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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international observers were present for recent gubernatorial elections in Nigeria; and what observers she expects to be present for the presidential elections in Nigeria. 
Mr. McCartney: The elections held in Nigeria on 14 April to choose State Governors and Members of the State Houses of Assembly were attended by observers from the EU, the Economic Community of West African States, the Commonwealth, the National Democratic Institute and IFES, a United States-based organisation. The same observer missions were present for the presidential elections held on 21 April. The International Republican Institute also deployed observers on 21 April.
For the elections on both 14 and 21 April the EU Election Observation Mission, led by Max van den Berg, Member of the European Parliament, deployed about 150 observers in total, covering 33 of the 36 States. On both election days our High Commission in Abuja, offices of the Department for International Development in Nigeria and other diplomatic missions also deployed observers, to complement the work of the visiting international observers. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) was also present for the presidential elections with our High Commission, as Special Representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of intimidation and undemocratic practices in gubernational elections in Nigeria; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: There have been numerous reports of violence and intimidation during the elections held in Nigeria on 14 April to choose State Governors and Members of the State Houses of Assembly. It is estimated that at least fifty people were killed in election-related violence between 13 and 15 April.
As well as the unacceptable violence and intimidation, there were serious flaws in the administration of the elections. Problems reported by EU observers include poor organisation, lack of transparency, widespread procedural irregularities, significant evidence of fraud, voter disenfranchisement and lack of equal conditions for contestants. In a statement released on 23 April the EU Election Observation Mission in Nigeria said that both the State elections on 14 April and the Federal elections on 21 April had fallen short of basic international and regional standards for democratic elections.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a public statement about the State and Federal elections on 23 April. The statement is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at: www.fco.gov.uk and we will place a copy in the Library of the House.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring her Department undertakes of the treatment of repatriated asylum seekers in Sudan; and what her latest assessment is of their treatment. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not routinely monitor individual repatriated failed asylum seekers. It would generally be
inappropriate and impractical for the UK to monitor individual citizens of another country once they return there.
This should not be interpreted as disinterest. The FCO follows the human rights situation through our network of posts around the world, including in the countries to which we return failed asylum seekers. Information on the human rights situation is always taken fully into account as a factor in the formulation of Home Office policies on asylum, and hence in the decision about whether it is safe to return an individual.
Asylum and human rights claims by nationals of Sudan are, like those of claimants from all countries, considered on their individual merits in accordance with the UK's obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Each application is considered against the background of the latest country information available from a wide range of reliable sources including international organisations, non-governmental organisations, the FCO and the media.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions her Department has had on the situation in Darfur with the Government of (a) Chad, (b) the Central African Republic and (c) Uganda. 
The UK Ambassador-at-Large for the Sudanese Peace Process raised these issues when he visited Chad on 20 February. Our High Commissioner in Yaounde (non-resident Ambassador to the Central African Republic) also discussed regional instability with the Government of the Central African Republic when he visited in January. Given the importance of this issue, we will continue to press both the Governments of Chad and Sudan on this matter. We regularly discuss the conflict with our partners in the Security Council and with regional Governments such as Uganda.
Andy Burnham: Excellent progress has been made. Since May 2005, the number of patients waiting longer than six months for treatment has fallen from around 50,000 to less than 400. The average in-patient wait has fallen from 8.3 weeks to 6.6 weeks.
Andy Burnham: The maximum wait for all in-patient/day case surgery, including hip operations, has fallen from 26 weeks to 20 weeks from 1 April 2007. By the end of 2008 patients requiring hip surgery will wait a maximum of 18 weeks from general practitioner referral to the start of treatment.
Waiting time data are collected at a specialty level. The latest available data for trauma and orthopaedics, which include hip surgery in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and England are shown in the table.
|Commissioner based trauma and orthopaedics waiting time information at the end of February 2007|
|Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust (PCT)||Leicester City Teaching PCT||Warwickshire PCT||All England|
Department of Health, Monthly Monitoring
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We already provide information for the public on healthcare associated infections and the Health Act 2006 Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Health Care Associated Infections requires Trusts to provide suitable patient information. Additional new materials to help Trusts improve local public awareness are due this summer.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust is working in partnership with Gloucestershire Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust on infection control. The foundation trust has produced a detailed action plan which was assessed by my Department's meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus Improvement Programme Review Team on 6 March 2007, and the local NHS continues to monitor the situation.
Andy Burnham: We are committed to community hospitals where they represent the best solutions for local communities. To support this we have set up a five year £750 million programme to promote the development of community hospitals and services. To date we have allocated around £100 million to 14 different schemes.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department does not collect waiting times data for hearing aid fitting. We recognise that there are significant challenges with regard to waiting times to receive a digital hearing aid. As part of the process of addressing this challenge, we published Improving Access to Audiology Services in England in March 2007.
18. Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the progress of work with suppliers to consider further ways of reducing incoming call charges for hospital patients. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: A range of mutual organisations are involved in delivering national health service services, including NHS foundation trusts and some social enterprises. Health mutuals can offer positive benefits for patients, local communities and employees.
Caroline Flint: It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) to determine what proportion of their general allocation is spent on treating alcoholism. An additional £15 million is included within PCTs' general allocation from 2007-08 onwards to help PCTs to improve their local arrangements for commissioning and delivering specialist alcohol interventions.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many women are required to wait more than three years between breast cancer screenings in (a) each London primary care trust and (b) England. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The average intervals between screenings for breast cancer by primary care trust is not collected centrally. However, national health service cancer screening programmes requested data from the NHS breast screening programme on the percentage of local screening units achieving the 36 month national standard between screens for quarter four 2005-06 (January to March 2006).
In England, 68 per cent. of women were re-screened within the 36-month national standard and the average wait between screens was 36 months, while the following table shows the average wait between screens (average round length) and the percentage of screenings within the 36-month national standard for the London breast screening units.
|Breast screening unit||Average round length (months)||Percentage of screenings within 36 months of previous screening|
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