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31 Jan 2006 : Column 349W—continued

Trust Schools

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether representatives of companies from the (a) banking, (b) supermarket, (c) tobacco, (d) oil and energy, (e) fast food, (f) construction and (g) IT industries have (i) expressed an interest in, (ii) requested information about and (iii) corresponded with her Department about trust schools. [44543]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 20 January 2006]: We welcome the involvement of partners from all sectors of the community and across the economy in forming charitable trusts to support schools.

We are engaged in ongoing discussions with a range of organisations, including representatives of companies from the banking, construction and IT industries. The recent Trust School Prospectus ( included some of these companies: Microsoft is interested in developing existing links with Monkseaton Language college into a trust, and Solihull local authority is working with a private sector business consortium on a regeneration project—as part of this a shared trust for several primary schools could help to ensure a close link between the schools, the local community and the regeneration project.

We have had no contact with supermarkets, fast food companies or companies in the tobacco or oil and energy industries.

It will be for individual school governing bodies to decide whether they want to acquire a trust, and to choose who they want to work with. Local authorities will be able to refer a school's decision to acquire a particular trust to the schools adjudicator if it is clear that the school has not taken proper account of the views of the majority of parents, or if there are serious concerns about the impact of the acquisition of the trust on school standards.

William Gibson

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether the (a) head teacher and (b) governing body of Porchester School in Bournemouth knew that before his appointment William Gibson had a conviction for indecently assaulting a girl of 15 years of age and a conviction for fraud, forgery and theft. [43400]

Ruth Kelly: My Department does not hold this information.
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Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 20 December 2005, Official Report, column 2838W, on Afghanistan, how much of the Afghan Counter Narcotics Trust Fund will be ring-fenced; for what purposes; how much cash will be required for the wages and salaries of counter-narcotics staff; what mechanisms are in place to safeguard these funds; and how much of the pledged US funding has been transferred into the fund. [46270]

Dr. Howells: The Counter Narcotics Trust Fund (CNTF) has been created to give the Afghans greater ownership of the counter-narcotics agenda and ensure assistance is targeted effectively. The Government of Afghanistan are encouraging international donors to make un-earmarked contributions to the fund to give the Government maximum flexibility to allocate funding in accordance with the four priorities highlighted in its National Drugs Control Strategy: disrupting the drugs trade by targeting traffickers and their backers; strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; reducing the demand for illicit drugs and treatment of problem drug users; and developing state institutions at the central and provincial level. However, in recognition of the budgetary and policy constraints under which different donors operate, it will be possible to earmark funds for one or more of the following eight pillars of activity (building institutions, information campaign, alternative livelihoods, criminal justice, law enforcement, eradication, demand reduction, regional co-operation). It is not envisaged that the wages of permanent counter-narcotics staff working for the Ministry of Counter Narcotics will be funded through the CNTF—rather the fund will be used to cover projectised activity. The United Nations Development Programme will administer the fund which will ensure transparency and accountability.

The UK commitment of £30 million includes an initial £10 million from our Afghan Drugs Inter-Departmental Unit and £20 million from the Department for International Development (DFID). DFID's commitment will be available for alternative livelihoods, institution building, and drug demand reduction and treatment of addicts—pillars consistent with UK poverty reduction objectives.

The US has not yet officially announced its pledge to the fund. We expect that they will do so during the London conference taking place on 31 January-1 February.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of how much heroin was produced in Afghanistan in each of the last two years; how much of that was exported to the UK in each year; what estimates he has made of the levels so far in 2006; and if he will make a statement. [46378]

Dr. Howells: In November 2005, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) confirmed the opium poppy cultivation and opium production figures for the 2004–05 season from their annual survey. They
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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 reduction in cultivation (a 21 per cent. reduction in poppy cultivation from 131,000 hectares in 2004 to 104,000 ha in 2005). Good weather and an absence of crop disease were responsible for the increase in yield in 2005.

The UNODC publishes figures for global illicit cultivation of opium poppy and production of opium and heroin in its annual World Drugs Report. Full details can be found on their website According to the 2005 report, the potential heroin production for 2004 was estimated as 500 tonnes, if all the opium produced was converted to heroin. Figures for heroin production in 2005 in Afghanistan will not be available until the publication of the Report in June this year.

We estimate that around 95 per cent. of heroin in the UK originates in Afghanistan.

While the figures for heroin and opium production for this season (2005–06) in Afghanistan are unavailable until later this year, the UNODC will provide an early indication of 2005–06 cultivation trends in their Rapid Assessment Survey, which is due to be published next month.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has received of Iranian assistance to terrorists and insurgent forces in Afghanistan. [46978]

Dr. Howells: Iran has links to a variety of groups in Afghanistan but the Government have no evidence of Iranian assistance to terrorist and insurgent forces in Afghanistan. Iran has stated that it supports the long-term reconstruction of Afghanistan and the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to build stability and security. We welcome this commitment.


Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the Government in Belarus regarding the treatment of Pastor Ernst Sabilo and the Belarusian Evangelical Church in Minsk in relation to restrictions placed on them by the Belarusian authorities. [46698]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government continue to raise human rights issues with the Belarusian authorities, both bilaterally and with EU partners. Throughout 2005 we raised the issue of restrictions on freedom of worship, most notably in a resolution critical of Belarus' human rights record sponsored by the EU at the UN Commission on Human Rights. The Government have not made any separate representations to the Government of Belarus specifically concerning Pastor Sabilo or the Belarusian Evangelical Church. In the course of 2005, our ambassador in Minsk also met with leaders of Churches under pressure from the authorities to hear their concerns.
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Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with President Evo Morales of Bolivia on the security of British business interests in that country from nationalisation. [46275]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not yet met President Evo Morales. But we have made clear to the new Government the importance we attach to building a stable and prosperous society, founded on a sound economy. We have also set out our view that a number of British companies present in Bolivia are well placed to make an important contribution to the country's future prosperity.

We shall continue to take every appropriate opportunity to reiterate this message with President Morales and relevant Members of his Administration.

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