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7 Jan 2008 : Column 95W—continued

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what mechanism will be put in place to monitor the implementation of both sides of the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution, as set out in the Annapolis Joint Understanding of 27 November; and if he will make a statement. [172382]


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David Miliband: At Annapolis the parties agreed to form a United States, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism led by the United States to follow up on the implementation of the Roadmap. We do not yet know what form the mechanism will take. The US, Israelis and Palestinians are still working out the details. The UK has consistently supported the principle of a mechanism as provided for in the Roadmap.

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe: Finance

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK contribution has been to the budget of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in every year since 1992; and what percentage of the OSCE's overall budget this has constituted. [172387]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 7 January 2008]: The contribution of each participating state to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) unified budget is determined by a decision of the 56 participating states including the OSCE's Permanent Council. The United States of America makes the largest contribution, followed by Germany. The UK contribution to the unified budget is equal to that of France and Italy.

In the years 1992-2006 it was as follows:

Amount (€) Percentage of overall OSCE unified budget for year

1992

243,000

9.0

1993

261,000

9.0

1994

1,889,190

9.0

1995

2,128,500

9.0

1996

3,505,050

9.0

1997

4,281,120

9.0

1998

14,441,965

10.1

1999

14,590,100

10.0

2000

20,433,613

10.0

2001

19,901,891

10.2

2002

17,257,691

10.3

2003

16,933,565

10.2

2004

17,266,417

10.2

2005

16,474,408

10.6

2006

17,137,827

10.8


Russia: British Council

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Russian government against the closure of British Council offices in Russia. [175476]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 13 December 2007, Official Report, column 56WS, about Russia’s threat to close the British Council’s regional offices in Russia on 1 January 2008. The Government are urging the Russian authorities to reconsider their decision, which would be detrimental to the development of cultural links; severely affect the Russian population who benefit from the British Council’s presence; and damage the Russian Government’s reputation.


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This is not just a bilateral issue. It strikes at the heart of the EU-Russia relationship, given the prominence of culture, education and science in the EU-Russia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement. As such, the Government have successfully engaged European partners to show support for the British Council. The president of the EU National Institutes for Culture wrote to the Minister of Culture for the Russian Federation on 12 December 2007, condemning Russia’s threats and voicing strong concern for all national institutes for culture from EU countries working in Russia. On behalf of EU member states, he described the threat as a continuation of a series of obstacles which some of these institutes have to face and urged Russia to reconsider its decision.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has committed to keeping the House fully informed of developments.

Serbia: Disabled

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of levels of observance of human rights of disabled people in Serbia; and if he will make a statement. [175015]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The conditions described in the report of Mental Disability Rights International are disturbing. While the Serbian authorities questioned the legitimacy of some of the reports, they also expressed their concern and promised prompt action. The Minister for Labour Employment and Social Policy, Mr. Rasim Ljajic, responded quickly by launching an investigation and promising to immediately improve the situation of children in special institutions. We welcome this swift response.

The Government are working on a number of projects in this area in Serbia, in conjunction with the Oxford Policy Management Team (a UK partner), to raise standards in the Serbian authorities. The projects aim to build the capacity of the Serbian authorities in a wide range of areas including; the co-ordination and implementation of social development strategy and social protection law; the supporting of standards, inspection and accreditation (including institutions); social innovation (including funding and long term planning); and dissemination of best practice throughout the system. In addition, our embassy in Belgrade is in touch with Save the Children in Serbia, who are also working alongside the Serbian authorities on alternatives to institutional care for children.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to co-ordinate communication between the UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur and the UN-EU Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad; and if he will make a statement. [173699]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The UK led on UN Security Council Resolution 1769 which mandated the UN-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and we co-sponsored Security Council Resolution 1778 establishing the UN-EU mission in Chad/Central
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African Republic (CAR). We ensured that Resolution 1778 called for the force in Chad/CAR to liaise closely with UNAMID to exchange information on potential threats to humanitarian activities. We continue to underline the importance of co-operation between the two missions in Security Council consultations and in our discussions with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the Government of Sudan is co-operating fully with efforts to deploy the UNAMIS force to Darfur; and if he will make a statement. [174179]

David Miliband: We have had a close dialogue over several months, at ministerial and official level, with the UN and other partners on deployment of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). UN Under-Secretary-General Guehenno, Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), told the UN Security Council on 27 November that the Government of Sudan was not co-operating on a range of issues over UNAMID deployment, including force composition, night flying rights, and the Status of Forces Agreement. Since then, representatives of the DPKO and the Government of Sudan have discussed these issues in Lisbon on 8 December, followed by further talks in Khartoum. We are awaiting further reports on progress that has come about as a result of those discussions.

I spoke with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 7 December about the delays to UNAMID’s deployment. In our contacts with the Government of Sudan, we are pressing them to co-operate fully with the DPKO and the African Union. We also continue to lobby other governments to support the deployment of UNAMID.

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made recent representations to the Sudanese government to expedite the deployment of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. [175515]

Dr. Howells: We have pressed the Sudanese government to co-operate fully with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) over the deployment of the UN-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur (UNAMID) in various contacts in the last two weeks.

On 27 November 2007, the UN Under-Secretary-General Guehenno, head of the DPKO, told the UN Security Council that the government of Sudan was not co- operating on a range of issues over UNAMID deployment. Since then, representatives of the DPKO and the government of Sudan discussed these issues in Lisbon on 8 December, followed by further talks in Khartoum. We are awaiting a report on the outcome of these discussions. We have made clear that the Sudanese government should fulfil its commitments and reach agreement with the UN on the remaining issues.


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Turkey: Armenia

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Turkey on the closure of its border with Armenia. [175499]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Government have raised this issue at various levels with members of the Turkish Government and we continue to call for steps to be taken towards the normalisation of Turkey's relations with Armenia. Furthermore, we continue to encourage both the Governments of Armenia and Turkey to look to the future and build a better relationship between their countries.

In preparing for EU accession, Turkey must have demonstrated its commitment to good neighbourly relations and have undertaken to resolve outstanding border disputes.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect on the people of Armenia of the closure of its border with Turkey. [175500]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1992 as a consequence of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh. The closure of the border has inevitably inhibited the economic development of Armenia by limiting trade prospects. An open border between Turkey and Armenia is desirable and would bring benefits for both countries. We hope that the political situation in the region develops in such a way as to allow this. We encourage the Governments of Armenia and Turkey to look to the future and build a better relationship between their countries. In the meantime, we will continue to work for peace, security and mutual understanding in the region.

International Development

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the statement by the Prime Minister of 12 December 2007, Official Report, column 305, on Afghanistan, how much of the cost of the reconstruction programme announced for Musa Qala will be funded from the £450 million in development and stabilisation assistance to Afghanistan. [175480]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

The £450 million in development and stabilisation assistance outlined in the statement to the House by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12 December 2007, Official Report, columns 303-07, is for the period 2009-12. The initial reconstruction programme for Musa Qala—estimated at £1.9 million—is being funded through Quick Impact Projects, which have a budget this financial year of £9 million.


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Overseas Aid

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the role of diaspora communities in the UK in helping to alleviate poverty in the developing world; and what steps his Department is taking to co-ordinate contributions from these communities. [175289]

Mr. Malik: DFID recognises the contribution that diaspora communities in the UK can make to poverty alleviation. This recognition is reflected in DFID’s first White Paper, and more recently in its migration and development policy paper, “Moving out of poverty: Making Migration work for poor people”.

To enhance this contribution we have engaged with diaspora communities in several ways. For example, we have consulted diaspora communities when developing country assistance plans and relevant policies. We have also facilitated the transfer of formal remittances by supporting the creation of the “sendmoneyhome.org” website and the creation of the UK remittances taskforce. These seek to reduce remittance transfer costs and tackle barriers to remittance flows from diaspora communities to their countries of origin.

Since 2003, DFID has sought to help diaspora organisations co-ordinate their contribution to international development by supporting the formation of the network organisation, Connections For Development (CfD) through a strategic grant agreement (SGA) - value approximately £980,000. CfD engages in the development of policy and country programmes, as well as building awareness and understanding of development in the UK.

In 2006 DFID announced a new volunteering initiative designed to engage diaspora communities in development. DFID will launch a new £3 million diaspora volunteering scheme in early 2008. The objective of the programme is to give people from these communities the opportunity to make a personal contribution to development and pass on their learning through a range of development awareness activities on return to the UK.

Health

Ambulance Services: Hampshire

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 11 December 2007, Official Report, columns 493-94W, on ambulance services: Hampshire, how he monitors ambulance trusts' performance against response time targets; and if he will make a statement. [175409]

Mr. Bradshaw: National health service ambulance trusts are required to meet the following response times:


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Response time data are collected by ambulance trusts and published annually. The latest statistical bulletin, Ambulance Services, England, 2006-07 was published in June 2007. A copy is available in the Library.

Since 1 October 2004 local NHS organisations have had responsibility for managing and monitoring the ways in which local services respond to Category C (presenting conditions which are not immediately serious or life threatening) calls.

Autism

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance he has issued to NHS trusts on the minimum level of care which should be available to people with autism; [162507]

(2) what research his Department has (a) commissioned, and (b) evaluated on the level of NHS care available to people with autism in Portsmouth; and if he will make a statement. [162508]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have not issued any guidance to national health service trusts nor have we commissioned or evaluated any research on the level of care which should be available to people with autism in Portsmouth. “Better Services for People with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Note Clarifying Current Government Policy and Describing Good Practice” (published on 16 November 2006) clarifies the nature and intent of existing Government policy as it relates to adults with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A copy is available in the Library. It is for NHS trusts to manage their priorities and decide how resources should be attributed, taking into consideration individual assessment of need.


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