Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Dec 2004 : Column 1063W—continued

Child Pornography

Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with which countries he has had discussions to request the removal of child pornography websites; and how many such requests have been agreed. [203678]

Mr. Rammell: No such requests have been made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Where investigation by a UK law enforcement agency identifies a child abuse image being hosted in another jurisdiction, it will seek to notify the appropriate authority in that country of its presence so that they can seek its removal and take further appropriate action. similar process is also undertaken by the Internet Watch Foundation, the UK internet hotline for reporting child abuse images. Figures for the number of instances in which such requests have been made to other jurisdictions by UK law enforcement agencies are not available.

We are working with our G8 partners on the development and implementation of a strategy, including projects, to improve the exchange of information to combat on-line child abuse. This work includes outreach to non-G8 partners.

Since 2002, in conjunction with the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, we have provided law enforcement agencies in 14 countries with specialised software, computers and training to detect paedophiles using internet chat rooms, and to target organised criminals who produce child pornography. In March, we co-sponsored with the
14 Dec 2004 : Column 1064W
National Crime Squad an international conference on the subject which was attended by 81 participants from 31 countries.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Colombian authorities on recent releases of prisoners accused of being guerrillas; and if he will make a statement. [203739]

Mr. Rammell: The Colombian Government alerted our Ambassador in Bogota to the decision to release 23 imprisoned left-wing (FARC) guerrillas in early December. He was advised that none of the group had been convicted of major crimes. We commend the Colombian Government for this unilateral goodwill gesture. We hope that it leads in turn to the opening of negotiations on a humanitarian exchange between the Colombian Government and the FARC, and indeed that it encourages the FARC to release the hostages it is holding. We have long maintained that the only viable solution to the armed conflict that has caused huge suffering in Colombia for over 40 years is through a negotiated settlement. We are working with the Colombian Government and other partners, including the EU, UN and civil society, to achieve this aim.

Departmental Files

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many departmental files have been destroyed in each of the past five years. [203335]

Mr. Straw: It is not possible to give accurate figures for the number of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) files destroyed in each of the past five years because the FCO records destruction in terms of linear feet not individual files. The footage figures for the last five years of records kept and destroyed are as follows:
Destroyed (ft)Kept (ft)Percentage destroyed

It is not possible to calculate with any certainty from the available data the number of files destroyed. As a rough guide only, the 884 feet destroyed in 2004 are estimated to be in the region of 10,000 files. All figures relate to FCO files for 1970–1974 which have been reviewed for preservation or destruction at the 30 year-point in accordance with standard procedures.

Detention Centres (United States of America)

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the legal framework for dealing with the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other United States detention centres, with particular reference to the detention of British citizens at Guantanamo Bay. [202756]

14 Dec 2004 : Column 1065W

Mr. Mullin: Legal proceedings against the British detainees designated for trial by Military Commission were suspended at our request in July 2003. They remain suspended.

We welcome the Supreme Court's June ruling that the detainees have the right to challenge the legality of their detention.

The British Government's position is that, in the absence of a fair trial consistent with international standards, the British detainees should be returned to the UK.

Embassy/Consulate Assistance

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will introduce an accreditation scheme for solicitors whose details are given to British citizens by British embassies or consulates. [201990]

Mr. Mullin: No. Consular staff are not legally qualified to make such judgements.

EU Foreign Service

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on preparations being made within (a) the European Commission and (b) the UK Civil Service for the establishment of an EU foreign service as set out in the European Constitution; how many employees he expects will be required; at what estimated cost; and what measures are being taken to encourage recruitment of UK personnel (i) via the Commission and (ii) direct from Government Departments. [204089]

Mr. MacShane: Member states meeting in the Intergovernmental Conference agreed that, as soon as the Treaty was signed, the High Representative/Secretary General, the Commission and member states should begin preparatory work on the European External Action Service. This Service would only be established on the entry into force of the Constitutional Treaty.

With a view to the start of such preparatory work, the Government have, as have other member states and the EU Institutions, been considering how best to take this work forward. Such considerations are at a very early stage, and no decisions, including on size of the proposed Action Service, staffing, costs or recruitment have been taken.

The Commission personnel for the new service are expected to be drawn from existing relevant Commission departments. But the Government are actively looking at how we can ensure a high level of UK representation in the service as member state secondees.

EU Intelligence Sharing and Co-ordination Service

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his policy on the establishment of a joint EU intelligence sharing and co-ordination service. [204092]

Mr. MacShane: The Government would not support the establishment of an EU intelligence sharing and co-ordination service. Any sharing of intelligence
14 Dec 2004 : Column 1066W
between member states is carried out bilaterally between the countries concerned and not under the auspices of the EU. The Government does, however, support the activities of the EU's Situation Centre which was set up in 2002 to produce analyses and risk assessments to help member states formulate the common foreign and security policy. The Situation Centre is not a forum for intelligence exchange or intelligence co-ordination between member states. The Situation Centre's common assessments are based on inputs from member states.


Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what sources the Government use to calculate the total number of people killed in Iraq since 20 March 2003; and what the current total is. [204243]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to my written statement of 17 November. There are a variety of estimates available for the number of Iraqi casualties. None of these are wholly reliable or comprehensive. But most reliable figures available come from the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which has been collating information from some 180 hospitals since April 2004. the Iraqi Ministry of Health's figures show that between 5 April and 5 October 3,853 civilians were killed.


Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) the Government of the United Arab Emirates and (b) the Government of Saudi Arabia on the operation of Islah in the UK. [202935]

Mr. Rammell: The United Arab Emirates and Saudi governments have raised with us their concerns over certain Islamic groups operating in the UK. We take these concerns very seriously.

Next Section Index Home Page