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Peace Brigades International

Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he is making to the Colombian Government concerning the safety of British volunteers with Peace Brigades International in Colombia. [150633]

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Colombian Government following the recent declaration of the Colombian Parliament that humanitarian workers for Peace Brigades International are to be targeted as a military objective. [150702]

Mr. Battle: We were appalled to learn about the threats made against Peace Brigades International volunteers in Colombia. As I made clear in a statement on 13 February, we are very concerned about the safety of all human rights workers in Colombia, who operate in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions. We have asked that the Colombian Government take further steps to protect human rights workers so that they may go about their lives and work in safety. In addition, the EU presidency, on behalf of all EU member states, has expressed concern about the threats made against Peace Brigades International and other human rights workers, and has urged that appropriate measures be taken by the Colombian authorities to protect them.


Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has consulted, and what plans he has to consult, sporting shooting organisations in the United Kingdom before the UN Conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in July. [150695]

Mr. Wilson: In line with our commitment to the success of the UN Conference, we are working in partnership with Governments, NGOs and representatives of civil society, and also with business. We already have regular contacts with the Defence Manufacturers' Association. We have also had contact with the British Shooting Sports Council, which has highlighted issues as marking and tracing of weapons, the potentially important role of Interpol and end-user certification. We plan to continue our dialogue with industry in the run-up to the UN Conference and beyond.

HMG are actively engaged in preparations for the July 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. We attach great importance to a successful outcome. The Conference will be a milestone in international attempts to combat the proliferation of small arms. It is an ideal opportunity for nations and regional groups to unite, under the UN, in giving political impetus to their efforts. Our objective is to agree global political commitment and the adoption of norms, measures and timely follow-up action aimed at reducing the levels of illicit trade in--and establishing

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accumulations of--small arms. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary plans to attend and address the Conference.

The UK hosted a policy brainstorming seminar for around 30 countries at Lancaster House, London, on 13-14 February. The seminar considered possible UN Conference outcomes and the political and financial commitments these will require. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave an opening address. He highlighted the need to better regulate the legal small arms trade, to work to combat the illicit trade and to reduce the volume of small arms in illegal circulation throughout the world.

Al-Kosheh Trial

Mr. Benton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Egyptian authorities concerning the recent verdict in the El-Kosheh trial. [151019]

Mr. Wilson: None. Following the violence in Al-Kosheh, we encouraged the Egyptian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and to take appropriate action against anyone found to have committed a crime. The Egyptian Government quickly set up an investigation into the incident sending some 50 prosecutors to the area. They co-ordinated their efforts with leaders of both religious communities. The subsequent trial was conducted in a normal criminal court where due legal process was followed. It is important that we now concentrate on the promotion of inter-faith dialogue and an increase in tolerance.


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Indonesia about the allegations of attacks made on Christians in that country; and if he will make a statement. [151499]

Mr. Battle: We are deeply concerned by reports of attempts to force Christians to covert to Islam in Maluku and our Embassy has raised this with senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta.

Both the Secretary of State for International Development and I visited Indonesia in October 2000 and discussed the situation in Maluku with President Wahid and senior Ministers. We urged tolerance and restraint and made clear to them the Indonesian Government's responsibility to maintain law and order and to take immediate steps to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice. I also discussed events with Alwi Shihab, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, in the margins of the EU-ASEAN meeting in Vientianne on 12 December.

Ministerial Visits

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many overseas ministerial visits have been undertaken by the Foreign Secretary since 1992; and which countries were visited. [146871]

Mr. Robin Cook [holding answer 23 January 2001]: I have placed in the Libraries of the House a list detailing my visits overseas from 2 May 1997 to 31 January 2001 and overseas visits undertaken by the then Foreign Secretaries from 1 January 1992 to 1 May 1997.

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Prison Officers (Vacancies)

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vacancies for prison officers were filled in each institution in the north-west of England between July 2000 and the latest date for which information is available. [151235]

Mr. Boateng: The following prison officer vacancies were filled in the north-west of England between July 2000 and February 2001:

Prison establishmentNumber of vacancies filled
Lancaster Castle1
Lancaster Farms3

Departmental Policies (Bristol, East)

Jean Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Bristol, East constituency, the effects on Bristol of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [150559]

Mr. Straw: The Home Office is working to build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public are maintained. Detailed information on the impact of Home Office policies across the full range of responsibilities is set out in Home Office annual reports. A copy of the most recent report, Home Office Annual Report 1999-2000, is available in the Library. Information on recorded crime and policing is also published. 'Recorded Crime England and Wales, 12 months to September 2000' and 'Police Service Strength England and Wales, 30 September 2000' can be found in the House of Commons Library. The Recorded Crime Statistics includes information on recorded crime by Basic Command Unit and Crime and Disorder Partnership.

The impact of Home Office policies and actions is not normally examined by constituency and the statistics which the Department collects, such as recorded crime, cannot be matched in the way requested although set out are examples relating to the Bristol, East constituency or the immediate locality:

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More generally, all of the policies of the Home Office will impact on the residents of Bristol East to a greater or lesser extent. For example:

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