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31 Oct 2005 : Column 749W—continued


Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received from the Colombian Government on the case of the three IRA members who were convicted of terrorist offences in Colombia and who have fled the country. [23352]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We have received no recent representations from the Colombian Government over this issue.

EU China Human Rights Dialogue

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress made at the EU China Human Rights Dialogue meeting held in Beijing on 24 October. [23075]

Ian Pearson: The priority topic of this dialogue was freedom of religion but the EU delegation raised a number of human rights concerns on aspects of rule of law and co-operation with UN human rights mechanisms. There was a field trip to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region which finished on 27 October.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with the European Commission regarding Iraq. [22958]

Dr. Howells: The most recent discussion my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had with the Commission on Iraq was with Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner during the signing of the EU-Iraq Joint Political Declaration on 21 September in New York.

Government officials have also kept in regular contact with their Commission counterparts both in Brussels and on the ground in Iraq, most recently by the 24–26 October EU Political Directors Troika visit to take forward the EU-Iraq political dialogue.


Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government provide funding for (a) the establishment of and (b) attendance at Madrasses in Moslem countries. [22271]

Dr. Howells: The Government do not provide funding for these purposes.
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Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to (a) the US and (b) the EU to remove the Mujahadin-e-Khalk (PMOI) from its list of debarred organisations. [22552]

Dr. Howells: We have no such plans. The Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) is proscribed in the UK under the Terrorism Act 2000. It has a long history of involvement in terrorism in Iran and elsewhere and is, by its own admission, responsible for violent attacks that have resulted in many deaths. The MeK is listed in the US as a foreign terrorist organisation, and it is on the EU's asset freeze list. We welcome this.


Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has been informed of potential (a) curtailment and (b) disruption of BBC World Service broadcasts in Nepali language being planned by the government of Nepal; and if he will make a statement. [21904]

Dr. Howells: The BBC World Service leases a frequency on the FM waveband from the state-owned Radio Nepal. This is for the English language BBC World Service but also includes a daily Nepali language news programme. A number of independent Nepali FM radio stations also re-transmit this news programme as part of their output.

Following King Gyanendra's takeover of power on 1 February, a State of Emergency was declared under which a number of restrictive measures were introduced. As part of these measures, the Nepali authorities jammed the BBC Nepali language news programme and part of the English language news bulletins. They also ordered independent Nepali FM radio stations to stop broadcasting all news programmes. Some of these stations resumed news broadcasting after obtaining a favourable Supreme Court order on 10 August but the Nepali Government reinforced the news ban with a new Media Ordinance promulgated on 9 October.

The Nepali authorities have not interfered with the BBC Nepali service which is broadcast on the shortwave band.

The UK is deeply concerned about the restrictions imposed by the Government of Nepal on the media. We believe that these restrictions, including the new Media Ordinance, infringe unacceptably upon freedom of expression.

The British Government and the BBC have formally requested the Government of Nepal to allow the BBC to broadcast unhindered. The British Ambassador in Kathmandu has also raised our concerns about media censorship directly with the King, in the context of our wider concerns about the erosion of democratic processes, institutions and civil liberties.


Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures the United Kingdom plans to propose within the
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context of the European Union against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction during the UK's presidency of the European Union. [21228]

Mr. Straw: In line with our over-arching presidency objectives, our focus has been on running an efficient presidency and increasing the effectiveness of EU efforts to counter weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation. The EU has played a prominent and constructive role in the UN General Assembly First Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group Consultative Committee and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Plenary meeting among others. We have initiated and led an internal debate to prepare EU ideas to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) at its review conference in 2006.

The EU has provided further financial support to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (POCW) and hopes to agree similar support by the end of our presidency to assist the effective implementation of the BTWC. We are drawing up plans with the Council Secretariat and Commission for work with a wide range of third countries to enhance export control measures. We are also working with the Council Secretariat, Commission and member states to revise the list of priorities for implementation of the EU WMD strategy ahead of the European Council in December.

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is his Department's policy that there should be a specific budget line on non-proliferation and disarmament in the next European Union Financial Perspective for 2007 to 2013. [21229]

Mr. Straw: There already is a budget line for non-proliferation activities within the group of budget lines for common foreign and security policy (CFSP) activities. Our view is that this budget line should remain, within the CFSP envelope, in the next financial perspective. We do not think, however, that it would be appropriate to have one budget line or instrument covering both Commission and CFSP activity in this area as each requires a separate legal base. Activity such as nuclear safety is carried out under the euratom treaty. CFSP activities, such as non-proliferation and small arms and light weapons projects with third countries, are carried out on the basis of title V, treaty on European Union i.e. on the decision of all member states in the CFSP framework.

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has to ensure that the European Commission continues to meet all its obligations under the Global Partnership in relation to nuclear non-proliferation in the next European Union Financial Perspective 2007 to 2013. [21230]

Mr. Straw: We are working with partners on plans for the EU's next Financial Perspective (2007–13). These include increasing the effectiveness of the global security agenda and the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) budget. The proposed nuclear safety instrument would provide a specific basis for funding activities that fall under the Commission's competence on the basis of
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the euratom treaty. The CFSP budget will remain as the basis for member states' activity through CFSP. We are arguing for an increase in the latter, within an overall budget of no more than 1 per cent. of EU gross national income.

We have also co-sponsored with the Commission an EU pilot project on weapons of mass destruction. The recommendations will identify priorities for community funding of non-proliferation projects. This will inform EU thinking on how best to spend the increase in funding needed to meet the European Commission's 2002 pledge to contribute €1 billion over 10 years to the global partnership.

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