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Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being discussed in the EU to develop the European Anti-Fraud Office in preparation for future transformation into the European Public Prosecutor, as referred to in OJ C122, volume 48, 20 May 2005; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Official Journal C122, volume 48, 20 May 2005 refers to the European Anti-Fraud Office's June 2003-July 2004 Activity Report. It contains a reference to the potential creation of a European Public Prosecutor's Office under the European Constitutional Treaty. Under the terms of the Treaty, the creation of a European Public Prosecutor would not be automatic, as it would first require the consent of every member state.
No measures are currently under discussion to prepare for a European Public Prosecutor. The UK has made it clear that it remains unconvinced of the need for an EPP, whether under the Constitutional Treaty or the current treaties.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of Hamas' victory in the recent elections to the Palestinian Legislature for security in the region. 
Following its meeting on 30 January, the Quartet (UN, EU, US and Russia) acknowledged the positive role of the Palestinian Authority security forces in helping maintain order during the recent elections.
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It expressed its view that progress on further consolidation, accountability and reform remains an important task. We support this position.
Hamas now has a choice to make between the path of democracy and the path of violence. The onus is on Hamas to change their approach to Israel, renounce violence and disarm. We are watching developments closely and taking stock of the situation.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on the activities of Interpal; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the issue with his Israeli counterpart most recently in July 2005 and I have dealt with parliamentary correspondence on Interpal. In these discussions, it was noted that, following allegations of connections to Hamas, the Charity Commission had investigated Interpal on several occasions and had found insufficient evidence to support taking action against Interpal.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent to which (a) UK and (b) EU banks have ceased business with Iran; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We are not aware that any UK or EU banks have recently ceased business with Iran. ABN Amro reportedly closed its offices in Iran in October 2004.
According to media reports, UBS said on 22 January that it would no longer deal with individuals, companies or state institutions in Iran, and Credit Suisse Group said on 23 January that it would stop new business with Iran.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what fora are available to the EU to express its concerns about human rights in Iran to the Iranian Government; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: Iran's poor human rights record is a long-standing concern of the EU and an important factor in shaping EU policy towards Iran.
During the UK presidency, the EU issued public statements and made representations to the Iranian authorities about human rights violations on more than 15 occasions.
The EU should also be able to discuss human rights concerns within the framework of the EU/Iran Comprehensive Dialogue, established in 1998, and the EU/Iran Human Rights Dialogue, established in 2002. Regrettably, however, these dialogues have not taken place since April 2003 and June 2004 respectively, despite the efforts of successive EU presidencies and the European Commission at both ministerial and official level.
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The EU also voices its concerns in international fora. All EU member states co-sponsored the resolution on human rights in Iran adopted by UN General Assembly in December 2005.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what conditions negotiations on the EU-Iran Trade and Co-operation and Political Dialogue Agreements would resume; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The EU has not taken forward negotiations on the draft EU-Iran Trade and Co-operation Agreement or the draft EU/Iran Political Dialogue Agreement since August 2005 when Iran unilaterally decided to resume uranium conversion activities, in violation of its commitments to the E3/EU and contrary to requests in the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors resolutions.
The EU agreed at the 16 December European Council that whether the EU's long-term relationship with Iran improves or deteriorates will depend on progress by Iran in the EU's areas of concern. These include Iran's attitude towards terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Iran's approach to the Middle East Peace Process, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and regional issues.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the incidence of corruption in reconstruction projects in Iraq. 
Dr. Howells: There have been several comprehensive assessments of financial management of the Iraqi reconstruction effort, the most prominent of which is the series of reports published by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Given concerns about levels of corruption in Iraq generally, the Government does not fund Iraqi institutions directly. All UK reconstruction programmes are monitored continuously, and where we have had any financial or management concerns we have taken action to address them.
The UK is committed to working with the Iraqi Government, alongside the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other donors, to improve accountability and transparency in Iraq's public finances. Iraq is making progress in developing its anti-corruption institutions. These now include a Board of Supreme Audit, Inspector Generals resident in each Ministry and a Commission for Public Integrity, which can refer cases to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. In addition, our efforts include encouraging Iraq to adopt international legal frameworks and standards in natural resource management, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received on the abduction and detention incommunicado of (a) Qutaiba Hamdani, (b) Uday Nasser (c) Badr, (d) Yasser Hamad and (e) Firaz Imad in Iraq in February 2004. 
Dr. Howells: In March 2004, our Representative to the United Nations in Geneva received a copy of a letter from the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, Mr. Van Boven, which referred to those named in the question. The only other representations we are aware of on behalf of these individuals are those from the hon. Member himself.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2006, Official Report, column 122W, on Iraq, whether he has (a) requested and (b) received information from (i) UK officials, (ii) UK armed service personnel and (iii) Iraqi official sources relating to the whereabouts of Mr. Quitaba Hamdani, Mr. Uday Nasser Badr, Mr. Yasser Hamad and Mr. Firaz Imad referred to in the letter of 12 March 2004 from Mr. van Boven, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. 
Dr. Howells: We have requested information about action taken by UK and US officials at the time of the van Boven letter. We have not approached the UK military or Iraqi officials.
Any reply to the Special Rapporteur's letter would have been sent by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which was dissolved at the end of June 2004. A search of the CPA's permanent records has taken place without finding the Special Rapporteur's letter or any reply.
At the time of Mr. van Boven's letter there was a great deal of militia activity of the type mentioned in his letter and many reports from different sources urging that they should be investigated. In so far as it was possible in each case full investigations were undertaken and attempts made to stop illegal detention.
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