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14 Jul 2005 : Column 1178W—continued


Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letter dated 12 May from the hon. Member forBanff and Buchan regarding the subject of sex tourism. [10985]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 11 July 2005]: I replied to the hon. Member on 13 July. I apologise for the delay.


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of comparative levels of corruption within African Governments; whether a grading system exists for assessing such corruption; and if he will make a statement. [11744]

Ian Pearson: In the course of their normal reporting, our overseas posts comment on the impact and perceived extent of corruption in their host countries. However, there is no official grading system to compare levels of corruption. The only international ranking of which I am aware is Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index, last published in
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October 2004. The index is available on the Transparency International's website:


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his policy towards the Ethiopian Government in the context of the latest elections. [11753]

Ian Pearson: Ethiopia's 15 May general elections were a step forward in the democratisation process. However, we were extremely concerned by the subsequent violence and detentions of large numbers of opposition supporters. We have made our concerns clear to the Government of Ethiopia and have urged all parties to respect the democratic process. The Ethiopian National Electoral Board is still investigating allegations of irregularities in a number of constituencies. We urge all parties to continue to participate in this process in a constructive manner. International observers, including the European Union Observer Mission, continue to monitor the election process closely.


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with his EU counterparts regarding the future of the EU3 negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme following the recent Iranian election. [11816]

Dr. Howells: Discussions continue between Iran and the UK, France and Germany (the 'E3'), supported by the EU high representative, under the framework agreed in Paris in November 2004. Iran's President-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said that the process should go on, and the E3 remain fully committed to it.

The E3 have agreed to present further ideas, including on long-term arrangements for Iran's nuclear programme. Officials are currently working on these. We will remain in close touch with our partners in the EU and elsewhere as our ideas develop. Long- term arrangements must provide objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.


Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when and for what reason his Department last decided to close the embassy in Madagascar; and when and for what reason it was re-opened. [11766]

Ian Pearson: The British embassy in Madagascar was closed in February 1976 as part of a round of economies following a reduction in public expenditure announced in the 1975 Budget.

The embassy was subsequently reopened in 1979. The reasons behind this decision included: Madagascar's then strategic position in the Indian ocean during the cold war; the fact that following UK entry into the EEC there were deemed to be commercial opportunities in Madagascar that British companies were missing and a high profile consular case that required work from UK-based staff.
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Non-proliferation Treaty/Weapons Conventions

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures the Government are taking to ensure the full implementation of the (a) Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and (b) Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions. [10104]

Dr. Howells: The Government continues to attach the utmost importance to the full implementation of all the Non-Proliferation Treaties. We continue to work with other countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The UK, as a Co Depository Government of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), actively supports all appropriate measures that would strengthen the Convention and the UK is chairing the 2005 intersessional meetings of the BTWC. As a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the UK contributes actively to the work of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The UK led negotiations on an OPCW Action Plan on the implementation of the CWC.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the decision of the EU to appoint a special representative to the Sudan. [11430]

Ian Pearson: The decision as to whether to appoint an EU special representative to Sudan (EUSR) is still awaiting final approval of the Council of Ministers. An EUSR will bolster the EU's efforts to support the peace process there, both by supporting the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Darfur and working, notably with the African Union (AU), to help resolve the crisis in Darfur. The UK is in favour of this proposal. The EU is already heavily engaged in Sudan. They are providing significant support to the AU mission in Darfur, including planning experts, technical, financial, material and logistic support to AU mission in Sudan and supporting the civilian policing aspects of the mission, and the European Commission has committed $765 million of development and humanitarian assistance. The deadline for applications closed on 7 July. The candidates will be interviewed, with the appointment taking effect in September.

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the weekly level of fatalities in southern Sudan; and if he will make a statement. [11743]

Ian Pearson: Signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 brought to an end more than 20 years of civil war in the south, which claimed an estimated 2 million lives. Since signature of this Agreement, a permanent ceasefire has been in place, which will be monitored by a UN Peace Support Operation. Signature of the CPA also opened up access to urgently needed development assistance to southern Sudan, which will help improve the quality of life of the people there.

But there is much to do. The health system is fragmented and there is no consolidated mortality/morbidity reporting. Estimates in the 2003 World Bank
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Status Report on South Sudan describe access to health care in the south as the worst in the world; and states that there are no infant or crude mortality rates given the deteriorated state of health care across the south. Pockets of civilian-directed violence also remain, particularly in areas of Equatoria occupied by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The UK has allocated £112.5 million of assistance this year to the whole of Sudan, much of which will go to the south. We have funded vaccination campaigns to reduce the number of deaths due to disease. We are also pressing the new presidency of the Government of National Unity, inaugurated on 9 July, fully to implement the CPA, including its commitment to disarm, repatriate or expel foreign insurgency groups, including the LRA.



Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to increase consumer awareness of i-dialling scams. [10842]

Alun Michael: By i-dialling I take it that the hon. Member means rogue Premium Rate diallers on the internet running up large bills for consumers. The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) regulates Premium Rate Services through its Code of Practice. Recommendation 10 of the Ofcom Review of Premium Rate Regulation encourages ICSTIS to develop its role in providing consumer information and to draw up a set of guidelines to govern its activities in this area. ICSTIS is currently finalising these guidelines following consultation and they are expected to be in place shortly. In addition the telecoms operators have been working hard to raise customer awareness of internet dialler scams and to ensure that customers are informed about how best to protect themselves. Advice is posted on BT's website at and on the websites of other companies.

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