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Kyoto Protocol

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Russian Government regarding its decision not to seek ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. [142624]

Mr. Rammell: President Putin stated at the World Conference on Climate Change in Moscow in early October that the Russian Government was still analysing the economic implications of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The statement made by President Putin's economic adviser on 2 December does not appear to be an official statement of policy, and we look forward to a decision from the Russian Government when it has completed its assessment of the Kyoto Protocol.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and my hon. Friend the Minister for Environment and Agri-Environment are attending the ninth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Milan, where Parties will be putting the finishing touches on preparations for entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. Ministerial colleagues will continue to press their Russian counterparts on the importance of Kyoto ratification.

Lockerbie Bombing

Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what the total value is of the compensation paid by the Libyan Government to the families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing; [143005]

Mr. Rammell: Libya has agreed to pay $10 million per family in compensation for the Lockerbie bombing, payable in three tranches of $4 million, $4 million and $2 million on, respectively, lifting of UN sanctions against Libya, lifting of US bilateral sanctions against Libya, and removal of Libya from the United States' list of States involved in terrorism. The Government is not privy to the fee arrangements made between solicitors and their clients in the Lockerbie case and has no standing in this issue. The question of the level of fees charged by solicitors is entirely a matter for them and their clients.

Mr. Jafar Dhia Jafar

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons Mr. Jafar Dhia Jafar has been refused permission to attend a meeting of the Royal Society in London; and if he will make a statement. [142171]

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Mr. Mullin: I am withholding the information requested under exemption 5 of Part 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

It is not our practice to disclose details of the individual entry clearance cases in a public forum. However, I will write to the hon. Member with regard to this matter.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to announce the name of the new director of visa operations for India. [142970]

Mr. Mullin: It is not normal procedure formally to announce such appointments. However, I will write to my hon. Friend.


Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact on the political situation in Zimbabwe of that country's suspension from the Commonwealth. [141904]

Mr. Mullin: Robert Mugabe's decision to withdraw Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth highlights the increasing isolation of his regime. It will do nothing to ease the current crisis and shows how far ZANU (PF) has moved since it signed up to the Commonwealth's principles for good governance agreed at Harare in 1991. Once Zimbabwe has returned to democracy it will be welcomed back into the Commonwealth.



Mr. Hayes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many private sector housing initiatives have been launched in each of the last 10 years; and what local authority funds have been committed to private sector housing initiatives (a) in each of the last 10 years and (b) since April 2002; [141019]

Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and its predecessor departments have launched many private sector housing initiatives over the last 10 years to improve the condition and management of the stock, and the rights and responsibilities of those who occupy it. These include:

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In addition, a number of initiatives have been piloted during this period, including Home Information Packs and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has also been involved in other initiatives launched, such as the National Approved Letting Scheme.

Other measures will be included in the forthcoming Housing Bill.

The condition of the private sector housing stock will also be improved as a result of initiatives including:

Detailed information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost in respect of all local authority funding for private sector housing. However, information for expenditure on private sector renewal assistance is tabled as follows:

Amount (£000)

Local Government Finance

Mr. Key: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what percentage collection rate of council tax he expects in (a) 2003–04 and (b) 2004–05; and if he will make a statement. [142992]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister makes no estimate of the collection rate for council tax for the current or future years.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will introduce additional council tax bands; and if he will make a statement. [142995]

Mr. Raynsford: The Local Government Act 2003 provides for a council tax revaluation in England in 2007 based on 1 April 2005 values. Ahead of that the Government will listen to the views of local government and taxpayers about council tax bands. Decisions on any changes to the banding structure will be taken nearer to the time of the revaluation.

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School Finance

Mrs. May: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions Ministers and officials have had with the Department for Education and Skills regarding the 2004–05 settlement for those local authorities whose formula grant increase is equal to their schools' formula spending share increase. [143145]

Mr. Raynsford: Ministers and officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Education and Skills have met on a number of occasions in recent months to discuss the additional resources that we propose to provide to these authorities.

Tamworth Borough Council

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what level of grant from all government sources Tamworth borough council has received in each year since 1996. [142625]

Mr. Raynsford: Tabled are details of revenue grants received by Tamworth borough council as part of gross Aggregate External Finance (AEF) between 1996–97 to 2004–05.


Revenue support grantNational non-domestic ratesSpecific grants within AEF

(5) The increase in specific grants within AEF between 2002–03 and 2003–04 is due to large increases in Council Tax Benefit Administration and Housing Benefit Administration, plus the introduction of grants for Neighbourhood Wardens and Building Safer Communities.

(6) Data not available until spring 2004 when it will be reported by local authorities on their RA and RA(SG) returns.


1. The grants are on an unadjusted basis and may not be comparable between years, because transfers of function may have taken place.

2. Information on specific grants up until 2002–03 is taken from local authority outturn returns. From 2003–04, where outturn information is not yet available this is based on local authority budget returns.

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