|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of President Putin's recent warning of foreign Governments against trying to exert influence via non-governmental organisations in Russia. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Our relationship with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Russia has consistently been one of partnership, not control. We have supported their work with total openness and transparency, in line with publicly stated objectives. We welcomed President Putin's comments last week when he acknowledged the importance for Russia of effective NGOs independent of Governments.
Ian Pearson: Sierra Leone is a fragile post-conflict society that is making progress, with the assistance of the international community, towards consolidating security and governance reforms to lay the foundations of a more secure future.
The political climate is set to intensify in the run-up to presidential and legislative elections in 2007. The ruling Sierra Leone Peoples party and the main opposition party, the All Peoples Congress, have been joined in the contest by a new political force, the Popular Movement for Democratic Change. The UK is assisting in preparations for the elections, to ensure that they are free, fair and credible. For instance, we are giving £3 million to assist with strengthening of the national electoral commission, and electoral boundary delimitation.
But after 11 years of civil war, Sierra Leone's institutions and governance remain weak. The UK is helping to develop democratic political institutions, including support to the judiciary and police through a £25 million project, as well as assistance to the civil service reform programme, and further wide-ranging governance and anti- corruption support.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent arrest and trial of the Uzbekistan opposition leader Sanjar Umarov for alleged economic crimes. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander:
Sanjar Umarov was detained on 22 October 2005. He is being held in Tashkent city prison on charges of large scale embezzlement related to his business affairs. On 26 October, when Umarov's lawyer first gained access to his client, he reported that Umarov was naked in his cell and incoherent. On subsequent visits Umarov was able to talk to his lawyer in the presence of the investigation team. Umarov had requested medical treatment for high blood pressure, but has not had an independent medical assessment to date.
9 Feb 2006 : Column 1456W
Umarov's trial began on 30 January. He faces nine charges. He is accused of misappropriating around $3 million worth of oil between 200304 through his company, Neftgaztrans, stealing nearly $240,000 worth of petrol from a Tashkent garage, and tax evasion to the tune of $2.9 million. Umarov denied each of the charges and said that he could not remember anything between 23 October and 1 November. He has denied statements which the prosecution said he made during that period.
The DVD was produced to promote Jobcentre Plus disability services. The product is flexible to allow information to be given in Welsh, ethnic minority languages, British Sign Language and sub-titles. It also provides audio-description for those with visual impairments.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many (a) Disability and Carers Service, (b) Child Support Agency, (c) Pensions Service and (d) JobCentre Plus staff have been made redundant under the Government's latest spending review in (i) Wales and (ii) each constituency in Wales; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how many (a) Disability and Carers Service, (b) Pensions Service, (c) Jobcentre Plus and (d) Child Support Agency staff in (i) Wales and (ii) each constituency in Wales are expected to be made redundant under the Government's latest spending review in (A) 200506 and (B) 200607; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. McGuire: There have been no compulsory redundancies in any of the Department's businesses in Wales as a result of the efficiency programme announced in the 2004 Spending Review. While detailed work force plans continue to be developed, at this time, no compulsory redundancies are planned to be made in Wales.
The planned reduction in staff numbers is being largely managed through normal staff turnover, controlling recruitment and promotions, and re-deploying staff to fill vacancies. Compulsory redundancy will only be used as a last resort when all other measures have been considered.
The Department has and will continue to run a limited number of voluntary early release and voluntary retirement schemes where these are shown to support operational requirements and be cost effective. Over the
9 Feb 2006 : Column 1457W
spending review period to date, 302 members of staff (equating to 270 Full Time Equivalents) have left under these schemes in Wales.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) fraud and (b) error in (i) incapacity benefit and (ii) severe disability allowance since 1997; 
(2) how many staff are employed by his Department to investigate incapacity benefit and severe disability allowance fraud (a) in total and (b) per 100,000 recipients of that allowance; and what his latest estimate is of the total level of incapacity benefit and severe disability allowance fraud in each of the last six years. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Department's benefit fraud investigators deal with allegations of fraud relating to all benefits administered by The Department for Work and Pensions. We do not employ a specific number of staff to investigate incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance fraud.
Monetary value (£ million)
|Percentage of incapacity benefit expenditure|
|Percentage of expenditure|
Estimates of official error in incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance are produced each year. Previous results were carried out using a different methodology and are not comparable. The available information is in the following table.
|April 2001 to March 2002||43||32||11|
|April 2002 to March 2003||43||39||4|
|April 2003 to March 2004||53||52||2|
|April 2004 to March 2005||104||(26)100||5|
|April 2002 to March 2003||26||16||9||1|
|April 2003 to March 2004||23||13||6||4|
|April 2004 to March 2005||36||21||10||5|
Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what sanctions are faced by individuals from other EU member states who are found to be fraudulently claiming (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b) housing benefit. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Anyone committing benefit fraud in the UK is subject to the relevant legislation and criminal laws governing action that can be taken against them. Individuals from EU member states are subject to the same sanctions as British citizens found to be committing benefit fraud involving jobseeker's allowance, housing benefits and any other benefits administered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|