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14 Mar 2005 : Column 92W—continued


Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will press the UN Security Council to refer the situation in the Sudan,
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including Darfur, to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute. [220778]

Mr. Rammell: Our preference is for the situation in Darfur to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), as recommended by the International Commission of Inquiry. Since Sudan is not a State Party to the ICC Statute, and is unlikely to refer the situation to the Court, a decision by the Security Council will be required.


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage Turkey to remove trade barriers for ceramic goods; and if he will make a statement. [220542]

Mr. MacShane: The European Commission successfully lobbied the Turkish authorities last year to remove the requirement for a conformity assessment on imported ceramic tableware goods. The British Embassy in Ankara has also assisted a number of British companies who have experienced difficulties in exporting ceramic goods to Turkey. The Embassy continues to monitor any cases brought to its attention by British firms and will, if a problem cannot be resolved, ask the Commission to raise the issue with the Turkish authorities.


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what special restrictions are in place on the issue of visas to visitors from Ukraine. [221286]

Mr. Mullin: There are no special restrictions placed on the issue of visas to visitors from the Ukraine. All applications for entry to the UK as visitors are considered under the Immigration Rules.

The visa section aims to provide a same-day service for straightforward applications.

UN Human Rights Commission

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what UK representatives will attend the 2005 meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission; and what consultation he will undertake with non-governmental groups that have recognised UN status in advance of the meeting; [203130]

(2) who the UK representative will be at the forthcoming UN Human Rights Commission; and what statement will be presented by the UK Government. [210767]

Mr. Rammell: Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Human Rights, Democracy and Governance Group in London, and from our missions in New York and Geneva, will form the UK
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delegation to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from 14 March-22 April. I plan to attend and address the High Level Segment in the first week—it is too early to give details of what the statement will cover.

In terms of NGO involvement, I am pleased to say that I am planning to take an NGO representative with me when I visit Geneva to address the High Level Segment. I hope this will further strengthen links between our work and that of the NGO community. Ialso host a regular pre-CHR NGO forum, which took place this year on 9 February, where NGOs can discuss priorities and policy on the range of resolutions with myself and the officials who will form our delegation at the Commission. We, and I believe the NGOs, find this an invaluable exercise in sharing views and informing our preparations for the Commission. Our mission in Geneva also has regular contacts with the NGO community there during the course of the Commission.


Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Uzbekistan's human rights record. [220595]

Mr. Mullin: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Bill Rammell) gave to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 7 March 2005, Official Report, column 1582W.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will meet the hon. Member for Leicester, East to discuss the closure of the British consulate in Aden. [220098]

Mr. Mullin: My right hon. and noble Friend the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the Middle East, would be pleased to discuss this with my hon. Friend. I have asked that her office arrange a suitable date.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of reports of (a) government harassment of journalists in Zimbabwe and (b) the raiding of the offices of journalists Jan Raath and Brain Latham; [220217]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Zimbabwe about freedom of the press. [220218]

Mr. Mullin: I refer the hon. Member to the reply Igave to the hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) on 1 March 2005, Official Report, column 801. As regards the latest harassment of journalists, we see this as further evidence of a climate of intimidation that makes the prospect of a free election unlikely.
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Benefit Application Forms

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how benefit application forms are made available; and what the cost is of each method. [217478]

Mr. Pond: Application forms are widely available for the benefits administered by the Department for Work and Pensions in a variety of formats.

The Pension Service is now primarily a telephone-based service and the main method for making applications for state pension and pension credit is by telephone. Staff complete application forms based on information provided by customers over the telephone and completed forms are then sent to customers to check, sign and return.

This method is also available for benefits administered by Jobcentre Plus and The Disability and Carers Service. This service is also available in Welsh and in a Braille/large print version. For other languages customers can use Language Line which enables applications to be taken via a telephone interpreting service, in up to 150 languages, to customers whose first language is not English.

Paper application forms, in either English or Welsh, can be issued on request. These forms are available to the public from the departmental outlets of Jobcentre Plus offices, Social Security offices, Contact Centres, Local Service outlets of The Pension Service and from organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureaux, medical centres, MPs' surgeries, hospitals/hospices and social services.

Information on the cost of making application forms available by the various methods is not available separately.

Benefit Offices (Weymouth)

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans have been made for the future operation of benefits offices in Weymouth, with particular reference to (a) opening hours to members of the public, (b) the level of staffing and (c) the number of social security customers who would be expected to be affected by any changes; and if he will make a statement. [221161]

Mr. Pond: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Stephen O'Brien, dated 14 March 2005:

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Opening times for the Weymouth Jobcentre Plus office

Weymouth officeOpening timeClosing time
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and
9.00 am5.00 pm
Wednesday10.00 am5.00 pm

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