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2 Dec 2009 : Column 736W—continued

Religious Freedom

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the treatment of (a) converts to and (b) adherents of Christianity in (i) the Middle East and (ii) elsewhere. [302684]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our embassies overseas regularly report and lobby on human rights issues, including freedom of religion or belief.

Our embassies have recently lobbied on the challenges facing non-Islamic faiths in Algeria, analysed the Egyptian authorities' record on promoting and protecting the rights of Christians in Egypt, and encouraged the Government of Iraq to protect all communities regardless of political, ethnic or religious affiliation. Outside of the middle east, we remain concerned about the suppression of religious freedoms in countries such as China, North Korea and Uzbekistan. We raise these concerns in our regular human rights dialogues with China, and with other Governments at appropriate opportunities.

The UK strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to manifest one's religion or belief, the right to change one's religion or belief and the right not to hold any religious belief. We work closely with EU partners to promote freedom of religion or belief as part of our wider support for human rights. In November, the European Council reaffirmed its strong commitment to freedom of religion or belief and the importance of EU action to promote and protect it.

Russia: Politics and Government

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had recent discussions with the Russian government on (a) the rule of law, (b) property rights, (c) human rights and (d) political stability in the Russian Federation; and if he will make a statement. [303661]


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Chris Bryant: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had detailed and wide ranging discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov when he visited Moscow from 1 to 3 November 2009. Topics included our concerns about human rights and the rule of law. The Foreign Secretary stressed both the importance of effective investigations into attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, including in the North Caucasus, and the importance of the rule of law in protecting property rights and safeguarding investments. The Foreign Secretary also met non-governmental organisations and civil society in Moscow, when he listened to their concerns and reasserted that the UK will continue raising human rights concerns as part of a comprehensive dialogue with the Russian authorities. I followed up these discussions during my recent meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin.

Human rights and the progress of Russian democracy are high on the agenda and we do not shy away from making our concerns known. We support President Medvedev's ambition to improve the rule of law in Russia, as an important way of protecting human rights and reducing corruption. We want to see democracy in Russia deliver political pluralism and all its associated freedoms. We believe that an open and democratic Russia will provide better opportunities for the Russian people and consolidate Russia as a stable and reliable international partner for the global community.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office spent £1.5 million supporting local human rights projects in Russia in 2008-09. These included promoting media freedom and journalists' safety, particularly in the North Caucasus, preventing interethnic conflict and working with the families of conflict victims to improve access to justice through the European Court of Human Rights.

Serbia

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it a condition of Serbia's accession to the European Union that that country shall not be able to exercise a veto over subsequent accession by Kosovo; and if he will make a statement. [302390]

Chris Bryant: The UK firmly supports the perspective of EU membership for both Serbia and Kosovo. In so doing, the UK emphasises the importance the EU attaches to good neighbourly relations, a factor which is formally taken into account as part of an applicant country's accession process. Against this background, the UK continues to give firm encouragement to both Serbia and Kosovo to work together to develop a
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constructive relationship, in order to reinforce stability in the region and facilitate the prospects for its EU integration.

Uzbekistan

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the decision by the European Council not to renew the remaining restrictive measures against Uzbekistan as set out in the Common Position 2008/843/CFSP, with particular reference to the (a) sale, (b) supply, (c) transfer and (d) export of arms and related material to that country. [303379]

Chris Bryant: Many EU partners took the view that the sanctions against Uzbekistan had served their purpose. The sanctions would have expired by default on 13 November 2009 in the absence of consensus among member states to renew them. We supported the corresponding 2009 Council Conclusions-which maintain the need for progress in Uzbekistan and which contain a review mechanism- achieved that. We hope Uzbekistan will grasp this opportunity to work constructively with the EU and introduce further governance and human rights reforms. The UK stands ready to support that process. I underlined these points in a recent meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ganiev.

Arms exports to Uzbekistan will still be controlled by consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. The latter covers the export-including sale, supply and transfer-of military and dual-use rated goods. The EU criteria require an assessment of whether the goods might be used for internal repression.

Health

Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultant episodes with a primary diagnosis for alcohol-related disease there were in each strategic health authority area (a) in absolute terms and (b) as a proportion of the population of the relevant area in each year since 2004-05. [302537]

Ann Keen: Information on consultant episodes with a primary alcohol-related diagnosis is only produced for admission episodes, the first episode in a hospital spell. Admission episodes accounted for 87 per cent. of all episodes in 2008-09. The following table gives the number and rate of admission episodes in England of patients with a primary alcohol-related diagnosis.


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Number and rate of hospital admissions in England of patients with a primary alcohol-related diagnosis
2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
Strategic health authority Number of admission Crude rate of admission per 100,000 population Number of admission Crude rate of admission per 100,000 population Number of admission Crude rate of admission per 100,000 population Number of admission Crude rate of admission per 100,000 population Number of admission Crude rate of admission per 100,000 population

North East

11,398

448

11,783

462

12,264

480

12,126

473

12,554

487

North West

28,590

417

31,888

464

33,252

483

34,394

499

35,496

516

Yorkshire and the Humber

17,261

341

18,684

366

18,851

367

19,725

381

20,129

386

East Midlands

14,819

348

16,332

380

17,130

395

17,151

393

17,506

395

West Midlands

20,357

382

22,321

417

24,742

461

22,490

418

24,372

450

East of England

15,800

287

17,083

307

17,543

313

18,285

323

18,660

326

London

22,664

307

24,830

333

26,232

349

25,913

343

26,689

350

South East Coast

12,323

295

13,136

312

13,915

328

14,563

341

15,015

348

South Central

10,394

264

11,280

284

10,750

269

11,497

285

11,383

280

South West

17,469

346

18,875

371

19,567

381

20,245

391

21,051

404

Unknown/no fixed abode

2,459

n/a

3,219

n/a

3,211

n/a

4,031

n/a

3,500

n/a

England

173,532

346

189,431

375

197,457

389

200,420

392

206,355

401

Notes:
1. Includes activity in English national health service hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector.
2. Alcohol-related admissions
The number of alcohol-related admissions is based on the methodology developed by the North West Public Health Observatory. Figures for under 16s only include admissions where one or more of the following alcohol-specific conditions were listed:
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy (142.6)
Alcoholic gastritis (K29.2)
Alcoholic liver disease (K70)
Alcoholic myopathy (G72.1)
Alcoholic polyneuropathy (G62.1)
Alcohol-induced pseudo-Cushing's syndrome (E24.4)
Chronic pancreatitis (alcohol induced) (K86.0)
Degeneration of nervous system due to alcohol (G31.2)
Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol (F10)
Accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol (X45)
Ethanol poisoning (T51.0)
Methanol poisoning (T51.1)
Toxic effect of alcohol, unspecified (T51.9)
3. Ungrossed data
Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed).
4. Finished admission episodes
A finished admission episode is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one health care provider. Finished admission episodes are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. It should be noted that admissions do not represent the number of inpatients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.
5. Data quality
Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts in England. Data are also received from a number of independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.
6. Assessing growth through time
HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. The quality and coverage of the data have improved over time. These improvements in information submitted by the NHS have been particularly marked in the earlier years and need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. Some of the increase in figures for later years (particularly 2006-07 onwards) may be due to the improvement in the coverage of independent sector activity. Changes in NHS practice also need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. For example, a number of procedures may now be undertaken in outpatient settings and may no longer be accounted for in the HES data. This may account for any reductions in activity over time.
7. Assignment of Episodes to Years
Years are assigned by the end of the first period of care in a patient's hospital stay.
8. n/a = not available.
Source:
HES, The Information Centre for health and social care.

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