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Peacekeeping Operations: Private Sector

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to bring forward legislation to regulate the private military and security company industry; and if he will make a statement. [169977]

David Miliband: In late 2004 the then Foreign Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) launched a review of the options for the regulation of the overseas operations of private military and security companies (PMSCs) registered in or operating from the United Kingdom. This was to follow up on the Green Paper of 2002, ‘Private Military Companies: Options for Regulation’ and to respond to the increase in activities of PMSCs in areas of conflict overseas.

The review was completed in mid 2005 and suggested a number of ways in which the industry could be regulated. The review also highlighted complex issues, particularly round the definition of what activities should be regulated and how any regulations would be enforced. These issues, along with the options for regulation, continue to be the subject of ministerial correspondence and official consultation. The Government have undertaken to keep Parliament fully informed of its proposals in this area. If it is agreed that regulation is appropriate, the Government will put the proposals to public consultation.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what rules govern the use of force by private military security companies employed by the Government; whether these rules are standardised for all Government contracts or are variable on a case-by-case basis; and if he will make a statement. [169978]

David Miliband: Private military and security companies employed by the Government operate according to strict rules of engagement and security operating procedures. The details of these rules of engagement, which are embedded within the contracts between the Government and the contractors involved, are kept undisclosed due to their sensitive nature, as public disclosure could be detrimental to operational security. In addition, Annex A to Coalition Provisional Authority Memorandum Number 17 (available in the Library of the House) sets out binding rules on the use of force which apply to all private security companies in Iraq, which form part of their security operating procedures.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 3 December 2007, Official Report, columns 1059-60W, on peacekeeping operations: private sector, whether his Department has concluded a formal study of the services provided to the Government by private military security companies in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [172786]

David Miliband: The implementation of the procedures for individual contracts is monitored closely and subject to revision when appropriate. In
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addition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) reviews areas of its work in which private military and security companies (PMSCs) are involved in. Given the range of PMSC contracts, the FCO has not conducted a formal study grouping all such contracts together.

Russia: CFE Treaty

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of Russia's decision to suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty; whether he has discussed this issue with (a) Russian and (b) US counterparts; and if he will make a statement. [168394]

David Miliband: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement I made on 13 December, Official Report, columns 57-58WS, about Russia's “suspension” of its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. We believe the concerns expressed by Russia would be addressed by entry into force of the adapted CFE treaty. We have pursued constructive proposals for parallel action by states parties, including North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies and Russia, to overcome the outstanding issues related to ratification of the adapted treaty. Along with our NATO allies, we will continue to promote engagement with Russia to that end.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the Russian decision to suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe as of 12 December. [172389]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 13 December 2007, Official Report, columns 57-58WS.

Russia: Elections

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to his Russian counterpart on the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights' ability to observe the upcoming presidential election in that country, in April 2008, without restrictions and in accordance with established practice. [172388]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Government strongly encourage the Russian Federation to invite the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) election observers to the March presidential election without restrictions. I made the following statement at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial meeting in Madrid on 29 to 30 November, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attended.

The presidency of the EU made a statement on behalf of all EU member states on the same lines.


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Russia: Moldova

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the progress by Russia towards commitments made at the 1999 Istanbul summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe for withdrawal of Russian military forces from Moldova and Georgia. [172386]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Russian Federation recently completed its withdrawal from the bases at Batumi and Akhalk'alak'i in Georgia. Only the status and future use of the Gudauta base remain unresolved. In Moldova, however, there has been no progress since 2004 on the withdrawal of remaining Russian Federation forces and ammunition from Transnistria.

The written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 13 December 2007, Official Report, columns 57-58WS made clear that, with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies, we look to the Russian Federation to regularise the status of its remaining forces in Moldova and Georgia. The principle that host nation consent is required for the stationing of foreign forces is central to European security. With NATO allies, we continue to promote engagement with the Russian Federation with a view to reaching an agreed way forward.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what decisions were reached at the EU-Africa summit on the deployment of the joint AU-UN force to Darfur; which African countries have offered to contribute troops to the force; what the African Union’s position is on whether non-African troops are required to provide an effective peacekeeping force; and if he will make a statement. [174894]

Meg Munn: Representatives of the Government of Sudan and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations discussed the African Union (AU)/UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) deployment at the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon on 8 December. The press statement released after the meeting noted that both sides agreed on the importance of the full and timely implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1769 and agreed to continue their discussions to resolve outstanding issues. Follow-up talks have taken place in Khartoum and we are awaiting a report from the UN on their outcome. Meanwhile, we have continued to press the Government of Sudan to co-operate fully with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and AU on UNAMID deployment.

The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations received offers of troops from a number of African countries and has conducted pre-deployment assessments. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has not yet announced the final force composition of UNAMID. The AU and UN agreed that UNAMID should be ‘predominantly African’ in character. This allows for non-African troop contributions, particularly where specific capabilities are required. We are pressing the AU and UN to choose the best troops for the mission, irrespective of nationality.


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Uganda: Elections

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps (a) his Department and (b) the European Union are taking to implement the recommendations of the European Union and Commonwealth Election Observers in Uganda; and if he will make a statement. [174896]

Meg Munn: The Government have been actively involved in efforts to bring about improvements to Uganda’s democratic system. The UK is the largest donor to the Deepening Democracy Programme basket-fund and currently chairs its Steering Committee. The programme forms the cornerstone of international donors’ (Partners for Democracy Group—PDG) efforts to address failings in the democratic processes of Uganda. The PDG, which has a wide-ranging membership, including resident EU ambassadors, actively raises governance and democracy concerns at a high level with the Government of Uganda. The European Union recently supported a Ugandan Parliament-led workshop to address reforms recommended by the European Union and Commonwealth Election Observers following the 2006 Ugandan elections.

Zimbabwe: Sanctions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether at the recent EU-Africa summit the African Union proposed the EU end all sanctions against Zimbabwe as a condition for signing new trade deals; and if he will make a statement. [174895]

Meg Munn: No such proposal was made.

It is the responsibility of EU member states to consider the lifting of sanctions in their working groups in Brussels. These meetings focus on whether the lift criteria laid down in the common position has been met. Zimbabwe is still a long way from meeting these lift criteria.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many bank accounts are affected by economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. [175154]

Meg Munn: 43 bank accounts in the UK are frozen under EU targeted measures against the Zimbabwe regime. EU member states do not systematically share detailed information concerning the bank accounts they have frozen.

Health

Lucentis

11. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued on the prescribing of Lucentis; and if he will make a statement. [174620]

Dawn Primarolo: I have not issued any guidance on the prescribing of Lucentis.


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Lucentis is licensed for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and there are no national restrictions on the prescribing of this drug within its licensed indications.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently appraising Lucentis and Macugen for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and expects to publish final guidance in the new year.

In the absence of NICE guidance, primary care trusts are expected to make their own decisions on the funding of specific treatments based on an assessment of the available evidence.

Prescription Charges Exemption: Cystic Fibrosis

12. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will exempt from prescription charges people with cystic fibrosis. [174621]

Dawn Primarolo: We will be inviting views shortly on options for possible changes to prescription charges in England that are cost neutral to the national health service.

Hospitals: Cleaning

13. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government have taken to make hospitals cleaner since 1997. [174622]

Ann Keen: The NHS Plan in 2000 set hospital cleanliness as one of the top ten issues for the NHS; investment and initiatives since then have meant that spend on cleaning by the NHS has increased by over £250 million to £662 million in 2006-07. Hospital cleanliness remains of utmost importance for the Government, and this is reflected by its inclusion as a national priority for the NHS in the Operating Framework for 2008-09. In addition, this year every hospital will undergo a deep clean, supported by £57 million of investment by strategic health authorities (SHAs).

Cardiac Rehabilitation

14. Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects that cardiac rehabilitation will be offered to at least 85 per cent. of heart attack and re-vascularisation patients in accordance with the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease 2000. [174624]

Ann Keen: Chapter Seven of the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease issued appropriate guidance to the national health services regarding the provision of cardiac rehabilitation services. Implementation of this guidance is a matter for the local NHS, working in partnership with stakeholders and the local community. It is for NHS organisations to plan and develop services based on their specific local knowledge and expertise.

Social Care: Long-Term Funding

15. Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for the future long-term funding of the social care system. [174625]


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Mr. Ivan Lewis: At the pre-Budget report 2007, the Government announced that it would be producing a Green Paper on “Reforming the Care and Support System”.

The Green Paper is an opportunity to develop a new offer focusing on people who use services, giving individuals more personal choice and control.

Stroke Services

16. Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve early access to stroke services. [174626]

Ann Keen: On 5 December the Department launched a new strategy for stroke services in England which sets a vision for transforming stroke care.

The strategy aims to accelerate the emergency response to stroke, by setting out a framework for care of stroke patients, and raising awareness about symptoms and risk factors. By following the guidelines, up to 6,800 deaths and cases of disability could be avoided. A further 1,600 strokes could be averted through preventative work.

Health Inequalities

18. Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to reduce health inequalities in England. [174628]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government's health inequalities strategy ‘Tackling Health Inequalities: A Programme for Action’, supports the 2010 national health inequalities targets for infant mortality and life expectancy at birth, and long-term, sustainable, reductions in health inequalities. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced, in September 2007, a comprehensive strategy for reducing health inequalities which will be published in 2008.

Primary Care Trusts: Rural Proofing

19. Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to ensure that rural proofing is carried out by primary care trusts in rural areas. [174629]

Dawn Primarolo: Primary care trusts (PCTs), together with local authorities (LAs), are responsible for ensuring that priorities are delivered in a way that ensures equity of service provision when commissioning services for their local area. This includes taking into account rural issues where appropriate.

Smoking Ban: Effectiveness

20. Mr. Devine: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the ban on smoking in public places for public health. [174630]

Dawn Primarolo: We have commissioned research on the health impacts of smokefree legislation in England. However, early assessments are that this legislation is
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proving to be effective in significantly reducing levels of second hand smoke in enclosed public places and workplaces.

Research from Scotland has reported a range of benefits since smokefree legislation was introduced there, including dramatic improvements in air quality in pubs, improved health, reduced tobacco consumption and no increase in the amount of smoking in the home.


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