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13 Jun 2003 : Column 1149W—continued


Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya. [118322]

Mr. MacShane: HMG recognises the genuine and serious security challenges in Chechnya, demonstrated by the recent wave of suicide bombings in the republic, but has consistently stressed that counter terrorist operations must respect human rights and the rule of law. We continue to regard allegations of human rights violations with serious concern, and have called for their thorough, transparent and effective investigation, and for those responsible to be prosecuted and punished.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Government of Russia (a) regarding the rights of Chechens to take refuge in Ingushetia and (b) to ensure that war-affected civilians will not be forcibly repatriated. [118421]

Mr. MacShane: Both bilaterally and through the EU, we have repeatedly reminded the Russian Government of their obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, stressing that all movement by internally displaced persons (IDPs) must be strictly voluntary. We have also stated that the dismantling of shelters, or the suspension of food, water and energy supplies, in our view constituted a forced return. The policy of enforcing the return of IDPs from Ingushetia to Chechnya appears to have been reconsidered as a result of the representations made.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Russia regarding the delivery of efficient and sustainable humanitarian assistance to displaced Chechens in Ingushetia. [118422]

Mr. MacShane: The matter was discussed at official level during the last round of bilateral human rights talks, in which we pressed the Russian Government to provide full co-operation to humanitarian NGOs operating in the region. We have also made the same point through the EU.


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the travel requirements will be for the UK citizens living in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus who wish to enter British sovereign areas; and if he will make a statement. [118445]

Mr. MacShane: In line with the commitments made to the Republic of Cyprus in the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, British citizens, like others resident in

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Cyprus, have freedom of access and communication to and through the SBAs, provided they entered the island legally.

Any persons, including British citizens, who enter the island of Cyprus through a port of entry that is not internationally recognised, are considered illegal immigrants by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. It has been HMG policy since 1974 to act in accordance with the Republic of Cyprus' immigration policy.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the visa requirements are for those citizens of the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus who do not have a Cypriot passport after the accession of Cyprus to the EU. [118446]

Mr. MacShane: The Government deeply regret the failure to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus problem before Cyprus' signature of its EU Accession Treaty. In the continuing absence of a comprehensive settlement, this is one of the issues that will have to be resolved before Cyprus' accession, within the framework established by the Cyprus protocol to the Accession Treaty.

G8 Global Partnership

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how much of the pledged £750 million for the G8 Global Partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction has been paid out; [117914]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in July 2002 that the UK would commit up to $750 million over 10 years to the G8 Global Partnership. We began developing programmes in the late 1990s to help deal with the former Soviet Union's WMD legacy. In 2002–03, we spent approximately £15 million on this programme, and in 2003–04, we anticipate spending around £33 million.

We continue to work to translate this G8 pledge into projects to prevent the proliferation of WMD. Following complex preparatory work, and recent progress on multilateral and bilateral UK-Russia legal agreements, we can now begin implementing projects to deal with spent nuclear fuel and dismantle nuclear submarines, a commitment of around £10 million this year. Other activities include: a contribution of £70 million to a G8 programme to help Russia dispose of weapons-grade plutonium; development of a Closed Nuclear Cities Partnership to tackle problems related to WMD expertise; and projects at the main Russian chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch'ye.

I am pleased to announce we are willing in principle to significantly increase our assistance to Russia to help destroy its declared stockpile of chemical weapons. Total funding of up to $100 million could be made available, from the $750 million Global Partnership commitment.

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Our G8 partners are developing or already implementing complementary project portfolios. Norway, Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland have recently decided to join the Partnership.


Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Spain's decision to refer to the European Court the provision in the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 to extend the European Parliament elections franchise to Gibraltar; and how the United Kingdom intends to respond. [118896]

Mr. MacShane [holding answer 12 June 2003]: If Spain were to bring an action in the European Court of Justice over the enfranchisement of the Gibraltar electorate for the purposes of European parliamentary elections, we would defend any such action robustly.

Official Spelling

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy that official (a) correspondence, (b) reports and (c) documentation from his office use the English spelling of words where this differs from the US version. [118863]

Mr. Straw: Yes, except when referring to a US institution.

Travel Advice

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will next review the advice given to British citizens about travel to Kenya and other countries in east Africa and the horn of Africa; what assessment he has made of the economic impact of reduced travel to the countries concerned; and what assistance the Government are giving to those countries to address the security issues which gave rise to his travel advice. [118293]

Mr. Rammell: Our travel advice is kept under regular review. We are well aware of the impact on Kenya of our present advice, not least given the importance of tourism, particularly from UK visitors. But our travel advice must reflect our best assessment of the potential risks to British travellers. We are providing support and technical assistance to the Kenyan authorities to help improve their security arrangements and meet the terrorism threat, as part of a long-term strategy for co-operation on counter-terrorism.

Weapons Disposal (Russia)

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to assist in the safe disposal of Russia's stockpiles of (a) nuclear, (b) chemical and (c) biological weapons. [118306]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) today (UIN 117914 and 117915).

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Departmental Website

Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list the actions he (a) has taken and (b) is taking to ensure that the websites of the Cabinet Office, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies are accessible to partially sighted and blind people; and if he will make a statement. [118844]

Mr. Alexander: The Cabinet Office website ( makes every effort to be accessible for partially sighted and blind people.

It adheres to the relevant sections of the Office of the e-Envoy's Guidelines for UK Government websites. It has passed the Bobby accessibility tool and meets key guidelines set out in the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Specific measures that have been taken are:

We will address other accessibility issues, such as ensuring that all PDF documents are offered in alternative formats, during on-going improvements to our web presence.

There are a number of other websites managed by the Cabinet Office; details of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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