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4 Jun 2007 : Column 226W—continued


John Mann: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how many community probation projects have been visited by Ministers from her Department in the last 12 months. [138996]

Mr. Hanson: Since the creation of the Ministry of Justice on 9 May, Justice Ministers have made two
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visits to such projects. Before this, my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor made three such visits in the course of DCA business and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Sutcliffe) made four such visits in the course of Home Office business.

Repossession Orders: Warrington

Helen Jones: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how many orders for repossessions were (a) applied for and (b) granted to Warrington Borough Council or Golden Gates Housing in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [139929]

Ms Harman: The following table shows the number of orders for landlord possession applied for and granted to Warrington Borough Council for each year since 2002. Golden Gates Housing has managed homes on behalf of Warrington Borough Council since 2004. It acts as the representative in possession orders applied for and granted in the name of Warrington Borough Council.

Number of possession orders( 1) applied for and granted to Warrington Borough Council, 2002-2006
Applied for Granted to
















(1 )The court, following a judicial hearing, may grant an order for possession immediately. This entitles the claimant to apply for a warrant to have the defendant evicted. However, even where a warrant for possession is issued, the parties can still negotiate a compromise to prevent eviction.

These figures do not indicate how many properties have been repossessed through the courts, since not all orders result in the properties actually being repossessed.

Voting Behaviour

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what steps she is taking to encourage voter participation in (a) general and (b) council elections. [139808]

Bridget Prentice: Section 69 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 gives new powers to electoral officers, enabling them to promote participation in the electoral process, through registering and voting. The Government have provided additional funding for this purpose, which can be claimed by electoral officers.

In addition, the Government have also introduced a new duty on electoral registration officers to ensure that electors in their local area are registered, and we have extended the registration deadline to 11 days before the day of poll at both national and local elections.

The Electoral Commission also has a role in promoting participation in the electoral process.

Young Offenders

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what estimate she has made of the number of
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young offenders with (a) a drug dependency problem and (b) a mental health problem. [138190]

Bridget Prentice: A survey carried out in 2001(1) reported that 76 per cent. of young offenders (aged 18 to 21) were dependent on at least one drug, as defined by the severity of dependence scale (SDS).

Information about the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity among young offenders can be found in Psychiatric Morbidity among Young Offenders in England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, 2000. Copies are available in the Library and on the Office for National Statistics website at

Young Offenders: Counselling

Annette Brooke: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice how much was spent on (a) routine assessment and (b) therapeutic interventions for young people with experiences of (i) abuse and neglect and (ii) witnessing domestic violence who were referred to youth offending teams by courts or police in the latest period for which figures are available. [139790]

Bridget Prentice: The information requested is not available. Youth offending teams are a multi-agency partnership whose statutory partners include health, education and social services. Youth offending teams are therefore equipped to identify and respond to the needs of young people with whom they have contact, including where specific vulnerabilities have been identified through the assessment process.

Young Offenders: Dyspraxia

David Heyes: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what progress has been made in diagnosing dyspraxia and related conditions in young offender institutions since 1997. [139597]

Bridget Prentice: The commissioning responsibility for prison health services is now fully devolved to national health service primary care trusts. Referrals to specialist services, such as those for dyspraxia, are made on the basis of individual need as they are in the wider community.

Since April 2005, all prisons provide health screening for first time receptions into custody. This new triage-based screening procedure consists of an initial short screen by health care staff to identify any immediate health issues. If a prisoner screens positive for one of four categories—mental health; suicide and self-harm; physical health; substance misuse—a further assessment using evidence based protocols will be carried out by an appropriate member of the primary care team. All prisoners are offered a further general health assessment in the week following reception.

A health screen for specific use with children and young people is currently being piloted. One of the key
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purposes of this is to identify physical health, substance misuse and mental health needs within five days of intake resulting in a comprehensive health care plan shared by all healthcare staff.

Dyspraxia can also be identified through the learning needs assessment screening all young offenders receive to assess their educational requirements.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Central Asia

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on Central Asian foreign nationals fighting in Afghanistan. [139113]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friends the Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary regularly hold meetings on the full range of issues relating to Afghanistan. The UK continues to promote regional stability, including in Afghanistan, with all the relevant Central Asian countries.

Alan Johnston

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department has taken to secure the release of the captured BBC correspondent Alan Johnston; and if she will make a statement. [136523]

Margaret Beckett: We remain actively engaged in efforts to secure the release of Alan Johnston. We are in close touch with the BBC and Alan’s family. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

We are working closely with the Palestinian Authority. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have spoken to Palestinian President Abbas, and the British Consul-General in Jerusalem has met President Abbas and Prime Minister Haniya.

We are extremely concerned by the kidnap of Alan Johnston. We have called for his unconditional release and continue to do so.

Alexander Litvinenko

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department has had with the Crown Prosecution Service on the case of Alexander Litvinenko. [139267]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been involved in a number of cross-Whitehall meetings on the case of Alexander Litvinenko. Some of these meetings included officials from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). But these meetings were not concerned with the decision-making on this case. This decision was made by the CPS after a careful review of the evidence presented to it by the police and in accordance with the evidential and public interest tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

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Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department has had with the Russian authorities on the case of Alexander Litvinenko in the last three months. [139268]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has had a number of contacts with the Russian authorities at both ministerial and official level over the last three months, in which the Litvinenko case has been discussed. We have made it clear in these contacts that this is a judicial matter on which we expect satisfactory co-operation from the Russian authorities.

Burma: Human Rights

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to encourage improvement in Myanmar's record on human rights. [139061]

Mr. McCartney: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) identifies Burma as a country of concern in our 2006 Annual Report on Human Rights. The Government's policy is to promote full respect for human rights in Burma encouraging the rule of law, democracy and good governance, and the freedom of association and speech in accordance with international human rights law.

We have been at the forefront of international efforts over many years to bring pressure to bear on the military regime to re-establish democracy and to respect human rights. We take every opportunity to raise human rights issues with the regime and remind them of their obligations to adhere to international human rights law. Our embassy in Rangoon also delivers capacity building assistance through the FCO Global Opportunities Fund in support of these objectives.

I have raised the human rights situation regularly with the Burmese regime and other Governments in the region. On 16 June 2006, I called in the Burmese ambassador and on 5 July 2006 I wrote to the Burmese Foreign Minister, highlighting our many concerns. On 18 September 2006, I raised the serious human rights situation with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) ambassadors, including the Burmese ambassador, and on 4 December 2006 with the ASEAN Secretary-General. I have also raised Burma with the Governments of China, India, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea. I have discussed the human rights abuses taking place in Burma with Juan Méndez, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. I discussed Burma in detail with Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on 15 November 2006, following his visit to the country. I raised the human rights situation in Burma in my address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 13 March and at the EU/ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Nuremberg on 15 March, in the presence of the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister.

In addition, our ambassador in Rangoon regularly raises human rights with the regime, most recently when he met the Burmese Ministers for Planning and Immigration and the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister on 5 January.

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The UK also works closely with the EU and other international partners, including the UN and ASEAN, to promote human rights in Burma and fully supports the efforts of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro. We supported the efforts to have Burma added to the UN Security Council agenda in September 2006 and co-sponsored with the US a UN Security Council Resolution on Burma. This was put to the vote on 12 January. Nine members of the Security Council supported the Resolution. However, three states, including two permanent members of the Council, voted against and as such the Resolution was not adopted. While the result was disappointing, it is important to note that all Security Council members agreed that there were serious issues of concern in Burma. This, and the positive votes from the majority of Security Council partners, reflected the international community's deep concern over the plight of Burma's people. Burma remains on the UN Security Council agenda.

Most recently, on 23 April, the EU Council of Ministers issued a statement expressing its deep concern about the Burmese regime's continuing violations of human rights and the lack of progress towards establishing a legitimate civilian government. In its statement, the Council also called for the Burmese Government to make progress towards national reconciliation and engage constructively with all political parties and ethnic groups.

Burma: Natural Gas

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government have had with the Governments of (a) India, (b) China and (c) South Korea on the Shwe gas project in Burma. [140108]

Mr. McCartney: We have not discussed the Shwe gas project with the Governments of India, China or South Korea.

However, we regularly raise Burma’s appalling human rights record with its neighbours, including India, China and South Korea.

I discussed the human rights situation in Burma with the Chinese Government on 20 June 2006 and again during my visit to Beijing in July 2006. I raised my concerns with the South Korean Government on 20 July 2006 and on 4 September 2006. I spoke to the Indian Government about Burma on 20 June 2006 and 27 November 2006.

Most recently, I raised the human rights situation directly with the Burmese Foreign Minister at the Asia-Europe Meeting Foreign Ministers meeting in Hamburg on 28 May.

Burma: Politics and Government

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the building of a military bunker near the new capital of Burma. [140098]

Mr. McCartney: We have received no verifiable reports on the building of a military bunker near
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Burma's new administrative capital, Naypyitaw. Naypyitaw is located adjacent to a major military zone. It is one of many areas of the country to which access is tightly controlled.

Cyprus: Military Bases

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of the land in the Dhekelia sovereign base in Cyprus is owned (a) privately and (b) by the UK Government. [138561]

Derek Twigg: I have been asked to reply.

The sovereign base area of Dhekelia covers 50.5 square miles. Figures from 2003, the latest available, show the composition of land ownership at that time was as follows:


Private land


UK Government land


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