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31 Jan 2006 : Column 352W—continued

Burma

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of how much (a) heroin and (b) methamphetamine was produced in Burma in each of the last two years; how much of that was exported to the UK in each year; what estimates he has made of the levels so far in 2006; and if he will make a statement. [46377]

Dr. Howells: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that opiate cultivation in Myanmar has declined from 44,200 hectares in 2004 to 32,800 hectares in 2005. This represents a 26 per cent. fall in cultivation. In 2004, Myanmar produced 370 metric tons of opium. In 2005, the total estimated production of opium was around 312 metric tons, a 16 per cent. decrease compared with the previous year and a 76 per cent. decrease from 1998. Estimates for 2006 are not yet available.

The UNODC estimates that about half the global production of amphetamines (mainly methamphetamine) take place in East and South East Asia, out of a total world production of 332 metric tons in 2003. Figures for 2004 and 2005 and estimates for 2006 are not yet available. The 2005 the Office of National Drug Control Policy National Drug Threat Assessment reports that Burmese criminal groups are the principal producers of methamphetamine tablets in South East Asia, with several hundred million tablets annually distributed to drugs markets in Thailand, China and India.

There is no evidence that drugs produced in or smuggled via Burma reach the UK in significant quantities.

China

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the transfer of Chinese missile technology to Iran; and if the Government support lifting the EU arms embargo on China. [47425]

Dr. Howells: Countering the threat of missile proliferation remains one of the Government's strategic priorities, particularly where such proliferation might contribute to the delivery of weapons of mass
 
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destruction. We seek to monitor missile-related transfers to Iran in this context. Assessments of proliferation activity often draw on highly classified information; it is impossible, therefore, to comment on specific aspects.

The Government support the decision of the European Council in December 2003 to review the EU arms embargo on China. This review is on-going—it was last discussed by EU Foreign Ministers at December's General Affairs and External Relations Council. The Government do not wish to exclude any options for the review, or to pre-empt the conclusion of the review. There is no consensus at present in the EU for lift. Further consultations in the EU and with other international partners are necessary before any decision is taken. In the context of these discussions the EU recalls the European Council Conclusions in December 2004 that any decision on the arms embargo would not result in an increase of arms exports to China in either quantitative or qualitative terms.

Early Retirement

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his Department's employees have taken early retirement due to ill-health in each of the past five years for which figures are available. [46867]

Mr. Straw: The number of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) employees who took early retirement due to ill health in each of the past three calendar years was:
Number
20039
20047
20052

Prior to the introduction of electronic records in September 2002, the FCO did not maintain records in a form that distinguished separately those retiring for medical reasons. To collate the information requested would incur disproportionate costs.

EU Arms Exports

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Ethiopia as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46838]

(2) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Eritrea as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46839]

(3) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Iran as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46840]

(4) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Liberia as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46841]
 
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(5) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Libya as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46842]

(6) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Namibia as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46843]

(7) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Sudan as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46844]

(8) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Syria as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46845]

(9) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Tajikistan as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46846]

(10) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Kyrgyzstan as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports [46847]

(11) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Zambia as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46848]

(12) if he will make a statement on EU arms exports to Zimbabwe as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; [46849]

(13) if he will make a statement on UK arms exports to the Democratic Republic of the Congo licensed by the Government as referred to in the Seventh Annual Report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. [46850]

Dr. Howells: The EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports was adopted on 8 June 1998. It represents a politically binding commitment by EU member states to apply common criteria when assessing export licence applications for the export of items on the common EU military list. Decisions made under the code are a matter for each individual member state.

Licence applications in the UK for the export of military and other controlled goods are rigorously assessed on a case by case basis against the Consolidated EU and national export licensing criteria, taking account of the circumstances prevailing at the time and other relevant announced Government policies. The Government will not issue licences where to do so would be inconsistent with the criteria or other relevant commitments. Further detail on UK export licence decisions for 2004 is contained in the United Kingdom Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls 2004, which was presented to Parliament on 21 July 2005.

Family Member Permits (EEA)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many European economic area family member permits were issued by British missions overseas in each of the last three years. [47320]

Dr. Howells: The information on EEA family member permits issued by British missions overseas in the last three years is as follows:
 
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EEA family permits issued

Number
2002–0320,016
2003–0421,441
2004–0524,930

UKvisas compiles statistics by financial year. Further entry clearance statistics in addition to those provided can be found on the UKvisas website at: www.ukvisas.gov.uk—'Entry Clearance: Facts and Figures'.

Migrant Smuggling

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the death toll of migrants being smuggled to countries around the horn of Africa; what representations he has made to (a) the countries involved and (b) the UN; and if he will make a statement. [47491]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We are aware that migrants transit the horn of Africa through a number of routes and that there have been tragic incidents involving loss of life, but there are no reliable statistics. My hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East, (Dr. Howells), raised this issue most recently with the Yemeni authorities on 24 January. We are helping the Yemeni Government to establish an effective coast guard. The Department for International Development have granted £500,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help the protection of internally displaced communities in the horn of Africa. I also refer my hon. Friend to the answer my hon. Friend, the Minister of State at the Home Office, gave the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) on 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 1114W.


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