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18 Jan 2006 : Column 1428W—continued

Worker Registration Scheme

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people from the accession states had registered under the Worker Registration Scheme by 1 October. [40359]

Mr. McNulty: The Accession Monitoring report for May 2004 to September 2005 sets out the number of citizens from the eight Accession Countries of the EU (Accession State nationals) who have applied to register with the Worker Registration Scheme during this period. This report is available on the Home Office website via:

Yarl's Wood Detention Centre

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received a report from the Children's Commissioner on the condition of children detained in Yarl's Wood; and if he will make a statement. [41484]

Mr. McNulty: We have received the report of the Children Commissioner's visit to Yarl's Wood. We are currently giving this report careful consideration and will respond to the Commissioner's recommendations in due course.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Afghanistan

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the proposal to promote the licensing of Afghan poppy farmers to produce the raw materials for the manufacture of diamorphine and codeine. [42321]

Dr. Howells: The proposal to promote the licensing of Afghan poppy farmers to produce the raw materials for the manufacture of diamorphine and codeine was put forward in the Senlis Council's Feasibility Study on Opium Licensing in Afghanistan for the Production of Morphine and Other Essential Medicines". We are
 
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following the work of the Senlis Council and have considered the findings from their study. However, we do not believe that such licensing is a realistic solution to the problems of opium cultivation in Afghanistan, not least because it risks a high level of diversion of licit opium into illegal channels. It is clear from the feasibility study, as well as expert opinion, that Afghanistan currently does not meet the prerequisites necessary to control licit cultivation. There is also a risk that prices would rise, attracting new entrants into the illicit market.

The production of opium is also contrary to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The Afghan Government has expressed its opposition to licit cultivation in Afghanistan. When the Senlis Council presented its study in Afghanistan in September 2005, the Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics, Habibullah Qaderi, said,

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the percentage change has been in opium production in Afghanistan in the last six months; and if he will make a statement. [42998]

Dr. Howells: The figures for opium production in the last six months in Afghanistan are not yet available. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will provide an early indication of this season's (2005–06) production figures in their Rapid Assessment Survey, which is due to be published in the next couple of weeks. In November 2005, the UNODC confirmed the poppy cultivation and production figures for the 2004–05 season from their annual survey. They estimated that opium production was around 4,100 metric tonnes, a decrease of only 100 tonnes (2.4 per cent.) compared to 2004, despite a significant 21 per cent. reduction in poppy cultivation from 131,000 hectares (ha) in 2003–04 to 104,000 ha in 2004–05. Good weather and an absence of crop disease were responsible for a significant increase in yield in 2004–05.

Airspace (Extraordinary Rendition)

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has asked the United States Administration to provide documented evidence to support the assurances provided by Dr. Rice on the condition under which rendition of detainees has taken place in instances when United States aircraft have used United Kingdom airports for re-fuelling. [41486]

Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's answer to the right hon. Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) on 12 December 2005, Official Report, column 1652–53W. As noted in that answer, in the two cases where the Government gave permission for the rendition of a detainee via UK territory and airspace, the detainees were en route to criminal trial in the United States.

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 20 December 2005, Official Report, column 2840–1W on
 
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airspace (extraordinary rendition), whether there must be 'substantial grounds' or 'grounds' to suspect that a person would face a real risk of torture, for the transfer of an individual from or through the UK to another state not to be permitted. [42529]

Dr. Howells: The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits the United Kingdom from removing someone where there are substantial grounds for believing that they face a real risk of torture.

Audible Fire Alarms

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of the premises occupied by his Department is fitted with audible fire alarms. [42880]

Mr. Straw: Approximately 91 per cent. of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's UK Estate is covered by Audible Fire Alarms.

Cherie Booth

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether assistance was offered by the Government to facilitate a meeting in Turkey between Cherie Booth QC, Mr. and Mrs. Orams and Mr. Hassan Vahib; whether accommodation within the Department's premises was made available to Cherie Booth during this visit; and if he will make a statement. [42799]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Cherie Booth QC visited Turkey last year in her professional capacity as a barrister. The Government did not facilitate any of the meetings held, nor did it offer to do so. Nor was she offered or provided with accommodation by the Government. Her representation of David and Linda Orams is entirely independent of Government.

Cherie Booth is subject to security considerations at all times, even when she is travelling—as in this instance—as a private citizen. Consequently, she was accompanied to Turkey by her close protection team and given no more consular assistance than was commensurate with her security requirements.

Cuba

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Cuba. [42441]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We continue to be concerned about the political situation in Cuba. Cuba is a one-party state with considerable restrictions on fundamental human rights. The situation has deteriorated in recent months, notably through further crackdowns on dissidents and curtailment of political and economic liberties. The UK and EU policy in Cuba is to encourage a process of peaceful transition to pluralist democracy. We continue to press the Cuban authorities to respect human rights and political freedoms and issued several statements under our EU presidency expressing our concern at the Cuban authorities' harsh treatment of the peaceful opposition. These views were put to the outgoing Cuban ambassador and, to the incoming ambassador, at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group Cuba on 8 November 2005.
 
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Departmental Staff (Castle Point)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff employed by his Department live in Castle Point. [42816]

Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold staff records in a form that would enable this information to be provided without incurring disproportionate costs.


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