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4 Nov 2008 : Column 276W—continued

Figures for winter 2007-08 are not yet available. The number of households that received the £200 and £300 winter fuel payment in winter 2006-07 are shown in the following table. We expect similar numbers to receive the £250 and £400 respectively in winter 2008-09.

Number of households £

London borough of Hillingdon

24,050

200

7,840

300

Uxbridge constituency

7,750

200

2,500

300

Notes:
1. Figures rounded to the nearest 10.
2. Parliamentary constituencies and local authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.
3. Please note that a small number of these households receive amounts higher than the usual rate for their age group, where the household includes more than two individuals each entitled to payments at half of the usual household rate.
Source:
Information directorate 100 per cent. data

Working Tax Credit

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of all eligible recipients of working tax credit are currently in receipt of the childcare element. [232165]


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Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not available.

However, the estimated number of families benefiting from the child care element of working tax credit, at April 2008, is provided in Table 4.4 of the HMRC publication “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. April 2008”. This is available on the HMRC website at:

Leader of the House

Ministerial Policy Advisers: Written Questions

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Leader of the House if she will put in place arrangements for questions for written answer to be tabled to Government envoys. [232379]

Chris Bryant: No, as Ministers should remain accountable for policies, decisions and actions of their Departments and agencies.

Regional Ministers: Written Questions

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Leader of the House if she will put in place arrangements for questions for written answer to be tabled to regional ministers. [232381]

Chris Bryant: Questions for written answer which relate to regional matters may be tabled to the relevant Secretary of State.

The House will shortly have the opportunity to consider motions establishing regional Select Committees and regional Grand Committees, including provision for ministers to answer questions in the Grand Committees.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the implementation of the action plan on peace, reconciliation and justice in Afghanistan; and what assistance the UK has given to civil society organisations in the country in support of that implementation since 2002. [226078]

Bill Rammell: The UK has given the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) £500,000 to support its three-year action plan for 2006-2008, which includes the implementation of the peace, reconciliation and justice action plan. Our support helps the AIHRC to collect and record evidence of past human rights abuses, raise awareness about transitional justice and lobby the Afghan Government for action. In 2007, the AIHRC's Transitional Justice Unit documented 86 mass graves related to past human rights abuses; such information will contribute to any future progress on transitional justice.


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Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government plan to take to help address corruption in public life in Afghanistan. [229850]

Bill Rammell: We continue to press President Karzai to take action against corrupt public officials and look forward to working with the new Minister of the Interior, Hanif Atmar, to tackle corruption in the Rule of Law sector, in particular policing. The Department for International Development has supported work to identify and address the areas of the Government of Afghanistan that are most vulnerable to corruption.

The Department for International Development is working closely with the World Bank to put in place more robust public financial management systems across the Government, and is engaged with other international partners to identify support requirements for the Government’s new anti-corruption body. In addition, the UK is providing anti-corruption specialists to strengthen Afghan law enforcement and justice institutions with a focus on the prosecution of counter-narcotics and corruption-related cases.

Bangladesh: Politics and Government

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the caretaker Government of Bangladesh about lifting the state of emergency before the commencement of the campaign period for the elections in December. [231049]

Bill Rammell: When my noble Friend, the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, visited Bangladesh in October, he reiterated to the caretaker Government, the main political parties, civil society and the media the UK's support for fair and credible elections. He made clear that the lifting of the state of emergency would be a major step towards this goal.

Belarus: Children

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to make representations to the Belarus authorities to allow the resumption of exchange programmes of Belarus children from the Chernobyl area. [230855]

Caroline Flint: Our ambassador to Belarus has been in close contact with the authorities in Minsk in recent weeks, raising our concerns about their decision to suspend these programmes. UK arrangements have worked well, with a high standard of care and safe return of the children to their guardians. We hope to find an amicable solution of the issue to allow the resumption of these programmes.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UK Government support the presumption of the exchange programmes of Belarus children from the area north of Chernobyl; and if he will make a statement. [231287]


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Caroline Flint: The Government fully support the resumption of charitable programmes bringing children from Chernobyl affected areas to western countries for short respite holidays. The British ambassador to Belarus has been in close contact with the authorities in Minsk, raising our concerns following their recent suspension of the programme. UK arrangements worked well, with a high standard of care and safe return of the children to their guardians. We hope to be able to find an amicable resolution of the issue to allow these visits to resume quickly.

Chernobyl: Children

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will take steps to facilitate arrangements for children from Chernobyl to be able to travel to the UK in accordance with the motion passed at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 13 October 2008. [231290]

Caroline Flint: The Government support the motion of the Council of Europe calling on the Belarusian authorities to end the travel ban for children who participate in various assistance programmes. The British ambassador to Belarus has been in close contact with the authorities in Minsk, raising our concerns. UK arrangements have worked well, with a high standard of care and safe return of the children to their guardians. We hope to find an amicable resolution of the issue to allow the resumption of these programmes.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region: Elections

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Chinese counterpart on elections in the Hong Kong special administrative region. [231761]

Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular contact with his Chinese counterpart to discuss a whole range of issues, including Hong Kong. He pays close attention to Hong Kong, and comments on developments in the Six-Monthly Report. A particular focus is on Hong Kong's progress towards universal suffrage. On 29 December 2007 the Foreign Secretary released the following comments on Hong Kong's elections:


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Hong Kong Special Administrative Region: Tourism

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK citizens visited the Hong Kong special administrative region in (a) 2007 and (b) 2006. [231759]

Bill Rammell: According to figures provided by the Hong Kong Immigration Department, 628,332 UK citizens visited Hong Kong in 2007 and 546,026 visited in 2006.

India: Christianity

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the current security situation for Christians in the state of Orissa, India; [230861]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with the Indian Government and the Indian Ambassador to the Court of St. James on reports of extreme violence towards Christians in India in recent months; [230863]

(3) what reports he has received of the security situation for Christians in the state of Karnataka, India; [230865]

(4) what steps the Government are taking to promote the safety of Christians in India from violence, and fear of violence; [230866]

(5) what reports he has received of the security situation for Christians in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. [230867]

Bill Rammell: We have received reports of around 40 deaths, 3,000 homes burnt and 27,000 people homeless following the recent violence against Christians in Orissa. Christian missionaries and church buildings have also been attacked in Karnataka, and there have been at least 35 major incidents against the Christian community in Madhya Pradesh this year, too. We believe that there are a variety of factors behind the recent violence in Orissa. The British high commission in New Delhi continues to monitor the situation closely.

We welcome the Indian Prime Minister's unequivocal statements condemning the attacks, most recently on 13 October. We have expressed our concerns directly with the Indian Government and their representatives. On 1 October, my noble Friend the Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, raised the matter with the Indian high commissioner in London. On 17 October, he also discussed our concerns with Anand Sharma, Indian Minister of External Affairs, and Mohammed Quereshi, Chairman of the Minorities Commission in New Delhi. The issue of religious freedom is due to be raised at the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue in New Delhi later this year.

India: Crimes of Violence

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of religious violence in Orissa state, India; what assessment he has made of its effect on the stability of India; and if he will make a statement. [229361]


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Bill Rammell: We have received reports of around 40 deaths, 3,000 homes burnt and 27,000 people homeless following the recent violence against Christians in Orissa. We assess that there are a number of issues at play, including the role of minorities, castes and politics. We welcome the Indian Prime Minister's unequivocal statements, including most recently on 13 October, when he condemned the attacks; called for urgent measures to tackle religious violence; authorised deployment of additional police to restore law and order and offered compensation to the victims. On 17 October, during his visit to New Delhi, my noble Friend the Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, expressed the Government's concerns about the current situation to Anand Sharma, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, and Mohammed Quereshi, Chairman of the Minorities Commission in New Delhi.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which representatives of his Department and those agencies for which he is responsible were present at the briefing given on 26 February 2004 by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross on that organisation's report on alleged abuses by coalition forces in Iraq. [229045]

Bill Rammell: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given by my right. hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Glenda Jackson) on 26 May 2004, Official Report, column 1635W. We would not as a matter of course identify officials involved in such meetings but I can confirm that the officials were representatives of the Office of the UK Special Representative in Baghdad.

Kashmir: Armed Conflict

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in India and Pakistan on easing movements across the line of control in Kashmir. [230248]

Bill Rammell: The UK has long been at the forefront of seeking to improve conditions for residents of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the line of control. In September and October this year, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the need for progress on economic links between India and Pakistan, and between the two divided parts of Kashmir with President Zardari of Pakistan and Indian Minister for External Affairs, Pranab Mukherjee. We also consistently raise with both countries the importance of making progress on bilateral relations, including improving conditions for Kashmiris on both sides of the line of control.

Improving cross-border trade between India and Pakistan is important to developing the economies of both countries and cementing progress in the bilateral relationship. We therefore welcome the recent reopening of trade across the line of control.


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Kosovo: Refugees

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received from HM Ambassador in Kosovo on Roma refugee camps in Kosovo. [231202]

Caroline Flint: The Government continue to be concerned by the situation in the Roma refugee camps in northern Kosovo. The British embassy in Pristina monitors UN and non-governmental organisation (NGO) reports on the three affected camps: Osterode/Osterode, Cesmin Llug/Cesmin Lug and Leposavic/Leposaviq. International donors and NGOs have recently provided funding to help with rebuilding houses and are assisting members of the Roma community to rebuild their lives. 450 people have moved out of the camps after the completion of the first phase of the rebuilding of the Roma Mahalla, the Roma district of Mitrovica/Mitrovic√" which was destroyed during the 1998-99 conflict. A further 48 people are in the process of being assessed for return to suitable accommodation. According to the Danish Refugee Council which administers the camps, there are approximately 169 Roma still living in the camps.


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