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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the incidence of fraud in each EU programme has been in each of the last five years; what steps are being taken to guard against such fraud; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government do not hold such information. The most useful information on this subject is available from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Member states are required to report cases of irregularities, including possible fraud, to OLAF. The Commission publishes the resulting figures in its annual Fight Against Fraud" report. These figures include cases of suspected fraud, but OLAF has not until now published separate figures for fraud. The figures for irregularities for 2003 and the previous four years can be found in the annex to the latest report (COM (2004) 573 final, 30 August 2004), available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/anti_fraud/reports/commission/2003/en.pdf
The Government takes all instances of fraud or suspected fraud very seriously, and continually presses the Commission and other member states to take
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effective anti-fraud measures to protect the EU budgets, in line with their treaty obligations. Although the Commission has overall responsibility for EU budget implementation, over 80 per cent. of the budget is managed by member states. They, and not the EC institutions, are responsible for any irregularities or fraud occurring in the part of the budget that they administer.
The European Commission has carried out reforms during the past few years which are intended to reduce and prevent fraud. The current financial regulation, which governs all transactions entered into by the European institutions, defines accountability, ensures stringent audit requirements and a modernised accounting system, and requires all spending to be subject to objective-setting and evaluation. The new EC staff regulation of May 2004 introduced measures to protect whistleblowers. The Commission evaluated the effectiveness of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) thoroughly in 2003 and the European Court of Auditors' report on OLAF, which will further review OLAF's performance and achievements, will be published shortly.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations the Department made to Hamas at the recent meeting held between his officials and Hamas members on (a) ceasing and (b) ceasing support for violent attacks on Israel; what representations were made to Hamas members themselves; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) on what dates he expects meetings between his officials and Hamas members to take place; in what circumstances such meetings would be held; who he expects will attend from (a) his Department and (b) Hamas; what issues he expects to be on the agenda; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what representations his Department received from Israel on a meeting between his officials and Hamas members; what discussions with Israel the Department held (a) before and (b) after the meeting with Hamas; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) on what dates his officials met members of Hamas; which officials were present; which Hamas members were present; what issues were discussed; what decisions were taken; what the outcome of the meetings were; and if he will make a statement; 
On 7 March a member of staff from the Consulate-General in Jerusalem met the recently-appointed Mayor of Deir al-Balah. On 2 June a member of staff from the Consulate-General in Jerusalem, accompanied by a colleague from the British Embassy, met the Acting Mayor of Qalqilya. In both meetings British officials made clear the Government's demand that Hamas renounce violence and recognise Israel's right to exist. They also discussed the municipality services and budget and the political, economic and
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humanitarian situation with both Mayors. No decisions were taken at either of these meetings, nor were there specific outcomes".
No further meetings with elected members of Hamas are planned. The UK Government will have no contacts with the leadership of Hamas until they have dropped their commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel, and renounced the use of violence.
Officials have had several exchanges with their Israeli counterparts. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed these contacts with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on 7 June.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with officials in his Department concerning meetings between his officials and members of Hamas; and if he will make a statement; 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's decision in Februaryto authorise working-level contacts in the normal course of business with Hamas elected representatives not directly implicated in violencedrew on advice from officials, including representatives in the region.
Officials have had several exchanges with their Israeli counterparts. The Foreign Secretary discussed these contacts with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on 7 June and Abu Mazen on 8 June.
British officials have knowingly met members of Hamas on two occasions since the death of President Arafat. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) (UINs 3116 to 3120) for details of those meetings, Official Report, 13 June 2005, col. 135W.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what position UK representatives are taking in discussions at the United Nations on the extension of the mandate for troops in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. 
There are currently no discussions taking place in the UN on the extension of the mandate for troops in Iraq. On 31 May 2005 the UN Security Council reviewed resolution 1546 which authorises the presence of the multinational force in Iraq, and agreed upon the continuation of the mandate until the completion of the political process", in accordance with the resolution and at the request of the Iraqi
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Government. The UK believes that the presence of the multinational force in Iraq should continue to be at the request of the Iraqi government.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which Ministers were given copies of Foreign Office briefings on the legality of military action in Iraq prior to the commencement of hostilities. 
Dr. Howells: The Government received advice from the Attorney-General on the legality issue. As the Government's chief legal adviser, his advice is final and authoritative within Government. All Ministers were well aware of my right hon. and noble Friend the Attorney-General's decision with respect to the legality of the military action, before the commencement of hostilities.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action was taken in response to representations made on 12 March 2004 by Theo von Boven, UN special rapporteur on torture, in relation to four men reportedly held incommunicado in detention by the Badr organisation in Basra. 
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