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13 Dec 2006 : Column 1099W—continued


Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average age is of the Nimrod fleet of aircraft. [105610]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answerI gave on 16 October 2006, Official Report,column 985W.

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Northern Ireland


Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the waiting times are for an autism diagnosis in each health trust area in Northern Ireland. [107798]

Paul Goggins: The information requested is not held centrally and will take some time to collate. I will write to the hon. Member with the relevant information as soon as it becomes available and place a copy in the Library.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what funds were allocated to the (a) Police Service of Northern Ireland Historic Enquiries Team, (b) Public Prosecutions Service, (c) Forensic Science Service and (d) Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (i) in total and (ii) for investigating deaths occurring during the troubles; and what funds have been allocated to each body in total and for this purpose for (A) 2006 and (B) 2007. [106967]

Paul Goggins: The Government are committed to dealing with the past in Northern Ireland in order to help the whole community to move forward. Reviewing unresolved deaths as a result of the security situation is one way of helping to achieve this. A significant amount of money has been allocated to the task and all the organisations involved in the work are committed to working together to ensure the overall benefits are maximised. PSNI HET has an individual budget of £24.2 million, of which the budget for 2005-06 was£4.4 million, with an actual spend of £3.95 million. The budget for 2007 is £4.7 million. The project is scheduled to last six years and the following table details the expenditure of each organisation in relation to HET work.

HET funding allocation by organisation
2005-06 2006-07
Organisation Total original overall budget for HET related work over six year period (£ million) Total budget for organisation (£ million) Total budget for HET related work within organisation (£) Total budget for organisation (£ million) Total budget for HET related work within organisation (£)




(1)4.4 million


4.7 million



















(1) £3.95 million actual spend.
(2) £44,000 actual spend.
(3) FSANI generate income via a charging arrangement.
(4) £288,000 actual spend.
(5) No specific budget has yet been allocated to OPONI this will shortly be resolved.
(6) £136,000 actual spend.

House Prices

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average house price is in Northern Ireland. [108845]

Mr. Hanson: There are no official figures on the average house prices in Northern Ireland published by Government.

However, the hon. Member may wish to note that the latest Northern Ireland Quarterly House Price Index figures prepared by university of Ulster Jordanstown (UUJ) and released on 4 December record an average house price of £180,128 for the 3(rd) quarter (July-September 2006).

Further information is available from their website:

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Personal Income

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library the figures used to produce the Northern Ireland income distribution charts on page 20 of Households Below Average Income in Northern Ireland for each of the three reports that have been published. [108572]

Mr. Hanson: This information has been placed in the Library.

Police: Londonderry

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police officers were deployed in relation to the policing of the Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry on (a) 2 December 2006 and (b) 3 December 2005. [108513]

Paul Goggins: PSNI deployed 603 officers this year and 588 in 2005.

While this year a greater number of officers were deployed in high visibility equipment, no police officers were deployed on the parade route in public order equipment.

It is also worth noting that the military were not deployed on the streets for any parade this year.

Single Payment Scheme

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his latest estimate is of the percentage of single payment scheme funds which were disbursed by 30 June in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [107980]

David Cairns: At 30 June 2006, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development had paid out97 per cent. (£215.353 million) of the £221.804 million budget allocation for the 2005 Single Farm Payment Scheme. The Department was successful in its administration of payments in the first year of this scheme.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the efficacy of the eradication of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. [108649]

Dr. Howells: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2006 Opium Survey estimates that 15,300 hectares, or about 10 per cent. of opium poppy, was eradicated in Afghanistan this year, some three times more than last year. The survey also suggests that where eradication took place in 2005, farmers were less likely to plant poppy in the next season. Eradication is a useful deterrent where there is access to legal livelihoods and when used as part of a balanced counter-narcotics strategy, such as the Afghan government’s National Drug Control Strategy, which includes measures to interdict drugs, bring criminals to justice, build
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institutions and provide alternatives for poppy farmers. In areas of Afghanistan, where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions in cultivation achieved last year have been sustained and in some cases cultivation has fallen further.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of this year’s opium production in Afghanistan; how many metric tonnes of opium were produced in Afghanistan in each of the last three years; how much she estimates has been produced to date in 2006-07; whether there has been an increase in production in (a) Helmand and (b) Oruzgan; and whether these figures meet London Compact benchmarks for eradication. [108534]

Dr. Howells: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. UNODC figures show a yield of 4,200 metric tonnes (mt) in 2004, 4,100 mt in 2005 and 6,100 mt in 2006. It is too early to estimate overall levels of opium production for 2007.

The cultivation picture varies between and within provinces. In 2006 there was a 162 per cent. increase in Helmand, accounting for 70 per cent. of the overall increase, and a rise of 379 per cent. in Uruzgan. However, in three of the four highest poppy cultivating provinces in 2005, production was down this year (Balkh—33 per cent., Farah—25 per cent. and Kandahar—3 per cent.). Where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions achieved last year have been sustained, and in some cases cultivation has fallen further. This shows that the National Drug Control Strategy is starting to have an impact in some parts of the country. President Karzai recently said

to rid Afghanistan of poppy. Achieving the Afghan Compact benchmark of a sustained annual reduction in the amount of land under poppy cultivation by 2010 will be a key step towards this goal.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the political stability of Bangladesh. [108722]

Dr. Howells: Elections in Bangladesh are scheduled for January 2007. It is vital for the future of Bangladesh that these elections are seen to be free, fair and peaceful, and that the result reflects the will of the Bangladeshi people. International observers will have an important role to play in validating the outcome of the elections—the UK expects to participate in an EU observation mission. We shall continue to take a close interest in preparations for elections and stand ready to help where we can, but ultimately it is for the parties and the people of Bangladesh to make their elections a success. We look to the new Caretaker Government to carry out its functions in an impartial manner, in line with Bangladesh’s constitution and in the best interests of the Bangladeshi people. We look to the Election Commission to act in a competent and independent manner.

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The armed forces have been deployed on the streets since 10 December. We shall monitor that deployment and trust that military personnel will perform their duties impartially and with due respect for human rights and the rule of law.

In the longer term, a dysfunctional and confrontational political culture threatens Bangladeshi democracy; deeply rooted corruption and poor governance threaten Bangladesh’s potential economic development; extremism threatens security and stability. The next Government will need to address these issues if Bangladesh is to fulfil its ambitions.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from the British high commissioner to Bangladesh on the implications of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh for the political situation. [108723]

Dr. Howells: Our high commission in Dhaka regularly reports on the political situation in Bangladesh. This is a critical time for the country. The conduct of the elections in early 2007 will shape Bangladesh’s future.

A number of Islamist parties will participate in the elections. We welcome their commitment to democracy and the use of peaceful means to achieve their objectives. Our concern is with those organisations and individuals who use violence to pursue their extremist agendas. We are encouraged by the recent efforts of the Government of Bangladesh to curb extremism and remain committed to working with them in the long term to address this important challenge.

We believe that strong democracy represents the most effective means of tackling the roots of extremism in Bangladesh and continue to call for free, fair, peaceful and accepted elections in Bangladesh in early 2007.

Iraq: Human Rights

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the observance of the human rights of gay men in Iraq. [108724]

Dr. Howells: I have received only limited reporting on the observance of the human rights of gay men in Iraq. The challenge for the Government of Iraq is to implement the constitution in such a way as to uphold the rights of all Iraqis, and to develop the capability of the Iraqi security forces to protect these rights in practice. The United Kingdom is supporting the security and justice sectors in Iraq to enable them to carry out this essential task.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what visits the Minister for Trade (Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Trade and Industry) made on his visit to India and Pakistan; what representations he made regarding anti-conversion laws; and what meetings he held with (a) Indian and (b) Pakistani trade representatives. [108281]

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Mr. McCartney: I visited Bangladesh, India and Pakistan on 22-29 November 2006. The purpose of the visit was primarily to promote greater bilateral trade between the UK and South Asia, but other foreign affairs objectives were included, particularly in the area of human rights, which fall particularly in my portfolio.

In Bangladesh my programme included calls on the President/Chief Adviser of the Caretaker government and the leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist party and Awami League. I also met human rights representatives, civil society leaders, political leaders from other parties and key UK investors in the energy and power sectors. I delivered a keynote speech attended by leading figures from the business community, local officials, and diplomats.

I delivered all our messages for free, fair and peaceful elections, asked for responsible leadership from the main parties, and urged both leaders to address human rights concerns in their election manifestos. In particular, I raised extra-judicial killings by law enforcement agencies, specifically the Rapid Action Battalion, with the main party leaders.

I also presided over a round table discussion. At the discussion, leading human rights advocates outlined a range of issues of concern in Bangladesh, including levels of political and societal violence and the abuse of rights of vulnerable groups: ethnic and religious minorities, women and children. Participants identified examples of required political, legal and attitudinal changes and stressed the importance of the international community in applying pressure on the Government of Bangladesh to achieve these. International business had a role to play through ethical investment; human rights advocates needed to make the business case for corporate social responsibility.

In Delhi I met the Cabinet Ministers of Commerce and Industry, and Petroleum; Ministers of State in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Kumar) and the Ministry of External Affairs; and the Chief Minister of Delhi. I also spoke at the World Economic Forum and met business leaders and British investors in India. I was joined by a delegation of six UK infrastructure companies.

My meeting with Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs, covered a range of issues: regional (Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma); thematic (co-operation on security and counter-terrorism); and UN specific (Human Rights Commission and UN reform). The visit also provided an opportunity to reinforce some of our broader messages on the investment environment.

In Kolkatta I inaugurated two income generation projects supported by the Deputy High Commission and gave a keynote address at the Women’s Interlink Foundation, which looks after trafficked girls and the children of sex workers. I also had the opportunity to meet many of the children involved in the programme during my visit to the non-governmental organisations. I also met with the West Bengal Chief Minister, and discussed major infrastructure projects (a second airport, a new deep water port, urban and river regeneration) and other key areas for British companies to consider—chemicals, petro-chemicals, agri-retail, healthcare and IT.

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In Pakistan I had separate meetings in Islamabad with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and the Ministers for Privatisation and Investment and for Commerce. I was accompanied by a high-level business delegation from Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, London Stock Exchange (LSE) and HCA (Healthcare). I also gave a media briefing in Karachi, and met UK businesses and the visiting Manchester trade mission.

I stressed, to Prime Minister Aziz and Akhtar Khan, the UK’s commitment to an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the Doha Round negotiations, and ensuring that the impact on neighbouring countries was taken into account in any negotiations. With the Prime Minister, I raised UK concerns on Intellectual Property Rights issues in Pakistan, particularly in pharmaceuticals and publishing. With Akhtar Khan, I spoke of our outreach to stakeholders in the UK. I invited the Minister to visit a range of cities e.g. Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Bradford to see first hand the contribution they were making to UK society and the UK economy. I emphasised the need for continued improvement in the levels of maintenance and safety of Pakistan International Airlines. I thanked Prime Minister Aziz for his help with the release of Tahir Hussain and congratulated him on the recent Women’s Protection Bill, there will be a follow-up on a number of other human rights issues.

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