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Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): On 12 February my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that he would support the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS trust in its bid to be part of the first wave of NHS foundation trusts. The NHS trust can now apply to the office of the Independent Regulator, chaired by Bill Moyes, for authorisation as an NHS foundation trust, and set up new governance arrangements including recruiting members and holding elections to the Board of Governors.

The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS trust is now working towards authorisation as an NHS foundation trust along with 24 other NHS trusts.


Race Relations (Amendment) Act

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Beverley Hughes): I have today made a technical amendment to the authorisation under section 19D of the Race Relations Act which enables immigration officers to prioritise arriving passengers for examination and immigration offenders for removal on the ground of nationality. The change is that nationalities will be

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prioritised if adverse decisions and immigration breaches reach more than 50 in total and five of every 1,000 admitted persons of a particular nationality.

The change is necessary to keep the system of prioritisation mgeable in the light of improvements to data collection. We do not anticipate that this will make a significant difference to the number of nationalities prioritised and decisions will continue to be made on the individual merits of each case.

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Beverley Hughes): I have today made an authorisation under section 19D of the Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended) which will enable immigration officers to prioritise the examination of passengers of Somali national origin. For a period of three months this will allow such people to be examined more rigorously than would otherwise be the case.

The purpose of this measure is to enable the immigration service to obtain information on the number and profiles of Somali-born passengers entering the UK. The aim of this measure is to establish how the large numbers of in-country asylum applicants claiming as Somali, apparently without documentation, enter the UK.

The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration (Beverley Hughes): I have today made an authorisation under section 19D of the Race Relations Act 1976 as amended which enables the Home Office to implement measures targeting the top five nationalities in terms of third country/Dublin cases for additional examination on the grounds of nationality.

This change will enable officials to compare the fingerprints of asylum seekers of these five nationalities against other governments' fingerprint databases of asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers and those granted some form of leave to remain.

This change also allows officials to compare the details of asylum seekers from the five prioritised nationalities with the details of individuals originally from those countries but now holding a form of immigration status elsewhere who have been granted a visa to travel to the UK.

The purpose of these measures is to identify individuals who have claimed asylum, are failed asylum seekers or absconders, or who already have some form of status in another country and who subsequently claim asylum in the UK.

Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Somalia and Sudan were the top five nationalities subject to third country/Dublin action in the last six months of 2003. This means that other EU member states are properly responsible to consider the asylum claim of the individuals concerned.

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Any individuals identified under these processes may be returned to the safe third country identified as responsible for them under existing immigration law.


Hong Kong

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell): The latest report on the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong was published today and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. A copy of the report is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website The report covers the period from 1 July to 31 December 2003 and includes a foreword by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I commend the report to the House.



The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of DFID's interim country assistance plan for Iraq. It sets out how DFID aims to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq in the period up to March 2006. I have also decided to make an initial contribution of £65 million—US$120 million—to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, mged by the World Bank and United Nations, out of the resources pledged by the United Kingdom for the reconstruction of Iraq at the Madrid donors conference in October 2003, which I outlined in my written statement of 14 October 2003, column 9–10 WS.

Saddam Hussein's tyranny led to a significant increase in poverty and Iraq was isolated from the rest of the world, including its own region, for much of his rule. In many respects Iraq's social and economic indicators now resemble those of a low-income country rather than a major oil producer. But Iraq's abundant human and natural resources offer the potential for a rapid return to relative prosperity, if the right conditions are created in the short and medium term.

Against this background, DFID's objectives for the next two years are to support: rapid, sustainable and equitable economic growth; effective and accountable governance; and social and political cohesion and stability.

To work towards these goals DFID will focus on three levels:

Internationally: by supporting the United Nations and World Bank International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), assisting the Ministry of Planning and Development Co-operation, and continuing dialogue with other donors on the co-ordination and effectiveness of assistance to Iraq.

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Nationally: by funding projects which benefit the poor, promote an inclusive political process and economic reform, and strengthen public administration. Examples include helping the growth of small and medium-sized businesses; setting up a fund to support the participation of citizens, parties and interest groups in the political process; and technical assistance to Iraq's public administration system.

In southern Iraq: by funding projects to reduce poverty and helping to restore the area's administrative and political links with Baghdad so that it can benefit from Iraq's national development efforts.

At the Madrid donors conference, the United Kingdom pledged a total of £544 million for the period from April 2003 to March 2006, a significant proportion of which would be channelled through the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI). The allocation of our initial contribution between the UN and the World Bank Trust Funds will be decided shortly. Any further DFID contributions to the Funds will be considered in the light of the effectiveness of their operations and their need for additional funding.

A total of over $32 billion was pledged to Iraq at the Madrid conference. These pledges, together with a substantial reduction in Iraq's debt, which should be negotiated this year, will provide a sound basis for the country's initial reconstruction. If the right steps are taken now, and the political situation in the country is stabilised, much of Iraq's longer term investment needs should be met by commercial loans, foreign direct investment and its own resources. Iraq's human capital, and its oil reserves of about $2,500 billion at current prices, should enable it to meet its future needs without significant external grant assistance.

The country assistance plan is also available on the DFID website:


Iraq (Campaign Medal)

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): I am pleased to announce that Her Majesty has graciously approved the detailed qualifying criteria for the award of a Campaign Medal for recent operations in Iraq. I have laid the Command Paper instituting the Iraq Campaign Medal in Parliament today.

Supplementary Estimates

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): Subject to Parliamentary approval of any necessary supplementary estimate, the Ministry of Defence Departmental expenditure limits will be increased by £506,795,000 from £30,792,381,000 to £31,299,176,000. Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital are as set out in the following table:

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Depreciation(1)200,000-7,337,887-100,000 -7,437,887
Total506,79530,931,004 368,17231,299,176

(1) Depreciation, which forms part of Resource DEL, is excluded from the total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

The change in the resource element of the DEL arises from:

Ministry of Defence Votes A 2004–05

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): The Ministry of Defence Votes A 2004–05 will be laid before the House on 23 February as HC 283. Votes A outlines the maximum numbers of personnel that can be retained for Service in the Armed Forces for financial year 2004–05.

Copies of these reports will be laid in the Libraries of both Houses.