Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Oct 2005 : Column 648W—continued


Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with representatives of the
14 Oct 2005 : Column 649W
Iranian Government with regard to the supply of military equipment to Shia militias operating in southern Iraq. [17156]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed our concerns with Iran's new Foreign Minister, Manuchehr Mottaki, when they met on 17 September. Senior officials have done so with the Iranian authorities on many occasions, most recently on 10 October. To date, Iran's response has been wholly unsatisfactory.

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of Iranian Kurds killed or wounded in Iran following the shooting of Shivan Qaderi; and if he will make a statement. [17570]

Dr. Howells: The shooting of Showan Ghaderi (Shivan Qaderi) by Iranian security forces in July prompted violent unrest in Kurdish areas of Iran. We estimate over 20 people died in clashes between the security forces and protestors. As Presidency of the EU, we demarched the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 22 August to express our concern at the excessive response by the Iranian authorities, the reports of arrests and harassment of journalists and the closure of two newspapers for their coverage of the protests. We continue to monitor the situation faced by Iran's ethnic minorities carefully.

Iraq (Anthrax Exports)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has with the United States Administration on exports of anthrax to Iraq from the United States prior to the War; and if he will make a statement. [17457]

Dr. Howells: A great deal of debate was generated in both Houses of Parliament, when interest in this issue first arose in December 2003. We consulted the United States embassy in London, who noted that the export of anthrax from the United States to Iraq in the 1980's was subject to scrutiny by the relevant US authority. Export licenses were granted for the transfers in accordance with controls in place at the time.

The quantities exported were consistent with the requirements of legitimate scientific research and the United States authorities judged that there was no reason to suppose that the materials would be used for anything other than legitimate scientific purposes, namely the manufacture of vaccines. Anthrax, in particular, is endemic in Iraq.


Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what the Government's policy is on the legality of Israeli settlements in territories occupied since 1967; and whether that position has changed since May; [17483]

(2) what the Government's position is on the continued building of Israeli settlements in territories occupied since 1967, where such building takes place within areas already occupied by settlements; and whether that position has changed since May. [17926]

14 Oct 2005 : Column 650W

Dr. Howells: We have not changed our policy on Israeli settlements. Settlements are illegal under international law and settlement construction is an obstacle to peace. The roadmap is clear that Israel should freeze all settlement construction including the "natural growth" of existing settlements, and dismantle all outposts built since 2001. We call on the Israeli Government to do so.


Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress the International Criminal Court is making with its investigations in Darfur. [17489]

Dr. Howells: Under the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) must report to the Security Council every six months. He presented his first report to the Security Council on 29 June and said that, following a preliminary examination, he had determined there were sufficient grounds to open a formal investigation into the situation in Darfur.

The court will carry out its investigations into Darfur in an entirely independent capacity. The timing of the indictments, including the names and numbers of those to be investigated or prosecuted, is solely within the prosecutor's discretion. The chief prosecutor is due to update the Security Council on the status of the investigation in December, The United Kingdom is fully committed to supporting the ICC and stands ready to consider any request for assistance made by the Court.

The Hague Programme

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of item 1.3 of the Council and Commission action plan implementing The Hague Programme on strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union (Council Document 9778/2/05 REV 2). [15390]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Item 1.3 of the action plan reads

This reflects the Council's concern, highlighted in The Hague Programme, to consider whether there is a need to amend the Court's statute to update existing arrangements for expedition in appropriate cases. As the action plan makes clear, any such changes could only be achieved in a way that was consistent with the existing treaties.


Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of visa applications for (a) visitors, (b) students and (c) settlement were granted in 2004–05, broken down by country of application. [15579]

Dr. Howells: Entry clearance statistics for 2004–05, which includes statistics on the proportion of visa applications granted for visitors, students and
14 Oct 2005 : Column 651W
settlement, are currently being collated and checked by UKvisas and will be publicly available on the UK visas' website at by 21 October. UKvisas will send the hon. Member a copy of the statistics if they become available before that time.

West Papua

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of recent Indonesian troop movements and military deployment in West Papua. [17240]

Ian Pearson: We are aware of recent reports of large numbers of troop movements into Papua However, the figures in these reports are unconfirmed. In March 2005, the Indonesian Army announced plans to increase the number of troops permanently based in Papua. If these plans are carried out as described, the troop strength in Papua will be approximately 13,000 within five to 10 years.


Academic Selection

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Department of Education and Skills' policy that where selection exists, the Government believes in local decision-making, will be implemented in Northern Ireland; and what plans he has to provide for local decision-making on the continuation of academic selection in schools in Northern Ireland. [17677]

Angela E. Smith: Following a lengthy and detailed review, Government policy is to end academic selection in Northern Ireland. There are no plans to hold local ballots about ending academic selection in individual schools.

Assets Recovery Agency

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been seized by the Assets Recovery Agency in Northern Ireland since its inception; and how this money has been spent. [17034]

Mr. Woodward: Since its inception in February 2003, ARA has taken action to freeze assets in Northern Ireland in respect of 16 cases. Of those, two cases have concluded either by way of settlement or through action in the High Court. As a result houses, cars and other property to the value of £1,485,000 have been handed over to the agency for disposal. In addition, the agency has also used its taxation powers in two cases and has recovered £277,298.00 in tax.

One further case has also been settled whereby assets in excess of £100,000 have, by agreement been placed in the hands of a trustee.

The proceeds of all assets recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act and earlier legislation are paid to the consolidated fund and an element is dispersed for a variety of asset recovery purposes under the auspices of the Home Office. Resources from that fund have been made available to the Police Service Northern Ireland to fund the appointment of financial investigators.
14 Oct 2005 : Column 652W

Next Section Index Home Page