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11 Feb 2011 : Column WA91



11 Feb 2011 : Column WA91

Written Answers

Friday 11 February 2011

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) has produced five key documents to guide our work on family planning, which have been provided to our country offices:

"Choices for women: Planned pregnancies, safe births and healthy newborns: The UK's Framework for Results for improving reproductive, maternal and newborn health in developing countries";"The evidence towards MDG 5: a working paper";"Improving Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health: Burden, Determinants and Health Systems: Evidence Overview";"Improving Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health: Reducing Unintended Pregnancies: Evidence Overview"; and"Private Sector Engagement in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Maternal and Neonatal Health: A Review of the Evidence".

The Framework for Results is available in the Library of the House and on DfID's website. The remaining four documents are working evidence papers that will be updated regularly as new evidence is available and have been published on DfID's website. I will arrange for the most up-to-date versions of these documents to be placed in the Library of the House, but would advise the noble Lord to check the DfID website regularly for updates at the following link: www.dfid.gov.uk/Global-Issues/Emerging-policy/Reproductive-maternal-newborn-health/?tab=2. All five documents were shared with DfID's country offices during their development.



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Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Tornado aircraft does not have a main spar as its variable geometry (swing) wing design precludes such an arrangement. Instead, each wing is built on a box-section and the wings are then hinged to a carry-through box that runs across the aircraft fuselage.

The critical elements of a wing structure are lifed against a consumption of fatigue indices rather than flying hours. The current fatigue life of the Tornado GR4's wing is sufficient to meet the aircraft's planned out of service date of 2021. This is also true for the Tornado F3, which has an out of service date of March 2011.

No Tornado aircraft has been withdrawn from service with the RAF because of concerns about airworthiness.

Armed Forces: Medals

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The review of the rules governing the award of medals is considering the principles underpinning the award of medals. In doing so, appropriate consideration will be given to how the rules have been applied to past decisions on medals, including the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal.

The review will report to my right honourable friend, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan MP, and that work is now under way. The review aims to report conclusions in the near future.



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Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord Astor of Hever: The Ministry of Defence's review of the rules governing the award of medals will not review the role or membership of the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) as the committee's governance is a matter for the Cabinet Office.

British American Community Relations Organisations

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): During the past two years there have been two staff-related changes: a reduction in the hours of the head of the organisation, and following the withdrawal of the US military staff from RAF Fairford and the unit's alignment with RAF Croughton, the two community relations adviser roles have been combined into one post at RAF Croughton.

Following the strategic defence and security review, UK support to the UK-based American forces is currently under review. Until this work is complete it is not possible to comment further about any possible changes to the structure management and resourcing of the British American Community Relations Organisation and what effect it may have on the organisation.

Egypt

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We remain deeply concerned by ongoing political unrest in Egypt, which

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began on 25 January with peaceful protests calling for reform but has become increasingly dangerous with incidents of violence and loss of life. The scale of the protests is unprecedented in the last 30 years.

It is for the Egyptian people to decide the future shape of their Government. But it is in the interest of both, the United Kingdom and the whole international community, to see an orderly transition to a broad-based Government in Egypt that will produce real, visible and comprehensive change and respond to the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people. The process of change must begin immediately. We look to the Egyptian Government to set out a clear roadmap.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The United Kingdom's assessed contribution to the European Union budget is 14.7 per cent. In 2009, the European Union spent €147 million (£124 million) on development aid to Egypt. No assistance has been given for military or policing purposes. Further information on European Union spend on aid can be found in the EuropAid annual report, which is available in the Library of the House.

Energy: Photovoltaic Installations

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government recognise that this technology has an important part to play in helping to reduce carbon emissions to help people and businesses to generate their own electricity, and increase the deployment of renewables in the UK. Solar PV is one of the technologies supported by the Government's feed-in tariffs (FITs) scheme, which was introduced on 1 April 2010. Further detail on the scheme, including information about the first review of FITs announced on 7 February 2011, is available from www.decc.gov.uk/fits.

We are currently consulting on a new microgeneration strategy, which aims to tackle the non-financial barriers affecting small scale renewables, including solar PV. This consultation closes on 16 March 2011 and further information is available at www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/microgen_strat/microgen_strat.aspx.



11 Feb 2011 : Column WA95

Equality Act 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Verma: The Equality Act 2010 brings together and simplifies nine major pieces of pre-existing legislation, as well as relevant amending legislation and other ancillary legislation. As such, the commencement of the Act involves repealing and revoking the previous legislative framework. For example, one of the new statutory instruments, the Equality Act 2010 (Consequential Amendments, Saving and Supplementary Provisions) Order 2010, makes more than 50 repeals of previous legislation.

This rationalisation and simplification will deliver benefits for those with rights and responsibilities under discrimination law.

EU: Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Verma: The United Kingdom's assessed contribution to the European Union budget is 14.7 per cent. In 2009 the UK's contribution to the European Union budget on development aid was £700 million.

The European Union does not give aid money to NATO or the Council of Europe. In 2009 €92 million (£78 million) was spent through United Nations Organisations, of which €66 million (£56 million) was spent through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). More information on European Union spend on aid can be found in the EuropAid annual report, which is available in the Library of the House.

The Department for International Development (DfID) also provides aid through the European Development Fund (EDF), totalling £300 million in 2009, none of which was paid to these organisations.

EU: Membership

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My answer of 6 December 2010 (WA9) indicated the nature of the studies which HM Treasury regularly carries out into the economic impacts of European Union (EU) membership. Since there is no intention to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of EU membership, the cost of such an analysis is not known.

Iran

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of reports of protests at the site of the tombs of Esther and Mordechai in Iran, including the vandalism of a sign at the entrance. We urge the Iranian Government to take the necessary steps to protect this important pilgrimage site of the Jewish faith.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government have had no such discussions with British companies about supporting settlement activities in East Jerusalem.

As we advise through our travel advice, there are risks involved with purchasing property in Israeli settlements on land considered to be occupied under international law, in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan. Potential purchasers should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase in these settlements.

The UK is in regular contact with Baroness Ashton (European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and fully supports the EU stance that settlement building in East Jerusalem is illegal under international law and is an obstacle to peace.

Asked by Baroness Tonge



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Lord Howell of Guildford: We are not in a position to comment on the authenticity of these documents.

However, the fact remains that direct negotiations are the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are concerned about the breakdown in talks and are working with the US and the EU to secure a return to direct negotiations.

Israel: Turkel Commission

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have consistently called for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the Gaza flotilla incident. Part 1 of the Turkel Commission report appears to be a thorough analysis of the evidence before the commission, and included international involvement. The participation of Lord Trimble and Brigadier-General Ken Watkin as international observers was essential. Both observers stated clearly that they thought that the commission was independent. However, it is clear that although the commission made efforts to hear both sides, not all relevant evidence was available to the commission. This is to be regretted.

Clearly this is a complex issue. We are studying the report in detail and await the second and final part of the report in due course. It is now important that the UN secretary-general's panel of inquiry can draw on the full evidence available as part of its own ongoing investigation.

Ivory Coast

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development's (DfID's) humanitarian partners including UN agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) are responding to the needs of an estimated 20,000 internally placed people in Ivory Coast and 30,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia. DfID is closely monitoring the situation in Ivory Coast to check that the needs of affected people are being met as effectively and efficiently as possible through these agencies.

Lebanon

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We want to see a Government, formed in accordance with Lebanon's constitution, that commands the broadest possible support of the people of Lebanon and upholds its international obligations. It is important that any new Government is committed to restraint and the principle of non-violence, as well as a sovereign and independent future for Lebanon.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Question

Asked by Lord Bowness

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The agenda of the ministerial council is always made publicly available by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) at www.osce.org/. The OSCE summit in Astana last December, which replaced the annual ministerial council, revolved around plenary sessions where political statements were made by each of the participating states of the OSCE. The chairmanship usually provides a public briefing on key issues and discussions following ministerial councils. Ministers will continue to meet with the UK delegation to the OSCE parliamentary assembly to inform them of and discuss matters of interest at the organisation.

Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Palestinian UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on settlements is consistent with long-standing UK policy that Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law.

Our primary focus is on how to secure a return to direct negotiations. We are considering the current draft in this light and are in discussion with UNSC partners.


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