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Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 15 December 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. R. ul Haque Malik; 
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Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 16 December 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. Ammar Marfani; 
Mr. Mullin: I replied to my hon. Friend's letter of 8 January on 29 January, explaining the delay, advising that the matters he raised were the responsibility of the Home Office and that I had forwarded his letter to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State with responsibility for Citizenship, Immigration and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office (Beverly Hughes) with a request that it be replied to urgently.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have asked the state from which they obtained intelligence on Iraq's alleged attempt to procure uranium from Africa if they may share that intelligence with (a) the United States Administration and (b) other governments. 
Mr. Straw: The Government asked the originators of the intelligence that Iraq sought the supply of uranium from Africa to discuss the issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Government understand this was done shortly before the IAEA report of 7 March 2003. I am withholding further details of intelligence exchanges with allies under Exemption 1(c) of Part 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made with proposals for North Korean students to come to the United Kingdom for cultural and language education to increase links at a sub-governmental level. 
Mr. Rammell: The Government have no objection to students from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) studying language and culture courses in the UK. Through our policy of engagement with DPRK, we encourage the country to increase its citizens' exposure to the outside world. Our on-going programme of educational activity with DPRK includes Foreign and Commonwealth Office-funded (FCO), UK-based English language courses for DPRK officials, and an FCO-sponsored/British Council-managed English language course for teachers and students in universities in Pyongyang. We also provide educational materials to schools and universities in DPRK.
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Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to secure greater access for western non-governmental organisations into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 
Mr. Rammell: We regularly urge the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) authorities to allow freer and wider access to and within DPRK for western non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We also supported the resolution adopted by the 2003 UN Commission on Human Rights, which calls for free and unimpeded access for NGOs to all parts of DPRK.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requests the Government have made to the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on access for international inspectors to their prison system. 
Mr. Rammell: We have raised the issue of prison camps in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) with the DPRK authorities on a number of occasions, through our embassy in Pyongyang and the DPRK embassy in London. We encourage the DPRK Government to allow access to independent international inspectors to verify the reports of human rights violations in their prison system. Requests have been made for access by western diplomats to prisons, but these have yet to be granted.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to provide protection for economic and political refugees who leave the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and are hiding in China. 
Mr. Rammell: We regularly raise the issue of North Korean refugees with the Chinese, including at the biannual UK/China Human Rights Dialogue. At the last round of the Dialogue, on 1011 November 2003, we urged China to allow the UNHCR access to the border areas and to observe its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to assist aid workers in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to obtain timely and unimpeded access to distribute food aid to those people most in need. 
Mr. Rammell: Most food aid in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP), a UN agency. We work closely with WFP and the resident aid community, and embassy staff travel frequently with WFP on their monitoring missions. We deplore restrictions placed on WFP by the DPRK authorities which limit their monitoring of food aid in many areas of DPRK, and we regularly urge the DPRK authorities to grant WFP full, unrestricted access to all parts of the country. Although the situation is not satisfactory, we welcome WFP reports of improvements in monitoring, access and food distribution systems.
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Mr. Mullin: All entry clearance applications are considered against the relevant requirements of the United Kingdom's Immigration Rules which state that applicants must satisfy an Entry Clearance Officer, on the balance of probabilities, that they meet the requirements of these Rules in the category that they apply. The Rules are applied equally throughout the world, regardless of the nationality of an applicant or the country in which the application is made.
Mr. Timms: The Government value the work of the Broadband Stakeholder Group and the significant contribution it has made to the successful development of broadband in the UK. The DTI is reviewing with
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) personal and (b) company bankruptcies there were in each of the last three years for which there are records; what assessment she has made of recent trends; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The following table shows total personal and company insolvencies in England and Wales for 2000 to 2002 and the first three quarters of 2003. Figures for 2003 as a whole will be available on 6 February.
The latest quarterly figures (Q3 2003) shows decreases in company insolvencies and increases in individual insolvencies, when compared to both the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2002. The latest annual figures continue increasing trends in levels of insolvency since 1997 for both companies and individuals. However the annual rate of company insolvencies for the last 12 months remains at the Q2 level of 1.0 per cent., the lowest level since Q1 1989 and just over a third of the level reached following the recession in the early 1990s.
|Company insolvencies||Individual insolvencies|
|Years||Total||Compulsory liquidations||Creditors' voluntary liquidations||Total||Bankruptcy orders||Individual voluntary arrangements(10)|
(10) Including Deeds of Arrangement.
(11) Revised, reflecting an amendment to the raw data/update of seasonally adjusted figures.
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