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Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the increase in the annual entitlement to tax credits as a result of increasing the income disregard from £2,500 to £25,000; what the margin of error is in that calculation; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: Ministers and officials update Parliament on tax credit staffing numbers as necessary and these are on the record. For the most recent figures on compliance staff available, I refer the hon. Member to the Committee of the Public Accounts 22nd report, of Session 2006-07, on tax credits and specifically to the oral evidence by HMRC officials on 23 October 2006 given at question 80.
Jane Kennedy: Persons subject to immigration control are not generally entitled to tax credits. This follows long standing Government policy. Tackling Error and Fraud in the Child and Working Tax Credits is available on the HMRC website. This document sets out what HMRC has been doing and will continue to do, to tackle error and fraud.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Written Ministerial Statement of 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 62WS, on tax credit administration, how many awards HM Revenue and Customs will be reviewing from people living in (a) Scotland and (b) Orkney and Shetland in 2003-04 and 2004-05; and how many households in (i) Scotland and (ii) Orkney and Shetland will be contacted about their 2005-06 awards. 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the recourse available to inhabitants of Ascension Island under the Human Rights Act 1998; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not made a formal assessment of the application of the Human Rights Act 1998 to those who work and live on Ascension Island. It is a matter for the courts of St. Helena and dependencies to determine (under the English Law (Application) Ordinance and/or St. Helena Law (Application) Ordinance) whether UK Acts of Parliament should apply in these jurisdictions. However, the UK has extended the European Convention on Human Rights and the Right of Individual Petition to St. Helena and dependencies.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 July 2007, Official Report, column 248W, on Ascension Island, what the programme of information and education consisted of; what materials have been distributed on Ascension Island; what public meetings have been held; and if he will make a statement. 
The programme of information and education about the benefits of participation in the democratic process is ongoing. The Governor held open public meetings to discuss governance and democracy
issues in May and September. Public consultation, including an open meeting in May, has taken place on new draft entry control and harbours legislation. Public consultation has also taken place during 2007 on taxation reform, for which consultation papers were published and circulated. The Governor and the Ascension Island Administrator have consulted the Ascension Island Advisory Group on a number of issues, including policy on property and businesses.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what public response was made by (a) his Department and (b) the Governor to the television broadcast of the Premier Ewart Brown of Bermuda on 1 June 2007 during which he criticised the Governor in relation to the Bermuda Housing Corporation investigation; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The Governor and the Premier issued a joint press statement on 7 June 2007 (available on the Government of Bermuda website, www.gov.bm). The Foreign and Commonwealth Office drew on this statement in answer to press inquiries.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what alterations to protocol were proposed by Dr. Ewart Brown, Premier of Bermuda, to the Governor, in June 2007, with regard to the future relationship between the holders of their respective offices; what response the UK Government have made; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) class of maritime craft, (b) numbers of craft and (c) numbers of personnel are maintained by the Government of Bermuda to ensure law enforcement and national security in and around the territorial waters of Bermuda; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We understand that the Bermuda Regiment currently has the following equipment in service: 23 ft Rigid Inflatable Boats and 17 ft Boston Whalers; the number of crafts are two Rigid Inflatable Boats and two Boston Whalers; and there are 16 part time soldiers in the Boat Troop.
The Bermuda Police Service currently has the following vessels in service: 27 ft Boston Whalers, 22 ft Boston Whalers, 24 ft Halmatic Rigid Hull Inflatables, 52 ft Austal Patrol Boat; the number of craft are two 27 ft and 22 ft Boston Whalers, two Halmatic Rigid Hull Inflatables and one Austal Patrol Boat; and there are 17 officers in the Marine Unit.
David Miliband [holding answer 17 September 2007]: We are concerned by the lack of political progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Elections in 2006 saw an increase in ethnic nationalist rhetoric. Since then, progress on the reform agenda has slowed. The priority is for BiHs leaders to reach agreement on police reform, a key condition for conclusion of BiHs Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. Longer-term, constitutional reform will also be necessary for BiH to deliver effective governance for its citizens and carry out the reforms that the EU accession process will require. However, there has been little progress on either of these issues since the elections.
We fully support High Representative/EU Special Representative (EUSR) Miroslav Lajcak and appreciate his efforts to unblock key reforms since he took up office in July. We regularly express our concern about the lack of progress to BiHs leaders bilaterally, as well as through the EU and in conjunction with the Office of the High Representative/EUSR.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what response his Department has made to proposal of the Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands that Governors should be excluded from future meetings of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) which Chief Ministers of overseas territories have indicated their support for the idea that Governors should be excluded from future meetings of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: In advance of the November 2006 Overseas Territories Consultative Council, the Chief Ministers and equivalents of the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands proposed that governors should not attend the meeting. My noble Friend the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, subsequently agreed with Chief Ministers that governors should attend the meeting to help the discussions on issues where they were particularly closely engaged in the territories, including law enforcement, international financial regulation and disaster management. A successful Overseas Territories Consultative Council meeting was held on this basis.
Dr. Howells: The UK does not conduct an independent assessment of levels of heroin production in Burma. We rely on the internationally accepted reporting from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) available at: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/world_ drug_report.html. According to their 2005 World Drugs Report it is estimated that 370 tons of heroin were produced in Burma in 2004. The UNODC did not provide figures for heroin production in Burma for 2005 or 2006.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the constitution of the Cayman Islands varies from other overseas territories of comparable size in that the Governor chairs the Cabinet and there is no premier or chief minister; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: Each overseas territory constitution is different. The differences reflect the constitutional development of the territory at the time the constitution was agreed. The Cayman Islands constitution came into force in 1972.
The office of Leader of Government Business was established by the Cayman Islands (Constitution) (Amendment) Order 2003 and the holder of this office performs a role similar to the Premier or Chief Minister in other overseas territories.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the Chinese Government on the assault in prison of Chen Guangcheng; and whether the Government are continuing to urge the Chinese Government to release him. 
Meg Munn: We monitor the case of Chen Guangcheng very closely, and have raised his case repeatedly with the Chinese Government, both bilaterally and through the EU. Following reports that Mr. Guangcheng was beaten in Linyi prison on 16 June, the UK supported an EU demarche on his case on 2 July. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, raised the case most recently during his visit to Beijing in August. We will continue to push for progress on his case at every available opportunity.
Dr. Howells: The UK does not conduct an independent assessment of levels of cocaine production in Colombia. We rely on the internationally accepted reporting from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. According to their World Drugs Report 2007 available at: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/world_drug_report.html, Colombian potential cocaine production in 2006 was estimated at 610 metric tons.
Meg Munn: It is difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners in Cuba as the Cuban Government maintains tight control over such information. However, Amnesty International's 2007 report identifies at least 69 prisoners of conscience in Cuba and they are currently reviewing the cases of dozens of other prisoners who could also be considered prisoners of conscience see:
In a report dated 5 July 2007, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCHRNRa standard non-official source of human rights information in Cuba) documented 246 political prisoners. The CCHRNR has also reported that thousands of young Cubans are imprisoned on the charge of peligrosidad predelictiva, which means they have not committed a crime but are considered likely to do so. More information on the human rights situation in Cuba can be found in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2006 Annual Human Rights Report at:
Meg Munn: Last year's changes in the leadership in Cuba have not, so far, led to evidence of significant change in Cuban Government policy. UK policy continues to follow the 1996 EU Common Position, which aims to encourage a process of peaceful transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights in Cuba. As part of this policy, the UK/EU also continues to pursue constructive engagement with both the Cuban Government and all other sectors of Cuban society, including members of the opposition.
We remain concerned about the political situation in Cuba, which is a one-party state with considerable restrictions on fundamental human rights. We continue to press the Cuban authorities to respect these human rights, including political freedoms.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Cuba about (a) the release of political prisoners, (b) freedom of speech and (c) freedom of political expression. 
Meg Munn: On 30 April 2007, my right. hon. Friend the then Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, expressed concern about political prisoners and other human rights issues during a meeting with Cuban Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Antonio Carricarte. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office raises human rights issuesincluding the release of political prisoners, freedom of speech and freedom of political expressionon a regular basis with the Cuban Government.
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