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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether reports on the whereabouts of Abdel Baset Al Megrahi are still being transmitted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from Libya, and those on his health to East Renfrewshire Council; and whether they will detain him if he returns to the United Kingdom.[HL9768]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not monitor the location or health of Abdel Baset Ali Al Megrahi. East Renfrewshire was designated as the local authority responsible for monitoring Al Megrahi's health and location because his family lived in Newton Mearns during his imprisonment in Greenock prison. The Scottish Government have informed us that East Renfrewshire Council, as the supervising local authority, is maintaining regular contact with Al Megrahi as
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Should Al Megrahi wish to return to the UK then he would be subject to UK immigration law and therefore be required to apply for an entry visa. Any such application for a visa from Al Megrahi would be considered in the appropriate way including consideration of the seriousness of the offence for which he was convicted.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many women aged (a) 18 to 24, and (b) 25 to 30, in each strategic health authority area, who had had (1) one, (2) two, (3) three, (4) four, (5) five, (6) six, (7) seven, (8) eight, (9) nine, and (10) 10 or more previous abortions, had an abortion in 2010. [HL9718]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested is provided in the following table. Some data have been suppressed in line with the Office for National Statistics guidance on disclosure.
|Number of previous abortions by Strategic Health Authority of residence and age groups under 25 and 25 - 29, 2010|
|Number of previous abortions|
|Strategic Health Authority||0||1||2||3 or more||Total|
|Age under 25||Age 25-29||Age under 25||Age 25-29||Age under 25||Age 25-29||Age under 25||Age 25-29||Age under 25||Age 25-29|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what competencies were sought when selecting an adviser to the review of British military bases in Cyprus;
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, as the senior independent adviser to the review, and the honourable Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) will provide an external perspective on the review team's work. Lord Ashcroft has a long-standing interest in military issues and Patrick Mercer a background in the Armed Forces.
In terms of conflicts of interest, Lord Ashcroft has provided the necessary assurances to the Ministry of Defence, and Patrick Mercer will be expected to do likewise before his first official engagement with the review team. Action will be taken by the department on a case by case basis should any conflicts of interest arise.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received an estimate from the chief executive of the Audit Commission of the cost of the proposed abolition of the Commission; and if so when and what was his estimate.[HL9801]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As I told the House on 2 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA378), we have been working with the Audit Commission to consider options for the future of local audit and this work has included making estimates of the costs of options. As part of this process, the commission's chief executive, on 17 August 2010 and 11 October 2010, provided my department with information on certain of the commission's potential liabilities. However, as I stated on 7 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 89), the actual costs incurred will depend on a range of factors, including the way in which the work of the commission's in-house practice is transferred into the private sector.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Payments Council has said that a decision on the future of the cheque will be taken in 2016, when a full cost-benefit analysis has been completed.
The Payments Council has commissioned an independent consultancy to advise on the cost-benefit analysis. A first report has found that definitive conclusions cannot be drawn in the face of uncertainty about the alternatives to the cheque that may emerge. A second report has provided an analysis of each of the users who will be affected, proposed a model of the costs and benefits and identified what information is available and the gaps that need to be filled. Further work on this is ongoing. A summary of that report is available on the Payments Council website.
The Government are clear that any alternative system will need to replicate the flexibility and ease of use of cheques, while improving processing times, and be cost effective. An alternative will need to have been tested in practice and be widely available, widely acceptable and widely adopted by users who do not currently have a suitable alternative. Until this is demonstrated, there is not a credible and coherent case for abolishing cheques.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 6), whether the Payments Council has provided details on the form of an alternative paper-based system.[HL9747]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 6) whether the Payments Council has provided details on the alternatives to be put in the place of cheque facilities.[HL9748]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 6) what commitments they have sought to ensure cheques remain a normal method of doing business.[HL9749]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 6) what criteria they will adopt to ensure the maintenance of an available, acceptable and widely adopted alternative system if cheques are phased out.[HL9751]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 6) what measures they are taking to ensure that no decisions on the phasing out of cheques are taken "precipitately".[HL9789]
Lord Sassoon: The Payments Council will reach a decision at the end of 2011 on what additional new cheque alternatives need to be developed. No decision will be made on whether to phase out cheques until these alternatives are in place and are being used by consumers and businesses. The Treasury is monitoring progress.
There is no single replacement for the cheque. Some alternatives, such as debit cards, internet and phone banking payments, already exist. They may need to be adapted or made more widely available. Emerging solutions include mobile payments, prepaid cards and new forms of online payments. The Payments Council
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The Government are clear that any alternative system will need to replicate the flexibility and ease of use of cheques, while improving processing times and be cost effective. An alternative will need to have been tested in practice and be widely available, widely acceptable and widely adopted by users who do not currently have a suitable alternative. Until this is demonstrated, there is not a credible and coherent case for abolishing cheques. The Government are keenly monitoring the progress of the cheque replacement programme and are considering whether they may need to intervene to protect vulnerable individual and businesses if there is any threat that cheques may be withdrawn without suitable alternatives being put in place.
Lord Sassoon: The Payments Council has committed that cheques will not be phased out until acceptable alternatives are in place and the Bank firmly believes that this condition needs to be met before any decision is taken. Decisions about the future of cheque clearing are, however, the responsibility of the Payments Council rather than the Bank of England. The Bank attends the Payments Council Board as an observer.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 7), what estimates they have received of the cost of rewriting the clearing system if cheques remain in their present form.[HL9788]
Lord Sassoon: The Cheque and Credit Clearing Company is currently investigating the feasibility of establishing a centrally operated single utility for clearing banks to use in Great Britain for sterling denominated paper. This process is in the early stages and the cost of re-configuring the clearing system in this way is unlikely to be known until the end of the year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 6 June (Official Report, col. 8), by what criteria any new system to replace cheques will be judged to be generally available, generally acceptable to its users and widely adopted. [HL9790]
Lord Sassoon: The Payments Council has announced that a decision on the future of the cheque will be taken in 2016, when a full cost-benefit analysis has been completed. The principal criteria for a decision
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The Government are clear that any alternative system will need to replicate the flexibility and ease of use of cheques, while improving processing times, and be cost effective. An alternative will need to have been tested in practice and be widely available, widely acceptable and widely adopted by users who do not currently have a suitable alternative. Until this is demonstrated, there is not a credible and coherent case for abolishing cheques. The Government are keenly monitoring the progress of the cheque replacement programme and are considering whether they may need to intervene to protect vulnerable individual and businesses if there is any threat that cheques may be withdrawn without suitable alternatives being put in place.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many representations from United Kingdom commercial interests have been received by (a) the Prime Minister's Office, and (b) other relevant government departments, regarding the Bribery Act 2010; what was the substance of those representations; and whether they will amend the legislation as a result.[HL9876]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government received a large number of representations from business, anti-bribery organisations and other interested parties about the Bribery Act 2010 and the guidance about commercial organisations preventing bribery. We have taken account of all the views expressed, particularly in relation to the guidance to commercial organisations to ensure that it is practical and useful for legitimate trade and business. We published the guidance on 30 March this year and also announced that the Act will come into force on 1 July 2011. There are no plans to amend the Act.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the case of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede. The UK has not made any representations on this specific case. However, our high commission continues to work closely with EU Heads of Missions in Yaounde on addrcssing human rights issues with the Cameroonian Ministry
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether inspection visits to Castlebeck managed care and hospital facilities have followed the submission of annual quality assurance assessments in every case. [HL9812]
The CQC has reviewed all of the AQAA returns from Castlebeck's care homes registered with Commission for Social Care Inspection and the CQC. The CQC's view is that none of the AQAAs submitted by Castlebeck suggested that the regulator should carry out an inspection in response.
Earl Howe: The Integrated Care Application Programme (ICAP) was not fully operational on 1 April 2009 when the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was established. Prior to the establishment of the CQC, the Commission for Social Care Inspection used the ICAP system operationally. The CQC transition programme, preparing for the establishment of the CQC, carried out a review of the ICAP system and operational processes and identified issues with it. These issues included lack of functionality; poor system performance and stability; process design inefficiencies and lack of staff training. The CQC transition programme recommended changes to the system and processes. These were implemented on 12 April 2009. The CQC then used ICAP only for regulation of adult social care under the Care Standards Act 2000 (the 2000 Act).
There has only been one registered manager change at Winterbourne View Hospital since its registration on 14 December 2006. This change was registered on 2 June 2009. The inspection that followed was announced and was undertaken on 15 December 2009.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the "inspecting for better lives walkthrough" inspection methodology has been adopted in the case of Winterbourne Hospital; and whether it has included at least two unannounced key inspections per year. [HL9817]
The Healthcare Commission had guidance for its staff to help them determine the frequency of inspection of independent healthcare services (including independent mental health hospitals). The regulations required that premises were inspected at least once in every five years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 17 May (WA 293), whether the freight charge of £8,278,233 paid in 2010-11 in respect of Opex was a fixed cost or dependent on the volume of traffic through the Channel Tunnel.[HL9632]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had during the last year with the Government of China on the Chinese Population Policy, with particular reference to compulsory abortion and sterilisation; what position the Government have taken in these discussions; and what was the response of the Government of China.[HL9982]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My noble friend Lady Warsi raised China's population policy earlier this year in a meeting with Madame Uyunqing, vice-chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
We believe that it is important that family planning and its implementation meet international human rights standards. We do not dispute China's right or need to implement family planning policies but we do believe they should be based on principles of consent and not coercion.
In his 2011 Work Report to the Nation, Premier Wen announced that China would progressively improve the basic state policy on family planning and promote balanced population growth. We believe this was the first time that senior Chinese officials had publicly announced plans to improve family planning policy. However, we remain concerned about reports of continued use of forced abortions and sterilisations and wider abuses. We also remain concerned about the case of women's rights defender Mao Hengfeng.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what meetings at Ministerial and official level have been held or will be held between the Home Office and devolved institutions to discuss the refocused Prevent strategy. [HL9863]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): National security and special provisions for dealing with terrorism are the responsibility of the UK Government-meaning that powers relating to counterterrorism are not devolved to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Northern Ireland Assembly. However, many of the delivery mechanisms for Prevent are devolved to the relative administrations (eg policing and justice in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and health, education and local government in all devolved Administrations).
As part of the consultation process, 11 focus groups were held for Prevent practitioners and officials, including one in Glasgow and one in Llandrindod Wells. In addition to these, public focus groups were held in Cardiff and Glasgow.
OSCT has engaged with the devolved Administrations bilaterally, via the CONTEST Board (attended by Scotland, Wales and the Northern Ireland Office), and via a working-level quarterly cross-cutting devolved Administration CONTEST group.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the rate of interest on funds held in the Court of Protection on behalf of patients is limited to 0.5 per cent per annum; and whether they will increase the rate. [HL9985]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Court of Protection is part of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service and deals with applications relating to people who lack capacity, such as appointing a deputy. The Court Funds Office (CFO) is a separate organisation to the Court of Protection.
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Interest rates are set and regularly reviewed by the Lord Chancellor with the concurrence of the Treasury. In reviewing the rates paid, the Lord Chancellor takes into account a number of factors including-the amount of interest received on funds against the amount of interest paid to clients, the level and mix of funds held by the CFO and administration costs. Taking into account all of these factors, the Lord Chancellor decides on the appropriate level of interest to be paid on funds held in court.
The CFO operates in a different way from high street banks and building societies. Commercial banks and building societies currently offer a variety of savings rates and they have many other and different factors to consider when setting these rates compared to CFO. For example, lending to clients (mortgages or personal loans) or investing in a number of different situations (for example, world wide stock markets).
Money deposited in court through the CFO is transferred to the Court Funds Investment Account (CFIA). The interest paid to clients is met from interest generated by the money within the CFIA, which is not through loans or other investments. Because of this CFO is not able to pay the higher rates of interest that are available on some high street products.
All interest rates carry a trade-off between risk and potential benefits. The CFIA was established to hold and to protect funds awarded by the court, not to be an investment fund that uses the market to try and increase the value of the sum held in court. The special account rate reflects the zero risk of a 100 per cent government backed guarantee on the level of funds. To offer a slightly higher interest rate that competes with the higher interest paying accounts on the high streets would mean making our clients' money more vulnerable to market forces. High street banks can often offset risk against other assets, whereas the CFO cannot ask taxpayers to underwrite investing in financial markets to try and increase the value of the fund held in court. High street banks cannot guarantee they will always be able to offset risk, whereas the CFIA does.
The majority of Court of Protection clients are able to remove funds from court. Most deputies will have an order from the Court of Protection allowing them to remove money at any time if they believe it is in the interests of the person who lacks capacity to do so. Other deputies may not have such an order or may have an order that places restrictions on the amount of money they are allowed to remove from the special account. Deputies in this position will need to return to the court to seek authorisation to remove funds from court if this is what they feel is in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity.
It is not possible to predict what interest rates CFO will be able to pay on client funds in the future as this depends on the factors outlined above. The Lord Chancellor will be keeping the rates paid on the basic
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the annual report of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, to what the £3,115,000 of costs for medical and dental fees relate; what is the average cost of medical and dental fees for members of staff; what is the nature of those expenses; whether employment agreements for staff at the authority include a commitment to fund part or all of their medical and dental expenses; and what plans there are to reduce this expense.[HL10069]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): These costs relate to fees for reports from the doctors and dentists assessing applicants' injuries. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority needs such reports to assess claims. The authority does not pay any medical or dental costs for its staff.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 11 May (WA 214), what is the cost saving of carrying out work of the Criminal Records Bureau in India. [HL9837]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Capita Business Services provide a range of business processes and IT application, maintenance and development services to support the Criminal Records Bureau's Disclosure Service via a public private partnership (PPP) agreement. The commercial mechanism for provision of this service is based upon a fixed, transactional rate encompassing the many different activities associated with the outsourced service, including those undertaken in India. The construct of this rate is commercially sensitive.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the arrest of General Mladic for crimes committed during the Bosnian War 1992-5, whether they support action to bring to justice those responsible for similar crimes committed in Cyprus in the period 1963-74.[HL9917]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government have no plans to pursue this line of enquiry. The UK remain fully committed to their support for the current round of UN-led talks in Cyprus, seeking to end the continued division of the island.
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently funding tax programmes (or programmes which include some element related to tax) in Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Burundi, Sierra Leone, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. In Burundi, DfID instigated a multi-donor programme which, among other things, plans to invest £11.5 million between 2010 and 2015 to help establish an independent revenue authority. Current projections are that in 2011 the Burundi revenue authority should raise £35 million more revenue than in 2010.
DfID is helping developing countries to protect their tax bases with assistance on tax information exchange and transfer pricing, both bilaterally and through multilateral organisations. DfID-funded research has also helped develop understanding of the importance of taxation to development.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Some 4,250 responses were received on a consultation on the law regarding dangerous/status dogs, in which microchipping was just one of the options considered. The responses to this consultation are currently being analysed and need to be reviewed before considering how to move forward on this subject.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The English Baccalaureate will encourage schools to offer a broad set of academic subjects to pupils aged 16-English, mathematics, the sciences, history or geography, and a language. It aims to increase the opportunities for all pupils-especially
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): No assessment has been made by Government about the number of deaf and hearing impaired people (including British Sign Language users) who could enter employment if universal video relay services (VRS) were available.
Responses to the HMG consultation on implementation of the revised EU Electronic Communications Framework included figures put forward by video relay suppliers on the potential numbers of deaf and hearing-impaired people who might be able to return to work if universal video relay were available. While these figures have been drawn together with a view to making a case for VRS, we do not doubt that the economic and social situation of many deaf and hearing impaired people could be improved if video relay was more widely available in the UK. These submissions were taken into consideration in developing the Government's approach to implementation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to ensure adequate resourcing of the European Court of Human Rights during their presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.[HL9758]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is committed to ensuring that the Council of Europe's budget is negotiated and used effectively, with appropriate funding to allow all its institutions and bodies, including the court, to operate efficiently.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Wilcox on 7 June (WS 18-20) concerning the European Union Competitiveness Council, whether proposals were made for fewer European Union regulations in the
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The May EU Competitiveness Council conclusions on smart regulation called on the Commission to "identify new opportunities to simplify, improve legislation, and to reduce the overall regulatory burdens" of EU legislation, in particular for SMEs. The smart regulation conclusions also called for the strengthening of the application of the SME test as did the conclusions on the review of the Small Business Act.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision of the Government of Egypt to close the Rafah border crossing with Gaza; and of the visa regime currently placed upon Palestinian men aged 18-40 by the Egyptian Government.[HL9855]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There were reports that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was temporarily closed recently. However, it re-opened on 9 June. We understand that the Egyptian Government are committed to the re-opening of Rafah and have been in discussions with the Hamas authorities in Gaza on technical aspects of the operation including visa requirements for specific groups.
We see the re-opening of the Rafah crossing as a positive step. We want to see the alleviation of difficulties faced by Gazans, along with a permanent end to rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians living near the strip. We expect Egypt to continue its efforts to prevent arms smuggling, and ensure that the Rafah crossing is not used for weapons.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The information relating to research commissioned externally by core Defra has been placed in the Library at the House of Lords.
The research data include projects managed by various agencies on behalf of core Defra. These include the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), and the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD-part of Health and Safety Executive).
Since May 2010, Defra has initiated (commissioned) £58 million of research projects. No research contracts were terminated in advance of the planned end date. Projects worth £101 million have ended naturally as a result of reaching their planned end date and providing the agreed outputs. Note these figures are not directly comparable as contract duration varies. As a number of projects have a short duration, they are included in both the initiated and ended research lists.
Since May 2010, 319 contracts have been amended. Contracts may be amended with agreement of both the project officer and the contractor, to meet changing customer needs, scientific opportunities, financial or other factors.
Further detailed information about any of the projects listed is available from the Defra's website (see http://randd.defra.dov.uk/).
Information relating to data collection cannot be provided due to disproportionate costs. Data collection covers a very broad area. Defra commissions data exercises through many different routes, and it would very difficult to gather the information without carrying out a thorough review.
Baroness Verma: The research and evidence division of the Department for International Development (DfID) is responsible for systematically collecting and synthesising evidence and data on international development. This is produced as a global public good available for all users including our own country offices and policy division, to ensure our aid programmes are based on evidence of what works. A number of research projects have been initiated (63), terminated (4), and amended (3) by the division in the past 12 months,
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The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): I refer the noble Lord to the answer given to the honourable Member for Vale of Clwyd by my right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland on 23 May 2011 (Official Report, col. 361W).
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): This information is available (Official Report, 23/5/2011, cols. 402-4W) in response to a previous question from Chris Ruane MP. No additional research or data collection has been initiated, terminated or amended since that response.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Attorney-General and Solicitor-General have not commissioned any research or data collection projects since being appointed into their current roles.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who is the Departmental Chief Scientific Adviser for the Home Office; and (a) when they were appointed and for how long, (b) what is their academic or experience background, (c) what is their civil service rank, (d) whether their post is full-time or part-time, and what other work commitments they have, and
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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Professor Bernard Silverman works full time as the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Home Office. He was appointed through open competition at the Civil Service rank of SOS PB2 from 15 March 2010 for three years, with the possibility of extension.
Professor Silverman is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a past president of the Royal Statistical Society. He has held senior academic appointments in statistics at the Universities of Bath, Bristol, and Oxford. He now holds a Titular Professorship of Statistics at Oxford and a number of other honorary academic positions. None of his current academic positions has any work commitment.
In the past 12 months, my honourable friend James Brokenshire met him seven times, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has met him twice, my noble friend Lady Neville-Jones has met him seven times, and he has met myself and my honourable friends Damian Green and Lynne Featherstone.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of foreign students who will be accepted into English universities as a consequence of the Government's increases in tuition fees.[HL9956]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The reforms to higher education funding and student finance due to come into effect from the start of the academic year 2012-13 relate only to home and EU students applying for undergraduate courses. Fees for non-EU international students will remain unregulated with higher education institutions able to set fees as they see fit. Genuine international students bring many benefits to the UK as well as to the individual institutions where they study.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the impact of increases in undergraduate tuition fees on the number of students able to afford to continue into postgraduate education.[HL9957]
Lord Henley: In his report, Lord Browne noted that the postgraduate system worked well and did not recommend any changes. However, he also noted the possibility that in future, when graduates are contributing
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Currently, there are very little data available about who undertakes postgraduate study and as part of its review we will invite HEFCE to consider what additional data should be collected about postgraduates. We will then revisit the issue of postgraduate funding as we learn more about how the system and students respond to our reforms.
The Government value postgraduate study, and are committed to Britain being a leading place to do research. This is why, despite enormous pressure on public spending, the overall level of funding for research has been protected in cash terms in a ring-fenced budget. This will mean continued support for postgraduate research.
Research Councils have published their delivery plans setting out how they will deliver their priorities, including funding for postgraduate training. HEFCE is maintaining in cash terms its research degree programme supervision funding, which will support the next generation of researchers at £205 million for 2011-12. HEFCE is consulting on its proposals for reforming the allocation method for postgraduate research funding from 2012-13.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government have introduced a new more accurate way of evaluating rough sleeping levels in England. Previously only local authorities where there was a known, or suspected, rough sleeping problem were required to provide a count. All areas across England now provide counts or robust estimates giving a clear national picture. Latest statistics show 1,768 rough sleepers in England on any one night in autumn 2010 and are published at the following link at http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/xls/1845849.xls.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Browning on 14 June (WA 178), what is the reason for limiting the funding of the Honour Based Couples Violence Service to one year and whether this is compatible with the Violence against Women and Girls Strategy launched in November 2010.[HL10117]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Funding for the Honour Based Couples Service was provided from the Forced Marriage Unit Domestic Programme Fund in July 2010. It was always made clear that funding from this fund would be time limited. This is separate to core funding provided by the Home Office for Violence Against Women and Girls services.
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) has not provided assistance to the Government of India to help the residents of Orissa in dealing with alleged toxic leakages from the Vedanta refinery.
Orissa is one of the three focus states of the UK development programme in India. DfID is working closely with the Government of Orissa and other development partners to help the poorest people, particularly women and girls, to help them improve their incomes and get the quality schooling, healthcare and nutrition, which are the key to breaking the cycle of poverty for the next generation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the burning of a Palestinian mosque by Israeli settlers on 7 June and the capacity of the Israeli military to prevent settler violence. [HL9858]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Alistair Burt, said in his recent statement condemning the burning of a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank:
"I am deeply concerned by reports of extremists burning and vandalising a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayir. This appears to be the latest of a series of similar attacks aimed at exacerbating tensions and preventing progress in the peace process. I note the Israeli Government's condemnation
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will, in concert with international partners, assist the newly formed Government of Alassane Ouattara to improve security in the Ivory Coast and assist a return to economic stability; and if so, whether this aid will be in the form of bilateral initiatives or undertaken collectively.[HL9937]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Government recognise the importance of restoring security and economic stability in Côte d'Ivoire and will work with international partners, including the European Union, the United Nations and the Ivorian Government to that end. Security sector reform will be an important element in the restoration of security. The British Government will bilaterally contribute assistance to the value of £200,000 towards building stability and conflict prevention.
The return to economic stability will also be a key challenge. We will encourage the European Union to develop a comprehensive recovery package. During his recent visit to Côte d'Ivoire on 20-21 June, my honourable friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) discussed with President Ouattara as well as local business leaders the importance of building a conducive environment for investment as an aid to economic recovery.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Councils are accountable for their actions to their electorate for decisions about services, including outsourcing. They must act within their statutory powers at all times, which includes demonstrating value for money. Rather than judge councils on individual decisions, the Secretary of State will intervene where councils persistently fail and underperform.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 22 December (WA 346), what were the criteria for
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): It is an established convention that Ministers of one Administration cannot see the documents of a previous Administration. I am therefore unable to provide the information requested by the noble Lord.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding will be provided towards the National Union of Students' NUS Students and Crime Project; how much funding has been provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs's Strategy and Evidence group to the NUS; for what purpose those grants have been given; and how they will judge the efficacy of those grants.[HL10066]
Lord Henley: The Home Office funding for the Students and Crime Project came to an end in March 2011. The National Union of Students (NUS) received £175,000 in 2009-10 as part of the Securing Homes Action Against Burglary programme and in 2010-11 they received a further £160,000.
Under the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Greener Living Fund, NUS received grant money totalling £554,799 to run the Degrees Cooler project. The project's aim was to support and encourage staff and students at 20 universities across England to undertake sustainable behaviours (e.g. save energy, recycle more). The project is being evaluated by independent evaluators to assess and determine behaviour change impacts and the factors behind the success of the project.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures will be put in place to measure the finances of (a) a Probation Trust, and (b) a private company, in the provision of unpaid work undertaken by offenders in England and Wales.[HL9878]
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is responsible for the Olympic torch relay. On 18 May LOCOG announced the 66 evening celebrations and six of the island visits. The schedule of evening celebration events for the north-west is as follows:Chester (29 May);Bolton (31 May);Liverpool (1 June);Isle of Man (2 June);Carlisle (20 June);Bowness-on-Windermere (21 June);Blackpool (22 June); andManchester (23 June).
LOCOG will now proceed with the detailed planning of the route for the morning and afternoons of each day, to ensure that the torch comes within an hour's journey of 95 per cent of the UK population. This will be done in consultation with stakeholders across the north-west, including local authorities, with the route to be finalised and announced later this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations have been made, or discussions taken place, with either the governments of Kenya or Uganda in relation to the Kenyan citizen, Omar Awadh Omar, who was allegedly tortured with United Kingdom complicity during his interrogations. [HL9792]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have raised our concern about alleged renditions and treatment of terrorist suspects with the Kenyan Government, including at ministerial level, and with the Ugandan authorities.
The UK Government's policy is clear. We do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for any purpose. We have consistently made clear our absolute opposition to such behaviour. We repeatedly stress to all our international partners the importance of due legal process and the centrality of human rights in approaches to counterterrorism.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House all papers which are to be made available by the Foreign and Commonwealth office relating to Britain's role in its colonies; and whether all papers relating to Operation Argus will be declassified and made available for research purposes.[HL9922]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of 5 May 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 24WS) which said these files will be made available through the National Archives (TNA). The majority of official papers relating to the UK's role in its colonies are already held at TNA and available to the public there. Given the size of the holding, which comprises some 8,800 files, we do not think it would be practicable to place copies also in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In 2009 3.3 per cent of EU official development assistance was committed to the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the £178 million budget per year for the Department for International Development's Afghanistan programme from 2011-12 to 2014-15 has been allocated to realising the United Nations millennium development goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.[HL9903]
Baroness Verma: The entire Department for International Development (DfID) Afghanistan programme budget (£178 million per year over the next four years) will contribute to the millennium development goal: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
DfID will help reduce poverty in Afghanistan by focusing on three key areas: (1) peace, security and political stability; (2) economic stability, growth and jobs; and (3) getting the state to deliver improved basic services. Further budget details are available in DfID's Operational Plan for Afghanistan, which is available at: www.dfid.gov.uk/Afghanistan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the £178 million budget per year for the Department for International Development's Afghanistan programme from 2011-12 to 2014-15 has been allocated to realising the United Nations millennium development goal to improve maternal health. [HL9904]
Baroness Verma: At this time the Department for International Development (DfID) does not directly support realisation of the maternal health millennium development goal in Afghanistan through its country programme. Our support to the health sector to date has been through our contributions to the multi-donor Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund which, among other things, helps pay for public health workers such as doctors and nurses. DfID expects to resume this support to the trust fund once a new IMF programme has been agreed. However, DfID does support the International Planned Parenthood Foundation centrally, to increase access to safe motherhood services in a number of countries including Afghanistan, through the Global Poverty Action Fund.
The Afghanistan programme projected spend over the next four year is outlined in the DfID Afghanistan operational plan. This can be found on our website: www.dfid.gov.uk/afghanistan. DfID's work in Afghanistan focuses on three areas (1) peace and security, (2) economic stability, growth and jobs and (3) getting the state to deliver improved basic services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the required timetable for the supply of pension forecasts to people (a) below pensionable age, or (b) who have deferred taking their pensions; and what proportion of requests are met within that timescale. [HL9984]
The Pension Disability and Carers Service (PDCS) aims to produce 95 per cent of individual pension forecasts within 10 days of receiving the request. During the 2010-11 financial year PDCS cleared 96.2 per cent of applications for a state pension forecast within 10 days.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the context of the European Directive on Human Trafficking, what they are doing to ensure that the requirement under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect the best interests of the child are being adhered to.[HL9997]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The Government are committed to tackling human trafficking. We are determined to build on the UK's strong track record in supporting victims and fighting traffickers.
The Government are a signatory to the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and take their obligations under the Convention seriously. We will always ensure that the best interests of the child are given primary consideration in decisions concerning children.
The Government will shortly be applying to the European Commission to opt into the European Directive on Human Trafficking. If the application is accepted, Government will then work with the Commission on implementation of the directive. Consideration of our obligations under UNCRC will be an important part of this process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of Article 8 of the European Directive on Human Trafficking relating to non-prosecution or non-application of penalties to the victim, what action they are taking to ensure that victims of child trafficking are not routinely drawn into the criminal justice system.[HL9998]
Baroness Browning: The Government will shortly be applying to the European Commission to opt into the directive. If the application is accepted, Government will then work with the Commission on implementation of the directive.
The Government acknowledge that there are safeguarding implications for any trafficked child found working in criminal enterprise and that in these circumstances victims should not be criminalised. Due to the link between cannabis cultivation in the UK and exploitation of Vietnamese victims, the Association of Chief Police Officers has issued comprehensive guidance to officers investigating commercial cannabis cultivation offences on how to deal with and safeguard those found in these circumstances.
Crown Prosecution Service guidance also advises prosecutors on the steps to be taken when prosecuting those who may be trafficked victims. Where evidence obtained supports the fact that the suspect has been trafficked and committed criminal offences while they were under the control of their traffickers or others, the case should be discontinued on evidential grounds.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the acknowledgement in the European Directive on Human Trafficking that it is essential to identify children as victims of trafficking before they go missing, what action they are taking to increase the identification of trafficked children at a local level.[HL9999]
Baroness Browning: Government take the issue of early identification of child victims as well as the response to missing children very seriously. In addition to work being done at a national level to raise awareness of child trafficking among police and local authority officers, the Government have supported the development of the London Safeguarding Children Board trafficking toolkit and guidance which was launched on 3 February 2011. The aim of the toolkit is to better aid practitioners in identifying and safeguarding child victims of trafficking.
Government have also widened the list of first responders of the national referral mechanism to include Barnardo's and the National Society for the Protection of Children's child trafficking advice and information line. This will allow more potential victims of this crime to be identified through their specialised work.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken within the United Kingdom's justice system to prosecute Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organisation operative Philip Machemedze, who has admitted kidnapping and torture, and is now resident in Wales.[HL9860]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The police are responsible for responding to allegations that a person has committed a crime. They decide whether an investigation is required and how it should be conducted. The CPS is responsible for the prosecution of most criminal offences, in England and Wales, following an investigation by the police. The CPS will only advise on a prosecution once a police file is submitted to it. At this time the CPS has not received a file in relation to an investigation in relation to Philip Machemedze.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In March 2012, Her Majesty the Queen will visit Parliament to receive Addresses from both Houses in Westminster Hall. At this event, it is planned that a stained glass window bearing the Queen's Coat of Arms will be presented to Her Majesty the Queen as a gift from Members of both Houses of Parliament. The window will later be installed in the central panels of the middle tier of the north window of Westminster Hall. Yesterday, letters containing details of the proposed gift were sent from Mr Speaker and the Lord Speaker to Members of both Houses, inviting Members to make contributions towards the gift. Black Rod is currently in discussions with Buckingham Palace about the arrangements for this event and other Diamond Jubilee events which might involve the Houses of Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many fires in domestic properties in England and Wales in 2008-09 and 2009-10 were the result of faults in
21 Jun 2011 : Column WA291
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Records of incidents attended by fire and rescue services show that faults in electrical installations and products in dwellings in England and Wales caused 21,700 fires in 2008-09 and 20,900 fires in 2009-10.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many children were in receipt of free school meals in each of the London boroughs and the City of London in each year since 1996 until the last year for which records are available.[HL9732]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Information on the number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals in each local authority in London from 2002-10 has been placed in the House Libraries.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government have no plans to include teaching of the principles of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the national curriculum. The non-statutory programmes of study for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education currently provide a context for schools to teach pupils how to recognise and follow health and safety procedures, including ways of reducing risk and minimising harm in risky situations, how to find sources of emergency help and how to use basic and emergency first aid. Pupils learn to develop the skills to cope with emergency situations that require basic first aid procedures, including, at key stage 4 (ages 15-16), resuscitation techniques.
21 Jun 2011 : Column WA292
The internal PSHE review, announced in the schools White Paper, will identify the core body of knowledge and awareness that pupils need and how to ensure high quality teaching while giving teachers the flexibility to deliver PSHE in a way that meets the needs of their pupils. Further details will be announced shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate and report on (a) the number of summons issued in each of the last 24 months by the chief constable of the South Wales Constabulary against drivers of motor vehicles on the highway for holding, but not communicating, on a mobile telephone and (b) the number of convictions in magistrates' courts in each of the last 24 months for holding but not communicating on a mobile telephone.[HL9770]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The only relevant offence is to use a mobile phone while driving. Data are already collected on this. The Home Office has no plans to investigate and report on anything further.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many complaints were made (a) by telephone, and (b) in writing, in each of the past six years against officers of the South Wales Constabulary where the complainants were not contacted following submission; why in each case the complaints were not followed up, and the complainants not contacted.[HL9771]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to investigate the South Wales Constabulary professional standards department and its officers in relation to cases where those officers have required complainants to place their signatures at the end of the investigating officer's documents before completion of those documents.[HL9772]
Baroness Browning: The Home Secretary cannot undertake an investigation into the conduct of the South Wales Constabulary's professional standards department or its officers, as she has no powers to investigate or to initiate an investigation of this nature. Any particular concerns relating to this matter should be raised with South Wales Police Authority or the Independent Police Complaints Commission as appropriate.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Neither the Department for Culture, Media and Sport nor their sporting bodies, UK Sport and Sport England, provided any funding towards the staging of the first test match between England and Sri Lanka.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of events in Abyei and Southern Kordofan, they will ask the United Nations Security Council to consider extending the inquiry of the International Criminal Court into Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir and his indictment in respect of crimes against humanity elsewhere in Sudan to cover current events in Abyei and Southern Kordofan.[HL9833]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are closely monitoring the situation in Abyei and Southern Kordofan. As the referral by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 to the International Criminal Court (ICC) applies only to the continuing conflict in Darfur, we will, if necessary, and in consultation with partners, consider action to refer this to the ICC.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they have contributed to the work of the United Nations Mission in Sudan force in the past three years; and whether they will increase this support in the event of any expansion of the force after 9 July.[HL9841]
The UK contributes a fixed percentage to all UN peacekeeping operations each year, including the UN Mission in Sudan. As the budget for a mission varies, the UK's contribution also varies accordingly. As such the UK's future support to any UN Mission in Sudan is yet to be determined.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) forces in Southern Kordofan have not intervened in the displacement of people; what are the terms of the UNMIS mandate; and what is their assessment of the compatibility of UNMIS action within the United Nations doctrine of the duty to protect. [HL9925]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Under UN Security Council Resolution 1590, United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is mandated to provide support to the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement. Its mandate authorises it, under chapter VII of the UN Charter, to protect civilians under the imminent threat of physical violence. UNMIS is providing protection for civilians camped near its base in Kadugli. However, the chief responsibility for protecting civilians within Sudan lies with the Government of that country. UNMIS is acting, to the extent possible and practical, to contribute to such protection. It is doing so consistent with its mandate and with wider UN principles.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the criteria which have to be met for them to call for an investigation into a suspected crime against humanity and for an act of aggression to be designated as ethnic cleansing; and whether current events in Southern Kordofan and Abyei meet these criteria. [HL9926]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Whether the Government will call for an investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing will depend on all the circumstances of the case, including what evidence there may be that such crimes have been committed. We are closely monitoring events in South Kordofan and Abyei and are very concerned about events taking place there. Reports of such atrocities will have to be investigated and, if they prove to be true, those responsible will need to be brought to account.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that on 9 June the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) carried out aerial bombardment on the people living in the Nuba Mountains, that the SAF are detaining suspected Sudan People's Liberation Movement sympathisers in Kadugli and Dilling, and that displaced people are travelling to El Obeid.[HL9927]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Violence has been carried out by both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. The reports of attacks on civilians and aerial bombardments in the Nuba mountains, and in Southern Kordofan more widely, are shocking. The Foreign Secretary publicly condemned all such actions in his Statement of 15 June. We are very concerned about unconfirmed reports of the killings of people for their ethnicity, and call on all
21 Jun 2011 : Column WA295
Lord Howell of Guildford: It is becoming increasingly clear that human rights abuses, including the denial of humanitarian access, have been taking place and continue to happen in Southern Kordofan. It is not yet clear whether these abuses are sufficient to be classed under the legal definition of genocide. None the less, we do see the violence as completely unacceptable and are urging both parties to call an end to hostilities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 28 February (WA 222), whether when increasing road fuel tax they will take account of extra VAT raised thereby and reduce that increase accordingly.[HL10063]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government take into account a range of factors in setting fuel duty rates including the effect on households, businesses and the fiscal position. Budget 2011 reduced duty by 1 pence per litre.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision to delay the Tunisian elections; and what support the United Kingdom is providing to the Tunisian electoral commission. [HL9857]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The decision on the timing of the elections was for the Tunisian authorities to take. However, we believe this decision will allow sufficient time to enable the necessary preparations for free and fair elections to be put in place. We welcome the fact that the decision was made on the basis of a consensus between political parties.
Immediately following the revolution, the UK funded three electoral experts to support the initial work of the Political Reform Committee. Following the announcement of the Arab Partnership in February, £1.15 million has been allocated to UK-led support for the political transition in Tunisia. This bilateral support is in addition to our work through the EU and international organisations to ensure Tunisia receives the support it needs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 7 February (WA 40), whether the 165 certificates of sponsorship to work in the United Kingdom applied for in 2010 from nationals from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru and Venezuela with no stated occupation were accepted; and how many (a) actors, (b) entertainers, (c) dancers (d) choreographers and (e) musicians from (1) Colombia, (2) Cuba, (3) Jamaica and (4) Venezuela were issued with work permit visas in 2009 and 2010 respectively.[HL9911]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Of the 165 (rounded to the nearest five) certificates of sponsorship (CoS) assigned in 2010 to nationals from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru and Venezuela, 145 were used in migrant applications. An assigned CoS does not mean that the applicant was actually successful in their visa or leave to remain application.
The points-based system was launched in November 2008, replacing the work permit route. As such no work permit visas were issued in 2009 and 2010 for the specific occupations mentioned. In 2009 and 2010, the endorsements used for entry by these occupations would be:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking in response to the 1995 resolution calling for a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East, to ensure that the 2012 conference which the Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory states agreed in New York on 28 May 2010 should be convened takes place and that the required host government and facilitator are designated in collaboration with the United Nations Security Council.[HL9760]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has been in close contact with the US and Russian colleagues- the co-sponsors of the (1995) resolution-to take forward appointing a facilitator and a host country for a conference in 2012, as set out in the final document of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference of 2010. We are also consulting the UN Secretary-General, regional states and agencies which have an important role to play. The EU seminar on a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East in early July will be a useful chance to engage with key stakeholders.
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