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26 Jan 2004 : Column 51W—continued

Legal Finance

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will list the QCs who received the highest overall payments (a) from the Community Legal Service budget and (b) from the Criminal Defence Service budget in 2002–03. [141417]

Mr. Lammy: The highest total payments made directly from the Community Legal Service fund during 2002–03 were to Lord Brennan QC. Lord Brennan received £606,000 to the nearest thousand.

The highest value of aggregated payments made from the Criminal Defence Service budget during 2002–03 were to Mr James Sturman QC. Mr Sturman received in the region of £620,000.

Care should be taken not to misinterpret these payments as an indication of annual earnings for work carried out in the year for the following reasons:

Magistrates Courts

Chris Ruane: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will list the

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magistrate benches that (a) do and (b) do not co-operate in joint police, local authority and magistrate courts training. [144836]

Mr. Leslie: There is no central data collected on the information requested. It is a matter for each MCC whether joint training and other events take place in co-operation with local authorities and the police. In making these decisions MCCs will also take regard to the need to protect the judicial independence of the magistracy. Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJB) are the forum through which such co-operation may be discussed and agreed. For example, we know of an LCJB which has been instrumental in developing a protocol on anti-social behaviour order matters which is used by all criminal justice service agencies.

LCJBs are run under a tripartite arrangement involving the Home Office, my Department and the Crown Prosecution Service and seek to include the chief officers from the Police, the Probation Service, Crown Prosecution Service, Crown and Magistrates' Courts, the Prison Service, and Youth Offending Teams. Magistrates' Courts are not represented by magistrates, but the Justices Chief Executive (JCE) does attend as the senior official from the local MCC on their behalf. The JCE has overall responsibility for ensuring that appropriate training is planned and delivered to magistrates and can direct as necessary on issues arising from LCJBs.



Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will report on the work of the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights in relation to Afghanistan. [149652]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Kamal Hossain, the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/19, visited Afghanistan three times in 2002. His last, ninth report, issued on 13 January 2003, focused on the impact on human rights of Afghanistan's transitional process started by the Bonn Agreement of December 2001.

There has been progress on a range of human rights issues since the Special Rapporteur's last report. Most recently, Articles 5, 7 and 58 of the new constitution, agreed on 4 January 2004, oblige the Afghan State to

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protect human rights, ensure unity and equality among all ethnic groups, abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and establish an Independent Human Rights Commission to promote the advancement and protection of human rights. Chapter Two of the constitution has 38 Articles covering the Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens. These include Articles 22 and 43 which establish equal rights for all Afghans (both men and women), including access to free education up to degree level; and Article 34 which states that freedom of expression is inviolable.

The Afghan Transitional Administration and international community are committed to providing the security and resources needed to support implementation of the new constitution, and to develop effective mechanisms to tackle continuing human rights violations and abuses, including those against women.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the progress by the UN and Afghan Transitional Authority on measures concerning Afghan women and girls set out in Economic and Social Council Resolution 2002–04. [149653]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Since Resolution 2002–04 there have been a number of significant developments affecting women and girls in Afghanistan.

On 5 March 2003, Afghanistan publicly demonstrated its intention to restore full and equal rights for women by ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In the same month, the EU sponsored a resolution on Afghanistan at the Commission on the Status of Women, welcoming the progress that Afghanistan has made to improve the situation for women and urging the Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA) to ensure that a legal framework, protecting women's rights, was put in place.

The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, submitted her report on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan in October 2003. Many of the recommendations requiring action by the ATA were reflected in the new Afghan Constitution, agreed on 4 January 2004. 23 per cent. of the delegates to the Constitutional Loya Jirga were women from across Afghanistan. Articles 22, 43 and 44 of the new Constitution establish women's equal rights, including access to education; and place an obligation on the Afghan State to develop education programmes for women. By March 2003, the number of children attending the first day of school rose to 4.2 million: 37 per cent. of the students are girls, and a third of the teachers are women.

In late 2003, the UN appointed Luntan Bayarmaa as the Gender Adviser in the Office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the political parties registered in Afghanistan. [150643]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), no political parties have yet been registered in Afghanistan.

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Saudi Arabia

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action was taken by his Department as a result of the threat that light aircraft posed to British Airways planes in Saudi Arabia. [150528]

Mr. Straw: We are not able to comment on specific threats but I can assure the right hon. Gentlemen that we take very seriously every threat to aviation and take appropriate action, in coordination with the Department for Transport, airlines and, as necessary, the security and intelligence agencies and foreign governments.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will assess the feasibility of resettling the population to those parts of British Indian Ocean Territory permitted to Chagossians under the Immigration Ordinance (British Indian Ocean Territory) dated 3 November 2002. [150188]

Mr. Rammell: A study by independent experts into the feasibility of resettlement of the Chagos islands was commissioned in April 2000. The report on the first phase of the study was completed in June 2000 and the report on the second phase, which incorporated findings from the first, was completed in June 2002. Copies of these reports are in the Library of the House.

The study concluded that short-term habitation for limited numbers would be possible but only on a subsistence basis while any long-term settlement would be precarious and costly. No final decisions have been taken on any further phase of this feasibility study.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a list of actions taken since July 2002 to support the Chagossians. [150189]

Mr. Rammell: No specific measures in support of the Chagossian community have been taken since July 2002. But we continue to be in contact with the leaders and representatives of the community about the concerns that they have.


Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations between China and the UK. [150040]

Mr. Rammell: We currently enjoy good relations with China. These have been built on regular high level visits in both directions, as well as lower level exchanges on many different issues.

As part of our efforts to increase collaboration between the UK and China, a Task Force was set up in September 2003 under my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's leadership in order to make firm recommendations for action. Work is progressing and we hope to announce these in late spring.

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We have welcomed China's support in the fight against terrorism and have encouraged her to engage constructively in international fora.

We do, nevertheless, continue to raise with the Chinese authorities areas where we disagree, such as Human Rights.

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