Previous Section Index Home Page

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1823W—continued

St. Helena

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many television channels showed his Department’s video St. Helena, as referred to in his answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 1003W. [121395]

Mr. Thomas: The video I referred to in my answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 1003W, was made especially for local television in St. Helena, to inform the local population about proposals for the new airport. It was shown three times on the local television station in St. Helena, and repeated on the local television channel on Ascension Island, where many Saints, as the local people are known, live and work. A copy was also sent to the St. Helena representative in the Falkland Islands and shown to
6 Mar 2007 : Column 1824W
Saints there. Part of the film has also been shown to the All Party Parliamentary Group for St. Helena. I understand that it has been well received.

Thailand: HIV Infection

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the potential impact on access to HIV treatment of the Government of Thailand’s issuance of compulsory licences to produce locally or import generic versions of the drugs efavirenz and lopinavir/ritonavir; and if he will make a statement. [124893]

Mr. Thomas: The Thai Government only recently announced their intention to issue compulsory licences for a number of patented medicines; therefore the impact of this action on access to HIV treatment is not yet clear.

We support the right of developing countries to implement the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as is appropriate for their circumstances and in order to ensure access to HIV treatment. We also support the right of developing countries to utilise the flexibilities allowed under TRIPS to ensure affordable access to medicines to meet public health needs, this includes the use of compulsory licensing provisions included in the TRIPS agreement.

Zimbabwe: Overseas Aid

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent aid has been sent by the UK to Zimbabwe; and what precautions were taken to ensure that this aid was delivered directly to those who needed aid. [122854]

Hilary Benn: We remain confident that the systems are in place to ensure that assistance provided by the UK reaches those members of society who are most in need of assistance.

Over the last five years, DFID has allocated approximately £143 million to support the poorest people of Zimbabwe, with almost all this funding being directed to tackling HIV and AIDS, food insecurity and in support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children. DFID channels its support through United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations, rather than providing direct support to the Government of Zimbabwe.

All proposals for DFID funding are subject to rigorous scrutiny, particularly with regard to the target group affected by the intervention in question, transparency of funding mechanisms and the presence of robust monitoring and evaluation systems. DFID Zimbabwe requires regular reporting from partner organisations and carries out its own monitoring and evaluation exercises on a regular, generally quarterly or six-monthly, basis. In cases where partner organisations are funded in instalments, funding is contingent upon evidence that previous contributions from DFID have been disbursed in the manner agreed in our formal agreement with that organisation.

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1825W

House of Commons Commission

Poultry Meat

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what percentage of the poultry supplied to the House was born and raised on British farms in each of the last three years. [125184]

Nick Harvey: The Refreshment Department does not keep statistics of the country of origin of the food it purchases. However, from information provided by its suppliers, it is estimated that in each of the last two years (January to December 2005 and 2006) over 97 per cent. of the fresh poultry supplied to the Department was of British origin and 100 per cent. was of EU origin. No information is available for earlier years.

Under the terms of the EU procurement directives, the House of Commons is unable to discriminate in favour of or against the goods, services or produce of any member state.

Leader of the House

House of Lords: Reform

Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2007 to Question 124296, on House of Lords reform, on what basis he plans to divide the UK into electoral units for the election of Members of the House of Lords under his proposals for reform. [125499]

Mr. Straw: Paragraph 7.95 of the White Paper “The House of Lords: Reform” explains that in terms of constituency, the Government propose the simplest approach is to use the regions used for elections to the European Parliament.

Member’s Constituency Work

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Leader of the House what (a) advice, (b) practical support and (c) software and hardware is provided to hon. Members for the electronic collection and management of constituents’ casework. [125637]

Mr. Straw: I understand that the Parliamentary ICT Service (PICT) does not recommend or support any specific casework products for use by Members or their staff.

The standard range of Microsoft software and hardware supplied to Members can be used to assist with the management of constituents’ casework, but only general application and hardware support is given in this respect.

This position is reviewed from time-to-time. For example, the scope to provide caseworker software centrally was not pursued several years ago by the Advisory Panel on Members’ Allowances after an external consultancy review concluded that it was not possible to develop a single product that could accommodate the different ways in which Members work. PICT is currently investigating an alternative
6 Mar 2007 : Column 1826W
approach based on working more closely with the most popular casework suppliers. This would ensure that Members retain the flexibility to use the products they wish to, while receiving more integrated support.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Algeria: Deportation

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2007, Official Report, column 1125W, on Algeria: deportation, what the most recent information is which she has received on the four individuals; what further steps embassy officials have taken; and if she will make a statement. [124380]

Dr. Howells: Embassy officials in Algiers have remained in close contact with the Algerian Government concerning the situation of the four individuals deported from the UK between 20 and 27 January 2007. Algerian Government officials have confirmed that “K” was detained on 24 January and released on 4 February; that “P” was detained on 27 January and released on 30 January; that Reda Dendani (“Q”) was detained on 25 January and subsequently brought before a court and charged with membership of an armed terrorist group under Article 87 of the Algerian Criminal Code as well as assumption of the name of a third party under Article 249 of that same Code; and that “H” was detained on 31 January and subsequently brought before a court and charged with membership of an armed terrorist group under Article 87 of the Code. Each individual was either charged or released before the expiration of the 12 day detention period authorised under the Algerian Criminal Procedure Code. Embassy officials continue to stay in touch with Algerian Government officials.

Conference on Disarmament

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps the Government have taken within the Conference on Disarmament to achieve consensus on commencing negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty; and if she will make a statement. [125670]

Dr. Howells: I visited the Conference on Disarmament on 22 February 2007 to discuss this issue and, in a speech to the conference, encouraged delegations to move forward on these negotiations. The UK fully supports the immediate commencement of negotiations and the conclusion of a treaty on fissile material cut-off. In advance of a treaty coming into force, the UK, in 1995, announced that it had ceased production of fissile material for weapons purposes. This moratorium remains in place.

Departments: Energy

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what strategy she has put in place for (a) the use of renewable energy and (b) meeting energy targets in her Department's buildings; and if she will make a statement. [125405]

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1827W

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office sets and manages all of the Government's sustainable operations energy targets in our environmental management programme (BMP). The use of renewable energy is embedded in our energy procurement arrangements. As a result, we purchase 100 per cent. of the electricity we use at our main building in King Charles street, equating to 39 per cent. of all the electricity we use in the UK, from renewable sources. In addition, as part of implementing our carbon management programme (CMP), developed with the Carbon Trust, we will shortly be examining the practicality of generating from renewable sources some of the electricity used at our site at Hanslope park, which accounts for 39 per cent. of our UK energy consumption.

Our strategy for meeting our other energy targets is, similarly, to manage them in our BMP, undertake energy saving projects, apply the building research establishment environmental assessment method to our new builds and refurbishments and implement key energy efficiency recommendations contained in our CMP.

Departments: Redundancy

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in (i) her Department and (ii) each agency of the Department in each year since 1997-98; how much is planned to be spent for 2007-08; and if she will make a statement. [123925]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has spent the following sums on compensation for early retirement each year since 1997.
























(1) The figures for 2006-07 and 2007-08 are provisional estimates.

We have not been able to identify what sums, if any, within this total were spent on involuntary departures. To check individual records for this purpose would incur disproportionate cost. It is our policy to do all we can to avoid or minimise compulsory redundancies.

All payments have been made in accordance with the provisions of the civil service compensation schemes. As a result of the 2004 spending round we have carried out a restructuring exercise since 2004 to realise efficiency savings. This early retirement programme will enable us to reduce the size of the senior management structure in the FCO by 18 per cent. by 31 March 2008.

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1828W

Iraq: Constitution

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many women are represented on the Constitutional Review committee for the Iraqi constitution; and whether this fills the applicable quota. [125354]

Dr. Howells: There are two women on the Constitutional Review committee, Najiiha al-Habib and Aliah Nasif al-Ubeidi. Article 142 of the Constitution, which sets out the provisions for the review, does not stipulate a gender quota for the committee.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the constitutional review process for the Iraqi constitution; and what progress has been made. [125355]

Dr. Howells: In line with Article 142 of the Iraqi Constitution, a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) was formed on 15 November 2006 to review the Constitution. The CRC is due to present its proposed amendments for the Council of Representative's consideration by mid May 2007.

In December 2006 the CRC established three subcommittees: one to propose technical and drafting improvements; another to look at those areas that are not addressed in the existing Constitution; and a third subcommittee which will consider contentious issues possibly requiring cross-party political agreement. We understand the subcommittees will submit their proposals for the CRC's consideration by the end of March 2007.

Article 142 does not stipulate a time frame for the whole review process. But Iraq's political party leaders have committed to completing the constitutional review process, including the referendum, within a year of the CRC starting work.

Iraq: Religious Freedom

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with Iraqi officials on the rights of Christians to worship freely in Iraq; and if she will make a statement. [124782]

Dr. Howells: We support provisions in the Iraqi constitution that guarantee freedom of religious belief and practice to all Iraqi people. We continually press members of the Iraqi government and Council of Representatives on their obligation to serve all of Iraq's communities, regardless of faith or political persuasion, and to develop legislation and policies that protect these important provisions.

Iraq: Weapons

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of claims made by General Georges Sada in respect of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [124671]

6 Mar 2007 : Column 1829W

Dr. Howells: It is the long-standing policy of the Government not to comment on intelligence matters.

Lord Butler had uninhibited access to all UK intelligence material and other relevant Government papers relating to Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Having fully accepted Lord Butler's recommendations, which have now been implemented, the Government do not propose re-opening the debate on issues which were fully covered in his report.

The hon. Member may find it useful to refer to the Iraq Survey Group's March 2005 Addendums to the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the (US) Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's WMD, which covers the issue of movement of any WMD out of Iraq in the period leading up to the 2003 conflict.

The report can be found on the United States' Central Intelligence Agency website at:

Next Section Index Home Page