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28 Feb 2007 : Column 1356W—continued

Police: Manpower

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there were in England and Wales in (a) 1979, (b) 1997 and (c) 2006. [121911]

Mr. McNulty: The available data are given in the table.

Police officer strength in England and Wales as at 31 March 1979, 31 March 1997 and 31 March 2006 (FTE)( 1,2)
As at 31 March: Police officer strength







(1) Full-time equivalent. All officers excluding staff on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.
(2) This and other tables contain full-time equivalent figures that have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Because of rounding, there may be an apparent discrepancy between totals and the sums of the constituent items.

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Political Asylum

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for political asylum in the UK have been (a) received from and (b) granted to people from Iraq since 2003. [111149]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 29 January 2007]: Information on asylum applications, initial decisions and appeals by nationality are published quarterly and annually. Copies of these publications are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics website at:

Proceeds of Crime

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the director of the Assets Recovery Agency first informed him that the limitation on chasing moneys owed by criminals caused by the 12-year rule was a serious impediment to the operation of the Agency. [122211]

Mr. Coaker: The Director and the Home Office have had regular discussions about the work of the Agency since its inception. There has been a general recognition that it would not be possible for the Agency to pursue civil recovery action in certain cases because of the 12-year limitation period. We have no record of the Director having made representations to the Home Office that the 12-year rule was an impediment to the operation of the Agency or affected performance against its published targets. The Government made a number of changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in the Serious Organised Crime Act 2005 in response to proposals from the Agency, although there was no proposal to amend the 12-year rule. In evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in March 2006, the Agency referred to the 12-year limit among a range of other subjects. We keep the legislation under review and we will be looking further at this matter.

Security: Civil Service Agencies

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to improve the security of staff handling post in Government agencies. [122446]

Hilary Armstrong: I have been asked to reply.

Government Departments and agencies follow longstanding advice and guidance on the handling of post which is regularly reviewed and updated. It is up to Departments to assess the risks posed to their buildings and staff, and to ensure that they are achieving the appropriate levels of protection through a process of risk management.

Terrorism: Custodial Treatment

Mr. David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received from the police regarding the detention of terrorist suspects without charge for longer than 28 days. [122760]

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Mr. McNulty: We have ongoing discussions on the limits of pre-charge detention in terrorist cases with the leaders of the police service and others.

Theft: Audio Equipment

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many thefts per capita of population there were of Ipods and other personal audio equipment in (a) 2006 and (b) 2005, broken down by police force area. [123017]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not collected centrally.

War Crimes

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans his Department has to change the law to protect foreign citizens from arrest on war crimes charges when visiting the UK. [122675]

Mr. McNulty: We strongly support steps to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice, but we have been reviewing the legal and practical issues raised by the issue of arrest warrants in international cases. Any proposals to change the legislation will be laid before Parliament in the normal way.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she made to the Government of Afghanistan on the (a) appointments of and (b) subsequent conduct of provincial governors and police chiefs in each of the last two years. [123547]

Dr. Howells: Decisions on appointments of provincial governors and police chiefs are for the Afghan Government to make. The Afghan Government are well aware of the international community’s often stated concern to achieve merit-based appointments. We share this concern to help achieve professional standards and integrity in government, goals to which the Afghan Government committed itself in the Afghanistan Compact in January 2006.

Algeria: Asylum

Derek Conway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on establishing mechanisms to assess the number of refugees in Tindouf camps in Algeria. [123619]

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Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not made any representations to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on establishing mechanisms to assess the number of refugees in the Tindouf camps in south-western Algeria.

The Government remain concerned by the humanitarian situation in the refugee camps. The UN World Food programme (WFP), which has been providing assistance to the camps since 1986, has raised concern over the nutritional status of the refugees. The UNHCR and WFP have been focusing on the 90,000 most vulnerable beneficiaries of aid. The WFP also reported a decline in contributions causing serious breaks in food distributions over the last six months. In response, the EU donated a further US$1.3 million to provide food aid to Western Saharan refugees at the end of January 2007, supported by the UK whose share of the contribution will be over US$200,000. Saharawi refugees started arriving in Algeria in 1976, and have been totally dependent on outside assistance for the past 30 years. Estimates vary as to the number of refugees. Algeria and the Polisario refuse to allow a census in the camps. They say they will do so once there is movement in the political process.

Arms Control

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the UN Panel of Experts is expected to announce its findings on the identity of those responsible for breaching the UN Arms Embargo established by UNSCR 1591. [122946]

Dr. Howells: The Panel of Experts, established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1591, is required by UNSCR 1713 to provide to the Sudan Sanctions Committee a midterm briefing on its work no later than 29 March 2007. It is required to produce its final report no later than 30 days prior to termination of its mandate, which occurs on 29 September 2007. The panel may provide additional reporting to the Committee at any time on a confidential basis.

Ballistic Missile Defence

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her EU counterparts on US plans to establish an anti-missile base in Poland and a radar control centre in the Czech Republic. [122914]

Dr. Howells: It is not the practice of the Government to make public details of all discussions with foreign Governments. However, the UK does discuss NATO ballistic missile defence on a regular basis.


Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the situation in eastern Chad; and if she will make a statement. [123043]

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Mr. McCartney: The situation in eastern Chad continues to be unstable. There have been reports of recent rebel attacks on towns close to the border and of spill-over violence from Darfur into eastern Chad.

British officials met with the Chadian Foreign Minister, Ahmat Allami, on 20 February to urge the Government of Chad to implement and abide by the terms of the Tripoli agreement, which calls for a ceasefire between Chad and Sudan, and not to support armed movements which destabilise the region. We also continue in our contacts with the Chadian Government to press them to engage with the Opposition.

This year, through the Department for International Development, we are providing £4 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme and Oxfam, who are supporting both the refugees and internally displaced in eastern Chad.

China: Air Pollution

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her Chinese counterparts on China’s environmental record and meeting carbon emission targets. [123625]

Mr. McCartney: The Government regularly discuss climate change and wider environmental issues with Chinese counterparts. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised UK-China partnership on climate change, the EU-China near-zero emissions coal project and EU-China co-operation on renewable energy and energy efficiency with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in the margins of the UK-China Prime Ministerial Summit in September 2006.

At official level, the UK and China have established bilateral Working Groups on Climate Change and Energy, and take forward collaborative work on wider environmental issues through the UK-China Sustainable Development Dialogue. China is also a fellow member of the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development.

China: Human Rights

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to encourage improved human rights in China. [123624]

Mr. McCartney: We encourage the Chinese Government to meet international human rights standards at every appropriate opportunity, both bilaterally and through the EU, and at the highest levels. We hold more detailed discussions on human rights with the Chinese Government during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, the most recent round being held in London on Monday 5 February, which I attended. We also work to deliver positive changes on the ground by supporting a wide range of human rights projects in China.

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East Africa: Migration

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s role is in taking forward the East African Migration Routes Initiative. [123499]

Dr. Howells: This work arises out of the EU’s Global Approach to Migration strategy. The strategy identified four migration routes from Africa and called for member states to develop initiatives for operational co-operation among countries of origin, transit and destination along these routes. We are, with EU partners, supporting activity along route four (East Africa: Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya). We have called this the East Africa Migration Routes Initiative. To date, this has entailed work to establish a network of EU Immigration Liaison Officers in East Africa and a survey of member states’ activities in the region. The UK and Italy have also submitted a joint application to the European Commission for funding for projects that address irregular migration in East Africa.

EC Energy Markets

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she expects the complete opening of EU energy markets to be achieved by 1 July. [123449]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

The 2003 Electricity and Gas directives oblige member states to complete the opening of their energy markets by July. Some have achieved this already. Where further action is needed, we expect the Commission to ensure member states meet their obligations and welcome the enforcement action already being taken.

The Commission's recent strategic energy review outlined further action that has been identified as necessary for the development of the internal energy market. The review is currently being considered by the European Council and we expect the Commission to be able to bring forward further internal market legislation by September. The Commission has also recently completed a sectoral review of energy and is taking legal action against a number of companies for anti-competitive behaviour.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what definition she uses of flexicurity as cited in “Prospects for the European Union in 2007”, Cm 2024. [123508]

Mr. Hoon: Flexicurity can be broadly described as a framework that allows labour market flexibility and employment security to be mutually reinforcing, rather than in competition with one another. It needs to have many dimensions and should be based on financial sustainability, better regulation principles and encouraging inclusive labour markets.

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Indonesia: Terrorism

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) Indonesian and (b) Filipino efforts to combat Islamic extremism; and what support the UK has made available to help these efforts. [122860]

Dr. Howells: We welcome the work of the Governments of Indonesia and the Philippines to combat Islamic extremism. We work closely with both Governments to counter the threat of international terrorism and the extremism that fuels terrorism. We provide specialist training and share our experiences. The UK has a great deal to learn from both countries, given their large Muslim populations, about the causes of Islamic extremism and how to respond to it effectively and sensitively.

Iran: EC Action

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will place in the Library (a) the European (EU-3) proposal presented to Iran on 6 June 2006 and (b) Iran's formal response to the European proposal of 22 August 2006; and if she will make a statement. [122878]

Dr. Howells: Copies of both the proposals presented to Iran by the EU high representative, Javier Solana, on behalf of the ‘E3+3’ (France, Germany, UK + China, Russia, US) on 6 June 2006 and the Iranian response of 22 August 2006 were placed in the Library of the House on 27 November 2006. I am arranging for further copies to be placed in the Library. Both documents have also been circulated as documents of the UN Security Council.

The E3+3 proposals are far-reaching and intended as the basis for a long-term agreement. They would give Iran everything it needs to develop a modern civil nuclear power industry, including active support for the building of new light water reactors; co-operation in nuclear research in areas that are not proliferation sensitive and the possible provision of a light water research reactor; and legally binding assurances relating to the supply of nuclear fuel. They would also give Iran political and economic benefits, including assistance with Iran's application to join the World Trade Organisation and the possible lifting of US sanctions in some areas of great benefit to the Iranian economy such as civil aircraft and telecoms.

In return, the E3+3 has asked that Iran should refrain from all uranium enrichment related and reprocessing activities until international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its programme has been restored. Such activities are not essential for Iran to develop a modern civil nuclear power programme, but would allow Iran to develop know-how that could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. The suspension is a requirement of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and the UN Security Council.

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