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22 Feb 2005 : Column 581W—continued

Correspondence

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will replyto the letters dated 3 August and 20 October 2004 from the hon. Member for Brent East regarding Mr.John Bennett. [215632]

Mr. Rammell: I replied on 18 February.

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the (i) EEC-Ukraine Co-operation Committee, (ii) EC-Tunisia Association Committee and (iii) EC-Morocco Association Committee met; when and where each meeting took place; what UKGovernment expert was present at each meeting; and if he will make a statement. [216724]

Mr. MacShane: During this period, the EU-Ukraine Co-operation Committee met on 11 December 2003 in Kiev. There was no UK representative at this meeting, although the UK did participate fully in formulating the EU's position for the meeting. The EU-Tunisia Association Committee met on 18 November 2004 in Brussels and the EU-Morocco Association Committee met on 21 October 2003 in Rabat. The UK was represented at both meetings by Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the Joint Committee (EC-Palestinian Authority) met; when and where these meetings took place; which UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [217250]

Mr. MacShane: No meetings of the EC-Palestinian Joint Committee took place during the Italian, Irish and Dutch presidencies.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the EC-Egypt Association
 
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Committee met; when and where these meetings took place; which UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [217251]

Mr. MacShane: The EU-Egypt Association Agreement was ratified on 1 June 2004. No date has been set yet for the first meeting of the EC-Egypt Association Committee.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the ECC-Israel Association Committee met; when and where these meetings took place; which UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [217252]

Mr. MacShane: During this period, the EU-Israel Association Committee met on 9 July 2003 in Brussels. The UK was represented by an official from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

EU Opt-Outs

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which occasions since May 1997 the Government has opted into European Communities policy areas for which it previously enjoyed an opt-out. [216448]

Mr. MacShane: The UK's Title IV (TEC) opt-in protocol allows the Government to choose which measures it will participate in under asylum, immigration and visa policies, and free movement of persons.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 29 June 2004, Official Report, columns 203–05W, to the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) by my hon. Friend the Minister of State at the Home Office (Mr. Browne) for a list of measures the UK has opted into.

European Constitution

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which declarations drafted by the United Kingdom were appended to the European Constitution; and what legal status they will have should the Constitution be ratified. [216449]

Mr. MacShane: I refer the hon. Member to the commentary on the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (Command Paper 6459) (available in the Vote Office and at www.europe.gov.uk) which sets out all the declarations made in relation to the treaty and describes their status.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those amendments submitted to the Convention on the Future of Europe by the UK Government representative which (a) appeared and (b) did not appear in (i) the final Convention text of the Constitution and (ii) the final text of the Constitution as agreed by member state Governments. [216450]

Mr. MacShane: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 13 January 2005, Official Report, column 638W. The analysis of the EU constitutional treaty
 
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referred to in that answer has now been published as the commentary on the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and is available at www.europe.gov.uk.

Hong Kong

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) free and open elections and (b) the future of democracy in Hong Kong. [216888]

Mr. Rammell: The Government supports democracy throughout the world as the best means of creating stable, accountable and transparent government, of protecting rights and freedoms, and of upholding the rule of law.

The ultimate aim of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is a Chief Executive and Legislative Council elected by universal suffrage. We have always favoured early progress to this end at a pace in line with the wishes of the people of Hong Kong. We hope that the Hong Kong SAR Government will take full account of the wishes of the people of Hong Kong.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Ministers last visited Hong Kong; when Ministers last discussed Hong Kong with the Chinese Government; and what issues were discussed. [216890]

Mr. Rammell: There is a regular flow of high level visits between the UK and Hong Kong. I visited Hong Kong in October 2004. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Hewitt), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett), the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr.Hain), my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Morley) and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Home Affairs (Baroness Scotland) all visited Hong Kong last year.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited China in January. He discussed Hong Kong's constitutional reform and progress towards universal suffrage with Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing. I also raised these issues when I visited China in July last year. During my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's talks with the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on 20 May 2004, both Governments reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Joint Declaration and agreed to continue exchanges of view on the issue.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total estimated value of assets transferred to China was on the handover of Hong Kong. [216891]

Mr. Rammell: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to him on 10 March 2004, Official Report, column 1530W.

Human Rights/Freedom of Worship

Mr. Soley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had
 
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with the Government of (a) China and (b) Vietnam on (i) human rights and (ii) freedom of religious worship; and if he will make a statement. [216609]

Mr. Rammell: The information is as follows:

China

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised human rights with Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing during his trip to China in January. He raised progress on the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He raised the case of the Tibetan monk Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. The case of Pastor Zhang Rongliang was also discussed.

I raised human rights issues during my last visit to China in October 2004.

Vietnam

We regularly discuss human rights issues with the Vietnamese Government. We raise our concerns at every possible opportunity, both bilaterally and with our EU partners.

We have an increasingly open dialogue with the Vietnam Government on a range of human rights concerns. The EU-Vietnam Death Penalty Seminar that took place in Hanoi on 24–26 November 2004 is an example of increasing Vietnamese willingness to discuss human rights issues.

We also participate in regular EU-Vietnam Dialogue meetings on human rights issues, the latest of which was held on 17 December and attended by our ambassador in Hanoi. Freedom of religion, restrictions on religious organisations, the situation of Protestant groups, and fair trial procedures were among the concerns raised by the EU side. On 28 January the Vietnamese released four prisoners of conscience, who were among the EU's List of Prisoners of Concern, as part of a wider amnesty.

We will continue to press the Vietnamese and Chinese Governments to adhere to their international human rights obligations at every suitable opportunity.


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