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Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the cost of answering the parliamentary questions tabled by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 19 June concerning correspondence received by his Department;
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and if he will make a statement on ways in which hon. Members may make inquiries of his Department and the cost of each method. 
Mr. Straw: Although the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) tabled over 120 parliamentary questions on correspondence we had received from various NGOs concerning the Convention on the Future of Europe, my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Peter Hain) answered all his questions with a single answer.
In a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett) on 11 April 2002, Official Report, column 582W, the then Financial Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Paul Boateng) announced that the average estimated cost of answering a written parliamentary question was £129. No equivalent exercise is done for the cost of responding to MPs' letters.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made recently of the human rights situation in Turkey, with particular reference to the use of torture. 
Peter Hain: On 1920 June, a senior official from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office led a UK delegation at the first formal UK/Turkey Human Rights Dialogue, in Ankara. The dialogue was frank and constructive. There was detailed discussion of the steps Turkey has recently taken to improve the human rights situation, and of what remains to be done, including to eradicate torture. As expressed at the recent European Council in Seville, we welcome the changes Turkey has made, but implementation remains key. The European Commission will publish a further assessment of the situation in October.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department will make to Turkish Government officials during their meetings in June about (a) the continuing use of torture by Turkish authorities and (b) the implementation of the European Court of Justice ruling on Leyle Zana and her fellow imprisoned members of Parliament. 
Peter Hain: On 1920 June, a senior official from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office led a UK delegation at the first formal UK/Turkey Human Rights Dialogue, in Ankara. There was a frank and constructive discussion on the human rights situation in Turkey, the measures recently taken to improve it and what remains to be done, including to eradicate torture. We welcomed the changes in policy concerning incommunicado detention and the fact that some cases have been brought against those suspected of torture. We also discussed the recent judgment on the case of Leyla Zana. We look to the Government of Turkey to abide by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in this case, as in others.
Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent discussions
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he has had with colleagues in the European Union concerning religious freedom in Bhutan; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what steps the UK Government are taking to encourage Bhutan to provide constitutional guarantees for religious liberty in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards; 
(4) what steps the UK Government are taking to encourage Bhutan to ratify (a) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (b) the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights and (c) the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; 
(5) what plans (a) Her Majesty's Government and (b) the European Union have to encourage the Royal Government of Bhutan to draw on the expertise of the international community, particularly with regard to (i) shared legal expertise and (ii) good practice on constitutional drafting. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have received occasional NGO reports suggesting mistreatment of Christians in Bhutan. Although we have made no recent representations, we have in the past expressed our concern to the Royal Government of Bhutan that the right to choose, declare, and practice one's religion should be respected. We understand the position of the Royal Government of Bhutan is that there is freedom of individual religious practice in Bhutan. We have had no reason to discuss the issue with our European Union colleagues.
During a visit to Thimphu in May 2001, the Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi raised with the Royal Government of Bhutan the desirability of an early Bhutanese accession to the UN Convention Against Torture. We understand that the Royal Government of Bhutan need to pass additional legislation before they can ratify this and several other human rights conventions.
The form and content of the Bhutanese constitution is a matter for the Government and people of Bhutan. The Commission established by HM the King in 2001 has been tasked with drafting a constitution that reflects international norms and democratic practices. The Commission has yet to produce its first report. HMG would be glad to respond to any request from Bhutan to share legal expertise and good practice on constitutional drafting.
Mr. Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list each official visit made by each member of the Royal Family, excluding Her Majesty the Queen, in each of the past 10 years, indicating the country, date and duration of visit. 
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Mr. Straw: The list of official visits by each member of the Royal Family in each of the past 10 years with the exception of Her Majesty The Queen, indicating the country visited, and the dates, has been deposited in the Library of the House of Commons.
From 1998 details of such visits are available in the Annual Report of the Grant-in-Aid for Royal Travel by Air and Rail, issued by The Keeper of the Privy Purse.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Indonesia since 1 January 2001 regarding the activities of Laskar Jihad; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: The British Government has consistently made clear its view that long-term solutions to regional conflicts in Indonesia can be achieved only through negotiation and consultation, and that extremists who break the law should be dealt with firmly to allow space for reconciliation efforts to take root.
Ministers and senior officials have regularly raised the issue of extremism and, specifically, Laskar Jihad with the Indonesian Authorities.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent activities the British Council has undertaken in other European countries on combating racism and intolerance. 
Mr. MacShane: The British Council has been involved in a number of initiatives, helping bring together local authorities, NGOs and others in the UK and in Italy, Sweden, France, Denmark, Germany and Belgium for exchanges on tolerance and diversity. These have included seminars and conferences covering issues such as local government practice, citizenship education, and managing cultural diversity in schools.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of work undertaken by the British Council in (a) promoting human rights, (b) leadership training, (c) strengthening civil society and (d) providing support for non- governmental sectors in Africa in preparation for the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development. 
Mr. MacShane: The British Council plays a distinctive public diplomacy role in Africa which complements the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development. The council builds people to people partnerships to support change from withinan approach consistent with the thinking behind the New Partnership for Africa's Development initiative.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of the expansion of British Council activities in Russia in the past two years. 
Mr. MacShane: The British Council opens its 14th centre in Russia this week in Rostov-on-Don. The extension of the Council's regional network in Russia in
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recent years has played an important role in helping extend UK reach and influence there. Additionally, 200300 people per day are already visiting the Council's web portal, launched in March; the portal provides access to 70,000 British sites and is targeted at the younger generation.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent work the British Council has done to meet the demand from young people in China for contact with the United Kingdom. 
Mr. MacShane: The British Council has been very active and successful in promoting educational links with China. The number of Chinese students in higher and further education, and in schools in this country in 2001 was 50,000, an increase of 30 per cent. The FCO Chevening scholarship scheme, adminstered by the British Council, brought 177 postgraduates to the UK in the academic year 200001, an increase of 29 students on the previous year. Under a DfES funded programme managed by the Council, school links increased from 20 to 80.
Together with the BBC World Service and China's Open University, the Council launched its "in2english" project which reaches 250,000 teachers and students of English in China. 58,000 candidates sat English languages tests in some 20 cities in 2001, an increase of 100 per cent. on the previous year. 30 schools in the UK now teach Chinese.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the findings are of the British Council's Connecting Futures research into attitudes towards the United Kingdom in the Arab and Muslim worlds; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. MacShane: Overall the results of the Connecting Futures research confirm a favourable attitude towards the UK among young people in the Arab and Muslim world, with 63 per cent. of those polled placing the UK high on their list of favourite nations. A high regard for British education and admiration for the consistently strong British economic performance were the two positive messages cited most often by respondents. Full details of the research findings are available via the internet at www.britishcouncil.org/connectingfutures.
The research will be valuable in informing FCO and British Council efforts to further improve and build mutually beneficial relationships between these countries and the UK.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress the British Council has made in promoting United Kingdom science abroad; and if it will increase its levels of funding for the promotion of excellence of UK science internationally. 
Mr. MacShane: The British Council's recent work in this area has included the initiation of new UK collaboration with India in digital technology, biotechnology, the environment and medical research. Partnerships with broadcasting organisations have also enabled the Council to reach significantly wider audiences in promoting UK science in Hungary, Japan and Malaysia.
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The British Council is committed to increasing its share of Foreign and Commonwealth Office grant-in-aid funding to science from £5.4 million in 200102 to £8 million in 200304. This funding will be used to project UK science as innovative and internationally competitive, and to promote understanding in science in society, raising awareness of scientific themes of importance to the UK abroad.
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