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Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on compliance by his Department with service efficiency targets with particular reference to time taken to handle claims from jobseekers. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning compliance with service efficiency targets with particular reference to time taken to handle claims from jobseekers. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus sets internal performance measures for managing its workloads in addition to the published targets set by Ministers. These internal measures include clearance times for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).
The current average clearance time for JSA new claims is 13.5 days with the eleven regions ranging from 10.1 days to 17.7 days. In month average clearance times have increased from 12.4 days in April to 14.7 days in September.
Jobcentre Plus has put measures in place to address this decline in performance. This includes temporary adjustments to the claim taking process and the movement of resources to improve the rate of initial telephone contact and customer service.
We are already seeing improvements following these measures. Contact Centres are now well on their way to meeting their target of answering 90% of calls and we are confident that this improvement will have a beneficial impact on the average clearance times quoted above.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the percentage of British (a) produced and (b) brokered arms which are used to commit human rights abuses. 
Ian Pearson: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not carried out such an assessment. It would be extremely difficult and resource intensive to attempt an assessment of the origin of arms and other equipment used in the commission of human rights abuses.
In order to minimise the risk that any export might be used for internal repression, we rigorously judge each export licence application against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Where
17 Nov 2005 : Column 1483W
there was a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression or human rights abuses, the FCO would recommend to the Department of Trade and Industry (as the Licensing Authority) that the application be refused.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Burmese Government's decision to move the seat of government from Rangoon to Pyinmana; what response he plans to make to this decision; what discussions he has had with other Governments concerning this decision; and what steps he plans to take to support human rights in Burma. 
Ian Pearson: Diplomatic missions in Rangoon were formally notified of the Burmese authorities' decision to relocate the seat of administration to Pyinmana on 7 November. The State Peace and Development Council claims that moving to a more central location will enable the Government to carry out the development of the whole nation more effectively. Although it is too early to assess the full impact of the move, we are in close touch with international partners in Rangoon over these developments.
We are actively working with our European and international partners, as well as through the United Nations and its agencies, to press the Burmese authorities to end their appalling human rights violations and to engage in a genuine process of national reconciliation involving all political parties and ethnic groups in Burma.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many call centres were run by his Department and its agencies in (a) 200304, (b) 200405 and (c) 200506 to date; and how many and what proportion of calls (i) were handled by an adviser, (ii) were received but abandoned and (iii) received an engaged tone. 
Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not run any call centres which deal directly with the public. The FCO routinely uses commercial call centres for information on travel advice, UK visas and passports. Outside call centres, including police facilities, are used in consular emergencies when the number of calls or likely calls exceeds FCO staff capacity in relevant departments of the office.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the (a) occasions and (b) dates when he has raised the issue of human rights in (i) Tibet and (ii) China with members of the Chinese government in the last three years. 
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his assessment of the degree of compliance by China with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: We welcome China's work towards ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We regularly encourage China to invest more effort in bringing itself into compliance with the ICCPR. The UK will host a joint EU-China ICCPR ratification seminar in December.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether an agreement has been reached on farm subsidies in Bulgaria and Romania in anticipation of their accession to the European Union in 2007; and whether the subsidies will be funded from the existing budget. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Farm subsidy arrangements are set out in the Accession treaty between member states of the European Union (EU) and Bulgaria and Romania. In essence, the same arrangements that were applied to the 2004 Accession will apply to Bulgaria and Romania. Common Agricultural Policy direct payments will be phased in over a 10-year period, starting at 25 percent. of the level applicable to the EU 15 from the date of accession. Bulgaria and Romania have the option of making limited top-ups to phased in payments, mainly at national expense, and of adopting a simplified direct payment scheme for the first few years after accession.
The EU Commission estimate that direct payments and market measures for Bulgaria and Romania would amount to some €2.5 billion in total over the 200709 period (assuming that accession takes place on 1 January 2007), plus a further €3 billion for rural development. A decision on whether direct payments and market measures will be funded from within the ceilings agreed by Heads of Government in October 2002 will be taken as part of the current future financing negotiations.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the 10 largest amounts of damages paid out by his Department in the last year for which figures are available, indicating in each case the nature of the claim. 
|Date||Nature of claim||Damages (£)|
|April 2005||Work related upper limb disorder||33,500|
|April 2005||Personal Injury Claim||22,000|
|December 2004||Work related upper limb disorder||4,500|
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