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Taiwan

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives from Taiwan; and what was discussed. [53635]

Mr. MacShane: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no official meetings with representatives of Taiwan.

Kashmir

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has

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held relating to the conflict in Kashmir; and if he will make a statement on UN resolutions in respect of Kashmir. [53792]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discussed Kashmir with his Pakistani counterpart Abdul Sattar on 19 April, and his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh on 16 April. EU Foreign Ministers also discussed Kashmir on 13 April. It is possible for both India and Pakistan to claim the support of various international and bilateral agreements. The crucial point is that the issue can be resolved only by bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan.

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many First Secretaries (Immigration) he has met since 7 June. [54503]

Mr. Bradshaw: We currently have three full time First Secretaries (Immigration): they are located in Lagos, New Delhi and Islamabad. Since taking up office on 7 June 2001 my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has met the First Secretaries (Immigration in Islamabad and New Delhi and I have met the First Secretary (Immigration) in New Delhi. Both my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I make a point of trying to meet a wide cross-section of staff working in our overseas posts. As Minister responsible for entry clearance I try to visit Visa Sections wherever possible and meet UK based and locally engaged staff working in them.

Middle East

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take on the Middle East crisis with his European partners. [54880]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is in constant contact with his European counterparts about the crisis in the Middle East. He agreed with our EU partners that the High Representative Javier Solana would represent the EU at the Ministerial meeting of the Quartet, (the UN, the US, the EU and Russia) on 2 May. The Quartet agreed that a comprehensive approach, including security, political and economic agendas, is needed to solve the current situation, including the rebuilding of the Palestinian security sector to achieve an end to the violence, humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians affected by the conflict; and support for the institutional and economic reconstruction of the Palestinian Authority. The Quartet agreed to work together in order to convene an international conference on the Middle East in the summer. The EU is committed to the implementation of the agenda agreed by the Quartet. The Foreign Secretary will consider the Middle East with his EU counterparts at the meeting of the General Affairs Council on 13 May.

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to ensure that Israel complies with its obligations under the 4 Geneva Convention. [54879]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The UK and EU partners reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, at the reconvened conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in Geneva on 5 December 2001. In the Conference Declaration we called upon all parties to respect, and to ensure respect for, the Geneva Conventions in all circumstances.

Israel, like all states, has the right to defend itself against terrorism, which the UK Government condemns absolutely. However, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear, Israel must respect international law, including international humanitarian law. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have raised our concerns with the Israeli Prime Minister and the Israeli Foreign Minister about extra judicial killings, the closures, the denial of access for humanitarian and medical agencies to those in need, and allegations of misconduct by IDF troops. It is in Israel's own interest to respond positively and comply with its obligations.

Iran

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with Russia concerning the proliferation of nuclear technology from that country to Iran; and if he will make a statement. [54813]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to be concerned by reports that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. We take every appropriate opportunity with the Russian Government to raise the issue of the transfer of nuclear technology and expertise to Iran.

Belorussian Government

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Belorussian Government about the meeting between President Lukashenko and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Iraq Hikmat al-Azawi in Minsk on 19 March 2001; what reports he has received about the (a) aim and (b) outcome of the meeting; and if he will make a statement. [55155]

Mr. Bradshaw: We have not received any reports about the aims or outcome of the 19 March 2001 meeting between Belarusian President Lukashenko and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hikmat al-Azawi. We have made clear to the Belarusian Government that we expect it to observe all international sanctions in place against Iraq.

Gibraltar

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Spanish proposal in the Brussels process that Gibraltar could have autonomous city status. [55064]

Peter Hain: Discussions under the Brussels Process are aimed at overcoming all the differences between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar, including on issues of sovereignty. Discussions have not included proposals that Gibraltar could have autonomous city status.

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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the aim of resolving the status of Gibraltar before the summer. [55859]

Peter Hain: Talks under the Brussels Process are continuing. I met my Spanish counter part in London on 9 May. We had a friendly and constructive meeting, though substantial difficulties remain. We remain committed to reaching an agreement if possible. The Foreign Secretary will meet the Spanish Foreign Minister next week to discuss Gibraltar among other issues.

TREASURY

Pensioners (Income Tax)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pensioners living in England and Wales are paying income tax on their incomes. [53878]

Dawn Primarolo: It is estimated that 4.5 million, out of 10.8 million, pensioners in the UK paid income tax on their incomes in 2001–02.

Pensioners are defined as women aged 60 and over and men aged 65 and over. The figures are based upon the Survey of Personal Incomes and are consistent with the 2002 Budget.

House Sales (Revenue)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue was received from house sales in the United Kingdom; and what proportion was received from rural areas in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. [55303]

Ruth Kelly: Information on stamp duty receipts attributable to residential property transactions for the years 1991–92 to 1994–95 is given in table 15.3 of Inland Revenue Statistics 1997, and equivalent figures for 1995–96 to 2000–01 are available on the Inland Revenue website at http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/ stats/stamp duty/sd t02 1.htm.

Corresponding information specifically for rural areas is not available.

Tax Credits

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimates are of take-up of tax credits underlying his figures for the effects of personal tax and benefit reforms on page 90 of the Red Book. [53530]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to paragraph 3.2 of "The Child and Working Tax Credits. Modernisation of Britain's Tax and Benefit System" (April 2002), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

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ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Chernobyl

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what land acreage is covered by restrictions imposed in 1986 following the Chernobyl accident. [54169]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The following tables show the acreage of the restricted area, and numbers of sheep under restrictions arising from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The figures are presented for England, Wales and Scotland. The last restrictions in place in Northern Ireland were removed in April 2000.

Restrictions in 1986

EnglandWalesScotlandTotal
Acreage469,7371,013,1101,853,2503,336,097
Sheep867,0002,000,0001,358,0004,225,000

Restrictions as of January 2002

EnglandWalesScotlandTotal
Acreage29,899130,96344,478205,340
Sheep11,500180,00038,000229,500


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