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12 Mar 2008 : Column WA229

Written Answers

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Arms Trade

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK does not as a matter of course compile information about arms imports and exports, other than where the UK is an exporter. It would incur disproportionate cost for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to collate the information requested. Information about the UK's strategic export controls is available on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=Open Market/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid= 1007029395474.

Cyprus

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The independence of Kosovo does not set a precedent. There is no universal blueprint that can be applied to every post-conflict scenario; each is unique and different criteria apply. We should give no comfort to those looking to exploit Kosovo in relation to unrelated agendas, either in the Balkans or further afield.

Our long-standing policy on the non-recognition of the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” will not change. Our objective in Cyprus is to achieve a comprehensive and viable settlement, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. We welcome the continued commitment of the leaders of both sides to these basic principles. Our continued support for a settlement is not affected by the presence of the sovereign base areas.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Bach: We and our international partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the EU and UN, have registered our concerns at the conduct of the investigation and subsequent trial of Pastor Kutino with the Congolese on several occasions. The UN is in regular contact with the Congolese authorities on the issue of his treatment. Officials from our embassy in Kinshasa are considering what further action to take in conjunction with representatives of other EU member states.

Department for International Development: Personnel

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: The Department for International Development currently employs 2,552 staff including UK based civil servants and staff employed locally overseas. This number is expected to fall by about a further 80 staff by the end of the current financial year.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Officials raised their concerns about the recent arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members with the Egyptian embassy in London on 27 February 2008.

We regularly raise human rights issues with the Egyptian Government. We also look forward to these issues being discussed at the forthcoming EU-Egypt political sub-committee established under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan.

Energy: Smart Meters

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Bach: The Government have consulted on a range of metering and billing proposals, and will shortly respond to that consultation. In doing so, they will set out their views on the next steps on smart metering.

Equatorial Guinea: Simon Mann

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Further to the Answer I gave the noble Lord on 21 February (Official Report, col. WA 81), we were not informed by the Zimbabwean authorities of the imminent removal of Simon Mann from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea immediately prior to his removal. The Zimbabwean authorities have since told us that they believe they complied with their international obligations in this case.

Our Deputy High Commission in Lagos provides consular assistance to British nationals in Equatorial Guinea. Our consul in Lagos travelled to Malabo and visited Mr Mann in prison on 12 February and plans to do so again soon.

EU: Legislative Competence

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The House of Lords committee (HL Paper 27) recommendations on a restricted scope and the country of origin principle were incorporated into the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (amending the Television Without Frontiers Directive).



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European Court of Human Rights

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The Government continue to look closely at opportunities to increase judicial independence for judges at the European Court of Human Rights. We are waiting to hear a joint proposal from the President of the Court and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: The criteria for office as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights are set out in Article 21 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that “the judges shall be of high moral character and must either possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office or be jurisconsults of recognised competence”.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which the United Kingdom is a member, has specified that national procedures for the selection of candidates for appointment as a judge at the court should respond to criteria of fairness, transparency and consistency.

The United Kingdom has selection procedures that meet these criteria and which are designed to ensure that the judge elected in respect of the United Kingdom fulfils the requirements of Article 21.

Although national selection procedures are a matter for each member state, we expect that those adopted by other member states would also meet the criteria of fairness, transparency and consistency. To encourage this among other member states, the United Kingdom has shared its own best practice in this regard.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): As previously stated, the Government do not accept that any wrongful practices were employed and therefore a public inquiry is not justified.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: The decision of Lord Mackay was against the Scottish Government and it is for the Scottish Government to consider how to respond to it.

Health: Prescription Charges

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government will shortly be seeking comments on possible options for changes to prescription charges that are cost neutral to the National Health Service.

Homeless People

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): We recognise that education, training and employment are a key route out of homelessness and the cycle of disadvantage. We are working closely with colleagues across government, at the Learning and Skills Council and in the voluntary and community sector to tackle the wider causes and symptoms of homelessness, including improving access to learning and skills provision, benefits and jobs. We believe one of the most effective ways we can help homeless people is to ensure that they have access to the skills they need to gain employment and to help them transform their own lives.



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Through our World Class Skills reforms, we are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all learners, including the most vulnerable in our communities. Our targets cover workers and learners of all ages and backgrounds and our reforms balance skills and economic prosperity with fairness and inclusion.

The funding settlement announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review represents the biggest ever government investment in skills. Of the £3 billion we are investing in each of the next three years in adult skills participation, we will invest some £1.5 billion annually in learning below level 2, to help the low skilled and workless learn, progress and achieve sustainable employment.

Our vision for the workforce of the future is of one unrivalled in its skills, dynamism, equity and inclusiveness. We are working with employers through train to gain to meet skill needs and to ensure that all employees have the basic skills, including literacy and numeracy and level 2 skills, to sustain and progress in employment. We also want employers to fill more of their vacancies with people who are further away from the labour market and to actively engage with their sectors and localities to lead on appropriate reform. We are increasing funding for train to gain from £440 million in 2007-08 to over £900 million in 2010-11.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government have recently announced homelessness grant funding of £50 million for the voluntary sector and £150 million for local authorities, who in many cases fund voluntary sector organisations, over the next three years. This is the largest ever cash injection for homelessness services, and there are no current plans for further funding over and above this three-year settlement. Homelessness grant is used to support delivery of the Government's targets on homelessness and rough sleeping. Eligibility for public services, including housing, is determined by migrants' immigration status.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority must be mindful of the full range of views held on embryology and assisted conception. While individual members may acknowledge such views, in carrying out their statutory functions they are obliged to recognise and act within the regulatory parameters of the 1990 Act and associated regulations.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Military Casualties

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The details of UK military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan between 25 April 2007 and 27 February 2008 are shown in the following tables. Where an individual was holding an acting rank at the time of their death this has been given rather than their substantive rank.


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