|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of recent democratic reforms in the Maldives pursuant to the road maps announced by President Gayoom; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We strongly support continued democratic reform in the Maldives. We have been regularly encouraging the Government of the Maldives to quickly put in place a clear, time-bound framework with objectives and milestones for further progress. We hope the road-map that President Gayoom referred to at the official opening of the Maldivian Parliament on 23 February will provide this. We understand the road-map is due to be published by the end of March 2006.
We welcome the important democratic changes that the Government of the Maldives have already introduced, including the legalisation of political parties in June 2005.
28 Mar 2006 : Column 918W
Much remains to be done. Agreement on and implementation of further major democratic and constitutional changes will require an inclusive process reflecting the views of political parties, civil society and the general public in the Maldives. Dialogue between the political parties is essential. We fully support the work of the Commonwealth Secretary-General's Special Envoy and the Commonwealth Secretariat in facilitating dialogue on constitutional reform between the political parties.
A genuine commitment to democracy requires all stakeholders to live up to the spirit as well as the letter of reform. We continue to urge the Government to do all in their power to remove potential obstacles to dialogue, including addressing the issue of legal actions which are seen to be politically motivated. Officials did so when they met the Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr.Ahmed Shaheed in London on 21 March. We also regularly urge the opposition to engage constructively, within the law and the current constitution.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last made representations to the European Union on the continued proscription of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MEK) is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom. The MEK appears on the list of persons, groups and entities which are subject to restrictive measures with a view to combating terrorism under Council Regulation 2580/2001-EC. The Court of First Instance of the European Communities is currently scrutinising the process by which the MEK was included on that list, and the UK has made representations to the Court. Judgment in that case is awaited.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what security arrangements are in place for members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq; 
(2) what plans he has assessed for the protection of Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation members at Camp Ashraf when the UK and the US disengage from Iraq. 
Dr. Howells: The Iraqi Government is responsible for the security of Camp Ashraf in Iraq. At their request, Multi-National Forces in Iraq (MNF-I) currently provide perimeter security at the camp. The Iraqi Government will remain responsible for the protection of Camp Ashraf when the MNF-I leaves Iraq.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Mujahedin-e Khalq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
The Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom. It is Government policy that Ministers and officials do not have contact with proscribed groups.
28 Mar 2006 : Column 919W
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation that have been disarmed by coalition forces in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
Dr. Howells: Since April 2003, approximately 4,000 Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation members have been disarmed by US forces at a number of locations in Iraq.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'-"s of the United Kingdom concerning the Foreign Affairs Committee report on the Human Rights Annual Report 2005; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: Officials regularly meet representatives from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is to discuss the deteriorating situation faced by Baha'is in Iran. In addition, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is attended a meeting on 23 March of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) advisory panel on religious freedom. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is has also discussed the written evidence that they gave to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) with officials from the FCO. We understand that the Baha'i Assembly is concerned that some elements of the evidence they submitted to the FAC appear to have been misinterpreted. Baha'i representatives noted that they supported the overall tone of the FCO Annual Human Rights Report as well as Government policy with respect to human rights in Iran.
Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Sudan to ensure that (a) Ms Amouna Mohamed Ahmed, (b) Ms Fayza Ismail Abaker, (c) Ms Houda Ismail Abdel Rahman and (d) Ms Zahra Adam Abdella, who were arrested on 7 March, are properly treated in custody and receive a fair trial. 
Ian Pearson: We are in close contact with the UN and Human Rights groups about the case of four women detained in El Serief camp on 7 March. The UN have confirmed that the four women have not been physically abused and have access to their lawyer and family. The Sudanese Organisation against Torture, which is partly funded by the UK, is providing free legal aid to the women. We have also instructed our Embassy in Khartoum to make representations to the Government of Sudan on this case.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Venezuelan Government on political prisoners in Venezuela. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander:
We have had no discussions about political prisoners in Venezuela with the Venezuelan Government. However, we have regular
28 Mar 2006 : Column 920W
exchanges with the Venezuelan Government and other political institutions in the country, including civil society organisations, about the development of democracy and protection of human rights in Venezuela.
Tim Farron: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the implications for tourist businesses of the Lyons Inquiry recommendation that people staying in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation should pay a bed tax; and what assessment he has made of the representations on this recommendation from the tourist industry. 
Mr. Woolas: The Lyons Inquiry has made no such recommendation.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the intended purpose is of the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme. 
Mr. Woolas: The Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme (LABGI) was designed to provide an incentive for local authorities to promote economic growth in their area, by allowing them to be rewarded for an increase in business rateable value, above a certain threshold level.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much each London local authority spent on consultation on controlled parking zones (a) in eachyear since 1997 and (b) in each month since May 2003. 
Mr. Woolas: The information requested is not collected centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|