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9 Jan 2008 : Column 559W—continued

Maldives: Politics and Government

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations the UK has made to the Government of the Republic of the Maldives on human rights and the development of parliamentary democracy; and if he will make a statement. [175829]

Dr. Howells: I told the House on 17 October 2007, Official Report, columns 939-942, during a debate on Maldives that we understood the challenges the
9 Jan 2008 : Column 560W
Maldivian Government face to adopt and implement multi-party liberal democracy that fully observes international human rights obligations.

Maldives has acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is now a signatory to the six core UN human rights instruments. We welcome these developments. We have always made clear to the Maldivian Government the importance of meeting international obligations on human rights, including the full and transparent investigation of any human rights based allegations. We understand that a UN human rights adviser invited by the Maldivian Government are working with them on this.

When my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister responsible for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, met President Gayoom of Maldives in July 2007, he underlined the need to keep the reform process on track and the importance of this year’s elections being free, fair, inclusive and supported by the Maldivian people. In meetings with the Maldivian Foreign Minister, Abdullah Shahid, his deputy, Dhunya Maumoon, and with the Chairman of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have emphasised the need for good faith among all political parties and for all to redouble efforts to implement democratic change in Maldives.

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings he and (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had in the last six months with officials from the Palestinian Authority to discuss progress on the Middle East peace plan; and if he will make a statement. [175565]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 17 to 19 November 2007 and met President Abbas, and Prime Minister Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority (PA). On 10 and 11 December 2007, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development called on the President, the Prime Minister and a number of Palestinian officials. On 18 December, President Abbas visited London and held meetings with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

Officials at our Consulate General in Jerusalem have regular dialogue with a wide range of PA Ministers and officials.

Russia: Entry Clearances

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent changes have been introduced to the types of UK visas available to Russian citizens. [177148]

Dr. Howells: There have been no recent changes to the types of UK visa available to Russian citizens specifically. Generally, the various categories in which a person may apply to enter the UK are open to all non-European economic area nationals, regardless of their country of origin.


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Saudi Arabia: Human Rights

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which occasions in the last 12 months he raised concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia with (a) the King of Saudi Arabia, (b) members of the Government of Saudi Arabia and (c) non-governmental organisations in Saudi Arabia. [176874]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not raised human rights with either the King, members of the Saudi Government, or non-governmental organisations since coming to office on 27 June 2007. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not visited Saudi Arabia and has not met the King.

Our ambassador in Riyadh raises human rights on a regular basis with the Saudi authorities as part of his day-to-day responsibilities.

Saudi Arabia: Punishment

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations were made to the King of Saudi Arabia on the recent threatened punishment of a 19-year-old female rape victim. [176879]

Dr. Howells: The Government raised the threatened punishment of a 19-year old rape victim with the Saudi authorities on several occasions, both before and after the case went to appeal. The Government also supported EU action co-ordinated by the German presidency in Riyadh.

In December 2007, King Abdullah granted a Royal Pardon to the victim.

Terrorism: Death

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK citizens have been killed as a consequence of terrorist acts overseas in each of the last 10 years. [177161]

Dr. Howells: Our records show that the number of UK citizens killed as a consequence of terrorist acts overseas since 1997 is as follows:

Number

1997

7

1998

4

1999

0

2000

1

2001

82

2002

28

2003

5

2004

7

2005

18

2006

1

2007

0


These figures are for both British and dual British nationals. However, they do not include the number of British nationals in the armed forces or those working for private military security firms, who have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.


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Turkey: Human Rights

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to hold discussions with his Turkish counterpart on the observance of the human rights of the Assyrian minority living within Turkey. [177104]

Mr. Jim Murphy: We raise freedom of religion issues with the Turkish Government on a regular basis and meetings with members of the Assyrian minority are always included in the regional visits programme. In 2007, officials from our Embassy in Ankara visited Assyrian communities in Diyarbakir, Elazig and Mardin and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales met Archbishop Mor Philoxenos Yusuf Cetin in Istanbul on 28 November 2007.

Turkey’s overall human rights record is subject to intense scrutiny during EU accession negotiations, and advancement in the negotiations is measured against Turkey’s progress in a number of areas, including the fundamental and cultural rights of religious and other minority groups in Turkey.

Work and Pensions

Carers: Finance

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what budget was allocated for carers and the carer’s allowance in (a) Dacorum and (b) England in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [165063]

Mrs. McGuire: Funding for carers in general is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. For carer’s allowance, which is paid for by DWP, no set budget is allocated. All claims that meet the conditions of entitlement are awarded. Details of expenditure on carer’s allowance are in the following table.

Carer's allowance paid out in the local authority of Dacorum and in England
£ million cash terms £ million in 2007-08 prices
Status Dacorum England Dacorum England

2003-04

Outturn

1.6

876.1

1.8

975.5

2004-05

Outturn

1.7

912.8

1.8

989.0

2005-06

Outturn

1.8

958.8

1.9

1017.6

2006-07

Provisional outturn

1.8

996.8

1.9

1029.2

Notes:
1. All figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand pounds.
2. Prior to August 2003, carer’s allowance (CA) figures were based on those with entitlement only. This means that caseloads cannot be broken down by whether or not a case is in payment. As a result, CA figures are restricted to August 2003 onwards.
3. All figures are consistent with the 2007 pre-Budget report and comprehensive spending review.
Source:
Expenditure has been taken from departmental accounting systems and combined with 100 per cent. statistical data to identify the proportion of expenditure paid as carer’s allowance in Dacorum and in England.

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Child Support

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of Child Support Agency cases have been transferred from the original system to the 2003 system. [166314]

Mr. Plaskitt [holding answer 20 November 2007]: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 9 January 2008:

Child Support Agency: Bolton

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of staff at the Bolton Child Support Agency offices were employed (a) on permanent contracts, (b) on temporary contracts and (c) via an employment agency in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [169334]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. member with the information requested.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 9 January 2007:

Child Support Agency: Complaints

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time was for the Child Support Agency to resolve a complaint about their actions in 2006-07. [167813]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 9 January 2008:

Children: Maintenance

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many absent parents in each constituency in Scotland have been transferred from the old to the new system of assessment by the Child Support Agency in each year since its introduction; and how many of these transfers were triggered by a new case involving the individual. [162753]

Mr. Plaskitt: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Stephen Geraghty, dated 9 Januaryj2008:


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