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2 Mar 2006 : Column 944W—continued


Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Parliamentary Under Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will reply to the letters of (a) 7 and 11 November 2005 and (b) 7 December 2005 from the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge. [38553]

Ian Pearson: My noble Friend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, replied to my hon. Friend's letters of 2 and 11 November and 7 December on 16 December 2005.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with particular reference to the treatment of journalists. [55343]

Ian Pearson: The peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains fragile, but the country is making progress towards holding democratic elections by June 2006. It is crucial that all parties stick to this timetable, and work constructively towards free and fair elections. The key challenges of Security Sector Reform, ending corruption and promoting human rights still remain.
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Freedom of the press generally exists in the DRC, but harassment of journalists, including physical attacks, have recently increased. The UK has reminded the DRC authorities of their duty to protect freedom of expression and the rights of all vulnerable groups, including journalists. The UK drafted the EU-led Resolution on DRC, adopted at the 2005 UN General Assembly, which made clear that the DRC Government must do more to protect human rights defenders.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent on advertising by (a) his Department, (b) each (i) non-departmental public body and (ii) executive agency for which his Department is responsible and (c) each independent statutory body, organisation and body financially sponsored by his Department in each year since May 1997. [39067]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T.C. Davies) on 18 July 2005, Official Report, columns 1369–70W.

To collate this information for 1997–2001 and for the Department's non departmental and other bodies would incur disproportionate costs.

Foreign Travel (Health and Safety)

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government takes to promote health and safety awareness among (a) UK citizens undertaking the Hajj to Saudi Arabia and (b) UK citizens planning travel to other foreign destinations. [51540]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), in partnership with leading British Muslim organisations on the Hajj Advisory Group (HAG), has since 2000 sent the British Hajj Delegation to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj. The Lord Patel of Blackburn has led the last six delegations, working alongside doctors and consular staff from our Consulate-General in Jeddah to provide medical and consular assistance to British pilgrims during the Hajj.

The FCO currently funds the delegation, and, as part of the project, produces a general advice leaflet to raise awareness among British pilgrims planning to go on the Hajj. Prior to the recent Hajj, we distributed 45,000 leaflets to British mosques and to the Saudi embassy in London. They included health and safety advice and a link to FCO travel advice.

The travel advice page for Saudi Arabia on the FCO website has a link to a specially designed section for those planning to go on the Hajj. This is part of the 'Know Before You Go' campaign and includes a separate section on health and welfare issues.

The FCO supports a wide ranging publicity campaign, which encourages British nationals to be better prepared for their overseas trips with a view to avoiding common travelling risks and dangers.

The campaign known as 'Know Before You Go' includes: information leaflets, Government TV fillers, radio messages, newspaper interviews and advertorials,
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travel show stands and other extensive PR and partnership activity, with some 180 'Know Before You Go' partners in the travel industry.

The FCO maintains a website and telephone help-line, which offer regularly-reviewed and updated information including specific country and destination advice and general safety travel tips.


Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Iraqi policemen have been trained since the end of the war; and how many more are expected to be trained and ready to work by the end of 2006. [43258]

Dr. Howells: 80,400 members of the Iraqi Police Service have been trained since the end of hostilities. Coalition targets predict that by the end of February 2007, 135,000 Iraqi police officers will be fully trained and equipped.

Nuclear Proliferation

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in developing the international non-proliferation regime since the June 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference; and if he will make a statement. [44496]

Dr. Howells: Since the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference concluded at the end of May 2005, there has been progress in much of the international non-proliferation regime. I described EU progress, which was made under the UK presidency in my answer today (UNI 44497) and steps we have taken since the Review Conference to strengthen the NPT in the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 23 January 2006, Official Report, column 1803W.

The UK successfully chaired a meeting of states party of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in a discussion of codes of conduct for scientists and the substantive outcome of the meeting was published in a written statement I made to this House on 20 December 2005, Official Report, columns 191–93WS.

At the annual Conference of States Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, we were instrumental in the decision to extend the Conference action plan to achieve full national implementation by all states party which sets a series of tight deadlines for states party to take various implementing measures, including passing implementing legislation. It also lays down steps for dealing with countries that do nothing towards implementation.

The UN Security Council's 1540 Committee continued its work to implement the provisions of the resolution, with many states, including the UK, submitting their second reports to the Committee. This followed the examination by experts appointed to the Committee of States' first reports, which highlighted areas where states were required to take action to implement the resolution in full.

At a Diplomatic Conference of the International Maritime Organisation in London in October, States Party to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful
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Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation agreed amendments to the Convention which, among other areas, will criminalise the transportation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related material by sea, including dual-use equipment intended for a weapons programme.

As part of the continuing engagement with Libya, the UK and US offered assistance in 2005 for the re-deployment and re-training of a number of Libyan scientists and technicians who were working on WMD programmes.

The Amendment on Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, agreed this year, significantly strengthened our key instrument for driving physical protection standards around the world. The Convention on Nuclear Terrorism, agreed in April 2005 with significant UK input, opened for signature in September. The UK was among dozens of states which signed the Convention straight away. The Convention includes measures which will reduce greatly the risk from terrorists using nuclear devices.

As G8 President, we encouraged all states to adopt the International Atomic Energy Agencies Additional Protocol and worked with others to formulate appropriate incentives for countries to forego fuel-cycle facilities. The G8 Global Partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction made measurable progress on various programmes this year, from tackling the management of the stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines in NW Russia to further progress on the construction of chemical weapons destruction facilities.

On WMD export control regimes, increasingly accepted around the world as important counter-proliferation mechanisms, we made progress towards agreeing criteria in the Nuclear Suppliers Group on transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technology, although final agreement has not yet been reached. We continued to play a lead role in the Australia Group's work countering biological and chemical weapons proliferation which, in its 25th year, marked in Sydney in June 2005, agreed significant control list amendments and admitted Ukraine to its membership. The Missile Technology Control Regime agreed our proposal for special scrutiny at trans-shipment points known to be used by the North Korean missile programme.

The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) has continued to attract support from countries around the world, for example the endorsements of the Initiative by Argentina, Jordan, Iraq, and Georgia. We have played a full role in the Initiative, including the organisation of the global exercise Exploring Themis in November. In the same month, the first Regional Operational Experts Group was held in Hamburg. This new format will help further increase the co-ordination and sharing of best practice between supporters of the PSI, which in a short space of time has become a key tool in our efforts to improve global counter-proliferation capability.

We pressed forward with our commitment to an international treaty on the trade in conventional arms, securing strong support from the EU in Council
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Conclusions agreed on 3 October and on 27 November with support from the Commonwealth for the start of a negotiation at the UN.

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK took during the UK presidency of the European Union to secure European commitments on non-proliferation and disarmament; what outcomes were achieved; and if he will make a statement. [44497]

Dr. Howells: During our EU presidency we aimed to improve the EU's contribution to multilateral counter-proliferation work through continued implementation of the EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Our general co-ordination of EU positions in numerous lobbying campaigns and multilateral meetings such as the United Nations General Assembly First Committee was acknowledged to be strong and helped convey the EU's policies clearly and positively. We made good progress on existing initiatives: the EU agreed to renew Joint Actions to support International Atomic Energy Agency and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons work on universalisation and full implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. We have also begun two major pieces of work to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which we expect to be completed during the Austrian presidency: a new Joint Action on universalisation of the BTWC and an EU Common Position for the BTWC Review Conference. We have also agreed a new Strategy to combat illicit trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons to complement the WMD Strategy. We launched a debate on future financing of WMD work to focus discussion on how best to channel limited EU resources for the period 2007–13.

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