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(a) on staff training £13,032.66
(b) on communication training £975.
(a) on staff training £3,610
(b) communication spending nil.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether a referendum to give primary law-making powers to the National Assembly for Wales would be subject to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. 
Mr. Hain: Yes. Section 103 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 provides for holding a referendum, subject to the provisions in Schedule 6 to that Act. Schedule 6 describes the procedure for holding such a referendum and sets out the provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which apply to different aspects of the referendum, including the referendum question itself and the process.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with Ministers in the Welsh Assembly Government on the role of quangos in Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
The merger of quangos into the Welsh Assembly Government in 2006 has streamlined structures and processes, simplified decision making and allowed public services to become more flexible and responsive to the needs of businesses and learners.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) capability and (b) membership of the Afghan police force and the Afghan armed forces; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband [holding answer 10 September 2007]: The strength of the Afghan National Army (ANA) on 1 August 2007 was 40,360 against a target figure of 70,000. The reason for this disparity is because the ANA has had to be recruited and trained from an almost non-existent base since 2001. The ANA is a key ally in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) campaign, and is proving itself to be increasingly capable of conducting operations alongside ISAF partners.
The Afghan national police (ANP) is the primary law enforcement body within Afghanistan and receives training and mentoring from international donors, including through the US-led police training programme Combined Strategic Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and the EU policing mission. The latest assessment by the CSTC-A estimates that there are around 76,000 members of the ANP drawn from all regions of Afghanistan. Our assessment is that the ANP requires further mentoring in order to be capable of conducting operations independently. Capability in policing functions is supplemented by the specialist skills of the counter narcotics police of Afghanistan, the Afghan border police and the Afghan national civil order police.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what targets have been set for reform of policing in Afghanistan; what progress has been made towards reaching these targets; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 10 September 2007]: The main Afghan national police (ANP) training programme is run by the US-led Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A). The CSTC-A programme's target is for the ANP to be capable of operating effectively without international support, except in extremis, by December 2012. Support in meeting this target is provided by the EU policing mission launched in June, with the aim of improving the quality of the ANP. The latest
assessment by the CSTC-A estimates that there are around 76,000 members of the ANP drawn from all regions of Afghanistan. The agreed policing structure, signed by the Afghan Government in 2007, anticipates growth of the ANP to reach a total of 82,000.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the UK Government have made of the impact of the changes in recent years in Iran's treatment of Baha'is in respect of higher education; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We remain concerned about the treatment of religious minorities in Iran and discrimination against the Baha'i community in particular. Denial of access to higher education has been a long-term problem for Baha'i students.
After the removal of religious identification from the national university entrance examination in 2006, a number of Baha'i students sat the exam for academic year 2006-07. Although over 250 Baha'i students were admitted to various campuses across Iran last autumn, reports suggest that at least 120 were subsequently expelled as universities became aware of their religion. We are concerned that more Baha'i students may be expelled in the future.
We recently received reports that students applying for places in technical and vocational institutions for the forthcoming 2007-08 academic year have been required to complete a form which asks them to state their religion. The minority religion options listed are Christian, Zoroastrian or Jewish and the form explains that if no box is marked the applicant will be considered to be Muslim. This is a worrying return to the earlier position whereby applicants had to state their religious affiliation. We wait to see whether there will be a similar change in admission procedures for university entry this academic year.
We take this issue seriously and will continue to monitor the situation and take action as required. We have pressed the Iranian authorities on many occasions, bilaterally and through the EU, to address the discrimination against Iranian Baha'is. The EU did so most recently on 1 September, raising specific concerns about access to education. We also take action at the UN and in December 2006, we along with all EU countries, co-sponsored a resolution on human rights in Iran which expressed serious concern at
the increased frequency of discrimination and other human rights violations against members of the Baha'i Faith, including [...] the denial of access to higher education.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations have been (a) received and (b) made by the UK Government regarding the effects on Baha'i students of religious requirements introduced for entry to Iran's technical and vocational institutes. 
The Government received reports last month from the National Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom about a change in the application procedure for Iran's technical and vocational institutes.
Students applying for places at these institutions for academic year 2007-08 have been required to complete a form that asks them to state their religion. The minority religion options listed are Christian, Zoroastrian or Jewish, and the form explains that if no box is marked the applicant will be considered to be Muslim. Baha'i students are effectively excluded from studying in these institutes unless they deny their faith by having it incorrectly recorded on official forms. This is a worrying new example of systematic discrimination against members of the Baha'i minority in Iran, who have long faced restrictions on access to higher education.
We continue to raise our concerns about the treatment of the Iranian Baha'is with Iran, bilaterally and through the EU. In a meeting with the Iranian authorities on 1 September, the EU, with strong UK support, condemned such discriminatory measures used against the Baha'i community, and pressed Iran to uphold their international human rights commitments to freedom of religion and to ensure that Baha'is are given the same rights as other Iranian citizens including access to education.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held with his US counterpart about extending (a) financial, (b) trade and (c) travel sanctions against Iran. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary maintains regular contact with his US counterpart and other key allies on the situation in Iran. Discussions are also taking place at senior official level within the E3+3 process (UK, France, Germany, US, Russia and China) about the next stages of the international community's response to Iran's failure to respect its international obligations. This process includes discussion of possible further restrictive measures against Iran. The Government and the US administration are united in the belief that Iran must realise that its continued defiance of the UN Security Council will not be cost free.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs following the UN Security Council's passing of Resolution 1769, authorising the deployment of 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, (a) what discussions he has had with his counterparts in other countries, (b) when these discussions were held, (c) what actions have been taken to date and (d) what future actions are planned to ensure the success of the mission. 
Mr. Jim Murphy:
The UK is working closely with both the African Union (AU) and the UN to support the effective deployment of the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). We are in regular contact with the UN's Department for Peacekeeping Operations, which is responsible for generating the forces required. At their request, we have lobbied widely for UN member states to provide the necessary capabilities. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend
the Minister with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, have been in contact with several existing and potential troop contributors. Lord Malloch-Brown is currently visiting Sudan where he is raising the need for speedy deployment of the force with the Sudanese Government.
At a meeting with the AU and UN on 7 September in Addis Ababa, the UK pressed for speedy deployments and effective integration of partner support to the AU Mission into UNAMID. We are also providing planning support to the mission. We will continue to work closely with the AU, UN and international partners to support its successful deployment.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will seek to obtain from the chairman of British Gas replies to letters sent to him on 23 July, 23 August and 31 August by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. S. Stephenson. 
Malcolm Wicks: My right hon. Friend will understand that, as an independent company, British Gas is responsible for dealing with its own correspondence. However, I understand that, in this case, British Gas has now replied to my right hon. Friend and his constituent.
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what
percentage of staff in his Department were over 60 years of age in each of the last three years. 
|Age 60 and over||Total population||Percentage of staff over 60|
Based on total staff including UKTI and SBS
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the average annual domestic electricity bill for a typical consumer in (a) Cheltenham constituency and (b) each region was in each year since 1998. 
Malcolm Wicks: Average domestic electricity(1) bills are published for the 15 Public Electricity Supply areas in the UK. Cheltenham is contained in the West Midlands supply region, the average bill for this region will be representative of the average price for households in Cheltenham. The data presented are for standard credit customers in cash terms, they have not been adjusted for inflation.
|Average annual domestic electricity bill|
|(1) The bills for standard electricity do not include customers who are on economy 7 tariffs.|
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