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Whether they have submitted their report to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, on the reasons for, and the circumstances behind, the British military attack on 4 March on the National Iraqi Intelligence Agency Basra headquarters; and, if so, what response they have received from the Iraqi authorities. [HL2781]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We are working both with the multinational forces and the Iraqi authorities to clarify the circumstances of this incident. We expect to reach shared conclusions on any lessons to be drawn from it in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Iraqi Government want to see all their neighbours, and other states in the region, making a positive contribution to security, reconciliation and economic development in Iraq. We fully support that
27 Mar 2007 : Column WA260
We welcome the clear commitment made by all those attending the 10 March meeting in Baghdad to support Iraq's sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity. We welcome the agreement to establish three working groups, one of which will address border security, and to hold a follow-up meeting at ministerial level.
Whether they will take the opportunity provided by the formation of the unity government in Gaza to reiterate the case for complying with the principles set out by the quartet, including the cessation of terrorist attacks and the recognition of Israel's right to exist. [HL2760]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in another place on 20 March, We welcome the formation of the Government of national unity and we hope to see them move clearly in the direction of respect for the Quartet principles. We will judge not only their platform, but their actions in that respect. (Official Report, col. 676). As we have made clear, we have always been willing to work with a government based on the quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) principles. Now is the time for Hamas to demonstrate a commitment to peace. All members of the national unity Government (NUG) should support Palestinian President Abbas in taking forward the peace process with Israel. We want to see the NUG reinforce and extend the ceasefire, and bring law and order to Palestinian streets. We also want to see them help the early release of the abducted Israeli soldier Corporal Shalit.
What is their assessment of the contribution which Manchester makes to the growth and prosperity of the economy of the north-west of England; and how this compares to the contribution made by other parts of the region. [HL2749]
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Question about the contribution that Manchester makes to the growth and prosperity of
27 Mar 2007 : Column WA261
The Office for National Statistics publishes regional gross value added using official statistical geographies known as Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics (NUTS)1. Greater Manchester is one such NUTS area and its statistics can be compared to the other North West areas: Cumbria, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside.
The measure of economic growth used by the ONS is growth of gross value added (GVA). Table 1 shows GVA for the North West and for each NUTS2 area within the North West. The latest available estimates are for 2004. This table indicates the level of economic activity in Greater Manchester as compared to the other North West areas. Table 2 shows annual growth for 2003 and 2004 in GVA for the same areas.
Regional GVA figures are only produced at current prices and do not allow for changes in prices over time (inflation) or differences in regional price levels (purchasing power). They do not, therefore, show growth in real or volume terms.
The full range of published regional GVA estimates are available on the ONS website: www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=14650.
|North West Regional Gross Value Added1|
|2003 (£m)||2004 (£m)|
|1 GVA at current basic prices|
|North West Regional Gross Value Added1 Percentage Change|
|GVA percentage change||2003||2004|
|1. GVA at current basic prices.|
|Note: The percentage change in Table 2 does not take account of changes in population which can be seen in Table 1 of your previous question (HL2635).|
Lord Rooker: Since 1969 there have been 976 murders of security forces personnel in Northern Ireland. These victims were murdered as a result of 782 distinct incidents of which 537 incidents remain unsolved.
Further guidance on such calls states that they are to be resolved by telephone, using a problem-solving approach appropriate to the callers needs. Where the scenario of a call relates to a minor crime report where no investigation is possible, no attendance is required.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): The Government support Post Office Ltd's management in its efforts to develop its range of financial service products, building on the company's success in this area and the Government's investment, which included £500 million for the Horizon project to bring computer systems into every post office throughout the UK.
Sub-postmasters and mistresses are private business people, contracted as agents on behalf of Post Office Ltd, and as such are free to develop their associated retail business and to enter into contracts with anyone they choose as long as the products provided are not in direct competition with key Post Office products.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 19 February (WA 197), whether they will answer the Question on what steps they are taking to avoid long delays in answering Questions concerning the Department of Health. [HL2202]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We endeavour to answer all Parliamentary Questions as quickly as possible. The department received more than 10,000 Parliamentary Questions in 2006 and we have established processes in place to deal with them. We are seeking to improve continuously on our performance and have set up an internal review to look at our processes, information technology, management and training.
In respect of the suspension of the Eurostar Kent coast services from Waterloo on 16 and 17 March, (a) for how long the services were suspended; (b) what was the cause of the suspension; (c) at what management level the decision to suspend the rail services was made and whether the decision was subsequently reviewed at more senior management levels; and (d) what action is being taken to prevent such situations recurring. [HL2828]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The decision to suspend services is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail infrastructure. For a response to his Question, the noble Lord should contact Network Rails chief executive at the following address: John Armitt, Chief Executive, Network Rail, 40 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EE.
Whether they will separate statistics on intercity train services operated by First Great Western from the local and suburban services operated by that company in the public performance measure so that direct comparisons can be made with other intercity operators. [HL2838]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: On 1 April 2006 the separate First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises were combined to form the new Greater Western franchise. The former First Great Western provided intercity train services.
Nationally, performance data are published at a franchise level and not broken down in a more disaggregated level as it is at this level that the train operating companies are monitored. In February 2007 (the latest data available) First Great Westerns performance was 83.4 per cent (measured in the moving annual average of the public performance measure). I am not aware of any plans by Network Rail to change the method by which it records train operating companies performance.
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