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Improving security is the highest priority for both the Iraqi Government and the Coalition. Prime Minister Maliki has recognised that a large part of the solution lies in promoting national reconciliation as well as in military action. We strongly welcome his commitment in this area.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date her Department received a copy of the letter from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Prime Minister seeking permission for his trip to Iraq on 18 November. 
18. Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the political situation in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories. 
Dr. Howells: There have been positive developments on the peace process in recent months. Both parties are committed to negotiations and met bilaterally on 23 December and together with Secretary Rice yesterday. The ceasefire in Gaza between the parties is also still holding. But, there is much work to do to build confidence between the parties to reach substantive negotiations. We, along with the Quartet and international partners, will do all we can to help achieve this. We also welcome Saudi Arabias efforts to broker a National Unity Government through negotiations with Hamas and Fatah.
There have been positive developments on the peace process in recent months. Both parties are committed to negotiations and met bilaterally on 23 December and together with Secretary Rice yesterday. The ceasefire in Gaza between the parties is also still holding. But, there is much work to do to build confidence between the parties to reach substantive negotiations. We, along with the Quartet and international partners, will do all we can to help achieve this. We also welcome Saudi Arabias efforts.
Mr. Hoon: I had the opportunity to have in depth discussions on the UN-led final status process for Kosovo in Belgrade on 7 February with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Serbia. In addition, the Foreign Secretary discussed Kosovo with EU Foreign Ministers at the External Relations Council on 12 February.
The United Kingdom will continue to work in the region and with our international partners to achieve a lasting status settlement for Kosovo which will enhance regional stability and the regions European and Euro-Atlantic prospects.
Mr. McCartney: There are severe restrictions on freedom of all religions, including towards members of the majority Buddhist faith, particularly if they are perceived as anti-Government. Ethnic minority communities, many of whom are Christian, are disproportionately affected by the wider pattern of human rights abuse carried out by the Burmese regime.
On 24 January, I met representatives from the Burmese Chin and Kachin ethnic groups to discuss the many difficulties faced by their respective communities, including violations of their religious freedoms.
We raise the human rights situation regularly with the Burmese regime and other Governments in the region, most recently when our ambassador in Rangoon met the Burmese Ministers for Planning and Immigration and the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister on 5 January.
25. Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her German counterpart on the future of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. 
Mr. Hoon: I met with German colleagues most recently in December in both London and Berlin. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I meet regularly with our German counterparts under their Presidency of the EU, not least every month at the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Our discussions cover a wide range of issues, including climate change, energy security, economic reform and the future of Europe.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what examination has been undertaken since 2003 of (a) surviving and (b) deceased political prisoners imprisoned under the Saddam Hussein regime to establish which (i) biological and (ii) chemical weapons-related material had been tested on them. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 19 February 2007]: The United Kingdom has not undertaken any examination since 2003 of surviving or deceased political prisoners imprisoned under Saddam Hussein's regime, to establish which biological or chemical weapons-related material had been tested on them.
We have developed forensic examination capacity within the Government of Iraq by helping to establish forensic training centres in Baghdad and Basra. In addition, we have funded forensics training for professionals who it is hoped will work in the National Centre for Missing and Disappeared Persons.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will place in the Library a copy of the letter to the Prime Minister from the Chancellor of the Exchequer which sought permission for his trip to Nigeria on 22 May. 
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 27 November 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave to the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) on 12 July 2006, Official Report, column 1913W, and the response given at
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has made to the Israeli prime minister on his approval of the proposal to move the separation barrier five kilometres to the east of the green line in the area of Modi'in Ilit. 
Dr. Howells: We are concerned by reports that the Israeli Government are considering changing the route of the barrier to incorporate two west bank settlements. We fully recognise Israel's right to self-defence. But the barrier's route should be on or behind the green line, and not on occupied territory. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised settlement activity with Israeli Defence Minister Peretz during her recent visit to the region and I raised the issue of the barrier's route in my meeting with the Israeli ambassador to the UK on 19 February 2007.
Mr. Coaker [holding answer 19 February 2007]: Local crime prevention initiatives are determined and funded through local area agreements depending on local needs and priorities. Distraction burglary remains a priority in many areas although total numbers are low, it is a heinous crime targeted at the most vulnerable members of the community.
Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many social service interventions have taken place relating to female genital mutilation since the introduction of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003; and what assessment he has made of the outcome of such interventions. 
The Home Office does not collect information on the number of Neighbourhood Watch
schemes in England and Wales. However, Avon and Somerset Constabulary does gather this information and has informed me that in Bristol, East constituency there are 83 Neighbourhood Watch schemes, which cover approximately 3,000 households.
|Police community support officers assaulted whilst on duty as at 31 March 2004 to 31 March 2006( 1)|
|As of 31 March||Assaults (Headcount)|
|(1 )Financial year runs 1 April to 31 March inclusive.|
(2 )Excludes Thames Valley. Data not provided.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average sentence length for (a) foreign national and (b) UK prisoners was in (i) 2005-06 and (ii) 2004-05; and what the average sentence length has been so far in 2006-07. 
These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system, and although shown to the last individual the figures may not be accurate to that level.
|Average sentence length for those received into custody under a determinate sentence by year and nationality|
|Average sentence length (in months)|
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff in the Prison Service London Area Office received bonus payments between April 2005 and March 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Information on the numbers of prisoners detained in prison establishments within England and Wales who have absconded can be found in the following table which has recently been published as table 10.10 in the Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2005, a copy of which can be found in the House of Commons Library.
|Table 10.10: Number of absconds, escapes and temporary release failures( 1) , England and Wales|
|(1 )Statistics supplied by the Prison Service.|
(2 )Absconds figure revised from OMCS 2004.
Data Sources and Quality
These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems. Care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, but the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system, and so although shown to the last individual, the figures may not be accurate to that level. See Technical appendix of report for fuller information.
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