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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the recent statement made by the World Bank on the future of Uganda. [4076]

Ian Pearson: The World Bank has not shared any recent statement on the future of Uganda with us.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what dates (a) he and (b) his officials met organisations representing the Ugandan Government; and which organisations were involved. [5877]

Ian Pearson: Officials at the British high commission in Kampala met a representative from Hill and Knowlton PR company on 15 March. Another of the company's representatives accompanied Ugandan Ministers Kutesa and Mbabazi on a call at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 14 April. We maintain a wide range of contacts on Uganda with Government representatives, NGOs, members of the diaspora and others

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Northern Uganda; and what steps he is taking (a) to advance a cease-fire, (b) to help bring to account those who have committed war crimes through the International Criminal Court and (c) to assist land reform. [5975]

Ian Pearson: We remain concerned at the continuing conflict in the north of Uganda. A sustainable peace will require more than simply a military solution and we are continuing to support Betty Bigombe's, former Minister for the North, locally led mediation efforts.

We are working closely with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The prosecutor of the ICC announced his decision to launch a formal investigation into the situation in Northern Uganda in July 2004. Because of the need to respect his independence, and to protect the integrity of the Court's operations, we cannot comment on the operational aspects of specific ICC investigations, nor reveal what support the UK is providing.

The Ugandan Government are currently finalising the Land Use Policy, which covers Uganda as a whole. It aims to link land reform to poverty reduction and other important issues, including strengthening women's rights. The UK was instrumental in developing the Land Act, which preceded the policy. In the north, most of the population is currently displaced. It will be important to ensure that their access and property rights are protected. We are monitoring this issue very closely.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Uzbek National Parliament on the role of the Parliamentary Commission in investigating the recent troubles; [5244]

(2) whether the UK was invited to be part of the task force set up by the Uzbek Government to investigate Andijan. [5974]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK has made no representations to the Uzbek National Parliament on the role of the Parliamentary Committee in investigating the recent unrest in Andizhan (Andijan). But at the General Affairs External Relations Council on 13 June, the UK and its EU partners made it clear to the Uzbek authorities that the parliamentary inquiry was an inadequate response, and called on them to reconsider their position on an independent international inquiry. It is only in this way that we will form a clear understanding of the events of 12–13 May, and the circumstances surrounding them.

The UK was not invited to monitor the Uzbek Parliamentary investigation.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the involvement of foreign nationals in the recent disorders in Andijan. [5245]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We do not yet have a clear understanding of what happened in Andizhan (Andijan). It is for this reason, given the reports of a disproportionate use of force, that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has repeatedly called for an immediate, independent and international inquiry into the events that occurred in Andizhan on 12–13 May 2005.


MOT Testing

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will defer the introduction of computerised MOT testing of vehicles until he has ascertained that the computerised procedure will save time; and if he will make a statement. [5168]

Dr. Ladyman: The computerisation of the MOT system is designed to deliver a number of benefits and a reduction in time taken was not among those planned.

Air Transport (London)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many flights there were (a) from and (b) to (i) Gatwick, (ii) Heathrow, (iii) Stansted and (iv) London City airport in each of the last five years. [5313]

Ms Buck: The table shows the number of air transport movements to and from Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and London City airport for each of the last five years.
Number of flights at UK airports: 2000–04

London City2527262427
London City2427262427

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Blue Badge Scheme

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the operation of the blue badge scheme, with particular reference to the requirement to (a) display the badge and (b) produce it on demand. [6148]

Ms Buck: The blue badge scheme provides a national arrangement of parking concessions primarily for people with severe walking difficulties, which is administered by local authorities. Their role includes the assessment of applications, the issue of blue badges as well as enforcement of the scheme itself.

Display of the badge

To use the concessions under the scheme badge holders must display the badge on the dashboard or fascia panel of the vehicle, with the front facing forward, so that the relevant details are clearly legible from outside of the vehicle.

Production of the badge for inspection

At present there is no requirement for a badge holder to produce the badge for inspection. However, following a recent review of the blue badge scheme, the Government accepted a number of recommendations from our statutory advisers, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, including the provision for a power to inspect blue badges. This was successfully introduced in the Traffic Management Act 2004. The new power will be implemented later in the year by Commencement Order. This will allow us the time to produce and consult on the necessary guidance that will be required by enforcement officers and badge holders themselves.

Civil Servants

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what value for money procurement savings were identified and what reduction in civil service posts occurred in his Department in 2004–05. [4543]

Ms Buck: In pre-Budget report 2004 the Chancellor reported OGC value for money gains in central civil Government procurement for 2003–04 of £2 billion. OGC value for money procurement gains for 2004–05 are being calculated and will be published in the 2005 Treasury Autumn Performance Report.

In Budget 2005 the Chancellor announced a headcount reduction of 12,500 posts by the end of 2004–05, towards the Government's target of a gross reduction of 84,000 civil service and administrative posts by 2008.

The number of filled civil service posts measured on a full-time equivalent basis, including both permanent and casual staff, released due to efficiency in the Department for Transport between 1 April 2004 and 1 April 2005 was 352.

The Department has necessarily had to recruit additional staff to its priority frontline areas during 2004–05, including the Transport Security & Contingencies Directorate and the Accident Investigation Branches (rail, aviation and marine) within the central Department, traffic officers within the Highways Agency and driving examiners within the Driving Standards Agency.
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