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15 Dec 2003 : Column 735W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will press the Government of Sudan to accept international monitoring of the situation in Darfur, Sudan; [143650]

Mr. Mullin: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development spoke with the President of Sudan on 10 December during his visit to Sudan on 10 and 11 December, about the situation in Darfur. He expressed the British Government's concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation there, and made clear that the parties needed to stop fighting and renew the ceasefire as a matter of urgency. We will ask the Government of Sudan to consider inviting international observers to monitor a renewed ceasefire.

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Our Embassy in Khartoum has also had contact with the Chadian Embassy there with regard to the Abeche peace talks.


Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of steps taken by Saudi Arabia to combat al-Qaeda operations. [143550]

Mr. Rammell: The Government of Saudi Arabia have taken significant steps to combat al-Qaeda-related terrorism in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks and in response to increased terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia. It has ratified six of the 12 International Conventions on terrorism; and has signed, but not yet ratified, the Convention on the financing of terrorism. It publicly condemned the 11 September attacks and has made clear repeatedly its condemnation of all terrorism.

Over the past year, the Saudi authorities have adopted wide-ranging measures against terrorism. They have publicly identified wanted terrorist suspects, made many arrests, seized significant caches of terrorist weapons and explosives, sought to counter the ideology underpinning the terrorists' activities, enhanced the security presence in public places, including around residential compounds, and taken measures to counter the flow of terrorist funding. We are co-operating closely with the Saudi authorities, as is the US and other international partners.

Nevertheless, the terrorist attacks of 12 May and 9 November highlight the very real threat of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. We continue to believe terrorists are planning further attacks in Saudi Arabia. Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice makes this assessment clear.

UK Visas

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Visa and Correspondence section of UK Visas will reply to the letter of 18 November from the hon. Member for Walsall, North concerning a constituent case, ref. 659979. [143959]

Mr. Mullin: A substantive reply was sent to my hon. Friend on 11 December.


Alternative Voting Methods

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the impact of alternative voting methods in Northern Ireland. [143816]

Mr. Spellar: The Government are always ready to look at alternative voting methods if they lead to a more effective electoral system. However, before considering any alternative methods we would need to be sure that they would not compromise our anti-fraud measures.

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Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what plans he has to introduce pilot schemes for electronic counting of votes in future (a) local government, (b) Assembly, (c) Westminster and (d) European Parliament elections; and if he will make a statement. [144007]

Mr. Spellar: Following the recent Assembly elections we will be talking to interested parties to ascertain their views on ensuring that election counts are efficient and effective as possible.

Ballyvester Primary School

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will make the necessary funding available to Ballyvester Primary School in North Down to facilitate the replacement of mobile classrooms. [143584]

Jane Kennedy: I understand from the Chief Executive of the South Eastern Education and Library Board that the long-term future of Ballyvester Primary School is being considered as part of the Board's five-year Capital Development Plan, which was published in October 2003 and is out for consultation until February 2004. The five-year plan indicates that a review of primary provision in the area will be carried out before the end of 2005.

In the meantime, the Board has carried out improvements to the heating in the main school and external repair to the existing mobiles. As a short-term measure, the Board also offered to replace some of the older mobile classrooms with newer mobiles but the school has declined this solution.

Closed Circuit Television

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what funding he has made available for town centre CCTV schemes in Northern Ireland; and what assessment he has made of the contribution of CCTV to the reduction of crime in Northern Ireland's town centres. [142689]

Mr. Spellar: During the period 1999–2001, the Government, through the Police Authority for Northern Ireland, invested £2.3 million in CCTV systems in seventeen town centres across Northern Ireland. We hope that it will be possible to build on this original investment and plan to make a further statement shortly.

In terms of the impact of CCTV, we have received evaluations from nine of the systems installed during 1999–2001. My officials are currently considering these and will be seeking a further independent view of their overall impact on crime across Northern Ireland.

We remain of the view that CCTV, when used as part of a wider crime reduction strategy, can be an effective tool in tackling crime.

Diabetes Framework

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in the implementation of the Diabetes Framework Strategy for Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [143973]

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Angela Smith: The Department will establish an Implementation Team, early in the new year, to produce an implementation plan for the Diabetes Service Framework. The Implementation Team will identify specific actions which can be taken forward within the additional resources which will be made available for diabetes services next year and produce a prioritised and costed list of further actions which can be taken forward as additional resources are secured.

Disability Discrimination Act

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to extend Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to cover education and transport services in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [142693]

Mr. Spellar: It is proposed to issue a Northern Ireland consultation document on the proposal to remove the exemption for transport services in Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 early next year.

In relation to the coverage of education, the Act will effectively be extended to cover Northern Ireland by way of Special Educational Needs and Disability legislation which is currently in course of preparation and is expected to be made next year.

Farming (Subsidy Claims)

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many appeals have been heard against decisions by the Department to penalise farmers for errors in subsidy claims; and what percentage of these appeals have been successful. [143948]

Mr. Pearson: A total of 48 cases have been heard by the Independent Appeals Panel. Of these, eight relate to errors in subsidy claims and one of these (12.5 per cent.) has been successful. In total, 23 per cent. of the cases heard by the Panel have been successful either in whole or in part.

Harland and Wolff

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what grant assistance has been given to Harland and Wolff in Belfast since 1 January 2000 in respect of equipment purchased which has since been sold on to Swan Hunter. [143310]

Mr. Pearson: No grant assistance has been provided since 1 January 2000 in respect of surplus equipment sold by Harland and Wolff, to Swan Hunter, as part of ongoing restructuring activity.

Local Community Fund

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what electoral wards will receive grants from the Local Community Fund; and what projects will be supported in each. [143451]

Mr. Spellar: For 2003–04 the Local Community Fund has been allocated to communities using the Noble measure of multiple deprivation overlaid by the results of a mapping exercise carried out by the Community Foundation of Northern Ireland. A full list of areas benefiting from the Fund is shown in the following

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table. Allocation of the Fund has been calculated on a proportionality basis, using estimated populations for the list of selected areas.

It is intended that key activities, which the Fund will support, will involve capacity building and the strengthening of leadership at a neighbourhood level. Deployment of the Fund is based on a bottom up approach with local communities developing community ideas and identifying appropriate activities to be supported as a solution to tackling their problems against the allocated sums. Each area is currently working up initiatives/actions for support through the Fund. Some examples of the type of activity likely to be supported are refurbishment of community houses, youth intervention programmes and environmental improvement projects and it is hoped that activities will get on the ground early in the new year.

Local Community Fund initial areas 2003–04—District council areas

LoughriesBowtown Estate
St. Anne'sLower Shankill
St. Anne'sBrown Square
BallymacarrettPottinger (Inner East)
BallymacarrettAvoniel (Part of Inner East)
BallymacarrettThe Mount (Part of Inner East)
BallymacarrettWillowfield (Part of Inner East)
BallymacarrettRavenhill (Part of Inner East)
ChurchlandThe Heights
St. Peter'sFoylehill/Creggan
VictoriaTop of Hill/Gobnascale
Shantallow EastShantallow
GlenGlen Estate
CorrodyCurryneirin and Tullally
ClondermotIrish Street
Crevagh and SpringtownBallymagroaty /Hazel bank
Flying HorseModel Farm Estate
CathedralFlying Horse Estate
LimavadyGlen Estate and Hospital Lane
Moyle Council
GlentaisieBallycastle Town
Newry and Mourne
Daisy HillCarnagat
NewtownhamiltonNewtownhamilton Village
GlengormleyGlenvarna and Queenspark
North Down
HarbourHarbour Ward
GlendergGlenderg Ward
Strabane WestLisnafin
Strabane SouthBallycolman

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