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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 4 May 2006


ECOFIN Agenda 5 May 2006

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): Items on the agenda are as follows:

Draft General Budget 2007—Presentation on the Commission's annual Budget proposals for 2007.

Financial Management—Presentation on the Commission action plan towards an integrated internal control framework.

Sustainable Development Strategy—Contributing to preparations for the June European Council.

VAT—On-going discussion of the presidency's package of proposals, including on place of supply.


Foreign Compensation Commission

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): I will today lay before Parliament the Annual Report of the Foreign Compensation Commission for 2004–05. This is the 50th such report.

Copies will be placed in the Library of the House and the Vote Office. A copy will also be available on the Foreign Compensation Commission's website at: www.fcc.gov.uk.
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The report provides an account of the Commission's activities during the financial year 2004–05 and includes a statement of account for that period. It also includes summaries of expenditure for the preceding years when, owing to extended vacancies for a large part of that time, no annual reports were produced. The Commission was not engaged in any active distribution programmes during the periods in question and operates on a care and maintenance basis.

Darfur Peace Talks

The Minister for Trade (Ian Pearson): I commend the tireless efforts of the African Union (AU) mediation in Abuja to reach a peace deal for Darfur, and welcome their tabling, on 25 April, of compromise proposals for a Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has been at the Abuja talks since 2 May. He is supporting the AU in its efforts to get the parties to agree a deal.

I welcome the fact that the Government of Sudan are willing to sign the DPA. But I was extremely disappointed to hear that the rebel movements have rejected the first draft. They must realise that no deal will meet their full requirements; but this agreement is a fair and just one. It offers them participation in government and a political platform from which they can influence Darfur's future. I agree with the AU chief mediator's assessment that any future negotiations are likely to be less favourable to the movements.

The pressure is now on the rebel movements to agree the deal. The international community will not understand if they fail to take this opportunity to bring peace to Darfur and security to its people. We have already made clear that those who impede the peace process will face sanctions under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1591. The rebel movements need to understand that this is their opportunity for a just settlement and such an opportunity is unlikely to recur.

Darfur now stands at a critical juncture. Its people have suffered for far too long and it rests on the parties to the Abuja talks to give them the opportunity to rebuild their lives.