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10 Dec 2003 : Column 514W—continued

North Korea

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role the UK Government is playing in the six-party talks about the future of North Korea. [142204]

Mr. Rammell: The Government has no direct involvement in the six party talks process. We follow developments closely as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, as a Depositary State of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and as a member of the European Union. We are also in direct and regular contact with all the parties involved in the six party talks process, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Sri Lanka on the subject of religious tolerance for Christians. [142257]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 12 November 2003, Official Report, columns 361–62W. Officials from the British High Commission in Colombo regularly raise this and other human rights issues with the authorities—most recently with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Christian Affairs. However, I have not had discussions with the Government of Sri Lanka specifically on the subject of religious tolerance for Christians in Sri Lanka.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the peace talks in the Sudan, with specific reference to the situation in Darfur. [142308]

Mr. Mullin: We are optimistic about the prospects for peace between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement. Much progress has been made since the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sponsored talks re-started in June 2002. Agreement has been reached on the key issues of self-determination for the south and the application of Sharia law. A Memorandum of Understanding on a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the peace talks was signed in October 2002, and a monitoring mechanism established. Most

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recently, on 25 September 2003, a framework agreement on security arrangements during the interim period was reached.

The talks, adjourned for Ramadan, re-started in Naivasha on 1 December. Various issues still need to be resolved, notably power and wealth sharing arrangements and the three conflict areas (of Southern Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains and Abyei). But we are hopeful that the parties will reach agreement this year or early next. We continue to offer the parties and mediators our full support and advice and remain actively involved in helping them reach a comprehensive peace agreement.

We remain concerned about the situation in Darfur. I discussed the matter with the Sudanese Ambassador on 2 December. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access to Darfur. This would allow a fuller assessment of the situation and enable relief agencies to provide support to the most vulnerable. And we are urging all parties to engage constructively in the Abeche peace talks. All sides should know from bitter experience that a military solution is not in prospect, and that peace and reconciliation offer the only real chance of a brighter future.


Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many United Kingdom nationals were killed in terrorist attacks between (a) 1 June 2002 and 28 February 2003 and (b) 1 March 2003 and 26 November; and if he will make statement. [140774]

Mr. MacShane: In the period from 1 June 2002 to 28 February 2003, 29 British nationals were victims of terrorism perpetrated by international terrorists: 28 British nationals in Bali and one British national in Riyadh. Between 1 March 2003 to 26 November 2003, 2 British nationals were killed in a bomb attack in Riyadh and 3 British nationals were killed in the bombing of the British Consulate General in Istanbul. These figures do not include British personnel killed in Iraq. We believe that international terrorists have been involved in some terrorist attacks in Iraq.

Overseas Posts (Security)

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to improve security at British high commissions and embassies following the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey. [142670]

Mr. Rammell: We keep the security of all our posts under constant review. Immediately after the attack in Istanbul, all Diplomatic Missions were instructed to review their security urgently and, where appropriate, implement security enhancements. In addition, those Missions with a high level of threat sought additional protection from the host government.

We are now carrying out a detailed assessment of the security of all Missions to identify what more might be done to enhance their security, against terrorist attack in particular

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Western Sahara

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to discuss the revised Baker Plan for the western Sahara with the US Secretary of State following his return from his visit to Morocco. [142258]

Mr. Rammell: None. However, we remain in regular contact with members of the United Nations Security Council at all levels on the western Sahara issue.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Government policy is on the dispute between the Moroccan Government and the non-governmental group Polisario. [142277]

Mr. Rammell: The United Kingdom supports fully the efforts of the United Nations Security General and his personal envoy, James Baker III, to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the western Sahara dispute that provides for self-determination for the people of western Sahara.


Road Traffic Management

Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to require the extension of public consultation procedures when road traffic management procedures are proposed by local authorities. [142981]

Mr. McNulty: Where traffic management schemes require traffic regulation orders under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 the Local Authorities' Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/2489) apply to the making of such orders. Regulation 6 sets out who an order making authority should consult in particular cases. Otherwise it is a matter for authorities as democratically elected bodies to decide whom to consult in taking schemes forward. We have no current plans to amend the 1996 procedure regulations.

Bicycle Rickshaws

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the safety rules governing the use of bicycle rickshaws used on public roads; how many bicycle rickshaws are in use in London; what licensing and insurance rules exist to enable bicycle rickshaws to carry passengers; and what safeguards exist for the general public who hail bicycle rickshaws. [142899]

Mr. Darling: Bicycle rickshaws or pedicabs must comply with the Highway Code, road traffic laws, construction and use and road vehicle lighting regulations. We believe these are sufficient as principal measures for safeguarding public safety. Licensing of pedicabs to carry passengers is the responsibility of Transport for London, who we understand are looking at the issue. The numbers of pedicabs used in London is unknown.

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Bingley Relief Road

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when the Bingley Relief Road is due to be (a) completed and (b) opened; [140926]

Mr. Jamieson: The A650 Bingley Relief Road will open to traffic at the earliest opportunity after construction is completed and the necessary safety checks have been undertaken. I expect that the scheme should be ready to open to traffic late December/early January. Arrangements are being made for a Minister to officially dedicate the road early in the new year.

Congestion Charging

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which areas (a) have and (b) intend to have a congestion charging system. [142928]

Mr. McNulty: London and Durham have road user charging schemes. Nottingham City Council is developing a work place parking levy scheme and Derbyshire County Council is looking at the options for a road user charging scheme at the Ladybower reservoir in the Peak District National Park. Although a number of other authorities have expressed interest, none has firmly committed to the development of a scheme.


Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of repairs and maintenance to (a) steel barrier systems and (b) concrete barrier systems on the M25 for the last five years for which figures are available. [142760]

Dr. Howells: On the basis of information since September 2001 the figures available for the cost of repairs to the steel barriers on the M25 are:

Cost of repairs

September 2001—August 2002 2,248
September 2002—August 20033,302
September 2003—To date479,000

There is an annual budget of £94,000 for maintenance of steel barriers. Most repairs to the barriers are due to accident damage and where possible, costs are recovered from the drivers that are responsible for an accident.

The concrete barriers on the M25 are designed to be maintenance free after their initial construction. There have been no major repairs required in this period due to accidents.

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