Oxford-Hereford Railway Line

Harriett Baldwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what long-term plans he has for the rail line between Oxford and Hereford. [57329]

Mrs Villiers: We plan to improve both journey times and services between Oxford and Hereford. The redoubling of the route between Oxford and Evesham is nearly complete and additional train services are expected to operate from September. We expect the Intercity Express Programme to serve the route with faster trains by 2018, and Network Rail is reviewing opportunities to upgrade the track to enable further journey time improvements.

Piracy

Alun Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what non-lethal equipment for protection from sea piracy his Department is evaluating. [58151]

Mike Penning: The industry-developed document ‘Best Management Practices’ sets out a range of non-lethal ship self-protection measures which can help avoid, deter or delay acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and throughout the Indian ocean. The recommendations included in BMP are wide ranging and include the use of non-lethal equipment to inhibit boarding by pirates, such as razor-wire, electrified barriers, anti-climb paint, and water sprays; and the use of binoculars and night vision optics to assist in identifying potential threats.

The Department for Transport has previously evaluated a number of these measures as part of a research and development programme, and the results were communicated to industry.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 187W

Public Transport: Crimes of Violence

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many violent assaults against staff of public transport services have been recorded in each of the last five years; [55315]

(2) how many violent assaults against passengers on public transport services have been recorded in each of the last five years. [55316]

Mrs Villiers: Information about assaults committed against staff working in rail and in the tube is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police who can be contacted at:

British Transport Police

25 Camden Road

London NW1 9LN

E-mail:

[email protected]

The Department for Transport does not hold any information relating to bus crime.

Public Transport: Fares

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the change in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of introducing incrementally staggered fares for public transport. [56044]

Norman Baker: A system of incrementally staggered fares already exists for passenger rail services. Analysis of the estimated change in greenhouse gas emissions would be part of the analysis undertaken in any review of the structure of passenger rail fares.

The responsibility for setting fares on bus services lies with the bus operator for commercial services and the relevant local authority for contracted services. The setting of fares in London is devolved to Transport for London.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has carried out a cost-benefit analysis on introducing public transport fares that are incrementally staggered according to the time of travel. [56045]

Norman Baker: No such specific cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken by the Department for Transport.

Public Transport: Fuels

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what expenditure his Department incurred on the development of potential alternative fuels for public transport in the latest period for which figures are available. [55320]

Norman Baker: In the 2010-11 financial year my Department spent £4 million supporting the Carbon Trust's Algal Biofuel Challenge and Pryolysis Challenge. These programmes seek to develop sustainable advanced biofuels for the transport sector, including but not limited to public transport.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 188W

Public Transport: Tickets

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what date he expects the distribution of the second tranche of smartcard grants to deliver smart and integrated ticketing schemes in the 10 largest urban areas in England to be complete. [56030]

Norman Baker: The second tranche of grants was allocated in 2010-11 and distribution of this money is now complete. This is reflected in the updated departmental business plan, published on 13 May.

Railways

Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average speed of passenger rail services was in each year since 1990. [57550]

Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport does not hold this information. However, as an exercise, we have estimated the average timetabled speed of passenger trains on the British network to be 45 miles per hour (excluding station dwell times) based on the December 2008 weekday timetable.

Railways: Cost Effectiveness

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the cost-benefit analysis associated with his decision to proceed with the Intercity Express Programme. [54432]

Mrs Villiers: I believe that my hon. Friend is referring to the Intercity Express Programme, the Department for Transport's project to procure new high-speed rolling stock on the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines.

We intend to publish the business case analysis associated with this decision in due course, consistent with the transparency agenda that the Department has outlined recently. The timing will be dictated by progress on important commercial discussions with Agility Trains, the preferred bidder, which are currently under way.

Railways: Passengers

Damian Hinds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of future demand for London to Alton passenger rail services. [57585]

Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport is currently working with Stagecoach South West Trains and Network Rail to assess future demand for London to Alton passenger rail services with a view to securing additional passenger capacity.

Railways: Snow and Ice

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has provided to (a) local authorities and (b) rail companies on who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from areas around railway stations, depots and maintenance and operational facilities. [56021]

7 Jun 2011 : Column 189W

Norman Baker: The Department for Transport has not provided guidance to either local authorities or railway operators on who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from areas around railway stations, depots and other rail facilities.

One of the recommendations from the Winter Resilience Review Final Report, published in October 2010, was that Network Rail and individual rail companies should make regular contact with local authorities during the winter planning process and season to ensure that the clearance of snow and ice is treated in a co-ordinated way across their respective boundaries.

We encourage all parties concerned to take forward this recommendation as part of their preparations for next winter.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met (a) Network Rail and (b) representatives of train operating companies to discuss the implications of the Independent Review of Winter Resilience. [56022]

Mrs Villiers: I regularly meet Network Rail, representatives of train operators and other key industry bodies to discuss performance issues on the network, including the independent review of winter resilience, and progress made on the recommendations it contained. Further discussions will be held throughout the year in preparation for next winter.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has taken steps to (a) monitor and (b) advise rail operators on the allocation of small quantities of salt to treat (i) platforms, (ii) depots, (iii) signal boxes and (iv) car parks during severe weather conditions. [56119]

Mrs Villiers: The safe and effective operation of rail services during conditions of snow and ice is an operational matter for Network Rail and train operating companies.

The procurement and allocation of materials to address such conditions is under the control of these companies.

Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider the merits of a minimum floor price for certificates for waste-derived biodiesel under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. [56538]

Norman Baker: As part of the Government's measures to address climate change, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) ensures a growing proportion of UK road transport fuels are from sustainable renewable sources. The RTFO includes a certificate trading mechanism to increase the efficiency of compliance. The value of individual certificates is determined by the market. To date the RTFO has met its objective of driving a market for renewable transport fuels in the UK. Therefore the introduction of a minimum floor price is not considered necessary at this time.

We are currently consulting on proposals to amend the RTFO to implement the Renewable Energy Directive. These proposals include providing additional support for biofuels derived from waste that meet certain mandatory

7 Jun 2011 : Column 190W

standards for sustainability by awarding two Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates to each litre of such fuel supplied. Crop-based biofuels will continue to get one certificate per litre, as long as they meet the mandatory sustainability standard. In this way the proposed change would give twice the financial support to biofuels derived from waste as conventional biofuels, and no support to biofuels that do not meet required sustainability standards.

Rescue Services

Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport of 24 March 2011, Official Report, column 343WH, on coastguard services, for what reason the Parliamentary Under-Secretary subsequently wrote to the Chair of the Transport Select Committee on 10 May 2011 to indicate that regular coastguards had been instructed to decline the invitation from the Committee to give oral evidence to its inquiry into the future of the Coastguard Service. [56469]

Mike Penning: The purpose of the correspondence with the Chair of the Transport Select Committee (TSC) was to point out that regular Coastguards are civil servants and, as set out in the Civil Service Code, are accountable to Ministers, who in turn are accountable to Parliament. Where civil servants give evidence to Select Committees they are doing so, not in a personal capacity, but as representatives of their Ministers to account for Government policy.

However, many Coastguards have submitted their written submissions on the proposals for the modernisation of Her Majesty's Coastguard, either in response to the consultation, or to the TSC, or to both. Additionally serving Coastguards were able to talk with the members of the TSC when the Committee visited three Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres on 18/19 May.

Rescue Services: Scotland

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what date he expects to make an announcement on the future of coastguard stations in Scotland. [57897]

Mike Penning: We expect to make an announcement about the modernisation of Her Majesty's Coastguard before the House rises for summer recess on 19 July.

Roads: Accidents

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether (a) he and (b) his ministerial colleagues have visited any accident and emergency departments of NHS hospitals to discuss with staff levels of medical attention required to deal with casualties arising from road crashes involving drivers (i) exceeding speed limits and (ii) driving under the influence of alcohol since May 2010. [53781]

Mike Penning: Neither I nor other Transport Ministers has visited accident and emergency departments since May 2010 to discuss specifically the levels of medical attention associated with road casualties arising from speeding and drink driving.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 191W

The Government plan to take further action on drink driving as set out in its response to the North review about drink and drug driving, which has been published on the Department for Transport website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/drivinglaws/govtresponse/

Our approach to road safety more generally, including speeding, has been set out in a strategic framework for road safety, published on 11 May on the Department for Transport website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/strategicframework/

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in what year his Department first established targets for reductions in the numbers killed or seriously injured on roads. [55813]

Mike Penning: In 1987 the then Department of Transport set out the first road safety casualty target in the strategy document “Road Safety: The Next Steps” which was to reduce the numbers of killed and seriously injured on our roads by one-third by 2000.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether his Department has made an estimate of the change in annual road fatalities that would arise from reducing the number of MOT tests a new vehicle would require to a test after four years and every two years thereafter; [56033]

(2) whether he has carried out an impact assessment on his proposals to reduce the number of tests required under the MoT testing regime. [56043]

Mike Penning: The Department has recently commissioned independent research to examine how vehicle defects affect accident rates, and to consider the potential road safety impact of changing the frequency of the MOT. The ‘Effect of Vehicle Defects in Road Accidents’ report can be found at:

http://www.trl.co.uk/online_store/reports_publications/trl_reports/cat_road_user_safety/report_effect_of_vehicle_defects_in_road_accidents.htm

This research will be a useful addition to other information we will be gathering through the review process, including on the impacts on garages and MOT stations.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects of a driver (a) being uninsured, (b) driving a vehicle without a valid MOT and (c) both on the propensity of that driver to be involved in an accident that involves (i) death and (ii) serious injury. [57114]

Mike Penning: No assessment has been made.

Chris Heaton-Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic accidents have been reported on the M1 between junctions 20 and 21 in each of the last 15 months. [57530]

Mike Penning: Accidents are recorded using police data and include all collisions where injuries are reported. Validated data are only available up to December 2009. Therefore there are no validated data for the requested period.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 192W

The following shows the validated data for the M1 between junctions 20 and 21 (main line carriageway only) for 2009.


2009

Fatal

0

Serious

2

Slight

23

Damage

0

Total

25

Roads: Hexham

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he plans to take to ensure that roads in (a) Hexham constituency and (b) other rural areas are cleared of snow and accessible in the event of severe weather. [57884]

Norman Baker: Local highway authorities, including Northumberland county council, have a duty under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 to maintain the local highways which they are responsible for including those in (a) Hexham constituency and (b) other rural areas. In relation to snow, a local authority's duty includes the requirement “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice”.

Central Government have no powers to intervene in these matters in relation to local authority roads. Therefore winter service planning and salt stock supplies are the responsibility of the respective highway authorities.

The Department for Transport endorses Well-Maintained Highways, the code of practice for highway maintenance published by the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG). The section on winter service recommends that local highway authorities should draw up a winter service plan, which should determine how snow and ice on the roads will be tackled. It also recommends that highway authorities should review their winter service plans annually in consultation with a range of stakeholders. The guidance recognises that authorities may need to prioritise which roads need to be cleared of snow and ice and recommends that they include arrangements for keeping road users informed of their winter service plans.

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the reasons are for the time taken to complete the one-year post-opening project evaluation of the A595 Parton to Lillyhall improvement scheme; when he expects the evaluation to be (a) undertaken and (b) completed; and what plans he has to publish the results of the evaluation. [57657]

Mike Penning: This scheme was in an area affected by severe flooding in November 2009, which had a long lasting impact on traffic patterns due to the collapse and closure of a number of bridges. A review undertaken in September 2010, recommended that a one-year after Post Opening Project Evaluation (POPE) study should not be undertaken. However, the need for post-opening evaluation will be reassessed in 2012 when consideration

7 Jun 2011 : Column 193W

will be given as to whether a ‘three-year after’ evaluation would be worth undertaking, or to wait until the scheduled five-years after study.

All POPE reports are published on the Highways Agency website, and are available via:

www.highways.gov.uk/evaluation

Roads: Snow and Ice

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has taken steps to commission research on methods of reducing the volume of salt utilised for clearing ice from roads. [56037]

Norman Baker [holding answer 17 May 2011]: The Department for Transport has worked with the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) and published guidance on the range of actions that can be taken in order to reduce the volume of salt required for preventing snow and ice forming on roads. This guidance is available on the following website:

http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/pdfs/Winter%20Service%20for%20Local%20Authority%20 Practitioners%20v7.pdf

In addition, on 24 December 2010, the Department for Transport issued simplified spread rate guidance to local highway authority practitioners titled ‘Winter Service Guidance for Local Authority Practitioners—Recommended Precautionary Treatments and Post Treatments Including Revised Salt Spread Rates’. This guidance is available on the following website link:

http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/pdfs/DfT%20Simplified%20Guidance%20for%20Local%20 Authority%20Practitioners.pdf

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assistance his Department has provided to (a) local authorities and (b) the Highways Agency on preparations for the clearance of trunk and local roads providing access to airports during times of severe weather conditions. [56117]

Norman Baker: For those access roads to airports which are the responsibility of the relevant local highway authority, such authorities have a duty under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice”.

However, the Department for Transport encourages local authorities to have a robust winter service plan in place and expects authorities to communicate on a regular basis with the local community, including businesses and other key stakeholders within their respective areas, including airport operators.

With respect to the strategic road network, every year the Highways Agency produces detailed winter service plans setting out all aspects of the winter service to be delivered across its network during the forthcoming winter season, to keep the network safe and available for use through severe weather conditions. These winter service plans, which build on lessons learned from the previous winter season, are shared with key stakeholders and, together with more direct consultation, help to ensure that access to critical national infrastructure such as airports is maintained.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 194W

Rolling Stock: Procurement

Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many additional vehicles were planned to enter service by each train operating company by March 2014 under the 2008 rolling stock plan; and how many such vehicles (a) were in service, (b) were subject to contracts signed between his Department and the train operating companies but where the vehicles were not yet in service and (c) were planned but contracts for which had not yet been signed on the latest date for which information is available. [56714]

Mrs Villiers: Appendix B of the 2008 Rolling Stock Plan set out indicative numbers of additional vehicles by train operating company.

The appendix can be found here;

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/rollingstock/rollingstockplan?page=6#a1016

The following table shows (a) the number of additional vehicles in service on 19 May 2011 and (b) the number of additional vehicles currently contracted by the Department.

Train operating company In service on 19 May 2011 Contracted on 19 May 2011

One (NXEA)

80

188

First Capital Connect

153

153

East Midlands Trains

8

London Midland

28

28

Intercity West Coast

106

Chiltern

8

First Great Western

30

30

South Central

60

South Eastern

48

48

Northern

10

38

England—total

349

667

The Department for Transport has re-started discussions with five train operating companies (First Great Western, London Midland, South West Trains, Northern and Trans Pennine Express) about plans to provide additional carriages. The companies are currently developing updated proposals for consideration by the Department, and until these have been evaluated and commercial negotiations have concluded, it is not possible to be certain as to which rolling stock will eventually be used in each franchise.

Southeastern Trains

Mr Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the potential effect that the change in journey times for trains running between London Cannon Street and East Kent to be introduced from 22 May 2011 will have on the performance targets needed to be achieved by Southeastern Trains in order to avoid the payment of compensation. [57377]

Mrs Villiers [holding answer 24 May 2011]: The Department for Transport has not carried out an assessment into the potential impact on performance from the extended journey times as no approval has been given to amend the Service Level Commitment under the franchise agreement.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 195W

Southeastern recently brought to our attention that errors had been identified in how it had timetabled certain services from 22 May 2011. They advised that they had taken action which has resolved the problem for the majority of these services, including those with the largest increases in journey time.

However, there remain a number of services in the timetable that have seen small increases in journey times which the operator will not be able to resolve until the next change in December 2011.

Southeastern’s train performance will be monitored against the timetable implemented from 22 May 2011.

I have asked my officials to investigate this matter and to seek assurances from Southeastern on the changes they plan to implement in their management processes to ensure that this sort of error is not repeated.

Speed Limits

Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to publish the outcome of his Department's speed limit review. [43289]

Mike Penning: The review of speed limits was established by the previous administration. Coalition Ministers are currently considering their own approach to speed limits policy.

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether his Department has concluded collecting information on 20 mph speed limit zones from local authorities; and when he plans to publish any conclusions arising from that exercise; [57455]

(2) when he plans to publish information from local authorities on the effects of the introduction of 20 mph speed limit zones. [57457]

Mike Penning: The Department for Transport has funded a review of the area-wide 20 mph speed limit scheme implemented in Portsmouth. A report assessing the impact of the scheme was published in October 2010.

The Department has no plans to collect further information on 20 mph schemes.

In our Strategic Framework for Road Safety, published on 11 May, the Department undertook to provide local authorities with an economic tool to help them assess the full costs and benefits of any proposed scheme. This will be available in the coming year.

Transport: Exhaust Emissions

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what process his Department has put in place to assess transport schemes on which ministerial decisions are required in respect of their greenhouse gas emissions; and when his Department next plans to review and revise its process; [56031]

(2) what guidance his Department issues on the appraisal of transport projects in respect of their greenhouse gas emissions; and when his Department next plans to review and revise such guidance; [56032]

(3) when his Department plans to implement its proposals that the benefits of low carbon proposals in transport projects should be fully recognised. [56116]

7 Jun 2011 : Column 196W

Norman Baker: We are strongly committed to ensuring that the carbon consequences of transport projects are properly considered.

‘The Transport Business Case’

http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/howthedftworks/transportbusinesscase/

published on 27 April sets out the Department's approach to producing business cases that support ministerial decisions, where the impact of a scheme on greenhouse gas emissions is an important element.

Guidance on the appraisal of transport projects in respect of their greenhouse gas emissions is published in the Department's appraisal guidance ('webTAG'). The latest guidance is published at

http://www.dft.gov.uk/webtag/documents/expert/unit3.3.5.php

The guidance is kept under constant review, and is updated annually. The latest update was published as definitive at the end of April 2011.

West Coast Railway Line

Andrea Leadsom: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the contribution by the Minister of State, Official Report, 31 March 2011, column 156WH, on high speed rail, what (a) assessment he has made and (b) evidence he holds on the levels of disruption to the West Coast Main Line arising from (i) previous upgrades and (ii) potential future upgrades. [55575]

Mrs Villiers [holding answer 13 May 2011]: A summary of the planned implementation arrangements (which includes details of planned possessions and diversions) for the West Coast Main Line (WCML) modernisation programme were made available in the Strategic Rail Authority's June 2003 “West Coast Main Line Strategy” (section 6.3 and appendix D), a copy of which can be accessed through the Department's and National Archives' website:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/wcml/westcoastmainlinestrategy.pdf

Possessions included a nine-day closure and 16 consecutive weekend possessions at the southern end of the route, and disruption was exacerbated by project overruns. For information on actual possessions and disruption my hon. Friend should contact Network Rail's chief executive at the following address:

David Higgins

Chief Executive

Network Rail

Kings Place

90 York Way

London N1 9AG

The number of passengers using the WCML today is double that at the time of the WCML route modernisation, so the impact of similarly disruptive works would be proportionately greater. Any upgrade to Euston within the confines of the existing station would be particularly disruptive, and far more so than the phased station redevelopment proposed for HS2. However, as there are no plans for further major infrastructure upgrades on the WCML, neither we nor Network Rail have made an assessment of the disruption associated with such work.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 197W

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Armed Forces

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the ethnic balance of the (a) Afghan National Army and (b) Afghan police force. [56405]

Mr Hague: The ethnic composition of the Afghan National Security Forces is broadly consistent with the Afghan population demographic, including in terms of Pashtun personnel. Southern Pashtuns are under-represented in the army and the Afghan Ministry of Defence has developed a recruitment campaign intended to address this. The situation in the police is similar but Tajiks are statistically over-represented.

Afghanistan: Peace Negotiations

Graeme Morrice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress has been made in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. [57506]

Alistair Burt: In October last year, the Afghan Government established the High Peace Council to lead the Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process. The Council has convened Governors' Roadshows in provinces across Afghanistan to take forward the reintegration of former fighters into mainstream communities. It has also undertaken outreach visits to Pakistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan. Most recently, the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme Conference took place in Kabul on 10-11 May, supported by the UK and Japan. This provided an opportunity to review lessons learned so far and to build momentum as the Afghan Government consolidate the Reintegration Programme's implementation at the provincial level.

Ai Weiwei

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make representations to the Chinese Government for the release of Ai Weiwei; [57521]

(2) what discussions he has had with the Chinese government on the detention of Ai Weiwei. [57522]

Mr Jeremy Browne: On 4 April 2011 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a public statement outlining our concerns:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=579056182

His statement called on the Chinese Government to clarify Mr Ai's situation and expressed the hope that he would be released immediately.

On 11 April 2011 the Deputy Prime Minister raised Mr Ai's case when he met Shanghai Party Secretary and Politburo Standing Committee member, Yu Zhengsheng. I wrote to the Chinese ambassador regarding Ai's case and other human rights issues on 3 May 2011. The Foreign Secretary and I also raised Mr. Ai's case

7 Jun 2011 : Column 198W

with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying when she visited London on 12 May 2011.

During my recent visit to China I wrote an article published in the South China Morning Post on 3 June expressing concern about the recent detention of activists including Mr Ai and called again for his release.

We will continue to monitor closely developments in Mr Ai's case and look for further opportunities to raise our concerns.

Bahrain: Foreign Relations

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with Bahraini opposition figures. [57209]

Alistair Burt: Our ambassador in Bahrain has regular discussions with a range of political figures, including from the main opposition societies. These communications are ongoing. We will continue to engage, including at ministerial level as appropriate, to build support for dialogue and to encourage leaders of both communities to show real leadership by promoting tolerance and demonstrating a shared commitment to the future of Bahrain.

Bahrain: Politics and Government

Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Bahrain; and if he will make a statement. [57210]

Alistair Burt: We remain concerned at events in Bahrain. Although the immediate situation appears calmer, there continue to be credible reports of human rights abuses. We urge the Government of Bahrain to meet all its human rights obligations and uphold political freedoms, equal access to justice and the rule of law. These do not run contrary to security, but are integral to longer term stability.

The Prime Minister met the Bahraini Crown Prince on 19 May 2011 and made clear that events across the middle east have shown that Governments need to respond with reform and not repression if they are to enhance the long-term stability and prosperity of their countries. The Government have encouraged the Bahraini Government and leaders of both communities to show real leadership by promoting tolerance and demonstrating a shared commitment to the future of Bahrain.

We believe that dialogue is the way to fulfil the aspirations of all Bahrainis. We urge the Bahraini Government to create the environment in which a dialogue can happen and at that point we urge all sides, including opposition groupings, to engage.

BBC World Service

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of people in (a) Brazil, (b) the Russian Federation, (c) India and (d) China reached by BBC World Service broadcasts. [56332]

7 Jun 2011 : Column 199W

Mr Hague: According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, the weekly audiences across all platforms, including online are:

Brazil: 1.4 million

Russia: 830,000

India: 11.5 million

China: 1.4 million.

BBC World Service: Internet

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of the activities of the BBC World Service undertaken via online media. [56315]

Mr Hague: Online services are provided in all the languages in which the British Broadcasting Corporation World Service (BBCWS) broadcasts, including all radio output being available in audio.

The proportion of the activities of the BBCWS undertaken via online media varies from service to service and language to language. Journalists in most services work across multiple media. The proportion of activity directed at online provision within multimedia services varies from service to service according to the importance of the internet and mobile services as a means of news consumption in the countries and media markets each service serves.

Belarus: Internet

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of Belarus on the treatment of dissident bloggers. [56325]

Mr Hague: I am aware of the pressure being put on dissident bloggers and other elements in civil society and the independent media in Belarus.

I and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe, have released six statements since the December 2010 presidential election condemning the increase in human rights violations in Belarus. We have been active within the EU and in other international forums to put pressure on the Belarusian authorities to respect basic international standards of justice and human rights, which include freedom of speech.

Belarus: Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is able to conduct an independent fact-finding mission to Belarus. [56310]

Mr Hague: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked actively as part of a group of 14 Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) participating states to invoke the OSCE's Moscow Mechanism following the crack-down on the opposition in Belarus during and after the December 2010 elections. The Moscow Mechanism allows for the deployment of

7 Jun 2011 : Column 200W

an independent, impartial fact-finding mission if one state, supported by at least nine others, “considers that a particularly serious threat to the fulfilment of the provisions of the OSCE human dimension has arisen in another participating state”.

The group appointed Emmanuel Decaux, Professor of International Law at the University of Paris, as its rapporteur. He began work on 6 May 2011. His report should be presented to the OSCE Permanent Council in mid June 2011.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Politics and Government

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress he has made in seeking agreement at EU level for action against those in contravention of the Dayton agreement. [57393]

Mr Lidington: The Government have consistently argued for an active and engaged European Union approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UK therefore welcomed the agreement reached at the March EU Foreign Affairs Council on a strategy that will reinvigorate the EU's presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while maintaining the safeguards provided by the High Representative and the EU military mission, European Union Force (EUFOR). Under its new strategy the EU will be able to deploy restrictive measures (asset freezes and travel bans) to protect against challenges to Dayton and stability. The UK will continue to work with EU partners towards the effective implementation of this strategy.

Bosnia and Herzegovnia: Politics and Government

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [57348]

Mr Lidington: EU Foreign Ministers discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 May 2011. I outlined the Government’s concern that, seven months after elections, there has been little progress towards the formation of a state-level government, that rhetoric and actions challenging the state continue, and that reform progress has halted. The Government have consistently argued for an active EU approach to these and other challenges. We therefore welcomed the agreement reached at the March Foreign Affairs Council on a strategy that will reinvigorate the EU's presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while maintaining the safeguards provided by the high representative and the EU military mission, European Union Force (EUFOR).

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Bosnia. [57356]

Mr Lidington: The Government are very concerned about the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Seven months after elections, there has been little progress towards the formation of a new state-level government, rhetoric and actions challenging the state continue, and reform progress has halted. We are active on the ground

7 Jun 2011 : Column 201W

in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in all relevant international fora emphasising the need for rapid formation of a new state-level government, a responsible political focus on necessary and overdue reforms, and strict compliance with the Dayton agreement.

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies of the position adopted by Milorad Dodik on the Dayton agreement. [57357]

Mr Lidington: The Conclusions adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly on 13 April 2011 represented a serious challenge to the Dayton agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Government are fully committed to the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and have repeatedly made clear that challenges to the structure of the state established by the Dayton peace agreement are unacceptable. The Government fully support the ongoing role of the High Representative and the use of his Executive “Bonn” Powers when he judges this necessary.

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to maintain the operation of (a) the Dayton agreement and (b) the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [57358]

Mr Lidington: The Government have made clear that the UK will not tolerate attempts to undermine the Dayton agreement or the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are active on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in all relevant international for a emphasising the need for strict compliance with the Dayton agreement and a responsible political focus on all activities and reforms necessary for the country to function properly and move forward.

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to maintain the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. [57359]

Mr Lidington: The Government unequivocally support the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Attempts to undermine the territorial integrity and structure of the state as established by the Dayton peace agreement are unacceptable and will be resisted.

We are active on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in all relevant international fora to ensure that this is the case.

Eric Ollerenshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies of the resolution on a referendum adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly on 13 April 2011. [57360]

Mr Lidington: The resolution adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly (RSNA) on 13 April 2011 represented a serious challenge to the rule of law and to the Dayton agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and threatened to take Bosnia and Herzegovina further away from its goal of future EU and North Atlantic

7 Jun 2011 : Column 202W

Treaty Organisation (NATO) membership. The UK Government, Peace Implementation Council, and EU made clear that this resolution was unacceptable and should be repealed by the RSNA, as did Baroness Ashton in a meeting with Republika Srpska President Dodik on 13 May 2011. Republika Srpska President Dodik's commitment to do so must now be implemented swiftly and in full by the Republika Srpska authorities.

BRIC Summit

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies of the outcome of the Brazil-Russia-India-China summit held on 14 April 2011. [56328]

Mr Hague: The scope and conclusions of the summit provide further evidence of the place and role of these countries in the 21st century.

The Government launched their Emerging Powers Initiative, designed to elevate the UK's relations with the emerging powers.

As I announced to the House on 11 May 2011, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will shift its resource to the Emerging Powers, in particular with an increase of our frontline staff in China, by up to 50 officials and in India by 30, and with an expansion of our diplomatic strength in a number of other emerging powers, notably in Brazil, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia.

British Council: Internet

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what work the British Council is undertaking online to promote British values. [56316]

Mr Hague: The British Council's online work reached 46.1 million people last year and is a major part of its activity in education, the arts and English language teaching to create and build trust and understanding of the UK. They have a portfolio of online programmes serving global audiences. For example they offer online materials to help both children and adults to learn English, and materials that help teachers of English around the world with their work in classrooms. As with their face-to-face work, their online programmes seek to demonstrate the values for which the UK is recognised and respected.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department has spent on legal advice in respect of the Chagos Islands in each of the last five years. [55807]

Alistair Burt: Total spending on legal advice on the following cases:

2004-08: Bancoult 2—Judicial Review into British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) 2004 Orders in Council

2009-present: Chagos Islanders v. UK at the European Court of Human Rights

2010-present: Application for Judicial Review of the BIOT Marine Protected Area

7 Jun 2011 : Column 203W

Was as follows:


£

2010-11

23,555

2009-10

36,486

2008-09

204,693

2007-08

114,853

2006-07

203,300

Total spending on legal advice for the BIOT Administration was as follows:


£

2010-11

47,663

2009-10

29,088

2008-09

19,174

2007-08

15,177

2006-07

16,977

British Indian Ocean Territory: Environment Protection

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department has spent on the maintenance of the Marine Protected Area around the British Indian Overseas Territory in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. [55805]

Mr Bellingham: In the 12 months up to 31 March 2011 the total was £2,049,616.

British Nationals Abroad: Prisoners

George Eustice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what eligibility criteria apply to financial aid for legal costs for British citizens imprisoned overseas. [58004]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government does not provide financial aid for legal costs for British citizens imprisoned overseas. As set out in our publication “Support for British nationals abroad: a Guide”, consular staff cannot give legal advice, start legal proceedings or investigate a crime. However we do offer information about the local legal system, including whether a legal aid scheme is available. We can provide a list of local interpreters and lawyers, although we cannot pay for either. And we will put British citizens in touch with the charity Prisoners Abroad, with whom we work closely on prisoners' welfare issues.

Burma: Armed Conflict

Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the ceasefire between Burmese government forces and the Shan State Army North in Shan state, Burma. [56940]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government are deeply concerned by the reported breakdown of a ceasefire agreement with the Shan State Army North that has led to renewed conflict in Shan state. We understand that the fighting is taking place in the north-central area of Shan state, which is difficult to access and as such the information is hard to verify. We believe that the recent fighting was caused by the Burmese army's failed attempt

7 Jun 2011 : Column 204W

to force the Shan State Army North to join a national border guard force. Our ambassador raised the issue of the ongoing conflict with the Burmese Government on 10 May underlining the importance of a political solution. The UK also highlighted our serious concern during a meeting with other EU member states on 25 May and underlined the importance for the EU to monitor the situation.

Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the treatment of civilians by the Burmese army in Shan state, Burma. [56941]

Mr Jeremy Browne: The Government are deeply concerned that the reported breakdown of a ceasefire agreement with the Shan State Army North has led to renewed conflict in Shan state. We have received reports which allege that the Burmese army has attacked local communities, whom they suspect of assisting the armed groups, and perpetuated human rights abuses. We understand that the fighting is taking place in the north-central area of Shan state, which is difficult to access and as such the information is hard to verify. In a Security Council debate on 10 May, we called upon all armed actors including the Burmese army and ethnic militia to protect the civilian population. The Government secured a strongly worded human rights resolution at the March UN Human Rights Council which called on the Burmese Government to end continuing grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the targeting of civilians in conflict areas. The UK also highlighted our serious concern during a meeting with other EU member states on 25 May and underlined the importance for the EU to monitor the situation.

Burma: Drugs

Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on involvement of the President of Burma with drug-related activities in Shan state, Burma. [56939]

Mr Jeremy Browne: We have received no reports to suggest that the President of Burma is involved in drug related activities.

Charitable Donations

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage charitable giving by Ministers in his Department. [57117]

Mr Lidington: Ministers carry out their duties in accordance with the Ministerial Code. Any charitable activities in a personal capacity are a private matter for them. Relevant interests are published by the Cabinet Office in the List of Ministers' Interests at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/list-ministers-interests

China: Internet

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the recently introduced restrictions on the access to online media in China. [56327]

7 Jun 2011 : Column 205W

Mr Hague: I am aware of ongoing reports of actions by the Chinese authorities to censor and manipulate online content in China, as well as reports of restricted access to social networking sites and microblogs.

Senior officials raised this issue with the Chinese delegation at the last round of the UK-China human rights dialogue in January, following reports of censorship targeting certain international websites.

Our embassy in Beijing have reported on the creation this month of the new “State Internet Information Office”, and are seeking to engage this body to ascertain further information on its roles and responsibilities.

Cyprus: Politics and Government

Mr Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received regarding the arrest and detention of persons demonstrating at the treatment of staff at Cyprus Turkish airlines. [58010]

Mr Lidington: We are aware from media reports that the demonstration took place on 18 May 2011 and that 11 Cyprus Turkish Airline staff were arrested.

Mr Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received on (a) the recent demonstrations in northern Cyprus concerning economic measures and (b) the activities of the Turkish Cypriot police; and if he will make a statement. [58011]

Mr Lidington: Staff at our High Commission in Nicosia attended the demonstration on 7 April 2011 and reported that there were in the region of one to three thousand protestors. There was a large police presence in attendance but staff left before the atmosphere deteriorated. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received no official reporting on the activities of the Turkish Cypriot police.

Departmental CCTV

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many CCTV cameras are installed in and around his Department's premises; and how much such cameras cost to (a) install and (b) operate in the latest period for which figures are available. [56836]

Mr Lidington: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not comment on specific details relating to the physical security of our sites.

For the period 2010-11 the FCO spent £143,931 on the installation of new CCTV cameras and associated equipment in the UK. This figure includes a one-off upgrade of our systems amounting to £141,000.

The operating costs for the UK amount to £57,769.

Information for the FCO's global network could be provided only at disproportionate cost so the data relates only to FCO buildings in the UK.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 206W

Diplomatic Service

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) consular and (b) non-consular staff of his Department were allocated to each overseas country on the most recent date for which figures are available. [56318]

Mr Hague: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 17 February 2011, Official Report, columns 993-97W. Those figures include consular staff but for operational and security reasons we cannot provide a more detailed breakdown. They do not reflect recent changes in deployment in Libya.

Diplomatic Service: Internet

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage the use of social media in an official capacity by staff of his Department posted overseas. [56320]

Mr Hague: The Digital Diplomacy department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) encourages the use of social media to deliver the FCO's foreign policy priorities. All senior diplomats are given digital training before heading out to post, including on social media. The digital unit is in constant touch with diplomats at post, working with them to increase their use of social media for use in communications, engagement and in monitoring, in order to gain a wider picture of events. Our social media presence is strong, and growing, allowing us to respond to foreign policy challenges in a new way. FCO missions and staff currently engage through Facebook and Twitter with over 300,000 followers across the two, and with a growing number of local-language social media in key countries (e.g. Sina.com in China). A significant, and growing, number FCO staff also write blogs, often in local languages, many of which are picked up by online publications in their host countries. We also make significant use of social media to get messages to British nationals in consular crisis situations and are working with social media partners to increase the reach of our presence on such platforms.

Elections

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements his Department put in place to enable its officials working overseas to vote by post in the May 2011 elections and referendum on the voting system. [57562]

Mr Bellingham: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides guidance to its officials working overseas on how they can register to vote in all UK elections. This guidance was applicable to the May 2011 elections and referendum on the voting system.

Embassies

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what overseas properties his Department shares with (a) other Government Departments and agencies and (b)

7 Jun 2011 : Column 207W

foreign governments; with which foreign countries each such overseas property is shared; and what the location is of each such property. [56569]

Mr Lidington [holding answer 19 May 2011]: I refer the hon. Member to the response given by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) to the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) on 7 September 2010, Official Report, columns 466-70W.

EU External Relations

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek a review of EU expenditure on external relations in the light of recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa. [56311]

Mr Hague: The negotiations for the EU's annual external budget for 2012, as well as the discussions on the EU's multi-annual financial framework 2014-2020, are due to begin in June 2011. In these negotiations the Government will press the EU institutions to ensure that funding for external action adds value and has a positive impact. The European Neighbourhood Policy is also currently being reviewed by the European Commission and External Action Service. The Government are pressing for EU spending on its Neighbourhood Policy to be more targeted and effective with a view to incentivising and supporting reform in the EU's Neighbourhood.

Foreign Relations

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent research his Department has undertaken on perceptions of the UK amongst the population of (a) Brazil, (b) the Russian Federation, (c) India and (d) China. [56396]

Mr Hague: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not conducted or commissioned any research on perceptions of the UK in Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China. The FCO subscribes to research on global perceptions of the UK, including in these countries, conducted by companies such as GfK and Gallup.

Internet

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with which of his international counterparts he has raised the issue of restricted access to online media in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [56390]

Mr Hague: I raise this issue regularly in meetings with my international colleagues. I raised these issues most recently with the Egyptian Government during my visit on 2 May.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the licensing for export to foreign governments of software that can be used for the purposes of censorship and limiting access to the internet. [56395]

7 Jun 2011 : Column 208W

Mr Hague: If an item is subject to control, as with all export licence applications, it is considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and UK Export Licensing Criteria, in light of prevailing circumstances and paying particular attention to allegations of human rights abuses. The UK will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used to facilitate internal repression.

Software for limiting access to the internet is not subject to strategic export controls. However should such software contain a cryptographic capability then export controls might apply, depending on the details of the specific software and their full technical specifications.

Kazakhstan: Elections

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies of the outcome of the recent presidential election in Kazakhstan. [56331]

Mr Hague: The United Kingdom values its strong, growing relationship with Kazakhstan, where we are among the largest investors. We want to deepen that relationship.

We welcomed the decision by Kazakhstan's Constitutional Council to step back from moves earlier this year to extend the President's term until 2020 without further elections, and President Nazarbayev's decision to renew his mandate through the presidential election on 3 April. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly noted, however, that the conduct of that election could and should have been better. We and international partners will therefore continue to encourage Kazakhstan to make real progress with its reform agenda.

Libya: Armed Conflict

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on post-conflict reconstruction in Libya. [56955]

Alistair Burt [holding answer 23 May 2011]: I have discussed post-conflict reconstruction extensively with ministerial colleagues, in particular with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence, and the Secretary of State for International Development .

Libya: Oil

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the proportion of oil production capacity in Libya controlled by (a) the Gaddafi Government and (b) opponents of that Government. [56306]

Mr Hague: There are oil production facilities both in those parts of Libya still controlled by the Gaddafi regime and those controlled by the opposition. However, due to the disruption to the Libyan oil sector caused by the conflict and shining areas of Regime and opposition

7 Jun 2011 : Column 209W

control, it is not possible to give an accurate estimate as to the balance of control of these facilities. Against this background, Government analysis indicates that at present the Regime has effective control over about 75 to 80% of Libya's oil production capacity.

Libya: Politics and Government

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had recent discussions with the Arab League on the political situation in Libya; what representations the Arab League has made on operations undertaken in that country; and if he will make a statement. [R] [55250]

Alistair Burt: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, discussed the situation in Libya with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, during his visit to Egypt at the beginning of May. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was also in regular contact with the Secretary-General in March during the early stages of the crisis in Libya. Officials at our embassy in Cairo have been in regular contact with the Secretary-General and the Arab League as the crisis has unfolded. On 12 March 2011, the Arab League became the first organisation to call for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya. It has continued to take an active role in international efforts including as a member of the

7 Jun 2011 : Column 210W

Libya Contact Group. Several members of the Arab League have committed military assets to international action in Libya, as well as humanitarian aid such as repatriation flights, medicine and supplies.

Middle East

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on (a) the rate of unemployment, (b) the proportion of the population in poverty and (c) the proportion of the population with access to the internet in (i) Morocco, (ii) Algeria, (iii) Tunisia, (iv) Libya, (v) Egypt, (vi) Jordan, (vii) the Occupied Palestinian Territories, (viii) Israel, (ix) Lebanon, (x) Syria, (xi) Iraq, (xii) Saudi Arabia, (xiii) Iran, (xiv) Yemen, (xv) Kuwait, (xvi) Bahrain, (xvii) the United Arab Emirates, (xviii) Oman and (xix) Qatar. [56398]

Mr Hague: The following table shows the data the Foreign and Commonwealth Office holds for the countries listed on the rate of unemployment, the proportion of the population in poverty, and the proportion of the population with access to the internet, where such data is available. Further information on the primary sources of this data, predominantly the World Bank and United Nations Development Programmes, is provided as follows and is publicly available.

Country Rate of unemployment (World Bank data unless otherwise specified) Proportion of population earning less than $2 a day (1) , 1990-2005 (3) (UNDP unless otherwise specified) Proportion of population below the National Poverty Line (2) , 1990-2004 (3) (UNDP unless otherwise specified) Proportion of population with access to the internet (World Bank data)

Algeria

11.3% (2008)

15.1%

22.6%

11.9% (2008)

Bahrain

15% (IMF, 2010)

51.9% (2008)

Egypt

9.4% (2009)

43.9%

16.7%

16.6% (2010)

Iran

10.5% (2008)

32% (2008)

Iraq

17.5% (2006)

25.3% (World Bank, 2007)

22.9% (World Bank, 2007)

1% (2008)

Jordan

12.9% (2009)

7%

14.2%

27.4% (2010)

Kuwait

1.6% (CIA Factbook, 2010)

36.7% (2010)

Lebanon

9% (2007)

22.5% (2008)

Libya

30% (IMF, 2004)

5.1% (2010)

Mauritania

7.3% (2008)

63.1%

46.3%

1.9% (2008)

Morocco

10% (2009)

14.3%

19%

33% (2008)

Oman

15% (CIA Factbook, 2010

27.4% (2008)

Occupied Palestinian Territories

26% (UN, 2008)

21.9% (World Bank, 2009)

9% (2008)

Qatar

0.5% (2007)

34% (2008)

Saudi Arabia

5.4% (2009)

58.5% (2008)

Syria

8.4% (2007)

17.3% (2008)

Tunisia

14.2% (2008)

6.6%

7.6%

27.1% (2008)

UAE

4% (2008)

65.2% (2008)

Yemen

15% (2008)

45.2%

41.8%

1.6% (2009)

(1) US$2 a day—at 1985 international prices (equivalent to US$2.15 at 1993 international prices), adjusted for purchasing power parity. (2) National poverty line—the poverty line deemed appropriate for a country by its authorities. National estimates are based on population-weighted subgroup estimates from household surveys. (3) Data refer to the most recent year available during the period specified. Poverty data: UNDP, Human Development Report, 2007/08, Table 3: p238-240. World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.NAHC http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.2DAY

7 Jun 2011 : Column 211W

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) UK-based and (b) UK-affiliated private military contractors operate in (i) the United Arab Emirates, (ii) Saudi Arabia and (iii) Bahrain. [57366]

Alistair Burt: We do not keep lists of UK-based or UK-affiliated private military security companies (PMSC) working abroad because there is no requirement for them to register with us.

The UK is a world leader in the PMSC industry: 36% of the 125 companies who have now signed the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers (initiated in November 2010) are UK-based—by far the largest national contingent. The code is based on principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, and sets out broad guidelines for the organisation and operation of the industry worldwide.

North Korea: Burma

Andrew Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on North Korean assistance to Burma in relation to the development of long range missiles. [56938]

Mr Jeremy Browne: We are aware of reports alleging that the Government of Burma is attempting to manufacture a range of weapons, including various types of missiles, under its memorandum of understanding with North Korea. Our ambassador to Rangoon raised concerns about these reports when he met the Burmese Defence Minister on 10 May. The Government takes all such allegations seriously and reminds all states to adhere to their obligations under relevant UN sanctions. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

Palestinians: Politics and Government

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with the Palestinian authorities since the date of the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas; [56335]

(2) what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas. [56419]

Mr Hague: While I have not spoken directly to President Abbas or Prime Minister Fayyad since the agreement was announced, my officials have had regular dialogue with their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts.

We renew our calls on both sides to commit to peace talks, leading to a Palestinian state that exists in peace and security alongside Israel. Britain hopes that the announcement of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will lead to the formation of a government that rejects violence and pursues a negotiated peace, and we will judge a future Palestinian Government by its actions and its readiness to work for peace.

Police: Deployment

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has undertaken with the governments of

7 Jun 2011 : Column 212W

countries in the territory of which undercover police officers have been deployed from domestic extremism units since October 2010. [57436]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not been involved in any specific discussions taking place with the governments of countries where undercover police officers have been deployed from domestic extremism, since October 2010. However we are aware that our Home Office colleagues have had discussions with the German authorities to clarify legislation governing the use of undercover police officers during this time.

Population

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely population of (a) Brazil, (b) the Russian Federation, (c) India and (d) China in (i) 2015, (ii) 2025 and (iii) 2050. [56401]

Mr Hague: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not made an estimate of population trends in these countries between 2015 and 2050.

UN projections from the World Population Prospects 2010 Revision are as follows:

(a) Brazil: 203 million in 2015, rising to 216 million in 2025 and 222 million in 2050;

(b) The Russian Federation: 142 million for 2015, falling to 139 million in 2025 and 126 million in 2050;

(c) India: 1.3 billion for 2015, 1.4 billion in 2025 and 1.7 billion in 2050;

(d) The People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) 1.4 billion in 2015, 1.4 billion in 2025 and 1.3 billion in 2050.

Sri Lanka: Politics and Government

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed with his counterpart in the Russian Federation the policy of the Russian Federation on Sri Lanka and the position of Tamils in that country. [57325]

Mr Lidington: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has not held such discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov; nor have there been any recent discussions with the Government of the Russia Federation on the position of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Ministers and officials regularly engage with the government of Sri Lanka and international partners about supporting reconciliation between Sri Lanka’s communities.

Swaziland: Human Rights

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Swaziland on human rights. [57287]

Alistair Burt: The Government are deeply concerned at the human rights and governance situation in Swaziland, including restrictions on political parties, trade union rights, freedom of association, independence of the judicial and penal systems, gender equality and, most recently, application of the Suppression of Terrorism Act and violence perpetrated by state actors, including

7 Jun 2011 : Column 213W

harm wrought against those in detention. We have regularly raised these issues, in robust terms, with the Government of Swaziland.

Following the anti government protests in Swaziland on 12 April 2011, the UK took the initiative in drafting and issuing an EU statement expressing concern at the actions of the Government of Swaziland. Our non-resident deputy high commissioner directly raised our concerns on human rights with the Swazi Foreign Minister on 13 April. Our non-resident high commissioner, with her EU colleagues, met with King Mswati III on 10 March, during which human rights and governance issues were raised.

Trade Promotion

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK businesses his Department supported in conducting business in (a) Brazil, (b) the Russian Federation, (c) India and (d) China in the most recent 12 months for which figures are available. [56319]

Mr Prisk: I have been asked to reply.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government Department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy.

We estimate the following number of UK businesses were supported by UKTI in BRIC markets.

Market Estimated number of UK businesses supported (1)

Brazil

1,149

Russia

609

India

1,219

China(2)

1,852

BRIC total(3)

4,642

(1) All data covers firms supported between October 2009 and September 2010 (PIMS 19-22). All figures exclude website premium contents ER events. (2) Statistics for China are for mainland China only. These statistics also include companies supported by the China-Britain Business Council, UKTI’s trade services delivery partner for the mainland China market. (3) BRIC total adds up to less than total of individual markets as some firms are supported in more than one of these markets.

These figures are based on UKTI client records and validation through UKTI’s performance and impact monitoring survey (PIMS)—an independently administered survey of some 4,000 of the 23,400 clients that received UKTI services over a 12-month period.

Trade Unions

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff of (a) his Department, (b) FCO Services and (c) Wilton Park are entitled to work (i) full-time as trade union representatives and (ii) part-time on trade union activities; how many such staff are paid more than £25,900 annually; and what the cost to the public purse of employing such staff on such duties was in the latest period for which figures are available. [56443]

Mr Bellingham: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) follows the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Code of Practice “Time Off for Trades Union Duties and Activities”.

Trade Union representatives are as follows:

7 Jun 2011 : Column 214W

(a) FCO—six full-time officers and one part-time (50%) officer

(b) FCO Services—one full-time officer and one full-time vacancy

(c) Wilton Park staff are nominally also represented by (a)

To avoid individuals being identified we are unable to provide further details about how many of these staff are paid more than £25,900 annually or the cost to the public purse of their salaries.

This response corrects the information given in the previous answer of 6 September 2010, Official Report, column 228W, by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), to my hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel).

Tunisia: Politics and Government

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contact the Government is maintaining with emergent political groups in Tunisia. [57001]

Alistair Burt: Officials in Tunisia and London are meeting a range of party representatives.

Since legislation was agreed to enable new political parties to be registered in Tunisia, a total of 67 have been established and we are looking to ensure that we are in contact with key parties despite the difficulties in predicting which parties will emerge as serious contenders in the elections.

Uganda: Homosexuality

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Ugandan government on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill; and if he will make a statement. [56429]

Alistair Burt: The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, introduced in the Ugandan Parliament by a Private Member, was not passed during the parliamentary term which has just concluded. It remains to be seen whether the Private Member will introduce the Bill in the next Ugandan Parliament.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), called Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa on 11 May 2011 to raise our strong concerns about the contents of this Private Member’s Bill. In its most recent form, the Bill would have further criminalised homosexuality in Uganda by introducing new criminal sanctions for members of sexual minorities and those who promote their rights. This in turn would have a broader, negative impact on the human rights of all Ugandans.

Along with international partners, our high commission in Kampala has lobbied senior Ministers in the Ugandan Government (including the Prime Minister) over a long period of time to make our position clear on the importance of respect for the rights of sexual minorities worldwide, and in doing so we have made clear that we will not deviate from this position.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 215W

BRIC Countries: Unemployment

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on the rate of unemployment in (a) Brazil, (b) the Russian Federation, (c) India and (d) China. [56400]

Mr Hague: Official reports of unemployment at the end of the first quarter of 2011 were: Brazil 6.5%, Russia 7.1%, India 7.7% and China 4.1%.

BRIC Countries: Demography

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on the proportion of the population of (a) Brazil, (b) the Russian Federation, (c) India and (d) China which is under the age of 30 years. [56399]

Mr Hague: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not routinely collect or hold information on the proportion of the populations of Brazil, Russia, India or China who are under 30 years of age.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Adult Education

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many adults over the age of 24 years undertook a (a) full Level 3 qualification and (b) further education qualification above Level 3 in each of the last five years. [56701]

Mr Hayes [holding answer 23 May 2011]: Table 1 shows the number of learners aged 24 years and over participating on a Government funded Full Level 3 qualification or a qualification above Level 3 in 2005/06 to 2009/10, the latest year for which final data are available.

Table 1: FE participation by learners aged 24 years and over by level, 2005/06 to 2009/10

2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 (1) 2009/10 (1)

Full Level 3

125,700

127,260

177,050

264,640

295,680

Above Level 3

59,340

52,030

45,960

50,560

42,420

(1) Figures for 2008/09 onwards are not directly comparable to earlier years as the introduction of demand led funding has changed how data is collected and how funded learners are defined from 2008/09 onwards. More information on demand led funding is available at: http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/datadictionary/businessdefinitions/Demand+Led+Funding.htm Notes: 1. These tables include Apprenticeships, Train to Gain, University for Industry, Adult Safeguarded Learning and Further Education/Learner Responsive Provision which includes General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary, Sixth Form Colleges, Special College—Agricultural and Horticultural Colleges and Art and Design Colleges, Specialist Colleges and External Institutions. 2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. 3. Age is based on age at the start of the academic year. Source: Individualised Learner Record

Information on Further Education and Skills participation and achievement by level is published in a quarterly statistical first release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 31 March 2011:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current

7 Jun 2011 : Column 216W

Adult Education: Fees and Charges

Andrew Stephenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many and what proportion of adults will be required to pay a fee for a course to achieve their first qualification at level 3 in (a) 2011, (b) 2012 and (c) 2013. [58124]

Mr Hayes: In November 2010 the coalition Government published “Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth” which set out the planned changes to the entitlements to full funding Further Education and Skills for adults in England. Learners aged 19 up to 24 will be entitled to full fee remission for their first qualification at level 3. Outside of this entitlement, there is an expectation that the learner will share the costs with the Government; with co-funding in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 academic years, and the introduction of Government-backed loans from 2013/14.

The Statistical First Release(1) provides the latest data on the proportion of starts and completions for learners at Level 3. Based on historical data we estimate that 3,000 learner places at level 3 could become co-funded rather than fully-funded in 2011/12. However, as the further education funding system is demand led it is not possible to predict the number or proportion of adults that will be required to pay a fee for a first level 3 qualification beyond 2011.

(1) Note:

http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/index.shtml

Apprentices

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applicants for an apprenticeship aged (a) between 16 and 18, (b) between 19 and 24 and (c) 25 years or over are awaiting an employer place on the National Apprenticeship Service matching service. [57960]

Mr Hayes: Apprenticeship vacancies data do not show the number of individuals waiting for an employer place. However, they do show the number of individuals who have activated their account on the system and the overall number of applications submitted.

Data relating to candidates securing an Apprenticeship through the online system are not sufficiently robust to publish.

Table 1 shows the number of individuals who have activated their account on the system between August 2010 and April 2011. Table 2 shows the overall number of applications submitted between August 2010 and April 2011.

Table 1: Total number of individuals activating their account on apprenticeship vacancies, August 2010 to April 2011

Number

16-18

161,160

19-24

103,120

25+

44,640

Total

308,920

Table 2: Total number of programme applications made by age group, August 2010 to April 2011

Number

16-18

265,950

19-24

131,000

7 Jun 2011 : Column 217W

25+

21,110

Total

418,060

Notes: 1. Figures for programme applications do not indicate individuals who have made applications, they are the total number of applications made and it is important to note that any one individual can make more than one application at any given time. 2. Figures in table 1 are the latest year to date data, from 1 August 2010 up to 30 April 2011. 3. All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Source: Apprenticeship Vacancy Reports

Apprenticeship vacancy reports are updated on a monthly basis and published on the fourth day of each calendar month available at the following link:

http://mireportslibrary.thedataservice.org.uk/apprenticeships/apprenticeship_vacancy_reports/

Apprentices: Barnsley East

Michael Dugher: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how much he has allocated for level 2 apprenticeships in Barnsley East constituency in 2011-12. [58139]

Mr Hayes: The total funding available for apprenticeships is over £1.4 billion in the 2011-12 financial year. In support of the coalition Government’s principle of greater freedom, “Skills for Sustainable Growth(1)” and “Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth” set out the abolition of central targets and increased freedom and flexibility for further education colleges and training organisations to respond effectively to the needs of employers, learners and their communities. It is for individual colleges and training organisations, working directly with their local partners, to determine the offer that best meets the needs of their communities.

Accordingly, take-up of apprenticeships by level and by region follows employer demand and we are not able to provide estimates of the geographical distribution of funding for level 2 apprenticeships as these would be either too broad to be of use or would be potentially misleading.

(1) Skills for Sustainable Growth published by BIS

http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/topstories/2010/Nov/skills-for-sustainable-growth

Banks: Regulation

Esther McVey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he has taken to ensure that the small business lending targets set out in Project Merlin are met by the banks who are parties to the agreement. [58158]

Mr Prisk: The Merlin Agreement set out the commitment of five major UK banks to increase the capacity of lending available to UK businesses this year. The commitment to make available £190 billion of new lending to businesses is up from £179 billion last year. £76 billion of this will be allocated to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a 15% increase on 2010.

The Bank of England reported the banks' first quarter performance against the Merlin Agreement on 23 May. Lending to SMEs in the first quarter was £16.8 billion. This is disappointing and, although lending is not linear, the banks must do more to ensure that they meet their commitment over the next few months.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 218W

The commitment to lend to SMEs is linked to the remuneration of the banks' chief executives and senior managers responsible for business lending, but the Government are clear that, if the banks fail to meet their commitments, the Government reserves the right to return to the matter and take further measures.

We will therefore monitor the banks' performance extremely closely and if they fail to meet the commitments, we will examine options for further action.

Beauty Products: Channel Islands

Mr MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent representations he has received on the effects on the viability of small shops selling beauty products of competition from internet sales of such products supplied from the Channel Islands. [56925]

Mr Prisk: We have received no such representations.

Business: Regulation

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the potential effect on continued implementation of the regulations and legislation listed on the Red Tape Challenge website. [56912]

Mr Prisk: The Red Tape Challenge aims to take a comprehensive approach, looking widely at regulation, whether introduced through primary or secondary legislation or other means. It seeks views on where regulations are working well, as well as where they are imposing unnecessary burdens on businesses, members of the public or voluntary organisations or restricting personal freedoms. Ministers will then make decisions about which regulations to remove, improve or keep and they will follow the appropriate legal and parliamentary process. Listing a regulation on the website does not have any impact on its implementation.

Departmental CCTV

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many CCTV cameras are installed in and around his Department’s premises; and how much such cameras cost to (a) install and (b) operate in the latest period for which figures are available. [56830]

Mr Davey: The Department has the following CCTV cameras installed around its estate:


Number

1 Victoria street, London

59

Westfield house, London

14

Kingsgate house, London

27

10 Victoria street, London

9

151 Buckingham Palace road, London

16

St Mary’s house, Sheffield

6

The CCTV cameras have been upgraded at the following buildings:

1 Victoria street in 2011 at a cost of £130,700.00 excluding VAT and

Kingsgate house in 2007 at a cost of £271,587.23.

7 Jun 2011 : Column 219W

CCTV cameras at other buildings have been installed for a number of years and obtaining the cost of installation would only be at disproportionate cost.

The operation and monitoring of the CCTV cameras across the estate is undertaken by the Department’s security contractor and the costs are included within this contract.