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13 Nov 2007 : Column 111W—continued

Pakistan: Overseas Residence

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK passport holders are estimated to be living in Pakistan. [163334]

Meg Munn: The number of passports issued in Islamabad and Karachi over the last 10 years indicates a figure of 35,000 British nationals who live permanently in Pakistan and hold a British passport. However, we estimate that the actual figure could be as high as 80,000 as many Pakistanis are dual nationals who obtain a passport in the UK, but live for a large part of the year in Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia: Official Visits

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost to the public purse was of the visit to the UK by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. [163908]

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Meg Munn: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 12 November 2007, Official Report, column 41W.

Sudan: Politics and Government

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make an assessment of the military situation in Darfur. [162172]

Meg Munn: The military situation is confused because so many of the armed groups have splintered. Darfur remains insecure with continued attacks against African Union Mission in Sudan troops and Government forces, unrest in the internally displaced persons camps and inter-tribal conflict, as well as general banditry. The African Union Mission in Sudan currently has approximately 7,000 troops based in Darfur, under the command of General Agwai. UN Security Council Resolution 1769 mandated the deployment of a 26,000-strong African Union-UN hybrid force. We are working for the prompt and effective deployment of this force and the engagement of all parties in the political process to address the insecurity in Darfur.

Travel Information

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason the WAGs Guide to Travel was produced by his Department; how much it cost; and if he will make a statement. [163831]

Meg Munn: Know Before You Go is a travel safety campaign run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Consular Directorate, aimed at reducing the problems that British travellers face when on holiday abroad. It focuses both on the general travelling public and on a number of key target audiences who are involved in a disproportionate number of preventable consular cases.

One of the campaign's target groups is young women aged between 16-24. Research shows that this audience responds particularly well to advice from celebrities and other aspirational figures. We therefore decided to involve a football wife and girlfriend (WAG) in the campaign to generate media coverage, which would deliver our messages to this audience.

To front the WAG's guide the campaign recruited Charlotte Mears and she was paid £2,000. Planning and administration of the campaign were covered as part of our ongoing contract with Know Before You Go campaign agencies at no additional cost. In total, Ms Mears worked for 10 hours on the WAG's guide and its promotion. The guide had coverage on GMTV, radio, websites, consumer magazines and national and regional press and generated over 27 million opportunities to hear and see Know Before You Go travel safety messages. This equates to £170,000 worth of media advertising. For an outlay of £2,000 we therefore secured coverage which would have cost £170,000 to buy commercially, making the WAG's initiative a highly cost-effective way of getting safety messages across to a key target audience.

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Western Sahara

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to Morocco to encourage it to join a third round of talks agreed by the Polisario and Algeria on the future of the Western Sahara. [163928]

Dr. Howells: The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum, and has encouraged the parties to continue negotiations under UN auspices, as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions 1754 and 1783.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1783 on 31 October, which renewed the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara until 30 April 2008. The resolution also calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith.

The first two rounds of these negotiations took place in Manhasset, New York on 19-20 June and 10-11 August. The UN has not yet announced dates for a third round of negotiations.

Work and Pensions

Flexible Working: Parents

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to ensure that the case for extending the right to request flexible working to parents with older children is kept under review; and whether he will set a deadline for a review period. [162041]

Mr. McFadden: I have been asked to reply.

On 6 November 2007, the Prime Minister announced that the Government have decided to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of older children. At the same time, he announced that he had asked Ms Imelda Walsh, Director of Human Relations at J Sainsbury plc, to conduct a review to consider where the age cut-off for older children should be set. Ms Walsh will make recommendations to the Secretary of State in the spring of 2008.

Social Security Benefits

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people on benefits had been in receipt of benefits continuously for over 12 months in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) active and (b) inactive benefits. [162674]

Mr. Plaskitt: The information is in the following table.

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Working age claimants of active or inactive benefits with a duration of over 12 months in Great Britain, as at February each year
February Active benefits( 1) Inactive benefits( 2)


































(1) ‘Active benefits’ means jobseeker’s allowance.
(2) ‘Inactive benefits’ means working age claimants of income support (income support claimants include: lone parents; sick and disabled; carers; and others), incapacity benefit (including national insurance credits only cases), and severe disablement allowance.
1. Inactive benefits caseloads 1997 to 1999 figures are rounded to the nearest 100 and for 2000 onwards are rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Inactive benefits caseloads for 1997 to 1999 have been uprated by applying 5 per cent. proportions to 100 per cent. WPLS data.
3. Active benefit caseloads are rounded to the nearest five.
Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample, February 1997 to 1999;
Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) 100 per cent. data, February 2000 onwards; and
100 per cent. count of claimants of unemployment-related benefits, Jobcentre Plus Computer Systems

Winter Fuel Payments: Suffolk

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of eligible pensioners in (a) Suffolk and (b) the East of England claimed the winter fuel allowance in each of the last five years. [162593]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information requested is not available. We can only assess eligibility for those people who are in contact with the Department and whose circumstances are known. The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically without the need to claim, but those people whose circumstances we are not already aware of, for instance because they are not on state pension or other benefits administered by DWP, would need to make a claim so that their eligibility can be assessed.

The following table shows the number of winter fuel payments made to people in Suffolk and the East of England in each of the last five years.

Payments made
Suffolk East of England
















1. Figures rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Government office regions and local authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.
Information directorate 100 per cent. data

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Communities and Local Government

Housing: Planning Permission

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what standards will be applied to development rights for single family dwellings in (a) conservation areas and densely built-up urban areas and (b) modern, low density suburban areas; [163409]

(2) whether single family dwellings in conservation areas will be exempted from the change in the development rights as set out in Changes to Permitted Development, Consultation Paper 2: Permitted Development Rights for Householders. [163410]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department is considering the responses to the consultation paper on permitted development rights for householders, including the response from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which addresses the issue of permitted development rights for houses in conservation areas. The Government will announce its decision on this issue soon.

Housing: Prices

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the change has been in average house prices in (a) east Worthing and Shoreham, (b) West Sussex and (c) England over the last 10 years. [161913]

Mr. Iain Wright: The average house prices in West Sussex and England in 1997 and 2006 are given in the following table together with the percentage change over that period. Data at the east Worthing and Shoreham level is unavailable.

Mean house price, England—1997-2006
1997 2006 £ change Percentage change

West Sussex










HM Land Registry

Housing: Standards

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made with the technical committee for the development of the Standard Assessment Procedure for homes announced in July; if she will publish the timetable of the three meetings of this committee due to be convened; and whether she expects to receive the committee’s recommendations by January 2008. [162667]

Mr. Iain Wright: Good progress has been made. Two meetings with the Construction Products Association and the House Builders Federation have taken place. Industry feedback has been obtained and a list of issues compiled for consideration in the development of the Standard Assessment Procedure for the energy rating of homes. This list is under review. Further meetings will be convened as required and I expect to receive a report in early 2008.

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Housing: Waiting Lists

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people were on the housing waiting list for (a) each local authority and (b) social landlords in each local authority area in (i) 1997, (ii) 2002 and (iii) 2007. [163332]

Mr. Iain Wright: The number of households on the waiting list for social housing in each local authority each year since 1997, as at 1 April each year, is published on the Communities and Local Government website at:

Information as to whether a specific local authority area operates a common housing register is also provided. Figures for 2007 are not currently available. The link for this table is as follows:

Communities and Local Government does not collect information on people or households on individual registered social landlords (RSL) waiting lists. However, where the local authority maintains a common housing register with RSLs in their district, the list will also include households placed on the list by RSLs.

Local authorities in England report the numbers of households on their housing waiting list as at 1 April in their annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix returns. Not everyone on the waiting list is necessarily in urgent housing need. The size of the waiting list is not necessarily an indicator of absolute need, it is only useful as a broad indicator of housing demand in an area. The waiting list includes those who consider social housing as their preferred or one of a number of housing options, and those who decide to get onto the waiting list before they need or want to move house.

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