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Written Answers

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Afghanistan: Women

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We share your concern about the impact of poverty and illiteracy on women in Afghanistan and regularly work closely with the various ministries within the Afghan Government on tackling these issues. We also recognise that, while progress has been made to advance the status of women since 2001, much remains to be done. The UK therefore actively supports the promotion of women's rights in Afghanistan in a number of ways.

In 2007-08 we provided £55 million to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to help finance the salaries of over 100,000 teachers. These resources have contributed to the increase of pupils in school from 2 million in 2002 to around 6 million enrolled today. A third of the pupils in school are now girls, up from virtually none under the Taliban. This has helped to address the problem of widespread illiteracy.

The UK gave the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission $l million to fund its three-year action plan 2006-08. This Afghan-led and run organisation has around 600 staff and has offices throughout Afghanistan. In its 2007 annual report, the commission states that it organised nearly 600 educational workshops and awareness-raising meetings for almost 20,000 people (including over 6,000 men) on women's rights issues, including tackling violence against women. The commission pays particular attention to reaching community leaders such as mullahs, elders, civil-society representatives and government officials.

Armed Forces: Pipers

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): In the light of Russia's military actions in Georgia and the situation on the ground at the time, it was not felt appropriate for

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British Army musicians to attend. The decision to cancel the participation of pipers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles and the Irish Guards in the Kremlin Zoria Military Tattoo was taken in consultation with the Ministry of Defence. The UK took into account the approach adopted by other countries sending pipers who were serving military officers. Several countries, including Canada, also withdrew their pipers. Our decision to withdraw was consistent with our wider policy on military-to-military co-operation with Russia, including withdrawal from a joint naval exercise due to take place around that time.

Armed Forces: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The following table shows, by unmanned air vehicle type, the number of pilots trained and qualified and the number currently in training as at 29 October 2008.

TypeNumber of Qualified PilotsNumber of Personnel in Pilot Training

Hermes 450

74

24

Desert Hawk 3

120

38

Reaper

14

3

The target number of trained and qualified pilots for Watchkeeper when it is in service is 120.

Children: Care Orders

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Table 1 below shows the number of public law care and supervision applications under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989. A total of 6,200 applications were made from May to September 2007, and a total of 4,800 applications were made from May

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to September 2008. A drop in the number of applications was expected as revised statutory guidance for local authorities and a new practice direction, the Public Law Outline, were introduced across England and Wales from 1 April 2008.

Table 2 below shows the number of public law care and supervision applications under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989. A total of 3,700 applications were made between 1 April and 1 July 2007, and a total of 2,500 applications were made between 1 April and 1 July 2008.

There is no evidence that the decrease in the number of care applications is attributable to increased court fees. It is probable that the decrease has been caused by recent reforms to the care proceedings system. The Public Law Outline and revised statutory guidance issued to local authorities encourage early resolution and exploration of alternatives to care proceedings, where safe and appropriate to do so. A similar pattern of decline in the number of care and supervision applications was also noted when the public law protocol was issued in 2003.

Table 1
County Court (2)(3)(4)Family Proceedings Courts (1)(2)(3)

May to September 2007

1,500

4,700

May to September 2008

1,200

3,600

Table 2
County Court (2)(3)(4)Family Proceedings Courts (1)(2)(3)

April to June 2007

1,000

2,700

April to June 2008

700

1,800

Civil Partnerships

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

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The reply to HL5212 was delayed due to an administrative error. It was answered on 21 October, and I apologise for the delay.

Courts: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Northern Ireland Court Service has amended the published guidelines on taking notes in court to make it clear that note-taking is a matter for the direction of an individual judge. The guidelines also advise members of the public who wish to take notes that they should make this known to any court official so that the matter can be brought to the attention of the judge.

Cyprus

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK fully supports the settlement process launched by the two leaders in

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Cyprus, aimed at the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. In this context, the UK will continue to engage closely with both communities in Cyprus, and throughout the wider region, to support progress towards the reunification of Cyprus. The Minister for Europe met Mr Talat in Cyprus on 8 October and discussed progress towards the reunification of Cyprus. The former Minister for Europe met advisers to Mr Talat, leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, on 3 September in London. We look forward to further such contacts with both communities in support of a comprehensive Cyprus settlement.

Education: Commonwealth Scholarships

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The reply to HL5252 was delayed due to an administrative error. It was answered on 14 October (Official Report, col. WA45), and I apologise for the delay.

Employment: Exploitation

Lord Rana asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The Government continue to promote a business-led, voluntary approach and to collaborate with business partners on best ways to promote corporate responsibility (CR) as mainstream business practice.

CR can be instrumental in raising competitiveness and innovation and it is important that companies adopt CR in their own commercial interests;CR is the business contribution to sustainable development and business has a central role to play in tackling the social, economic and environmental challenges we face; andCR is about companies operating above minimum legal requirements wherever they operate in the UK and overseas.

We also expect companies to abide by UK and national laws. The UK Government are a strong supporter of responsible business behaviour, and therefore promote

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adherence to the OECD guidelines on multinational enterprises, which set recommendations for good corporate behaviour.

Empty Properties

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Decisions on taxation are matters for the Budget and Pre-Budget Report.

Energy: Biofuels

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Government continue to believe that sustainably produced biofuels have a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) requires the major oil companies and fuel suppliers that supply road fuels to ensure that a proportion of the road fuel supplied in the UK comprises renewable fuels such as biofuels.

The RTFO scheme came into effect in April 2008 and the level of the obligation for the first year (2008-09) is 2.5 per cent. In response to the findings of the Gallagher review on the wider indirect impacts of biofuel production we are currently consulting on proposals to slow down the rate of increase so that we reach a level of 5 per cent in 2013-14 rather than in 2010-11.

Energy: Carbon Capture and Storage

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

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): A decision on the Kingsnorth application will not be taken until the Government have considered the responses to the recent consultation on carbon capture readiness. The decision on who wins the carbon capture demonstration competition is a separate one to any decision on a planning application.



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