 survey will get underway towards the end of this year.

It is difficult to predict the size of future Afghan opium crops. However the UNODC did publish its Rapid Assessment report in February. It made no

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predictions about the likely size of the 2003 harvest but concluded there had been significant displacement of cultivation to new areas within Afghanistan.

Iraq

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how independent international validation will be provided of a discovery of weapons of mass destruction. [114560]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Both the UK and US Governments understands the desirability of independent Validation of any discoveries made by coalition forces in Iraq.

We are in discussion with allies and in the United Nations about how best to ensure such verification.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what opportunity British authorities have had to question Mr. Tariq Aziz; and whether he plans to proffer charges against Mr. Aziz. [114889]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Tariq Aziz voluntarily surrendered to the coalition forces in Baghdad and is currently in custody. The coalition partners have had the opportunity to interview Mr. Aziz on a number of topics and this will continue. It is too early to determine the nature of any criminal charges he might face.

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will send forensic officers to assist in the excavation of the graves of those murdered by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. [114261]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government have sent a team of nine forensic experts to Iraq in order to assist with the examination of mass graves in Iraq.

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the British Government and the Iraqi Government discussed (a) UN sanctions and (b) weapons inspections in Iraq in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2001. [114321]

Mr. Rammell: The British Government had no direct contact with the Iraqi Government over either UN sanctions or weapons inspections in either 2000 or 2001.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 8 May, Official Report, column 855W, on the war in Iraq, what steps he has taken to obtain the original documents. [114394]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have made it clear that we would welcome any opportunity to subject such documents to expert analysis. Those in the possession of documents or property which do not belong to them, should pass them to the appropriate authorities.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who will decide and upon what basis the body which will validate and exercise destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [114559]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Discussions are continuing with allies and in the United Nations about how best to ensure independent validation of discoveries made by coalition forces.

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Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking under international law as an occupying power to (a) ensure public order and safety in Iraq, (b) meet the basic needs of the Iraqi population, (c) protect displaced persons and refugees, (d) respect the rights of detainees and (e) ensure justice in Iraq. [114879]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK takes its legal responsibilities as an Occupying Power under the Geneva and Hague Conventions very seriously. The Coalition condemns looting and has stressed its commitment to preventing it. Looting and lawlessness appear to be declining in most areas. In the UK area of operations suspected looters are arrested and detained.

UK Police experts on law enforcement and the criminal justice system are advising on the stabilisation of the security situation and rebuilding the police service.

The UK has committed £240 million for humanitarian assistance. The Coalition is working hard to address priority humanitarian needs including water, power and food, working closely with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), NGOs, and UN agencies.

There were very few refugees arising from the conflict and these were well supported by the UN's preparedness measures to which the UK contributed. UNHCR are now undertaking planning to arrange an orderly and supported repatriation of refugees, the vast majority of whom pre-date the recent conflict, back to Iraq. Virtually all Iraqis internally displaced during the conflict have returned to their place of origin.

Iraqis detained by British forces have been treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the US on the time scale for the identification of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. [114881]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are working closely with the US Administration on all issues affecting Iraq including the effort to identify Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The search will continue until we, and the international community, are confident that the former Iraqi regime's WMD programmes have been eliminated.

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the members of the new local Iraqi Administration in Umm Qasr, indicating in each case their (a) religion, (b) political and major pressure group links and (c) means of living. [114986]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We understand that the process of deciding the composition of Umm Qasr's local Administration (town council) is on-going. We will endeavour to relay background details when we have them.


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