|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of reports that there may be a reversal in Zimbabwe's land redistribution policy; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: There is no evidence of any reversal in Zimbabwe's land redistribution policy. On 12 February, Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Made, in response to a call from the Commercial Farmer's Union for a freeze on land seizures, stated that Zimbabwe's land policies were sound and would not be changed.
This Government, together with EU and other international partners, has condemned the chaotic and brutal land seizures, together with those other policies that have resulted in the fastest shrinking economy in the world.
Ian Pearson: The oppressive environment in which journalists try to operate in Zimbabwe shows no signs of improvement. In December 2005, authorities raided the offices of the Voice of the People, the only independent radio station operating within Zimbabwe. Harassment of its trustees and journalists continues.
We condemn efforts by the Government of Zimbabwe to clamp down on the independent media and have raised this with them directly, most recently on 1 February. The African Commission for Human and
27 Feb 2006 : Column 322W
People's Rights has recently passed a Resolution which calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of expression. We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to take heed of this.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on measures his Government are taking to ensure that Zimbabwean beef licensed to import to the European Communities does not come from farms or stocks seized from their rightful owners. 
Ian Pearson: The EU maintains targeted sanctions on the Government of Zimbabwe's leadership and major human rights abusers. These were first imposed in 2002 and have been extended annually since then. EU partners agreed on 31 January to roll-over these sanctions for a further year from 21 February.
The EU's measures are kept under constant review. They do not include trade or economic sanctions which we believe would only harm further the Zimbabwean people who are already suffering from desperate economic conditions. In the absence of trade sanctions, the British Government cannot prescribe where private companies source their goods.
This is further evidence of the lack of respect the Government of Zimbabwe has consistently shown in recent years for human rights. Rather than hearing the concerns their people have about poor governance, and the dire state of the economy, the Government of Zimbabwe continues to use draconian legislation and force to suppress any criticism.
The Government condemns the arrests of those involved in the peaceful demonstration by Women of Zimbabwe Arise". This included elderly women, children and students. Our ambassador, Dr Andrew Pocock, raised this with the Zimbabwean Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, on 15 February.
27 Feb 2006 : Column 323W
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK has been working with other G7 Member States to consider how to stimulate private investment in vaccine R and D and accelerate the introduction of vaccines for developing countries. In December 2005, Italian Finance Minister Tremonti delivered a report to G8 Finance Ministers on AMCs for Vaccines entitled Advanced Market Commitments for Vaccines: A New Tool in the Fight Against Disease and Poverty". It concluded that AMCs are feasible, innovative and cost-effective market-based tools in the fight against global disease and poverty. G7 Finance Ministers have agreed to work with others on developing a pilot Advanced Market Commitment in 2006 and will consider a specific proposal at their April meeting.
Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason transit flights are exempt from air passenger duty; and what estimate he has made of how much extra revenue would be raised per annum were such flights subject to this duty. 
John Healey: Connecting flights are exempt from air passenger duty (APD) to ensure that passengers are not taxed twice for a journey simply because they have to make a connecting flight. HM Revenue and Customs' Public Notice 550 gives details of the criteria for this exemption. Not all transit flights qualify as connecting flights.
HMRC do not collect data on the number of transit passengers that pass through UK airports or their final destinations, and are unable to estimate the possible extra revenue that charging APD on such passengers would raise.
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings was introduced in October 2004 to replace the New Earnings Survey providing more reliable estimates and allowing the production of time series from 1998 to 2004. It also includes for the first time explicit measures of quality which help users appreciate better the error margins in regional figures.
In order to improve public sector coverage in the Workforce Jobs Survey, a project was undertaken during 2005 aiming to include data from the new quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey in the workforce jobs system. These quality improvements were made in the figures published in December 2005 nationally and in regional releases in January 2006 when a public/private table was also included in the Labour Market first release.
ONS published in 2005 estimates of Volume Indices of Capital Services (VICS) to support productivity work with better asset definition. New estimates of IT software investment will be published in February 2006 to support revisions to national accounts assets measures in 2007.
Considerable progress is being made towards National Statistics status for the Index of Services (IOS) as a whole. Industry level aggregates are subject to an ongoing review; three industries were upgraded in November 2005; and decisions on a further seven will be announced in March 2006. The remainder will be reviewed over the course of 2006 and the status for the IOS as a whole will be assessed at the start of 2007.
In addition, we continue to address other aspects of the imbalance between manufacturing and service sectors; this will be in part through the EU who have committed to addressing these imbalances on a EU wide scale (building on work here was an initiative of the UK EU Presidency last year).
Overall, the critical path for delivery of the programme flows from the development of the design of the business surveys to the development and expansion of new and improved surveys, followed by the processing and analysis to produce the new Regional Accounts. Hence, development of the business register and initial work to develop business surveys are early projects that began in 2005/06.
Work on investigating the suitability of administrative data sources to supplement or substitute for business survey data, as well as initial regional accounts development work, are other important early projects we are taking forward in parallel in order to inform the future development of business surveys.
As part of the Pre-Budget Report, the Financial Secretary made an announcement which states that RDAs have agreed to work in partnership with ONS including providing some funding, to deliver a full regional statistical presence by Match 2007". Plans are in place to create a statistical presence in the regions by March 2007.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|