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Prisons: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department is working with the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to improve disease surveillance in prisons and young offender institutions.

On the specific issue of identifying cases of sexually transmitted infections and HIV in prisons, the department and the HPA Centre for Infections are discussing a review of surveillance systems to determine if they can be amended to enhance prison reporting.

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Questions for Written Answer: Unanswered Question

Lord Jopling asked the Leader of the House:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): An Answer was given to Baroness Valentine on 16 June 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 122). The Government take accountability to Parliament through Questions for Written Answer very seriously and I am working with ministerial colleagues to ensure that Answers are accurate and timely.

Railways: Brighton to Milton Keynes

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Department for Transport is currently carrying out consultation on the specific elements of the new South Central franchise. This consultation closes on 14 August. We have already received some responses regarding stakeholder aspirations for services between Brighton and Milton Keynes. No final decisions have been made as yet.

Neither the Brighton Main Line nor the south London route utilisation strategies recommended that the West London line service should operate south of Croydon.

Railways: Passenger Journeys

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Department for Transport does not hold the detailed information requested on the number of rail passenger journeys made.

This information may be available by contacting the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) directly at the following address: ATOC Ltd, 3rd Floor, 40 Bernard Street, London, WC1N 1BY.

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Railways: Rolling Stock

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government's approach to providing extra rolling stock to meet passenger demand is through the high-level output specification (HLOS) process. In addition, the Department for Transport meets train operators regularly to discuss a range of issues including, on occasion, proposals for additional rolling stock. However, no specific proposal for the department to fund extra rolling stock other than that identified through HLOS has proceeded beyond the informal discussion stage within the past 18 months.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: With the exception of the InterCity Express programme, the Thameslink programme, and the additional Pendolinos, all of which are being led by the Department for Transport, train operators are free to negotiate with rolling stock companies about the supply of new rolling stock during the term of their franchise.

Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): In June, our high commissioner in Colombo raised the case of the detention of Mr J S Tissainayagam and his associates at high level with Sri Lankan Government representatives. The EU and US ambassadors in Colombo have taken similar action. We do have serious concerns about a growing number of attacks and incidents of intimidation against journalists in Sri Lanka, which ranks 156 out of 169 entries in the Reporters Sans Frontieres Worldwide Press Freedom Index. On 10 June, I told President Rajapakse that Sri Lanka needs to do more to meet her international human rights obligations. I recommended that an independent monitoring mechanism could play a role in this.

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Sudan: World Food Programme

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development provides humanitarian support to UN agencies in Sudan through the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF). The fund allows the UN humanitarian co-ordinator to decide on priority funding needs. We have contributed £40 million to the CHF this year.

The humanitarian situation in Darfur remains precarious and incidents involving violence against humanitarian workers and assets continue. Access remains the primary concern of the humanitarian community. While some progress has been made, bureaucratic impediments and security limitations, particularly in West Darfur, continue to block the delivery of services in many areas.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: Our initial assessment is that the flight changes announced by the World Food Programme's Humanitarian Air Service will not adversely affect the frontline work of the humanitarian operation in Darfur. The reductions in the helicopter service still represent an increase from 2007. Other flight changes affect connections between the capital Khartoum and the south. Although these will not have a significant impact on humanitarian operations, they will affect the frequency with which aid workers can travel to regional hubs.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development has engaged intensively with international partners about the funding problems being experienced by the World Food Programme's Humanitarian Air Service (HAS) in Sudan. We are encouraging the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) to provide longer-term funding for HAS.

In addition, DfID has urged the UN to consider the case for increased funding for the HAS. As a first step, an additional US$4 million has already been made available and a further grant of US$2 million is under active consideration. These additional funds come from the Common Humanitarian Fund for Sudan, to which DfID has contributed £40 million this year.

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Taxation: Boards and Commissions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: As part of his financial audit of bodies, of which he is the statutory auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General audits each of the figures in the remuneration report. This includes the salaries, wages or fees of individual board or commission members. Where the statutory body pays an individual's income tax or employees national insurance contributions as a benefit in kind, these amounts are also audited individually to ensure that they are fairly stated within the remuneration report. Compliance with income tax and national insurance regimes is the responsibility of the individual concerned. HM Revenue and Customs is responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of these regimes.

Uganda: International Aid

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: Support to northern Uganda is a priority for the UK Government’s programme in Uganda. The UK Government’s Department for International Development is allocating resources to support the implementation of the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) which is the Uganda Government's overarching framework for the recovery effort. The objective is to support a smooth transition from humanitarian to development programming, delivering benefits to the people of the north and helping to sustain peace. DfID together with other development partners is currently in discussions with the Government about the most appropriate way to finance the PRDP.

In the mean time, DfID will continue to allocate its resources through a range of actors including the World Bank, the United Nations, the Red Cross Movement, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations.

Western Sahara

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visited Morocco, Western Sahara, the Polisario-run refugee camps in Tindouf (Algeria) and Algiers in May and June 2006 to gather information on the human rights situation. The OHCHR shared its report privately with Morocco, Algeria and the Polisario on 8 September 2006, but did not publish it, in line with terms of reference agreed by all parties prior to the visit. The High Commissioner for Human Rights continues to maintain the position that the report should remain an internal document, not for official publication.

Staff from our embassy in Rabat visited Western Sahara in July 2006, and a further visit is planned. The UN Secretary-General's personal envoy to the Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, visited the territory in September 2006, May 2007 and February 2008. Mr van Walsum hosted talks between the parties to the dispute in New York on 18 and 19 June 2007, 10 to 12 August 2007, 7 to 9 January 2008 and 18 and 19 March 2008.

The UK has not made any representations to the UN about resources for Mr van Walsum, for the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, or other resources dedicated to resolving the Western Sahara conflict.

Zambia: Ugandan Refugees

Baroness Tonge asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Tunnicliffe: The repatriation of 200 Ugandan refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is being carried out at the request of the refugees themselves. The UNHCR, the Governments of Zambia and Uganda and the refugees have concluded that the current political, economic and social conditions in Uganda allow for the repatriation to take place. While we have no reasons to disagree with this assessment it will be important that the reintegration process in Uganda is monitored to ensure its success. As is the case with all returning refugees, the UNHCR will monitor for at least six months to ensure a successful reintegration in Uganda.

The repatriation process will be guided by the principles that refugee repatriation should be voluntary and be carried out under conditions of safety and dignity, as required under international refugee law.

Zimbabwe: Opposition Groups

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Ministers take every opportunity to speak with those attempting to restore the democratic process in Zimbabwe, including opposition parties. In addition, our embassy in Harare has regular and frequent contact with Zimbabwean political and civil society activists working for democracy.

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