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September 11

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his latest estimate is of the number of British subjects killed in the terrorist attacks on 11 September. [14199]

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Mr. Bradshaw: To date, four British nationals have been positively identified as among the dead. A further 74 people are identified as missing. This number includes 56 British nationals, four dual nationals and 14 foreign nationals with close links to the United Kingdom.

Zimbabwe

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Zimbabwean Government's plans for foreign and independent monitoring of the upcoming presidential elections; and what plans he has to help ensure free and fair elections in that country. [14395]

Mr. Bradshaw: We are following the Zimbabwean Government's plans for monitoring and observation of the forthcoming presidential elections closely. We have made clear repeatedly to the Government of Zimbabwe our view that the presence of international election observers is a key element in creating a climate conducive to free and fair elections. We support the initiative of President Obasanjo of Nigeria to seek agreement from President Mugabe to allow access for international election observers. We shall work with our partners in the EU, the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the US to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to admit international observers.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what attempts he is making to ensure that foreign observers will be present to monitor the lead up to the elections in Zimbabwe. [14522]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to admit international election observers in the lead up to, and during the forthcoming Presidential elections. Most recently my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this matter with the Zimbabwean Minister of Foreign affairs, Mr. Mudenge, in New York on 10 November. We shall also work with our EU partners to press for early access for international observers in the pre-election period, in particular during forthcoming consultations with the Government of Zimbabwe under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what efforts he is making to ensure that foreign observers are present to monitor the registration of voters in Zimbabwe. [14523]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to admit international observers and to create a climate conducive to free and fair elections. Most recently my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this when he met Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, on 10 November in New York. We shall, with our EU partners, also focus on the electoral process during forthcoming consultations with the Government of Zimbabwe, under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to ensure that the registration of voters in Zimbabwe is free and fair. [14524]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to create a climate conducive to a free and fair election including the registration of voters. We are also working with our EU colleagues to encourage a free

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and fair electoral process and will continue to do so in the context of consultations with the Government of Zimbabwe under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Zimbabwe Government concerning the forthcoming presidential elections; and if he will make a statement. [14739]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to admit international election observers and to create a climate conducive to free and fair elections. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this when he met the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge, on 10 November in New York.

British Council Offices

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the new offices of the British Council opened in each of the last three years. [14736]

Mr. MacShane: The British Council has opened the following offices in the last three years.
April 1998 to March 1999:
Curitiba (Brazil)
Mandalay (Burma)
Havana (Cuba)
Auckland (New Zealand)
Gilgit (Pakistan)
Sochi (Russia)
Yaroslavl (Russia)
Sharjah (UAE)
April 1999 to March 2000:
Ramallah (East Jerusalem)
Brasov (Romania)
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Russia)
Pristina (Yugoslavia)
April 2000 to March 2001:
Chongging (China)
Chandigarh (India)
Tehran (Iran)
Tripoli (Libya)
Multan (Russia)
Irkutsk (Russia)
Samara (Russia).

Jedda

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Saudi authorities concerning the arrest and continuing incarceration of Christians in Jedda. [15194]

Mr. Bradshaw: We are aware of the cases of a number of Christians of various nationalities (none British) arrested in Jedda. Saudi law prohibits the practise of any religion other than Islam. The British Consulate-General in Jedda has discussed these cases with EU partners and other diplomatic representatives. All those detained have received visits from their own diplomatic representatives. We raise our concerns about human rights with the Saudi authorities on a regular basis.

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China

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if UK approval for China's application to join the World Trade Organisation was contingent on an improvement in human rights within (a) China and (b) Tibet. [15195]

Peter Hain: As the WTO accession process is primarily dependent on fulfilling trade-related and economic objectives, this was the basis of the approval of China's application for WTO membership. The UK will encourage China to implement its WTO obligations in ways which respect international human rights standards. We believe that closer integration of China into the international community will make an important contribution to improving the human rights situation in China over the longer term.

Refugees (Zakynthos)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Greece regarding the condition of the Afghan, Iraqi Kurds and Pakistani refugees who recently disembarked on the island of Zakynthos. [14738]

Peter Hain: The Government have made no representations to the Government of Greece about the condition of refugees recently disembarked on the island of Zakynthos.

HM Government wholly condemn the people- traffickers who cause the kind of human suffering witnessed in this incident and are working energetically with colleagues, including EU colleagues, to crack down on this evil trade.

TREASURY

Taper Relief

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to Tax Bulletin Issue No 53, (a) in the context of taper, what the Inland Revenue defines as "security", (b) for what reasons the Inland Revenue regards not all debentures as securities and (c) what guidance has been issued to relevant inspectors of taxes when considering the question as to whether a particular instrument was a security. [9759]

Dawn Primarolo: (a) For capital gains tax taper relief, "security" takes its ordinary meaning. In addition, certain earn-out rights under section 138A of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 may be treated as securities for the purposes of the whole Act, and thus for taper relief.

For planned changes to the meaning of "security" for the purposes of taper relief, I refer the hon. Gentleman to my written answer to his question on deemed securities.

(b) Whether a debenture is a security depends on the characteristics of the individual instrument.

(c) Tax Bulletin 53 states that the Inland Revenue will accept that any debt instrument which has the characteristics of a "debt on a security", as that term has been explained in judicial decisions, is a security for taper

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purposes. Guidance on the meaning of the expression "debt on a security" is given in the Capital Gains Manual which is available to both tax offices and the public.

Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to extend section 251 (6) of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 to apply as a definition of security in the context of taper relief. [9760]

Dawn Primarolo: In order to simplify capital gains tax (CGT) and reduce uncertainty, especially in take-overs and company reconstructions, the Government will introduce legislation to provide that debentures that are deemed to be securities under section 251(6) of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 are also treated as securities for CGT taper relief.

The new provision will take effect for holding periods from 6 April 1998 and for disposals from 6 April 2001.


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