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to the letter to him dated 6 November from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to A. K. Akhand and Nuzmol Mahmud. 
Mr. Mullin: I apologise to my right hon. Friend for an administrative error which led to his letter being mistakenly sent to UK visas for advice rather than to the Consular Directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Staff in the Consular Directorate are now making enquiries in connection with the case and that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will write to him on completion of these inquiries.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held with his counterparts in the (a) United Nations, (b) European Union and (c) United States Administration with regard to the resolution of the border conflict within Ethiopia and Eritrea. 
Mr. Mullin [holding answer 16 December 2003]: We are in regular contact with the United Nations, the European Union and the US Administration and are working closely with all three on resolving the border issue.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the action that has to be taken with regard to the resolution of the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their border. 
Mr. Mullin [holding answer 16 December 2003]: The UK and other members of the international community will continue to take every opportunity to emphasise to both parties that the Boundary Commission's decision is final and binding and that dialogue is essential for the normalisation of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. I hope to visit Ethiopia and Eritrea in January to continue to press this message.
Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the UN Border Commission in The Hague was acting within its remit in granting the border town of Badme to the Eritrean Government. 
Mr. Mullin: There has been only very limited contact between the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea since 1998. We believe that dialogue between the two is essential. We are actively encouraging this, to supplement the final and binding decisions of the Boundary Commission which was established as part of the Algiers Agreement in December 2000.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings have been (a) planned, (b) held and (c) cancelled with Mr. Azmat Begg in respect of the detention by the United States
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authorities of Mr. Moazzam Begg at Guantanamo Bay; and if he will provide the reasons for cancellation in each case. 
Mr. Mullin: No meetings arranged between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Mr. Begg have been cancelled by the FCO. A postponed meeting between my noble Friend the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean and the Muslim Parliament, with a delegation including Mr. Begg, was held on 16 December. This follows an earlier meeting with the Muslim Parliament and relatives of some of the British nationals detained at Guantanamo on 14 October, though Mr. Begg was not among those who attended.
Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to support the continuation of UN sanctions on Liberia, including timber; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin [holding answer 16 December 2003]: Measured and targeted sanctions remain on Liberia, as the security situation is a threat to the stability of the sub-region. Like other members of the UN Security Council, we believe that sanctions should remain until Liberia has put in place a diamond certification scheme, and reformed the timber sector to ensure that these natural resources cannot be used to further conflict. The arms embargo and travel ban should remain until the security situation is no longer a threat to the region.
Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if it is his policy that the reform of the forest sector in Liberia should be a precondition to the lifting of UN sanctions on timber from Liberia. 
The Liberian Government must establish authority and control over timber producing areas; oversight mechanisms enabling responsible and environmentally sustainable business practices, and transparent accounting and auditing mechanisms. This should ensure that timber industry revenues are used for legitimate social, humanitarian and development purposes for the benefit of the Liberian people.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to discuss with the Sudanese authorities acts of flogging under their penal code, with particular reference to the case of Intisar Bakri Abdulgadir. 
Mr. Mullin [holding answer 16 December 2003]: The promotion of human rights is one of the British Government's priorities in Sudan and we raise human rights issues on a regular basis, both bilaterally and as part of the EU-Sudan Dialogue. I discussed the implementation of the penal code in Sudan with the Sudanese ambassador on 2 December. More recently, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
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International Development (Hilary Benn), discussed the human rights situation in Sudan in general with the President of Sudan in Khartoum on 10 December.
Our embassy in Khartoum has already raised the case of Intisar Bakri Abdulgadir with the Government of Sudan and will be discussing it further with them. The embassy continues to monitor the human rights situation and to lobby the Government of Sudan.
Mr. Mullin: We are seriously concerned about the situation in northern Uganda and the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army. Attempts by the Government of Uganda to defeat the rebels militarily have been unsuccessful. There is a growing humanitarian crisis, with 1.3 million living in refugee camps.
The UK is working with other donors to try and resolve the situation. We are urging the Ugandan Government to pursue a negotiated settlement. At the same time we are providing help to the population in the affected region.
Mr. Mullin: I met with a number of African Commonwealth leaders at CHOGM several of whom shared our view of the need to maintain Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth. I intend to remain in close touch with African Commonwealth countries over Zimbabwe.
Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average time taken is for delivery of decisions by an adjudicator in asylum appeals; what the maximum time that may be taken is; and how many decisions have been reserved for more than three months in the past year. 
Mr. Lammy: The average time taken for delivery of asylum appeal decisions by an adjudicator, in asylum cases promulgated between 1 October 2002 and 30 September 2003, was 17 working days. There are no statutory limits for the service set on asylum appeal decisions, other than for those cases heard in accordance with the Immigration and Asylum Appeals (Fast Track Procedure) Rules 2003, where a time limit of one working day applies. Information relating to the number of decisions which have been reserved for more than three months in the past year is not available without incurring disproportionate costs.
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Mr. Heath: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the Lord Chancellor will transfer his powers in relation to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service to the Minister for Children. 
Mr. Leslie: The Privy Council considered and made the draft Transfer of Functions (Children, Young People and Families) Order 2003 at their meeting on 10 December. The Order includes the Lord Chancellor's powers in respect of CAFCASS. The Order will be implemented early in 2004.
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