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16 Apr 2007 : Column 26Wcontinued
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which areas alternative livelihood projects have been set up in Afghanistan;
and what estimate has been made of the numbers of farmers participating. 
Hilary Benn: I have been asked to reply.
DFID's Livelihoods programme, worth nearly £150 million from 2006-09, helps support the Government of Afghanistan's National Priority Programmes aimed at developing alternative legal livelihood opportunities. These programmes address the multiple constraints that prevent farmers from moving away from poppy cultivation, including access to credit, markets and productive infrastructure. DFID receives regular progress reports from each of the programmes it funds. The following table shows DFID's contribution to these programmes. It highlights achievements and the number of beneficiaries to date.
|Programme name and DFID contribution||Beneficiaries||Provinces||Achievements|
National Solidarity programme (NSP) £17 million over 3 years
16,343 Community Development Councils have been established. Over £146 million spent on areas of agriculture, education, health, irrigation, power, public buildings, transport and water supply.
National Rural Access programme (NRAP) £18 million in 2005-06
9,575 km roads built or repaired, as well as schools, health clinics and water schemes
Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility (MISFA) £20 million over 3 years
300,501 households, shopkeepers, tailors, and farmers among others. 75 per cent. of MISFA beneficiaries are women
20 provinces: Badakhshan Baghlan Balkh Bamyan Faryab Ghazni Helmand Herat Jawzjan Kabul Kapisa Kunarha Kunduz Laghman Logar Nangarhar Parwan Samangan Saripul Takhar Wardak
Over £96 million of small loans distributed to 570,293 people
DFID has also provided £3 million to support the Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF), which performs research into potential agricultural livelihoods options for rural Afghans. In addition, we support the Development of Sustainable Agriculture Livelihoods project in the Eastern Hazarajat (SALEH). This provides new and innovative ways for farmers to make a living in Eastern Hazarajat, for example, through honey-bee keeping and potato farming.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking to meet the Government's commitment to strengthen the work of the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gar in Helmand province as set out in the Enduring Relationship Action Plan 2006-07. 
Margaret Beckett: Through the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand Province, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials are leading a cross-governmental team in which development, governance, stabilisation, and police advisers are already working with the provincial government and local organisations to increase their capacity and to increase the stretch of the central Government. The PRT is now being strengthened by an additional five FCO officers to assist in this work. The Enduring Relationship Declaration and Action Plan highlights the UK's long term commitment to Afghanistan and its people, as they strive to achieve stability, security and prosperity.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Chevening Scholarships have been awarded to Afghan students since 2001; and what plans there are to widen access to Chevening Scholarships for Afghan students. 
Margaret Beckett: There has been a total of 84 Chevening Scholarships awarded to Afghan students since 2001.
Additionally, there were nine Chevening Fellowships awarded to Afghan students during this period.
For 2007-08 sufficient funding has been allocated to increase the number of Afghan Chevening students from 10 to 16.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance and support is available to British citizens living and working abroad in countries other than EU countries, and who are married to a local citizen, if they are attacked or injured. 
Dr. Howells: We can provide consular assistance to British nationals overseas, subject to certain exceptions for dual nationals, whether or not they normally live in the UK. The consular assistance we can provide to British nationals who are victims of crime or require medical assistance is set out in Support for British nationals abroad: A Guide. This is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk A copy of the Consular Guide has also been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 11W, on Burma, whether the UK is advocating a strengthening of the EU Common Position on Burma; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: We believe that the present EU Common Position on Burma is the best achievable, given the views of some of our partners. Any additional measures would need the support of all other EU member states as the Common Position can only be amended by consensus. We do not believe that there would be consensus to amend the Common Position.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will take steps to strengthen the EU Common Position on Burma when it comes up for renewal. 
Mr. McCartney: The EU Common Position on Burma is adopted by consensus. Any amendment or strengthening of the Common Position needs to be agreed unanimously. Our discussions within the EU have indicated there is no consensus to amend the Common Position. Given the views of some of our EU partners, we believe that the current Common Position is currently the best achievable policy. Despite criticisms of it, the Common Position is valuable in uniting 27 nations in an expression of concern about the abuse of human rights and lack of democracy inside Burma.
I raised the appalling human rights situation in Burma at the EU-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' meeting in Nuremberg on 15 March.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports she has received of the recent military activity by the Burmese Army in Karen state; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what recent reports she has received of (a) attacks by the Burmese Army on Karen civilians and (b) the displacement by the Burmese Army of civilians in the Mon Township; 
(3) what recent reports she has received of attacks by the Burmese Army in the Papun District; and what her estimate is of the number of Karen villagers displaced by such attacks. 
Mr. McCartney: We are aware of reports from the Free Burma Rangers of recent military activity in Mon Township and Papun District and the displacement of up to 1,400 people. Officials from our Embassy in Rangoon do not have access to conflict areas and cannot confirm the number of displaced people. We have repeatedly condemned attacks on civilians and remain concerned about the situation in conflict areas in Burma which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of internally displaced people and refugees on the Thai/Burmese border.
I raised our serious concerns about the Burmese armys offensive in Karen state when I called in the Burmese Ambassador on 15 June 2006 and wrote to the Burmese Foreign Minister on 5 July 2006.
Most recently, I raised the Burmese regimes appalling human rights record at the EU-Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meeting in Nuremberg on 15 March in the presence of the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the implications of reports she has received in the treatment of women of ethnic minorities in Burma by the Burmese Army for initiatives to improve the Burmese Government's record in human rights; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what representations she has received on the treatment of Chin women in Burma by the (a) Burmese Army and (b) other Burmese state agencies; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: We are aware of the report Unsafe State published by the Womens League of Chinland, documenting the abuses of Chin women at the hands of the Burmese authorities.
On 24 January, I met representatives from the Womens League of Chinland and the Chin Human Rights Organisation to discuss the many difficulties faced by the Chin community in Burma, including sexual violence.
We condemn the use of all forms of sexual violence and all other human rights violations. I raised the issue of sexual violence directly with the Burmese ambassador on 15 June 2006 and again in my letter to the Burmese Foreign Minister on 5 July 2006. I have raised our concerns about the human rights situation in Burma with the Governments of India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea.
I raised Burma at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 13 March. Most recently, I raised our concerns about Burma at the EU-Association of Southeast Asian
Nations ministerial meeting on 15 March in the presence of the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister.
We have helped to ensure that resolutions at the UN General Assembly have called for an end to the use of rape and sexual violence by the armed forces in Burma. We shall continue, bilaterally and with international partners, to urge the Burmese regime to pursue laws and practices which will put an end to the Burmese armys use of sexual violence.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what legal steps the Government has taken to enforce the Geneva Convention following the statement in the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma on human rights abuses in conflict areas and humanitarian law. 
Mr. McCartney: We have repeatedly called on the Burmese Government to comply with all international law and applicable humanitarian law and raised our concerns directly with the regime and in international fora most recently when I raised the issue in my intervention at the EU-Association of South East Asian Nations Foreign Ministers meeting in Nuremberg on 14 March.
We fully support the work of Professor Pinheiro, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, and his reports on the Burmese regimes serious human rights violations.
Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost of the United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg was in 2005-06; and what the budgeted cost for the mission is in 2006-07. 
Mr. Hoon: The local budget spend for financial year 2005-06 was £403,952 and is estimated to be £409,551 in 2006-07. This covers rent, rates, maintenance, furniture and utilities for all property, locally engaged staff pay (including pensions and social security), official travel and official vehicle costs, entertainment and other purchased goods and services.
Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) diplomatic service staff and (b) locally recruited staff are employed at the United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, broken down by pay grade. 
Mr. Hoon: There are five diplomatic staff at Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) pay grades A2, B3, C4, D7 and SMS2 and five locally recruited staff; two at FCO pay grades LEIIIA and one each at grades LEIIIB, LEIV and LEVc, employed at the UK Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the floor area is of rented accommodation occupied by the UK Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg; what the costs associated with that
accommodation were in the last year for which figures are available; what the floor area is of accommodation owned by the UK Government in Strasbourg; what the running costs of those buildings were in the last year for which figures are available; and what the latest open market valuation is of those buildings. 
Mr. Hoon: The floor space of rented accommodation occupied by the UK Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg is 940 square metres. This figure was 1,052 square metres in financial year 2005-06 and the rental costs were a total of £89,914.
The floor space of the only property owned by the Government in Strasbourg is 635 square metres.
Current accounting practices provide for a breakdown of running costs (utilities, rates, repairs and refurbishment) between residential and office accommodation, but not between owned and rented accommodation. The running costs for all accommodation in 2005-06 was £79,763, £46,068 for residential accommodation and £33,695 for office accommodation.
The latest valuation of the one owned property is £715,139 based on a 2006 survey.
Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials from Government Departments and agencies attended meetings at the Council of Europe (a) in Strasbourg and (b) elsewhere in each year between 2003 and 2006; how many visits for that purpose were made in each year; and how many overnight stays were associated with those visits in each year. 
Mr. Hoon: There are approximately 80 Council of Europe committees attended by officials from Government Departments. The Government do not hold central records on all these attendances, the majority of which are independent of the UK Delegation to the Council of Europe based in Strasbourg. Several of the committees themselves have changed in structure and membership over the three-year period and are unlikely to maintain detailed attendance records. The information in the form requested is therefore not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will list the former hon. Members who left Parliament in 2005 who have since been appointed to public bodies by her Department, broken down by party; and who was responsible for making each appointment. 
Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to her by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East on 19 December 2005, Official Report, column 2491W.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people in her Department participated in (a) involuntary and
(b) voluntary staff exit schemes in each year since 1997-98; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The number of officers who took early retirement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on compensatory early retirement terms since 1997 are as follows:
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