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Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what impact EU external action has had on funding for the Caribbean countries; and what progress has been made on the proposed EU sugar reforms. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: At the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 24 November, EU Minister agreed to reform the EU Sugar Regime. These major reforms will bring the regime into line with other sectors of the common agricultural policy which have already been through reform. They will produce significant economic benefits and put the EU in a stronger position ahead of the World Trade Organisation negotiations in Hong Kong in December. The reforms will also benefit producers in some of the world's poorest countries, which have had to compete with dumped EU sugar exports. This will open up new opportunities for them on world and regional markets.
We recognise the negative short-term impacts that the EU reforms will have on some African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) sugar producers with preferential access to the EU market. However, a smaller price cut and longer adjustment period than originally proposed will give the ACP a better opportunity to adjust to the reforms. The EU will also provide transitional assistance to help them improve their efficiency in the sugar sector where feasible or diversify into more profitable sectors.
The Commission similarly implemented an assistance scheme for ACP banana producers in 1999 after the last reform of the EU banana regime. We are working closely with the European Commission to improve the efficiency with which funds are allocated to those who need it.
EC funding for Caribbean countries is provided principally through the European Development Fund (EDF). The EU in February this year agreed that the overall funding for the EDF, which also covers African and Pacific countries, should increase in the next EDF period. A precise figure has yet to be agreed.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much in legal fees the Government has incurred in the Chagos Islands case in respect of (a) the judicial review decided on 3 November 2000, (b) the group litigation decided by the Court of Appeal in July 2004 and (c) the judicial review concerning the Orders in Council dated June 2004. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander [holding answer 28 November 2005]: There have been three separate legal cases concerning the Chagos Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has paid the following sums in respect of legal fees incurred in defending those cases:
Ian Pearson: We regularly raise concerns about freedom of religious belief in China with the Chinese Government. We did so at the last UK China Human Rights Dialogue in June. Freedom of religion was a focus of the last EU China Human Rights Dialogue in October. We include cases of Christians among individual cases of concern raised within these dialogues. Ministers regularly raise human rights with Chinese interlocutors.
Ian Pearson: We raise our concerns with the Chinese government regularly, including through the UK China Human Rights Dialogue, ministerial engagement and EU mechanisms such as the EU China Human Rights Dialogue and EU demarches.
Ian Pearson: The UK remains committed to working towards long-term peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We support the transitional government process and continue to exert pressure on the Government to hold credible elections within the June 2006 deadline. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) reinforced this message during his recent visit to the DRC.
The UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the DRC. We have a £55 million package of bilateral development assistance this year, with a focus on ending conflict and supporting the transition process to start to move towards long-term development. Other support includes justice reform to end the culture of impunity, delivery of health and education services, infrastructure rehabilitation, media and work on the transparent management of natural resources. We work closely withnon-governmental organisations, the UN, the EC, World Bank and other bilateral partners.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what permission is required from (a) his Department and (b) the UK diplomatic representative of the British Indian Ocean
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Territory for (i) US military missions and (ii) landing of US military or civilian aircraft on the island of Diego Garcia. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The 1976 Exchange of Notes, the Diego Garcia Agreement, between the Government and the Government of the United States of America concerning a United States Navy Support Facility on Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, states in paragraph 3 that:
Both Governments shall consult periodically on joint objectives, policies and activities in the area. As regards the use of the facility in normal circumstances, the US Commanding Officer and the Officer in Charge of the United Kingdom Service element shall inform each other of intended movements of ships and aircraft. In other circumstances the use of the facility shall be a matter for the joint decision of the two Governments."
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Former President Gutierrez was dismissed by Congress in April following demonstrations in Quito in protest at interference by Gutierrez in the judiciary. Gutierrez had controversially dismissed the Supreme Court. Congress appointed the Vice-President, Alfredo Palacio, to replace him. President Palacio has called for a popular consultation on possible political reforms. His Government is in discussion with political parties in Congress, and with representative social organisations, on the possible format and timing of a popular referendum. There is no agreement so far. The appointment of new judges to a new Supreme Court is expected shortly.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which EU directives he expects will be converted into regulations in accordance with the policy set out in COM (2005) 535. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander:
The Commission made a series of proposals for simplifying existing European legislation in its Communication COM (2005) 535. We have welcomed these proposals as a practical contribution to the common efforts of the Commission and UK Presidency to pursue the European better regulation agendaan agenda crucial to European competitiveness. The Commission Communication includes proposals to substitute directives with regulations, where this fits with simplification goals and principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The choice of legal instrument will be decided on a case by case basis, with negotiations on the individual dossiers beginning in 2006.
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