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Police Force Restructuring

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on police force restructuring in Wales. [41874]

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Mr. Hain: Having engaged in discussion with hon. Members, Chief Constables, representatives of police authorities, local authorities, and other stakeholders across the whole of Wales. I see no realistic alternative to a single force for Wales if the objectives set out in the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary are to be achieved.

However, the Government recognises that there are issues that require further discussion and we are working closely with forces and authorities to help refine their business cases and address any outstanding issues.

Welsh Budget

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss the Welsh Budget. [40676]

Mr. Hain: I met the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary on 5 December 2005 and the Chancellor on 7 December 2005, in addition to which I engage with them on matters relevant to the Welsh Budget as and when they arise.


British Embassy (Madagascar)

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the closure of the British embassy in Madagascar. [42008]

Ian Pearson: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave a statement to the House on 15 December 2004, Official Report, columns 137–38WS covering the closure of several embassies and high commissions, including that of the British embassy in Madagascar. The embassy closed on 15 August 2005.


Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Binley) of 2 November 2005, Official Report, column 1081W, on Burma, what actions in the United Nations Security Council he expects will promote reform and positive change in Burma; [32537]

(2) if he will make it his policy to seek the referral of Myanmar to the United Nations Security Council. [32772]

Ian Pearson: We fully support US efforts to get Burma onto the UN Security Council's agenda. We believe that a Security Council discussion of the situation in Burma, including human rights issues, would increase the pressure on the Burmese regime to effect genuine change. It would send a powerful signal to the Burmese leadership that the Security Council—the primary UN body responsible for international peace and security—is concerned about the human rights situation and is monitoring developments.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to investigate the allegations of harassment of Sudanese refugees in Cairo by the Egyptian authorities; and if he will make representations on behalf of those killed and injured as a result of the incident in Mostafa Mahmoud Park. [41529]

Dr. Howells: We have taken a close interest in the situation of Sudanese refugees in Egypt. The British embassy in Cairo has participated in meetings with the Egyptian authorities, as well as the United Nations HighCommissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and has expressed concern at the tragic incident in Mustafa Mahmoud Square on 30 December.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has informed the UNHCR that the Egyptian Prosecutor-General is carrying out an investigation of the incident.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Eritrea on (a) the peaceful resolution of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute and (b) stability and security in the Horn of Africa. [39709]

Ian Pearson: The Eritrean demand for staff of Canadian, European, Russian and US nationalities to be removed from the UN Mission to Ethiopia/Eritrea (UNMEE) has added to the already highly tense situation. The withdrawal of those, plus other staff for their own safety, has in addition to the Eritrean restrictions on UNMEE already in place, further reduced UNMEE's monitoring and conflict prevention capability. This reduced capability and the resulting increase in tension may have a negative impact both on progress towards a peaceful resolution of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute, and on stability and security in the Horn of Africa.

We supported a Security Council Presidential Statement strongly condemning the Eritrean demand and previous restrictions, and have urged Eritrea to co-operate fully with UNMEE. We also continue to underline to both Ethiopia and Eritrea that there should be no return to war; that the decision of the Boundary Commission is final and binding, and must be implemented; and that they should engage in dialogue on all the issues that divide them.

EU Structural Funds

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have received advocating the broadening of the scope of EU structural funding to include a wider range of projects. [41815]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The eligibility of projects for support from the EU structural funds is determined by the relevant Council and Commission Regulations governing those funds. The regulations for the 2007–13 period are still being negotiated. The Government's position in the negotiations is developed through consultation. Government departments and national
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and regional bodies maintain regular dialogue with stakeholders and their representatives, including Regional Development Agencies, Regional Assemblies, local authorities, MPs, MEPs, Councillors, through correspondence, information events, and meetings with ministers and officials.

The scope of structural funding has been an aspect of discussions on the proposals to improve the strategic focus of spending in this area over the next programming period. The Government supports these proposals, as have the majority of UK stakeholders. The change in focus will inevitably affect the eligibility of some activities.

European Council

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what matters in respect of inward investment into the poorer regions of (a) the new member states from eastern Europe and (b) the United Kingdom were discussed at the European Council meeting on 15 to 16 December 2005; and what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the poorer areas of Wales of the agreed conclusions of the council. [41556]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The European Council in December agreed the overall budgetary framework for the EU for the period 2007 to 2013, including Structural and Cohesion Funds (SCF). The agreement marked a historic shift in EU funding to the new EU member states, and they will receive over half of the SCF budget in the next period. Nevertheless, West Wales and the valleys will continue to receive an amount of convergence funding similar to which they received in this financial perspective.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether Iran is organising training camps for non-Iranian operatives for (a) military and (b) terrorist activity. [41829]

Dr. Howells: We are aware of reports that Iran is providing training to groups seeking to undermine peace in the Middle East through violence. We remain deeply concerned about Iran's approach to terrorism and the nature of its relationship with Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. We are also deeply concerned about and continue to investigate Iran's links to extremist groups in Iraq. We have pressed Iran to renounce all support for groups using terror and violence. We have also urged Iran to take effective action against members of Al-Qaeda and jihadist" groups using Iran as a base, transit route or refuge, and to co-operate actively with the rest of the international community against them.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funds have been provided by his Department for the promotion of civil society in Iran. [43364]

Dr. Howells: Funding is available through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) programme budgets to support projects in Iran in areas such as engaging with the Islamic world; drugs and crime; climate change;
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governance; and counter terrorism. The largest of these funds, the FCO's Global Opportunities Fund has a total of £34.6 million for use in projects around the world for financial year 2005–06.

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