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Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the recent open letter on Government policies on Iraq and the Israel/Palestine situation, signed by former British diplomats; and whether he plans to respond to the letter. 
Mr. Howard: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his statement of 19 April 2004, Official Report, columns 213, on Iraq and the Middle East Peace Process, (1) whether he raised in Washington the role of the British representative in Baghdad; 
(2) whether he asked President Bush to designate the British representative as Ambassador Bremer's deputy. 
The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) during my statement on 19 April 2004, Official Report, column 33.
Mr. Howard: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his statement of 19 April 2004, Official Report, columns 213, on Iraq and the Middle East Peace Process, what proposals were agreed with President Bush to improve the training and effectiveness of Iraqi security forces. 
Mr. Howard: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his statement of 19 April 2004, Official Report, columns 213, on Iraq and the Middle East Peace Process, (1) what arrangements are being made to replace the Spanish contingent; 
(2) whether British commanders in Iraq have asked for reinforcements; and whether any such request has been made by the US Administration. 
Jacqui Smith: We are taking a number of steps to increase women's opportunities in the labour market such as increasing support for child care, flexible working and work-balance and the help we, together with the EOC, have provided employees to tackle unequal pay where it exists. Indeed, we welcome yesterday's publication of the EOC's interim report on modern apprenticeships, which looks at the issue of occupational segregation, one of the causes of the gender pay gap.
Ms Hewitt: The Government have implemented a substantial package of measures to give women greater choice when entering the labour market, including new rights for working parents, tax credits, New Deal for Lone Parents and New Deal for Partners. There are now more women in employment than ever before, 13 million, up from 12 million in spring 1997. This Government's initiatives have contributed to the significant increase.
Ms Hewitt: I fully support the work of my colleague the Secretary of State for International Development to assist women in post-conflict situations. The UK Government are providing direct assistance to the survivors of the genocide which is currently running at £200,000 per annum. I welcome the planned additional support of up to £850,000 which will include advice and counselling on issues around HIV/AIDS. I also welcome the financial assistance his Department is providing to witnesses, including rape survivors, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and my hon. Friend the Minister for Women are pleased with the early signs that the Government's Teenage Strategy is working. The under 18 conception rate has fallen by 9.4 per cent. between 1998 and 2002.
Jacqui Smith: Our message to employers is that those who discriminate against women returning from maternity leave are breaking the law. I welcome the EOC's formal investigation into pregnancy discrimination, as I am too aware that this type of unlawful discrimination still takes place. Hard evidence of the scope, nature of and reasons for such discrimination will enable us to tackle it more effectively.
The recommendations will strengthen the work already in hand to support victims as outlined in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victim's Bill, the three-year Action Plan to implement the Women's Offending Reduction Programme and Gender Equality PSA targets to increase women's participation in the criminal justice system.
11. Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on responses received from businesses consulted on recommendations contained within the White Paper on reforming consumer credit legislation. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: We have received a substantial number of responses to the Consumer Credit White Paper and its associated consultation. The responses represent views from a wide cross section of the credit industry; business, consumer groups and enforcement agencies.
Jacqui Smith: Good progress has been made across the wide range of recommendations contained in the report, covering the areas of technology, skills, process excellence, socio-economic environment and environment, safety and security.
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