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11. Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): What recent discussions he has had with the Turkish Government on their wish to join the EU. [218404]

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Denis MacShane): The Government strongly support Turkey's bid to join the EU. The Secretary of State is in regular contact with the Turkish Government on its EU aspirations, and I will visit Turkey in a few days to discuss those and other matters.

Bob Russell: Will the Minister confirm that it is the UK Government's position that until such time as Turkey brings its human rights record in line with the rest of Europe, and in particular makes its Kurdish citizens equal within its borders, we will not support Turkey's application to join the EU?

Mr. MacShane: We are supporting Turkey's application precisely because it has made massive strides in improving human rights for Kurds, journalists and others. Perhaps the news from Istanbul has not reached Colchester, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that considerable improvements have been made in, for example, education and broadcasting in Kurdish. Efkan Ala, the governor of Diyarbakir, the main Kurdish city, said that the majority of Kurds saw a fully democratic Turkey within the European Union as offering the best prospect of guaranteeing their democratic rights.
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Perhaps if the governor were invited to Colchester, the hon. Gentleman would learn something to his advantage.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Can my hon. Friend point to any serious research that has been done to evaluate the social and economic impact on the EU and the UK of Turkey joining the EU? Has his Department commissioned any such research, and if so, may we know about it?

Mr. MacShane: The European Commission has undertaken research and the Turkish Government have undertaken extensive research, as have several Turkish universities to whose staff I have had the pleasure of talking. I am happy to try to convey some of what they told me to my hon. Friend. We believe strongly that a Turkey that is oriented towards Europe and embraces the European values of democracy, the rule of law and the open market will be a powerful addition to British national interests, which want stability in that part of the Mediterranean and Black sea world. We urge Turkey to stay the course of continuing reforms and raising its game. Turkey in the EU is an enormous prize for all of us who value that relationship, especially as it will involve a largely Muslim country showing that a Muslim population can live fully within the norms of democracy, under the rule of law and with respect for human rights.


12. Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): If he will make a statement on security provisions at GCHQ. [218405]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): Senior management and all staff at GCHQ take security very seriously, and so do I. The security provisions are subject to constant review, although the hon. Gentleman would not expect me to go into too many details.

Mr. Robertson: I thank the Foreign Secretary for that response. I am sure that GCHQ is better able to assess the potential threat than I am, but in an era when we rightly see London as a possible target for terrorist attacks, I remind the right hon. Gentleman—although I am sure that he does not need it—that the GCHQ building is very conspicuous and is also close to a small airport. The building is just outside my constituency, but thousands of my constituents work there. It must be considered a potential terrorist target, and I trust that the Foreign Secretary will take all the measures necessary to protect it.

Mr. Straw: I readily acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's constituency interest as so many of his constituents work there. We are grateful to them, and to the others who do so, for the important national task that they undertake. The building is obvious; I have visited it on several occasions, and from the earliest stages have discussed its security and the possible risks. Although the other buildings were lower and not such a landmark, they too were obvious. Of course, as part of
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the continuous security review, both the prospect of penetration through the perimeter of the building and risks from local airfields are taken into account.

Middle East

13. Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes) (Con): When he last met the Israeli Foreign Minister to discuss the situation in the middle east; and if he will make a statement. [218406]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): I last met Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during my visit to Israel on 24 November 2004. We continue to engage closely with the Israeli Government at all levels, including in preparation for today's London meeting on supporting the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Steen: In order to show solidarity with the Palestinian Authority against the terrorist threat to their
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security, will the right hon. Gentleman use the London conference as an opportunity to add Hezbollah in its entirety to the UK list of terrorist organisations? Will he press the EU to do likewise, because the organisation is not on its list at all?

Mr. Straw: As I said in answer to an earlier question, this is not an issue of intention, because it is all a matter of evidence. The Terrorism Act 2000, for which I had ministerial responsibility, laid down clear procedures for proscription. I might say, in recalling last night's interesting debate, that the House is quite right to impose specific obligations on Secretaries of State and to make provision for the judicial review of decisions in such circumstances. Such decisions cannot be taken capriciously or without evidence, even though people say to us, "We know that the whole of Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation." That is not enough in the British system, with a Government who are proud of introducing the Human Rights Act 1998, and who live by that Act every day of their existence.

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Points of Order

12.31 pm

David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I know that you can in no way be held responsible for the questions that appear on the Order Paper, but do you accept that it is unfortunate that we have not had the opportunity today to express our strongest condemnation of the butchery that happened yesterday when more than 100 Iraqis were murdered and, at the same time, to say that the murderous gangsters responsible will not triumph in the end?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman will know that questions are picked at random, which is why the opportunity did not arise.

The hon. Gentleman raised a matter about "Yesterday in Parliament" a week ago after reading a diary piece. I have now received word from the BBC that the diary piece was completely untrue. Perhaps that reinforces my case that we should always watch what we read in the papers and take it with a pinch of salt.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Given that the Foreign Secretary is still in the Chamber, could you possibly arrange for him to meet the Home Secretary so that he can explain to the Home Secretary how the House of Commons should be handled?

Mr. Speaker: I understand that they meet on a regular basis.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. While the Foreign Secretary is still in the Chamber and willing and able to give us his attention, do you agree that in light of the fact that the question on Sudan, which would have allowed contributions on the subject of Darfur, was not reached, it would be immensely helpful if the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister were minded to come to the House to make a statement about the continuing crisis in Darfur, which has both a humanitarian and a human rights character? Millions of people may wonder why, in the course of an hour, we were unable to debate a matter of the most momentous magnitude for the future of that country.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is trying to extend Question Time.

David Winnick: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I accept entirely what you said about "Yesterday in Parliament", but I want to get the record straight. Obviously, reports of the butchery that occurred appeared in newspapers, but no one has contradicted the fact that more than 100 Iraqis were murdered. I hope that you, Sir, were not indicating—I am sure that you were not—that the matter that I raised on a point of order did not take place.

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