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10 Feb 2010 : Column WA129

Written Answers

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Afghanistan

Questions

Asked by Baroness Northover

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The spokesperson for the Afghan Women's Network was the only Afghan woman who attended the main London conference. She gave a presentation on behalf of Afghan women and circulated a written statement on this to all conference participants. A delegation of Afghan female leaders was also involved in a series of events in the run-up to the conference. They took part in a civil society conference where they made statements, and questioned and lobbied FCO Ministers. Members of the delegation also attended a reception on the eve of the conference, where they used the opportunity to lobby President Karzai, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and other Foreign Ministers. In addition, the delegation attended a parliamentary meeting which took place at the House of Commons to discuss gender, peace and security in relation to Afghanistan.

Other conference attendees were Foreign Ministers from ISAF partners, Afghanistan's immediate neighbours and key regional partners together with representatives from NATO, the World Bank, IMF and other international organisations. Three of these participants were women.

The UK is fully committed to gender equality and fullysupports implementation of UNSCR 1325, to protect the rights of women and girls in areas suffering conflict and to incorporate their perspectives in conflict resolution and peacekeeping planning. To encourage the Afghan Government to implement this resolution we are funding various programmes, to promote women's equal participation in governance and to build awareness of women's rights among civil society and policy-makers. This includes funding of £200,000 to support the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission; £737,000 to UNIFEM's Elimination of Violence against Women Special Fund; and £500,000 to a five-year women's empowerment programme.

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever



10 Feb 2010 : Column WA130

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There are approximately 150 service personnel registered as fluent Pashtun speakers serving in HM forces. The number of personnel deployed to Afghanistan varies and currently stands at nine. A variety of other languages are spoken across HM forces and the vast majority of personnel receive a basic level of language training before deploying to Afghanistan. We currently employ approximately 525 local civilians as interpreters in support of HM forces in Afghanistan.

Armed Forces: Combat Clothing

Questions

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): 28,000 sets of multi-terrain pattern (MTP) combat clothing are expected to be delivered to military personnel in Afghanistan by the end of 2010 and another 28,000 by the end of 2011.

As combat clothing is a personal issue item, service personnel return to the UK with their MTP at the end of their tour of duty.

As a four-year rollout plan, it is anticipated that MTP will be issued to all other UK personnel from April 2011.

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: 15,000 mark 7 helmets will have been delivered to Afghanistan by the end of 2010; and another 15,000 will have been delivered by the end of 2011.

There are no plans to issue the mark 7 helmet to troops not deployed on operations, who will continue to be issued with the mark 6a helmet; however, because helmets are a personal issue item, personnel retain and will continue to use their helmet after their tour of duty.

Armed Forces: Suppliers

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford



10 Feb 2010 : Column WA131

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): ESS Compass, Serco, Sodexo, Aramark, VT Flagship, Avenance and ISS currently have contracts for supplying catering, retail and leisure (CRL) services, or in some cases catering services alone, to service personnel living in UK units. The contracts can also cater for visiting military and civilian personnel, as well as for non-resident personnel who work at the sites concerned. No other bodies are served by these contracts.

Benefits: Polish Nationals

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Information on nationality of benefit recipients is not available for benefit scans. Information is available on the number of national insurance registrations to adult overseas nationals who go on to claim an out of work benefit within six months of national insurance number registration, but this is not available by nationality.

The available information for the number of national insurance numbers issued to Polish nationals since Poland's accession to the European Union is in the table. This information is also available on the Department for Work and Pensions website at http://research.dwp .gov.uk/asd/.



10 Feb 2010 : Column WA132

National insurance numbers issued to Polish nationals since Poland's accession to the European Union in May 2004

Apr 04 to Jun 04

4,970

Jul 04 to Sep 04

11,960

Oct 04 to Dec 04

17,510

Jan 05 to Mar 05

26,680

Apr 05 to Jun 05

32,210

Jul 05 to Sep 05

44,190

Oct 05 to Dec 05

41,660

Jan 06 to Mar 06

53,020

Apr 06 to Jun 06

38,190

Jul 06 to Sep 06

49,700

Oct 06 to Dec 06

51,300

Jan 07 to Mar 07

81,240

Apr 07 to Jun 07

48,050

Jul 07 to Sep 07

63,370

Oct 07 to Dec 07

49,880

Jan 08 to Mar 08

49,370

Apr 08 to Jun 08

40,750

Jul 08 to Sep 08

40,530

Oct 08 to Dec 08

21,670

Jan 09 to Mar 09

31,400

Apr 09 to Jun 09

16,590

Notes:1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.3. Some additional disclosure control has been applied.4. Registration date is derived from the date at which a national insurance number is maintained on the national insurance recording system. 5. Poland joined the European Union in May 2004.Source: 100% extract from national insurance recording system.

Bonuses

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): This is a matter for individual non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). Information on bonuses paid to NDPB staff is not held centrally.

The Government have, however, announced in the Pre-Budget Report fundamental reforms to pay-setting for senior staff across the public sector. The Pre-Budget Report announced that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will in future approve pay levels in excess of £150,000 for all appointments to public sector bodies which are subject to ministerial approval. This will also apply to bonus payments of over £50,000 where ministerial sign-off is needed. For public sector bodies where ministerial approval is not required, the Government expect all organisations making senior managerial appointments in excess of £150,000 to publicly justify this level, and any bonus in excess of £50,000, to the relevant Secretary of State.

All public sector bodies subject to direct ministerial control will be required to publish the salary, including benefits in kind and the level of any bonus, of named individuals paid more than £150,000. The Government will expect all other public bodies to comply with this level of disclosure.

British Citizenship

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): No, as they are already used to dealing with such requests.

Carers

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The level is reviewed annually and uprated in April, in line with the September Retail Prices Index. This year, however, the September Retail Prices Index was negative so, as announced in the uprating statement, to help carers during the early stages of economic recovery we are proposing bringing forward a 1.5% increase. This means that the weekly rate of carer's allowance will be increased from £53.10 to £53.90 in April 2010.

We also propose to increase the carer's allowance weekly earnings limit from £95 to £100 in April 2010.

Children: Healthy Eating

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

Baroness Thornton: As part of a balanced diet, the Government continue to recommend that starchy foods, including potatoes, should make up about a third of the food that is eaten. The Government have no immediate plans to promote one particular starchy food above another. All government healthy eating messages look to promote food choices that are lower in saturated fat, sugars and salt.

The Government utilise a variety of mechanisms and approaches to promote healthy eating messages to different target audiences, including children and young people, for example through written resources, websites and consumer awareness-raising campaigns.

Community Cohesion

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi



10 Feb 2010 : Column WA134

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): £23 million has been committed and allocated to local authorities for community cohesion work for the year 2009-10. No money has been allocated or committed to cohesion projects for the year 2011-12.

Community Relations

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Cambridge University, with the universities of Exeter and Westminster, published this report on Tuesday 6 October 2009, and it was launched by my honourable friend the member for Dewsbury (Shahid Malik).

The report can be found on the following website:


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