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The Commission has commissioned research to examine the allocation of social housing in England. The study is set in the context of increased international immigration to the UK and a reduction in social housing stock.
Robert Neill: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many staff who were made redundant by the Commission for Racial Equality and given redundancy payments have subsequently been (a) employed and (b) hired as consultants by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. 
Maria Eagle: 72 Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) staff received redundancy payments via the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. The CRE may have made direct payments to staff over retirement age. The Equality and Human Rights Commission subsequently re-engaged seven former employees of the CRE on short-term consultancy contracts. More information about the re-engaged staff can be found in the EHRC annual report and accounts 2006-08.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many posts for full-time equivalent staff the Equality and Human Rights Commission has approval from HM Treasury to appoint; and how many such posts are unfilled. 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many flags the Government Equalities Office (a) owns and (b) maintains; and what the cost of maintaining them was in the last 12 months. 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many and what proportion of staff working in the Government Equalities Office are (a) male, (b) female and (c) from an ethnic minority. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment the Equality and Human Rights Commission made of the legality of giving priority to local residents in the social housing allocation policies. 
Maria Eagle: The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently undertook a research project on allocation of social housing. This project did not undertake any assessment of current social housing allocation policies.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality when she plans to reply to the letter to her of 29 May 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms K Rowley. 
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality whether she plans to bring forward legislative proposals to amend public procurement legislation and guidance in order to achieve the Government's policy objectives on equality. 
Michael Jabez Foster: There are no plans to amend procurement legislation. The Equality Bill contains a Regulation making power to introduce specific duties via secondary legislation, which will require contracting authorities to use public procurement to promote equality wherever possible. The specific duties will be formulated in a way that is compatible with procurement legislation, so there should be no need to amend either the Public Contract Regulations 2006, or the Utilities Contract Regulations 2006.
The Government Equality Office is working closely with both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Office of Government Commerce with regard to procurement related guidance. The EHRC are assessing the requirements for guidance in relation to the Equality Bill and the Office of Government Commerce are also considering what may be required in relation to procurement, including the provision of a new non-legislative toolkit.
Maria Eagle: The Minster for Women and Equality visited The Poppy Project, part of Eaves, a London-based charity that provides housing and support to trafficked women, in September 2008. In April 2009 she visited a Domestic Violence Victims Support Unit in Ghana.
(i) A review of the inequalities experienced by Gypsy and Traveller communities across the Commission's mandate and public services, building on the race focus of Common Ground published in 2006 by the Commission for Racial Equality.
(ii) An assessment of local authorities' progress in meeting the accommodation needs of Gypsy and Traveller communities in England.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff from his Department are based in the provincial reconstruction team base in Lashkar Gar; what proportion of such staff (a) have left the perimeter of the base by road during their tour and (b) are performing roles which could be undertaken at Camp Bastion; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have sought the release and return of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national formerly lawfully resident in the UK, from Guantanamo Bay since August 2007. The US has not so far agreed to his release and return to the UK in the light of security concerns in his case.
We have made clear to both the current and previous US Administrations that our request for Mr. Aamer's release and return to the UK stands. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has reiterated this position to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Other Ministers and senior officials across Government have raised Mr. Aamer's case with their counterparts in the US State Department, the Department of Defence, the Department of Justice and the National Security Council.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government has made to the UN regarding the involvement of the government of Afghanistan in local state elections in that country. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Over the past two years, the UK has been working alongside Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC), the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the wider donor community to prepare the 2009-10 Afghan elections. This includes preparations for the Provincial Council elections, which will be held at the same time as the presidential elections on 20 August 2009.
The Afghan Government, with the support of the international community, has a vital role to play in both ensuring adequate security for the elections and that the IEC is a functioning body, capable of ensuring effective organisation. The 2009 elections will be the first Afghan-led elections since the 1970s.
UNAMA, through the UNDP, is co-ordinating international support through the ELECT project, to which the UK has given £16.5 million. ELECT aims to
build up the capacity of the IEC to run the elections and to create a more cohesive and informed electoral process with as wide participation as possible. We work closely with the UN in Afghanistan and New York on preparations and have frequently played the lead role in raising and resolving issues of concern with the UN, the Afghan Government and international donors.
International funding, both through ELECT and other projects, is supporting media exposure for candidates and civic education for voters, to explain the electoral process and to encourage them to vote. We are following the UN and IEC preparations closely, holding UNDP to account against the project's agreed outputs and pressing for additional action where necessary.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Head of his Department's Middle East and North Africa Department has plans to visit the Saharawi refugee camp in Algeria. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Director of Middle East and North Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no plans to visit the Saharawi refugee camp in Algeria. However, officials from our embassy in Algiers do make periodic visits to Tindouf, with the last such visit in March of this year.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Bangladeshi government on reports of violations of the human rights of the Jumma tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. 
Chris Bryant: The Government support the work of the Chittagong Hill Tract Commission in promoting respect for democracy, land rights and development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Officials from our high commission in Dhaka met with the deputy commissioner in Rangamati in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in March 2009 to stress the importance of both implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord and respect for the human rights of the communities in the region. In August 2009, our high commissioner met members of the Chittagong Hill Tract Commission when they visited Bangladesh. Our high commission has offered funding in support of the commission's important work to address the rights of the indigenous peoples.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to enable his Department to react more quickly to reports of the torture of British nationals abroad since 2004. 
Ensuring the welfare of British nationals detained abroad is one of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)'s highest priorities. Consular staff are
given training and guidance in how to deal with distressed British nationals overseas, including in cases where allegations of mistreatment have been made. Consular staff are specifically trained on what action to take in response to any allegation of mistreatment. They can also draw on professional support, including from specialist legal and human rights advisers in the FCO.
However, this training and guidance is continually evolving and improving. Guidance is now clearer on the paramount importance and urgency of these cases, on who in London and overseas needs to be informed of allegations of mistreatment when these are made to a consular official, and on the actions to be taken to follow up such allegations.
Our current guidance includes the identification of possible signs of torture and mistreatment, as well as the procedures to be adopted in such circumstances. The first step when a British national is detained overseas is to seek and secure access by our consular staff. Our staff are instructed to ask our nationals whether they have suffered abuse or mistreatment, and to look out for signs of mistreatment even where an individual does not raise it. They are required to follow up all reports of mistreatment whether they come from the individual themselves, from their friends, family or representatives, or from other sources. What form this follow up action will take will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Most obviously, we can raise our concerns with the relevant authorities. Whatever action we take however, the objective remains the same: to end the mistreatment, and have the incident investigated and the perpetrators of any abuse brought to justice.
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