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15 Mar 2006 : Column 2377W—continued

Women's Refuges

Jo Swinson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what initiatives his Department (a) has implemented and (b) plans to implement to assist local authorities to make progress towards a target of one women's refuge bed to every 10,000 population. [56576]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 March 2006]: Best Value Performance Indicator (BVPI) 225, introduced on 1 April 2005, aims to assess the overall provision and effectiveness of local authority services in England, designed to help victims of domestic violence. It includes 11 questions covering a range of activities and is measured as a percentage score of the number of questions to which an authority can answer yes. Question 2 asks Is there within the local authority area a minimum of 1 refuge place per ten thousand population?"

In 2003 the Government announced major investment in refuge provision in England in 2003–06. A total of £32.1 million capital has been allocated (£15.7 million through the Housing Corporation and £16.4 million from the Homelessness and Housing Support Directorate in ODPM), providing 427 units of accommodation.

The allocation was based on bids made by housing associations to the Housing Corporation. The bids were needs led and based on local priorities identified by local authorities in consultation with local domestic violence agencies, with priority given to projects arising from local authority housing and homelessness strategy reviews.


Ascension Island

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's position is on (a) granting residents of Ascension Island permanent right of abode, (b) granting residents property rights with full legal title, (c) granting licences for commercial ventures on the Island, with particular reference to commercial air charters, (d) licensing commercial flights between St. Helena and Ascension if the former builds an airport and (e) the future of the Island Assembly's taxation and administrative powers; and if he will take steps to codify those powers in an agreement between the Assembly and British Government. [54476]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my noble Friend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, on 6 March 2006, Official Report, columns 527–29 in response to parts (a) , (b) and (d) of his question.

Regarding the remaining questions, a small number of commercial ventures exist on Ascension Island in addition to the user organisations. There is, at present, no Ascension Island legislation for the licensing of these commercial ventures. The Attorney General of St. Helena and dependencies, in his capacity as Attorney General of Ascension Island, has confirmed that in the event of a commercial dispute, the English Law of Contract would apply. Nor is there local legislation relating specifically to commercial air charters. In the absence of such local legislation, Air Safety Support International would regulate this activity.

The Ascension Island Council does not have taxation and administrative powers—it is an advisory body with executive authority vested in the Governor of St. Helena and dependencies. The Government does not believe there is a need to further codify these powers in an agreement between the Council and the Government.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who was consulted on the terms of reference for the 2005 economic study of Ascension Island. [58744]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The terms of reference were drawn up in close consultation with Government Departments, the governor of Ascension Island, the previous administrator of Ascension Island, and the BBC and Cable and Wireless as user organisations.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what business case was made by the Overseas Territories Department when requesting authority to commission an economic study of Ascension Island in 2005. [58745]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The economic study was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in order to inform future Government policy towards Ascension Island. The study was intended to identify potential suitable governance models and give a realistic assessment of the possibility of economic development outside of direct Government financing. The study was paid for through the FCO Good Government Fund.

British Beef

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will encourage British embassies and diplomatic missions in Europe to serve British beef. [58384]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: British embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic missions in Europe actively profile British products, including in their commercial and other events. In deciding what food to serve at official functions, each EU post must balance the promotional benefits of serving UK produce with
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cost and availability. Our missions will continue to serve UK produce, including British beef, when it represents value for money to the British taxpayer.

Extradition Arrangements

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United States Administration in relation to the implementation of revised extradition arrangements since 11 September 2001. [58498]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no recent discussions with the US Administration about extradition arrangements.

Guantanamo Bay

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of the methods used by the US authorities to end the recent hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay prison; and if he will make a statement. [57165]

Dr. Howells: Our ambassador in Washington and his team discuss counter-terrorism and human rights issues, including the handling of detainees, with the US authorities on a daily basis. These discussions have included the issue of the hunger strike by a number of detainees in Guantanamo. The US authorities have repeatedly told us that they are concerned to ensure the welfare of the detainees. We will continue to discuss detainee issues with the US authorities as necessary.

Israel (Borders)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is Government policy to regard the Green Line as the border of Israel. [57436]

Dr. Howells: We continue to believe that, as the Quartet (EU, UN, US and Russia) has consistently made clear, final status issues can only be resolved through negotiations and agreement between the parties themselves. Under Phase III of the Roadmap, both parties will determine their permanent borders through mutual agreement. We share the Quartet's goal of a two-state solution with Israel secure within her borders and Palestine established as a viable, contiguous state. We shall continue to work to this end.

The territory beyond the Green Line, which Israel occupied in June 1967, is occupied territory. UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), which the UK supported, calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict and the termination of all claims of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Settlement building on Palestinian land is illegal under international law and settlement construction is an obstacle to peace. The barrier's route should be on or
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behind the Green Line, and not on occupied territory. Construction of the barrier on Palestinian land is also illegal. We continue to raise both of these issues with the Israeli Government at all levels.

St. Helena

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cases of cancer there have been on St. Helena over the last 30 years. [56808]

Mr. Thomas: I have been asked to reply.

St. Helena's Senior Medical Officer advises that health data are available only for the years 2000 to 2005. The total number of cases of cancer diagnosed on St. Helena from 2000 to 2005 is 84. This total is broken down by year, as follows:
Cases of cancer

Data for the years 1975 to 1999 is held only on individual non-electronic health records and could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the estimated cost of building the airport and associated facilities on St. Helena. [56877]

Mr. Thomas: I have been asked to reply.

Our estimates have not been published, as to do so could commercially prejudice current procurement processes.

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