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Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he received from the Colombian Government to his representations about the situation in Barrancabermeja and Magdalena Medio. [27163]

Mr. MacShane: During my visit to Barrancabermeja in October last year, I learned that Government security forces had greatly enhanced their presence, including, for a brief period, putting members of the special forces on the streets to restore order. They have also enhanced their intelligence-gathering capability in the town. These measures resulted in the capture of an alleged senior paramilitary commander, Fremio Sanchez Carreno. The security forces have captured other prominent paramilitaries in recent months.

I remain concerned about the violence still being perpetrated by the illegal armed groups in Magdalena Medio and elsewhere. We shall continue to raise our concern about human rights, and urge the Colombian Government to take additional appropriate measures to protect vulnerable groups, in particular trade unionists and human rights defenders.


Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Cambodian Government about the expulsion of Senator Chhang Song, Senator Phay Siphan and Senator Pou Savath, from the Cambodian Senate. [26879]

Mr. Bradshaw: We understand that the decision to expel the senators from the Cambodian Senate resulted from an internal dispute in the Cambodian People's Party. It was therefore not appropriate to make representations to the Cambodian Government. However, our ambassador in Phnom Penh regularly raises with the Cambodian authorities the need for reform of the Cambodian legislature and legal system.

St. Helena

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to make an announcement concerning the granting of British Citizenship to residents of St. Helena; and if he will make a statement. [26768]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The British Overseas Territories Bill granting British citizenship to the residents of St. Helena and the other Overseas Territories is currently going through the parliamentary process. Following Royal Assent a Commencement Order will be made by the Secretary of State when he is satisfied that practical arrangements for implementation of the Bill are in place.

Justice and Home Affairs Council

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 10 December 2001, Official Report, column 855W, on agendas for meeting of the EU Council of Ministers, for how many (a) council meetings and (b) Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings in the last three months the provisional agenda was received by his Department 14 days or more before the beginning of the meeting; for how many of those meetings in each case there were subsequent changes to the agenda involving (i) items for discussion and (ii) A points; and how long before each of the last two Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings a final, definitive list of A points was received by his Department. [27150]

Peter Hain: The Council's rules of procedure require provisional agendas to be drawn up by the Presidency and sent to other members of the Council and the Commission at least 14 days before the beginning of each meeting of the Council of Ministers. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for the General Affairs Council; we do not keep records of the number of days before each meeting that agendas have been received or amended; nor of how many Council's agendas have subsequently been changed.

There were Justice and Home Affairs Councils on 16 October, 16 November and 6–7 December, and a joint JHA/ECOFIN Council on 16 October. For three of these four Councils the B part of the agenda was issued 14 days or more before the Council, the exception being the JHA Council on 16 October. In each case where part B of the agenda was issued more than 14 days before a JHA Council or the JHA/ECOFIN Council, it was subsequently amended. For the three Councils concerned, the final agenda was available four days before the Council in one case and the day before the Council in the other two. On two occasions, the agenda was amended four times.

In no case was an A point list issued 14 days in advance of a JHA Council. There were no A points at the JHA and JHA/ECOFIN Councils on 16 October. For the 16 November JHA Council, the first A point list was received the day before the Council and for the 6–7 December JHA Council the first A point list was received on 4 December.

For the last two JHA Councils, the final definitive list of A points was issued by the Presidency the day before the Council in question.

Surjit Kaur Athwal

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 9 January 2001, Official Report, column 504W what actions he has taken during 2001, and plans to take

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during 2002, in response to the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal, a British citizen, in India in December 1998. [27185]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to offer Surjit Athwal's family any assistance they may require in the search for Surjit. We have expressed our concerns about Mrs. Athwal's disappearance to the Indian authorities on numerous occasions at a high level. It is for the Indian authorities to investigate Mrs. Athwal's disappearance. We will continue to press the authorities to pursue their search.

Pacific Islands

Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department's Ministers last officially visited Pacific Islands; and which ones. [27154R]

Mr. MacShane: My predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle), visited the Pacific twice in 2000. He visited Papua New Guinea in June, and attended the annual Post-Forum Dialogue Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Kiribati in October that year. While at the forum he had meetings with the Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand and Tonga, the President of Kiribati, the Foreign Ministers of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and with the Heads of the European Commission and French delegations. I plan to visit Pacific Islands later this year.

Golden Jubilee

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Government facilities will be made available in the course of visits by Her Majesty the Queen during her Golden Jubilee year to Commonwealth countries and overseas territories. [26860R]

Mr. Straw: During her Golden Jubilee year, Her Majesty the Queen plans to visit Jamaica from 18–20 February, New Zealand from 22–27 February, Australia from 27 February to 3 March, and Canada from 4–15 October. She will also attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum from 2–3 March.

The facilities made available to, and the associated costs of, these Realm visits are primarily the responsibility of the countries concerned. The UK Government will provide some logistical and financial support in London and the countries visited.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support he has given to the celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee in Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement. [26899R]

Mr. Straw: The Governor, in consultation with the Government of Gibraltar, is looking at a number of ways in which Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee might

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suitably be marked in Gibraltar. These include a Birthday Parade and Trooping of the Colour, a gun salute and a tree planting ceremony.

Nuclear Security

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 6 December 2001, Official Report, column 468W, what assessment he has made of the analysis of the risks posed to Sellafield from terrorist intervention as set out by the authors of the European Parliament's scientific and technological options assessment programme study to which he refers. [23215]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

None. In my reply of 10 December 2001, Official Report, column 666W, I made it clear that the chairman of the STOA panel took note of the Wise-Paris study and decided to publish it as a first contribution to the scientific debate on the possible toxic effects from the nuclear processing plants in Sellafield and Cap de la Hague. The study did not look into possible risks that may be posed from terrorists. Stringent security and safety precautions are taken at all UK civil nuclear sites and are kept under regular review.


Debt Cancellation

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether she will list the developing country debts which have been cancelled since May 1997, broken down by country and by year of cancellation; and if she will make a statement. [26691]

Clare Short: Since 1978, the UK has cancelled its aid loans to all the poorest countries worth some £1.2 billion. Table 1 lists, by country and year, all scheduled aid payments that have been waived since April 1997. Payments are written off as they become due. The position of the loan with Belize is under annual review. They have failed to qualify for debt relief under the Commonwealth Debt Initiative and are being asked to recommence payments. The Antigua and Barbuda loans were waived for a specified period only to help with the resettlement of Montserrat citizens following the volcanic eruptions.

The remaining debts are owed to the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD). For some developing countries, payments are being written off through the Paris Club for Official Bilateral Creditors. For countries qualifying for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, much of their Paris Club debt is written off. In December 1999, the UK Government announced that we would provide 100 per cent. debt relief on all ECGD debt for qualifying HIPC countries to free up more resources for poverty reduction. Table 2 sets out, by country and year, all developing countries debts to ECGD that have been written off since May 1997.

Table 1: Development debts cancelled since 1 April 1997 (by financial year)

1997–98 1998–99 1999–2000 2000–01
Ivory Coast216,99955,490216,86152,224215,70545,030215,70539,872
Sierra Leone73,20016,558
Antigua and Barbuda535,710357,140357,140
St. Kitts and Nevis287,900
St. Lucia333,400333,400333,400
Solomon Islands2,544,120277,800277,800
Sri Lanka259,915167,00076,200
Western Somao9,4006,591

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Table 2: Developing country debts to ECGD written off since 1 May 1997
£ million

Amounts written off
Central African Republic0.0000.1560.0440.0280.013
Cote D'Ivoire1.1422.8171.1660.0000.000
Guinea Republic0.0000.0000.0000.1150.519

(1) From 1 May 1997


This table includes 100 per cent. debt relief for those countries which have reached completion point under the HIPC Debt initiative.

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