|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the countries with which the UK officially shares intelligence of a counter-terrorism nature; through what channels this intelligence sharing is undertaken; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: The security and intelligence agencies engage in liaison with the intelligence and law enforcement agencies in a large number of countries where we have common interests and concerns. Such arrangements depend on confidentiality and it is not the Government's policy to comment further on them.
Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of publications issued by his Department are available in (a) Braille, (b) autoprint, (c) large print and (d) easy read format. 
Mr. Rammell [holding answer 24 January 2005]: Of the 70 publications produced by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services Publishing at the behest of FCO budget holders during 200304, other than the Departmental Report which was produced in 11 point type, none were requested to be made available in Braille, autoprint, large print or easy to read formats.
However, FCO Services continue to encourage budget holders to provide material in other formats where appropriate. Many are available on-line at www.fco.gov.uk and the FCO Departmental Report was produced with the co-operation of the Plain English Campaign and typeset in a larger size. The FCO web platform meets UK Government guidelines on accessibility for the visually impaired allowing text and images on websites to be displayed via screen readers and Braille displays.
Mr. Mullin: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear in his written statement on 15 December 2004, Official Report, columns 13740WS, we are making changes to our overseas network to reflect changing demands and challenges and to ensure the UK has a cost-effective and flexible network of overseas representation. This involves the closure of several diplomatic posts including the British Embassy in Antananarivo.
This is in no way a reflection on the current Government of Madagascar or on the quality of our bilateral relations. We will work with the Government of Madagascar to establish alternative forms of British representation, probably through an
24 Feb 2005 : Column 805W
Honorary Consul in Antananarivo, supported by non-resident accreditation from one of our diplomatic posts in the region.
Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether closures of British missions other than those already publicly announced are planned for financial years 200506 and 200607. 
Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects on British interests of the closure of the British embassies in (a) El Salvador, (b) Honduras and (c) Nicaragua. 
Mr. Rammell: The decision to close our embassies in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua was taken based on the need to align our resources with our priorities, to maximise efficiency and ensure that the UK has a cost-effective and flexible network of overseas representation.
However, we continue to have good relations, and work closely, with these countries. We have appointed non-resident Ambassadors to El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to maintain British interests in the region through working visits, and we continue to provide consular services through Honorary Consuls in each country.
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-Canada Joint Committee met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if she will make a statement. 
The EU-Canada Joint Co-operation Committee met once under the Italian and once under the Dutch presidencies, on 24 November 2003 in Ottawa and 30 November 2004 in Brussels respectively. It did not meet under the Irish presidency. This is a Commission led group, which the Presidency of the day attends as an observer only. As such there were no British officials present at these meetings. Further information may be found at www.fco.gov.uk/commandpapers.
The current Treaty articles on the Commission make clear the complete independence enjoyed by the members of the Commission, who are required to discharge their duties in the general interest of the Community.
24 Feb 2005 : Column 806W
The UK Government fully supports the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, which states that "Commissioners may be active members of political parties or trade unions, provided that this does not compromise their availability for service in the Commission."
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-Russia Co-operation Committee, (ii) EC-Georgia Co-operation Committee and (iii) EC-San Marino Co-operation Committee met; when and where each meeting took place; what UK Government expert was present at each meeting; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. MacShane: During this period, there was one meeting of the EU-Georgia Co-operation Committeeon 16 July 2004 in Brussels. There were two meetings of the EU-Russia Co-operation Committeeon 20 October 2003 in Moscow and on 21 October 2004 in Brussels. There was one meeting of the EU-San Marino Co-operation Committeeon 12 July 2004 in Brussels. As Co-operation Committees are chaired by the Commission, with support from the presidency, there were no UK representatives at these meetings. However, the UK participated fully in formulating the EU's position for the meetings.
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being taken within the Counter Terrorism Policy Department to optimise systems for the processing of intelligence information; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw [holding answer 23 February 2005]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Counter Terrorism Policy Department (CTPD) receives electronically an average of around 270 intelligence reports a week. As Sir Michael Jay, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCO, foreshadowed to the Foreign Affairs Committee in February 2003, the number of officers dealing with these reports has been increasedfrom two to five. These officers immediately alert all other FCO colleagues who need to be aware of particular reports, and ensure that any necessary action is set in handfor example, prompt revision of FCO Travel Advice. CTPD is supported by a team of three FCO officers located within the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC)a multi-agency body which brings together those involved across government in assessing and reporting of terrorist threat intelligence. This arrangement ensures that CTPD has advance notice of JTAC threat reports.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many persons under 18 years he estimates are held under death penalty sentence in Iran; what information he has received in relation to each person's (a) personal details and
24 Feb 2005 : Column 807W
(b) crime; what representations the Government has made, and on what date, in respect of each individual case; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: We take the sentencing to death of juveniles very seriously. Ministers have made clear our concerns on many occasions. Most recently I did so when I met the Iranian Ambassador on 7 February.
Amnesty International report that there are currently at least 30 juveniles awaiting execution. With our strong support the EU has, in the last six months, urged the Iranian authorities to review the sentences imposed on 15 juvenile cases. Individual cases also form an important part of the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue; the last session took place in June 2004.
The UK, along with all other EU member states, co-sponsored a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 December, which called on Iran, "to comply with its obligations under article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights not to impose the sentence of death for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age".
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department has received on the number of sentences of (a) execution and (b) amputation in Iran in each of the last five years; how many were carried out on persons under 18 years of age; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: We have serious concerns about the use of the death penalty in Iran. We have made our concern clear to the Iranian authorities on many occasions. The latest figures from Amnesty International indicate that 108 people were executed in Iran in 2003. And that since 1990 11 juvenile offenders have been executed.
The Iranian authorities declared a "moratorium" on amputations in March 2003. We are concerned by reports that people continue to receive sentences of amputation but it is unclear whether any amputations have been carried out.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|