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Iraq

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is his policy that the reconstruction of the (a) infrastructure and (b) private homes damaged or destroyed in the invasion of Iraq should be paid for by Iraq. [111710]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have committed £115 million to the humanitarian and reconstruction effort in Iraq with a further £95 million set aside to support further needs as they arise. We are working hard through the Coalition Provisional Authority to ensure that progress is being made in restoring the civilian infrastructure, including with the Iraqi Ministries. Iraq's long-term reconstruction needs will be substantial and it is too soon to determine specific allocations for the reconstruction of private property.

Israel

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the obligatory waivers absolving the Israeli Defence Force from responsibility if it shoots foreign nationals while in the Gaza Strip. [118473]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Following pressure from the international community in May, Israel withdrew the requirement for people entering the Gaza Strip to sign waivers. However, we remain concerned about restrictions on access to Gaza that continue to hinder the international community from carrying out humanitarian work there. We expect Israel to do all it can to ease restrictions, without delay, both in Gaza and the West Bank.

North Korea

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his assessment of the extent of religious persecution in North Korea; what measures the Department has been able to initiate to indicate the concerns of Her Majesty's Government to the Government of North Korea; and what initiatives it has taken on behalf of named individuals persecuted. [118889]

Mr. Rammell: We are concerned about the reports of serious human rights violations, including religious persecution, in North Korea. But the lack of access for independent monitors makes it difficult for the international community to verify these reports. Our establishment of diplomatic relations and an Embassy in North Korea enable us to use official channels to raise human rights issues, including religious persecution, at regular intervals.

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The UK also supports EU efforts in this area. The EU has been monitoring the situation closely, and took the decision to table a resolution at this year's UN Commission on Human Rights. The resolution, which was adopted by a wide margin on 16 April, urges North Korea to co-operate with the UN human rights mechanisms. We hope that such pressure will bring about a positive change in North Korea with respect to religious tolerance and the observance of human rights.

United States

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received regarding the proposed sale of the consular residence in Pacific Avenue, San Francisco; and if he will make a statement. [118638]

Mr. Rammell: Since 1999 my colleagues and I have replied to eight letters from hon. Friends and hon. Members on this subject. Three were from my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Derek Wyatt). We have also replied to seven written Questions from him. He submitted an Early Day Motion in April and I discussed the matter personally with him on 7 May.

Some of the letters from hon. Friends and Members were prompted by representations from the British American Chamber of Commerce (Northern California Branch) who have also written to me direct and to other Ministers. The President of the British-American Business Council has also expressed his views, as has the Mayor of San Francisco.

These representations have left us in no doubt that the Pacific Heights house is much appreciated by the local British community. After reading through the relevant papers I have nevertheless concluded that the sale should go ahead. It is an important element in our programme of "asset recycling", aimed at improving value for money and modernising our estate. After meeting the cost of a new Residence, the sale will yield capital funds that the FCO can re-invest in additional facilities elsewhere. I believe that the new Residence, which is closer to the normal size guidelines, will prove operationally effective while costing far less to own and run.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received from the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka on the conditions in which the Tamil community in Sri Lanka are living; and if he will make a statement. [118144]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Most Tamils live in the north and east (the most conflict-affected areas), or in the hill country (the plantation sector). However, there are communities throughout the island and at all levels of society. Therefore the living conditions vary greatly. Since the ceasefire in February 2002 conditions have improved in the north and east, and we hope that this will continue as the peace rocess moves forward.

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State Visits

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy that the Foreign Affairs Committee should be included or represented in the programme of events for state visits to the UK; and if he will make a statement. [118895]

Mr. Straw: I welcome my hon. Friend's suggestion.

In future, we will consult heads of state making a state visit about FAC involvement, in the early stages of planning for such visits.

United Nations

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the future of the UN. [118094]

Mr. Rammell: The Government are committed to maintaining a strong and effective United Nations. We support the UN Secretary-General in his efforts to make the organisation more efficient and to focus UN activities on high priority areas such as counter-terrorism, human rights, poverty reduction and sustainable development. We are committed to reform of the Security Council to make it more representative of the modern world, including an increase in both permanent and non-permanent membership.

Western Sahara

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with the government of Morocco covering the future of the Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. [118201]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The situation in Western Sahara was discussed when my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Mohamed Benaissa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco on 20 May 2003. The Foreign Secretary reiterated that he hoped to see agreement between the parties which would resolve the dispute.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Trespass

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent changes there have been in the law of trespass to allow individuals to seek compensation where their premises are trespassed upon for the commercial advantage of another. [117642]

Yvette Cooper: There have been no recent changes to the law in this area. Trespass to land is a civil wrong, the most common form of which is committed when an unlawful visitor directly physically interferes with the owner's land without lawful justification. Once the boundary has been breached the landowner may approach the courts to seek an injunction to restrain the continuation of the trespass. The landowner may also have a legal cause of action for damages suffered because of the trespass. The recovery of damages might

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be only a small amount for the technical trespass, unless actual damage can be proved such as the cost of repairing a fence or gate broken by the trespasser.

Pay Audits

Angela Eagle: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what progress has been made on completing a pay audit in the Lord Chancellor's Department and its non-departmental public bodies to measure any disadvantage in terms of remuneration for (a) women, (b) ethnic minorities and (c) people with disabilities; and if she will publish the results of such an audit. [117433]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In common with other Government departments and agencies, and in accordance with Cabinet Office guidelines, my Department has undertaken a gender equality audit of pay and related systems. An action plan drawn up from the audit has been submitted to the Cabinet Office. Although not a Cabinet Office requirement, an audit of pay is also being undertaken in respect of ethnicity and disability. The commitment to conduct gender equality audits of pay does not extend formally to NDPBs, but the Legal Services Commission has undertaken such an audit and proposes also to undertake a pay audit of ethnicity and disability. The Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) proposes to conduct an equality audit later this year, once terms and conditions of its staff have been harmonised. I expect action plans arising from the audits to be placed in the Library of the House in due course.


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