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Departmental Equal Opportunities

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) programmes, (b) projects, (c) courses and (d) other activities her Department undertakes under her Department’s Positive Action strategy for (i) women and (ii) ethnic minorities. [119445]

Mr. Hoon: We do not have a Positive Action strategy. Our underlying approach to diversity is to create a working environment where all staff feel able to fully contribute—regardless of their background. Our primary objective therefore is to ensure a level-playing field for all when it comes to recruitment, selection, career development, promotion and training. We aim to achieve this through ensuring fully transparent and meritocratic policies, procedures and decisions.

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Positive action can support this approach through for example:

Departmental Training

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the projected annual cost is of the proposed Band D assessment and development centres, including the cost of consultants. [119444]

Mr. Hoon: It is difficult to give accurate projections of the cost of the Band D assessment and development centre at this stage, as we have not yet decided on the centre design, nor awarded the contract for its delivery. But we estimate that the centres’ annual cost will be in the region of £200,000-£300,000. It will not be possible to break this figure down to indicate consultants’ costs until the contract is awarded.

Iran: Nuclear Weapons

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterparts in (a) Germany, (b) France and (c) the USA on Iran’s (i) potential to launch rockets into space and (ii) plans for an inter-continental ballistic missile. [118019]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed Iran’s space programme or reported intercontinental ballistic missile ambitions with her French, German and US counterparts, but Ministers and officials have discussed other issues relating to Iran’s missile programme, including in the context of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1737. We are very concerned by reports that Iran is seeking to develop longer-range ballistic missile systems. UNSCR 1737 imposes sanctions against the Iranian missile programme, including a ban on the export to and import from Iran of certain relevant goods and technologies and an asset freeze against listed individuals and entities involved in missile related activity.

Iraq: Oil

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount of oil revenues lost to smuggling in Iraq over the last two years. [119202]

Dr. Howells: Estimates on the extent of oil smuggling in Iraq vary and it is difficult to obtain an accurate figure. However, a report produced last year by the Iraqi Oil Ministry’s Inspector, General Ali Alaak, estimated that some US$4.2 billion worth of oil related products were smuggled out of Iraq in 2005.

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Oil smuggling is caused by the disparity between the price of oil and its refined products in Iraq and the price in neighbouring countries. The Government of Iraq have been working with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate fuel subsidies to increase prices gradually since 2005, which should reduce the incentive to smuggle as potential profits fall.

An inadequate metering system in Iraq also inhibits the Government of Iraq’s ability to tackle smuggling as it limits the ability to track how much oil is produced and exported. In January the Government of Iraq installed new meters at the Al-Basra oil terminal which exports the vast majority of oil exports from Iraq. Work to install an effective metering system through Iraq and upgrade existing meters should help improve the transparency of oil production and oil exports.

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the British Ambassador made to the Iraqi Finance Minister in late 2004 on (a) behalf of the International Tax and Investment Center and (b) production-sharing agreements for the development of Iraq’s oil. [119365]

Dr. Howells: None.

Jamaica: Entry Clearances

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average length of time taken to process a visa by the British consulate in Jamaica was in the latest period for which figures are available. [119510]

Dr. Howells: The visa section in our high commission in Kingston regularly meets public service agreement (PSA) 1 (within 24 hours) and PSA 2 (15 working days) targets.

The target time for PSA 3 (settlement) is 12 weeks. Kingston currently has a six month waiting time for settlement interviews. New procedures were put in place in early February to tackle this backlog.

PSA targets:


Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of UN efforts to decide the final status of Kosovo; and if she will make a statement. [119468]

Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom fully supports the UN-led final status process for Kosovo and the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari. On
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2 February, we reached an important point in the process when President Ahtisaari presented his draft settlement proposals to the parties in Belgrade and Pristina.

We are confident that his draft proposals can form the basis for a fair and sustainable settlement for all of Kosovo’s communities, which will enhance regional stability and the region’s European and Euro-Atlantic prospects.

Palestinians: Arms Trade

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information she has received on which countries have supplied weapons and ammunition to the military wings of (a) Hamas and (b) Fatah in (i) the West Bank and (ii) the Gaza Strip since August 2006. [119941]

Dr. Howells: Both Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and Hamas’s recently established Executive Security Force are believed to be funded by the Hamas movement, which raises money from both private donations and friendly governments. In December 2006, media reports alleged that Hamas had been promised US$250 million from Iran, some of which may be used to buy weapons.

Unlike Hamas, Fatah does not have an official military wing. There are a number of militant groups that have been linked to Fatah, including the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. It is the longstanding policy of the Government not to comment on intelligence matters.

Palestinians: EC Aid

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the effect in the Palestinian territories of the European Union’s decision to withdraw humanitarian aid to the civilian population. [119800]

Dr. Howells: The EU has not withdrawn humanitarian aid to the Palestinian civilian population. On the contrary, in 2006 the EU gave over £680 million to the Palestinian people, more than in any other year. The UK has contributed £12 million to the Temporary International Mechanism and announced in December 2005 a four year, £76.6 million commitment to the UN Relief and Works Agency.

Saudi Arabia: Project Al Yamamah

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations were made by or on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia to the Government of the United Kingdom on the continuation of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Al Yamamah deal; and when and to whom such representations were made. [119160]

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Dr. Howells: The Government are in frequent and regular contact with the Government of Saudi Arabia as part of the normal conduct of our close bilateral relationship across a wide range of issues of mutual concern.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people have applied for entry clearance to the UK from Sri Lanka in each of the last 10 years. [118578]

Dr. Howells: The information requested by the hon. Member is as follows:

Applications received











After 2000, UKvisas published statistics were produced according to the financial year rather than the calendar year.

Financial year Applications received











UKvisas Published Statistics
Date: 1 February 2007

UKvisas makes every effort to ensure that statistics produced from our ‘Central Reference System’ are accurate. However, the complexity of our global business, including technical failures or occasional inconsistencies in data entry across any of over 150 offices, means we cannot 100 per cent. guarantee accuracy.

Travel Restrictions: European Union

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from which individual subject to an EU travel ban she received a formal representation as referred to in the answer of 31 October 2006, Official Report, columns 387-8W, on EU travel bans; what mechanism is used to determine whether to grant informal requests to travel by those subject to bans; and whether ministers are involved in the decision. [120216]

Dr. Howells: It would not be appropriate for the Government to reveal details relating to an individual case. Applications to travel to the UK from individuals on the EU travel ban list, whether received formally or informally, would be rejected unless they specifically applied and qualified under any exemptions set out in the relevant Common Position. Any decision to grant entry in those circumstances would be subject to ministerial consideration.

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Capital Gains Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue was raised from capital gains tax arising from the development of land in the most recent year for which figures are available. [119541]

Dawn Primarolo: Statistics on the numbers and values of assets disposed in financial year 2003-04, by type of asset, are available in National Statistics table 14.4 on the HM Revenue and Customs website at:

The asset headings include agricultural land and buildings, and other land and buildings, but no further breakdown distinguishing land that was subject to development is available.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information from the 1921 census may be released following the recent ruling by the Information Commissioner; and who makes decisions about what information may be released. [119065]

John Healey: The Information Commissioner was quite clear that the ruling concerned was confined to the circumstances of a particular application for release of information from the 1911 census.

No information from the 1921 census will be released as a result of the ruling.

The 1921 census was conducted under the terms of the 1920 Census Act which prohibits the release of personal information without lawful authority. The census returns are retained in the National Statistician and Registrar General's custody with the approval of the Lord Chancellor by virtue of Section 3(4) of the Public Records Act and are scheduled to be released to the public in January 2022.

Child Trust Fund

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many children were eligible for child trust fund vouchers in 2005-06; and how many children have been so eligible in 2006-07. [109994]

Ed Balls [pursuant to the reply, 18 December 2006, Official Report, c. 1540W]: My answer stated that 935,000 child trust fund vouchers had been issued to eligible children in 2005-06 as set out at: The correct figure as the table shows is in fact 835,000. I very much regret this inadvertent error.

Clostridium Difficile

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance her Department has given to (a) NHS hospitals, (b) nursing and care homes, (c) dentists, (d) ambulance trusts, (e) general practitioners and (f) other hospitals on listing
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clostridium difficile as the cause of death on official death certificates; and if she will make a statement. [118964]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Registrar General, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 8 February 2007:

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