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Written Answers

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 28 April 2003

Prime Minister

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister (1) what discussions he has had with the US Administration regarding the longer term plans for the oversight of the oil industry in Iraq; [110014](2) if he will make a statement on his policy on the long-term plans for the oversight of the oil industry in Iraq.[110013](3) what his policy is on whether Iraqi oil, following the conflict in the Gulf, should be sold in

(a) dollars and (b) euros; and what discussions he has had with the US Administration on this issue.[109382]

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) and for Blyth Valley (Mr. Campbell) in the House on 14 April 2003, Official Report, columns 627 and 630–31.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had on lifting UN sanctions on Iraq.[110039]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) in the House on 14 April 2003, Official Report, column 620.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had on a debt restructuring conference for post-war Iraq.[110041]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) in the House on 14 April 2003, Official Report, column 620.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the US Government on deployment of international civilian police force in Iraq following the conflict to (a) assist in civil security needs and (b) help train and monitor Iraq's civilian police. [110043]

I refer the hon. Member to the statement I gave in the House on 14 April 2003.

President Bush

To ask the Prime Minister on which occasions since 11 September 2001 he has held meetings with President Bush; what the venues were; and on which occasions the production of oil from middle eastern countries was discussed. [110266]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Matthew Taylor) on 8 April 2003, Official Report, columns 126–27W, and the answer I gave the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) in the House on 14 April 2003, Official Report, column 627.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much opium (a) was produced by Afghanistan in (i) 2001 and (ii) 2002, (b) has been produced this year and (c) is predicted for 2004 on present trends.[108012]

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. This reported that 185 tonnes of opium was produced in 2001 and 3,400 tonnes in 2002.The UNODC is in the process of carrying out the 2003 survey. Its results will be published in the autumn. The 2004 survey is likely to start at the end of this year.In March 2003 the UNODC published an Opium Rapid Assessment Survey for Afghanistan. This gave an early insight into the pattern of opium poppy cultivation for the 2002–03 growing season, but did not predict the level of opium production for 2003 or beyond.The 2002 increase was no surprise. The Taliban's cultivation ban in 2001 was driven by short-term motives and inherently unsustainable. It was imposed with bribery and threats, including in some cases, death. It also did not cover trafficking, processing or stockpiling. Indeed the Taliban's profits from these activities grew as, after two bumper harvests, the ban drove up opium prices. Sustained reductions in cultivation will only follow from a long-term process to build up Afghan drug law enforcement and encourage alternative livelihoods for farmers.

Al-Qaeda

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on al-Qaeda terror activity in (a) the Middle East and (b) the rest of the world.[109325]

Al-Qaeda continues to pose a significant threat in the Middle East and globally, despite some very considerable success against their leaders and operations. Al-Qaeda and related groups will only be overcome through sustained international effort and co-operation. The UK will continue to play a leading role in the fight against international terrorism.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on evidence of al-Qaeda links to the ricin plant found in Iraq.[109326]

We have received a number of reports on facilities in north-east Iraq in territory controlled by Ansar al Islam, and their links to al-Qaeda. It is the practice of successive Governments not to comment on intelligence matters. The Security and Intelligence Agencies are not within the scope of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Paragraph 6, Part I)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) funds and (b) personnel have been allocated to the war in Iraq which would otherwise have been directed at the al-Qaeda threat.[109327]

None. Coalition action in Iraq has not been at the expense of the campaign against international terrorism, which has continued unabated. There has never been a question of choosing between the two threats. The downfall of the regime in Iraq will reduce the threat of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

Assisted Suicide

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidelines he has issued to his staff on dealing with inquiries from UK citizens seeking an assisted suicide overseas.[107576]

Consular staff guidelines provide that British nationals seeking assisted suicide abroad should be given the same consular services as all our consular customers. They also state that consular staff should not provide advice or assistance to British nationals seeking information about the law or practice relating to assisted suicide in other countries, but should explain that it is contrary to UK law. Our staff should advise that British nationals should obey the laws of any country to which they travel, and that local legal advice should be sought if appropriate.

Bangladesh

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on the actions of her Government in Operation Clean Heart; and if he will make a statement; [108282](2) what discussions he has had with the Bangladesh Government on the complaints of harassment of members of opposition parties in Bangladesh; and if he will make a statement.[108284]

We were concerned by reports of mistreatment of detainees associated with "Operation Clean Heart", and by the simultaneous arrests and reported harassment of opposition politicians. We have discussed both issues with the Bangladesh Government on a number of occasions, including when my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (Ms Keeble), met the Bangladesh Home Minister in Dhaka last December. We look for the due process of law to be followed in all cases. We also urge the Government and opposition parties to work together in the interests of democracy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the British High Commissioner in Bangladesh on the human rights situation in Bangladesh.[108283]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary sees the High Commissioner's reports on human rights and other developments in Bangladesh and has discussions with him at Heads of Mission meetings. We continue to raise our concerns on human rights with the Bangladesh authorities. The FCO Director for South Asia and our High Commissioner discussed human rights with the Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner in London in January. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (Ms Keeble), also took up the issue with the Bangladesh Home Minister when she visited Dhaka last December.

British Detainees (Guantanamo Bay)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 2 April 2003, Official Report, column 741W, what the response of the US Government has been to his request for formal consular access to Guantanamo Bay. [108057]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave her on 24 March 2003, Official Report, column 70W. As Guantanamo Bay is outside a recognised consular district, the US does not consider that we are entitled to formal consular access there. However, British officials have visited on four occasions to check on the welfare of the British nationals and ask questions relating to national security. We were the first country to visit its nationals.

Burma

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received concerning the effect of EU sanctions on human rights violations in Burma; and if he will make a statement.[108446]

The EU Common Position has been effective in keeping up international pressure for the Burmese regime to improve its unacceptable record of human rights violations. There have been some very minor improvements since 2000 such as the release of some political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and improved co-operation with the United Nations. However, the overall situation remains of grave concern. UK policy will remain firm until the military regime irreversibly commits to national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with EU colleagues concerning future action against the Burmese Government in the event of continuing human rights violations in Burma.[108447]

The EU Common Position comes up for renewal before 29 April 2003. Discussion within the European Union is ongoing including at ministerial level, concerning the European Union's assessment of the situation in Burma. The human rights situation is an important part of this discussion and a key factor in deciding if/how the European Union Common Position should be amended to best press for political change in Burma.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of (a) the State Peace and Development Council and (b) the National League for Democracy concerning political repression in Burma. [108448]

On 7 March I met the Burmese Ambassador to the UK to express my concern over the deteriorating political, economic, humanitarian and human rights situation in Burma. I explained that UK policy may have to toughen unless the military authorities take action to move the political process forward.I am in regular telephone contact with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We have agreed that the overall level of repression in Burma remains a cause of grave concern and that the military regime must act quickly to move Burma towards national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have received from supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi concerning her (a) current condition and (b) treatment at the hands of the Burmese Government. [108449]

I am in regular telephone contact with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She remains resolute and hopeful that democracy in Burma is achievable. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is able to travel and operate relatively freely. On 6 April she undertook a visit to Chin State where large crowds met her. There have been some instances where local authorities have obstructed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's visits, most notably in Northern Rakhine State in December 2002. As a result of the problems encountered in Northern Rakhine State, the UK and EU have issued statements expressing concern and calling for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom to travel and operate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what efforts are being made by the British Government to encourage a reduction in regional border tensions between Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand. [108450]

The EU co-sponsored a resolution on Burma at the United Nations General Assembly in November 2002 that pressed for the peaceful end to all conflicts in Burma. We are also in regular contact with the Governments of Bangladesh and Thailand to press the case for political progress in Burma. It is in the best interests of all Burma's neighbours that national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy is rapidly achieved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on co-operation between the British and Burmese authorities to stem the trade in illicit drugs produced in Burma. [108451]

The primary source of opium that is trafficked to the UK is from Afghanistan. There is no evidence of illicit drugs originating from Burma being trafficked to the UK in significant quantities.

Despite some co-operation with the United Nations on drug related issues, the Burmese authorities' response to the continued production and distribution of illicit drugs from the territory of Burma remain insufficient.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the State Peace and Development Council concerning the denial of full citizenship to ethnic and religious minorities in Burma. [108452]

In keeping with its attitude towards other human rights problems, the State Peace and Development Council does not accept that it has a problem concerning the denial of full citizenship rights to Burmese citizens. However, there is ample evidence that this is a serious problem, in particular given the refusal to grant full rights to many of the Muslim Rohinghyas who live in Rakhine State.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made concerning access for the UNHCR to all parts of Burma. [108453]

There has been some modest progress in access for UNHCR staff in Burma, such as in Northern Rakhine State. However, many areas of Burma remain off-limits to the United Nations and non-government organisations, in particular parts of the Thai/Burma border. I place a high priority on action to press for unhindered access to all parts of Burma for the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the number of internally displaced people in Burma; and if he will make a statement. [108454]

Definitive figures are not available because international access is restricted in large areas of Burma. However, some estimates from non-government organisations have indicated that over 600,000 may be internally displaced in Burma. Despite the lack of accurate statistics, it is clear that this is a major problem and that the Burmese authorities must take action to stop fresh displacement of people and allow the safe resettlement of those currently internally displaced.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of any developments in the human rights situation in Burma since the adoption of the most recent UN Resolution in November 2002; and if he will make a statement. [108455]

Regrettably, we have not seen any substantive improvements in the overall human rights situation in Burma since the November 2002 resolution at the United Nations General Assembly. The military authorities have allowed a delegation from Amnesty International to visit Burma. But this has not yet led to an improvement in human rights adherence. I am also concerned that the pace of the release of political prisoners has slowed markedly and that there has been a significant increase in new detentions and arrests for political reasons.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department intends to take in response to human rights violations and continued breach of UN resolutions on the part of the Burmese Government; and if he will make a statement. [108456]

The EU is currently drafting a resolution on the human rights situation in Burma for adoption at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights later this month. The UK is playing an active role in producing the draft. I believe it is important that the international community continues to make clear its abhorrence of the human rights violations in Burma and maintains pressure for the situation to be rapidly improved.The human rights situation will also be a key factor in the European Union's discussions concerning the renewal this month of the European Union Common Position on Burma. The Common Position contains a range of measures designed to bring pressure to bear on the military authorities to move towards national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy in Burma.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from (a) ASEAN nations, (b) NGOs and (c) UN member states concerning possible action to promote human rights in Burma; and if he will make a statement. [108457]

The FCO is in regular contact with ASEAN nations, non-governmental organisations and other members of the United Nations concerning the human rights situation in Burma. The successive resolutions passed on Burma at the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights confirm the international community's view that the situation is unacceptable and that rapid action is needed by the Burmese military authorities to improve their human rights record.HMG will continue to work for a collective approach within the international community to reduce and eliminate human rights violations in Burma.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to address the use of forced child labour in Burma. [108458]

The UK has been at the forefront of support for the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) effort to eliminate the use of forced labour in Burma. At the meeting of the ILO Governing Body in March 2003, the Presidency of the European Union, on behalf of the UK and other EU countries, expressed continuing concern that the Burmese regime had not made further progress on this issue and said that it was a lack of political will on behalf of the Burmese authorities that was the root cause of this. The UK fully supports the decision taken by the ILO to call for a plan of action to be agreed before the next meeting of the ILO Liaison Officer and the Burmese authorities on the steps required to reduce and eliminate forced labour in Burma.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has received from the Burmese Government concerning human rights violations; and if he will make a statement. [108459]

The Burmese military regime has not signed up to many of the United Nations instruments covering acceptable standards of human rights adherence and does not share our concern about the unacceptable level of human rights violations in Burma. We will continue to press bilaterally with the Burmese regime and in international fora for a rapid improvement in the situation. As part of this we will continue to press for democratic reform in Burma. It is only through the return of democracy and the rule of law that the underlying problems contributing to the human rights violations can be adequately addressed.

Chechnya

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the numbers of people who have fled the conflict in Chechnya, and subsequently returned. [109345]

The security situation in Chechnya ha.s made it very difficult to obtain accurate data. The Danish Refugee Council, a respected NGO working in the area, estimates the population of Chechnya to be 675,000 of whom 143,000 are internally displaced within the republic. They also estimate that a further 95,000 Chechens are living in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia and that 40,000 more are living further afield. According to official sources, the current population of Chechnya is 1,088,000. We believe that more than 180,000 people fled to Ingushetia during the peak of the fighting in late 1999/early 2000. Approximately half of them have now returned to Chechnya.

Civil Servants (Overseas Missions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the employment rights of locally-engaged British civil servants who serve abroad for a diplomatic mission; and what complaints procedure is open to them. [108635]

In FCO missions abroad the rights of all employees are protected by local law.Every mission is required to have complaints procedures set out in Terms and Conditions of Service given to each employee on appointment.Procedures in each mission will vary. There would be disproportionate cost involved in obtaining copies of procedures from every post in the world.

Democratic Republic Of The Congo

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to promote peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [108902]

The UK is actively engaged with our African, EU and UN partners in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Government have supported the implementation of both the Lusaka Peace Agreement and the Pretoria Agreement of July 2002 as providing the most viable way forward.We warmly welcome the agreement signed in Sun City on 2 April on the establishment of a transitional government with a view to democratic elections in two years time. We will play our part as a member of the International Support Committee which is tasked with supporting the transitional process in DRC.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest situation in the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; what steps his Department is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement. [101772]

Agreement was reached on 2 April in Sun City (South Africa) on the establishment of a transitional government in the Democratic Republic of Congo. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a press statement on 3 April warmly welcoming this development. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.The UK is actively engaged with our African, EU arid UN partners in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Government have supported the implementation of both the Lusaka Peace Agreement and the Pretoria Agreement of July 2002 as providing the most viable way forward. It will continue to play its part, as a member of the International Committee for Support to the Transition, which is tasked with supporting the transitional process in the DRC.

Employment Relations Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department have taken time off from work in order to attend to domestic incidents as provided for by the Employment Relations Act 1999. [108350]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office do not record this information centrally so we are unable to provide this information without incurring disproportionate costs.

Eu Enlargement

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 653W, if he will undertake a fresh analysis of the costs and benefits to the United Kingdom of EU enlargement. [108135]

Figures for the positive economic benefits of enlargement for the current EU, including the UK, have been supported by other independent studies, including, most recently, the Report of Wim Kok to the European Commission "Enlarging the European Union: Achievements and Challenges (March 2003)". This estimates that enlargement will provide a one-time gain of 0.2 per cent. of GDP for the current EU, and create 300,000 jobs (http://www.iue.it/RSCAS).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 653W, if he will undertake an analysis of the costs and benefits to the United Kingdom of EU membership; and if he will make a statement. [108136]

The costs and benefits to the UK of EU membership are regularly discussed in Parliament and revealed in oral and written questions. This is a continuing process and the FCO has no plan to publish a specific report at this time on this subject.

Family Visa Applications

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the reasons for the increase in the refusal rate since August 2002 for family visa applications in (a) India, (b) Tehran, (c) Cairo, (d) Nicosia and (e) Nairobi. [109121]

All applications are decided on their merits and in accordance with the Immigration Rules. Globally the monthly refusal rate in 2002 follows a similar pattern to the monthly refusal rate in 2001. The fee for family visitor appeals was abolished on 15 May 2002 but there is no evidence that ECO decision making has been influenced by the abolition of the fee. Work is now in hand on the final report of the interdepartmental review of family visitor appeals, which we expect to publish in June.

Ian Hook (Israel)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department made to the Government of Israel following the shooting of UNRWA worker Ian Hook; and what response has been made to those representations. [107486]

We have made our concerns clear at the highest levels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the then Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, on 22 November 2002. Mr. Netanyahu promised an immediate investigation and gave an undertaking to share the results as soon as he had them. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary followed up with Mr. Netanyahu on 20 December 2002. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised the matter with Prime Minister Sharon on 29 November 2002. I have also raised it on a number of occasions with the Israeli Ambassador, Mr. Shtauber.There has also been frequent contact between our embassy in Tel Aviv and the Israeli authorities and between senior officials in London and the Israeli embassy. The Israelis have assured us that the investigation would be rigorous and comprehensive.We are in touch with the Hook family who are considering next steps.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has been given by the Government of Israel concerning the results of inquiries undertaken into the circumstances of the death of Ian Hook. [107487]

The Israelis have reported privately to Mr. Hook's family on the findings of their investigation. We are in touch with the Hook family, who are considering next steps.

India/Pakistan Relations

To ask the secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the current state of relations between India and Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. [109177]

We remain seriously concerned at the continuing unstable stand-off between India and Pakistan. The reductions in military deployments by both sides in late 2002 were welcome. But these were not unfortunately followed by further de-escalatory moves or movement towards the resumption of political engagement.We face a significant risk of a renewed crisis between India and Pakistan over the coming months. It is in neither side's interests to provoke or initiate a military conflict that could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons. Pakistan should fulfil its commitments to stop infiltration across the Line of Control and discourage any acts of violence by militants in Kashmir. Both sides should consider immediately implementing a cease-fire and take other active steps to reduce tension. The United Kingdom stands ready to help both countries start a process aimed at building confidence, normalising bilateral relations and resolving outstanding differences, including Kashmir. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made these points clearly in his joint statement with US Secretary Powell at Camp David on 27 March.

International Criminal Court

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which the International Criminal Court could intervene to prosecute UK citizens in cases where the British judicial system was unwilling or unable to do so. [103780]

In accordance with the complementarity provisions of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Court Act 2001 (which gave domestic effect to the Statute), the relevant UK authorities will, where appropriate, exercise jurisdiction in respect of allegations against UK service personnel, UK Citizens or residents.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Iraqi opposition groups about the nature of a post-war Iraq Government. [107823]

We hold regular consultations with the Iraqi community in the UK and elsewhere and are actively seeking their input into a representative post-Saddam Government in Iraq.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on the participation of pro-independence Kurdish political parties and pro-Iranian Islamic fundamentalist parties in elections in post-war Iraq. [107971]

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 2 April 2003, "We want Iraq to be run by the Iraqi people for the Iraqi people". And we want to get to this point as soon as possible.In order to facilitate this, we hold regular consultations with the Iraqi community in the UK and elsewhere and are actively seeking their input into discussions on a representative post-Saddam Government in Iraq.We hope that any post-Saddam representative authority in Iraq will include all sections of Iraqi society. However, as we have made clear on many occasions, we condemn terrorism and terrorist organisations and do not expect recognised terrorist organisations to be part of the process leading to a representative authority in post-Saddam Iraq.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the content of the 1994 US Senate Riegle Report, with particular reference to Chapter 1, Part 2, US Exports of Biological Materials to Iraq. [108536]

The section of the report dealing with US exports of biological materials to Iraq contains details of a number of exports of both pathogenic and non-pathogenic materials in the 1980s. These exports were licensed by the relevant US authority at the time, on the basis that they were for legitimate scientific research purposes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has collated on whether the President of Ukraine authorised arms shipments to Iraq last year. [109096]

In September 2002 the United States authenticated a recording of President Kuchma in 2000 authorising a transfer of arms to Iraq. A US-UK team of experts visited Ukraine in October 2002 to investigate. The team concluded that they were not satisfied that the arms could not have been transferred. The matter has therefore remained open.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the (a) names and (b) organisations of those attending the meeting in Nassiriya on 15 April; and which of them are women. [110184]

The US organisers of the Nassiriya meeting issued invitations to individual Iraqis, not organisations. It would be inappropriate to name these individuals without their consent. Six Iraqi women were invited. At least four are reported to have attended and three spoke publicly. Eight US female staff were also invited. The Government welcome the commitment made at the meeting, that

"Iraq must be built on respect for diversity including respect for the role of women".

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the coalition forces have to increase Iraqi oil production to pre-1991 levels. [108900]

The coalition will limit itself to emergency maintenance and repairs, and other short term measures, which might allow production at or above last year's level, itself about the same as in 1990. But my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it quite clear on numerous occasions that Iraqi oil belongs to the people of Iraq. All major investment decisions should be taken by the Iraqis themselves, not the coalition.

Lusaka And Pretoria Agreements

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he and (b) his Department has had with the Governments of (i) Rwanda, (ii) Burundi, (iii) Uganda, (iv) the Democratic Republic of Congo and (v) the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding (A) the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire and Pretoria agreements and (B) recent developments in the Ituri region. [109226]

FCO officials have regular discussions with all regional Governments listed and with the UN (both in New York and in the Great Lakes region) about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the implementation of the Lusaka and Pretoria Agreements. We warmly welcomed the agreement signed in Sun City on 2 April on the establishment of a transitional government with a view to democratic elections in two years time. This concluded the Inter-Congolese Dialogue provided for under the Lusaka Agreement. We will continue to be involved in the peace process as members of the International Committee for Support to the Transition.We were shocked to learn of the appalling massacre of civilians by militia in the DRC's Ituri Province on 3 April. My noble Friend, the Baroness Amos, issued a statement on 7 April strongly condemning this tragedy. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. We are concerned about the effect of the situation in Ituri on relations between Rwanda and Uganda. We have urged Rwanda and Uganda to exercise restraint and not to become engaged in direct confrontation on Congolese soil.

Middle East

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of cumulate origin for industrial products in advancing economic and political stability in the Middle East region. [108646]

The EU envisages cumulative rules of origin in cooperation with its trading partners in the Middle East who are participants in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. These rules are being implemented and Euro-Med trade ministers have asked for an update on progress in implementation at their next meeting in the second half of 2003. A subsequent assessment of their impact will then be possible.

Montserrat

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with the Secretary of State for International Development regarding humanitarian aid to Montserrat. [108657]

My noble Friend, Baroness Amos, the Minister for Overseas Territories, meets regularly with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development to discuss the Overseas Territories, including Montserrat. The last meeting was on 27 March.

National Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost will be to public funds in 2003–04 of the rise in national insurance contributions on the salary bill of his Department. [107905]

We estimate that the changes to employers' national insurance contributions announced in the Budget will increase pay costs on average by 0.7 per cent. next year.

North Korea

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government have to help to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation in North Korea; and if he will make a statement. [109007]

We believe that multilateral diplomatic efforts can bring about a peaceful settlement. Her Majesty's Government are working closely with key international partners to find a peaceful and durable solution to this issue. We continue to engage directly with the North Korean Government on this matter through our embassy in Pyongyang, and with DPRK officials based in London.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of China on the repatriation of North Korean refugees. [108696]

We regularly raise the issue of North Korean refugees with the Chinese, including at the biannual UK/China Human Rights Dialogue. At the last round of the dialogue, on 21 November 2002, we urged China to allow the UNHCR access to the border areas and to observe its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.We will continue to encourage greater co-operation between China and UNHCR on this issue.

Overseas Territories

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) population and (b) total electorate was of each British overseas territory on 1 January. [108660]

The populations and electorates at 1 January 2003 were:

PopulationElectorate
Anguilla11,5006,780
Bermuda62,99937,454
British Virgin Islands20,9429,432
Cayman Islands41,90011,489
Falklands Islands2,9271,500
117,874
Gibraltar28,231220,675
Montserrat4,5002,950
Pitcairn4328
St. Helena and Dependencies5,7633,372
Turks and Caicos Islands20,0206,260
12000 Election
22002 Referendum

Pakistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) the ability of the new Pakistani Government to curb religious fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan and (b) the impact of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) opposition on Pakistani Government policies, with particular reference to the frequent public calls for jihad against non-Muslims made by the MMA. [109045]

We welcomed President Musharraf's courageous decision to join the international coalition against terrorism and the steps taken thus far to clamp down on terrorist groups in Pakistan, including the banning of five such groups. We will continue to urge him and the new Government to continue with this vital task. Pakistan continues to be a staunch ally in the continuing campaign against al-Qaeda. It is too early to assess the impact that the MMA will have on Pakistan's policies. We have no reason to doubt Pakistan's continuing commitment to act against terrorism and extremism wherever it occurs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Pakistani Government concerning (a) the closing of training camps for militants, (b) the banning of militant organisations, (c) the regulating of Islamic religious schools and (d) support for inter-faith initiatives in Pakistan. [109059]

We regularly raise such issues with the Government of Pakistan. We welcomed commitments made by President Musharraf in January and May 2002 to curb terrorism and the action he has taken thus far, including the banning of five terrorist groups. We will continue to urge him and the new Government to continue their efforts to promote a tolerant society free of extremism and militancy. We stand ready to assist. Education is a major focus of Britain's expanding development programme in Pakistan and our bilateral discussions have included the role of religious schools and inter-faith issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan concerning the continuing imprisonment of (a) Parvez Masih, (b) Aslam Masih, (c) Anwar Kenneth and (d) Augustine Ashiq `Kingri' Aslam Masih. [109061]

We regularly raise our concerns about sectarian violence and wider human rights issues with the Pakistani authorities. On 7 February 2003 the Greek Presidency of the European Union delivered a demarche to the Minister of State (Law, Justice and Human Rights). The demarche explained our concerns about cases where religious minorities, notably those from the Christian and Ahmadi communities, have been sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws. Cases raised included those of Parvez Masih, Aslam Masih and Augustine Ashiq `Kingri' Aslam Masih.We will continue to take appropriate opportunities, including with our European Union partners, to raise our concerns.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan in relation to (a) the growth of Islamic militancy in the country, (b) the need to bring to justice perpetrators of past and current terror attacks on Christians and (c) the introduction of the Shari'ah Bill in the North West Frontier Province. [109062]

We regularly raise our concerns about sectarian violence and wider human rights issues with the Pakistani authorities both bilaterally and through the EU. On 7 February 2003 the Greek Presidency of the EU delivered a comprehensive demarche to the Minister of State (Law, Justice and Human Rights). The EU underlined our concerns at the recent attacks against Christian targets and urged the authorities to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. The EU also urged the Pakistani Government to provide greater protection to minority groups.It is too early to make an assessment on the Sharia Bill. The North-West Frontier Province has yet to consider draft legislation proposing the adoption of Sharia law in the province. This law cannot be fully enacted until approved by both the federal and provincial Parliaments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what actions Her Majesty's Government have taken to advise and assist the Government of Pakistan on the provision of adequate protection for Christians and other non-Muslim communities against potential attacks from Islamic extremists. [109063]

On 7 February 2003 the Greek Presidency of the EU delivered a demarche to the Minister of State (Law, Justice and Human Rights). The EU underlined our concerns at the recent attacks against Christian targets and urged the authorities to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. The EU also urged the Pakistani Government to provide greater protection to minority groups. We will continue to take every appropriate opportunity, including with our European Union partners, to urge Pakistan to protect Christians and other religious minorities against discrimination, intimidation and attacks.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government (a) have taken and (b) will take to ensure that the war in Iraq is not perceived by Islamic extremists in Pakistan as a crusade against Islam. [109064]

The British High Commission in Islamabad has been in regular contact with the full range of political parties in Pakistan to ensure that they understand the reasons for coalition action in Iraq. These contacts will continue. All have welcomed the opportunity for dialogue.All our diplomatic missions take every opportunity to get the message across to host governments, local media and civil society.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan in relation to (a) retaining the joint electoral system and (b) strengthening and empowering minority representation in the National Parliament. [109065]

We welcomed President Musharraf's decision to restore the joint electoral system for the 2002 elections. It is a step towards integrating Christian and other religious minorities into mainstream Pakistani society. We are actively funding projects to support National Assembly members in their parliamentary work to protect Human Rights in Pakistan.

Palestinians

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the number of Palestinians detained by the Israeli army since 27 March. [108798]

We do not have figures for the number of Palestinians detained by the Israelis since 27 March. But a reputable Palestinian human rights non-governmental organisation, Mandela Institute for Human Rights (www.mandela-palestine.org) has reported that as of 31 March around 5,759 Palestinians and Arabs had been detained since the start of the second intifada. This includes over 1,000 in administrative detention.

Parental Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department have used their leave entitlement under the parental leave directive since it came into force. [108413]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office do not at present record parental leave centrally so we are unable to provide this information without incurring disproportionate costs.

Peter Devlin

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent contact British consular staff have had with the Spanish authorities regarding the case of Peter Devlin; what guidelines the Government issues to consular staff concerning intervention when a British national is arrested by Spanish authorities but awaits formal charge while the case is under investigation; what plans he and consular staff have to raise the case of Mr. Devlin with the Spanish authorities again; and if he will make a statement. [108594]

Our Honorary Consul spoke with the Spanish court on 9 September 2002, and was informed that, except for certain items relevant to the investigation, the court agreed to release all of Force 9 Salvage's equipment. Our Honorary Consul spoke to the presiding judge again on 11 April 2003. The judge confirmed that the investigation was ongoing but would not release further information about the case. Our consular staff cannot intervene in the judicial system of another country. Our own judicial system is similarly protected. Our consular team in Spain will continue to monitor this case, but as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary noted in his letter of 20 November 2002, this is a legal matter and the company should continue to be guided by its lawyer.

Press Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people are employed in his Department's press office; and how many were employed on 2 May 1997. [108394]

The staffing figures for the Press Office for 1997 are listed in Appendix 11 of the 6th report by the Select Committee on Public Administration of the GICS (1998). They show a total of 15.5 Press Officers.The current staffing figure is 22 Press Officers. In addition there are seven support administrative staff.

Property Portfolio

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the estimated value is of the property portfolio held by his Department. [108373]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 25 February 2003, Official Report, column 430W.

Russian Federation

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Russian Federation's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. [109378]

The UK Government agree with the assessment published on 21 March 2003 by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of Russia's implementation of the Convention. The Committee welcomed positive steps taken by the Russian Federation to improve the legislative framework and adopt other positive measures to combat discrimination. The Committee also noted a number of concerns, including: the absence of a definition of racial discrimination in domestic legislation; reports of racially selective inspections by law-enforcement officials, particularly against those from the North Caucasus; and reports of violence by, inter-alia, extremist groups against ethnic minorities.

The UK Government support this assessment. We regularly raise the issue of racial discrimination with the Russian authorities, most recently during the bilateral human rights talks in September 2002 and March 2003.

Secondments

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many individuals have been seconded to his Department from (a) the private sector, (b) NGOs and (c) other, in each case listing (i) from which organisation and (ii) dates of secondments in each year since 1997–98. [108104]

Private Sector Secondments

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the then Minister of State at the FCO (Mr. Battle) to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on 29 June 2000, Official Report, column 581W, and to his letter of 5 July 2000 to the hon. Member for Bath which has been placed in the Libraries of the House, which set out a full list of private sector secondments from 1997 to February 2000.

Since then, there have been a further 26 secondments to the Department, and details are set out in the following table.

Secondments and attachments are part of the Interchange Initiative, which promotes the exchange of people and good practice between the civil service and other organisations. Before an Interchange can occur all parties must be satisfied that no conflict of interest arises.

Non-Private Sector Secondments

Under Cabinet Office Interchange procedures, the term secondment relates solely to movement of staff to and from the private sector and other non-civil service organisations.

The table below shows secondments to the FCO from other non-civil service organisations. The FCO does not hold comprehensive records for the year 1997, so the information attached begins from 1998. In addition, some FCO departments and posts organise secondment-type placements directly with relevant organisations. No central records of these exist and they are therefore not included.

Appendix A

Secondments from the private sector to FCO

March 2000 to April 2003

Company

Start date

End date

MouchelMarch 2000October 2000
British AirwaysJune 2000February 2001
Price Waterhouse CoopersApril 2000April 2001
Rolls RoyceOctober 2000April 2001
CMC and AdmiralNovember 2000April 2001
Wood Group Engineering LtdNovember 2000May 2001
Independent ConsultantNovember 2000August 2001
Wood Group Engineering LtdMarch 2001November 2001
Standard Chartered BankMay 2001January 2002
BG plcJune 2001February 2002
Anglia WaterJanuary 2002March 2002
Teeside CollegeJune 2001April 2002
ShellMay 2001May 2002
KPMGJune 2000June 2001
BPJune 2000June 2002
Rolls RoyceApril 2001June 2002

Secondments from the private sector to FCO

March 2000 to April 2003

Company

Start date

End date

EC HarrisJanuary 2002December 2002
UnileverAugust 2001August 2003
BAe SystemsApril 2002November 2002
AdvanticaJune 2002November 2002
Ove ArupOctober 1999October 2003
KGPMay 2002December 2005
Michael John TrustDecember 2001May 2006
AESSealJune 2002November 2002
Thames WaterSeptember 2002March 2003
Chamber of British IndustryOctober 2002April 2003

Note:

TPUK refers to Tradepartners UK, the trade development arm of British Trade International.

Appendix B

Seconded from non-private sector

Start

End

Metropolitan Police1 April 199823 June 2002
German MFA1 June 19981 July 1999
US State Dept1 August 19981 August 1999
German MFA1 August 19981 July 1999
National Air Traffic Systems1 October 19981 July 2001
Financial Services Authority1 January 199931 July 2001
Ecole National d'Amin (ENA)1 January 19997 January 1999
French MFA1 February 19991 July 1999
New Zealand MFA1 April 19991 July 1999
German MFA1 August 19991 June 2000
US State Department1 August 19991 August 2000
ENA1 August 19991 January 2000
Metropolitan Police1 August 19996 November 2000
Save the Children1 September 19992 July 2001
Canadian MFA1 September 19991 September 2000
German MFA1 September 19998 December 2000
French MFA1 September 199915 August 2001
National Institute of EC and Social Research1 September 19991 September 2003
House of Commons1 September 19991 September 2001
World Wildlife Fund1 December 199930 November 2002
ENA1 January 20001 July 2000
NGO: Interights9 January 20009 January 2001
Brazilian MFA21 June 20008 November 2000
German MFA26 June 200027 May 2001
Czech MFA1 December 20001 December 2001
US State Department1 December 20001 December 2001
NGO: Asian Family Counselling1 January 20011 January 2004
Metropolitan Police1 May 20011 July 2004
ENA1 July 200115 January 2002
US State Department30 July 200130 July 2002
Office of Fair Trading10 October 200115 October 2003
BBSRC (Research Council)22 October 200119 October 2002
ENA21 January 200221 January 2003
New Zeland MFA13 May 200230 August 2002
City of London Police1 June 20021 June 2004
German MFA17 July 200217 July 2003
Sport England1 August 20021 August 2003
German MFA12 August 200212 August 2003
French MFA2 September 20021 September 2003
BBSRC (Research Council)20 December 20021 November 2005
Lord Chancellor's Dept10 February 200310 August 2003

Notes:

The FCO grading system equates as follows:

SMS = Senior Civil Service

D7 = Home Civil Service 6

D6 = Home Civil Service 7

C5 = Senior Executive Officer

C4 = Higher Executive Officer

B3 = Executive Officer

Secret Intelligence Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress the Secret Intelligence Service has made in releasing its archives into the public domain since 1 May 1997; and how many files from its archives have been transferred to the Public Record Office since 1 May 1997. [107400]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) on 12 February 1998, Official Report, column 324. The policy set out in the first part of that answer has not changed. Since 1 May 1997, the Secret Intelligence Service has transferred to the Public Record Office five batches of files which it inherited from the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), in PRO classes HS5 to HS9, comprising some 4,954 pieces.

Special Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the salary bill was for special advisers in his Department in 2002–03; and what it is expected to be in 2003–04. [108504]

The pay package for special advisers is:

  • (a) 2002–03: two, at a cost of £165,289, including salary and pension contributions.
  • (b) 2003–04: pay for special advisers is still under review.
  • Sudan

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the UN's decision not to re-appoint Mr. Gerhart Baum as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan. [108755]

    We are actively working for agreement to continue the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan during the current session of the Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. The UN will decide the appointment only after the mandate has been agreed.We take a close interest and play an active role in the promotion of human rights in Sudan. This includes our strong support for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Khartoum, to which the UK is the main contributor of funding. As a member of the EU, the UK has co-sponsored with EU partners successive resolutions at the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly and we did so again at the Commission for Human Rights on 16 April.

    Western Sahara

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Government of Morocco's recent statements on the proposals of Mr. James Baker on Western Sahara. [108753]

    We understand that at this point, responses to the proposals of James Baker have been kept private. However, I welcome the views of King Mohammed VI of Morocco in his message (read by Driss Jettou, the Moroccan Prime Minister) of 14 March, to the 5th CEN-SAD summit (the Community of Sahel and Sahara states). This renewed the Kingdom of Morocco's readiness for dialogue and negotiation with a view to finding a political solution' to this dispute.The United Kingdom supports fully the efforts of the UN Secretary General (UNSG) and his Personal Envoy, James Baker to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara dispute that provides for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights abuses in Western Sahara. [108754]

    FCO officials and I call regularly upon the parties to the Western Sahara dispute to take action on human rights issues. In February this year, I called for the immediate release of the remaining 1,160 Moroccan prisoners of war held by the Polisario Front, some held for over 25 years and some are in poor physical and mental health. In April this year officials took action to bring to the attention of the Moroccan authorities concerns over the trial, sentencing and prison conditions of Ali Salem Tamek, a Saharawi activist. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, taking action with the appropriate authorities where necessary.

    World Health Organisation

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he plans to have with fellow European Union Ministers on the request by the Government of Taiwan ROC to be granted observer status in the World Health Organisation; and if he will make a statement. [107949]

    I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 26 March 2003, Official Report, column 260W.FCO officials are in contact with their EU counterparts about the common policy towards Taiwan's relationship with the WHO.

    Zimbabwe

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Government of Zimbabwe regarding the detention of members of the Movement for Democratic Change; and if he will make a statement; [109168](2) what information he has collated on the number of Members of Parliament and other members of the Movement for Democratic Change currently detained by the police or other government security forces in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [109167]

    Since the nationwide stayaway on 18 and 19 March, over 600 opposition supporters have been arrested. Many have been beaten and tortured. Recent arrests include those of Gibson Sibanda, Parliamentary Leader of the MDC; Paul Themba Nyathi, the party's spokesman; Fidelis Mhashu, the Shadow Education Minister; Giles Mutsekwa, Shadow Defence Minister and numerous MDC MPs. The trial of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai; Secretary General Welshman Ncube; and Agriculture Spokesman Renton Gasela also continues.The EU has condemned the violence and sponsored a resolution on Zimbabwe at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has collated on state-sponsored torture in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [109169]

    We receive many credible reports from trustworthy sources, including Amnesty International, the Zimbabwean NGO Human Rights Forum, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Physicians for Human Rights, testifying to the Government of Zimbabwe's use of torture. Evidence suggests that torture is often used with the tacit or explicit approval of the ruling party and agents of the state, including the police force, army and intelligence services.We have condemned ZANU (PF) for its use of torture and have called on the Government of Zimbabwe to ratify the UN Convention on Torture.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Cuba regarding the recent arrest of pro-democracy and human rights activists; and if he will make a statement. [109165]

    The Under-Secretary of State my hon. Friend the Member for The Harlow (Mr. Rammell) summoned the Cuban Ambassador to register concern following the recent arrests of dissidents in Cuba. EU partners issued a Statement calling for immediate release of all the prisoners. We urge the Cuban Government to respect international human rights.

    Transport

    Accountancy Services

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total cost to his Department was for accountancy services in 2002–03. [109498]

    The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

    Airport Noise

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been provided by Central Government funds to (a) all UK airports and (b) each UK airport for noise abatement measures in each of the last 10 years. [110412]

    Nil. Each airport is responsible for funding its own noise abatement measures, including noise insulation schemes. This applies irrespective of whether the noise abatement measures are specified by the Secretary of State (i.e. at airports designated under section 80 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982) or determined locally.

    Concessionary Travel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of pensioners use concessionary travel in Shrewsbury and Atcham; and if he will make a statement on the availability of concessionary travel for pensioners in Shrewsbury and Atcham. [109685]

    The percentage of pensioners in Shrewsbury and Atcham who claimed concessionary travel in the financial year 2002–03 was 73 per cent.From 1 June 2001 the Government have ensured that all pensioners have been entitled to a free bus pass allowing half-fare travel on local buses, as a minimum. Local authorities may also run more generous schemes if they wish. On 1 April 2003 local authority travel concessions were extended to men aged between 60 and 65.Shrewsbury and Atcham Council's Concessionary Travel Scheme offers pensioners and disabled people a choice of:

  • (a) Borough Half Fare Bus Card (statutory minimum), which entitles the recipient to half fare travel on local bus services in Shrewsbury and Atcham; or
  • (b) Half Fare Countywide Bus Card for which the recipient pays £16 and is entitled to half fare travel on local bus services in Shropshire and to certain towns just outside the county; or
  • (c) Unlimited Travel Bus Card for which the recipient pays £120 and is entitled to free travel on local bus services in Shrewsbury and Atcham and half fare travel in the rest of Shropshire; or
  • (d) Travel Tokens to the value of £25; or
  • (e) Senior Railcard for which the recipient pays £5 and is entitled to one-third off most rail fares nationwide. This option was only introduced from 1 April 2003.
  • With all of the Bus Cards listed above there are no time restrictions placed on the use of the card.

    Crabbe Yard, Wadborough

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures his Department is taking to ensure that all heavy goods vehicles depositing rubble and other materials at Crabbe Yard, Wadborough, Worcestershire (a) comply with necessary regulations and (b) are properly licensed for the activity. [109855]

    The goods vehicle operator licensing system is administered by statutorily independent Traffic Commissioners. Users of heavy goods vehicles carrying goods for hire or reward or in connection with their own trade or business normally require a licence for each traffic area in which they are based. A licence authorises the vehicles and each operating centre. It is an offence to use an unauthorised vehicle or operating centre.

    Mobile Phone Use

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to announce his response to the consultation on the use of mobile phones while driving. [110201]

    The comments we received in response to consultation last year on a proposal to make it a specific offence to use a hand-held phone while driving are still being considered. An announcement about the results will be made as soon as possible.

    New Street Station

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on improving the capacity at New Street rail station in Birmingham. [109671]

    The Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) West Midlands Capacity Study recommended various enhancements that could proceed in two phases, including capacity improvements at Birmingham New Street station. Phase 1 of the study includes a proposal for the provision of two additional platforms at the station. Feasibility work on Phase 1 has already commenced. The terms of reference for Phase 2 are still being finalised. The SRA, working with local interests, expect to complete this work by the end of this year.

    Partnership Uk

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what projects have been funded by Partnership UK since it was set up. [110205]

    Partnerships UK has not funded or invested in any Department for Transport projects.

    Railways

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set out his objectives for the new Greater Anglia rail franchise; and what steps he plans to take to achieve a fully integrated rail service in East Anglia; and east and north-east London. [109892]

    The Strategic Rail Authority's goals for the new franchise are to provide a reliable, high-quality service, consistent with the overall needs of London and eastern England. The new franchise will provide an integrated service into London Liverpool Street by combining the services currently provided by Anglia Railways and First Great Eastern, and the West Anglian services of West Anglia Great Northern railways. A separate management focus for local East Anglia services will also be provided.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will be replying substantively to the letter of 25 November 2002 from the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling with regard to the Government's response to the report on personal safety on the railways produced by Soroptimist International of East England. [110200]

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the Railways (Safety Care) (Amendment) Regulations. [109957]

    The Secretary of State has not received any representations about the Railways (Safety Case) (Amendment) Regulations 2003.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 8 April 2003, Official Report, column 154W, when he met Central Railway; which representatives of Central Railway were present; what subjects were discussed; and what the conclusions of the meeting were. [110064]

    Ministers have met Central Railway on a number of occasions to discuss the progress, and key aspects of their proposals. We are continuing to consider these.

    Regions White Paper

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress the Department has made towards the goal set out in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", of (a) ensuring that regional awareness and devolution feature strongly in Civil Service training and development, (b) increasing the mobility of civil servants between headquarters offices, regional offices, and the Government Offices and (c) encouraging interchange between the Civil Service and organisations in the regions. [108584]

    My Department is committed to improving awareness of regional issues and devolution among its staff as part of its overall strategy for training and development. Where appropriate this includes participation in training programmes offered by the Civil Service Training College (CMPS).The Department is revieving its induction package to reflect an appropriate emphasis on regional awareness and devolution. The Department's website includes a section on devolution and we brief staff on the regional aspects of the Department's work through internal publications.The mobility of staff between HQ policy and regionally based delivery directorates is a strategic priority and all moves are made in the best interest of the Department. To improve the mobility of staff, all permanent Department for Transport (DfT) central staff have access to, and are eligible to apply for, vacancies in the Department's Agencies and the Government Offices via an electronic job advertising system.Permanent staff below the Senior Civil Service in the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Employment and Skills, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department for Trade and Industry and the Home Office working in the Government Offices and permanent agency staff, are eligible to apply for advertised DfT posts. However we do not record centrally the resulting staff moves between headquarters and the regions.During 2002–03, around 20 staff undertook interchange postings with organisations in the regions from the then Department for Transport Local Government and the Regions (DTLR). Transport constitutes approximately one third of these postings, all of which are on-going. We aim to improve this. My Department's central interchange team will shortly be discussing the development of specific opportunities with our Agencies, all of whom have staff located outside London.

    Special Advisers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the salary bill was for special advisers in his Department in 2002–03; and what it is expected to be in 2003–04. [108503]

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 45W. [108495].

    Strategic Rail Authority

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the amount, the other parties and date of out of court settlements to which the Strategic Rail Authority was a party during the last 12 months. [109500]

    There have been no legal proceedings issued against the Strategic Rail Authority and there have been no out of court settlements.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information the Strategic Rail Authority has sought from Chiltern Rail to help assess the impact of the Central Railway proposals. [109836]

    The Strategic Rail Authority is in regular contact with Chiltern, as with all franchise holders, regarding all aspects of its business.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what outside consultants are assisting the Strategic Rail Authority in its studies of the impact of the Central Railway proposals on existing rail services. [109839]

    The Strategic Rail Authority has been assisted in its studies by Mouchel and Oscar Faber.

    Vehicles (Carbon Dioxide Emissions)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the vehicles available to buy new in the United Kingdom with carbon dioxide emissions of 100 grammes/kilometre or less, which will qualify for the new low carbon vehicle excise duty band. [110239]

    The Government announced in Budget 2003 the introduction of a new low carbon VED band for cars with carbon dioxide emissions of 100 grammes/kilometre or less. This measure is designed to improve further the signals faced by motorists about their choice of vehicle.There are currently no cars on sale in the UK that fall into this new band. However, cars which fall into the band have been on sale in the UK before, and are currently on sale in other European countries. The Government expect more cars to fall into it in the near future. The new band demonstrates that the Government are taking a long-term approach to encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles. The Government set themselves a target in its Powering Future Vehicles strategy last year that by 2012, 10 per cent. of new cars sold should have carbon dioxide emissions of 100 grammes/kilometre or less. This is a positive step in that direction.

    Working Time Directive

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with representatives of the haulage industry concerning the implementation of the Working Time Directive. [110021]

    Since the road transport directive (2002/15/EC) was adopted on 23 March 2002, DfT Ministers have held two meetings with representatives from both sides of the haulage industry, including the Road Haulage Association, the Freight Transport Association and the Transport and General Workers Union. In addition, on-going discussions are taking place at official level to consider the technical and financial implications of the new directive.

    Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

    Advertising Campaigns

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's total spending was on advertising and promotional campaigns between April 2002 and March 2003; and what the cost of each campaign was, broken down by costs relating to (a) television, (b) radio and (c) print media. [106435]

    The Department does not maintain records of its expenditure on advertising separately. Our expenditure for publicity, which includes advertising. publications, events, shows and direct information literature mailings in financial year 2002–03 is estimated to be £6.0 million. This includes communication on a very wide range of matters, much of it necessary or beneficial to the public and to the wide range of industries in which Defra has an interest, together with local government, voluntary organisations and other bodies.

    Agricultural Subsidies

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the occasions since 1997 when the Department (a) has attempted to reclaim and (b) successfully reclaimed overpayments relating to (i) the environmentally sensitive areas scheme and (ii) other agricultural-related schemes, giving in each case the name of the person or company involved and the amount reclaimed, expressed as a proportion of the original payment made by the Department or its agencies. [108946]

    Details of individual recovery cases are not kept in the format requested. To gather the information would require a significant diversion of resources. There are currently some 28,000 agreement, holders in these schemes, each with a 10 year agreement starting some time between 1993 and 2002.

    Horse Passports

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the evidential basis was for the statement in her Department's news release of 27 March, that any option other than passports for all horses would have resulted in under implementation of the EU legislation. [109317]

    The requirement is set out in Articles 3 and 4 of Commission Decision 2000/68/EC, which must be read in conjunction with Commission Decision 93/623/EC.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans other EU countries have to implement European Commission Decision 2000/68/EC; and if she will make a statement. [109318]

    We are seeking up-to-date information from other member states on how they are implementing Commission Decision 2000;68;EC. I will write to the hon. Member when the full picture is available.

    Pigs

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received about the Pigs (Records, Identification and Movement) (Interim Measures) (England) (No. 2) Amendment Order. [109435]

    We are currently reviewing the representations we have received about the Government's proposals to review the pig identification and tracing requirements. Officials also met with pig industry representatives on 7 April to discuss the proposals further.

    Regions White Paper

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made by the Department towards the aim in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of encouraging applicants to public bodies from all parts of England; and what change there has been in the geographical diversity of appointees to NDPBs and other public bodies sponsored by the Department since the publication of the White Paper. [108564]

    Defra seeks to reach as wide a range of applicants for its public bodies as possible. This includes advertising its public appointments vacancies in the national press and in trade or technical publications, if appropriate. Advertisements for regional bodies are also placed in the regional press. In addition the Department puts all public appointment vacancies on the Defra website at www.defra.qov.uk/corporate/appointments and on the Cabinet Office's new vacancies website at www.publicappts-vacs.gov.ukIn 2002, Defra staff took part in the 8 regional seminars organised by the Cabinet Office's Women and Equality Unit (now part of DTI). These events were aimed at encouraging more women from the regions, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds and disabled women, to participate in public appointments. Defra's stand exhibited the range of its public bodies and the variety and number of its public appointment vacancies which would arise in the next year.

    All appointments to Defra's public bodies are made on merit. 138 appointments were made between 14 May 2002 and 31 March 2003. Those appointed live in the following Government Office regions:

    Government office region

    Number of appointments

    Percentage

    North West5

    13.6

    North East21.4
    Yorkshire and the Humber96.5
    East Midlands75.1
    East of England2518.1
    West Midlands75.1
    South East4834.8
    South West118
    London85.8
    Scotland118
    Wales32.2
    Others221.4

    1 Percentage of all appointees

    2 Outside UK

    International Development

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what analysis she has made of the lessons that can be learned from the reconstruction of Afghanistan for Iraq. [110020]

    DFID has built on lessons learned in each of the complex emergencies with which we have grappled since 1997. The need for communication and information sharing is one of the most important lessons.DFID has contributed £150,000 to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Cyprus. The Government's response has been coordinated through a Cabinet Office committee. DFID is providing regular updates on humanitarian and reconstruction issues.Departmental and international co-operation has been enhanced by secondments of staff and advisors; DFID have seconded four advisors to UN agencies, two advisors to UK forces and an advisor to ORHA. Further secondments will take place over the coming weeks.We have focused our initial humanitarian efforts on the restoration of essential basic services such as power and water supplies and have made the creation of a permissive security environment a priority. This will allow humanitarian agencies to enter Iraq and facilitate further reconstruction activities.As in Afghanistan, we are committed to handing over power to the people of Iraq as soon as possible through a broad-based and representative Iraqi Interim Authority (IIA) selected by a process overseen by the UN.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the war in Iraq upon the economies of (a) Eritrea, (b) Sudan and (c) Ethiopia. [109672]

    The economic effects of the war in Iraq on world markets are unclear, but the economic impacts in the Horn of Africa look unlikely to be significant. If oil prices fall this can be expected to have some negative effect on Sudan, and some positive effects in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what resources have been made available to the International Committee for the Red Cross for its role in Iraq. [109700]

    My Department has allocated £32 million to the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement for their work in Iraq, £16.5 million of which is for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans her Department has to establish offices in Iraq; what financial resources they will be allocated; and in what cities they will be situated. [109701]

    DFID's humanitarian assistance to Iraq is managed from London. This is supported by DFID staff deployed in the region, two humanitarian advisers seconded to the UK military in Southern Iraq, staff visits from the UK, and close links with the UN system. Subject to the security situation, we expect staff visits to increase. However it is too soon to say when a longer-term presence will be established in Iraq.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department has had with the health ministries in surrounding states regarding the possibility of transferring acutely ill civilian casualties from Iraq to their hospitals. [109702]

    DFID has not had any discussions on this issue with health ministries in surrounding states.It is preferable for medical assistance to the people of Iraq to be delivered in Iraq where there are large numbers of doctors with suitable facilities. Our priority is to support the work of the ICRC and others to get Iraqi health systems up and running.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many employees her Department has in Iraq. [109703]

    At present my Department has two staff embedded with UK forces, and one staff member with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA). We are reviewing our presence in the region on an on-going basis.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the humanitarian situation in (a) Najaf, (b) Karbala and (c) Nasariyah; and if she will make a statement. [109705]

    The International Committee for the Red Cross, UN agencies and NGOs, are now undertaking regular humanitarian assessments in Iraq. The results of these are summarised in our Iraq updates available from DFID's website at www.dfid.gov.uk.

    Humanitarian assessments by almost all agencies operating in Iraq are being logged by the UN Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) and are available from www.agoodplacetostart.org

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions her Department has had with the Ministry of Defence regarding the humanitarian corridors providing aid into Iraq; [109708](2) what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the humanitarian aid corridors established in Iraq. [109709]

    Aid agencies wish to operate in Iraq within a 'humanitarian space' made secure by the controlling forces rather than being escorted by military forces through 'humanitarian corridors'.DFID has had extensive discussions on the need for security with the Ministry of Defence. The military are already aware of the urgency of this issue. The situation is improving steadily. There are now an average of 20 humanitarian missions per day into Iraq, 40 per cent. by UN agencies. Most are into the south. In the north international UN staff are expected to return very shortly.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether her Department has contributed to the appeal of $5 million for the next six months to support UNFPA in their work with pregnant women in Iraq. [109949]

    DFID has not contributed to the UNFPA appeal. Our contribution of £65 million to the UN Flash appeal is focused on funding immediate humanitarian needs.DFID is a strong supporter of UNFPA. In the last financial year (2002–03) we increased our annual core support to £18 million.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her policy is on whether humanitarian aid should be delivered by (a) the UN and (b) coalition military forces in Iraq. [110040]

    The coalition military are responsible for the provision of humanitarian assistance in the areas they occupy as set down in the Geneva Convention and Hague regulations governing armed conflict. The Treasury has allocated £30 million to the Ministry of Defence for this purpose. DFID is advising the Ministry of Defence on its humanitarian work.DFID is supporting the provision of humanitarian assistance in Iraq on the basis of greatest need. DFID has committed £115 million for this: £65 million to the UN Flash Appeal; £32 million to the International Red Cross/Red Crescent movements; £8 million to the World Food Programme (WFP); £5 million to NGOs; £2 million to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF); £1.75 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); £1 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO); £150,000 to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); £100,000 to the Office of the UN Security Coordinator (UNSECOORD). DFID has set aside £95 million to support emerging humanitarian needs.

    The UK is committed to humanitarian assistance being provided by civilian agencies wherever possible. The UK armed forces fully appreciate the need to hand over to humanitarian agencies as soon as the situation allows.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement about measures she is taking to support (a) hospitals in Iraq and (b) the provision of medical supplies. [110199]

    Since the start of the current crisis DFID has supported the following agencies to provide assistance to the Iraqi health sector.

    International Red Cross/Red Crescent movement £32 million
    UNICEF £9 million (£2 million for contingency planning and preparedness measures, £7 million as part of the UN Flash appeal)
    WHO £6 million (£1 million for contingency planning and preparedness measures, £5 million as part of the UN Flash appeal)
    NGOs including Merlin, International Medical Corps, Save the Children UK and GOAL.
    Coalition forces are working to protect hospitals and restore order in the areas they control as part of their responsibilities under the Geneva Convention and Hague Regulations obligations.

    Accountancy Services

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total cost to her Department was for accountancy services in 2002–03. [109488]

    In 2002–03 DFID spent £540,000 on accountancy services for the development programme and £84,000 on support to our Accounts Department. These figures do not take into account lower value contracts, details of which are not held centrally.

    Age Discrimination

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109457]

    My Department has been committed to eliminating, and has a published Equal Opportunities Policy forbidding, discrimination on grounds of age for many years. Negative assumptions about age are being tackled as part of the Department's Diversity Action Plan and age will be included as an area for study in our continuing equal pay audit work. The implications of the EU Framework Directive on Equal Treatment will be kept under active review. Those implications are likely to centre mainly on the question of mandatory retirement ages. Within the last year DFID has implemented the recommendations of "Winning the Generation Game" and now allows staff below the Senior Civil Service to serve on to age 65.

    Bilateral Aid

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list bilateral aid to the health and population sector, broken down by (a) project, (b) programme, (c) technical, (d) grants, (e) humanitarian aid and (f) CDC investments, in 2002–03. [109945]

    The following estimated amounts were spent by my Department during 2002–03 on bilateral aid to the health and population sector. This information is broken down by the nearest equivalents that we have to the types of aid specified. These figures are provisional. Final figures will be published in this years edition of Statistics On International Development.

    Provisional 2002–03 expenditure£000
    Project or sector aid62,777
    Programme aid3,500
    Technical cooperation178,108
    Grants and other aid in kind44,911
    Humanitarian assistance4,148
    Total DFID programme293,444
    CDC investments17,877
    Total gross public expenditure311,321
    An explanation is available in Statistics On International Development 1997–98 to 2001–02, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library. The figures in the table represent expenditure on projects specific to the sector but do not capture the full extent of our efforts in the area because they exclude multisector projects and programmes, strategic funding to civil society organisations and budget support and balance of payments. Also excluded are activities funded through multilateral channels.

    Departmental Grants

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding her Department gave to (a) UNFPA, (b) WHO, (c) UNICEF, (d) UNAIDS, (e) IPPF, (f) MSI, (g) Population Concern and (h) IFH in 2002–03. [109944]

    The following estimated amounts were given by my Department during 2002–03 to the organisations specified. Note that figures for amounts given to NGOs are not yet available for 2002–03. Figures for previous years can be found in back issues of Statistics On International Development, which is available in the House of Commons Library. The figures below are currently provisional. Final figures will be published in this years edition of Statistics on International Development in October 2003.

    Provisional 2002–03 expenditure£000
    UN Aids3,052
    UN Childrens Fund-UNICEF17,366
    UN Population Fund9,000
    World Health Organisation46,008
    International Planned Parenthood Federation4,500

    Eritrea

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department has had with the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Development regarding the humanitarian situation in Eritrea. [109704]

    We have regular discussions with the Commission. DFID officials visited Eritrea at the end of January and met representatives of the Commission, and discussed the humanitarian situation.Since August 2002 the EC has committed £16.3 million for humanitarian work in Eritrea. A consignment of 24,000 metric tonnes of wheat for free distribution is being delivered to the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC). In addition the Commission's Humanitarian Office (ECHO) are expected to contribute a further £1 million. DFID funds about 19 per cent of EC programmes.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment her Department has made of the humanitarian situation in Eritrea. [109706]

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Glasgow, Anniesland, on 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 656W.

    Poverty Reduction Strategy

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the impact of her Department's adoption of SWAPs and the PRSP approach on the support made available by NGOs. [109947]

    We have not undertaken an assessment of the impact of the adoption of SWAPS and PRSP approaches on support made available by NGOs. DFID provides Civil Society Organisation (CSO) funding through several means and for different purposes. The total given through UK CSOs has remained around £190 million for the past three years. More details are in the table which shows the amounts given over the past three financial years.

    1999–20002000–012001–02
    Total195184191
    Of which
    Country Programme755054
    Humanitarian assistance347369
    Country Programme funds are those given to CSOs to undertake development activities on behalf of DFID channelled through individual bilateral and multilateral programmes. The full set of figures, recipients and an explanation of terms is shown in Statistics on International Development Table 14. Figures for 2002–03 will be published in this year's edition in October.

    Research And Development