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18 Jul 2005 : Column 1375W—continued

North Korea

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of food supplies in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the decision of the World Food Programme to consider suspending its food aid operations there. [2570]

Ian Pearson: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Government cut the daily food ration in January so that it now constitutes approximately half the daily energy requirement. Two thirds of the DPRK population remain dependent on this public distribution system. The World Food Programme (WFP) aims to provide food aid for 6.5 million people it considers to be in need. This is roughly a quarter of the population. There have been a number of breaks in the supply of food aid, due mainly to fluctuating support from major donors. WFP has not managed to assess the impact of these breaks. Because of DPRK Government restrictions on information sharing, it is difficult to be certain of data on the food situation. As far as we are aware, the WFP has no plans to suspend its food aid operations in the DPRK.

Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 July 2005, Official Report, columns 486–87W, on the organisation for the prevention of chemical weapons (OPCW), whether the award to Mr. Bustani following the review requested by the OPCW was made for material damages only. [11978]

Dr. Howells: The original judgment from the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) in July 2002, awarded Mr. Bustani, as former Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), moral as well as material damages.
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In the subsequent review of this award, the OPCW did not request a review of the moral damages element of the award but only of the material damages. The ILOAT clarified that material damages must only compensate for loss actually suffered and that therefore net earnings from other sources, i.e. including that related to any new employment, had to be deducted from the payment to Mr. Bustani. In consequence the overall payment of damages to him was reduced.

School Fees

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by his Department on school fees in each of the last three years; who is entitled to claim the cost of fees; what the maximum amount payable per claimant is; and if he will make a statement. [11548]

Mr. Straw: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) expenditure on school fees during the last three financial years was as follows:

(13)Estimate—final figures are not yet available

In the last academic year, the maximum amount payable per claimant was £6,695 for school fees per term.

It is a condition of employment that members of the diplomatic service must be prepared to serve anywhere in the world at any time during their career, sometimes at very short notice. Those with children have the legal obligation as parents to ensure that their children receive a full-time education from the age of five years. The FCO's provisions for children's education are intended to help staff meet these potentially conflicting obligations.

Children who accompany their parents on postings overseas are expected to use free state schooling if it is available locally and suitable. If suitable schooling is not available free of charge locally but is available at fee-charging schools, fees are refunded to enable children to receive the education they would be entitled to in the UK.

With staff moving every 12–48 months and education facilities at posts' locations overseas varying, continuity of education can be problematic particularly during the important exam years and in preparation for these years. The FCO's provisions address this problem by enabling children to board at school in the UK while their parents remain subject to the world-wide mobility obligation.

Structural and Cohesion Funds

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his statement of 15 June 2005, Official Report, column 279, on European affairs, what assessment he has made of the effects of the Government's proposals for reform of structural and cohesion funds in the EU on (a) the UK's net and gross
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contribution to the EU budget and (b) the UK's abatement on its contributions; and if he will make a statement. [6222]

Mr. Straw: The exact impact of the Government's reforms for the Structural and Cohesion Funds (SCF) on the UK's net and gross contributions and on its abatement will depend on the size and shape of the budget to which it is applied.

The Government's proposal is to focus the Community funding of EU Regional Policy on the poorest member states. If agreed, they would:


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of Turkey regarding the article in the Turkish Penal Code which criminalises any mention of the Armenian genocide. [11863]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Europe (Mr. MacShane) to my hon. Friendthe Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) on 16 November 2004, Official Report, columns 1340–41W. The answer makes clear that it is the non-binding guidance to Article 305 of the Turkish Penal Code and not the code itself that advises that when receiving material benefits from a foreign individual or organisation

The European Commission has made it clear to Turkey that they expect the language not to be taken into consideration when interpreting Article 305.

Our embassy in Ankara discussed the Penal Code, including this guidance to Article 305, with the Turkish Parliament ahead of its entry into force on 1 June 2005, and continue to work with the European Commission to ensure that Turkey meets its international legal obligations, including those concerning freedom of expression under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Turkey regarding recognition of the Armenian genocide. [11866]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: None—neither this Government nor previous British Governments have judged that the evidence is sufficiently unequivocal to persuade us that these events should be categorised as genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.
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United Nations Compensation Commission

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome of the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) meeting on 28 to 30 June was; whether it resolved all outstanding claims; what reparation payments have been made to date; what the total of reparations will be once all outstanding claims are met; what the timescale for outstanding claims is; what costs to date the UNCC has charged to reparations; what the estimated total cost of the UNCC itself charged to reparations upon the completion of all claim payments is; how much interest included within original claims has been paid to date; what the estimated interest on total claims for reparation payments is; what position the UK Government's representative at the UNCC took on matters before this meeting; and if he will make a statement. [10415]

Dr. Howells: All outstanding claims have now been resolved by the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC).

A total of approximately US$52.5 billion has been awarded in respect of approximately 1.5 million eligible claims. Approximately US$19.2 billion has been paid so far to Governments for distribution to claimants.

Current revenues received by the Fund are approximately US$1 billion per year. The next round of payments is expected this month when US$200 million will be made available for payment. It is likely that all individual claims will be paid by 2007, or earlier under the current payment mechanism.

The Secretariat of the UNCC state that since 1991 total administrative costs up to May 2005 were US$362.6 million.

The Governing Council at their meeting in March 2005 took the decision not to take any further action on the issue of interest. This effectively means that interest will not be paid by the UNCC to claimants on top of their principal awards. This decision was reached by consensus after careful consideration. The decision affects all claimants in the same way.

The UK continues to support the UNCC.

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