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4 July 2007 : Column 1026W—continued


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2007, Official Report, column 305W, to the hon. Member for Reading, East (Mr. Wilson), on Iraq, what the total contractual costs of private security companies contracted to his Department and operating in Iraq were in each year between 2003 and the latest date for which figures are available. [147295]

Dr. Howells: The information requested by my hon. Friend is provided as follows:

Value (£ per annum) Purpose



Static and Mobile Security



Static and Mobile Security



Static and Mobile Security



Static and Mobile Security

The information above covers contracts put in place by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with private security companies for services in Iraq. The figures reflect the contract values concerned and not the actual spend. Many of these contracts cover other Government Departments. Where this is the case, proportional costs are recovered accordingly.

Saudi Arabia: BAE Systems

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations were received by her Department about the Al-Yamamah military contract in the three months prior to the announcement that the Serious Fraud Office would end its investigation into the contract. [146761]

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Dr. Howells: In the three months prior to the decision by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office to halt its investigation into BAE Systems, we continued to have talks with Saudi government officials on many subjects including the Al-Yamamah programme.

Primary responsibility for supporting the export of UK defence equipment and services lies with the Ministry of Defence.

Sierra Leone: Elections

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to ensure that elections in Sierra Leone are free and fair; for how long he expects international observers to remain in Sierre Leone; and whether they will remain there throughout the election process. [146931]

Meg Munn: We are funding a £3 million programme of electoral support to help ensure free and fair elections. This consists of support for international observers and a coalition of national election monitors, the ‘National Elections Watch’, which intends to host observers in every polling station in Sierra Leone; training for political parties; addressing the gender disparity surrounding elections; and strengthening the capacity of national and local media to cover the elections. We have also committed £4 million to the UN Development Programme's “basket fund”, which finances Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission and contributes to the cost of the elections. In addition, our high commission in Freetown is working with the full range of political and civil society to support free and credible elections. It is essential that Sierra Leoneans should be able to participate fully in the elections and that the result should reflect their choices.

On present plans the EU will send 28 long term observers from 15 July to 16 September; 42 short term observers from 6-16 August and, should there be a second round of voting in the presidential elections, 36 short term observers from 2-13 September. We are looking forward to contributing candidates as both short and long term observers.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI), an international non-governmental organisation with expertise on electoral issues, will send 35-40 short term observers who will stay for one week, including election week, and seven short term observers who will stay for one week in mid-July. NDI has already deployed six long term observers who will stay until the end of August. NDI’s observers are being part-funded by the Department for International Development. UK Government election observers will also be deployed for the critical phases of the electoral process and for the elections themselves.

Sudan: Armed Forces

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the UK is making to the Government of Sudan on its commitment under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to withdraw Sudanese armed forces from Upper Nile and Unity States by 9 July 2007. [147484]

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Meg Munn [holding answer 3 July 2007]: As chair of the Security Working Group of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, the UK is in regular dialogue with both parties on monitoring and assisting implementation of their security obligations in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Despite some delays, both sides remain committed to meeting their obligations.

Sudan: Oil

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government intend to work with their counterparts in the UN to introduce a Darfur oil trust fund. [147441]

Meg Munn: We welcome the proposal from the Aegis Trust for an oil trust fund. This could be an option for consideration in the future to put further pressure on the Government of Sudan to meet its commitments on Darfur. As with other measures, we need to carefully consider its impact on the economy and poverty reduction in the whole of Sudan, and on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), agreed between North and South Sudan in 2005. Oil revenues are key to delivering the CPA’s peace dividend across Sudan. The UK’s policy remains focused on smart and targeted multilateral sanctions.

Sudan: Peace Keeping Operations

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the timetable is for the full deployment of the combined African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force to Sudan. [147440]

Meg Munn: The UN and African Union (AU) are negotiating the timetable for the deployment of the joint AU-UN hybrid force for Darfur, accepted by the Sudanese Government on 12 June. We are pressing both parties to agree on the earliest possible date.

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will provide details of the proposed mandate for the African Union-United Nations deployment to Darfur. [147444]

Meg Munn: The proposed mandate of the joint African Union (AU)—UN peacekeeping force for Darfur is contained in the report produced by the AU and UN and presented to the Government of Sudan in Addis Ababa on 12 June. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House. The Peace and Security Council of the AU endorsed this proposed mandate on 22 June. We are preparing a UN Security Council Resolution, with other Security Council members, that will mandate the UN elements of the force.

Uganda: Politics and Government

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on incursion into the Uganda High Court by security forces to re-arrest suspects previously given bail; and if he will make a statement. [147248]

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Meg Munn: The violence used by the Government forces at the Uganda High Court on 1 March to frustrate the decision of the High Court to grant the People’s Redemption Army (PRA) suspects bail has grave implications for the independence of the judiciary, respect for the rule of law and human rights in Uganda.

We continue to raise our concerns about the detention of the PRA suspects with the Government of Uganda. Most recently our High Commissioner in Kampala raised this with President Museveni on 10 May.

We understand that court proceedings are due to resume later this month. We will continue to make further representations to the Government of Uganda calling for court proceedings to be expedited in a fair and just manner.


Aviation: Security

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent advice she has had from TRANSEC on current hand baggage restrictions, with particular reference to the number of pieces of hand baggage allowed for air travellers departing UK airports. [146278]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The current security regulations are kept under constant review. The Department has currently placed a limit of one cabin bag per passenger in order to manage the current very real threat to aviation in the UK. However, we have made clear our readiness to remove the one bag limit once industry—collectively—is confident of its ability to deliver security effectively without it.

Bus Services: Concessions

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many appeals lodged in 2006 by bus operators under the concessionary travel appeal system in England have been successful; how many appeals were lodged in 2006; how much was awarded to successful appeals lodged in 2006; how many appeals are outstanding from 2006; and if she will make a statement. [146467]

Ms Rosie Winterton: 38 appeals lodged with the Secretary of State by bus operators disputing the reimbursement arrangements in travel concession authorities in England for 2006-07 were successful. Over 60 appeals were lodged in that year, although 15 of those were subsequently withdrawn and four were rejected. Two of the appeals lodged in the autumn are deferred until July following requests from both operators and the travel concession authority to allow time for local negotiation.

It would not be appropriate to comment on the individual determinations of appeals. Further information may be sought from the relevant bus operators and travel concession authorities.

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Bus Services: Cumbria

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the likely impact on the provision of rural bus services of the real terms reduction in the rural bus subsidy grant to Cumbria county council in 2007-08. [146708]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 29 June 2007]: In 2007-08 Cumbria will receive £1.6 million in rural bus subsidy grant (RBSG). This is a 2.39 per cent. increase over the previous year, which is the same percentage increase received by all other local authorities receiving the grant. RBSG allocations for 2007-08 total £55.6 million. This is a 71 per cent. increase in cash terms since the grant was introduced in 1998.

Whether an authority’s allocation represents a reduction in real terms depends on the changes in contract prices that authority faces during the course of the year. This varies from area to area. It is for each authority to review their expenditure on bus support, taking account of local priorities and all the resources available to them which includes, in addition to RBSG, revenue support grant from central Government.

Bypasses: Kettering

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make available funding to help finance the construction of an eastern bypass for Kettering. [146392]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Northamptonshire county council, as the local highway authority, is responsible for preparing any proposals for an eastern bypass of Kettering. Should the council decide to promote such a scheme, it would need to obtain the region’s agreement to prioritise the scheme for funding within the East Midlands regional funding allocation for major transport schemes.

The council would then need to submit a detailed business case for the scheme, in line with departmental guidance, for consideration by the Department.

Channel Tunnel

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what date she expects the Channel Tunnel to reach full capacity for (a) freight and (b) passengers. [144795]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department currently holds no forecasts on this matter.

Departments: Pay

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many bonuses were awarded to senior civil servants working at her Department and its agencies in each year between 1997 and 2006; and what the total cost of those bonuses was. [146499]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The information for the number and total amount paid to senior civil service bonus payments within the Department for Transport is only available from 2004 onwards and is as follows:

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Number Total cost (£)










Under current arrangements, bonuses are used to reward excellent performance during the year and are based on a judgment on how well an individual has performed relative to their peers. The intention is the best performers receive the biggest bonus payments.

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many non-pensionable bonuses were awarded to members of staff in her Department in the last three years; and at what total cost. [146978]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number and total cost of non-pensionable bonuses awarded to member of staff in the Department for Transport in the last three years is as follows:

Number of bonuses awarded Total value of these bonuses (£)










Departments: Sick Leave

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of sick leave taken by staff in her Department was stress-related in each of the last three years. [145983]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The percentage of sick leave taken by staff in the Department that was stress-related in each of the last three years is:








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