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14 Jun 2005 : Column 329W—continued

Foreign State Awards

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will change the policy which prevents British citizens accepting and
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wearing foreign state awards; and if he will make a statement about the offer by the Malaysian Government to award the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal to British citizens who served between 1957 and 1966. [4557]

Mr. Straw: The question of seeking permission for the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal to be accepted and worn by British citizens was raised formally by the Malaysian authorities in March, when their Deputy Prime Minister spoke to me about it. We have subsequently received more details about the proposal from the Malaysian High Commission.

In the light of the Malaysian Government's request to present the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal to British Citizens, I have asked for certain principles of the Government's rules governing the accepting and wearing of foreign awards to be reviewed.

G8 Summit

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries have requested the deployment of armed service personnel on United Kingdom soil to guard (a) the G8 summit and (b) Prestwick Airport. [4004]

Mr. Straw: The diplomatic mission of the country concerned makes requests for the protection of VIPs visiting the United Kingdom to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Where it is agreed that protection is appropriate, the Police Service provides that protection. For obvious reasons of security, details of requests submitted on protection provided are not made public.

Guantanamo Bay

Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United States Administration on inappropriate treatment of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. [3080]

Dr. Howells: We have expressed our concern to the US authorities about the conditions of detention at Guantanamo Bay on many occasions. British officials conducting welfare visits to the British detainees checked that the detainees' religious requirements were met.

We understand that detainees are given copies of the Koran, prayer mats and Halal food, and that prayer calls are made throughout the Camp.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Iraqi Government to urge them to sign up to the Ottawa Convention; and if he will make a statement. [3111]

Mr. Straw: The United Kingdom is strongly committed to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (the Mine Ban Treaty"). The UK was among the first states to sign and ratify the Convention, which entered into force on 1 March 1999, and is proud
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of its record with respect to implementation of the Convention. To be fully effective, the ban on anti-personnel landmines must be universal. The United Kingdom urges all states that have not signed the Convention to do so as soon as possible.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the state of the environment in Iraq, with particular reference to (a) oil pollution, (b) looted nuclear compounds and (c) chemical pollution. [3126]

Dr. Howells: We welcome the appointment, in May 2005, of Narmin Othman as the new Minister of the Environment for Iraq. The Ministry was created under the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003. Iraq faces many environmental challenges following the neglect and abuse inflicted by Saddam Hussein's regime. Getting an up to date Environmental Law on the statute books is an environmental priority.

The UK Government are working closely with the Government of Iraq to develop the principles of good governance in the oil sector. In January and February this year the Tigris was polluted by oil slicks emanating from sabotaged pipelines. Booms were successfully deployed to prevent contamination of drinking water plants along the river. Oil pollution is also evident in the marshland and desert areas around Basra, particularly where saboteurs breached pipelines.

We are aware of reports of people in the area of the Al Tuwaitha nuclear facility having looted drums and containers, emptied low-enriched uranium from them, and taken the containers off to use for water storage. Separate reports of children playing with the uranium powder on the site have also been made, but we have seen no confirmation of these. The site has now been secured, and the radio-active material there returned to safe storage. We are not aware of any further looting taking place, and much of the remaining material was subsequently removed from Iraq by US experts, with the consent of the Iraqi Interim Government and keeping the IAEA informed. Initial indications are that there was little or no immediate radiation sickness evident in the population, but there might well be longer term health risks to people who were exposed to radiation. An inter-agency task force was set up in Baghdad in October 2004 to take forward action on recovering radio-active material that has been taken from the site, and monitor the long-term health of people at risk of exposure to radiation.

We have no information on chemical pollution in Iraq. However, disposal of chemical and hazardous waste is a significant problem. The US embassy estimates that there may be 5,000 chemical waste sites across Iraq which fail basic international environmental standards.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has a $5 million programme in Iraq aimed at capacity building and in particular to train staff to assess the extent of environmental hazards. The Department for International Development has contributed £717,000 towards UNEP's work on post-conflict environmental assessment and to support the Environment Ministry.
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Laptop Computers

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many laptop computers have been used by (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in his Department in each year since 1995; how many have been (i) lost and (ii) stolen in that period; what the cost was of the use of laptops in that period; and if he will make a statement. [4121]

Mr. Straw: We do not have a central record of the numbers of laptops issued as budgets have been devolved to overseas post and UK directorates. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

One laptop computer has been centrally reported lost or stolen in the past two years. We do not have earlier records.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the results achieved by Hezbollah in the recent parliamentary elections in South Lebanon. [3294]

Dr. Howells: The Hizballah-Amal-Future list of candidates took all 23 seats in the elections held in South Lebanon on 5 June. We are looking for all parties, including Hizballah, to comply fully with the requirements of United Security Council Resolution 1559, and call on Hizballah to renounce terrorism and contribute towards regional security by not escalating tensions along the Blue Line.

The three rounds of elections to date, in Beirut, South Lebanon and Mount Lebanon and the Beka'a have passed off without incident.

Overseas Corruption

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library the most recent guidance to UK embassies on overseas bribery. [3909]

Mr. Straw: The latest guidance on foreign bribery to British diplomatic missions is already available in the Library of the House. The Government are in the process of reviewing this and will place the revised guidance in the Library of the House later this year.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many allegations of overseas corruption have been forwarded by UK embassies overseas to London; and how many of these allegations the Department has forwarded to the law enforcement authorities. [3910]

Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) sends to the law enforcement authorities all allegations of overseas corruption where it is reasonable to believe that an offence may have been committed under Part 12 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. Since the Act came into force in February 2002, the FCO has forwarded a total of 18 such allegations, the majority of which originated in reports from overseas missions.
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