Army: Length of Service

Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 3 April 2014, Official Report, column 809W, on Army: length of service, on how many soldiers in each regiment or corps the figures are based. [198889]

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Anna Soubry: The average strength by regiment or corps is shown in the following table.

Regiment/CorpsAverage strength

Household Cavalry & Royal Armoured Corps

1,860

Royal Artillery

2,210

Royal Engineers

2,830

Royal Signals

1,830

Infantry

8,700

Army Air Corps

370

Royal Logistic Corps

4,560

Royal Army Medical Corps

560

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

2,670

Adjutant General’s Corps (Provost)

400

Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff and Personnel Support)

870

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

80

Small Arms School Corps

20

Royal Army Dental Corps

60

Intelligence Corps

240

Royal Army Physical Training Corps

110

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps

140

Corps of Army Music

180

Senior Soldier Continuity Posts (Long Service)

140

Notes: 1. The figures are based on the outflow of Army personnel between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2013. 2. Underlying outflow figures have been rounded to 10; numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias. Source: Defence Statistics (Army)

HMS Illustrious

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when HMS Illustrious will return from its current deployment. [199751]

Mr Francois: HMS Illustrious is currently participating in Exercise Deep Blue, an anti-submarine exercise in the Western Approaches. I am withholding details of its future programme and dates as their disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

HMS Sultan

Mr Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he or officials in his Department have had with counterparts in the Royal Canadian navy or the US navy on personnel of those navies undertaking conversion training at HMS Sultan to fill current vacancies in suitably qualified and experienced personnel positions. [199754]

Anna Soubry: There have been no such discussions with the Royal Canadian navy or the United States navy. However, we work closely with many nations and provide opportunities for their personnel to serve with the Royal Navy through a range of schemes, including exchange and liaison postings.

Military Aircraft

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to confirm the decision to allow a process change to enable the Rivet Joint signal intelligence aircraft to be certificated under Military Aviation Authority regulations. [199247]

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Mr Dunne: The UK Rivet Joint could not be certified under Military Aviation Authority regulatory publications (MRP) due to difficulties in obtaining documentary evidence of the aircraft’s original design basis. The MRP allows an alternative course of action to be agreed where a regulated entity cannot fully comply. Accordingly, an alternative approach was agreed for Rivet Joint to achieve the same level of design safety assurance. The aircraft has been cleared by the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, the RAF's Release to Service Authority, to fly to an initial Release to Service and completed its first flight on 23 May 2014.

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reason was for the time taken to produce the Defence Air Safety Annual Report July 2012 to August 2013, published on 3 April 2014; and if he will make it his policy to publish future such reports within three months of the end of the relevant year. [199374]

Anna Soubry: Before publishing the Annual Report, it was identified that further analysis of an air safety issue was required. Following completion of the analysis, the report was released for publication. We remain committed to the timely publication of future reports.

Navy

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many commissions he has extended for Royal Navy officers at or between level QF2 to QF4, who were officers before 1999, to address a lack of suitably qualified and experienced personnel. [199757]

Anna Soubry: Extensions of service for Royal Navy officers are not made by Ministers but are a matter for the Royal Navy. However, the information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Reserve Forces

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of how long is needed to bring the Army Reserves to full strength as set out in Army 2020. [200246]

Mr Francois: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement and paper the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), placed in the Library of the House on 19 December 2013, Official Report, column 124WS.

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support his Department provides to reserve military personnel forced to leave military service as a result of injury sustained in the course of duty. [199237]

Anna Soubry: The provision of health care for veterans in the UK is the responsibility of NHS (England) and the devolved Administrations. For NHS (England) this is the responsibility of individual GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The comprehensive services CCGs commission reflect local priorities and the aspirations of the Armed Forces Covenant.

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When mobilised, a Reservist has the same entitlement to health care provided by Defence Medical Services as a Regular Service person. The Defence Medical Rehabilitation Programme provides rehabilitation for injured or ill personnel, including Reservists mobilised for operations. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is extending rehabilitation services to Reservists injured during training, which will facilitate their return to fitness.

The MOD also provides War Disablement Pensions under the War Pensions Scheme if Reservists are no longer serving in HM Armed Forces and their disablement arose before 6 April 2005. The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme provides compensation for any injury, illness or death which is caused by service on or after 6 April 2005.

Help and advice is available to all veterans, including Reserves, from Veterans UK (formerly the Service Personnel and Veteran's Agency). Information about how to claim a war pension or AFCS is available from Veterans UK at:

www.veterans-uk.info

or e-mail:

[email protected]

or free helpline 0808 1914 2 18. Veterans UK can signpost individuals to other sources of assistance, including the Veterans Welfare Service, which provides dedicated welfare support to veterans (including Reserves), their families, and dependants.

Shipbuilding: Portsmouth

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the BAE shipyard in Portsmouth is planned to close. [199841]

Dr Murrison: BAE Systems is expected to complete a phased return of its Portsmouth shipbuilding facilities to the Ministry of Defence by the end of this year. It will, however, retain one office building to accommodate around 250 personnel already engaged on support to the Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme in Portsmouth.

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the capacity of English, Welsh and Northern Ireland shipyards to build surface warships following the closure of the BAE shipyard in Portsmouth. [199842]

Mr Dunne: As part of the wider maritime negotiations with the Ministry of Defence in 2013, BAE Systems took the decision to focus its shipbuilding activities on the Clyde in Scotland. This decision has secured a sustainable future for the UK shipbuilding industry.

There are a number of commercial yards outside Scotland that could be considered as potential alternatives; however, no assessment of the viability of these shipyards as a potential focus for complex warship building has been undertaken.

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of proposals to utilise the current BAE shipyard in Portsmouth subsequent to its planned closure. [199845]

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Dr Murrison: Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has been appointed as the Ministry of Defence's marketing agents for the facilities being vacated by BAE Systems' shipbuilding operation.

LSH has received 19 expressions of interest that it is following up with site visits and/or provision of further information. This phase of the campaign is expected to run until the end of June 2014, when all of the expressions of interest will be fully assessed to determine whether any of them would be an appropriate and compatible future user for the site.

Mr Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to ensure that specialised manufacturing and engineering equipment located at the BAE shipyard, Portsmouth, will be made available to potential new users of the shipyard. [199846]

Dr Murrison: The Ministry of Defence is in discussions with BAE Systems over the feasibility of leaving specialised plant and machinery on the site when shipbuilding in Portsmouth ceases later this year. These discussions are continuing but no decisions have been taken regarding what equipment might be available to a potential new user of the site.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has plans to introduce maritime remotely-piloted air systems; and if he will make a statement. [199377]

Mr Dunne: The Royal Navy has introduced the ScanEagle Unmanned Air System, delivering an intimate and assured persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance for equipped ships. ScanEagle was brought into service as an Urgent Operational Requirement; we are currently reviewing options for a follow-on maritime capability in the future.

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle; and how much his Department has spent on the assessment process to date. [199414]

Mr Dunne: Among other options, the potential utility of systems representative of the MQ-4C Triton in addressing the UK's potential wide area maritime surveillance requirement is currently under review. This activity is supported by the Air Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Optimisation Study (AIOS), which will provide support for potential decisions in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. Disaggregating the cost of the MQ-4C Triton analysis from the rest of the AIOS could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where his Department plans to base the Watchkeeper remotely piloted air systems following completion of training at Salisbury Plain and West Wales Airport. [198643]

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Mr Francois: Under current plans Watchkeeper remotely piloted air systems will be located at Larkhill with 32nd and 47th Regiments Royal Artillery.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Algeria

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Algerian Government to ensure the safety of UK oil and gas workers in the country; and who his primary point of contact in the office of the President of that country is in discussions on that matter. [199744]

Hugh Robertson: We discuss the security of hydrocarbon sites at the UK-Algeria Strategic Security Partnership, which was established after In Amenas and met for the second time in November 2013. In this forum, the national security adviser, Sir Kim Darroch, spoke to Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and the Algerian military about this issue. I also discussed the importance of security at hydrocarbon sites with the then Algerian Deputy Foreign Minister Madjid Bouguerra during my visits to Algiers in both January and April 2014.

Armed Conflict: Minerals

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the US Securities and Exchange Commission's conflict minerals disclosure rule. [199593]

Mark Simmonds: The deadline for disclosure under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act was 2 June 2014. It is too soon to measure the overall effectiveness of the legislation.

We continue to encourage all relevant companies to implement the OECD due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of 13 May 2014, Official Report, column 201WH, on political and human rights (African Great Lakes), what steps the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights team is taking to encourage companies to participate in voluntary principles concerning supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected areas. [199748]

Mark Simmonds: During the debate on 13 May 2014 I said that we were encouraging companies and countries to join the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. In the last two years, I have met a range of UK companies to discuss the Voluntary Principles. Three of those companies have joined or have applied to join the initiative. Officials, often working with other member Governments of the Voluntary Principles, participate in in-country workshops, projects and other activity to support and encourage the participation of new Governments in the initiative. On 11 June 2014 I met the Justice Minister of Mozambique to discuss the

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Voluntary Principles, and in April the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary raised the Voluntary Principles with President Kikwete of Tanzania.

In terms of responsible sourcing of minerals, officials participate in discussions with UK industry, and more broadly with international partners and non-governmental organisations, to support, responsible sourcing. The focus of these discussions is the OECD due diligence guidance I referred to on 13 May 2014. DFID has provided financial support, through the $90 million World Bank—DFID ProMines project, towards the implementation of the ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism, a publicly available map of armed groups on mining sites through the International Peace Information Service as well as traceability schemes such as the ITRI tin supply chain initiative.

Arms Trade: Treaties

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the remaining states that have not yet ratified the Arms Trade Treaty do so. [199561]

Mr Hague: We will work to encourage states to sign and to ratify, in order to reach the 50 ratifications that are required to bring the treaty into force. Like the negotiations on the treaty itself, this will take time and require the considerable efforts and persistence of a broad coalition of supporters.

The UK has allocated £350,000 to support projects that will help countries to sign, ratify and implement the arms trade treaty (ATT). We are working through the UN and the EU with countries that require technical assistance and advice on how to implement certain aspects of the treaty e.g. enforcement training and framing legislation correctly. Other activities include raising awareness with key partners in regions such as west Africa, where communities are seriously affected by the illicit trade in small arms.

This year, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's counter-proliferation programme, we will be funding a series of ATT-related projects specifically focused on ATT signature, ratification, implementation and early entry into force.

Balkans

Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the European Commission provides support to the victims of recent flooding in the Balkans; and if he will make a statement. [199675]

Mr Lidington: The UK has worked closely with the EU European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), and offered advice and assistance during all phases of the flood response effort.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), between 18 and 23 May a 33-person water rescue team from the British Fire Service was deployed to work alongside EU Force (EUFOR) Operation Althea and local rescue efforts. They rescued nearly 200 people, delivered large amounts of humanitarian aid, and helped restore power in villages north of Bijeljina.

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In Serbia, the UK provided 64 radios for the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, to assist with the co-ordination of their response teams, and donated £280,000 worth of heavy lift and transport vehicles to the Serbian Red Cross to aid their relief distribution effort.

A team from the UK flew out to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the week commencing 20 May to assess likely humanitarian and recovery needs. Subsequently the UK provided £250,000 to support a World Vision flood response project in the region focusing on sanitation and health and providing support for 140,000 people made homeless by the floods. ECHO has released €3.2 million in humanitarian aid to support the most vulnerable population in BiH and in Serbia and the Commission has reallocated a further €62 million to support short to medium-term recovery and reconstruction needs in the affected areas. To both the UK will have contributed 15% and we will continue to work with the European Commission to try to identify any further assistance which could be made available from existing budgets.

In BiH, EUFOR Operation Althea, to which the UK contributes troops in-theatre and in reserve, assisted the BiH armed forces in their response to the flooding. The First Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, which provides part of EUFOR’s intermediate reserve, and is in BiH for a routine operational rehearsal, is assisting the BiH armed forces in this regard.

The Government will continue to work closely with the EU, the UN and other international organisations to assess what further help might be given to help both Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina recover from the impact of the floods.

Burundi

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the security situation in Burundi. [199598]

Mark Simmonds: We are concerned about recent developments in the security situation in Burundi. The situation remains tense, with limited political space not conducive to the protection of human rights.

During my visit in April, I heard concerns from Burundians and the international community about the increasing limitations on political space and the resultant challenge that could pose for next year’s elections. The UN Office in Burundi (BNUB), which is playing an important role reporting on human rights and bringing stability to Burundi, has warned that as the country approaches elections in 2015, there is a possibility of violence.

I am particularly concerned about the trend of increased violence by the youth wings of political parties. I discussed these issues with the Burundian President Nkurunzia during my visit to Burundi in April 2014. I also emphasised the importance of consolidating peace and democracy and that reconciliation and free and fair elections were key to Burundi’s future. Officials, including from our high commission in Kigali, continue to monitor the situation closely

We welcome the UN Security Council’s increased focus on Burundi and our permanent representative to the UN emphasised the importance of reconciliation and holding free and fair elections during April’s UN

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Security Council debates on Burundi. We strongly support the resulting presidential statement which expressed concern at the violence and the closing down of political space.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to help ensure free, fair and credible elections in Burundi in 2015. [199599]

Mark Simmonds: I continue to be concerned about rising political tensions and the closing of political space in Burundi ahead of May’s elections. Together with the wider international community, we are working together to encourage Burundi to adhere to the March 2013 UN Roadmap and co-operate with the UN on electoral governance. During my visit to Burundi in April 2015, I highlighted our concerns about rising political tensions, including violence and intimidation by political youth groups, with President Nkurunzia. Robust, comprehensive international monitoring is required both for the elections and this current pre-election period.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the contribution of 13 May 2014, Official Report, column 203WH, what steps he is taking to support human rights in Burundi. [199750]

Mark Simmonds: We monitor human rights in Burundi closely. When I visited Burundi in April, I lobbied President Nkurunziza about the importance of respecting human and democratic rights. On 29 May 2014 I tweeted our concern about the detention of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi’s most active human rights defender. My officials are following this case closely. In recent years, my officials at the high commission in Kigali have funded human rights protection projects in Burundi and specifically, the Burundian Independent Commission of Human Rights. In 2013, officials attended and contributed to Burundi's Universal Periodic Review of its human rights progress.

Central Africa

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to integrate the preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative throughout the Great Lakes region. [199595]

Mark Simmonds: The preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative (PSVI) is a Foreign and Commonwealth Office priority. In the Great Lakes region, PSVI focuses on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the problem of sexual violence in conflict is most acute. The DRC was a focus country for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict that took place in London on 10 to 13 June 2014. At that meeting the high level DRC delegation presented progress on its national action plans to tackle sexual violence in conflict and discussed with the international community how to overcome the challenges.

During his visit to eastern DRC in March 2013 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), announced over £1 million in funding

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to a range of organisations tackling rape and sexual violence. Other British embassies and high commissions in the Great Lakes region run smaller scale projects to raise awareness of sexual violence in conflict and to promote the PSVI agenda. The International Protocol on Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict was launched on 11 June 2014 at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. It was field tested in the DRC and Uganda.

China

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of allegations of repressive measures taken towards civil society activists in China related to commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown; and whether the Government have made representations to the Chinese Government on that matter. [199671]

Mr Hague: We are concerned at reports of detentions in relation to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident, and we raised our concerns about this with the Chinese authorities during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in London on 20 May 2014. The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), also raised this issue with the Chinese authorities on 19 May 2014 and made a statement on 21 May. We also fully support the EU statement of 28 May calling for the release of all those imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their views.

We were pleased to see that on 5 June 2014 the Chinese authorities released a number of those who had been arrested after attending an event to commemorate the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress in the development of governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [199579]

Mark Simmonds: Decades of conflict and a lack of accountability and transparency have left the country unstable, lacking infrastructure and social services, and falling well short of its economic potential.

Weak governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also presents many challenges. But after the surrender of the armed group M23 late last year, and recent indications that elements of the FDLR armed group also intend to surrender, 2014 provides an opportunity for greater stability in the Great Lakes.

During my visit to DRC in February, I witnessed the country’s potential. I emphasised to the DRC Government, including President Kabila, the importance of making progress on key areas, including elections; economic reform; the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants; and the reform of the security sector. We discussed how the UK might best support the development and stability of the region through our support for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, as well as our significant development programme.

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DFID expects to spend £72.6 million on governance and security in DRC between 2011 to 2015. This support has meant that in 2011, 31 million people registered to vote, of whom 52% were women. By 2015, 1,025 communities will be empowered to monitor local government performance, 10 million citizens will be trained on elections, rights and responsibilities and over 100 civil society organisations will be empowered to monitor Government performance and influence Government.

Egypt

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a Minister from his Department will meet representatives of Egypt’s new President. [199569]

Mr Hague: The National Security Adviser visited Cairo on 10-11 June and met President el-Sisi. Ministers and senior officials are in regular contact with the Government of Egypt and I issued a message congratulating President el-Sisi on 3 June. We look to him to take steps to implement the rights contained in Egypt’s constitution by opening up political space, especially with regard to freedom of expression and association. We believe the best way for Egyptians to achieve the goals of the 25 January revolution of 2011 is through an inclusive political process in which all groups can participate.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Egyptian counterpart on the likely date for parliamentary elections in Egypt. [199570]

Mr Hague: I met Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy during his visit to the UK on 14 May and discussed a range of issues, including the timing of parliamentary elections. We believe the best way for the Egyptians to achieve goals of the 25 January revolution of 2011 is through free and fair elections and an inclusive political process in which all groups can participate.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the new Egyptian President about freedom of religion. [199600]

Mr Hague: The Government have been clear throughout recent events in Egypt that the freedom of religious belief needs to be protected and that the ability to worship in peace is a vital component of a democratic society. I have not yet met President el-Sisi but will look to work with him and the Egyptian Government to implement the rights contained in Egypt’s constitution, which includes protections for freedom of religious belief.

The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, my right hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson), discussed the situation faced by Coptic Christians and implications of the new constitution in a meeting with Bishop Yulios during his visit to Cairo in December.

Mr McKenzie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Egypt; and if he will make a statement. [200041]

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Hugh Robertson: The 26-28 May presidential election in Egypt was an important moment for the millions of Egyptians who expressed their opinion through the ballot box. I made a statement on 3 June in which I congratulated President el-Sisi on his election and urged Egypt’s leaders to ensure that Egypt’s transition leads towards accountable and democratic governance, underpinned by strong and accountable institutions. We look forward to working with President el-Sisi and his Government to strengthen the broad and productive relationship between both our peoples.

We continue to believe that the best way for Egyptians to achieve the goals of the 25 January revolution of 2011 is through an inclusive political process in which all groups can participate. The UK stands ready to support the Egyptian people in achieving this.

Gibraltar

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the provisions of EU law in relation to the freedom to provide services apply to the provision of services from Gibraltar to any part of the EU. [199703]

Mr Lidington: Gibraltar is in the EU and is covered by EU treaty provisions on the freedom to provide services. We vigorously support all of Gibraltar’s rights under the EU treaties.

Indian Subcontinent

Mr McKenzie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) India and (b) Pakistan on sexual violence against women in those countries. [200040]

Mr Swire: The information is as follows:

(a) I refer the hon. Member to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) of 11 June 2014, Official Report, column 208W.

(b) The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), discussed the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict declaration with National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz in March and was pleased that, as a result of further discussions with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan was also represented by Sartaj Aziz at the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence Initiative summit last week.

Iran

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on extending the deadline for agreeing a P5+1 comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran. [199559]

Mr Hague: The UK, like the rest of the E3+3, remains strongly committed to reaching a comprehensive agreement with Iran by 20 July. The Geneva interim deal is renewable by mutual consent. It is important that Iran addresses our concerns and agrees to limit its nuclear activity without delay.

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Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likelihood of reaching a comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on its nuclear programme in advance of the 20 July 2014 deadline. [199568]

Mr Hague: The current negotiations with Iran, which have built on the Geneva interim deal, have been constructive, but challenging. Any deal will require Iran to take significant steps to address comprehensively our proliferation concerns. But there remains commitment on all sides of the table to reach a deal.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government expect the International Atomic Energy Agency's inquiry into the military dimension of the Iranian nuclear programme to be complete before the deadline for agreeing a comprehensive nuclear deal set by the P5+1. [199672]

Mr Hague: It is unlikely that the complex questions surrounding the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme (PMD) will be resolved by 20 July. We call on Iran to grant immediately access to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran must demonstrate real progress on PMD in order to reassure the international community that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful.

Iraq

Mr Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the position of (a) the Christian community and (b) other religious minorities in Mosul, Iraq; what reports he has received of Christians fleeing their homes in Mosul; and if he will make a statement. [200192]

Hugh Robertson: We are concerned by the impact of the security situation in Mosul for all Iraqis living there, including religious minorities. Reports estimate that 500,000 people have left the Mosul area to escape violence caused when the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) attacked the city on 10 June. Many have sought refuge in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. A team from the Department for International Development arrived in Erbil on 13 June to assess the situation on the ground and co-ordinate with partners. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

Jerusalem

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK position is on the future status of Jerusalem. [199669]

Hugh Robertson: The Government consider that Jerusalem has the status of a corpus separatum as defined by the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Although we accept de facto Israeli control of West Jerusalem we do not recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which we consider to be occupied territory. Jerusalem holds particular significance for many groups around

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the globe, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

We believe that a solution to Jerusalem must be sought as part of a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and the solution must allow for all those people for whom Jerusalem means so much to access and enjoy it.

Libya

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the progress made by the Libyan Government on drafting a new constitution. [199562]

Mr Hague: The Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) in Libya is responsible for drafting the new constitution. The elections for the CDA took place on 20 February and Ali Tarhouni was subsequently elected as Chair of the body. Discussions are ongoing to fill outstanding slots for minority groups. I welcome the recent G7 communiqué which underscored the commitment of the international community to support the work of the CDA. The UK attends the UN Elections and Constitution co-ordination meetings in Libya, which monitor the work of the CDA.

While there is still much work to do in a challenging timescale and testing security environment, the CDA recently produced an initial programme of what it plans to include in the constitution, including the main references and guiding principles. I welcome the efforts the CDA is making in developing a transparent and inclusive process that will benefit all peoples of Libya.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role he sees for the EU in helping to facilitate Libyan parliamentary elections in July 2014. [199601]

Mr Hague: The UK is firmly committed to supporting the Libyan people and Government, and I welcome the elections for the Libyan House of Representatives due on 25 June. I hope it will be conducted in a fair, transparent and accountable way that is respected by all parties. I believe that the EU, along with our international partners, can play a crucial role in supporting these elections. An EU Election Experts’ Mission monitored the Constitutional Assembly elections in February and set out recommendations for improvements, which were shared with the Libyan authorities in a report. We believe this, along with other EU programmes related to democratic transition in Libya, has laid a solid foundation to facilitate the June elections.

Middle East

Mr Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the approach of the new Palestinian Government to the peace process with Israel. [200310]

Hugh Robertson: President Abbas was clear that the new interim technocratic Government will uphold a commitment to the principle of non-violence, a negotiated two-state solution, and an acceptance of all previous agreements and obligations, including Israel’s legitimate right to exist. Reuniting Gaza and the West Bank under

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a Government committed to these principles is a necessary condition for resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We now look to the new Government to demonstrate these commitments through their actions as well as their words.

Morocco

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports he has received of changes in the number of human rights violations committed by the Moroccan Security Forces against Saharawi citizens since the passing of (a) resolution 2099 and (b) resolution 2152; [199477]

(2) how the number of allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by the Moroccan Security Forces against Saharawi citizens has been monitored (a) since resolution 2099 was passed on 25 April 2013 and (b) since resolution 2152 was passed on 25 April 2014. [199457]

Hugh Robertson: Over the last year, we have received reports of human rights violations in Western Sahara from a number of sources, including the Moroccan National Human Rights Council, UN special rapporteurs, international human rights organisations and civil society groups. However, none of these have released information on the number of violations.

North Korea

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will bring forward legislative proposals to prevent UK companies profiting from North Korean labour; and what steps he is taking to ensure that UK companies are compliant with international law on human trafficking, slavery and forced labour in their contracts in North Korea. [199758]

Mr Swire: The UK is the first country to publish the Implementation Plan of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which states the Government’s expectation of business behaviour both in the UK and overseas. In October 2013, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills amended the Companies Act 2006 to introduce mandatory reporting requirements for all UK listed companies to publish information on human rights issues. At the EU level, the UK in April this year secured agreement to impose further reporting requirements on companies across Europe. In particular, all large listed and public interest undertakings will be required to disclose policies, outcomes and risks relating to areas such as respect for human rights and, if relevant, linked to their supply and subcontracting chain.

Current trade between the UK and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is minimal and covered by an overarching provision that any activities should satisfy existing UN and EU sanctions. These refer to restriction in the export of goods and financial assistance, which may contribute to the development of the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. There are currently no plans to introduce a general restriction on trade, as such a broad measure could adversely affect ordinary North Koreans.

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Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to implement the recommendations on supporting the broadcasting of accessible information into the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea in paragraph 1224 of the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in that country. [199759]

Mr Swire: We have taken note of the UN Commission of Inquiry recommendation that civil society be supported to broadcast accessible information. We have helped to facilitate contact between BBC Worldwide and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) broadcasting authorities, to explore the possibility of the BBC supplying a range of programmes to the DPRK.

Through our embassy in Pyongyang, the UK is also one of the few countries which is able to engage directly with the DPRK. This complements the efforts of others who are already broadcasting into North Korea. The recent report of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights in North Korea recognised the importance of both approaches.

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the UN on the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. [199760]

Mr Swire: In October 2013, I met members of the Commission of Inquiry team on a visit we organised for them to the UK. I travelled to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March to urge action following their report, and I was pleased with the strong resolution which passed later that month.

In April the UK raised the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) human rights concerns during closed consultations between the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Security Council. The same month the UK's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in New York met with members of the Commission of Inquiry and expressed our strong support for the work of the Commission. The UK also took part in a public ‘Arria' briefing with other Security Council members to consider DPRK human rights. In May, we raised the need for continued focus on the situation during a UN Security Council Sanctions Committee meeting. I will travel to the UN in Geneva this week in order to meet the DPRK Special Rapporteur, Marzuki Darusman, and to set out the UK's concerns to the Council. The meeting of the UN General Assembly in September presents a further opportunity to hold discussions.

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to increase the flow of impartial information into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea following the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in that country. [199761]

Mr Swire: The British embassy in Pyongyang has arranged for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) officials to attend education programmes in

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the UK with a human rights element, and also to attend economics workshops in Pyongyang aiming to deepen their understanding of international standards and norms. The British Council English language teaching programme in Pyongyang provides another area of extensive engagement. The embassy also delivers strong messages directly to DPRK interlocutors about the UK's human rights concerns, including concerns arising from the UN Commission of Inquiry.

Palestinians

Bob Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the practice of Palestinian youths being tried by military courts and sentenced to prison for minor offences. [199749]

Hugh Robertson: The Government are concerned over the dual court system that is employed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, under which all Palestinians, except those living in East Jerusalem, are subject to trial in military courts irrespective of the charges against them, while Israeli youths are tried in civil courts. We also have serious concerns about the treatment of Palestinian children under the Israeli military court system, which we raise regularly with the Israeli authorities. More details can be found at:

http://www.hrdreport.fco.gov.uk/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/

South Sudan

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to help ensure that the Government of Sudan facilitate the full deployment of UNMISS troops and equipment. [200139]

Mark Simmonds: The Governments of both Sudan and South Sudan have now granted the necessary clearances for the transfer of a Rwandan battalion from the UN-Africa Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to UNMISS. We understand that that battalion has now arrived in South Sudan.

We have made it clear to the Governments of both Sudan and South Sudan that any actions that impede UNMISS in the delivery of its mandate are unacceptable.

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that UNMISS protects civilians by (a) regular patrols and consultation with communities and (b) involvement of civilians experts in UNMISS programmes. [200140]

Mark Simmonds: As a permanent member of the Security Council, the UK is a leading advocate of ensuring that protection of civilians from violence is prioritised in the mandates of UN Missions working in conflict-affected countries. UN Security Council Resolution 2155 of 27 May 2014, which renewed UNMISS’s mandate (and which the UK fully supported), demonstrates that, including through requiring UNMISS troops to conduct regular patrols to safeguard the security of communities within high-risk areas. It also provides for civilian expertise to support and complement the work of the military troops and formed police units in monitoring and investigating human rights abuses.

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Sri Lanka

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 10 April 2014, Official Report, column 377W, on Sri Lanka, what assessment he has made of the suitability of President Rajapaksa to serve as Chair in Office of the Commonwealth. [199620]

Mr Hague: The position of Chair in Office, which is occupied by the host of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for two years after the event, was formally created in 2009. No formal guidance exists on the role. The decision for Sri Lanka to host CHOGM, and become Chair in Office thereafter, was taken at CHOGM in 2009. There has been no consensus among member states to revisit this decision.

Sudan

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the president of Sudan regarding the death sentence given to Meriam Yehya Ibrahim. [199581]

Mark Simmonds: The President of Sudan is indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and has refused to co-operate. In common with other EU countries, we have a policy of having no contact with fugitives from the ICC unless it is essential. However, we have raised Meriam's conviction in the strongest terms with Sudanese Ministers, including by summoning the Chargé d’Affaires to the Foreign Office on 19 May2014, at the request of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague). Immediately following her conviction, I released a statement describing her conviction as barbaric and calling upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion and international human rights laws as enshrined in their own constitution. The Under-Secretary of State for International Development, the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), also raised this issue with the Foreign Minister of Sudan on 20 May 2014.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to his Sudanese counterpart on the case of Meriam Ibrahim and the persecution of Christians in that country. [199678]

Mr Hague: I am appalled at the death sentence given to Meriam Ibrahim, and her continued imprisonment. At my request, the chargé d’affaires of the Sudanese embassy in London was summoned to the Foreign Office on 19 May. The Under-Secretary of State for International Development, the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), also raised our deep concerns with the Sudanese Foreign Minister when she met him on 20 May. Our embassy in Khartoum continues to press the Sudanese authorities for Meriam Ibrahim’s release, and is in close contact with her legal team.

Along with our international partners, we regularly raise the persecution of Christians and other minorities

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with the Sudanese Government. We have called on them to respect the right to freedom of religion and international human rights laws as enshrined in their own constitution.

Syria

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he considers the existing mandate of the UN Special Envoy to Syria is sufficient. [199572]

Mr Hague: The UK fully supports the role of the UN special representative and the efforts to bring about political transition as set out in the Geneva communiqué. The scope of the mandate for Mr Brahimi’s successor is under consideration by the UN.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the recent presidential elections in Syria on the prospects for future political reconciliation between the Government and Opposition forces. [199573]

Mr Hague: The recent Syrian presidential elections were a parody of democracy designed to sustain the Assad dictatorship, held in the midst of a civil war and extreme regime violence, with millions displaced from their homes and unable to vote. They did not meet even the most basic requirements for free and fair elections.

We judge that holding these elections was damaging to the political process. This is a view shared by the UN which warned that holding elections

“will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for political solution that the country so urgently needs.”

We will continue to support the moderate opposition who have a pluralistic, democratic vision of a future Syria and to create conditions for a future political settlement. A negotiated political transition in Syria, following the principles set out in the Geneva communiqué, is the only way to end the conflict and alleviate Syria’s humanitarian crisis.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 10 April 2014, Official Report, column 3778W, on Syria, what assessment his Department has made of the likelihood of President Assad complying with the agreed Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons timetable for the removal and destruction of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. [199619]

Mr Hague: The regime has missed all deadlines set by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Executive Council for the removal of chemicals from Syria, including their own deadline of 27 April 2014. Around 7.5% of the materials remain. This means that the 30 June 2014 deadline set by the UN for the elimination of the material can no longer be met. Responsibility for this rests with the regime.

The functional destruction of Syria's chemical weapon manufacturing capability and the removal of more than 90% of the chemicals used in the programme are significant achievements. However, Syria's failure to meet the deadlines for removal of the remaining chemicals is unacceptable. The UK and partners continue to press for the urgent completion of removal operations.

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Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the prospects of achieving a UN Security Council resolution referring Syria to the International Criminal Court. [199654]

Mr Hague: On 22 May 2014 Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have referred the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, despite it having overwhelming international support, including from 13 members of the UN Security Council, 65 co-sponsors, over 100 non-governmental organisations from across the world and the Syrian National Coalition.

Nonetheless, we need to ensure that those responsible for atrocities in Syria are held to account. Russia and China cannot indefinitely shield those responsible for horrific crimes. The UK is funding efforts to document war crimes and crimes against humanity, and we are pressing for an expansion of EU sanctions to cover those responsible.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government have had with other countries in the (a) EU and (b) UN about a potential candidate to replace the outgoing UN Special Envoy to Syria. [199655]

Mr Hague: Since Mr Brahimi stepped down we have had discussions with the UN and with a number of EU partners about arrangements for a successor. The appointment is still under consideration by the UN secretary-general.

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on plans to carry out a fact-finding mission in Syria to establish the source of the Kafr Zita chemical weapons attack on 11 April 2014. [199738]

Hugh Robertson: The UK was among the first to express concern at allegations that chemical weapons had again been used in Syria, and called for them to be investigated.

On 29 April the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General announced he was establishing a fact-finding mission to determine the truth behind recent allegations of chemical weapon use in Syria. The UK has continued to stress the importance of this mission determining the full facts.

We are aware of at least nine attacks in April in which the use of chemical weapons has been alleged. We consider it likely that chemical weapons have been used on at least some of these occasions. There are a number of pieces of information that suggest that only the regime could have been responsible for these attacks, including the use of helicopters to deliver bombs to their targets and the fact that the attacks took place in opposition controlled areas. We have shared the information we hold with the OPCW.

We condemn the attack on the convoy carrying inspectors to Kafr Zita and urge all parties to the conflict to ensure that inspectors are given secure and unrestricted access to all relevant sites to enable the full facts to be established.

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Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to investigate what the source of the chemical weapons attack in Kafr Zita on 11 April 2014 was. [199741]

Hugh Robertson: The UK was among the first to express concern at allegations that chemical weapons had again been used in Syria, and called for them to be investigated.

On 29 April the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General announced he was establishing a fact-finding mission to determine the truth behind recent allegations of chemical weapon use in Syria. The UK has continued to stress the importance of this mission determining the full facts.

We are aware of at least nine attacks in April in which the use of chemical weapons has been alleged. We consider it likely that chemical weapons have been used on at least some of these occasions. There are a number of pieces of information that suggest that only the regime could have been responsible for these attacks, including the use of helicopters to deliver bombs to their targets and the fact that the attacks took place in opposition controlled areas. We have shared the information we hold with the OPCW.

We condemn the attack on the convoy carrying inspectors to Kafr Zita and urge all parties to the conflict to ensure that inspectors are given secure and unrestricted access to all relevant sites to enable the full facts to be established.

Ukraine

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on progress on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. [199560]

Mr Hague: The March European Council held an in- depth discussion on the situation in Ukraine, and the political chapters of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement were signed on 21 March. At the March European Council the EU and member states also restated their commitment to signing the remainder of the Association Agreement with Ukraine.

The 14 April and 15 May Foreign Affairs Committees agreed Conclusions which reiterated the EU's commitment to sign the remaining provisions of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, as soon as possible after the presidential elections which took place on 25 May.

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the newly-elected Ukranian President about the support the UK can offer to stabilise the situation in that country. [199602]

Mr Hague: The Prime Minister spoke to President Petro Poroshenko on 29 May, when he congratulated him on his election victory and praised the Ukrainian people for their determination to hold elections in such difficult circumstances and choose their own future. I also did so when I met him on 6 June. The Prime Minister praised Mr Poroshenko’s clear messages on

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democracy, as well as financial and political reform, and offered his continued support in helping him to build a secure and prosperous Ukraine, through an inclusive national dialogue.

Mr McKenzie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the recent presidential elections in Ukraine on the political situation in that country; and if he will make a statement. [200037]

Mr Lidington: Petro Poroshenko won the 25 May Presidential elections with almost 55% of the vote. The high turn-out demonstrated the Ukrainian people's determination to decide their own future without outside interference, and has sent a decisive signal of their desire for unity, reform and a new future for their country. Illegal armed groups sought to deny the citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk their right to vote. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), paid tribute to election commission staff in the region who were subjected to appalling levels of intimidation by these armed groups, and also to the citizens in eastern Ukraine who overcame all obstacles to vote or who tried to do so.

In his inaugural speech on 7 June, Mr Poroshenko committed to reach out to all regions, to normalise relations with Russia, and to work to restore stability and calm. Under his leadership, we hope that Ukraine can now move forward with reconciliation and much needed reform.

The UK remains firmly committed to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the whole of Ukraine. We look forward to working with Mr Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Government in their efforts to build a safe, independent and prosperous country.

Venezuela

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of violations of (a) human rights, (b) civil rights and (c) property rights in Venezuela; what recent discussions (i) HM Ambassador, (ii) officials in his Department and (iii) Ministers in his Department have had with the Government of Venezuela about human rights in that country; what responses have been received; and if he will make a statement. [199474]

Mr Swire: I remain deeply concerned about the situation in Venezuela. I am saddened by the deaths that have occurred since protests started in February, and condemn all acts of violence. I am concerned by reports of excessive use of force in protests, and of armed groups using violence, and I call on all sides to show restraint.

I wrote to the Venezuelan ambassador, and most recently to Mr Alvaro Sanchez, the chargé d’affaires, on 24 March 2014 to raise my concerns and to emphasise the need for a peaceful dialogue. I have also spoken to Ministers across the region, including during my recent visit to South America, to reiterate this message. In addition, as recently as 6 June, the Director for Americas raised human rights with opposition and civil society representatives during a visit to Caracas. Foreign and

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Commonwealth Office officials maintain a regular dialogue with the Venezuelan embassy in London regarding these issues.

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise at the United Nations the issue of violations of (a) human rights, (b) civil rights and (c) property rights in Venezuela; and if he will make a statement. [199475]

Mr Swire: I remain deeply concerned about the situation in Venezuela. I am saddened by the deaths that have occurred since protests started in February, and condemn all acts of violence. I am concerned by reports of excessive use of force in protests, and of armed groups using violence, and I call on all sides to show restraint. I am also aware that legal action and investigations are under way. It is critical that due process is followed.

I support the efforts by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Vatican to support and advise on dialogue between the parties. I have spoken to colleagues in the region, including during my recent visit to South America, to urge their Governments to promote dialogue. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has already called on all actors to engage in a dialogue aimed at finding common ground. The UK has no current plans to raise the situation further at the United Nations.

I will continue to monitor the situation carefully.

Western Sahara

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his sources of advice are on security and terrorism in the part of Western Sahara not occupied by Morocco. [199670]

Hugh Robertson: We are open to all relevant sources of information on security and terrorism east of the Berm including MINURSO, which has a presence in this area.

Communities and Local Government

Community Relations: Islam

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what grants his Department has made to Muslim organisations to support integration and community cohesion, by organisation, in each year since May 2010. [199834]

Stephen Williams: My Department is willing to work with all faith communities represented in the United Kingdom who are committed to integration. The Department for Communities and Local Government funds three programmes designed to encourage people of different faiths to come together at local and national level in dialogue and shared endeavour. These are Near Neighbours (operated by the Church Urban Fund), Together in Service (operated by FaithAction) and support for the work of the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom. Muslims are among the faith groups that are involved in and benefit from these programmes.

We do not have specific pre-allocated budgets for working with individual faiths.

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Council Tax

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make it his policy to apply the referendum provisions regarding council tax rises to parish and town councils; and if he will make a statement. [199535]

Brandon Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement I made on 5 February 2014, Official Report, columns 19-21WS in particular the section on town and parish councils, which states:

“We have not determined principles for local precepting authorities in 2014-15, but we are putting on notice that we are prepared if necessary to apply the referendum thresholds to larger town and parish councils from 2015-16 onwards to provide protection for local taxpayers and extend the principle of direct democracy.”

Fire Services: Pensions

Richard Fuller: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate his Department has made of the annual cost of maintaining existing pension provisions for firefighters (a) who have achieved 20 years of service and are within 10 years of normal retirement age and (b) who have achieved 20 years of service. [199840]

Brandon Lewis: No assessment has been made of the annual cost of maintaining existing pension provisions for firefighters who have achieved 20 years of service. However, the Government Actuary's Department has previously approximated that, ignoring the effects of any tapered protection, to alter the transitional protections to apply only to firefighters who, as at 1 April 2012, were aged at least 40 and had 20 or more years pensionable service would increase the capital cost of the 1992 scheme protections by around £50 million.

Any firefighter who is within 10 years of their current normal pension age, as at 1 April 2012, will remain in their existing pension scheme irrespective of length of service. A greater proportion of firefighters are protected than for any other large public service work force.

Anas Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish details of alternative proposals for fire fighter pensions which have been considered by his Department. [200312]

Brandon Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 11 June 2014, Official Report, column 152W.

Floods

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much of the Government's business rates relief fund for flooded businesses has been (a) allocated to local authorities and (b) received by businesses to date. [198655]

Brandon Lewis: As at 2 June 2014, 979 businesses were in receipt of a business rates relief from their local authority as a result of the impact of flooding. There are no set or advance allocations to councils. The fund works by councils retrospectively claiming back the cost of the business rate relief (in the same way, for example,

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as the Bellwin Scheme has always worked). 66 local authorities recently submitted claims for reimbursement; the deadline for applications was 26 May. Subject to data checking, we expect reimbursement payments in the region of £4 million to be made shortly.

Further information on the available flood support schemes is available on the gov.uk website at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-support-package-for-homeowners-and-businesses

Housing: Construction

Mr Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information his Department holds on the proportion of new homes planned for construction in 2014-15 that will be (a) wheelchair accessible and (b) built to lifetime homes standards. [199668]

Stephen Williams: DCLG does not collect information on the number of wheelchair-accessible or lifetime homes standard planned for 2014-15.

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total (a) amount of funding from the public purse for new housing developments and (b) number of dwellings built using funds from the public purse in each local authority area was in each of the last 10 years. [199711]

Kris Hopkins: This question could be answered only at disproportionate cost.

However, I am pleased to report that the statistics on affordable housing starts and completions funded by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority for April 2013 to March 2014 were released on 12 June 2014 and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/affordable-housing-starts-and-completions-april-2013-to-march-2014

This shows that almost 200,000 new affordable homes have been delivered in England since April 2010.

Numbers of affordable housing delivered by each local authority between 2010-11 and 2013-14 can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/affordable-housing-delivery-by-local-authority-district

Housing: Pest Control

Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which (a) unitary and (b) district councils in England (i) remove rats and mice from domestic properties free of charge, (ii) charge for removal of rats and mice from domestic properties and (iii) do not offer this service for domestic properties. [199736]

Brandon Lewis: The Department does not collect any information on the provision of such services.

Local Government

Mr Nigel Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of local authorities have had their core strategy approved to date; and how many such strategies were approved on the first submission. [200168]

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Nick Boles: Our streamlined National Planning Policy Framework strongly encourages areas to get up-to-date Local Plans in place, and we have been actively supporting councils in doing so. Local Plans set the framework for planning decisions, whether locally or at appeal, and put councils in the best place to decide development in their area.

As of 30 May 2014, 54% of local authorities have adopted a core strategy. 77% have at least reached publication stage. In May 2010, only 17% of local authorities had adopted a core strategy.

The examination process tests the submitted plan to ensure that it is sound. Following the Localism Act 2011, independent Planning Inspectors report to the local authority and identify any conflicts between the submitted plan and national policy and regulatory process. Councils are able to suggest their own modifications for assessment by the Inspector during the examination, as well as making minor non-material changes themselves. They can also ask the Inspector to recommend changes. The council is then free to choose to accept the Inspector’s recommendations and adopt the plan, or resubmit a new plan.

This approach is aimed at encouraging a more collaborative process as the public examination proceeds. We have encouraged Inspectors to be pragmatic in making recommendations that will allow early adoption of sound plans which meet national policy requirements.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 23 April 2014 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr S Kneale. [199218]

Brandon Lewis: A response was sent on 9 June.

Non-domestic Rates: Nottinghamshire

Gloria De Piero: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many businesses in (a) Ashfield constituency and (b) Nottinghamshire have qualified for the full £1,000 business rates discount to date. [200189]

Brandon Lewis: At the autumn statement, we announced a £1 billion package of business rates support to help shops and local firms. This included a £1,000 discount for two years for smaller shops, pubs and restaurants. We do not hold figures for numbers benefiting from that measure in the Ashfield constituency. However, based on local authority reports of the amount of relief awarded, we estimate that 420 properties will benefit within the boundary of Ashfield district council, 400 in Bassetlaw district council, 250 in Broxtowe borough council, 370 in Gedling borough council, 460 in Mansfield district council, 500 in Newark and Sherwood district council, 320 in Rushcliffe borough council and 1,000 in Nottingham unitary authority.

The support package also included a 50% discount for businesses taking on long-term empty shops, the doubling of small business rate relief for another year, a 2% cap on RPI increases for 2014-15, and allowing businesses to spread their rates payments over 12 months.

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Urban Areas

Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding from the public purse was provided to support high streets (a) in total and (b) by local authority area in each of the last 10 years. [199710]

Brandon Lewis: Since 2010 we have spent or committed £18.53 million funding from the public purse to support high streets. This support has included: direct funding, support and advice for 23 Portas Pilots and 333 Town Team Partners; the High Streets Innovation Fund, supporting 100 towns with the highest empty property rates and those affected by the riots; the High Street Renewal Awards; the Business Improvement Districts Loan Fund; and support for the Love Your Local Market campaign.

In addition, the Chancellor announced a £1 billion Business Rates support package in the autumn statement, which includes a 2% in Retail Price Index increase in business rates for 2014-15, a discount of £1,000 for smaller retail premises, which will benefit around 300,000 shops, pubs and restaurants, and a 50% discount for 18 months to new occupants of vacant shops, bringing them back into use.

The doubling of small business rate relief has been extended for another year. This measure was worth £900 million to small businesses in 2012-13, trebled from 2010.

It is not possible to provide a breakdown of funding by local authority area for each of the last 10 years due to disproportionate cost.

Northern Ireland

Equal Opportunities

Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration her Department gives to the diversity policies and records of businesses or other organisations when considering their bid for commercial contracts or grants. [199955]

Mrs Villiers: My Department receives procurement services from the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD). The consideration given to diversity policies and records of businesses or other organisations when considering the bids for commercial contracts or grants will be in line with their respective policies and procedures.

Scotland

Sovereignty

Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish the (a) scope, (b) date of commissioning, (c) date of polling and (d) cost of polling commissioned by his Department on attitudes in Scotland towards Scottish independence and related matters since May 2011. [198680]

David Mundell: The Scotland Office has not commissioned any polling on attitudes in Scotland toward Scottish independence and related matters.

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Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish the findings of all market research on attitudes in Scotland towards Scottish independence and related matters commissioned by his Department since May 2011. [198682]

David Mundell: The Scotland Office has not commissioned any market research on attitudes in Scotland toward Scottish independence and related matters.

Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans his Department has to commission polling on attitudes in Scotland towards Scottish independence and related matters before 18 September 2014; and what the (a) scope and (b) value of each such contract is. [198683]

David Mundell: The Scotland Office has no plans to commission any polling on attitudes in Scotland toward Scottish independence and related matters.

Wales

UK Trade & Investment

Guto Bebb: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent assessment he has made of the success of UK Trade & Investment in relation to Welsh exports; and if he will make a statement. [200091]

Mr David Jones: UK Trade & Investment provides invaluable support for Welsh businesses looking to gain access to international markets. It is encouraging that the recent trends show Welsh exports outperforming the other nations and regions in the UK, with the value of Welsh exports increasing by 9.9% over the past year compared to 0.5% across the UK as a whole.

Written Questions

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many parliamentary questions tabled to his Department in the last parliamentary Session did not receive a substantive answer by the time of the 2014 prorogation; and when each such question was first tabled. [200597]

Stephen Crabb: None.

Attorney-General

Homicide: Prosecutions

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General how many homicide prosecutions the Crown Prosecution Service undertook in 2013 where there were (a) three defendants, (b) four defendants, (c) five defendants and (d) six or more defendants. [199980]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service does not maintain a central record of the number of defendants in its prosecutions. This information could be obtained only by examining all homicide files, which would incur a disproportionate cost.

Legal Profession

Keith Vaz: To ask the Attorney General what the cost to the public purse was of external lawyers employed by (a) the Serious Fraud Office and (b) the Crown

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Prosecution Service in (i) 2010, (ii) 2011, (iii) 2012, (iv) 2013 and (v) 2014 to date. [199706]

The Solicitor-General: The amounts spent by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on external lawyers in each of the last four financial years is shown in the following table. Both organisations’ financial reporting systems are configured to provide information based on financial rather than calendar years.

Expenditure on external lawyers
£
 CPSSFO

2010-11

139,219,000

4,523,561

2011-12

115,329,000

4,822,253

2012-13

118,908,000

5,956,633

2013-14

122,929,000

19,077,467

The SFO figures include the cost of external counsel, TSol and other legal fees, but do not include temporary agency staff. The SFO spend on counsel fees is published in its annual report. The increased figures for 2012-13 and 2013-14 reflect the revised treatment of VAT on some fees, repayment of some VAT which had been incorrectly recovered in earlier years, and costs relating to some very large cases and other litigation.

The SFO’s requirement for additional expenditure in 2013-14 has already been set out to the House in documentation published around its Spring Supplementary Estimate, which has been scrutinised by the Justice Select Committee. The nature of the SFO’s work means that it can occasionally incur significant additional legal expenses for its very largest and most complex investigations and prosecutions, such as that into Libor.

The CPS figures are drawn from the CPS’s core financial accounting system and they are consistent with the CPS’s audited accounts. The great majority of fees for legal work paid by the CPS relates to the services of self-employed barristers and solicitors for Crown court casework. The CPS also engages barristers and solicitors to undertake advocacy as agents in magistrates courts sessions and, occasionally, to provide legal advice on discrete areas of specialist policy.

Prosecutions

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Attorney-General if he will deposit in the Library data gathered by Crown Prosecution Service Business Area of prosecutions and convictions for (a) rape-flagged offences, (b) domestic violence, (c) child abuse and (d) human trafficking for each year since 2008. [199975]

The Solicitor-General: The requested data have been deposited in the Library of the House together with explanatory notes.

Sentencing: Appeals

Philip Davies: To ask the Attorney-General how many cases of unduly lenient sentences were (a) referred to his Department, (b) taken up by him and (c) upheld in court since 2010 where the offender whose sentence was the subject of the appeal could have been released prior to the conclusion of the case if

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there had been a delay in the commencement of proceedings by (i) 14 days, (ii) 28 days, (iii) 42 days and (iv) 62 days; and if he will make a statement. [200137]

The Solicitor-General: The information requested is contained in the following table.

 Offenders whose sentences were referred to the AGONumber of offenders whose sentences were referred by the Law Officers to the Court of AppealCases withdrawnSentencesincreased

2010

342

90

13

60

2011

377

121

4

94

2012

435

88

6

62

2013

498

79

9

61

20141

247

44

2

216

1 Up to 11 June 2014. 2 Out of a total of 21 sentences considered by the Court of Appeal up to 11 June 2014.

My office does not hold information on the release date of offenders who have been referred to the Court of Appeal.

Philip Davies: To ask the Attorney-General how many times an appeal made against an unduly lenient sentence in the last five years has led to someone being returned to prison who had already been released. [200138]

The Solicitor-General: This information is not collated centrally and obtaining it would require my office to manually consider each file over the last five years, which would involve a disproportionate cost.

Stalking

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Attorney-General (1) how many people have been (a) charged and (b) prosecuted under sections 2A and 4A of the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997; [199865]

(2) how many people have been charged under (a) section 2A and (b) section 4A of the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997 in each police force in England and Wales since those sections came into force. [199866]

The Solicitor-General: The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 came into effect on 25 November 2012 and introduced two new offences of stalking into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 under S2A and S4A. A table showing the number of offences charged and prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) under sections 2A and 4A that reached a first hearing in a magistrates court since these sections came into force has been deposited in the Library of the House. The data provided shows only the number of offences, not the number of people charged.

Mr Llwyd: To ask the Attorney General (1) in respect of how many alleged offences under section 2A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 proceedings are active in magistrates courts in England and Wales; [199969]

(2) in respect of how many alleged offences under section (a) 2A and (b) 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 proceedings are active in magistrates and crown courts in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement. [199965]

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The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service does not maintain a central record of the number of particular offences that are currently active in either magistrates or crown courts in England and Wales.

The CPS case management system does, however, record the number of finalised cases which reached a first hearing in the magistrates court as follows:

  2012-132013-14

Protection from Harassment Act 1997 { 4A(1)(a)(b)(i) and (5) }

Stalking involving fear of violence

9

65

Protection from Harassment Act 1997 { 4A(1)(a)(b)(ii) and (5) }

Stalking involving serious alarm / distress

10

149

Protection from Harassment Act 1997 { 2A(1) and (4) }

Stalking

72

529

There is no indication of final outcome or if the offence charged was the offence at finalisation.

Treasury Solicitor's Department

Keith Vaz: To ask the Attorney-General how many lawyers were employed in the Treasury Solicitor's Department in (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c) 2012, (d) 2013 and (e) 2014 to date. [199707]

The Solicitor-General: The following figures give the number of lawyers employed in the Treasury Solicitor's Department (TSol), as at 31 March each year and to date for 2014.

 Full-time equivalent

31 May 2014

910

31 March 2013

572

31 March 2012

565

31 March 2011

464

31 March 2010

451

The figures given are for permanent staff.

Since 2010 TSol has been engaged on a process of transferring lawyers from other departments to TSol as part of the Shared Legal Services Programme. Sharing legal services brings considerable benefits including greater flexibility and resilience, more efficient deployment of legal resources, more opportunities for savings and improved knowledge sharing, which in turn supports consistency of legal advice across Government.

Written Questions

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Attorney-General how many parliamentary questions tabled to the Law Officers' Departments in the last parliamentary Session did not receive a substantive answer by the time of the 2014 prorogation; and when each such question was first tabled. [200438]

The Solicitor-General: None.

Women and Equalities

Civil Partnerships

Bill Esterson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities what plans she has to enable civil partnerships to be amended to marriage without recourse to a separate legal process. [199521]

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Mrs Grant: Section 9 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 provides that civil partners may convert their civil partnership into marriage under regulations to be made by the Secretary of State, and that the resulting marriage will be treated as having subsisted since the date the civil partnership was formed. Civil partnerships and marriage are separate legal institutions so a process is required for conversion. We are working hard to ensure that couples wanting to convert their civil partnerships into marriages are able to do so as soon as possible. We aim to do this before the end of 2014.

These aspects of implementing the Act take longer because they involve developing and implementing completely new procedures and processes. This contrasts with the work to make new marriages for same-sex couples possible, where we were able to build on existing processes so implementation was more straightforward.

Electoral Commission Committee

General Election 2010

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what the postal vote turnout was as a proportion of all votes cast in each UK parliamentary constituency at the 2010 general election. [200220]

Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission has placed the answer to the hon. Member's question in the Library.

Treasury

A120

Priti Patel: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will add to the National Infrastructure Plan a scheme to upgrade and improve the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey. [199719]

Danny Alexander: This Government recognise the importance of transport infrastructure to support the economy and, as set out in the National Infrastructure Plan 2013, has already announced over £28 billion of funding for enhancements and maintenance of national and local roads.

The specific schemes identified in the National Infrastructure Plan 2013 have the ability to complete or begin their construction in the next Parliament. Proposals for improvements to the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey are not yet sufficiently developed to be included in the Highways Agency pipeline of future projects, and are therefore not currently included in the National Infrastructure Plan.

However, the A120 is being looked at by the Highways Agency as part of its work on the East of England Route Strategy, which will look to determine the nature, need and timing of future investment that might be required. I would encourage you to engage with the Highways Agency's route strategy process.

Child Benefit: Northern Ireland

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many households in each constituency in Northern Ireland were in receipt of child benefit during 2013. [200194]

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Nicky Morgan: The latest information on the number of families receiving child benefit, by each parliamentary constituency, local authority and region is available in the HMRC snapshot publication “Child Benefit Statistics Geographical Analysis. August 2013”. This can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/286670/Child_Benefit_statistics_geographical_analysis_August_2013.xls


Table 6 has this information by Westminster parliamentary constituency.

Income Tax: Nottinghamshire

Gloria De Piero: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in (a) Ashfield constituency and (b) Nottinghamshire paid the top rate of income tax in each of the last five years. [200187]

Mr Gauke: Statistics on the number of additional rate income tax payers liable to pay by Government office regions, including the east midlands, are published in HMRC’s income tax statistics, table 2.2:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/306856/Table_2.2.pdf

County and constituency-level information on additional rate tax payers is not published.

Insurance Companies

Mr Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many businesses (a) applied for and (b) were granted authorisation as insurers in each of the last five years. [200244]

Andrea Leadsom: The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority are responsible for overseeing the authorisation of insurance companies. The Treasury does not publish data on authorisations of insurance providers.

This question has been passed on to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, and they will reply directly to my hon. Friend by letter. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mapeley

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the profitability and financial position of Mapeley Steps Contractor Limited in its role of managing the HM Revenue and Customs estate. [200193]

Mr Gauke: HMRC monitors the financial position of its key suppliers under agreed transparency arrangements. HMRC is unable to provide confidential financial information relating to its suppliers.

Private Finance Initiative

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the merits of introducing tax-rate floors to contracts involving private finance initiative arrangements. [199713]

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Danny Alexander: In December 2012, the Government launched Private Finance 2 (PF2). PF2 introduces significant reforms to the private finance initiative (PFI) and gives a new approach to the delivery of public infrastructure. It is based on the outcomes of a wide call for evidence held across both the public and private sectors.

The Government seek to ensure that the UK tax system is competitive for all companies and that the UK is an attractive place to do business, while retaining proportionate anti-avoidance protection.

A special purpose vehicle set up for the purposes of delivering a PFI project is no different from any other corporate entity and is therefore required to pay corporation tax in accordance with Government rules.

Property: Taxation

Dame Tessa Jowell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the total number of properties (a) in the UK and (b) in the Greater London region affected by a levy on a property's value of above a (i) £2 million and (ii) £5 million threshold. [199755]

Mr Gauke: I refer the right hon. Member to my answers of 12 May 2014, Official Report, column 332W and 13 May 2014, Official Report, column 529W. The number of residential properties in the UK valued at more than £2 million was estimated before Budget 2012 to be around 55,000.

The Treasury does not have a precise regional breakdown of properties worth over £2million.

Revenue and Customs

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to promote discussions between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Network Rail on the construction of new parking facilities for Dover Priory Railway Station on land currently owned by HMRC. [199794]

Mr Gauke: Previous replies have explained that HMRC does not own the Priory Court Site but occupies it as part of the STEPS PFI agreement with Mapeley. However, HMRC has taken part in discussions between Mapeley and Network Rail at the Priory Court Dover site on proposals for the construction of a multi-storey car park on land adjacent to Priory Court not owned by either Mapeley or HMRC. Further discussions of future proposals have been between Mapeley as the freehold owner of Priory Court and Network Rail.

Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects HM Revenue and Customs to respond to Mapeley Estates, agents for the Custom House site, on the development of the new parking facilities at Dover Priory Railway Station. [200178]

Mr Gauke: HMRC has taken part in discussions between Mapeley and Network Rail at the Priory Court Dover site on proposals for the construction of a multi- storey car park on land adjacent to Priory Court not owned by either Mapeley or HMRC. Further discussions of future proposals have been between Mapeley as the freehold owner of Priory Court and Network Rail. HMRC has no outstanding inquiries from Mapeley.

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Self-employed

Stephen Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) mean and (b) median age was of people who were registered as self-employed in (i) 2010, (ii) 2011, (iii) 2012 and (iv) 2013. [200314]

Mr Gauke: The average age of self-employed individuals in the UK is 46-years-old. This median age is also 46-years-old and these figures are consistent across the three years from 2009-10 to 2011-12.

These estimates are based on the Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) for the years concerned. The SPI for 2012-13 will be available later in the year.

Stephen Timms: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were registered with HM Revenue and Customs as self-employed in (a) 2010, (b) 2011, (c) 2012 and (d) 2013; and how many of them reported net income (i) of zero and (ii) below the threshold for National Insurance in each year. [200315]

Mr Gauke: Estimates of the numbers of individuals with self employment sources are published in HMRC’s National Statistics table 3.10 which is available at the following internet address:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/income-of-individuals-with-self-employment-sources-2010-to-2011

The numbers of individuals making zero profits and at other income levels is also shown in these tables.

Tables for 2009-10 and earlier years are available from the National Archives internet site at the following address:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121102223513/http:/hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_distribution/menu-by-year.htm

Overall, these show a long-term trend of growth in the numbers of self-employed people.

The Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) for 2012-13 will be available later in the year.

Shipping: Minimum Wage

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what resources will be available for targeted enforcement of the national minimum wage amongst employers in the maritime sector in the next two financial years; [199357]

(2) if he will outline the content of the service level agreement between his Department and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the work of the HMRC national minimum wage enforcement team; what resources have been allocated to the enforcement team for work in the maritime sector; and what period the agreement covers. [199359]

Mr Gauke: The Government take the enforcement of the national minimum wage (NMW) very seriously. HMRC reviews every complaint that is referred to it by the pay and work rights helpline (0800 917 2368) including complaints concerning those in the maritime sector. In addition, HMRC conducts targeted compliance activity based on data received from various sources and robust risk assessment processes to identify the sectors and employers across the United Kingdom that are considered more likely to be failing to pay NMW.

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The service level agreement between Departments is currently under review. Resources have been agreed for 2014-15 between HMRC and BIS to cover the wide range of enforcement services that HMRC provides. The budget for enforcement activity is considered annually. The agreement does not currently cover the provision of enforcement services by reference to particular sectors.

Tax Avoidance

Mr Gregory Campbell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward legislative proposals to introduce a statutory definition of a personal service company to enable HM Revenue and Customs to make a better informed assessment of those using such devices to artificially reduce income tax. [200196]

Mr Gauke: There are currently no plans to create a statutory definition of a personal service company. Working through a personal service company does not indicate that a person is artificially reducing their tax.

The Government keep all areas of the tax system under review.