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Written answers round-up

There are a number of intriguing written answers in the latest edition of Hansard.

Shoreham & East Worthing MP (and Shadow Minister for Children) Tim Loughton uncovered some diplomatic buckpassing by the Government, through a question to the Olympics Minister:

"To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will invite the Dalai Lama to attend the London 2012 Olympics. [245235]

Tessa Jowell: Guests and dignitaries are invited to attend the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee and participating National Olympic Committees, and the Paralympic Games by the International Paralympic Committee and participating National Paralympic Committees."

Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries asked about fishing quotas:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to make changes to the fishing quota system; and if he will make a statement. [247636]

Huw Irranca-Davies: At present, I have no proposals to change the current quota management system.

The UK is actively engaged with the European Commission's current activities to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which will include consideration of the quota and fisheries access management systems. I have publicly signalled my intention that the UK should play a leading role in shaping this reform and the future of the CFP."

Entering a negotiation with no ideas whatsoever is a novel tactic.

Edward Leigh, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, asked about the persecution of Christians in Iraq:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government plans to make to the Iraqi government on violence against Christians in Iraq. [246815]

Bill Rammell: Ministers and officials will continue to meet representatives of the Iraqi government to discuss how Christians and all other religious communities can fully enjoy the freedom of worship enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, and are not subject to violence or intimidation. We will continue to advocate that those responsible for such attacks are held to account, regardless of their ethnic, political or religious affiliation.

I also welcome the continued work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) in her capacity as the Prime Minister's Envoy for Human Rights in Iraq on the protection of minority communities."

Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell received two wholly unconvincing answers about Government expenditure:

"Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many business class, work-related flights taken by members of his Department's staff through the flexible travel scheme were (a) eligible for downgrade to economy class and (b) downgraded to economy class in January 2008. [245463]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost."

"Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) location, (b) duration, (c) purpose, (d) number of attendees and (e) date was of each of his Department's staff retreats in each of the last three years. [245464]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost."

John Bercow received a troubling answer about the extent of bullying:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what percentage of children of school age experienced bullying in 2007-08. [247005]

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: We collect data on young people’s perceptions of bullying through the annual TellUs survey. The TellUs 3 survey for 2007-08 showed that 48 per cent. of children and young people experienced bullying during the previous year, either in school or in another setting. The TellUs 3 statistics are published on our website at:

We have introduced an indicator on bullying which underpins the Child Safety public service agreement (PSA 13, NI69), and made clear that we expect the proportion of children and young people who experience bullying to go down over the Spending Review period."

Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions Andrew Selous was given an answer that the minister admitted might not be correct:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many British citizens did not pass the habitual residency test in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [241561]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 9 December 2008]: In the 12 months to the end of November 2008, 2,948 habitual residence tests were failed by British nationals.


    Data based on clerical inputs and therefore subject to input error.


    DWP Management information."

And Andrew Rosindell, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, asked a question about guns:

"To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which weapons are available for use by police forces; and how many of each type are available to each force. [247696]

Mr. Coaker: Weapons deployed by forces are an operational matter for chief officers. The Home Office Scientific Development Branch maintains a database, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), of firearms and ammunition used by authorised firearms officers in the 43 forces in England and Wales. The Attenuated Energy projectile is also available for use by police forces, and Tasers are available for use by authorised firearms officers and specially trained units in line with ACPO Policy and Guidance. Forces also deploy incapacitant spray—both CS and PAVA based—and batons."


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