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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what counter-narcotics assistance the UK has provided to Iran in each financial year since 2000; what assistance is planned in 2009-10; and if he will provide a breakdown of the expenditure by category of (a) projects supported and (b) costs. 
Training drug enforcement agencies on border management and intelligence sharing.
Supply of mobile drugs detection units for anti-narcotics police.
Donation of IT equipment and training for intelligence analysis.
Training and funds to Iranian NGOs involved in the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Most of the funding has been channelled through the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for capacity building on Iran's eastern border and improving investigative capability. Some equipment has been provided through UNODC and bilaterally.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions there were between the Government and (a) the Israeli Government, (b) President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and (c) representatives of Hamas on the situation in Gaza between 28 December 2008 and 5 January 2009. 
Bill Rammell: We have been in regular contact with both the Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority, including during this period the Prime Minister speaking to the Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President.
There was no contact with Hamas. We do not believe it is productive to talk to Hamas until it makes significant movement towards the Quartet principles of rejecting violence, accepting Israel's right to exist and recognising previous agreements.
Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration he has given to the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories concerning the Israeli attack on Gaza from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009; if the Government will review their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and other relevant aspects of international law as a consequence; and if he will make a statement. 
We have called for allegations of abuse to be thoroughly investigated. The report of the UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur is unbalanced and contributes little. We are awaiting the results of several ongoing investigations into alleged human rights violations during the Gaza conflict and will consider very carefully the results of these investigations once they are available.
We continue to press the Israeli Government to abide by all their international commitments, including their obligations under the fourth Geneva convention which makes clear that an occupying power must co-operate in allowing allow free movement of people, humanitarian supplies and commercial goods.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Office was informed of the suspected death of Mr Rashid Rauf from a US air strike in the village of Ali Khel on 21 November 2008. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received confirmation of the death of Mr Rashid Rauf in the US air strike on the village of Ali Khel on 22 November 2008. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate the BBC World Service has made of the number of people in the Russian Federation with internet access who (a) use the BBC Russian.com website and (b) are likely to use the website in each of the next five years. 
Caroline Flint: The latest available figures are from January 2009, and estimate that the number of unique users of BBC Russian.com in the Russian Federation was on average 247,000 per week. However, we would therefore expect this number to increase.
Research shows that the number of internet users in Russia continues to grow, and that by the end of 2008 Russia had overtaken the UK as the second largest internet market in Europe. The BBC World Service regularly reviews the performance of all its websites, but predictive performance estimates of websites in individual countries are not available in this fast-changing environment.
Caroline Flint: The BBC World Service carried out a strategic review of the BBC Russian Service in 2008 in order to increase its impact and deliver a better service to audiences in Russia. It will continue to seek new opportunities to expand Russian audiences' access to the BBC Russian Service.
The BBC World Service has no plans for another strategic review of the service. However as with all services, it regularly reviews the Russian service output and assesses its impact through regular audience measurement.
The BBC World Service is editorially and operationally independent of Government. Though the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was consulted on the recent changes to the Russia Service, strategic decisions on individual language service reviews are taken by the BBC World Service.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 1 April 2009, Official Report, column 1281W, on Somalia: piracy, whether the UK has put forward proposals on building capacity and capability in the region to prosecute pirates; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The international Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) met in Cairo on 17 March 2009. The UK, as the chair of the Contact Group working group on international co-ordination and co-operation, asked for its mandate to be expanded to include regional capability development, given the importance of this work to a sustainable solution. This was agreed. As a result, and in co-ordination with key international organisations and partners, a UK-led needs assessment mission will be visiting the region in April/May to assess requirements in the judicial, penal and maritime security (Coastguard/naval) sectors. The mission will report back to the Contact Group via its working group as soon as possible, seeking funding support for the areas it assesses as priorities.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the current strength is of the UNAMID force operating in Darfur; which nations are contributing to it; how many (a) troops and (b) police have been provided in each case; and how much funding each contributing nation is making available. 
Gillian Merron: The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is now 15,136 troops, police and military observers, and approximately 2,000 civilians. The UK has staff officers deployed in UNAMID and is helping to train UNAMID police.
There are currently 35 Troop Contributing Countries. The largest are: Nigeria with 3244 troops, Rwanda with 3241 and Ethiopia with 1470. There are currently 41 police contributing countries. The largest are: Ghana
with 577 police officers, Nigeria with 268 police officers and two formed police units and Bangladesh with 88 police officers and one formed police unit.
Funding for UNAMID is managed by the United Nations. As well as our assessed contribution, the UK is making available approximately £2.5 million of funding this financial year to train and equip African contributing nations.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Ukraine; and if he will make a statement. 
Ukraine has made good progress in recent years on democratisation and freedom of expression and the media, with three consecutive elections recognised as largely free and fair, and a diverse and lively media environment. We welcome the increasing involvement of human rights organisations in Government work to protect human rights. There are, however, a number of areas where urgent action is required, for example on tackling corruption, strengthening the rule of law, reversing the rise in suspected serious racist and anti-Semitic attacks, preventing people trafficking, improving the way in which detainees are treated by the law enforcement agencies. We are working closely with Ukraine on all of these issues, in particular through the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Council of Europe.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how long on average his Department took to process claims for assistance under the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme with 100 per cent. of eligible mortgage interest in 2008; what the average was in the period immediately prior to 5 January 2009; and what it has been since that date; 
Kitty Ussher: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking how long on average his Department took to process claims for assistance with 100% of eligible mortgage interest; what the average was in the period immediately prior to 5 January 2009; what it has been since that date; and how many applications for support under the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme have been received in each of the last 24 months. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Jobcentre Plus does not capture the average processing time for claims for assistance with 100% of eligible mortgage interest. What is recorded is the average clearance time for the processing of our benefits, for example Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and Income Support (IS). Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is not a separate benefit but rather forms an integral part of the benefits such as JSA and IS. The customer may not be eligible to claim SMI from day one of their claim and as a result that element will be processed later in the life of that claim. This is why we do not capture the clearance time.
Jobcentre Plus does record the actual number of claims received for SMI, by benefit type. Please find attached this information for each of the last 24 months.
No data on Employment and Support Allowance will be released until the first set of official statistics have been published in the Summer.
|Claims received for mortgage interest, report ending February 2008 and 2009, Jobcentre Plus|
|IS claims received||JSA claims received||IS claims received||JSA claims received|
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