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The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): In the five weeks since the elections in Zimbabwe, 7,000 people have been displaced, 500 beaten, 120 hospitalised and at least two murdered. Many more were unable to access medical treatment. In addition, the police have arrested scores of people who they associate with the opposition in Zimbabwe and have raided their offices. The announcement of the result of the presidential election should be seen against that background. Violence has been commonplace in Zimbabwe but those figures and these acts show the brutality of the regime in its quest to hold on to power.
Very soon after the election it was clear that the majority of the electorate had rejected President Mugabe. But ZANU-PF chose to delay the results, rather than face the truth. That delay has simply allowed the Zimbabwean authorities to contaminate the results. We can have little faith that the figures announced accurately reflect the will of the people. Significantly, the MDC opposition have not endorsed those published figures, even though they show that a clear majority of voters want change.
The first round of voting in Zimbabwe suffered from significant structural deficiencies. The electoral roll was and is still grossly inaccurate. The majority of the 3 million to 4 million people who have fled Zimbabwe were and will still be prevented from registering as voters. Within Zimbabwe media coverage of the election was already biased towards Mugabe and ZANU-PF. And the Government of Zimbabwe, at its own admission, did not invite anyone to monitor the election whom they thought might point out its flawsincluding the EU and the UN. For a second round to be considered free and fair, there must at least be an immediate end to violence, and international observers must be put in place now, well ahead of the vote itself.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown and I continue to engage regional leaders. They are feeling the destabilising effects of the crisis. They know it is in their interests for the SADC principles and guidelines on elections to be enforced and the rule of law in Zimbabwe established. Both SADC and the AU have a pivotal role to play now in ensuring an end to the violence, and by introducing observers to prevent further reprisals by ZANU-PF to punish voters for the choices they made in the first round.
International concern about the situation in Zimbabwe remains high. The UN Security Council briefing held in New York last week exposed the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe and the need for the UN to be more engaged to resolve it. We will continue to press for a human rights mission or envoy to visit and for arms sales to cease until there is a return to democratic Government in Zimbabwe. We will also call again for UN backed monitors to go to Zimbabwe to observe any second round, and for the Government of Zimbabwe to allow EU and other observers in now to oversee preparations for the elections, as well as the voting itself.
We continue to support all those working for democratic change in Zimbabwe. We all share the wish of the Zimbabwean people to secure their democratic rights. We commend civil society groups in Zimbabwe who continue to fight for democracy and good governance in increasingly impossible circumstances.
We continue to respond to the humanitarian crisis on the ground. We are the second largest bilateral donor to Zimbabwe, giving around £49 million in 2007 and more than £200 million since 2000. UK aid currently keeps over 1.5 million people alive. The UK, along with the international community, is committed to supporting recovery in Zimbabwe when conditions on the ground allow it. This cannot happen until the will of the people is respected and democracy returned to Zimbabwe. But when that happens we will be ready to respond.
It is clear to all, including many in ZANU-PF, that this situation is unsustainable. Economically, Zimbabwe has been in decline for many years: total economic collapse, with the massive humanitarian cost that will bring, is inevitable unless there is a radical change in policy and approach in Zimbabwe. We still believe that the solution to the crisis must be an African solution supported by the international community. For the sake of all the people of Zimbabwe, this solution must come soon.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): We are today laying before Parliament the Governments response (Cm 7378) to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) report A Life Like Any Other? Human Rights of Adults with Learning Disabilities, which was published on 6 March.
The JCHRs report recognises that life for people with learning disabilities has improved considerably over the last 30 years. However, the Committee still found serious cause for concern about the way people with learning disabilities are treated by society at large.
The Government response welcomes the JCHRs report and sets out the Governments commitment and practical steps that we are taking to uphold the rights of adults with learning disabilities in mainstream public services.
Several of the Committees recommendations are around influencing the outcome of the consultation response on Valuing People Now, the Governments consultation on learning disability policy. This response commits the Government to revisiting the JCHR report and providing a further response to the Committee when publishing the final Valuing People Now strategy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mrs. McGuire), is making a written statement today on the Governments response to the Committees recommendation about ratification of the UN convention which is contained in this publication.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): The fourth cost report of the national identity scheme is being laid before Parliament today. It sets out an estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the scheme over the next 10 years, in accordance with section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006. It reports on developments over the past six months, since the third cost report was published on 8 November 2007.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): I am today announcing the next steps in our programme of comprehensive immigration reform for 2008. I am publishing statements of intent which set out how the points system will work for skilled migrants coming to fill vacancies here, and for those who come to the UK temporarily for cultural and other non-economic reasons.
The UKs new points system is central to our plans for controlling the numbers and skills of people coming to the UK, and ensuring only those the UK needs from outside the EEA can come to work or study.
We began the points system earlier this year with arrangements for highly skilled migrants. The statements of intent I am publishing today outline details on how the system will work for skilled and temporary migrants.
First, all employers who wish to employ skilled migrants will need a licence, provided and monitored by the UK Border Agency. This will help ensure employers are fulfilling their obligations to the UK, for example, helping migrants to understand and comply with our immigration rules.
We are publishing the draft points pass mark today. The final points pass mark for the skilled tier of the points system will be informed by the work of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on economic needs and that of the Migration Impacts Forum on the wider effects of migration.
Tier 5 of the points-based system covers temporary workers and the UKs new international youth mobility scheme, allowing people to travel to the UK to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives including five sub-categories: creative and sporting; charity workers; religious; Government-authorised exchange; and international agreement.
All migrants will need a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor who will vouch that the migrant will comply with the terms of their stay in the UK, before they even arrive in the UK.
Migrants must also meet the maintenance requirements, demonstrating that they can support themselves while they are here in the UK.
The Tier 5 international youth mobility scheme will allow young people from partner nations to come to the United Kingdom for up to two years to work and travel, while young UK nationals enjoy similar experiences in those countries.
We are publishing these documents today so that those affected by the changes we are putting in place can prepare. We are also giving people the opportunity to comment on the documents. A statement of intent for students under the points-based system will follow later this year.
Copies of the statements of intent on the skilled migrant tier and the temporary worker and youth mobility tier have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The documents are also available on the United Kingdom Border Agencys website at: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/managingourborders/pbsdocs/.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports the Public Guardian in discharging his statutory duties under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The OPG was formed in October 2007 with the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act and 2008-09 is therefore the first full financial year of operation for the agency.
a) (i) On receipt of an invalid or incomplete LPA or EPA, we will notify 80 per cent. of applicants within 10 working days.
(ii) On receipt of a valid LPA, in 80 per cent. of cases we will notify the party or parties not making the application within 10 working days.
b) (i) We will register 98 per cent. of LPA applications within five working days of the end of the statutory waiting period(1).
(ii) Where an attorney makes an EPA application within 10 days of notifying relatives, we will register 98 per cent. within five working days of the end of the statutory waiting period(2).
(iii) Where an attorney makes an EPA application more than 10 days after notifying relatives, we will register 98 per cent. within 15 working days of receipt, or within five working days of the end of the statutory waiting period, whichever is the later.
All deputyship cases will require a supervision regime based on a risk assessment. Risk criteria include: whether a deputy has been refused credit or is an un-discharged bankrupt; whether the deputy has any financial interests which conflict with those of the client; the value of the clients estate; the relationship of the deputy to the client; and any objections which were made to the appointment of the deputy.
a) 90 per cent. of new deputyship cases will be assessed and a supervision level set within 30 working days of the court order being served on the Public Guardian.
b) 100 per cent. of ongoing deputyships with close supervision (type I) will have a formal reassessment of the supervision level within 13 months of the previous assessment.
c) We will carry out a case review on no less than 4000 type II cases during the year.
review of annual report;
carrying out a visit; and
review of supervision level following short-term intervention.
The contact centre will act as point of communication for anybody contacting the OPG for advice and information about the OPG, the Court of Protection and other MCA-related issues. It will also act as the first point of contact for most deputies in relation to queries about their powers and duties.
a) We will respond to 95 per cent. of correspondence (including letters, faxes and emails) within 15 working days of receipt.
b) 85 per cent. of telephone calls to the contact centre will be answered within 60 seconds.
Upon receipt of an investigations case in the compliance and regulation unit, it is allocated to a specific caseworker. At this point of allocation the 14-day target to set an action begins. The three month target to complete the investigation is inclusive of the 14 days in which the action plan is put in place.
a) We will put in place an approved action plan in 100 per cent. of investigations cases within 14 days of receipt.
b) 75 per cent. of investigations will be completed within three months.
a) To measure the quality of service people are experiencing in different areas of the organisation, we will carry out targeted surveys throughout the year and report the findings in the OPG 2008-09 annual report. A baseline figure will be agreed with Ministers following receipt of the 2007-08 results and will published in the Public Guardian section 60 report.
b) We will also devise measures concentrating on the quality of service delivered through the contact centre. The results will be published in the 2008-09 annual report.
a) OPG100 per cent. full cost recovery.
b) Court of Protection63 per cent. full cost recovery.
The total cost of carrying out the provision of services to the taxpayer, less social subsidy/fee remission; financial losses over and above a yearly notional premium; in-year bad debts write off and exceptional items.
1. In 95 per cent. of cases we will contact the applicant within 20 working days of receipt of the formal application.
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