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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the adequacy of cooperation between Government departments involved in offering assistance to Iraqi staff who are working for, and who have worked for, the Government; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband [holding answer 14 November 2007]: There has been good co-operation across Whitehall. I have chaired several meetings on the issue. Officials have met regularly under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Office.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been paid to private military and security companies in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan to protect British Government personnel and infrastructure in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. 
The information above covers contracts put in place by the Government with private security companies, and reflects in the main the contract values concerned and not the actual spend. These include Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and other Government contracts.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Iraqi nationals meet the eligibility criteria for ex gratia assistance and either work or have worked in Iraq as (a) direct employees of the UK armed forces or the Ministry of Defence, (b) on letters of appointment from the British embassy in Baghdad or the British embassy offices in Basra and the Kurdistan Region and (c) as direct employees of the Department for International Development or the British Council. 
David Miliband [holding answer 14 November 2007]: There are about 280 Iraqi nationals working for the Government eligible for ex-gratia assistance. We estimate between four and five hundred former employees will meet the criteria.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what procedures have been put in place to ensure that those Iraqi contracted staff who meet the criteria for ex gratia assistance are fully informed about the assistance available to them. 
David Miliband [holding answer 14 November 2007]: We have held meetings with serving locally engaged Iraqi staff to inform them of my written ministerial statements of 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 27-28WS and 30 October 2007, Official Report, columns 30-33WS and to hear their views. Details have also been published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence websites. We will continue to work to ensure that former staff who meet the eligibility criteria have the best possible chance of hearing about the scheme.
Meg Munn: We are aware of allegations of ill treatment in prisons. Our embassy in Jakarta regularly discusses human rights issues, including Papua, with the Indonesian Government. Manfred Novak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is currently visiting Indonesia and we will carefully consider the resulting findings and recommendations.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed Papua with the Indonesian Government. However, I met the Governor of Papua, Barnabus Suebo, when he visited London on 25 October. We discussed the situation in Papua, including human rights and the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law.
We are in contact with the Free West Papua Campaign and encourage dialogue between them and the Government of Indonesia. Officials at our embassy in Jakarta visit Papua regularly and meet local officials, academics, journalists and non-governmental organisations. We believe that the best way to resolve the issues in Papua is through promoting peaceful dialogue between Papuan groups and the Indonesian Government.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he and (b) the Prime Minister have had with Mr Blair since his appointment as the Quartets Middle East Envoy; on what dates these discussions took place; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Slovenian counterpart on Slovenia's EU presidency in the first half of 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers have regular discussions with their Slovenian counterparts and I recently visited Ljubljana where I met with the Slovenian Minister for Europe, Janez Lenarcic. The UK looks forward to working with the Slovenian presidency in 2008 to help deliver the issues that matter to Europe's citizens: growth and jobs, tackling climate change and fighting terrorism.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress in reducing the use of torture by official agencies in Uzbekistan since the report on that country by the UN special rapporteur on torture in 2002. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Uzbekistan remains the only country in Central Asia to have invited and hosted the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Following his visit in 2002, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, made 22 key recommendations in his report. The Uzbek authorities say they have fulfilled these. The current UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, has been unable to visit Uzbekistan to study implementation. He told the UN Human Rights Council in 2006 that
the very fact that torture is still practised systematically (in Uzbekistan) is the best proof that the recommendations have not been implemented.
The Uzbek authorities point to national legislation that prohibits illegal torture. Two Interior Ministry officials were convicted of torture in April 2007, but the numbers of allegations far outweigh the cases investigated and brought to trial.
The criminal justice system still convicts on the basis of confessions, with scant corroborating evidence, and thus encourages coercion. Anecdotal evidence suggests that judges continue to overlook allegations of torture made during trials. This suggests a lack of substantial progress to reduce the practice of torture. We continue to receive regular allegations of torture from victims, their relatives and human rights defenders. We have concluded, therefore, that torture and other forms of ill treatment are routine, particularly in the early stages of custody. We welcome the reforms to the criminal justice system that the Uzbek Government will introduce from 1 January 2008 to abolish the death penalty and implement a form of habeas corpus. The latter step is particularly key to combating torture.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Uzbekistan Government on its observance of human rights and the use of torture; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: We work bilaterally, as well as with the EU and international organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, to ensure improved respect for human rights in Uzbekistan. The issue of torture continues to form part of our dialogue on human rights with the Uzbek authorities. We regularly raise allegations of human rights abuses. We have made repeated representations and statements on the detention, harassment and trials of human rights defenders and opposition figures in Uzbekistan. The Foreign and Commonwealth Offices Annual Human Rights Report details our concerns.
Our embassy in Tashkent has funded the participation of an Uzbek human rights non-governmental organisation at the UN Committee Against Torture current session (5-23 November) which is assessing the extent to which Uzbekistan is implementing its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how much the UK Government have given to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara; 
Dr. Howells: 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 (MINURSO) until 30 April 2008. Since 1991, the Government have made assessed contributions of £21.8 million for the maintenance of MINURSO.
The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum. UK officials play an active role at the UN in New York in discussions on Western Sahara. This includes the negotiation and adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1783. The Resolution also
calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and developments of the last months, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
The UK raises the issue of Western Sahara on a regular basis with the parties, including wider issues of welfare and security. I raised the issue of Western Sahara and the ongoing negotiations process when I spoke to the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Taib Fassi Firhi on 25 October. The UK has encouraged the parties to continue negotiations under UN auspices, as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions 1754 and 1783.
The methodology used to rate the level of risk of projects involves an assessment of both the probability of risk factors occurring and the severity of their impact. High risk projects are those where probability of these risk factors occurring is rated high and their impact medium or high, or where probability is rated medium and impact high.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many consultants his Department employed in each of the last five years; and what this figure is as a percentage of the staff employed by the Department in each of those years. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The number of consultants engaged centrally by DFID in each of the last five years is shown in the following table. This includes both self-employed individuals and contracts with companies under which significant numbers of people are utilised.
|Financial year||Number of consultants|
The majority of consultants are engaged by DFID on behalf of development partners to help them deliver long-term development projects to help reduce poverty. Overall comparison between the number of individual consultants allocated to DFID's work for limited periods of time and DFID's overall staffing complement could not be established without incurring disproportionate cost.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in which of his Departments budget headings he expects to make the savings of £414 million announced in the Comprehensive Saving Review. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: DFIDlike all other Government Departmentshas agreed to make value for money savings of at least 3 per cent. annual net cash releasing gains on our total departmental budget and 5 per cent. annual real reductions in our administration budgets by 2010-11. Savings of 3 per cent. equates to £492 million. In addition to portfolio quality improvements of £66 million and administrative cost savings of £12 million we are committed to savings of £414 million which are broken down over two categories. Bilateral allocative efficiency savings of £257 million were identified alongside multilateral allocative efficiency savings of £157 million. These figures remain indicative and are subject to finalisation in the VFM delivery agreement which DFID is due to publish in December.
The savings will be realised through changes in the allocation of funds across country programmes and multilateral institutions. As in the 2004 spending review, the methodology for assessing gains achieved by more poverty-focused allocation is based on econometric studies by Paul Collier and David Dollar showing that the impact of aid varies with countries per capita income and policy environment.
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