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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 19 April 2007

Constitutional Affairs

Pro Bono Cases (Cost Recovery)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Vera Baird): My right hon. friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor has made the following ministerial statement:


Iraqi Control (Maysan Province)

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): The formal transfer of responsibility for security from UK military forces to the Iraq civil authorities in Maysan province took place yesterday. The decision to transfer to provincial Iraqi control was taken by the Iraqi Government in close consultation with the coalition, based on a thorough assessment of the local security situation and the capability of the Iraqi security forces in the province. Maysan is the fourth of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be handed over to Iraqi control, and the third of the four within the UK’s area of operations in Multi-National Division (South East) (MND(SE)).

This is another important milestone that demonstrates the continuing progress in building Iraq’s political institutions and security capacity. It underlines the progress made by the UK forces and our partners in MND(SE) and the growing maturity of the Iraqi
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security forces. Establishing provincial Iraqi control does not guarantee Maysan is a benign environment in security terms, or that future challenges may not arise, but it does mean the Iraq security forces are judged now to be able to respond effectively to those challenges themselves. The UK will continue to support them as they do so. Other provinces across Iraq will be transferred during 2007, including Basra province in MND (SE).

UK and coalition forces, which withdrew from fixed bases in Maysan province in August 2006, will continue training and mentoring the Iraqi security forces, particularly the Department of Border Enforcement, in order to improve border security. The Prime Minister’s announcement on 21 February 2007, Official Report, columns 261-66, that force levels will reduce to around 5,500 by June this year took into account the likely transfer of security responsibility in Maysan.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office


The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): On 24 March 2007, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1747, on Iran's nuclear programme. The Resolution was adopted by consensus, once again underlining that the international community is united and determined to see that Iran does not acquire the means to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has not met its legal obligation in Security Council Resolutions 1696 (2006) and 1737 (2006) to suspend without further delay all enrichment related and reprocessing activities, and take the steps required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors. Nor has it met the additional obligations in Security Council Resolution 1737 (2006) to suspend work on all heavy water related projects and provide such access and co-operation as the IAEA requests to verify suspension and resolve all outstanding issues.

The latest report by the IAEA Director-General, Dr Mohammed El-Baradei, on 22 February 2007, shows that Iran's co-operation with the Agency remains inadequate, and that far from suspending enrichment related activities, Iran has continued to expand its enrichment operation and press ahead with construction work at the Arak heavy water research reactor.

We have therefore had little choice but to pursue a further Security Council Resolution, which reaffirms the obligations imposed on Iran and adopts further appropriate measures to persuade Iran to comply with its obligations and meet the requirements of the IAEA.

The Resolution imposes sanctions under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which go further than the non-proliferation measures agreed in Security Council Resolution 1737 (2006). All UN member states have a legal obligation to comply, though not all measures are mandatory. The measures include:

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The EU intends to adopt a revised Common Position covering full and rigorous implementation of the measures contained in the Resolution at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 23 April.

The resolution requests the IAEA Director General to submit within 60 days a further report on Iranian compliance and affirms that the Security Council will adopt further appropriate measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter in the event that the report shows Iran has not complied with the terms of resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007).

A copy of the resolution is available on the UN website at www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions07.htm.

We remain committed to a negotiated solution that would address the international community’s concerns. E3+3 Foreign Ministers issued a statement after the adoption of the resolution reconfirming that our June 2006 proposals, attached in Annex II to the resolution, remained on the table. I urge Iran to take the positive path on offer by meeting in full the requirements of the Security Council and the IAEA Board and beginning negotiations with the E3+3 on the basis of those proposals. As the adoption of Resolution 1747 demonstrates, that is the clear and united wish of the whole international community.


Venous Thromboembolism

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): In June 2005 we published the Government’s response to the Second Report of the
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House of Commons Health Committee on the “Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism in Hospitals”. At the same time we announced that an independent expert working group would be set up to make recommendations on developing a national strategy on the prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The report and recommendations of the expert group were presented to the chief medical officer in July 2006.

We have given the expert group’s recommendations thorough consideration and published the report today. The report has been placed in the Library.

It is clear from the expert group’s report that introducing a VTE risk assessment for all patients on admission has the potential to save thousands of lives every year. We have therefore established an implementation working group which will develop a national risk assessment tool, and will also provide leadership both within the NHS and the wider healthcare sector in order to assess what needs to be done to ensure that a VTE risk assessment of every patient on admission to hospital becomes a reality.

Dental Treatment

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Caroline Flint): Given the national interest in vCJD and its implications for the health of the nation, I report a change in health care practice being announced today in a letter to all dentists in England from the Chief Dental Officer. His letter is about decontamination and reuse of instruments, especially those used in endodontic treatment. This letter reflects precautionary advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee and early results of ongoing research indicating a potential risk of vCJD transmission associated with endodontic treatment.

The Chief Dental Officer advises that:

A copy of the Chief Dental Officer's letter has been placed in the Library.

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