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17 Oct 2006 : Column 1176Wcontinued
Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) data and (b) other factors underlay the target set out in the NHS plan of February 2001 to increase the number of physiotherapists working in the NHS in England by 59 per cent. by 2009. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The NHS Plan target was for an increase of 6,500 therapists to improve services to patients. This has been achieved.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what appraisal mechanisms lay members on professional regulatory bodies are subject to; and how their performance is assessed. 
Andy Burnham: The Appointments Commission, which appoints lay members to regulatory bodies, requires appraisal systems to be in place. Details of these systems are a matter for the regulatory bodies themselves.
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action she is taking to improve support for those who have experienced sight loss. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Low vision aids are available free on loan to any person requiring them. The hospital eye service assesses the needs of the individual and provides any necessary low vision aids. Social services departments also have responsibility for assessing the needs of individuals who request help due to problems with their vision.
The eye care services steering group, which the Department established in 2002, identified low vision as an area for further development. A care pathway for low vision services has been published and a number of pilots are currently testing the pathway. The model pathways are designed to improve integration of eye care services across primary and secondary care and social services. Learning from the pilots and their developing evidence-base will be shared with the national health service to support wider implementation.
The government-funded integrating community equipment services (ICES) project was designed to improve equipment services by integrating the previously separate NHS and social services equipment services. The ICES team completed their work on integration in March 2005 and it is now the responsibility of local social care and health service providers to determine how best to provide services to reflect local needs and priorities.
On 22 June 2006, at the Three Sector Summit, the Government announced that the Department will undertake a radical review of community equipment, Transforming Community Equipment Services Projecthelping to make independence a reality, with the objective of developing a new model of service delivery. The review will investigate how the provision of community equipment across England could be opened to greater contestability.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the role of specialist nurses in case management within the NHS and Social Care Conditions Model. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Specialist nurses provide an important contribution to the care of people with long-term conditions and are highly valued by patients for the expert support and care they give to them and their families. They also have a significant role in providing expert advice to their generalist colleagues who care for people with multiple complex long-term conditions.
It is for local trusts to determine skill mix within the nursing work force including specialist nurses. The Government have supported the development of a range of specialist roles within nursing, and it is for the local trusts to deploy specialist nurses in accordance with their local needs.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 September 2006, Official Report, column 2178W, on trust surpluses, what the incentives offered by the NHS Bank were. 
Andy Burnham: The strategic health authority (SHA) incentive scheme was introduced in September 2005 in consultation with the 28 SHAs.
The aim of the scheme was to reward those organisations that have generated a surplus and
encourage good financial management in 2005-06, by offering a variable reward on any surpluses offered up with the rate depending on the timing of surplus declarations.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by her Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external sources in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. 
Mr. McFadden: There have been no confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by the Cabinet Office in the last five years.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether she plans to revise the regulations affecting the voluntary and community sector. 
Edward Miliband: The Government are keen to minimise the burden of regulations on the voluntary and community sector. The Charities Bill, which is due for Report stage in this parliamentary session, will make a number of deregulatory changes to charity law and regulation. Furthermore, the Government will outline their approach to reducing regulatory burdens for the sector in their response to the Better Regulation Task Force Report Better regulation for Civil Society. This will be published shortly.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the level of non-economic incentives for farmers to grow poppies in Afghanistan. 
Dr. Howells: Economic factors are the main incentive for farmers to grow poppy. Other factors such as insecurity and weak governance also play a role. This year in Helmand, the Taleban encouraged farmers to grow opium poppy. There are some reports of the Taleban intimidating farmers who do not grow poppy and offering protection from eradication to those who do. But there is no evidence to suggest that these actions had a significant impact on cultivation levels. A broader variety of factors play into farmers' decisions to grow poppy. This year, in areas of Afghanistan where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions achieved in 2005 have been sustained and in some cases improved upon.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications for the UK of the record opium crop in Helmand in 2006; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The increase this year in the opium crop from Helmand and other southern provinces is worrying. It reflects the very difficult security situation and limited law enforcement capability in Afghanistan. We are supporting the Afghan Government to implement their National Drug Control Strategy. Progress is being made but sustainable drug elimination strategies take time. In areas of Afghanistan where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions in opium poppy cultivation achieved in 2005 have been sustained and in some cases improved upon.
The effect of this year's increase in supplies of heroin to the UK is uncertain. Previous large fluctuations in the size of the opium crop in Afghanistan have led to no appreciable change in supply as measured by the UK average street price.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people have been prosecuted for involvement in the opium trade in Afghanistan over the last three years; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Under Afghanistan's Counter Narcotics (CN) law of December 2005, prosecutions involving under 2kg of heroin or under 10kg of opium are heard by local municipal courts. The Afghans do not keep a central record of municipal prosecutions and as such records can be recovered only at disproportionate cost. The more serious cases, which involve amounts in excess of 2kg of heroin or 10kg of opium, are heard by the CN Tribunal in Kabul. By the end of September 2006, the CN Criminal Justice Task Force had arrested over 690 individuals and completed over 260 cases. This has so far resulted in over 280 convictions.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of the (a) Wolesi Jirga and (b) Meshrano Jirga in Afghanistan is female. 
Dr. Howells: There are 87 women in the 351 member National Assembly, inaugurated in December 2005. 27 per cent. of the members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) are women and 19 per cent. are in the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House).
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the number of holders of passports identifying them as British subjects who could obtain British citizenship on application. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is unable to estimate the number of holders of British Subject passports who are eligible to register as British
Citizens. We do not keep records of how many people hold British Subject passports or how many of those passport holders are eligible to register as British Citizens.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely impact of the gas agreement between Daewoo International and the Government of Burma upon (a) human rights, (b) political freedom and (c) the use of slave labour in Burma. 
Mr. McCartney: We do not have specific details of any agreements between the Government of Burma and Daewoo International and cannot, therefore, make an assessment of their impact. However, we hope that any foreign company operating in Burma would comply with international standards on the use of labour and on human rights.
Colin Burgon: (1) To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations her Department has made to the Embassy of Colombia on the concerns of British trade unions over human rights in that country; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what policy advice her Department has offered the Embassy of Colombia related to the concerns of British trade unions over human rights in that country; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: We have wide-ranging discussions with the Colombian government, including with the embassy in London, on human rights issues which take into account concerns raised by British trade unions and interlocutors from other non-governmental organisations, as well as their Colombian counterparts. Colombia is regularly raised at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)/Trades Union Congress Advisory Council which meets three times a year, and in other ad hoc exchanges between the FCO and British unions. We particularly welcome the joint agreement between the Colombian Government, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Colombian trade unions in June 2006 to establish a permanent ILO presence in Colombia. We encourage the Colombian government to ensure that the ILO has an effective presence in Colombia.
We consistently urge the Colombian government to support and protect the role of trade unions in Colombia. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, raised our concerns with the Colombian government when he visited Colombia last month, and also met with a group of Colombian trade unionists to hear at first hand the issues they face, having met them earlier this year in London. Both the FCO and the Department for International Development have funded projects in support of trade unions in Colombia.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 18 May from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ufuoma Marlelo. 
Margaret Beckett: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 18 July. I apologise for the delay in responding to this written question.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 22 May from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. Asma Zulfiqar, transferred from the Home Office. 
Margaret Beckett: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 17 July. I apologise for the delay in responding to this written question.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount of food aid likely to be supplied to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea by the Republic of Korea in the next three years. 
Mr. McCartney: In recent years South Korea has provided 500,000 tonnes of rice to North Korea, but suspended its regular humanitarian assistance in response to the July missile tests. As a further measure in response to the 9 October nuclear test, Seoul has also halted flood-related assistance, which so far has included a further 90,000 tons of rice. We have expressed our concern to the South Koreans about using humanitarian aid as political leverage, but do not know their future intentions for the supply of food aid to North Korea.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) human rights situation, (b) security situation and (c) likelihood of a peaceful presidential election later in 2006 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
Mr. McCartney: The human rights situation across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains poor. Civilians, particularly in eastern DRC, continue to suffer abuses committed by members of the Congolese armed forces and militia groups. Harassment of civilians for political reasons has recently increased. The security situation in the DRC remains fragile, especially in the east, north east and Kinshasa.
We expect the second round of elections to be tense and the probability of violence can not be excluded. This is why we have deployed an EU force to support the UN mission during the entire election period.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much her Department has spent on taxis in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has two contracts with taxi/minicab firms to provide a 24-hour taxi service for staff in London, and to provide a taxi service between Milton Keynes and Hanslope Park, and taxi services for Hanslope Park-based staff for home to office and airport journeys. The estimated annual value of these two contracts was £200,000 and £120,000 respectively.
Officers at home and overseas also make ad hoc taxi journeys in the course of their official duties. The FCO does not record expenditure on travel by taxi in the United Kingdom or overseas separately from travel on other forms of surface transport. Figures for the total expenditure on taxi fares could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many holders of passports identifying them as British subjects have been refused entry to (a) Romania, (b) Bulgaria and (c) each current member state of the European Union in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Hoon: We are unable to answer this question as our Embassies in Bucharest and Sofia do not keep records of the number of British subjects refused entry into their respective countries. For the final part of the hon. Members question, officials would also need to contact the 25 EU member states and this would incur disproportionate cost.
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