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Duchy of Lancaster

Departments: Aviation

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent by his Department on (a) business and (b) first class flights in the last 12 months. [153286]

Edward Miliband: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my predecessor my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Durham (Hilary Armstrong) to the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Prisk) on 21 June 2007, O fficial Report, columns 2048-49W. Information relating to Ministers overseas travel for 2006-07 was published on 25 July 2007 and is available in the Libraries of the Houses for the reference of Members.

Departments: Consultants

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what the (a) purpose and (b) cost was of each payment by the Cabinet Office to Opinion Leader Research in 2005-06; [146862]

(2) what the (a) amount and (b) purpose was of each payment made by his Department to Opinion Leader Research in the last 12 months; [147031]

(3) pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2007, Official Report, column 1038W, how much his Department has paid to Opinion Leader Research since 1997. [147040]

Edward Miliband: The Cabinet Office made three payments to Opinion Leader Research in 2005-06; for £14,100, £15,098.02 and £32,900.

These payments were made by the Office of Public Sector Reform for the

Since 1997, the Cabinet Office has made 17 payments to Opinion Leader Research at a total value of £194,000. All contracts were awarded following a competitively tendered process. None of these payments were made in the past 12 months.

Departments: Press

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) to which periodicals his Department subscribes; [153289]

(2) how much was spent by his Department on newspapers and magazines in the last 12 months; [153290]

(3) what magazines, newspapers and periodicals his Department subscribed to before 27 June; and which one his Department has subscribed to since that date. [153530]

Gillian Merron: The information requested is not held centrally and therefore is available only at disproportionate cost.


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Departments: Redundancy Pay

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent by his Department on redundancy payments in the last 12 months. [153283]

Gillian Merron: The Cabinet Office has not had any redundancies in the last 12 months.

Departments: Taxis

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent by his Department on taxis in the last 12 months. [153294]

Gillian Merron: This information is only available at disproportionate cost.

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.

Departments: Tribunals

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent by his Department on industrial tribunals in the last 12 months. [153288]

Gillian Merron: The Cabinet Office has not incurred any Industrial (Employment) Tribunal costs in the last 12 months.

Departments: Vacancies

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) of 2 July 2007, Official Report, columns 901-02W, on departments: vacancies, whether the Government Communication Network website previously listed on its public website jobs for Government communicators and other civil servants that were not open to the public. [153638]

Edward Miliband: The Government Communication Network website only ever listed jobs which were open to the public on the public part of the website. Vacancies which were only open to Government communicators and other civil servants were listed on the password protected part of the site—which was only open to civil servants. Therefore there has been no change to what job vacancies members of the public can see.

Emergencies: Facilities

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many (a) bowsers and (b) portaloos the public sector has access to for utilising in a national emergency situation; whether there are plans to increase those numbers; and if he will make a statement. [154345]

Edward Miliband: The Public sector does not have access to a specific number of bowsers and portaloos but each water company holds a stock of emergency equipment. Mutual aid arrangements exist between water companies to provide bowsers and other equipment to a water company that is dealing with an emergency. These arrangements can be further augmented, if necessary, with equipment from the public and private sectors.
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Portaloos and other sanitary equipment can be sourced by a variety of means including local authorities and private contractors when necessary.

Capability in these areas can be further increased by requesting assistance through established mutual aid arrangements with EU partners.

The review announced by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 12 July will consider whether or not the existing arrangements for the provision of such items are adequate and make recommendations for improvement where necessary.

FutureBuilders England

Greg Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the cost was of redesigning the FutureBuilders logo. [154604]

Phil Hope: The redesign of the Futurebuilders logo cost £6,500. The redesign was part of a wider strategy by Futurebuilders England to improve brand awareness and understanding of the fund to its key audiences. It was launched by Futurebuilders England on 1 January 2007.

NHS: ICT

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will place in the Library all papers concerning the seminar at Downing Street in February 2002 to discuss the future of IT in the NHS. [155034]

Edward Miliband: It is not normal practice to place copies of the Prime Minister’s internal working papers in the Library of the House.

Smith Institute

Greg Clark: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what meetings Cabinet Office ministers have held with representatives of the Smith Institute since May 2005. [155628]

Edward Miliband: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 22 March 2007, Official Report, column 1100W.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Constitutional Treaty

12. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the changes between the EU constitutional treaty and the proposed EU reform treaty are. [156135]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The constitutional treaty is now defunct. The Inter-Governmental Conference Mandate agreed by the June European Council states that


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While all member states have moved away from the constitution, the UK has a specific treaty deal which means we have moved further than anyone else from the constitution.

15. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in negotiations in the intergovernmental conference on the proposed EU reform treaty. [156139]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The legal group producing the draft treaty finished their work on 3 October.

We believe that the UK red lines will be achieved and we are confident that we can persuade our European partners that this is the right deal for the UK and EU.

19. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Government policy is on the conduct of a national referendum on the proposed treaty changing the constitutional arrangements of the European Union; and if he will make a statement. [156144]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The UK has only ever held one national referendum, which was in 1975. We will seek parliamentary ratification of this Reform Treaty. In doing so we shall adopt a similar approach to that adopted by the Governments of Tony Blair, Sir John Major and Baroness Thatcher.

Portugal: British Citizens

13. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met his Portuguese counterpart to discuss issues relating to British holiday-makers in that country. [156136]

Mr. Jim Murphy: UK Ministers have regular contacts with Portuguese counterparts to discuss a range of issues.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers also discuss consular specific cases with Portuguese Ministers when necessary.

Iran

14. Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Iranian nuclear programme. [156137]

David Miliband: I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) today (UIN 156131).

Iraq

16. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in Iraq. [156140]

Dr. Howells: Political progress, particularly on national reconciliation, is critical to improving the situation in Iraq. I welcome the agreements reached at the leaders’ conference in Baghdad in August and the emphasis Prime Minister Maliki gave to reconciliation in his recent speech at the UN General Assembly. We
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are urging the Iraqis to maintain positive momentum and ensure practical follow-up.

Tibet

17. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure journalists have free access to Tibet. [156141]

Meg Munn: We welcome the regulations implemented by the Chinese Government on 1 January to relax restrictions on foreign journalists in China. At the last round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, the Chinese Government confirmed the regulations applied in Tibet. We are concerned, however, that like all visitors to Tibet, journalists must still seek permission to enter the region from the local authorities and will continue to raise this with China.

Zimbabwe

18. Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Zimbabwe. [156142]

Meg Munn: The situation in Zimbabwe is appalling. That is why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is clear he will not attend an EU-Africa summit in Europe with President Mugabe. That is also why we are working for change by giving up to £40 million in humanitarian aid a year; maintaining international pressure on the regime; and supporting those working in Zimbabwe for democratic change.

Middle East Peace Process

20. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Middle East peace process. [156145]

Dr. Howells: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) today (UIN156128).

21. Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress made in the Middle East peace process. [156146]

Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) today (UIN156128).

UK and US Relations

22. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the US Administration on the UK's special relationship with the US. [156147]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has a regular dialogue with his American
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counterpart. As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have said repeatedly, our relationship with the United States will continue to be the single most important bilateral relationship for the United Kingdom. Our discussions with the US Administration take place within this very clear context.

Afghanistan: Drugs

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment the Government have made of heroin and poppy production in areas of Afghanistan (a) not controlled by the Taliban and (b) under the control of the Allies; [156014]

(2) what recent assessment the Government have made of poppy and heroin production from the areas of Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban. [156015]

Dr. Howells: The Government do not carry out independent assessments of the heroin and poppy production in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation figures are measured by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The figures do not take into account the control of land on which poppy is cultivated. Nor has there been a study defining locations of heroin laboratories on land inside or outside of government control. But there is a clear link between poppy cultivation and insecurity, shown by the fact that over 75 per cent. cultivation takes place in the least secure southern provinces. In the more secure central and northern regions, cultivation generally appears to be decreasing or stabilising. The number of “poppy free provinces” has increased from six in 2006 to 13 in 2007, demonstrating that where the integrated approach set out in the government of Afghanistan's national drug control strategy can be brought to bear, it is delivering results.

Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who represented the UK at the conference held in Afghanistan on 29 August 2007 on counternarcotics; whether there will be any change in the ISAF counternarcotic strategy as a result of the conference; and if he will make a statement. [156431]

Dr. Howells: The UK was represented at the 3rd National Counter Narcotics Conference in Kabul by our ambassador in Afghanistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.

The International Security Assistance Force is providing increasing support to the Afghan Counter Narcotics effort. Recently this has included help with this year's pre-planting campaign and support to Afghan law enforcement and interdiction operations.


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