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Sustainable Development

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on what remit relating to sustainable development is (a) required and (b) undertaken by his Department's (i) executive agencies, (ii) advisory non-departmental bodies, (iii) executive non-departmental bodies, (iv) tribunals, (v) public corporations and (vi) other bodies. [116641]

Mr. Rammell: None of the bodies referred to in the question has a specific remit for sustainable development. However, the FCO expects these organisations to reflect the strategic objectives of the Department.

These include a long-standing commitment to promoting international sustainable development based on the outcome of the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992 and more recently the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. Promoting sustainable development is one of the top seven strategic policy priorities for the FCO over the next ten years.

The FCO has two Public Service Agreements that relate to sustainable development (Business Plan 2003–06):

Public Service Agreement 7:

Make globalisation work for sustainable development in the UK and internationally (especially in Africa) by promoting democracy and the rule of law, good economic and environmental governance, and security of long-term energy supply, measured by specific underlying targets.

Public Service Agreement 11:

Improvement in the governance, environment and security of the Overseas Territories, and more diversified economic development, as measured by implementation of the commitments in the 1999 White Paper "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity—Britain and the Overseas Territories"

Uganda (Child Soldiers)

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions

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have been held with the Government of Uganda concerning child soldiers participating in past and current internal disputes; and if he will make a statement. [117690]

Mr. Rammell: We support the Government of Uganda in its determination to bring an end to the suffering caused by the rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, who are known to kidnap and use children as soldiers. In recent discussions we have encouraged the government to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.

We have also discussed with the Ugandan Government the recent reports of underage soldiers being recruited by government defence units in the north. The Government of Uganda have assured us that they are cooperating with UNICEF to identify and demobilise the recruits. Our High Commission is monitoring the situation.

West Papua

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what investigation the UK representative to the UN supported into the conduct and operation of the 1969 Act of Free Choice in West Papua; and if he will make a statement; [117697]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: There has been no UN or UK investigation into the conduct and operation of the 1969 Act of Free Choice beyond the observation of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative. In November 1969 the UN General Assembly discussed the Report of the Special Representative who oversaw the implementation of the Act of Free Choice. A Resolution was adopted to take note of the Report and the fulfilment of the responsibilities of the Secretary General under the 1962 Dutch/Indonesian Agreement. The Resolution, sponsored by Belgium, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Thailand, and Indonesia was supported by the United Kingdom. 84 member states voted in favour, none against and 30 abstained.

All identifiable papers on the incorporation of Papua (West Irian) into Indonesia have been released with the exception of extracts from a 1969 Research Department memorandum which contain marginal references to security and intelligence material; the substance of the memorandum has been released.


Partnership Agreements

Angela Eagle: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department whether she plans to conclude a partnership agreement with the trade unions representing the staff in her Department. [117451]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There are no plans at present to conclude a partnership agreement with the trade unions representing staff within my Department. We continue

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to work closely with the unions, having a constructive dialogue with them particularly on our modernisation programmes (such as the Courts and Tribunals Modernisation and the Unified Courts Administration Programmes) underpinned by our joint consultation agreement.


Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on progress towards meeting the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights on the legal position of transsexuals. [117119]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government's policy on transsexual people remains unchanged from that set out in my Statement of 16 December 2002, Official Report, column 36WS. We are committed to legislating as soon as possible to give transsexual people their Convention rights. Our aim is to publish a draft Bill later this Session with legislation following when Parliamentary time allows.


Asylum Seekers

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Afghans with (a) exceptional leave to remain in Britain and (b) awaiting a decision on an asylum application on appeal have received a resettlement grant in each month since August 2002. [108049]

Beverley Hughes: [Pursuant to my reply, 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 62W], I regret to say that as a result of an administrative error, the figures within the table and the text were incorrect.

The table details the number of individuals who travelled under the Return to Afghanistan Programme (RAP) each month between 20 August 2002 (when the Programme commenced) and 31 March 2003. In total there were 39 returnees and each received a resettlement grant (£600 per individual, up to a maximum of £2,500 per family).

Number of persons returned individuallyNumber of persons returned as part of a familyTotal number of persons returned
August 2002101
September 2002203
October 200221(6)8
November 200231(7)10
December 2002000
January 2003404
February 2003101
March 200371(5)12


Local management information provided by the Home Office Assisted Voluntary Return Team.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to revise the status of refused asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who are no longer being deported; and if he will make a statement. [116410]

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Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced a suspension on enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe on 15 January 2002. We have, however, continued to process asylum claims.

Those who are refused asylum may be granted some other form of leave if they have a protection need or there are other particularly compelling reasons to do so. In such cases a person would have been granted exceptional leave before 1 April 2003, or humanitarian protection or discretionary leave since then.

Where a person has not been granted asylum, exceptional leave or humanitarian protection or discretionary leave, it follows that we do not consider that they have demonstrated a protection need or a compelling reason why they should be allowed to remain here. As a result, while we are not enforcing the removal of such individuals to Zimbabwe at present, they have no right to remain in the United Kingdom and are expected to return voluntarily.

I consider that it is right that leave should not be granted to those who do not qualify for it under our international obligations or under the immigration rules or Government policy. Such individuals have no basis of stay in the United Kingdom and it would be inappropriate to grant a formal period of leave simply because removal was not currently being enforced.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his Answer of 1 May 2003, Official Report, column 523W, if he will make a statement on the systems that are in place to track and monitor failed asylum seekers. [116680]

Beverley Hughes: The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) maintains databases containing address details for failed asylum seekers, which are also recorded in the individual's Home Office file. All applicants, and their representatives, are told of their obligation to notify the Home Office of any subsequent change of address.

A large proportion of failed asylum seekers are required to report periodically to the United Kingdom Immigration Service (UKIS) and verification of the place of residence occurs during the reporting event. UKIS make regular checks, by letter and personal visits, to ensure that all individuals still reside at the recorded address.

There are eight designated reporting centres to assist in managing reporting regimes and, in addition, a person may be required to report to a police station near their address.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department to which countries failed asylum seekers are not being removed; and for what reasons. [117376]

Beverley Hughes: We do not currently enforce returns to: Burundi, where the general security situation is poor; to Iraq, previously due to the nature of the Saddam regime and subsequently due to the recent conflict; to Somalia, due to conditions arising from fighting between rival militia; or Zimbabwe, where we introduced a temporary suspension of enforced removals in January 2002 due to the political situation.

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We continue to monitor conditions in these countries carefully and enforced returns will be resumed as soon as circumstances allow. We do not accept that any of these countries are wholly unsafe, or that failed asylum seekers would be at risk of persecution if they returned. However, those unsuccessful asylum applicants who have exhausted their appeal rights, and do not return voluntarily, will not be forcibly removed at the present time.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to inform hon. Members of changes in the list of countries to which failed asylum seekers are not being removed. [117377]

Beverley Hughes: We do not currently enforce returns to Burundi, Iraq, Somalia, or Zimbabwe. We continue to monitor conditions in these countries and other asylum producing countries carefully.

There is no list of countries which is periodically published. Specific decisions are taken in response to changes in individual countries and announced in the most appropriate way at that time.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up surgeries for hon. Members to discuss asylum cases. [117906]

Beverley Hughes: I do not have any plans to set up any surgeries to discuss asylum cases.

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