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15 Jan 2009 : Column 902W—continued

Public Libraries: Community Relations

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council plans to publish its final guidance on controversial publications in public libraries referred to on page 25 of Preventing Violent Extremism: Next Steps for Communities. [245585]

Barbara Follett: The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) expects to publish its guidance on Controversial Stock in Public Libraries early in 2009. The guidance will be available on the MLA website once it has been published. The MLA will be supporting the sector in the use of the guidance by offering a series of free workshops in spring 2009, organised in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Radio Frequencies

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps Ofcom is taking to remove radio interference affecting short wave users, with particular reference to that caused by (a) general powerline adaptors and (b) powerline adaptors provided by BT as part of their Vision system; and if he will make a statement. [242363]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.


Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much funding his Department plans to provide to each local authority to provide free swimming in the first year of the scheme's operation. [243054]

Andy Burnham: Details of Government funding to participating local authorities to provide free swimming will shortly be placed on my Department's website and in the Library of both Houses.

Swimming Teachers' Association

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consideration he has given to consulting the Swimming Teachers’ Association on future work and policy initiatives concerning swimming. [243961]

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Andy Burnham: My officials recently met the Swimming Teachers’ Association to discuss future work and policy initiatives concerning the Government’s Free Swimming Programme. We will continue to involve them in future discussions as appropriate.

Swimming: Low Incomes

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to ensure swimming access for people on low incomes. [247451]

Andy Burnham: Increasing overall participation in swimming, including access for people on low incomes, is one of the key aims of the Amateur Swimming Association's (ASA) strategic plan 2005-09. Sport England has contributed in excess of £9 million of Whole Sport Plan funding to this initiative.

Sport England awarded £3 million to the ASA to support its ‘Everyday Swim’ project during 2006-08. ‘Everyday Swim’ is a national project, operating at a number of sites across England. The aim is to deliver a sustained increase in participation, improving people's experience of using public pools, including those on low incomes.

In addition, the Free Swimming Programme is a £140 million coherent package designed to extend opportunities to swim and to maximise the health benefits of wider participation in swimming.

Swimming: Teachers

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to ensure a sufficient supply of swimming teachers to staff its free access to swimming initiative. [247450]

Andy Burnham: We are working with Sport England, the Amateur Swimming Association and others on the detailed design and delivery arrangements for this initiative. We shall be announcing details of this shortly and in advance of the Free Swimming Programme's national launch in April.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of tourists from St Helena who have visited the United Kingdom in the last three years. [240844]

Barbara Follett: The International Passenger Survey, which randomly samples passengers entering and leaving the United Kingdom by air, sea or through the Channel Tunnel, groups St. Helena with the dependencies of Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, so there is no individual estimate for this individual island.

In 2007, 1,416 visits to the United Kingdom from these British Overseas Territory islands were recorded by the International Passenger Survey.

There is no recorded information from the International Passenger Survey for 2006 and 2008.

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Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions his Department has had with HM Treasury on the implications of the value of sterling for the British tourist industry; and if he will make a statement. [247215]

Andy Burnham: My Department has not had discussions with Treasury on this matter but meets regularly with VisitBritain and hosted a National Tourism Summit in Liverpool on 8 January to consider the ways in which the effects of the economic downturn on tourism can be minimised. VisitBritain will publish its strategic review on tourism support in February 2009 and we are confident this will improve their ability to market Britain internationally and England at home. Recently, VisitBritain and VisitEngland launched a £6.5 million ‘Value for Money Campaign’. This will build on the current domestic and international Enjoy England Campaign, which positions England and Britain as good value destinations.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Iraq: Christianity

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government plans to make to the Iraqi government on violence against Christians in Iraq. [246815]

Bill Rammell: Ministers and officials will continue to meet representatives of the Iraqi government to discuss how Christians and all other religious communities can fully enjoy the freedom of worship enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, and are not subject to violence or intimidation. We will continue to advocate that those responsible for such attacks are held to account, regardless of their ethnic, political or religious affiliation.

I also welcome the continued work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) in her capacity as the Prime Minister's Envoy for Human Rights in Iraq on the protection of minority communities.

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will make it its policy to support the creation of a self-governing province in northern Iraq linked to Iraq's central government situated in and around the Nineveh Plains and jointly governed by the Assyrian Chaldeans, Shabak, Yezidis and other ethnic groups living in that area. [246816]

Bill Rammell: As I said in the Westminster Hall Adjournment debate on ‘The Christians of Iraq’ on 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 44 WH, any decisions regarding changes to the federal structure in Iraq are for the democratically elected Iraqi government and the people of Iraq to make.

However, dividing Iraq along ethnic, religious or sectarian grounds would be a vastly complicated and potentially volatile process as in many cities and areas of Iraq, people lived in ethnically and religiously mixed communities.

Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will urge the Iraqi government to name publicly the suspects arrested for the recent targeted assassinations of Christians in Mosul. [246818]

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Bill Rammell: The Iraqi authorities have made it clear that attacks against the Christian community are unacceptable. We have echoed that view publicly and privately in our discussions with them. Whether the suspects should be named is a matter for the government of Iraq, and the Iraqi judicial process.

We will await the findings of the Iraqi investigation until it is completed.

Libya: Terrorism

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government has had with the Libyan government on compensation for victims of IRA terrorism involving arms originating in Libya. [247222]

Bill Rammell: The Government have taken regular soundings on Libya's position in respect of its past support for the IRA since the restoration of diplomatic relations, notably in 2004, 2006, in November 2007, and most recently through the United States in August 2008.

In 1995, Libya accounted for its past support of the IRA to the satisfaction of the then Government. On all subsequent occasions this matter has been discussed, Libya has stressed that it believes the matter is firmly closed. It is the Government's considered assessment therefore that Libya would not be prepared to discuss a bilateral settlement of these cases.

We will however continue to monitor the Libyan position on this issue.

Rashid Rauf

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Prime Minister was first informed of the suspected death of Mr. Rashid Rauf following the US air strike on the village of Ali Khel on 22 November 2008. [245659]

Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister first learned of the suspected death of Mr. Rashid Rauf from media reporting coming out of Pakistan.

Thailand: Politics and Government

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps in the light of the blockade of Bangkok’s two main airports to ensure that UK citizens who are caught up in protests or blockades in other countries can be (a) kept fully informed and (b) returned to the UK as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement. [240322]

Bill Rammell: As we did in Thailand following the blockade of Bangkok airports, we will use Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice and the local diplomatic mission’s website to provide practical, objective, accurate and up-to-date information to British nationals caught up in similar protests and blockades. We also encourage British nationals to register their overseas travel through the FCO’s online travel registration system called LOCATE. British nationals can use LOCATE to tell us where they are travelling and register their contact details. It only takes a few minutes to register with LOCATE and the facility can be found on the
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FCO’s website, alongside our Travel Advice pages. If a British national registers with LOCATE and an incident similar to the airport blockades in Bangkok occurs, our diplomatic mission in the country and crisis response teams in the UK can use the listed contact details to keep people fully informed.

During the disruption in Thailand we have been in close contact with airlines that have the majority of British ticket holders and have consistently encouraged them to lay on additional flights and honour their responsibilities to their ticket holders. As and when additional emergency flights were scheduled during the blockade, we passed on details of those British nationals who had contacted us to the flight organisers. We understand that many British nationals were able to leave Thailand as a result. Given a similar situation in another country we would expect to take all appropriate and necessary action to ensure British nationals are given similar assistance if required.


Banks: Finance

Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to (a) building societies and (b) banks of the management expenses bill levied by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in order to service its borrowings in respect of Bradford and Bingley and the Icelandic banks (i) in total and (ii) as a percentage of (A) the pre-tax profits for the last three financial years, (B) the retail deposit balance sheet and (C) the total balance sheet of each type of organisation. [247179]

Ian Pearson: The Financial Services Compensation Scheme is responsible for setting its levies subject to upper limits set in rules made by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA has published on its website:

a letter sent to the British Bankers’ Association, the Building Societies Association and the Association of Foreign Banks on 31 December 2008 setting out some detailed information regarding the levies payable following recent deposit-taker defaults.

Child Benefit

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people claimed child benefit in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) Great Britain in each year since 1999. [247497]

Mr. Timms: For estimates of the number of families who were claiming Child Benefit in the areas requested as at the end of August in each year from 1999 to 2002, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 23 March 2005, Official Report, column 825W.

Corresponding estimates for each subsequent August from 2003 to 2006 are provided in the HMRC annual publication 'Child Benefit geographical statistics', available on the HMRC website at:

Figures for August 2007 are not yet available.

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Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many fathers are in receipt of child benefit; and what proportion of the total number of recipients this represents. [248106]

Mr. Timms: Only limited information is available. The most recent estimate is that some 7 per cent. of those on receipt of child benefit are males.

Economic and Monetary Union

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when his Department's tests for potential entry to the euro were last used to make an assessment; and when the Government next plans to reassess performance against the tests. [248190]

Ian Pearson: The Government published the assessment of the five economic tests in June 2003. The Chancellor announced in Budget 2008 that

The Treasury will again review the situation at Budget 2009 as required by the Chancellor’s June 2003 statement.

Exchange Rates

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect of recent changes in the value of the pound against (a) the US dollar and (b) the euro on the UK (i) economy and (ii) tourist industry; and if he will make a statement. [247995]

Ian Pearson: Annex A of the 2008 pre-Budget report (Cm 7484) discusses the potential effects of exchange rate movements. The Government's objective is for a stable and competitive exchange rate in the medium term, consistent with meeting the inflation target.

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