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Traffic Management Act

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what penalties have been issued by each local authority for disruption caused by roadworks under the Traffic Management Act 2004; and what the cash value of these penalties is. [48227]

Ms Buck: The regulations enabling penalties have not yet been made. Consequently penalty notices cannot yet be issued under the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Tyne and Wear (Financial Bids)

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what payments have been made to Newcastle City Council and its partners for the Quayside Transit System, broken down by year. [34378]

Ms Buck [pursuant to the reply, 8 December 2005, Official Report, c. 1465W]: The Department has paid Newcastle city council a total of £4.711 million for the Quayside Public Transport Scheme.



Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to achieve a sustained and significant reduction in the production and trafficking of narcotics in the Afghan province of Helmand; and if he will make a statement. [49316]

Mr. Straw: The southern province of Helmand is one of Afghanistan's most significant poppy growing provinces. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 26 January, UK troops will be deployed to Helmand in support of a UN authorised, NATO-led mission, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and as part of the international coalition. They will work to counter insurgency and help the appropriate authorities build security and Government institutions to continue the progress of recent years. Above all, their presence will help the Afghans create the environment in which economic development and institutional reform—both essential to the elimination of the opium industry—can take place. ISAF forces will help with the provision of training to Afghan counter-narcotics forces and will when necessary provide support to their operations. They will help the Afghan Government explain their policies to the people.
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The UK's aim is to make drug production a high risk/low benefit endeavour by developing a stronger and more effective provincial government, strengthening the Governor and his office, building greater local drugs law enforcement capacity (strengthening the Counter Narcotics Police) and developing criminal justice systems to deliver sustained progress against the drugs trade. We will work with the Government of Afghanistan to increase access to legal rural livelihoods and to increase the perception of risk associated with poppy cultivation to encourage farmers and traffickers to make a sustained move away from cultivation of opium poppy.

Our counter narcotics objectives for Helmand are consistent with the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, which the Afghan Government recently reviewed and updated with the support of the UK as partner nation for counter narcotics. The strategy was launched at the London Conference on 31 January to 1 February. It sets out four key priorities, which we believe will help make a greater impact on the trade and sustain the reduction in cultivation we have seen in 2005. These are: targeting traffickers; strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; building institutions; and demand reduction.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution other countries are making to the British led anti-opium initiative in Afghanistan. [49445]

Dr. Howells: The Government of Afghanistan is responsible for leading the counter narcotics effort in Afghanistan. As key partner nation for counter narcotics, the UK is committed to helping Afghanistan deliver its National Drug Control Strategy and to coordinating international assistance in support of the strategy.

It is not possible to quantify, numerically, the total level of counter narcotics assistance provided by the international community as much of it takes the form of capacity building, including the secondment of mentors and trainers to the counter narcotics police of Afghanistan and the counter narcotics criminal justice task force. Equally there is no clear dividing line between broader reconstruction and counter narcotics specific assistance.

However, the US is the biggest contributor to the Government of Afghanistan's counter narcotics campaign—spending US$787.9 million in 2005. Other key players include EU member states and the Commission (spending €150 million from 2005, excluding UK spending), Norway, Canada and Afghanistan's regional partners.

Australia, New Zealand, the European Commission, Estonia, Sweden, the US, Korea and the UK have also contributed to the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund (CNTF), launched by the Government of Afghanistan in October 2005. To date, total commitments to the CNTF stand at US$77.5 million.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what payments he has authorised to Afghan poppy farmers; and if he will make a statement. [50946]

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Dr. Howells: In 2002, the Afghan Transitional Authority considered it appropriate to offer a one-off programme of compensation payments to opium poppy farmers on the basis that the poppy crop had been planted during the Taliban regime, before the current regime came to power. The UK provided financial assistance worth £21.25 million in order to support the new regime's commitment to tackle drugs production, but it was the responsibility of the Afghan authorities to administer the system of payments. The UK has not authorised any further payments.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the death of Mr. Steve MacQueen in Afghanistan; and what stage British investigations of his death have reached. [51158]

Dr. Howells: Steven MacQueen, a British national working for the World Bank as an adviser to the Government of Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, was shot and killed by unknown attackers in a main street in Kabul on 7 March 2005.

The Government of Afghanistan asked the UK to assist with their investigation into Mr. MacQueen's murder. Officers of the Metropolitan police service visited Kabul in March, May, July and November 2005 to assist the Government of Afghanistan with their on-going investigations. To date, no-one has been charged.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage the development of civil society in Belarus. [49607]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides support for non-governmental organisations and help to civil society in Belarus under the Global Opportunities Fund and other FCO budgets. Since 2002, we have provided over £1,500,000 for this purpose. The Government also provide funding through the EU. During the UK's presidency, the EU agreed steps to increase contact with the Belarusian people and to strengthen support for civil society, including through technical assistance and by opening an EU office in Minsk. To this end the EU has transferred €2 million to the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights programme, which is better suited to providing support for civil society.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether (a) at and (b) at General Affairs Council meetings since the meeting of the General Affairs Council of the EU on 21 and 22 November 2005 he (i) proposed a commitment of and (ii) was asked to contribute (A) arms and (B) material to the EU mission in Congo. [48774]

Ian Pearson: The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, wrote to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in
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his capacity as President of the General Affairs Council on 28 December 2005. He asked if the EU could consider making available a deterrent force which could be deployed, if necessary, to the Democratic Republic of Congo during the forthcoming election period. The EU is working with the UN on clarifying its requirements. An EU fact finding mission visited Kinshasa and New York last week.

The UK believes that the EU should consider the UN request favourably. But the UK's ability to contribute to any EU mission will be constrained by its heavy operational commitments elsewhere.

Departmental Catering Budget

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much and what proportion of his Department's catering budget was spent on fairtrade produce in the last period for which figures are available. [49913]

Mr. Straw: During the 2004–05 financial year, £256,419 was spent on fairtrade products with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's catering contractor, in the UK. This represents 19 per cent. of the overall spend with the contractor during that period.

Details for the overseas estate can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Details for Government hospitality are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on the procurement of fairtrade produce for consumption on its premises. [49924]

Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) policy on the procurement of fairtrade produce is to ensure that fairtrade produce is available to purchase and the FCO will explore options to expand the variety of fairtrade options offered for sale, within the boundaries of good procurement practice—including value for money. Tea and coffee provided for official functions are fairtrade.

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