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24 Jan 2006 : Column 2007W—continued

Natural Disasters

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what UK financial aid has been offered to UK expatriates resident in areas that suffered from natural disasters in 2005; and if he will make a statement. [43423]

Dr. Howells: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, we provided the following assistance:
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DetailsCost (£)
Return airfares for a British husband and wife Atlanta/ London/Atlanta.3,544.48
Return airfares for a British mother and daughter Atlanta/ London/Atlanta.10,571.60
The cost of the funeral of a British national, who died during the hurricane in New Orleans.944.69

In the Bali bombing in October 2005, one dual British/Australian national, resident in Australia was killed and a British resident in Australia was injured, along with her Australian husband. Under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Aftercare plan for victims of acts of terrorism overseas, we provided the following assistance:
DetailsCost (£)
Return flights to Australia for two bereaved family members, one from UK and one from Canada.7,003.65
Medical evacuation from Bali to Singapore and hospital treatment for the injured British national. Return flight London to Singapore and five nights accommodation in Singapore for her sister.5,234.47

All of the costs indicated were incurred by the FCO. The Department for International Development made no expenditure on UK expatriates resident in areas that suffered from natural disasters in 2005.


Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministers in his Department have visited Taiwan in the course of their ministerial duties since 1997. [45307]

Ian Pearson: There have been no Foreign and Commonwealth Office ministerial visits since 1997.

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last raised the sovereignty of Taiwan with his Chinese counterpart. [45308]

Ian Pearson: In their bilateral meeting, during the Chinese State Visit in November 2005, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Taiwan with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also discussed Taiwan with President Hu during his meeting.

Our long-standing position on Taiwan remains unchanged: that is, we acknowledge the position of the Chinese Government that Taiwan is a province of China and recognise the Chinese Government as the sole legal government of China. The United Kingdom considers the Taiwan issue is one to be settled peacefully by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. We are strongly opposed to any use of force and urge both sides to engage in constructive dialogue.


Mr. David: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure that progress is made under the Austrian presidency on negotiations regarding Turkish membership of the European Union. [44097]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: Under the Austrian presidency, the Commission is taking forward the negotiations following the framework agreed on 3 October. It is currently continuing its process of screening Turkey's legislation against the EU acquis. Following the presentation of the Commission's screening reports, member states will consider whether to set benchmarks for Turkey to fulfil before the opening of individual chapters and will then consider whether any chapters are ready to be opened. Throughout the process, the Government will seek to ensure that Turkey be treated on its own merits, just as would any other state negotiating for accession.

War Compensation Scheme

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether former British prisoners of war formerly held in Germany are able to apply under the German prisoner of war compensation scheme; [43173]

(2) what progress his Department has made in its examination of the German compensation scheme for prisoners of war. [43174]

Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Dr. Lewis Moonie, in a debate on this issue on 5 April 2001, Official Report, columns 602–04.

The only relevant German compensation scheme of which the Government are aware is the German Forced Labour Compensation Programme, administered for the purposes of the UK by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which provides financial compensation to former slave and forced labourers. The German authorities have made clear that this programme specifically excludes Prisoners of War (PoW) as the funds were intended to compensate foreign national civilians who were forcibly conscripted by the Nazis to work as 'slave labourers'. The IOM has administered the scheme accordingly. This meant that being a PoW was not in itself a cause for entitlement to compensation. The deadline for applications to the IOM expired in August 2001.


0870 Numbers

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the occasions in the last five years on which 0870 telephone numbers have been used by his Department as contact numbers for members of the public; and how much revenue was received from the use of 0870 contact numbers in each of the last five years for which records are available. [24456]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Available records indicate that the 0870 numbers given in the following table have been used by the Home Office and its agencies. On 15 September 2005 the 0870 Home Office general public inquiry number was replaced with a geographical number. The department received no income from calls to the switchboard.
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The 0870 numbers used by the Immigration and Nationality Enquiry Bureau (INEB) have been in existence since December 1998 and are published widely. The then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, in March 1998 agreed to the use of 0870 numbers on the understanding that IND re-invest monies earned into improving the telephone bureau operation and thereby customer service. In spring 2002, £750,000 was used to purchase a switchboard with increased functionality for INEB.

Figures are not available for the last five years. For the period one January 2004 to 31 August 2004, IND received £72,067 from BT for the use of 0870 telephone numbers. IND now take no revenue. The use of 0870 numbers in IND is being reviewed. The UK Passport Service have no record of the revenue generated before the financial year 2002–03.

The following revenue was generated:
1 April to 31 October 2005238,605.96

The Criminal Records Bureau operates as a public/private partnership with Capita Plc and operates six 0870 telephone numbers as contact numbers for the public. The Home Office receives no revenue for calls made to these numbers.
0870 Numbers in use within the Home Office

Home Office Public Enquiries(replaced with 020 7035 4848 on 15 September 2005)0870 000 1585
Immigration and Nationality Directorate
Main0870 606 7766
Application Forms0870 241 0645
Complaints0870 241 6523
UK Passport Service
Main0870 521 0410
Textphone0870 240 8090
High Street Partners0870 243 4477
Complaints0870 241 1902
Siemens Business Services (initial application check)0870 125 1256
Criminal Record Bureau
Main0870 909 0811
Registration0870 909 0822
Disclosure applications0870 909 0844
Minicom0870 909 0344
Disputes0870 909 0778
Welsh language line0870 909 0223
HM Prison Service
Main0870 000 1397
HMP Holloway0870 000 0575
Advice to practitioners on tackling anti-social behaviour0870 220 2000
Crime Reduction
Advice on preventing car crime0870 000 8518
Security Industry Authority0870 243 0100

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Alcohol Sales (Under-age People)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fixed penalty notices were issued for (a) consumption of alcohol by and (b) selling alcohol to under age people in (i) Essex and (ii) Castle Point in each of the last five years. [42906]

Paul Goggins: The Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) scheme was brought into effect in England and Wales during 2003–04 to provide the police with a quick and effective means of dealing with minor offences. Under the scheme an offender is issued with a fixed penalty notice and has 21 days in which to pay the penalty or request a court hearing.

The offences of sale of alcohol to a person under 18 and consumption of alcohol by a person aged under 18 in licensed premises were added to the scheme with effect from 1 November 2004. The numbers of penalty notices issued for offences related to buying and consuming alcohol in Essex police force area, are provided in the table.

It is not possible to identify all Penalty Notices issued in Castle Point because the data is not broken down to that level of detail.
Number of penalty notices for disorder for certain offences relating to alcohol, Essex police force area, 2004 and 2005(provisional)(16)

Offence description20042005
Selling alcohol to person under 18785
Consumption of alcohol by under 18 in licensed

(16) Provisional data January to September 2005

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