|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 177W, on nuclear weapons, which countries were unable to agree in 2007 to the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut off treaty. 
[holding answer 28 February 2008]: No member state at the Conference on Disarmament has objected in principle to a fissile material cut off treaty. During the 2007 Conference on Disarmament, a majority of states endorsed commencement of negotiations. China, Iran and Pakistan expressed
reservations. The UK continues to support the proposal and is working hard to secure consensus for its adoption in 2008.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the preparedness of (a) Romania and (b) Bulgaria to implement EU legislation, with particular regard to social security provisions and the acceptance of contributions from nationals of other EU states; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: In order to join the EU, Bulgaria and Romania fulfilled the criteria of accession agreed by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993. The Copenhagen Criteria include the adoption of the acquis communautaire (the entire body of European legislation). No assessments have been done by HM Revenue and Customs or the Department for Work and Pensions on the implementation of social security provisions or contributions from nationals of other EU member states for Bulgaria and Romania.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) private sector, (b) public sector and (c) private/public sector partnership projects have been approved for EU structural funding for (i) Romania and (ii) Bulgaria; and at what cost for each project. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: No projects have yet been approved and financed for EU structural funding in Bulgaria and Romania. Further information on EU structural funds can be found on the European Commission website at:
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on reforms of the judicial system in Romania, with particular reference to (a) the Sunshine Law and the 30-day consultation period, (b) combating corruption, (c) changes to the fiscal code and (d) implementing systems to enable successful bidding for EU structural funds; what assistance the Government have provided to the Romanian Government on such reforms; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: This month the European Commission issued its interim report on Romania's progress against the post-accession Justice and Home Affairs benchmarks. The Report concluded that progress has been made on the fight against corruption, but that work remains to be done. A copy of the report is available at:
Our embassy in Bucharest reports regularly on judicial reform in Romania. The Sunshine Law refers to the 2003 Romanian Law 52 Decision-Making Transparency in Public Administration. This requires
that all draft legislation be submitted to the public for consultation and comment prior to passage and publication. This law is key to the integrity of public administration in Romania.
In October 2007, following the European Commission's monitoring mechanism report, the Romanian Government adopted an anti-corruption action plan covering judicial reform and the fight against corruption. In order to monitor the measures imposed by the action plan, two inter-institutional bodies have been created, which are presided over by the Minister of Justice.
The UK provided Romania with practical assistance to support the reforms needed for EU membership including reform of the judicial system and enabling successful bidding for structural funds. This assistance has amounted to an average of £630,000 per annum of direct bilateral assistance for the previous four years. Under the EU's Twinning programme, experts from EU member states are seconded as advisers to Romanian institutions and Government Departments. Currently two UK experts are based in Romania advising on how to manage efficiently the absorption of structural funds and in strengthening the probation service.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he or any of his predecessors last visited Romania, other than for EU or NATO conferences; and whether he plans to make any such visit. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Romania in early September 2007. While there he called on President Traian Basescu, Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2008, Official Report, columns 223-4W on Serbia: EU external relations, what recommendations the EU Task Force has made; whether Serbia signed the interim political agreement with the European Union; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The EU Task Force features as part of the interim political agreement with Serbia, drawn up by the EU following the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 28 January. Serbia has not yet signed this agreement. The task force has not met, nor made any recommendations.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will request the US authorities to make further visits to Simon Mann in Black Beach Prison on a frequent and regular basis in the absence of a permanent UK presence in Malabo. 
Dr. Howells: UK consular staff from our deputy high commission in Lagos are providing consular assistance to Mr. Mann. There are currently no plans to request the US authorities to visit him but we intend to raise this with the US authorities.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the medical treatment being provided to Simon Mann in Malabo for his hernia. 
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 179W, on Simon Mann, what reasons he has been given by the Equatorial Guinean embassy for the 24-hour shackling of Simon Mann in custody. 
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria he will use in determining whether the UK will participate in the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism. 
Meg Munn: We want the 2009 Durban Review Conference to contribute to the global fight against racism today. We, and EU partners, are working to achieve this, but it has proven to be a difficult process. Attempts by other blocs of countries to undo agreements and decisions, or expand the remit of the conference beyond a review of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action have not contributed to a consensual approach.
Meg Munn: The agenda for the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism has not yet been discussed in detail. We want the Durban Review Conference to assess how states have implemented the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. There is pressure to include issues not covered by the 2001 document, which we are resisting.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the UN on the inclusion of Holocaust education on the agenda for the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism. 
Meg Munn: The agenda for the 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism has not yet been discussed in detail. The Government take work on Holocaust education and remembrance very seriously. Article 58 of the Durban Declaration made clear that the Holocaust must not be forgotten. We will seek opportunities with our EU partners to give Holocaust education and remembrance appropriate attention as negotiations continue.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the reasons for the failure of the 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to agree a final document. 
David Miliband [holding answer 28 February 2008]: The UK worked hard to achieve an agreed final document at the 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. In a multilateral forum, reliant on consensus, extended procedural delays can prejudice a substantive outcome even when the majority of states present are committed to achieving real advances. Regrettably, in 2005 a delay often days to agree the Review Conference agenda meant there was not enough time to negotiate a substantive final document. UK policy and priorities for the 2010 NPT review cycle are set out in the reply I gave to the right hon. Member on 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 176W.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the oral answer of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 140, on Zimbabwe, when he plans to turn to the role of the Government of Zimbabwe in the case of Mr. Simon Mann; for what reason a formal protest has not been made to that Government in relation to the removal of Mr. Mann to Equatorial Guinea from Zimbabwe; and what assessment he has made of the likely inferences to be drawn by the authorities in Equatorial Guinea in relation to the absence of such protest. 
Dr. Howells: We have clearly noted our concern via diplomatic note to the Zimbabwean authorities about the circumstances of Mr. Manns removal from Zimbabwe, which occurred before his legal appeals were exhausted.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her Department plans to (a) launch the single portal for cohesion guidance and (b) publish the cohesion contingency planning guidance referred to in the Governments response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. 
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley of 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 669W, on conditions of employment: parking, whether the payment by an employer of the workplace parking tax in a local authority area which levies the tax on workplace parking spaces, would be classed as a taxable benefit in kind by HM Revenue and Customs. 
There is an exemption from tax for the benefit of workplace parking at or near their workplace provided by employers to their employees. It is therefore highly unlikely that a tax charge would arise where an employer pays a workplace parking tax.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government have taken to increase the number of first-time buyers entering the property market. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government are committed to tackling the problems of housing affordability and last year announced plans to raise annual housing supply to 240,000 additional homes a year by 2016. The Housing Green Paper published in July 2007 Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable sets out further details of our proposals for delivery of those homes, to widen access to home ownership and help more first-time buyers purchase a home.
Through increasing the overall housing supply, the Government aim to address affordability issues, and the problems they can cause for aspiring first-time buyers, over the longer term. In the meantime, our low- cost home ownership programme, enables social tenants, key workers and other priority first-time buyers to get a first step on the housing ladder.
The HomeBuy scheme introduced in April 2006 includes three products: Open Market HomeBuy (shared equity), New Build HomeBuy (shared ownership) and Social HomeBuy. The First Time Buyers Initiative scheme run by English Partnerships, the national regeneration agency, is part of the New Build product. These schemes help purchasers get on to the housing ladder with shares from 25 per cent.
Between 2006-08 we are investing £970 million through the National Affordable Housing programme to help 35,000 households into low-cost home ownership properties. The Housing Corporation announced its new programme on 26 February and will be funding at least 25,000 low-cost home ownership homes a year from 2008-09 to 2011.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions officials in her Department have had with counterparts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in advance of the forthcoming meeting of the Consulting Forum under the Ecodesign of Energy-using Products Directive on requirements for boilers and water heaters. 
Mr. Iain Wright: [holding answer 25 February 2008]: Communities and Local Government officials are in ongoing discussions about the Energy-using Products Directive with their opposite numbers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 23 January 2008, Official Report, column 2047W, on heating: standards, what meetings she has had with (a) the Health and Safety Executive and (b) industry organisations to discuss possible alterations to the (i) industry guidance and (ii) legal provisions governing hot water systems in homes; what the outcome of those meetings was; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: I will be meeting with Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Commission, to discuss how we can further strengthen our working relationship. Officials have already met with officials from the HSE and as a result the HSE and the Department will jointly re-issue the HSE safety alert with advice on the causes and risk factors in accidents involving hot water systems to social housing providers.
Following the incident leading to Rhianna Hardies death my officials worked with the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (IPHE) to develop a revised version of their information sheet on the safety of water heaters. This was published in April 2007.
Since announcing a review of part G of the building regulations last year, the IPHE and other trade organisations covering installation of hot water and heating systems have been working with officials in CLG to prepare new technical guidance to support
more robust regulatory requirements for hot water systems. We will be consulting these proposed changes in April 2008.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|