|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. MacShane: I refer my hon. Friend to numerous Government publications on the Lisbon Agenda, including the Treasury's 2004 and 2005 Progress Reports, which are available in the Library of the House, the Commission's 2005 Spring Report (http://europa.eu.int/growthandjobs/) and former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok's High Level Group report on Lisbon progress also available in the Library of the House.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the implementation of the Lisbon agenda; what the Government's priorities are in relation to the Lisbon agenda; and what the new arrangements are for the governance of the Lisbon strategy. 
Mr. MacShane: The Government strongly support the Commission's focus on jobs and growth", as the immediate Lisbon reform priorities and the best way to boost prosperity and living standards for all (Commission Spring Report, launched on 2 February, http://www.europa.eu.int/growthandjobs/). As the former Dutch Prime Minister, Wim Kok, noted in his Lisbon report to EU heads in November Lisbon's direction is right and imperative, but much urgency is needed in its implementation". The Commission has identified urgent reforms and proposed a strengthened system of governanceNational Growth and Employment Action Plansto accelerate and increase political ownership of the reform process. These proposals will be discussed at the March European Council.
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what payments the Government have made to (a) Turkey, (b) Syria, (c) Jordan, (d) Israel and (e) Egypt in each of the last three years; for what purposes; and if he will make a statement. 
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken since 2001 to improve specialisation within his Department in the Middle East; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 10 March 2005]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has long had a cadre of staff with expertise in the Middle East region, both specialist analysts and diplomatic staff with regional expertise and regional language skills. Since 2001 the FCO has maintained this cadre, and continued to develop staff with these specialisations. The figures
14 Mar 2005 : Column 91W
for Arabic speaker positions in the Gulf region show a 10 per cent. increase between 1999 (40 positions) and 2004 (44 positions). As at November 2004 there were 49 trainees undergoing Arabic language training.
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list how many country specialists for each of the Persian Gulf states there have been in his Department in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Straw [holding answer 10 March 2005]: British diplomatic staff in each of the Gulf states are listed in the diplomatic service overseas reference list. Back-copies of this should be available through the Library of the House.
It is not possible to identify exactly the number of country specialists working in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on states bordering the Persian Gulf over the past 10 years, but the total number of staff working in London on these states in the Arabian Peninsula and Iran Group (and its predecessor, the Middle East Department) and in the Research Analysts Department has normally been around 20.
Mr. Rammell: The Government fully support the work of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) led by Paul Volcker set up by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the administration and management of the Oil for Food Programme. The Government is co-operating fully with the IIC's investigations and to date nine former or serving Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials have given evidence. We have also released hundreds of FCO documents requested by the IIC and continue to review our records for further documents of relevance to their investigations.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what investigations his Department is undertaking into (a) the Iraq Oil for Food scandal and (b) illegal oil movements from that country prior to and following the invasion in 2003. 
The Government continue to study carefully the interim report published on 3 February by the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) set up by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the administration and management of the Oil for Food Programme. We take very seriously all allegations of wrongdoing under the programme and are co-operating fully with the IIC's investigations. It would be inappropriate to comment on the allegations of corruption surrounding the Programme or oil smuggling outside of the Programme until the IIC has completed its investigations. We will pass on any information received concerning possible wrongdoing by UK entities to the relevant UK authorities for investigation.
14 Mar 2005 : Column 92W
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether British companies were implicated in (a) the Iraq Oil for Food scandal and (b) illegal oil movements from Iraq prior to the invasion in 2003. 
Mr. Rammell: The involvement of some 3,500 companiesincluding UK companiesin the Oil for Food Programme will be the subject of a future report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) set up by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the administration and management of the programme. It would be inappropriate to speculate on the nature of UK companies' involvement in the programme until the IIC has completed its investigations. The Government take very seriously all allegations of corruption surrounding the Oil for Food Programme. Any information we receive concerning possible wrongdoing by UK entities will be passed to the relevant UK authorities for investigation.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what requests the Government have received from South Africa for information relating to Porton Down's involvement with scientists associated with the biological warfare programme of the former Apartheid Government and Project Coast, with particular reference to Dr. Wouter Basson; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Indian Government concerning the attacks in February on Christian students in Kota, Rajasthan State, by activists from militant Hindu groups. 
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 9 March 2005]: We have not raised this specific incident with the Indian authorities, but we continue as a matter of course to raise our concerns with them about religious intolerance in India, including attacks against Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. We will continue to urge the Indian authorities to ensure the right to freedom of religion enshrined in its constitution is upheld, and that those responsible for attacks against people because of their religion are brought to justice. We will remind them that the UK Government condemn the persecution of individuals or groups because of their religion or beliefs. The UK Government believe that the democratic process in India is the best protection for a peaceful and secure country. We appreciate the remarks by Dr. Manmohan Singh in his first press conference as Prime Minister, when he said
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|