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28 Mar 2006 : Column 914W—continued

Askariya Shrine

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs what support and assistance the UK Government are providing for the reconstruction of the Askariya shrine in Samara; and if he will make a statement. [61138]

Dr. Howells: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 23 February, the Government stand ready to contribute to the reconstruction of the Shrine site. We will be guided on how best we do this by our friends within the Muslim communities in Iraq and Britain.

Capita Group

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many tenders (a) Capita plc and (b) its subsidiaries have submitted to his Department in each of the last three years; and how many tenders were successful. [61436]

Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has no record of any tenders submitted by Capita plc in 2004. Out of five tenders submitted in 2005 by Capita plc, three were successful. Capita submitted one tender in 2006. This was unsuccessful.

The FCO has no record of any tenders submitted by subsidiaries of Capita plc in the last three years.

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many contracts his Department holds with (a) Capita plc and
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(b) its subsidiaries which have a potential duration of five years or more. [61437]

Mr. Straw: None.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of reports that British citizens were tortured while in detention in Egypt. [58799]

Dr. Howells: We condemn the use of torture and take any allegations of torture or mistreatment extremely seriously. My hon. Friend the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Chris Mullin) and my noble Friend the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State (right hon. Baroness Symons), have each raised with the Egyptian Foreign Minister claims of torture made by British citizens held in detention in Egypt.


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Eritrea about expulsion of United Nations negotiators from that country; and if he will make a statement. [61772]

Ian Pearson: My noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, summoned the Eritrean ambassador on 9 December 2005 to make clear the EU's concern about Eritrea's decision to expel monitors of certain nationalities serving with the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). We also supported a UN Security Council Presidential Statement, which declared that the Eritrean action was unacceptable and demanded its immediate and unequivocal reversal without preconditions. The full text of the statement can be found on the UN website at: http://daccessdds.un.orR/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/643/03/PDF/N0564303.pdf?OpenElement. We continue to urge both parties to implement the boundary commission's decision and demarcate their common frontier and for Eritrea to lift its restrictions on UNMEE and allow it to fulfil its mandate.


Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on human rights in Indonesia. [61017]

Ian Pearson: The human rights situation in Indonesia has improved considerably in the last few years. Indonesia has a flourishing free media and an increasingly liberal and plural political environment and a democratically elected President and Parliament. The successful peace process in Aceh is an indication of the Government's willingness to resolve long-standing conflicts.

There are sporadic incidents of inter-religious violence in certain religiously mixed areas which have adversely affected both Christians and Muslims. However, these have decreased in recent years and the Government of Indonesia is working to ensure good inter-communal relations, including by working with
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Muslim and Christian community leaders to reduce tensions. In September 2005, President Yudhoyono stressed that the state guaranteed every citizen religious freedom and called on the police and public to act to prevent violence against any faith.

We raise reports of human rights abuses in Papua with the Indonesian Government, and encourage them to allow access to the province for journalists.


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs how much the UK spent on promoting democracy in Iran in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [56111]

Mr. Straw: Encouraging respect for human rights and political freedoms is a key element of our approach towards Iran. We do not take sides in Iran's internal political debates—these are for Iranians themselves to resolve—but seek to promote the internationally recognised principles to which many Iranians aspire including freedom of speech and transparent, genuinely democratic and accountable government.

In line with long-standing EU policy, we are committed to supporting political reform. We continue to support the development of governmental and non-governmental organisations where opportunities arise. We do not publicise the details without the consent of our Iranian partners. The EU has allocated around £4.4 million to projects in Iran under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. Three projects, to which the EU has allocated a total of £2.9 million, are implemented by United Nations agencies. A further lm project was launched in January 2005.

Remedying the deficiencies in the democratic process will be a long-term process. In our private dialogue and public statements we continue to press the Iranian authorities on the need for reform. As I made clear in my speech to the International Institute of Strategic Studies on 13 March, this is an area where I believe the UK and EU should become more active.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with Iraqi (a) officials and (b) leaders on the establishment of the new government. [62132]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary maintains regular telephone contact with Iraqi political leaders. He last visited Iraq on 20–21 February. He met a broad range of key political figures involved in the negotiations on the formation of a new government, including President Talabani, Prime Minister Ja'afari and leaders of the main Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Shia parties.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether station heads in Iraq have advised his Department that shipments of arms exported to Iraq from the United Kingdom may have been diverted to Al-Qaeda operatives. [61882]

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Dr. Howells: We are not aware of any official reports of UK supplied equipment being diverted to insurgents. We are, however, aware of media reports alleging that part of a consignment of used Italian police pistols, delivered to Iraq via a UK company, fell into the hands of insurgents.

All UK licences are assessed for the risk of diversion against the EU and National Consolidated Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Where the risk is considered too high a licence will not be issued. Arms are needed in Iraq to allow the Government of Iraq and the Multinational Force to effectively carry out their roles. Without these arms, their functions would be seriously affected.


Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much trade and investment has been agreed with Libya since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [60214]

Dr. Howells: UK Trade and Investment provides a full range of services to British companies wishing to trade with or invest in Libya, through commercial teams based in both the UK and the our embassy in Tripoli. This includes inward and outward trade missions, trade fairs and the provision of up-to-date information on the business environment in Libya.

There are no official figures on the level of British investment in Libya, neither are there figures for invisible exports to the country. However, over 50 UK-based companies have established branch offices in Libya in order to pursue their trade and investment interests. Visible exports from Britain were worth over £210 million in 2005, a slight fall on the figure of £216 million recorded in 2004. British trade and investment is focused primarily on Libya's rapidly developing oil and gas sector, in which Shell has a major stake. In May 2005, Shell reached agreement on a major gas exploration and development deal with Libya's National Oil Company, which will involve a minimum investment of around US $300 million, by far the biggest investment in Libya by a British company.

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