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16 Jun 2010 : Column 475W—continued

and they also run a recruitment site at:

The website for the FCO's public diplomacy agency, Wilton Park, will join the main FCO platform shortly-its URL is:

16 Jun 2010 : Column 476W

Other public bodies that report to the Department (the BBC World Service and the British Council) have their own Boards of Trustees and manage their own web presences (their URLs are:


North Korea: Diplomatic Relations

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his latest assessment is of the state of the UK's diplomatic relationship with North Korea. [1955]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The UK's diplomatic relationship with North Korea is one of carefully targeted critical engagement. We have serious concerns on a range of issues, not least its nuclear programme. We have strongly condemned North Korea's sinking of the South Korean navy vessel Cheonan. We also challenge North Korea on human rights abuses at every opportunity.

But we also seek engagement with North Korea to address these concerns and to help North Koreans develop knowledge of the outside world. For example we work with the British Council to train English language teachers in universities in Pyongyang.

Overseas Territories Consultative Council

Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to hold an Overseas Territories Consultative Council in 2010. [2295]

Mr Bellingham: We are currently considering how Overseas Territory leaders might best engage with Ministers and senior officials in the UK.

Pakistan: Religious Freedom

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Pakistan on the treatment of Ahmadi Muslims in that country. [2673]

Alistair Burt: The UK shares the deep concern felt about the terrible attacks in Lahore recently which killed over 90 people, and injured over 100. On 28 May, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said

Consular staff at our High Commission in Islamabad provided support to the family of the British National who was killed in the attack. Senior officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have met with representatives of the Ahmadiyya community in the UK. The Minister for South Asia, Mr. Alistair Burt, will be meeting the leadership of the community at the FCO in the near future to discuss the concerns of the Ahmadiyya community in detail.

Our High Commissioner in Islamabad has raised the attacks and the discrimination suffered by the Ahmadiyya Community with the Chief Minister of Punjab alongside
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his EU colleagues. Our High Commission has raised the issue bilaterally with the Pakistani authorities, including with the Ministries for Minorities and of the Interior.

Somalia: Piracy

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of progress towards securing the release of Paul and Rachel Chandler. [2672]

Alistair Burt: We are monitoring the situation very closely and doing everything we properly can to help secure Paul and Rachel Chandler's return. I am not able to go into operational detail about our efforts but Government Officials in our High Commission in Nairobi and the UK continue to talk to anyone who can help. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Consular staff are in regular contact with the family of Paul and Rachel, and we continue to provide consular support to them.

South America: Embassies

Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 June 2010, Official Report, column 27W, on South America: embassies, for what reason he has no plans for the future of posts in (a) Peru, (b) Colombia, (c) Venezuela, (d) Uruguay and (e) Chile; what budget has been set for each post in each such country in each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement. [2300]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The budgets for the next three financial years for all overseas posts will be determined by this year's comprehensive spending review. However, it is too early to forecast where or what changes might be made. It is for that reason that we have no existing plans for the future of diplomatic posts in the countries mentioned.

Deputy Prime Minister


Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what public consultation will take place before proposals are made for the redrawing of electoral boundaries. [2314]

Mr Harper: The Government have announced that they will introduce legislation to provide for the creation of fewer and more equally sized constituencies. Further details will be announced in due course and the Government will seek to frame the legislation in a way that ensures that the boundary commissions can complete their task in a timely, fair and thorough way.

General Election 2010: Fraud

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his most recent estimate is of the incidence of (a) postal and (b) proxy vote fraud in the May 2010 general election. [1119]

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Mr Harper: The Electoral Commission and Association of Chief Police Officers are collating information on allegations of electoral malpractice reported to police forces across the UK. Indicative, interim information on electoral malpractice will be given in the Electoral Commission's formal report on the administration of the general election across the UK, which is due to be published in July. The Electoral Commission and Association of Chief Police Officers will produce a joint report on allegations of electoral malpractice at the end of the year.

House of Lords: Reform

Chris Bryant: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans a reformed House of Lords to be a wholly or substantially elected second Chamber. [1722]

Mr Harper: The Deputy Prime Minister informed the House on 7 June, Official Report, column 47, that he will chair a committee comprising members of all three major political parties in both Houses. This committee will consider proposals for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber. The committee will be charged with producing a draft Bill by no later than the end of this year. The draft Bill will then be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses.

Members: Conduct

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he plans to announce the mechanism by which members of the public may exercise a right to recall hon. Members in cases of serious financial wrongdoing; and when he plans to announce a definition of serious financial wrongdoing. [1638]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The coalition agreement provides that we will bring forward legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and has had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

We are looking into exactly what would be the fairest, most appropriate and most robust procedure. I shall outline those plans very soon.

Political Parties: Finance

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what account will be taken of the Hayden Phillips proposals in his proposed review of political party funding. [1640]

The Deputy Prime Minister: As I indicated during the debate on the Address on 7 June 2010, Official Report, column 42, the Government will pursue an agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding to remove big money from politics. We will have regard to the previous cross party talks when considering this reform. Our approach to party funding is being worked up as part of the overall programme of reforms, and an announcement will be made in due course.

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Banks: Finance

Dr Pugh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of Government support for the banking and financial sector. [1188]

Mr Hoban: HM Treasury will publish an updated estimate of the cost of financial sector interventions in future Budgets.

Banks: Loans

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his most recent assessment is of levels of bank lending to small and medium-sized enterprises in (a) England and (b) the West Midlands; and what steps he plans to take to increase such levels . [1600]

Mr Hoban [holding answer 10 June 2010]: The Government are committed to developing effective proposals to ensure the flow of credit to viable SMEs. This includes consideration of both a major loan guarantee scheme and the use of net lending targets for the nationalised banks.

Charities: Schools

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the amount of revenue which would accrue to the Exchequer if charitable status was removed from privately-funded schools. [1965]

Justine Greening: It is not possible to ascertain the amount of reliefs claimed by private schools because HMRC records do not distinguish amounts repaid to or claimed by charities according to type of charity.

Child Trust Fund

Lisa Nandy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for Child Trust Fund accounts after 1 January 2011. [1743]

Mr Hoban: To help reduce the Budget deficit, the Government intend to reduce and then stop all Government contributions into Child Trust Funds. It is intended that vouchers to open new accounts will no longer be issued for children born from January 2011.

Existing Child Trust Funds will continue to operate as before, although without any further Government contributions. They will continue to be Child Trust Fund accounts until the child's 18th birthday, with no withdrawals permitted; they will continue to benefit from tax free investment growth; and friends and family will continue to be able to contribute up to a total of £1,200 a year to each Child Trust Fund.

Departmental Internet

Mr Watson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the URL is of each website managed by (a) his Department and (b) each non-departmental public body and agency for which his Department is responsible. [2356]

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Justine Greening: The URLs for the department's websites and each of the non-departmental public bodies and agencies are detailed below:

HM Treasury department website:

Invest to Save Budget:

This site is being migrated and integrated into the HM Treasury Department website as part of transformational Government.

Independent and non-departmental public bodies and agencies;

Office for Budget Responsibility:

UK Financial Investments Ltd:

UK Financial Sector Continuity:

HM Revenue and Customs operate the following websites:

HM Revenue and Customs:

Child Trust Fund:

UK Trade Info:

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA):

My Business Rates:

Local Housing Allowance:

Business Link:

Northern Ireland Business Info:

Business Gateway (Scotland):

Flexible Support for Business (Wales):

The remaining websites are managed independently of either HM Treasury or HMRC.

The Debt Management Office (DMO):

Government Actuary's Department:

National Savings and Investments:

The Royal Mint:

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