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Northern Ireland

Departmental Languages

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants in his Department received coaching in a foreign language in the last 12 months; what expenditure his Department incurred in providing such coaching; and in what languages such coaching was provided. [248076]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office has not commissioned or delivered coaching to Ministers or civil servants in a foreign language in the last 12 months.

Driving Under Influence: Accidents

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many road traffic accidents which resulted in one or more fatalities in 2007 there were in Northern Ireland in which excessive alcohol was assessed to have been a contributory factor. [248116]

Paul Goggins: That is an operational matter for the Chief Constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the hon. Member, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

International Monitoring Commission

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the next International Monitoring Commission report is expected; and whether he expects it to include a section on the seizure in County Meath in the Irish Republic of Semtex during December 2008. [248113]


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Paul Goggins: The next Independent Monitoring Commission report is expected in May 2009 in line with its six monthly reporting cycle. The IMC is an independent body and the contents of reports are a matter for the Commissioners. Their practice has been to refer to any events in the period reported on which they judge to be relevant to their remit.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Recruitment

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects the 50/50 recruitment policy regarding the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland to be concluded and replaced with the merit principle of recruitment. [248112]

Paul Goggins: As reaffirmed by the St. Andrews Agreement, our commitment to the continuation of the 50:50 provisions is strictly time bound and is focused on our objective of reaching 30 per cent. Catholic composition in the PSNI regulars by 2010-11. We remain on target to achieve this and ending the provision at that time.

Probation Board for Northern Ireland: Labour Turnover

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people (a) were recruited to and (b) retired from the Probation Board in Northern Ireland in 2008. [248424]

Paul Goggins: This is an operational matter for the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, which operates independently of Government. I would encourage the hon. Member to write directly to Brian McCaughey, Director of Probation, PBNI, 80-90 North Street, Belfast, BT1 1LD.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to protect Afghani parliamentarians who speak out in favour of the rights of women, children and other vulnerable populations from threats made against them; and if he will make a statement. [246544]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 12 January 2009]: Together with our EU partners, the UK is committed to improving the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government and judiciary are obliged by law to respect these commitments. As part of our broader efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan, we are spending some £31 million on policing and rule of law activities during 2008-09.

The duty of protecting Afghanistan's citizens, including legislators, lies first and foremost with the Government of Afghanistan. Our continued presence in Afghanistan, providing both military (over 8,000 troops) and development/reconstruction assistance, helps to improve security for all of Afghanistan's citizens. As part of our wider efforts to improve the overall security situation and respect for law and order, we encourage the Afghan authorities to take seriously any credible threats against
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human rights defenders. Where appropriate, we also raise individual human rights cases with the government of Afghanistan, both publicly and in private. We also provide financial support to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which promotes, protects and monitors human rights.

Colombia: Armed Forces

Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department records the (a) location at and (b) unit with which Colombian military personnel serve once they have completed a period of training in the UK; and whether it records the type of activity undertaken by such personnel in the course of their military career. [244626]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 17 December 2008]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 999W.

Serbia: Entry Clearances

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on proposals for the liberalisation of the EU visa regime for Serbian citizens; when he expects a decision to be taken on these proposals; and if he will make a statement. [240841]

David Miliband: The UK does not participate in the EU common Schengen acquis or in decisions to liberalise the Schengen visa regime, including in respect of Serbia.

Serbia's progress towards liberalisation of the Schengen visa regime for Serbian citizens will be determined by the fulfilment of all criteria specified in the EU Visa Liberalisation Roadmap which the government of Serbia agreed with the EU in June 2008. The EU intends to report annually on the progress made by Serbia against the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap.

Serbian nationals have been subject to a UK visa regime since 1991. The UK Border Agency undertook a comprehensive review of the UK's visa regimes, the Visa Waiver Test, in 2007. The results of this review, in the context of Serbia, mean the Government have no plans at present to lift the visa requirements for Serbian citizens.

USA: Capital Punishment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the US Administration on behalf of the death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. [244985]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 12 January 2009]: To date there have been no representations made on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal. While we and our EU partners continue to oppose the use of the death penalty around the world, including in the US, this case has not been brought to the attention of the EU as a case which violates the minimum standards—as set out in the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty—which the EU uses to determine when to intervene in individual cases.


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Scotland

Departmental Pay

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the salary bill for the Scotland Office was for its staff in all locations in each quarter since 1999. [248511]

Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office does not hold records showing the breakdown of the salary bill by quarter, however the full year costs are shown in the following table.

£000

SO and OAG

1999-2000(1)

1,976

2000-01

3281

SO only

2001-02

2,459

2002-03

2,842

2003-04

2,571

2004-05

2,182

2005-06

1,888

2006-07

1,889

2007-08

2,250

(1) Part year, the Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999.

Culture, Media and Sport

Arts: Access

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps are being taken to increase the accessibility of high culture to working-class people. [244824]

Barbara Follett: My Department continues to work closely with sponsored bodies responsible for culture to ensure that funding over the SR08 period is used to support the Government’s objective to increase participation in culture by adults from a lower socio-economic background.

Arts Council England is conducting audience segmentation analysis to gather fresh data about which groups engage with the arts and will use this as the basis for a national campaign to encourage the broadest range of people to do so. English Heritage is also looking at barriers to engagement with the historic environment experienced by people in lower socio-economic groups. Through the Renaissance in the Regions programme the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) is seeking to increase participation and achieve greater diversity amongst the visitors to regional hub museums across England. Entry to DCMS-sponsored national museums and galleries has been free for all since 2001.

In September last year, 10 pathfinder Find Your Talent projects were set up with an investment of £25 million to test various ways to deliver a five-hour cultural offer to ensure that all children and young people aged 0-19 can access a wide range of high-quality artistic and cultural experiences. In November 2008, my Department announced the Free Theatre initiative which offers free tickets to young people up to age 26. Evaluations of the annual ‘Heritage Open Days’ initiative, indicate a significant increase in visitors from the lower socio-economic groups
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in 2006 and 2007 to those sites where records allow comparison with previous years.

The DCMS ‘Taking Part’ survey is being used to measure participation by adults from the priority groups. The most recent results, published in December 2008, indicate that the proportion of adults from lower socio-economic backgrounds attending a museum or gallery during the previous 12 months was 30.6 per cent., a 2.3 per cent. increase compared to the baseline established in 2005-06. For visits to historic environment sites the comparable figures were 59.4 per cent. attendance, an increase of 2.3 per cent. on the 2005-06 baseline. Attendance at arts events was 18.3 per cent. of this group with no significant statistical change on the baseline.

Arts: Apprentices

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people have enrolled on Creative Britain apprenticeships; and if he will make a statement. [247495]

Andy Burnham: My Department’s strategy for the creative economy, Creative Britain—New Talents for the New Economy, includes the ambition of working with employers and sector skills councils to establish up to 5000 apprenticeships in the creative industries by 2013.

To date, over 160 employers have signed up to offer the Creative Apprenticeship, a mix of on the job and off the job training with 13 apprenticeships started and a further 130 due to start later this year. There are also pilots with the BBC at Mediacity:uk and the Savile Row Tailors.

Once established, the National Apprenticeship Service will monitor starts and completions of all approved apprenticeships.

Creative Britain Review

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost of the Creative Britain Review was to his Department; what financial contributions were made by other Government departments; and what staff costs were involved. [247435]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 14 January 2009]: In January 2007, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned the Work Foundation to produce Staying Ahead, a report analysing the economic performance of the Creative Industries in the UK. The cost of producing this report was approximately £84,000.

Following this report, DCMS, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) produced Creative Britain in February 2008, which outlined 26 commitments seeking to maximise the contribution of the Creative Industries to the UK economy. The costs of producing this document were approximately £74,000. Of this, BERR provided £30,000. It is difficult to estimate the staff costs as most of the officials from each Department involved (DCMS, BERR and DIUS) were engaged on other projects at the same time.


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Departmental Catering

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) directly-operated and (b) franchised catering outlets his Department and its agency provides for staff. [249070]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department has one directly operated catering outlet for its staff. The Royal Parks Agency, the Department's one executive agency, does not have any directly operated or franchised catering outlets for its staff.

Gaming: Licensing

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what changes he plans to make to licensing guidelines concerning gaming codes. [249092]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Gambling Commission have advised that on 1 October 2008 following an extensive consultation exercise, they published a revised version of their Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which came into effect on 1 January 2009.

The LCCP can be viewed at the following web link:

Since the publication of LCCP, the Gambling Commission has consulted on proposals to add a new licence condition and code of practice provision to LCCP. These proposals set out the requirement that holders of different categories of premises licences ensure that the gambling activity which corresponds to the licence type is actually offered as the primary activity at those premises. A supplement to LCCP setting out any new conditions and codes relating to this consultation will be published in due course.

ICT: Reviews

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what dates the Digital Britain Steering Board has met; what dates have been set for future meetings; which members of the Board were present at each meeting; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the most recent meeting. [248893]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 19 January 2009]: The Digital Britain Steering Board has met on the following dates: 14, 21, 28 November 2008, 5, 12 December 2008 and 9, 14 January 2009.

Further meetings are scheduled for: 23 January, 29 January, 13 February, 27 February, 13 March, 27 March, 10 April, 24 April, 8 May and 22 May 2009.

The meetings are confidential and it would therefore not be appropriate to publish attendance or the Minutes.


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