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2 Mar 2006 : Column 941W—continued

Local Government Pension Scheme

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will reply to the letter sent to him by the hon. Member for Brent East, dated 21 November 2005, regarding the Local Government Pension Scheme, in respect of Ms Katrina Glennie. [54692]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no record of receiving the hon. Member's letter of 21 November 2005. Officials have now obtained a copy of the letter from the hon. Member and a reply will be sent shortly.

Local Government Restructuring

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the meetings that (a) he and (b) civil servants in his Department have had with local authority (i) officials and (ii) representatives concerning local government restructuring in the last 12 months. [53232]

Mr. Woolas: Civil servants in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have held meetings with local authority officials on the local governance and structures debate on the following dates:


 
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In addition, Ministers have attended two county dialogues to date, in Shropshire and Gloucestershire, held with officials, representatives and other local government stakeholders, as part of the wider debate on local governance. There were preparatory meetings for these events with officials of the ODPM and the county council concerned.

Ministers and civil servants from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have held numerous meetings with local authority officials and representatives during the past 12 months at which a range of topics have been discussed and may have included, on occasion, local government reorganisation.

Lyons Inquiry

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 8 February 2006, Official Report, column 1247W, on the Lyons Inquiry, whether his Office made a formal submission to the inquiry. [54531]

Mr. Woolas: I have nothing to add to the answers given to the hon. Member for Meriden of 12 September 2005, Official Report, column 2431W; 1 December 2005, Official Report, column 682W; and 8 February 2006, Official Report, column 1247W.

Renewable Energy

Gregory Barker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) when his Department will start the urgent review of local authority positive planning for renewable energy policies announced in Standing Committee C on 9 February; and when he expects the review to report its findings; [54045]

(2) when a decision will be taken on the extent to which further Government action will be taken to promote positive planning for renewables policies by local authorities. [54046]

Yvette Cooper: Work is already under way on analysing local plans to determine whether there is a problem with emerging plans that do not fully incorporate PPS22 guidance. A decision on whether any further action is required and, if so, what that action should be and its timing, can only be taken once that analysis is completed and the results available.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Ascension Island

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the UK Government have had with the US Administration about changes in the military and security use of Ascension Island in the last 12 months. [54459]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: During the past 12 months, there have been no talks between the Government and the US Administration about changes in the military and security use of Ascension Island. Officials visiting
 
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Ascension have had a number of working level meetings with the US base commander on Ascension Island. There have also been discussions between the Ministry of Defence and the US to consider options for burden sharing on Ascension Island, and the scope for mutual savings and efficiencies.

Burma

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to support the Burmese trade union movement. [54635]

Ian Pearson: Independent trade unions in Burma are forbidden in practice and no collective bargaining exists. However, we are in contact with the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) in exile. I met the General Secretary of the FTUB, Mr. Maung Maung, in July 2005.

We work closely with the International Labour Organisation to tackle forced labour in Burma, which remains a major concern.

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent advice his Department has offered Orient Express on their investments in Burma. [55657]

Ian Pearson: None.

Christian Minorities

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made on the treatment of Christians to the Government of (a) Egypt, (b) Saudi Arabia, (c) Iran, (d) Sudan, (e) Vietnam, (f) China, (g) Poland, (h) Spain, (i) Morocco, (j) Nepal, (k) India, (l) Pakistan, (m) Indonesia, (n) Myanmar, (o) North Korea, (p) Belarus, (q) the United Arab Emirates and (r) Yemen. [53548]

Ian Pearson: The UK condemns all instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith, wherever it happens and whatever the religion of the individual or group concerned. We regularly urge states, where there is a systematic problem, to pursue laws and practices which foster tolerance and mutual respect and to protect religious minorities against discrimination, intimidation and attacks. While we have not recently raised this issue in all of the countries mentioned, specific examples of where we have been engaged in the last 12 months include:


 
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Civil Service Secondees

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people from science and technology backgrounds have been seconded into the civil service in his Department in each of the last three years. [48410]

Ian Pearson: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold centrally information that would allow us to identify secondees with a science and technology background.


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