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3 Feb 2003 : Column 8W—continued


Richard Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to Israel to ensure that goods produced in Israeli settlements are not imported to the EU under the preference terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement; what assessment he has made of the level of cooperation shown by Israel in responding to these representations; and what the results of these representations have been. [94742]

Mr. MacShane: At the EU-Israel Association Council meeting on 21 October 2002, the UK joined with other Member States in stressing the importance of the correct application of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and welcomed an offer by Israel to make proposals on the issue of goods from settlements in the Occupied Territories. We continue to raise this issue in bilateral contacts with Israel.


Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations Her Majesty's Government has made to the French Government and to President Chirac regarding Robert Mugabe's possible visit to a Franco-African summit in Paris; and if he will make a statement; [94905]

Mr. Straw: We would not invite Robert Mugabe to an equivalent Summit in the UK. But the France/Africa Summit lakes place in Paris on 20–21 February, two days after the current EU sanctions on Zimbabwe are due to expire. Our priority is to ensure a rollover of those sanctions. The rollover requires the unanimous agreement of all 15 EU member Slates. This has not yet been achieved, but is the subject of intensive discussions, most recently at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 27 January and at a meeting of Permanent Representatives to the EU on 30 January.

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have taken place with members of the Commonwealth over the situation in Zimbabwe. [93382]

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Mr. Rammell: We are in regular contact with fellow members of the Commonwealth and with the Commonwealth Secretariat about the situation in Zimbabwe. The Minister for Africa, my noble Friend Baroness Amos, discussed Zimbabwe with a number of Commonwealth Ministers at the EU/Southern African Development Community meeting in Maputo from 7 to 8 November 2002, and the Africa/Europe Ministerial in Ouagadougou on 28 November 2002. Baroness Amos also raises Zimbabwe regularly in her bilateral contacts with Commonwealth Partners.

Saudi Arabia

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have received official documentation on the charges, evidence, transcript of the trial and sentence of Sandy Mitchell, Les Walker, James Lee and James Cottel detained in Saudi Arabia. [93702]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The details of individual consular cases are confidential. The British men detained in Saudi Arabia have legal representation and discuss their cases with their lawyers. We are in close contact with the men's lawyers and we keep the families informed of developments in the case. It has been the wish of the men themselves, and the majority of the families, that we do not discuss the cases in detail in public.

Sierra Leone

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's latest evaluation is of the stability of Sierra Leone; and what progress has been made since British intervention. [93615]

Mr. Rammell: We have made a significant political and military investment in restoring peace to Sierra Leone. Good progress has been made since peace was declared a year ago. Over 50,000 combatants were disarmed and almost 39,000 have undergone reintegration. Peaceful and credible elections were held in May 2002. UNAMSIL, the UN peacekeeping mission, began a gradual withdrawal in November 2002. The UK continues to play a major role in post-conflict rebuilding. We have helped to re-equip, assist and advise the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). Through the International Military and Advisory Training Team (IMATT) the UK leads the training and reform of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). In November 2002, we confirmed a 10-year programme of support to reform in Sierra Leone.

However, the situation is still fragile and much remains to be done to secure a sustainable peace. Recent events in Sierra Leone, including a raid on a military barracks in Freetown, are of concern. The RSLAF, supported by UNAMSIL and the SLP, responded well to the incident and the SLP have made a sizeable number of arrests. Regional instability, especially the continuing conflicts in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, remains a threat to peace in Sierra Leone. We are actively involved in international efforts to resolve these conflicts.

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Strategic Exports Report

Mr. Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the next Annual Report on Strategic Exports will be published. [93144]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: A precise date for publication of the 2002 Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls has not yet been determined. However, the Government expect to publish the report before the end of July 2003.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the basis was for his assertion in his statement on terrorism on 21 January 2003, Official Report, column 176, that the nerve gas found recently in the United Kingdom could not have been produced by terrorists alone. [93896]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was, of course, referring to the recent discovery of ricin in Wood Green. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wrote recently to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Glenda Jackson) to clarify that and placed a copy of his letter in the Library.

North Africa

Mr. Simmonds : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the effect on the UK of terrorism in North Africa and the measures he is taking to combat this. [94247]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have been working closely with our European partners and North African countries to take effective action against individuals who represent a threat to national security.


Business Improvement Districts

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions his Department has had with representatives of small businesses on the creation of business improvement districts. [94400]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for policy on Business Improvement Districts which was first set the in our White Paper "Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services" in December 2001. The legislation to introduce Business Improvement Districts is contained in the Local Government Bill.

We published on 21 January draft guidance on Business Improvement Districts, which is available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister website. This draft guidance is intended to give advice to those wishing to set up a Business Improvement District as well as acting as an introduction to the draft legislation. It was drafted with the close involvement of business and local government organisations. The Federation of Private Business, the Small Business Bureau and DTI's Small Business Service were closely involved in this

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process. Details of those organisations who contributed to the draft guidance are given at the front of that document.

The publication of the draft guidance provides a further opportunity for small business groups and other interested parties to comment on the development of this innovative policy at an early stage. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends to consult formally on the draft guidance in the spring.

Climate Change

Mr. Blunt : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the (a) schemes and (b) bodies to which his Department contributes funding that are concerned with climate change. [90420]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned last year an internal study of the implications of climate change on its policies and funded schemes and bodies. This study forms part of a cross-Government process to examine the consequences of climate change across a range of Government Departments. A report of the study is expected to be produced during summer 2003.


Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the claim in the recent Greater London Enterprise report, Developing new approaches to the measurement of deprivation, as to the amount of money that London has lost in Neighbourhood Renewal Funding as a result of the changes to deprivation ranking. [94524]

Mrs. Roche: Neighbourhood Renewal Funding is allocated using the Indices of Deprivation 2000 (ID 2000). In moving to a new instrument the Government recognised that some authorities that would have benefited on the old basis for allocations would not have done so under the new one. Transitional arrangements were therefore set up to make allowance for authorities that had been among the most deprived areas on the old index and are not among the most deprived areas on the ID 2000. Four London Authorities are now in receipt of transitional protection.

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