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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the oral answer of 16 November 2005 from the Prime Minister to the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Official Report, column 964, what plans he has to (a) reform and (b) abolish the Child Support Agency; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Child Support Agency's chief executive, Stephen Geraghty, is currently undertaking a root and branch review of the agency. He will report to Ministers and we will make announcements shortly.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the number of British pensioners living in Commonwealth countries who have paid pension contributions and who do not receive pension increments; 
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Mr. Timms: We uprate the state pension in countries with which the UK has a reciprocal agreement or a legal obligation to do so. There are some 490,000 recipients of a UK state pension living in Commonwealth countries with which we do not have reciprocal agreements. We do, from time to time, receive correspondence from recipients who do not benefit from uprating of their state pension. However, we have no plans to change the current arrangements.
Mr. Anthony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in Great Yarmouth constituency are in receipt of pension credit; how much they receive on average; what estimate he has made of the number who are eligible; and what steps he is (a) taking and (b) plans to take to encourage those who are not claiming pension credit to do so. 
Mr. Timms: The average weekly pension credit payment to household recipients in Great Yarmouth as at June 2005 is £40.03. Information on numbers of households and individuals in receipt of pension credit at 30 June 2005 is contained in the most recent quarterly Pension Credit progress report published on 20 October. A copy of the report is in the Library.
It is becoming clear that the number of people who are eligible for pension credit is somewhat less than the initial estimate. National statistics showing the number of pensioners entitled to pension credit at a national level in the first six months after its introduction and the subsequent take-up rate are expected to be available in December. Information at constituency level will not be available. The date of release of these statistics and the publication plans for the following set, covering 2004/05, will be pre-announced in National Statistics Updates"; the diary of statistical releases.
Steps are being taken to ensure that everyone who is likely to be entitled to pension credit knows what they need to do to take up their entitlement. A letter has been sent out to every pensioner household to inform them about pension credit. New marketing campaigns have been developed to target regions and demographic groups that have a low take-up of pension credit. Data-matching techniques are being used to increase the accuracy with which invitations are targeted and further contact is also being made with those households we believe to be eligible for pension credit, but who have not so far responded.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Gravesham (a) received the state pension and (b) (i) applied for and (ii) received the pension credit in each of the last five years; and what the average pension credit payment was in each year. 
Mr. Timms: The available information is in the tables. Information on the number of people who have applied for pension credit is not available in respect of individual constituencies, pension credit was introduced from October 2003. Information on numbers of households and individuals in receipt of pension credit at 30 June 2005 is contained in the most recent quarterly Pension Credit progress report published on 20 October. The report is available in the Library.
|Household recipients||Individual beneficiaries||Average weekly|
The table shows the number and percentage of single women pensioners living in households in relative and absolute low income. They show that in 200304 there were 700,000 single women pensioners living in households in relative low income, measured after housing coststhe number in relative low income has fallen by almost a half since 199607.
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|After housing costs|
|Before housing costs|
|After housing costs|
|Before housing costs|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress towards the establishment of a comprehensive legal system in Afghanistan; and what assistance the UK is providing for this process. 
Dr. Howells: The creation and consolidation of a national Afghan government and institutions, including a comprehensive legal system, will be the key to establishing long-term stability and security within Afghanistan. After nearly three decades of war, these institutions needed to be created from scratch.
Italy is the G8 lead nation for Afghan justice reform, of which legal reform is a part. The UK is the G8 lead nation on Counter Narcotics (CN) and is working in support of the Afghan government's eight pillar 2005 implementation plan, of which criminal justice is a key pillar.
We are spending over £270 million over the three financial years 200506, 200607 and 200708 on CN activity. Over 50 per cent. of the UK's budget for Afghan CN will go towards law enforcement and criminal justice; we are doubling our previously planned expenditure on criminal justice. The Government of Afghanistan, with our support, is on track to put in place the key foundations of a CN criminal justice system. This includes a new counter narcotics law, which is currently being drafted and is due to be finalised by the end of this year. The UK has also worked with the international community to recruit and train a CN Criminal Justice Task Force of Afghan investigators, prosecutors and judges, currently 80-strong, to work with the CN Police, to be able to push through successful investigations and prosecutions. The
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Criminal Justice Task Force has made 150 convictions since it became operational in May and are currently investigating 247 cases.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress the UK has made in delivering capability in its lead responsibility for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. 
Dr. Howells: The UK, as lead nation on counter narcotics (CN), remains committed to supporting the Afghan Government in the implementation of their comprehensive 2005 CN Implementation Plan. A UK advisor is also currently working with the Ministry of Counter Narcotics Strategy Unit to update the National Drugs Control Strategy for the new five-year period. We continue to work with the Afghan Government and others to increase activity in all areas of their strategy. As well as co-ordinating the activity of international partners, we are providing substantial financial and practical support, spending over £270 million over the three financial years 200506, 200607 and 200708 on CN activity.
Significant steps have already been taken to build Afghan capacity to tackle the drugs problem. At the end of last year, the Government of Afghanistan established the Ministry of Counter Narcotics charged with co-ordinating the fight against drugs. This year, the Ministry has organised on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan a series of high profile provincial CN jirgas"meetings of local leaders, to persuade local communities to not plant poppy this year, these meetings have taken place with the support of our ambassador in Kabul. The UK is funding a £12.5 million Institution Development project to further strengthen the Ministry of Counter Narcotics and other institutions in Afghanistan. On 29 October, a CN Trust Fund was officially launched at the Afghan Ministry of Finance. The Fund will give the Government of Afghanistan more money for CN activities and greater say over how this money is spent.
The UK has helped to establish and provide training for the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA)the lead drugs law enforcement agency, headquartered in Kabul with seven provincial offices. The CNPA is currently around 500 strong, but will be expanded further to give it the capacity to operate nation-wide. The UK is also providing training for the Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF), an elite and highly trained force equipped to tackle high value targets across the country. Since January 2004, the CNPA and ASNF have seized approximately 150 tonnes of opiates, destroyed over 264 drugs labs and made a significant number of arrests.
We are also working with the international community to recruit and train a counter narcotics Criminal Justice Task Force of Afghan investigators, prosecutors and judges to work with the Counter Narcotics Police, to be able to push through successful drugs investigations and prosecutions. The Criminal Justice Task Force is currently around 80 strong and made its first convictions in May this year for drug trafficking in Kabul. President Karzai also signed off a decree on 25 July, to establish Counter Narcotics divisions in Kabul's primary and appeals courts with jurisdiction over the whole of Afghanistan.
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