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How the United Kingdom Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand provides security for non-government organisations in rural areas; and in what ways the PRT makes contact with the local population apart from by routine foot patrols. [HL46]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): UK forces in Helmand aim to improve the local security situation such that other government departments, NGOs and other organisations can carry out work on governance, development and reconstruction.
Representatives of the Provincial Reconstruction Team meet regularly with Government of Afghanistan personnel and other local nationals in a range of locations at the regional, provincial and district levels. International Security Assistance Forces make contact with local Afghans through routine patrolling; mentoring of Afghan national security forces; attendance at shuras where applicable; and meetings with Government of Afghanistan representatives at regional, provincial and district levels.
Why they have not yet signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Abuse and Exploitation; and by when they expect to be able to ratify this convention. [HL387]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK was not in a position to sign the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Abuse and Exploitation at the Conference of European Ministers of Justice in Lanzarote. Before we sign any convention we must be satisfied that we will be in a position to implement the obligations contained in the convention. We are in the process of formally confirming with relevant departments and the devolved Administrations that we are in position to sign and hope to be able to do so shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): In 2005-06, there were 2.8 million children in poverty in the UK. This is a reduction from 3.4 million in 1998-99. There were 1.5 million families in poverty, where families are taken to mean households containing children. We have used the definition of a household in poverty as being one with an income less than 60 per cent of the median on a before-housing-costs basis.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We are aware that Yoo Sang-joon is facing a criminal trial in Inner Mongolia for actions which appear to have been motivated by humanitarian concerns. Mr Yoo is a naturalised South Korean and we understand that his nationality is recognised by the Chinese authorities. South Korea has dealt with around 70 cases of naturalised North Koreans who have been arrested for assisting others to defect for humanitarian reasons. These have either been given prison sentences in China or returned to South Korea. None have been returned to North Korea.
Mr Yoo has received South Korean consular visits and a South Korean consul planned to attend his trial on Monday 26 November. We will continue to monitor this case and will consider raising it with the Chinese authorities in the light of developments.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Information of enforcement activity at a local level cannot be disclosed as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customss controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention and detection of crime. The numbers of fuel-laundering plants that have been disrupted in Northern Ireland in each year since 2000 are listed in the annual reports. Copies of the annual reports are available in the Library of the House.
|Year||Number of Laundering Plants|
Further to the Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 22 November (Official Report, cols. 924-6), whether the proposed United States missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic as currently planned could function without RAF Menwith Hill. [HL467]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The overall effectiveness of the US ballistic missile defence system is dependent on the co-ordinated interoperability of all the elements in the proposed architecture. The proposed ballistic missile defence assets in Poland and the Czech Republic could function, albeit at a lower level of effectiveness, without the ballistic missile early warning data routed through RAF Menwith Hill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Local authorities are required to keep registers of people with a severe disability living in their area. However there is no central register. Information about movement into work for registered disabled people is therefore not available.
Estimates for the number of disabled people who move from being out of work in one quarter to being in work in the next are available from the Labour Force Survey. This is based on a definition of disability consistent with the Disability Discrimination Act. These estimates cannot be directly converted into estimates for the year because people may move into and out of work more than once during a quarter.
What are the employment and support allowance rates for (a) those in the support group; (b) the work-related group; and (c) youth groups, who would have claimed incapacity benefit under incapacity in youth rules. [HL517]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): No final decisions have yet been made on the exact rates for the new employment and support allowance.
What provisions they will make to compensate or provide backdated payments following the period of reduced rate of benefit for those being assessed for a move on to employment and support allowance. [HL518]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: The assessment phase rate will not be applied to existing incapacity benefits customers when they are migrated to employment and support allowance. We have committed that existing customers will have their benefit level protected in cash terms.
Whether they will ensure that a full official consolidated text of the European Union reform treaty signed in Lisbon showing all changes to previous treaties in readable form is made available before the ratification process begins in Parliament. [HL11]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): I apologise to the noble Lord for the delay in answering this Question. The House of Lords European Union Select Committee has proposed to conduct its assessment of the impact of the reform treaty on the basis of the changes it makes to the treaties which are currently in force. As the committee has requested, we will provide a comparison of the reform treaty with the existing treaties and a consolidated text of the treaties as amended by the reform treaty.
Lord Malloch-Brown: The public counter of the Legalisation Office will be moving to new premises in central Milton Keynes, from where it will be able to deliver a faster, more efficient service. Improvements will include a 48-hour turnaround on the postal service, as opposed to the current 10 to 15 working days. This will obviate the need for most of our customers to attend the office in person.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): It is not possible accurately to determine the proportion of time my right honourable friend has devoted to his duties as the Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary of State for Scotland respectively. The Defence Secretary has written to you to explain the situation.
Whether there are any people employed in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office or the Border and Immigration Agency who are not entitled to work in the United Kingdom. [HL294]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): I am advised that the Border and Immigration Agency does not employ anyone who is not entitled to work in the UK or who is not permanently resident in the UK.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): As a matter of longstanding policy and practice the UK will neither confirm nor deny the existence of an extradition request made or received by this country ahead of arrest pursuant to the extradition request.
Whether Israel has provided to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon the co-ordinates of all cluster munitions fired into Lebanon in 2006; whether the remaining unexploded cluster weapons in South Lebanon will be cleared by the target date of 31 December; and, if not, by when they expect clearance to be completed. [HL533]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): In October 2007, the UN Secretary-General reported that Israel has not provided the details of any of its cluster munition strikes to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, or to any other part of the UN. The UK continues to call on Israel to provide all necessary information to assist the UN in the rapid clearance of cluster munitions in South Lebanon.
The Mine Action Co-ordination CentreSouth Lebanon (MACC-SL) set a target to clear all cluster munitions from the 2006 conflict by the end of 2007. However, this has not proved possible, largely because more cluster munition strike locations have been found as clearance efforts continue. MACC-SL's objective is now that by the end of 2007 the explosive remnants of the 2006 conflict do not directly impact the lives of those living in the affected areas. They expect that they will have cleared 70 to 75 per cent of the contaminated areas by the end of 2007. They predict that they will clear remaining areas of contaminated land by the end of 2008.
The UK has been strongly supportive of efforts to clear cluster munitions in South Lebanon. The Government have pledged more than £3.7 million for the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Lebanon, including cluster munitions, since last year's conflict.
What effect their November 2005 extended drinking hours legislation has had on reducing the incidence of (a) binge drinking; (b) underage consumption of alcohol; and (c) road traffic accidents involving drunk drivers. [HL339]
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