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The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): Russian citizen Boris Abramovich Berezovsky was granted asylum in the UK in 2003, as is public knowledge. The grant of asylum to Mr. Berezovsky was made after due assessment by the relevant authorities of his case and of the UK's obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on refugees and domestic law. He did not enter the UK at the invitation of Her Majesty's Government. A grant of asylum does not imply support from the UK Government for an individual's views, activities or statements.
We are aware of the comments made by Mr. Boris Berezovsky in an interview on 24 January. Advocating the violent overthrow of a sovereign state is unacceptable and we condemn these comments unreservedly. The UK Government respects Russia's constitutional arrangements and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. We enjoy a close working relationship with Russia, as a valued partner of the UK.
Those granted asylum in the United Kingdom have duties to the UK which require in particular that they conform to its laws and regulations. They are advised that their refugee status can be reviewed at any time where it is considered their presence is not conducive to the public good. As we have made clear on many occasions, the UK Government will take action against those who use the UK as a base from which to foment violent disorder or terrorism in other countries.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): I am today announcing the winding up of the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust (ISSLT) in accordance with the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust Act 1987. The ISSLT was founded in 1922 to provide support for Irish First World War veterans and their dependants. In 1997 my predecessor gave direction to commence the final winding up of the Trust. This process has now been completed. The residual assets and liabilities of the ISSLT will now be taken forward by the Milibern Trust which has managed the day to day running of ISSLT holdings since 2001 and will continue to use the assets for the benefit of all Irish ex-service personnel in need and their dependants.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn):
In my written statement of 12 December, I set out the Government's commitment to ensuring that the pledges on Africa and development made at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in July are implemented. The Gleneagles implementation plan for Africa consists of the milestones that the Government believe need to be achieved, and I indicated that we would update this plan on a monthly basis. I am placing a copy of the first
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update in the Libraries. This highlights progress made against the milestones set for December and January, and also incorporates new milestones that have been adopted by the international community.
All the milestones for December and January have been achieved, with the exception of the implementation of the multilateral debt relief initiative by the African Development Bank (AfDB). This is now expected by July and the AfDB will apply debt relief retrospectively to January 2006. As expected the International Monetary Fund (IMF) implemented this initiative in January, and the World Bank will be implementing it in July.
EU Heads of Government agreed a new EU strategic partnership with Africa at the European Council in December. This provides a framework to guide Europe's activities as it increases its support to the continent.
The World Trade Organisation Ministerial in Hong Kong in December did not achieve as much as the Government would have wished. However, it did agree a deadline of 2013 for the elimination of agricultural export subsidies, and that developed countries should provide quota and duty free access to their markets for most products (97 per cent.) from least developed countries by 2008. Substantial new funds were also pledged to build developing countries' capacity to trade, including £100 million a year by 2010 from the UK.
The United Nations Peace Building Commission was established and the UK has been elected as a member. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption entered into force on 14 December, following ratification by 30 countries. The UK has sent its instrument of ratification to the UN on 30 January and ratified it on 9 February. A new Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Two future milestones have been adjusted. The first is the bonds for the International Financing Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) which are now likely to be launched in April rather than February, due to delays in finalising the legal documents with donors. The second is the Central Emergency Revolving Fund which is now expected to be launched in March, rather than February.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Angela E. Smith): My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Lord Rooker) has made the following ministerial statement:
"The Northern Ireland Priorities and Budget 200608, launched on 14 December 2005, established three new ring-fenced Priority Funding Packages for: Children and Young People; Skills and Science; and Environment and Renewable Energy. These Funding Packages are worth some £48 million in 200607 and £58 million in 200708, and underpinned by a further £15 million and £34 million capital investment in those years.
The Priority Funding Packages will direct resources to services that make real differences to people's livesin children and young people; in promoting long-term economic growth through investment in training and skills; and in protecting the environment by the research and development of new sources of renewable and clean energy. A fundamental aspect of these Funds
For children and young people some £28 million and £33 million will be available to ensure every child has the best start in life. This will include driving forward our policies in areas such as pre-school and extended/out of hours school based activities, childcare and Sure Start, along with measures to foster their health and well being. This will be a distinctive allocation of funding that will be used to make good the shortfall in provision for these key areas of support for families.
We are already committed to significant investment in skills and training programmes for employment. We recognise the critical importance of ensuring a secure foundation for lifelong learning and employment. It is for this reason that £15 million next year and £20 million the year after will be available to tackle economic inactivity and to promote greater investment in skills and science training leading to employmentalongside investment in research and development.
The quality of life in the future will also depend on our children continuing to enjoy the same clean and healthy environment that we do. That means we need to take action now to support the development and use of renewable forms of energy.
An extra £5 million in each of the next two years will be allocated to encourage the research and development of renewable forms of energy; £10 million and £30 million over the next two years will also be available for capital investment in renewable energy. Capital investment of £5 million in 200607 and £4 million in 200708 will also be available to ensure the Warm Homes Scheme in Northern Ireland can be extended to match the commitments made for central heating for pensioners in England, as set out in the Chancellor's recent Pre-Budget Report.
On the 21 February I announced details of the Skills and Science Funding Package outlining the objectives and the range of activities which will be taken forward. I have today placed details of this Funding Package in the Library, together with details of the Environment and Renewable Energy Funding Package. I will place details of the Children and Young People's Funding Package in the Library on 7 March".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Secretary of State will be making a number of minor changes to the discretionary social fund, with effect from 3 April 2006. The improvements included in this amendment to directions and guidance has been made as a result of recommendations made in the Child Poverty Review.