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12 Sep 2007 : Column 2102W—continued

Social Security Benefits: Highland Council

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, column 255W, on social security benefits: Highland council, what information has been gathered by the two postholders; and what evaluation has been carried out of the two posts. [155187]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information gathered by the two postholders is in the following table.

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The Highland Council Partnership Fund Project: April 2005 to March 2007
Project activities/outputs

Project activities

Mail shots issued


Number of claim forms sent out


Visits/meetings undertaken


Surgeries/presentations held


Attendees at surgeries/presentations


Telephone calls made to clients


Telephone calls received from clients


Benefit checks undertaken


Referrals received


Project outputs

Pension credit applications made


Attendance allowance applications made


Disability living allowance applications made


Council tax benefit applications made


Housing benefit applications made


Carer's allowance applications made


Total benefit applications


Benefit referrals made to the Pension Service


Benefit referrals made to other agencies


Service referrals made to other agencies


Total referrals made


The table details work undertaken by Highland council on behalf of the Pension Service.
Highland Council Management Information Return to the Pension Service.

No specific evaluation was conducted of the two posts within Highland council. However, a full evaluation of the Partnership Fund initiatives has been undertaken, and this report was published on 21 June 2007.

The evaluation report entitled: “Helping Older People Engage With Benefits and Service: An Evaluation of the Partnership Fund” does not present information on an individual project basis; this is due to the way it was thematically analysed to ensure anonymity of respondents.

Prime Minister

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr. Bone: To ask the Prime Minister which Ministers would take lead responsibility for the operation of Government in the event of the Prime Minister's unforeseen incapacity. [155130]

The Prime Minister: Appropriate arrangements would be put in place, as has been the practice under successive administrations.

Members: Surveillance

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Prime Minister whether the Wilson Doctrine extends to a ban on UK Government departments and agencies instructing/requesting or handling intercept material from a foreign power that relates to (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the House of Lords. [155250]

The Prime Minister: The Wilson Doctrine applies to all forms of interception that are subject to authorisation by Secretary of State warrant.

Nuclear Weapons

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with President Bush concerning the location of US missile sites in Czech Republic and Poland; and if he will make a statement. [155328]

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Prime Minister whether he put proposals to the US president on (a) implementing the 13 practical steps towards disarmament agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, (b) ratifying the
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Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and (c) supporting the model Nuclear Weapons Convention during his recent visit; and if he will make a statement. [155362]

Adam Price: To ask the Prime Minister whether he and President Bush discussed Israel joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state; and if he will make a statement. [155334]

Hywel Williams: To ask the Prime Minister (1) whether he put proposals to President Bush on creating a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone during his recent visit; and if he will make a statement; [155363]

(2) whether he put proposals to President Bush on NATO's (a) nuclear doctrine, (b) nuclear sharing agreement and (c) nuclear first strike policy during his recent visit; and if he will make a statement. [155364]

The Prime Minister: It is not the practice of the Government to make public details of all discussions with foreign Governments.

Public Participation

Mr. Harper: To ask the Prime Minister by what method jurors would be selected for service on a citizens' jury; and how that method would ensure that jurors were representative of their local community. [155148]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the press briefing given by my spokesman on 3 September 2007. A transcript of this is available on the No. 10 website ( 13023.asp), and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

USA: Foreign Relations

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Prime Minister whether he plans to invite President George W. Bush to the United Kingdom before the President leaves office. [155185]

The Prime Minister: I will continue to have regular discussions with President Bush over the coming months on a wide range of issues.

International Development

AIDS: Medical Treatments

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress his Department has made in ensuring universal access to AIDS treatment for all by 2010. [154828]

Mr. Malik: The UK Government are working to ensure universal access to AIDS treatment by 2010 in partnership with the international community, through DFID's bilateral programmes and through our contributions to multilateral organisations.

DFID's bilateral programmes are helping strengthen health systems in developing countries to roll out anti-retroviral treatment (ART). For example, in
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Zimbabwe DFID is providing £20 million over four years to increase by at least 50 per cent. the number of people able to access ART. In Malawi, DFID has committed £45 million over five years for testing and counselling, access to ART and other related services.

The international effort to achieve universal access has helped boost the numbers of people on AIDS treatment in low and middle-income countries from 400,000 in 2003 to more than two million people today.

DFID has provided £359 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the 2002-08 period. To date, Global Fund-financed programmes have provided treatment to over 770,000 people living with HIV.

DFID is also committed to improving access to medicines, including providing €20 million for UNITAID, the new drugs purchase facility, as part of a 20-year commitment, increasing to €60 million per year by 2010 subject to performance. UNITAID has provided several significant grants, including more than $130 million for paediatric and second line ART.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the UK has offered to Congolese nationals recently expelled from Angola. [154885]

Mr. Thomas: The UK has provided support to the Congolese nationals expelled from Angola through the pooled humanitarian fund for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to which DFID provided £40 million (approximately 60 per cent. of the funding) in the last financial year. A mission by the United Nations to visit the Congolese nationals in south-eastern DRC found that there was no immediate shortage of food and water but that non-food items, such as mattresses and blankets, were required. As a result, through the pooled fund rapid response mechanism, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) together with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has provided basic non-food assistance. The non-governmental organisation Caritas has also been funded through the pooled fund to provide transport for the Congolese nationals.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make it his policy for the UK Government to make a three year contribution of at least £700 million to the Global Fund for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. [154819]

Mr. Malik: We have yet to decide on the precise level of the UK's future engagement with the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria. We have to date contributed £359 million to the fund and in terms of pledges made we are its sixth largest donor.

At the Berlin Replenishment Conference in September and afterwards, we will be looking for evidence of the Global Fund's performance and trajectory, which will inform the UK's decision on future engagement.

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Iraq: Asylum

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what reports he has received of Syrian plans to change visa requirements for Iraqi refugees; what assessment he has made of the impact this will have on Iraqi refugees in the region; what discussions he has had with Syrian counterparts about these plans; and if he will make a statement; [155297]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of refugees from Iraq in (a) Syria, (b) Jordan, (c) Egypt, (d) Saudi Arabia, (e) Turkey, (f) Lebanon and (g) Iran; what financial assistance the Government gave to these countries for the purpose of addressing the humanitarian needs of those refugees in each year since March 2003; and if he will make a statement; [155298]

(3) what financial assistance the Government provided to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for the purpose of addressing the problem of Iraqi refugees in each year since March 2003; and if he will make a statement. [155299]

Mr. Malik: We are very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq and the increasing numbers of people who have been displaced due to the ongoing violence. The UN estimates that there are currently around 2 million internally displaced people in Iraq and another 2 million Iraqis externally displaced in the region.

According to UN estimates, the number of Iraqi refugees per country is as follows:

Country Number of Iraqi refugees


1.2-1.4 million





GCC countries (including Saudi Arabia)

Over 200,000






Over 54,000

We are continuing to play our part in ensuring that immediate needs are met. The UK has not provided any bilateral support to these Governments for assisting Iraqi refugees. Instead, we have supported internationally mandated humanitarian organisations as the best means to support and protect vulnerable Iraqi groups. So far this year, DFID has contributed £10 million to support humanitarian agencies working in Iraq and the region, and we are considering further support. Since 2003, we have contributed over £125 million for humanitarian assistance for Iraq, of which £3.25 million has been to the UNHCR (£1.75 million in 2003 and £1.5 million in 2007).

We are grateful for the considerable hospitality Syria and other countries in the region have shown by accommodating large numbers of people fleeing the violence in Iraq. However, we are concerned about the Syrian Government’s recent announcement regarding the introduction of new visa requirements for Iraqis wanting to come to the country. The UNHCR is seeking clarification on what this will entail for Iraqis
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already residing in Syria and those wishing to cross into Syria in the future, and we await the outcome of UNHCR’s discussions with the Government of Syria.

Overseas Aid: Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which islands have received relief from the UK following Hurricane Felix. [155006]

Mr. Malik: DFID has assessed that the Caribbean islands affected by Hurricane Felix do not need humanitarian assistance from the UK.

Hurricane Felix caused minimal damage in the Caribbean islands and no loss of life. Some homes were flooded on the Dutch islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire in the southern Caribbean. The hurricane also caused some tree damage and scattered power outages. In Aruba there was also little visible damage although there was a temporary power outage in a northern town.

DFID has also been monitoring the effect of Hurricane Felix on the central American mainland.

In Nicaragua approximately 60,000 people have been affected by the hurricane along the north-eastern coast. The government of Nicaragua and a UN disaster management team have mobilised five teams of humanitarian experts to carry out rapid needs assessments of the damage. The Nicaraguan Ministries of Health and Education, the Red Cross, the Nicaraguan Civil Defence, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) have begun relief efforts.

DFID is assessing the situation in Honduras. There has been heavy rainfall which may cause flash flooding and landslides.

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