Housing Benefit

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the increase in demand for discretionary housing payments following reforms to housing benefit in April 2013. [145816]

Steve Webb: The information is not available.

Individuals may respond in a number of ways to the planned reforms. Making an application for discretionary housing payments is just one of the options potentially available to those affected by the changes.

Housing Benefit: Armed Forces

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of exempting families with children in the armed forces from the changes to housing benefit as a result of under-occupancy. [145750]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

The Department is unable to make an estimate from survey data as the sample size for non-dependant armed services personnel residing with working age housing benefit claimants in the social sector is small. As a result estimates would be subject to a high degree of sampling error. Data on the employer of non-dependants of housing benefit households are not necessary for the administration of the benefit so are not recorded on administrative data.

Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of foster carers affected by the social sector under-occupancy penalty. [145715]

Steve Webb: We estimate that there are fewer than 5,000 claimants who are foster carers who could potentially be affected by the under-occupancy measure.

An additional £5 million has been added to discretionary housing payments specifically to support foster carers affected by this measure.

Source:

Indicative information from a variety of sources including a survey conducted by the Fostering Network in 2010, Department for Education and devolved Administrations, Family Resources Survey.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of exempting parents who share custody of their children and who require a room for when their children come to stay from the changes to housing benefit as a result of under-occupancy. [145739]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

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Parents who share custody of their children are not exempt from the under-occupancy measure. We have however trebled funding for discretionary housing payments to £155 million for 2013-14. Local authorities are best placed to decide which needs this funding will support in their area.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the number of claimants who would be able to downsize to smaller accommodation following the introduction of changes to housing benefit as a result of under-occupancy. [145740]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

This measure is not about forcing people living in social housing to move. We expect many households will prefer to remain where they are and find a way of making up the shortfall, in the same way that those living in the private rented sector in properties that are too large do.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of exempting couples who need to sleep separately for medical reasons from the changes to housing benefit as a result of under-occupancy. [145749]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

Depending upon individual circumstances the discretionary housing payment scheme may be available to help people affected by this measure.

Social Rented Housing

Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many social sector properties of an appropriate size are available for under-occupying tenants to move to (a) nationally and (b) in each local authority area. [145701]

Steve Webb: The information requested is not available.

This measure is not about forcing people living in social housing to move. We expect many households will prefer to remain where they are and find a way of making up the shortfall, in the same way that those living in the private rented sector in properties that are too large do.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Cycling

Mr Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) who his Department's cycling champion is; [144439]

(2) what progress his Department has made on implementing the Cycle to Work guarantee; [144457]

(3) whether his Department has signed up to the Government's Cycle to Work scheme. [144470]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) introduced the Cycle to Work scheme in March 2010. Since then over 150 FCO employees have participated.

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We are committed to providing facilities and incentives to help encourage as many staff as possible to cycle to work. We provide access to secure and safe bike parking, changing and locker facilities, a Cycle to Work scheme to offset the cost of cycling equipment, as well as organised events for cyclists on bicycle maintenance, safety and security. We have also provided extra cycle parking in London.

The FCO does not have an individual cycling champion. The Facilities Management team promotes sustainable travel and liaises on cycling issues with an active Bike User Group.

Democratic Republic of Congo

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take if Rwanda does not honour the terms of the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region signed in Addis Ababa on 24 February 2013. [145521]

Mark Simmonds: On 24 February I welcomed the new peace agreement to help end the cycle of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and bring an enduring solution to the crisis there. I am pleased that this includes a strategic review of the UN Peacekeeping Mission, MONUSCO, and the commitment to security sector reform. Britain will work with countries in the region, and other interested parties, particularly the countries and multilateral organisations who were co-signatories to the agreement, to try to ensure full implementation in good faith by all signatories to the framework.

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to assist the United Nations in the enforcement of the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region. [145747]

Mark Simmonds: I welcome the signature of the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework on Sunday 24 February. It offers real hope to the people of the region for a secure, stable and economically sound future. Britain is committed to playing a positive role in the implementation process. We will work closely with the UN Special Envoy, once appointed, and through the Security Council, as well as with other countries involved, to ensure that all parties deliver on their commitments in pursuit of a sustainable peace and a more prosperous future.

EU Staff: Pay

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what comparative assessment he has made of the level of pay and benefits to senior civil servants in the UK and those in the European Commission; and if he will make representations to the EU Council and EU Commission on pay restraint for EU civil servants. [144407]

Mr Lidington: The Government are committed to a significant reduction in EU administrative costs, and this includes the level of pay and benefits for senior EU civil servants. In spite of a successful conclusion to the February Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF)

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negotiations that saw a real cut in the EU's overall budget, administrative spending remains unacceptably high.

At a time when member states, the UK included, are making extremely difficult decisions on spending, it cannot be acceptable for EU civil servants to continue to earn significantly more than their British equivalents whilst enjoying generous benefits and paying low levels of tax. Hundreds of EU officials are paid a higher salary than the Prime Minister, and have continued to enjoy annual pay rises, whilst many civil servants in member states have had their pay frozen. Although the Government welcome the agreement in the MFF for a two-year salary and pension freeze for Institution staff, we are on course to have reduced administrative spending by 34% in the UK by 2014-15: there is ample scope for the EU Institutions to be just as ambitious.

The MFF conclusions highlight the need for “particular effort by every public administration and its staff to improve efficiency, effectiveness and adjust to the changing economic context”. The EU Institutions cannot ignore economic reality, and the Government will continue to press for reform at all levels.

Israel

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to deter the use of administrative detention in Israel. [144713]

Alistair Burt: We have discussed our concerns about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention with the Israeli authorities on many occasions, including at Foreign Minister and National Security Adviser levels. The Attorney-General raised this during his visit to Israel last November, when he was assured by his Israeli counterpart that the numbers in administrative detention had decreased by 90% in the last five years and that administrative detention was only being used in exceptional cases. We will continue to monitor these issues.

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he is discussing with the Israeli Government ending their practice of administrative detention. [144720]

Alistair Burt: We have discussed our concerns about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention with the Israeli authorities on many occasions, including at Foreign Minister and National Security Adviser levels. The Attorney-General, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), raised this during his visit to Israel last November with his Israeli counterpart.

Mr Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to monitor and alleviate the conditions of the four Palestinian hunger strikers held in Israeli jails and to ensure that Israel fully respects international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners. [144721]

Alistair Burt: Officials at the British consulate general in Jerusalem are monitoring the cases of the Palestinian hunger strikers. They are in regular contact with the

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Prisoners Affairs Ministry in the Palestinian Authority. We have lobbied the Israeli authorities that those on hunger strike receive appropriate medical care and have encouraged all sides to reach a solution that prevents loss of life.

We believe that Israel has legal obligations as an occupying power with respect to the Occupied Palestinian Territories under applicable international law, including the Fourth Geneva convention. We have a regular dialogue with the Government of Israel with regard to the implementation of those obligations.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will issue a condemnation of Israel's use of administrative detention to hold people without trial; and what steps his Department is taking to encourage Israel to stop its use. [144887]

Alistair Burt: We are concerned about Israel's extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice, and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. We have discussed our concerns with the Israeli authorities on many occasions, including at Foreign Minister and National Security Adviser levels. The Attorney-General, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), raised this during his visit to Israel last November, when he was assured by his Israeli counterpart that the numbers in administrative detention had decreased by 90% in the last five years and that administrative detention was only being used in exceptional cases. We will continue to monitor these issues.

Mali

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the level of finance and resource provided to militants in Mali by (a) Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and (b) the West African Movement for Oneness and Jihad; and what steps he is taking to interrupt those sources of funding. [145110]

Mark Simmonds: Finance and resource provided to terrorist groups in Mali comes from a number of sources, including through kidnapping for ransom and other criminal activity.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M)’s primary source of finance is through kidnapping for ransom. Both AQ-M and other terrorist groups in the region have kidnapped westerners for financial gain. AQ-M alone has probably received over €40 million in ransom payments. The Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice notes that there is a high risk of kidnap in certain areas of Mali and the Sahel and urges British nationals not to travel to these areas. We continue to support regional and international efforts to curb the activities of terrorist groups in the region and stand firm in our policy not to make substantive concessions to kidnappers, including payment of ransoms.

As the Prime Minister has said, we must defeat terrorism militarily, we must address the narrative that terrorists feed on, we must close down the ungoverned

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spaces in which they thrive and we must deal with the grievances they use to garner support. Britain will use its chairmanship of the G8 to ensure that these issues remain at the very top of the international agenda.

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential to reduce the influence of Salafist terrorist groups in Mali by increasing political autonomy for Touareg tribes; and whether he has held discussions with (a) the Malian Government and (b) others on pursuing such a strategy. [145111]

Mark Simmonds: In the short term, current international military action in Mali has been the most effective way to reduce the influence of Salafist terrorist groups in Mali. As a result of this action, jihadist groups have been forced to abandon their control of the major cities of northern Mali and the territorial integrity of the country has been largely restored.

In the longer term, it is essential that military action is accompanied by a sustainable political settlement. As called for by UN Security Council resolution 2085, there is a need for full restoration of constitutional order and national unity in Mali, through broad-based and inclusive dialogue, and the holding of peaceful, credible and inclusive elections. We support a credible framework for negotiations with all northern parties, including those who renounce ties to terrorist organisations and agree to respect Mali's territorial integrity. It will be for the Malian Government, in discussion with all relevant parties, including the international community, to decide on the ultimate solution, including how minority groups, including Tuareg tribes, might play a more active role in national political life.

We continue to encourage the Malian Government at all levels to begin the process of national reconciliation, including through initiating negotiations with non-extremist groups in the north.

Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the causes of the growth of radical Islamic ideology in Northern Mali since 1995; and if he will make a statement. [145113]

Mark Simmonds: Britain has been clear for many years that we need not just to address the symptoms of terrorism but also to address the ideology that feeds it. We, and our international partners, have been looking carefully at underlying factors which need to be addressed to prevent radicalisation, such as rule of law, participatory and accountable Government institutions, education and lack of development and employment/economic opportunities.

As the Prime Minister said in his statement to Parliament on 21 January 2013, we and our partners are clear on the need to counter the extremists' narrative, and address the underlying conflicts and grievances the terrorists choose to exploit.

Palestinians

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Palestinian Authority on reports of Palestinian Authority-sanctioned incitement against Israel and the West. [144821]

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Alistair Burt: We raise instances of incitement with both the Palestinian Authority and Israel whenever we are aware of serious concerns. The British Government oppose the advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence in all circumstances.

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to help ensure access to justice for Palestinians detained by the Israeli authorities. [144843]

Alistair Burt: We are providing practical assistance, such as helping ensure that detainees are represented by Palestinian lawyers trained in Israeli military law.

South Africa

Mr Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the South African Government on the crash of Cessna ZS-KOX on 9 September 2004. [145277]

Mark Simmonds: The past eight years have been a very difficult and distressing time for the families of those affected by the crash, due to long delays in the South African National Prosecution Authority (NPA) making a decision on whether to prosecute anyone in relation to the crash. We cannot interfere in South Africa's judicial processes, but we worked closely with the Australian Government at ministerial and official level to encourage the South African authorities to make a decision. In September 2012, the NPA made its decision that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. However, we continue to work closely with the Australian, Canadian and South African Governments to seek assurances that those responsible for the crash will not be allowed to continue to operate and that measures are in place to prevent a similar crash. Most recently on 8 February, the British, Australian and Canadian Heads of Mission wrote to the South African Civil Aviation Authority seeking these assurances.

Treaties

Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of agreement between the British Government and the British North Borneo Company, for the establishment of a British Protectorate; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145667]

(2) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the agreement between the British Government and the British North Borneo Company, for the establishment of a British protectorate; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145668]

(3) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the treaty between Great Britain, Austria and France, guaranteeing the independence and integrity of

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the Ottoman Empire; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145669]

(4) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the treaty between Great Britain, Austria and France, guaranteeing the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145670]

(5) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the convention between Great Britain and Honduras, relative to British rights and Claims, and to the Mosquito Indians; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145671]

(6) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the Convention between Great Britain and Honduras, relative to British rights and claims and to the Mosquito Indians; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145672]

(7) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the treaty of friendship and Commerce between the South African Republic (now the Transvaal State) and the King of Portugal with Protocol relative to the construction of the Lorenzo Marques Railway; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145673]

(8) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the treaty of friendship and commerce between the South African Republic (now the Transvaal State) and the King of Portugal with protocol relative to the construction of the Lorenzo Marques Railway; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145674]

(9) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the convention between Her Majesty's Royal Commissioners and the representatives of the Transvaal Burghers, for the Settlement of the Transvaal Territory; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145675]

(10) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the convention between Her Majesty's Royal Commissioners and the representatives of the Transvaal Burghers, for the Settlement of the Transvaal Territory; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145676]

(11) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the agreement between Great Britain and His Majesty King Leopold II, Sovereign of the

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Independent State of the Congo, relating to the Spheres of Influence of Great Britain and the Independent State of the Congo in East and Central Africa; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook

(a)

bilateral and

(b)

multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145677]

(12) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the agreement between Great Britain and His Majesty King Leopold II, Sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo, relating to the Spheres of Influence of Great Britain and the Independent State of the Congo in East and Central Africa; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145678]

(13) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the declaration between Great Britain and Germany, for extending to the whole German Empire the stipulations contained in Article VI of the commercial treaty between Great Britain and the Zollverein of May 8, 1865, for the protection of trade marks; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145679]

(14) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the declaration between Great Britain and Germany, for extending to the whole German Empire the stipulations contained in article VI of the commercial treaty between Great Britain and the Zollverein of May 8, 1865, for the protection of trade marks; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145680]

(15) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the declaration between Great Britain and Prussia, relative to commerce and navigation between the Ionian Islands and the States of the Zollverein; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145681]

(16) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the declaration between Great Britain and Prussia, relative to commerce and navigation between the Ionian Islands and the States of the Zollverein; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145682]

(17) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the convention between Great Britain and Germany establishing a Customs Union between the Gold Coast Colony, East of the Volta, and Togoland; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145683]

(18) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the convention between Great Britain and Germany establishing a Customs

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Union between the Gold Coast Colony, East of the Volta, and Togoland; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145684]

(19) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the treaty between Great Britain and Germany, for the marriage of His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught with Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia; and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145685]

(20) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the treaty between Great Britain and Germany, for the marriage of His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught with Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia; and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library; [145686]

(21) what assessment he has made of whether the UK has discharged its outstanding legal obligations in terms of the protocol between Great Britain, Germany and Spain, respecting the sovereignty of Spain over the Sulu Archipelago (Renunciation by Spain of Claims to Sovereignty in Borneo; British North Borneo Company; &c.); and on what date prior to 31 December 2012 his Department last undertook (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral talks with the signatory parties in respect of those obligations; [145687]

(22) when his Department last recorded concern relating to breaches of treaty obligations by the signatory parties in respect of the protocol between Great Britain, Germany and Spain, respecting the Sovereignty of Spain over the Sulu Archipelago (Renunciation by Spain of Claims to Sovereignty in Borneo; British North Borneo Company; &c.); and if he will place a copy of the relevant documentation in the Library. [145688]

Mr Lidington: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 26 February 2013, Official Report, column 428W.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Diana Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff of his Department are employed in (a) Hull and (b) East Yorkshire. [144417]

Alistair Burt: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not employ any staff in (a) Hull and (b) East Yorkshire.

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International Development

Ecuador

Iain Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much her Department plans to spend on projects in Ecuador in each of the next three years. [144832]

Mr Duncan: DFID has no country programme in Ecuador. There are no plans to spend from the bilateral aid budget on projects there in the next three years.

Palestinians

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what offences have been committed by the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails receiving payments from the Palestinian Authority. [145807]

Mr Duncan: Full details concerning the offences committed by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are not available. We understand from the Palestinian Authority that they have had difficulty obtaining this information from the Israeli authorities. However we are aware that the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails includes individuals who are under administrative detention and who have therefore been arrested without a trial or charge.

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the Palestinian Authority offers anti-crime education programmes to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. [145808]

Mr Duncan: This is a question for the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, we are aware that the PA teaches civic education as part of its curriculum.

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have received payments from the Palestinian Authority in each of the last five years. [145809]

Mr Duncan: At the request of the Israeli authorities, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails receive a minimal allowance to cover the cost of food and clothes. Further questions in this respect are a matter for the Israeli authorities who administer these payments.

Rwanda

David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will maintain the suspension of aid to Rwanda. [145748]

Justine Greening: I refer the right hon. Gentleman to my written ministerial statement of 1 March 2013.