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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2480W—continued

EU Convergence Fund

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much Convergence Fund money would be allocated to West Wales and the Valleys under (a) the Luxemburg presidency's final budgetary proposals and (b) the UK presidency's budgetary proposals as presented on 5 December. [37333]


 
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Mr. Douglas Alexander: Under the UK presidency's future financing proposal, tabled on 5 December, West Wales and the Valleys would receive the same level of convergence funding as under the final proposal made by Luxembourg in June this year. The exact sums involved will only be clearer if and when final agreement is reached on the EU's Financial Perspectives for 2007–13.

EU-Israel Association Agreement

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2005, Official Report, column 1026W, on the EU-Israel Association Agreement, when he expects the proposed new EU-Israel working group on human rights to be convened; who will be represented on it; how often it will meet; whether its proceedings will be in public; whom it will report to; and how it will relate to the monitoring and implementation of the human rights obligations of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. [38005]

Dr. Howells: The EU and Israel agreed to establish a working group on human rights at the Political Dialogue and Co-operation sub committee on 21 November. The European Commission will be consulting Israel and member states on the modalities of the EU- Israel Human Rights Working Group with a view to a meeting taking place in the first quarter of 2006. Reinforcing our dialogue with Israel on human rights through this working group will also help to monitor the implementation of the relevant provisions of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

David Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in what circumstances the Government would support the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement; and if he will make a statement. [38245]

Dr. Howells: We do not believe consideration should be given to suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has caused and continues to cause suffering on both sides. We should not be looking at imposing sanctions on either side, but at supporting them to get back to a political process in order to reach a just and lasting negotiated settlement.

Guantanamo Bay

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the US Department of Defense decision to conduct the first war crimes trials at Guantanamo Bay with the power to impose the death penalty; what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on this; and if he will make a statement. [36675]

Dr. Howells: The Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay have been suspended, pending consideration of the Hamdan case by the United States (US) Supreme Court. This is not expected before early next year. The US Government have confirmed that they will not seek the death penalty for any of the nine terrorist suspects they have formally charged at Guantanamo Bay.
 
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The Government's views on the Military Commissions are well known. The Government expressed publicly their reservations about the Commission from July 2003 when two British nationals were designated for possible trial. They subsequently concluded that the Commissions did not meet the standards required for our nationals.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed the Commissions with my EU counterparts recently.

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has made to the US Administration concerning the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. [38254]

Dr. Howells: We discuss Guantanamo Bay with the United States (US) Government on a regular basis. The US Government is well aware of our continuing concerns over the conditions of detainees there.

Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance Programme

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria are used to differentiate the support for the promotion of democracy from (a) human rights and (b) good governance under the Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance Programme. [35619]

Ian Pearson: The Government consider the promotion of Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance as interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The Foreign and Commonwealth Offices's approach to this task has been to mainstream this work throughout relevant Global Opportunities Fund (GOF) programmes. This includes the Sustainable Development programme (formerly Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance), which incorporates the grant in aid to the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, as well as the Reuniting Europe, Engaging with the Islamic World and Economic Governance (formerly Emerging Markets) programmes. The criteria for supporting projects for the promotion of democracy under GOF programmes are to strengthen political parties, parliaments, civil society and other institutions of democracy; support increased participation by the disenfranchised, especially women, ethnic minorities and the disabled, in accordance with principles of equality, diversity and non-discrimination; and to promote freedom of expression that underpins the exercise of democracy. On human rights, the GOF programmes seek to support projects that combat torture, the death penalty and promote child rights. We seek to promote good governance by supporting projects that enhance the rule of law, e.g. to enhance separation of powers, independent and professional judiciaries and legal services, access to justice and independent complaint mechanisms, such as ombudsmen.

Identity Cards

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) total and (b) net cost of (i) integrating the proposed identity card scheme into his Department's IT systems and (ii) the on-going operation of the scheme within his Department. [31109]


 
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Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has kept in close touch with the Home Office over the ID card scheme. It is not possible to estimate the potential cost to the FCO until legislation has been completed and policy issues relating to use of or access to ID cards overseas have been clarified.

Illegal Fishing

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to prevent illegal fishing in the waters surrounding South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and if he will make a statement. [36065]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands deploys fishery patrol vessels and utilises remote sensing techniques to monitor fishing activities in the 200-nautical-mile maritime zone around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and to detect illegal vessels. It is believed that little illegal activity presently takes place in the zone, and that detection rates are high. An illegal vessel was arrested in the zone, successfully prosecuted and subsequently scuttled (in Falkland Islands' waters) by the South Georgia Government earlier this year.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost was in 2004–05 of (a) preventing illegal fishing and (b) maintaining sustainable fisheries in the waters surrounding (i) South Georgia and (ii) the South Sandwich Islands. [36080]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are accounted together as they are one territory.

The current cost of preventing illegal fishing is about £2 million per annum. This figure consists of the cost of operating the fishery patrol vessel and other surveillance activity.

The cost of maintaining sustainable fisheries is just under £2 million per annum. This figure includes £1 million to finance the British Antarctic Survey Fisheries Research Laboratory and support services at King Edward Point, a cost which is shared equally between the South Georgia Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The remainder is expended on other fisheries research and a fisheries observer programme.

Thus the current annual expenditure on fisheries research, protection and management is nearly £4 million, excluding a significant proportion of the salaries paid to the permanent staff of the South Georgia Government, much of whose time is devoted to fisheries management.

This compares to a total income from fishing licences of £3,101,890.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many fishermen were prosecuted for illegal fishing in UK waters around (a) South Georgia, (b) the South Sandwich Islands and (c) the British Antarctic Territory in each of the last eight years. [36090]


 
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Mr. Douglas Alexander: There were no prosecutions for illegal fishing in waters within the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 200-nautical-mile Maritime Zone between 1997 and 2003 inclusive.

Three prosecutions commenced in 2004 in relation to two separate vessels, and involving two defendants (limited companies). Appeals are pending in relation to two of the three resulting convictions. Two prosecutions took place in 2005 in relation to one vessel involving two defendants (one limited company and one individual). This last prosecution resulted in a conviction and a substantial fine. Following the failure of the vessel owners to pay the fine, the South Georgia Government seized the vessel and, after removing from it all potential pollutants, scuttled it in Falkland Islands' waters.

The territorial waters around the British Antarctic Territory fall under the remit of the Antarctic Treaty and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Fishing in these waters is confined to Krill. No illegal fishing has been reported. No prosecutions have taken place.


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