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Mr. Ivan Lewis: Our ambassador to Morocco and his staff at our embassy in Rabat have already sought clarification from the Moroccan Government regarding Mr. Razouk Choummad and the other Sahrawi students due to take part in an event in Oxford in August this year.
The Government made clear to the Moroccan authorities that they regretted that the students had been prevented from travelling to the UK and that they were concerned by allegations of the disproportionate use of force.
The Moroccan Government have told us that they remain open to participating in future events organised by Talk Together and have investigated the allegations of mistreatment, which they deny. We will continue to seek further clarification from the Moroccan authorities.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Yemen with His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al Faisal on a number of occasions, most recently earlier this month. The UK and Saudi Arabia are both committed to supporting the Government of Yemen in addressing the difficult challenges they face, including the conflict in the Northern region of Sa'dah.
We have welcomed the commitment by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work with the UN to facilitate the safe passage of emergency relief supplies to the internally displaced persons in Northern Yemen. The UK will provide £2 million of additional humanitarian aid to the situation.
Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review the operation of the interpretative declaration on article 1 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict for the purposes of (a) taking steps to ensure that children are not exposed to the risk of taking direct part in hostilities and (b) monitoring Government compliance with the spirit of the Optional Protocol. 
Bill Rammell: There are no plans to review the operation of the interpretative declaration on article 1 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Government policy is that Service Personnel under the age of 18 are not routinely deployed on operations outside the UK. The exception to this is where the operation does not involve personnel becoming engaged in or exposed to hostilities, such as disaster relief.
The MOD believes that its policies on under 18s are robust and compliant with national and international law. We remain fully committed to meeting our obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training has been delivered to armed forces personnel on the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and how many such personnel have completed that training. 
The UK armed forces do not routinely train all personnel on the Optional Protocol specifically, but personnel involved in handling prisoners of war, internees and detainees receive training which addresses the handling of juveniles and children.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has held with his US counterpart on vulnerability to electromagnetic pulse attacks; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 12 October 2009]: Defence equipment and systems are procured against a set of specifications that includes appropriate protection against electromagnetic attack. These specifications are informed by appropriate consultation at expert level with relevant experts.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of training provided for helicopter pilots participating in amphibious operations. 
Bill Rammell: The UK amphibious helicopter capability is provided by the Commando Helicopter Force operating Sea King Mk 4 and Lynx Mk 7 helicopters, augmented when required by Chinook and Apache helicopters.
The initial training provided to helicopter pilots as part of the Commando Helicopter Force is considered satisfactory. The tempo of land operations over recent years has had an impact on the ability to conduct amphibious operations. Nevertheless, small scale exercises have been achieved and a minimal level of currency and competency for amphibious operations maintained.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the length of time it would take (a) to place an order for new Merlin helicopters, (b) for Agusta Westland to manufacture the new helicopters and (c) for the armed forces to bring the new helicopters into service after delivery. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: We recently reviewed whether the acquisition of new medium helicopters could be advanced in lieu of the planned life-extension of the Puma helicopter. Several companies, including Agusta Westland provided outline cost and delivery information for their potential candidate aircraft in support of this review. For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we cannot disclose details of their proposals, including delivery estimates.
More generally, the timescales for procurement decisions are dependent on the urgency of the capability need, the value and complexity of the procurement, and the time needed to demonstrate that the solution meets the requirement and represents value for money. We have 'fast track' arrangements for those capabilities required urgently for operations. Once manufactured, it can take significant time to bring a helicopter to the standard required to meet any role, mission or theatre specific requirements, to train crews (and maintainers) accordingly, and to ensure that the aircraft meets the required specification and airworthiness standards, and can withstand the rigours of war.
14. Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of provision of cancer services in (a) Billericay constituency and (b) England; and if he will make a statement. 
Ann Keen: The first annual report of the "Cancer Reform Strategy", published in December 2008, is the most recent assessment of cancer service provision in England. The report showed that good progress is being made against the objectives of the Strategy.
Funding for local health services has been allocated to primary care trusts (PCTs) on the basis of the relative needs of their populations. It is therefore for South West Essex PCT in partnership with East of England Strategic Health Authority and the local Cancer Network to make an assessment of cancer services in Billericay.
Ann Keen: More than 27.6 million people saw an NHS dentist in the 24 months ending June 2009. This is almost three quarters of a million more than in the same period ending June 2008. The number of dentists working in the NHS, and the number of courses of NHS dental treatment provided are also growing steadily. We have invested a record £2 billion in dentistry and set up a national access programme to help the NHS deliver its goal of access for all who seek it by 2011. We therefore expect access to continue to increase.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Proposals for the reconfiguration of services are a matter for the NHS locally, working in conjunction with clinicians, patients and other stakeholders and advocated through Lord Darzi's 2008 publication "Leading Local Change".
18. Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the delivery of emergency care in (a) independent sector treatment centres and (b) NHS hospitals. 
20. Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to assist acute hospital trusts in which levels of accident and emergency department admissions have increased as a result of the swine influenza pandemic. 
Gillian Merron: The NHS, including acute hospitals, has been preparing for pandemic influenza for several years, and all organisations have robust plans in place that cover the whole health economy. These have recently been tested by a series of comprehensive exercises and confirmed by each Board's assurance statements during September.
22. Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the length of waiting times in North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien:
Primary care trusts have a legal requirement to provide high quality out-of-hours cover for the local population, and strategic health authorities
are responsible for the performance management of PCTs in their region. The 2008 Healthcare Commission review of urgent and emergency care found that the NHS has significantly improved performance since 2005.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The independent Advisory Committee on resource allocation keeps the formula under continual scrutiny, updating it to account for new information and data, changes in service provision and health outcomes. The 2009-10 formula builds and improves on the previous formula, targeting funding where it is needed most.
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