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FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Argentina

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether, under the terms of the Ottawa Convention on landmines, there is an obligation on the Argentine Government to provide funding for landmine clearance in the Falkland Islands; and what obligation for landmine clearance in the Falklands rests with the (a) United Kingdom Government and (b) Argentinean Government; [195588]

(2) what progress has been made under the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Kingdom and the Argentine Government on landmine clearance in the Falkland Islands; [195589]

(3) which Minister will represent the United Kingdom at the Ottawa Convention Review in Kenya in November; [195590]
 
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(4) what funding the Government have made available for landmine clearance in the Falkland Islands since the Ottawa Convention came into force; [195591]

(5) how many landmines were lifted in the Falkland Islands during the periods (a) 1997 to 2001 and (b) 2001 to 2004; [195592]

(6) what progress has been made in clearing landmines in the Falkland Islands since the Ottawa Convention was signed in 1997. [195593]

Mr. Straw: Since 1999 and the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention no funds have been specifically dedicated to the clearing of landmines in the Falklands Islands. Given the unpredictability of the environment, landmine clearance in the Falklands is particularly hazardous. Since August 1982 the landmines have been clearly marked and have very little impact on the local community. When landmines do surface they are cleared by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams based on the islands as part of their duties. Between 1997–2001, 156 mines were discovered and destroyed in this way. Between 2001–04, 268 mines were discovered and destroyed.

Under the Ottawa Convention, the obligation to clear all the landmines by 2009 falls upon the United Kingdom. States Parties in a position to do so are obliged to provide assistance for mine clearance and related activities.

On a bilateral basis, the United Kingdom and the Argentine Government signed a Joint Statement in 1999 and under the heading of Confidence-Building it was noted that:

Subsequently, an Exchange of Notes dated 11 October 2001, detailed how the UK and Argentina should proceed on the landmine issue. It included a provision for the establishment of a Joint Working Group, the first meeting of which took place in Buenos Aires on 3–4 December 2001. The second meeting was in London, on 26–27 October 2004.

At the 2004 meeting a list of action points was agreed, including the need for the preparation of a draft work programme and draft budget for a Feasibility Study, both of which are to be considered at the next Joint Working Group, due to be held in Buenos Aires during the second quarter of 2005.

The composition of the UK delegation to the Ottawa Convention Review Conference has not been decided. It is likely that it will be at senior official level.

Bermuda

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the EU savings directive will be implemented in Bermuda. [195480]

Mr. Rammell: At the European Council of Santa Maria de Feira in June 2000 it was agreed that before the savings directive could be adopted and implemented,
 
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reassurances were required from relevant dependent and associated territories (including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and the Caribbean Overseas Territories) for the adoption of the same measures, and from key third countries (Switzerland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino) for the adoption of equivalent measures.

In June 2004 the member states agreed that the directive would take effect from 1 July 2005, on the basis that assurances had been given by all of the relevant third countries and dependent and associated territories that they would be in a position to apply measures equivalent to (in the case of third countries), or the same as (in the case of territories), those provided for by the directive from 1 July 2005.
 
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Bilateral agreements between the relevant dependent or associated territories and the member states have been prepared so as to apply to each of them the measures under the directive from 1 July 2005.

Bermuda is not included in the list of relevant dependent or associated territories agreed at the Feira European Council.

British Overseas Territories

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list for each British overseas territory the population and the number of elected representatives at the highest local level of responsible government. [195429]

Mr. Rammell: The details are as follows:
PopulationElected representatives
Anguilla(30)12,2007
Bermuda(31)62,05936
British Virgin Islands(30)21,33313
Cayman Islands(30)43,10318
Falkland Islands(32)2,9138
Gibraltar(32)28,23115
Montserrat(32)4,4919
Pitcairn(33)476
St. Helena and Dependencies
St. Helena3,954(34)12
Ascension Island1,002(35)7
Tristan da Cunha287(33)8
Sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus6,967 Cypriots and approximately
7,800 military and UK-based civilian personnel
and their dependants(32)
None
Turks and Caicos Islands(32)20,02013
British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory and South Georgia and South Sandwich IslandsThese territories have no settled population.


(30) 2003 estimate
(31) 2000 census
(32) 2001 census
(33) 2003 count
(34) 2004 estimate
(35) 2004 count


China

Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in connection with arrests of Christians in Kaifeng City and Sujiazhuang on 6 August and what representations he has made to the Chinese Government about expanding religious freedom. [195545]

Mr. Rammell: We are aware of the arrests of Christians in Kaifeng City and Sujiazhuang and are monitoring events closely.

I raised human rights concerns with Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui during my visit to China in October this year.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials raised concerns about religious freedom, including the mass arrests at Kaifeng City and the arrest of 23 members of the Baoding diocese, with Wang Zuo'an, Deputy Director General of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, during his visit to the UK in September.

We also raised religious freedom at the May round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue and made clear that the prohibition of some religious/spiritual groups and the legal restrictions on others are not acceptable.

Departmental Press Officers

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many press officers are employed in his Department; and how many were employed in each year since 1996–97. [195358]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 1 November 2004]: There are currently 17 Press Officers working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Press Office. For previous years, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Rammell) to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 25 March 2004, Official Report, column 1040W.

Iraq

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingency plans his Department has in place in the event of the elections in
 
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Iraq not taking place in January 2005; what later date has been considered as a possible election date; and if he will make a statement on the forthcoming elections. [195153]

Mr. Straw: We fully support the Iraqi Interim Government's commitment to hold elections in January 2005. All the indications are that a large majority of Iraqis are eager to vote in a free election for the first time in their history. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) supported by the UN are still working to the January timetable for elections. We are doing all we can to support the IECI and the UN to ensure that elections take place on time, as provided for in UNSCR 1556.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his reply of 26 October 2004, Official Report, column 1177W, if he will break down the development of Iraq's national economy, referred to in paragraph 3, page 3 of the ISG, Regime Finance and Procurement, by (a) industry, (b) banking and (c) services; what the value was of each category; and who the financial partners were of such activities. [195194]

Mr. Rammell: The report from the Iraq Survey Group points to the former Iraqi regime implementing strategies, policies and methods to try to terminate sanctions and generate illicit revenue, including under the Oil for Food Programme. We are unable to assess the value of illicit funds generated by each of the banking, industrial and service sectors. However, under the terms of Security Council resolution 1483 (22 May 2003), more than $1 billion of former Iraqi regime assets have so far been frozen internationally and transferred to the Development Fund for Iraq, for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

There have been widespread allegations that a number of individuals and entities around the world were complicit in corruption under the programme, for their own benefit and the benefit of the former regime. However, it would be premature to comment on the allegations and the financial outcome of any possible corruption until the independent inquiry appointed by the UN Secretary-General has reported its findings.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his reply of 26 October 2004, Official Report, column 1177W, if he will list those import items, prohibited under UN sanctions, referred to in paragraph 2, page 3 of the ISG Regime Finance and Procurement, by (a) type, (b) quantity and (c) value; and if he will list those trade intermediaries involved in these activities. [195195]

Mr. Rammell: Under the terms of United Nations Security Council resolutions implementing sanctions and the Oil for Food Programme, Iraq was only permitted to import items approved by the UN Security Council's Iraq Sanctions Committee. The report from the Iraq Survey Group points to the former Iraqi regime
 
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implementing strategies to procure illicit goods. We are unable to assess precisely the type, quantity and value of those goods.

There have been widespread allegations that a number of individuals and entities around the world were complicit in corruption under the programme and through smuggling, for their own benefit and the benefit of the former regime. However, it would be premature to comment on the allegations until the independent inquiry appointed by the UN Secretary-General has reported its findings.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) pursuant to his answer of 26 October 2004, Official Report, column 1177W, whether he was informed in July 2000 of claims by the Iraqi Ba'athist paper, Al Thawrah, of victory over UN sanctions; and when he urged the UN to take steps to restore sanctions; [195196]

(2) whether he was informed in August 2001 of the statement by Iraqi Foreign Minister Sabri that UN sanctions efforts had collapsed; and when he urged the UN to take steps to restore sanctions. [195199]

Mr. Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of a number of claims that sanctions were failing. The United Kingdom continually worked hard at the United Nations Security Council to limit Iraq's efforts to erode sanctions, and ensure the effective implementation of the Oil for Food Programme. As the Iraq Survey Group reported, sanctions were successful in curbing Iraq's ability to import weapons and technology. Sanctions were maintained against Iraq from 1990 until the adoption of resolution 1483 on 22 May 2003, when economic sanctions were lifted and the arms embargo was left in place.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps will be taken to protect polling stations in Iraq from suicide bombers. [195216]

Mr. Rammell: The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior is responsible for election security in Iraq. The Iraqi Police Service will provide appropriate security to polling stations, supported if necessary by the Iraqi National Guard. The Multinational Force will continue to support the Iraqi Interim Government in providing area security in order to assist the political process as mandated by UNSCR 1546.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the (a) elections and (b) political parties in Iraq will be organised to meet the constitutional requirement for 25 per cent. of seats to be held by women. [187618]

Mr. Rammell: The UK strongly supports the constitutional requirement for 25 per cent. of the seats in the Transitional National Assembly to be held by women. The Iraqi Electoral Law (CPA Order 96) stipulates (Section 4, Paragraph 3) that,