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25 Jun 2008 : Column 374W—continued

Iran: Sanctions

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) the EU, (b) the US Administration and (c) the UN on proposals to extend sanctions against Iran. [212940]

Dr. Howells: We are in constant contact with EU and E3+3 colleagues on the Iranian nuclear issue. The Government will continue to work closely with EU
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partners to pass further measures as soon as possible, including the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1803 in the EU. Discussions are continuing in Brussels and I will inform the House when these have been agreed. We are also discussing with US and EU partners a range of additional sanctions on Iran, including in the oil and gas sector. We will be seeking a new UNSCR in the coming months if Iran does not give a rapid, positive response to the E3+3's generous offer, delivered to Tehran on 14 June by Javier Solana.

Iraq: Christianity

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the treatment of Christians in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [213181]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 23 June 2008]: Like all sectors of Iraqi society, the Christian community has been affected by the unacceptable level of violence in Iraq which continues despite improvements in the overall security environment. Our diplomatic missions and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Human Rights in Iraq, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd), regularly raise with the Government of Iraq the need for adequate protection of all minority groups.

Progress on national reconciliation is the fundamental requirement to create a sustainable and secure environment for all Iraqis and we continue to support the Government of Iraq to achieve that goal.

Israel: Human Rights

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the appointment of Professor Richard Falk by the UN Human Rights Council as the investigator of alleged human rights violations by Israel. [212753]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 20 June 2008]: With UK support, Richard Falk was appointed as Special Rapporteur by the President of the UN Human Rights Council during its seventh session. Professor Falk made his first appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on 16 June when he presented his first report. We regularly raise a range of human rights issues with the Israeli Government such as the impact of border crossing closures, their conduct of security operations, the construction of illegal settlements and the barrier in the West Bank.

Maldives: Elections

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) financial and (b) technical assistance the Government are giving to support the Presidential elections in the Maldives in October 2008; and if he will make a statement. [212777]

Dr. Howells: The UK is co-financing Commonwealth technical assistance to the Maldivian Government to improve the Maldives’ electoral legislative framework. Separately, we are funding a Maldivian non-governmental
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organisation voter education programme, and through the BBC World Service Trust, training for journalists in election reporting. The UK also fully supports the work of the EU electoral expert seconded to the Maldivian Election Commission. Free, fair and credible elections are a crucial element of democratic reform in the Maldives. When my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, met President Gayoom on 11 June, he reiterated the UK’s support for the elections and democracy in the Maldives.

Pakistan: Foreign Relations

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in Pakistan. [212927]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is in regular contact with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on a wide range of issues. Pakistan remains a priority for UK foreign policy. In April 2008 my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Pakistan where he met Foreign Minister Qureshi, and they last spoke in person on 12 June 2008 at the Afghanistan conference in Paris.

Rwanda: Official Visits

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who the members were of the delegation that accompanied Rwandan President Paul Kagame on his visit to the UK in May. [212820]

Meg Munn [holding answer 20 June 2008]: President Paul Kagame of Rwanda came to the UK by invitation of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to attend the Millennium Development Goals Call to Action event. The principal members of his delegation were Foreign Affairs Minister Rosemary Museminali and Rwandan ambassador to the UK Claver Gatete. A number of policy and security advisers accompanied the delegation along with security and support staff.

Treaty of Lisbon: Referendums

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government have had with other EU member state Governments on the recent Irish referendum. [213026]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 24 June 2008]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a statement to the House on 16 June 2008, Offi cial Report, columns 704-05, on the Irish referendum.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a statement to the House on 23 June 2008, Official Report, columns 23-26, following the European Council in Brussels from 19-20 June.

United Arab Emirates: Prisoners

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to secure the release of those
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arrested in 2008 as a result of United Arab Emirates (UAE) enforcement initiatives; whether the Government have made representations to the UAE Government seeking clemency for those imprisoned; and what account is taken of the length of time spent in custody in making such representations. [212100]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 18 June 2008]: It is a matter for the United Arab Emirates authorities to decide on their policy with respect to the import and possession of drugs. We cannot interfere in the judicial process of another country, just as we would not expect another country to interfere in ours. We cannot get people out of prison or detention, nor can we secure special treatment for them because of their nationality.

Our primary concern is the welfare of British nationals detained overseas. We will consider approaching the local authorities where a trial does not follow internationally accepted standards of practice, where a British detainee has a justified complaint of ill treatment against the local authorities or where welfare questions, for example dietary and medical issues of a British detainee, are raised with us.

We can only consider supporting pardon or clemency pleas in three very specific situations: where there are compelling compassionate circumstances, such as where a prisoner or close family member is chronically ill or dying; in cases of minors detained overseas; and, as a last resort, in cases where we have evidence that seems to point to a miscarriage of justice.

Our commitment to consular confidentiality and the Data Protection Act prevents us from providing specific examples about the cases of individuals.

Zimbabwe: Elections

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on bringing pressure to bear on the Zimbabwe Government to conduct free and fair elections. [213845]

Meg Munn: My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary discussed the elections in Zimbabwe with other Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers at the European Council from 19-20 June. Ministers are in regular contact with EU counterparts to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe and, in particular, the state-sponsored violence and intimidation which have marked the current electoral process.

International Development


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the Answer of 5 June 2008, Official Report, column 1129W, on Afghanistan, what the breakdown is of the unit cost of £250,000 for a member of his Department’s staff to be based in Afghanistan. [212455]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The annual cost of a DFID Afghanistan UK member of staff based in Afghanistan varies according to grade. The average annual cost is
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£240,643, which includes start up and end of tour costs, security, salary, pension contributions and national insurance payments, hardship and cost of living allowances, travel and accommodation costs.

The breakdown is as follows:




Salary, pension and NI


Allowances (including travel)




Start up and end of tour costs




Due to efficiency savings the unit cost of security has fallen since the original estimate, which was based on average costs over 2007. This has resulted in an approximate saving of £10,000.

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding the Government plan to allocate to the Afghanistan reconstruction plan agreed at the Paris conference; and if he will make a statement. [213324]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: In recognition of the scale of the development and stabilisation challenges that continue to face Afghanistan, the UK Government will provide over £800 million to Afghanistan in support to the five-year period of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), between 2008-09 and 2012-13. This includes a further £613 million in reconstruction and development assistance in addition to the £500 million we committed at the London Conference in January 2006. This brings the amount pledged or spent by the UK on reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 to over £1.65 billion.

Africa: Health Professions

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is considering for implementing the March 2008 Global Health Workforce Alliance Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action; and if he will make a statement. [213272]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Kampala Declaration and Agenda for Global Action call on bilateral leaders to provide co-ordinated and coherent support to formulate and implement comprehensive country health work force strategies and plans; to provide dependable, sustained and adequate financial support; and to give high priority and adequate funding to train and recruit sufficient health personnel from within their own country.

The Department for International Development (DFID) provides flexible funding to back national plans and priorities and to help strengthen health systems as a whole in the countries in which it works. UK health spend in developing countries was £750 million in 2006-07. Addressing the shortage of health workers in these countries is a high priority. The UK Government are also making a concerted effort to mobilise the international community to take action to address the global shortage of health workers.

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The UK has had a code of practice for several years governing the international recruitment of health workers. We are now working with the Global Health Workforce Alliance towards a global code of practice. The UK has over the last few years increased the numbers of its own health professionals through new recruitment and training and getting previously qualified staff back to work in the national health service (NHS).

Asia: Unemployment

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the level of youth unemployment in western and central Asia; and what steps his Department is taking to tackle joblessness in western and central Asian countries as a contribution towards the achievement of millennium development goal 8. [212714]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) is committed to the achievement of the millennium development goals, including goal 8 and the new target 1.B, focusing on full and productive employment and decent work for all. DFID assistance programmes recognise that in southern and central Asia, youth unemployment is approximately twice that of adult unemployment(1), requiring specific measures to stimulate growth.

In the short term, DFID supports a number of programmes that provide employment and income generation opportunities. These focus on the poorest, youth, women and disadvantaged groups—helping them take the first steps out of poverty. In Afghanistan, DFID has provided £18 million for the National Emergency Employment Programme, creating 5.8 million labour-days of employment. In India, DFID finances five major programmes that support rural employment with a total budget of £152.5 million. For example the Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project (phase 1 £16.6 million, 2004-07; phase 2 £45 million 2007-12) works with the Government's National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (NREGS) and has already helped 66,400 households in tribal areas. In Nepal, DFID's Rural Access Programme has created almost seven million labour days for over 100,000 people, through labour intensive rural infrastructure development and an additional £27.5 million has just been approved for follow on programmes that, with other donors, will provide an additional 22.3 million days of employment.

DFID is also involved in a number of programmes that more directly promote employment. For example in the Kyrgyz Republic, we are supporting the National Village Investment Programme, which has created over 5,000 jobs. In Nepal we have supported a UN programme that has helped 25,000 entrepreneurs from poor and excluded groups. This has increased the participants' incomes threefold, lifting them out of poverty. In Bangladesh, we also provide £11.8 million to the Katalyst Programme, which supports the private sector to develop small to medium enterprises, aiming to create around 730,000 jobs by 2013.

Departmental Buildings

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on (a) new capital investment and (b) refurbishment of departmental property in each of the last 10 years, broken down by project. [212867]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development does not have detailed records for the last 10 years; the earliest detailed data we have are for the calendar year 2002.

Capital investment since 2002, by year and project, was as follows:

Country Description Year purchased Purchase cost (£)


House purchases




House purchase




New embassy in Sanaa




New Office in Uganda




New office building




House purchase




House purchase



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