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Dr. Howells: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) General Council accepted Iran's application to begin the process of accession to the WTO on 26 May 2005. This process normally takes several years. The next steps will be to establish a working party of WTO members that indicate an interest, and for Iran to submit a memorandum on foreign trade describing its current trading regime and setting out the reforms it intends to make in order to ensure that this regime is compatible with WTO norms. The European Union has traditionally supported the principle of Iran's accession to the WTO, which should promote economic reform, liberalisation, transparency and respect for property rights, and reduce discriminatory trade practices. As part of the accession process, Iran must agree acceptable terms and complete bilateral negotiations with all interested WTO parties before it could finally join.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has received from within Iraq on behalf of the International Tax and Investment Center in Iraq since January 2005; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: Our consular records show that at least 36 British civilians have died in Iraq since March 2003. This number includes deaths from natural causes, but is not a definitive figure as records include only those cases where consular assistance has been sought. The figure does not include British dual nationals.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether representations have been made to the Israeli authorities to cease withholding Palestinian tax revenues by (a) the UK and (b) the EU; and what assessment has been made of the feasibility of channelling those tax revenues via the EU. 
Dr. Howells: The UK and the EU have consistently called on the Government of Israel to ensure that the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) reach the Palestinian people. We welcome the move by Israel to use the revenues to pay utilities bills that the PA has accrued with Israeli companies from those revenues. We also welcome Foreign Minister Livni's announcement that withheld revenues could be used for humanitarian purposes. Channelling funds through the EU mechanism would be a further positive move.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) discussions and (b) correspondence there has been between her Department and the German authorities on the case of Leonard Hardy; and whether an agreement was reached between the Government and German authorities in relation to this case. 
There were discussions between our embassy in Berlin and the German authorities about the UKs policy in relation to dealing with terrorist suspects on the run. These focused, in particular, on the implications of the document entitled Proposals in Relation to On the Runs (OTRs) published in May 2003 and the subsequent draft legislation, the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, and their potential relevance to the cases of individuals suspected of offences committed in Germany.
That legislation was withdrawn on 11 January 2006. The Government had no role in Hardys extradition from Spain to Germany, which we understand took place under the European Convention on Extradition 1957 and the relevant German and Spanish legislation, and subsequent prosecution. No agreement was made between the Government and the German authorities in relation to this case.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in her Department have stayed overnight in (i) five star, (ii) four star and (iii) three star hotels in each of the last three years. 
Margaret Beckett: There is no centrally held record of the number of nights civil servants or special advisers have been accommodated in hotels over the last three years, nor the standard of those hotels. To answer this question officials would need to contact every post worldwide and ask them to let us know specifically the number of nights and the standard of accommodation civil servants or special advisers stayed in. To collate this information would therefore incur disproportionate cost.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in her Department staying overnight in (i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in each of the last three years. 
Margaret Beckett: There is no centrally held record of the cost of overnight accommodation for civil servants or special advisers over the last three years. To answer this question staff from my Department would need to contact every post worldwide and ask them to let us know specifically the cost of accommodation in which civil servants or special advisers stayed. To collate this information would therefore incur disproportionate cost.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many minutes of free personal overseas telephone calls officials in her Department are entitled to each week while posted overseas. 
Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office allows staff on detached duty overseas to claim reimbursement for up to five minutes of calls back to the UK a week. In addition, staff on substantive postings overseas receive an element in their overseas allowances to cover up to 60 minutes a month of calls back to the UK at local rates.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much aid the EU plans to channel to the Palestinian territories; and what the value is of the tax revenue due to the Palestinian Authority which has been withheld by Israel. 
Dr. Howells: The EU was tasked by the Quartet on 9 May to develop a temporary international funding mechanism to ensure assistance reaches the Palestinian people. The modalities of the mechanism, and the amounts that could be channelled through it, are being worked on urgently. The UK will of course want to play its part. Israel collects around US$50 million per month in tax revenues, part of which has been used to pay utilities bills.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many complaints of racial abuse have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in her Department in each of the last five years. 
Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not keep a categorised record of formal complaint types (grievances), as grievances are often complex and can arise from a number of different issues so such categorisation is misleading.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the then Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Ian Pearson) gave to him on 18 April, Official Report, column 537W. FCO records date back to 2003 only.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost was of (a) staff away days and (b) staff team building exercises in her Department in each of the last three years. 
Margaret Beckett: There is no centrally held record or costing of staff away days and team building exercises. To answer this question would involve staff contacting every Foreign and Commonwealth Office Department and post worldwide to collate this information. This would therefore incur disproportionate costs.
2004 Employee attitude survey
2005 FCO Services "Your Say" survey
2006 "Feedback" staff engagement survey
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions UK waters around Northern Ireland have been illegally entered in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to him today (UIN 70532). In international law there is no distinction made between Northern Ireland waters and UK waters. We do not hold any figures relating specifically to waters around Northern Ireland.
Mr. McCartney: The UK claims a 12 nautical mile territorial sea. Under Article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ships of all States enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.
Article 19(1) of UNCLOS provides that passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered prejudicial to the peace, good order and security of the coastal State, provided the coastal State has not consented to the activity, if the ship engages in any of the activities listed in Article 19(2) of UNCLOS. These activities range from fishing activities to wilful pollution to exercise or practice with weapons of any kind.
We do not hold data on illegal activities carried out in UK waters, although individual Government Departments may be able to provide statistics on specific areas relating to their responsibilities, e.g. illegal fishing.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have made claims for pension credit via (a) post, (b) telephone and (c) a home visit in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of pension credit have (a) requested and (b) received home visits to assist with a claim in each of the last three years. 
|Requests for visit for pension credit claim completion||Visits completed for pension credit claim|
| Notes: 1. Local Service became a nationally led business unit within the Pension Service in April 2004. There are no data available for 2003-04 as there was no national collation of data prior to this restructure. 2. Figures show a higher number of cleared than received requests during 2005-06. This is due to the carry over of appointments into financial year 2005.|
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners have received (a) telephone calls and (b) letters from agencies for which his Department is responsible, inviting them to explore the possibility that they may be eligible for pension credit since October 2004, broken down by parliamentary constituency. 
Since October 2004, the Pension Service has successfully contacted approximately 462,000 pensioners by telephone to discuss their eligibility for pension credit. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of this figure by parliamentary constituency.
From October 2004 to March 2006 approximately 2.83 million pensioners received a letter from the Pension Service inviting them to explore their eligibility for pension credit. I have placed a breakdown of this figure by parliamentary constituency in the Library.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners having been invited to explore the possibility that they may be eligible for pension credit via an unsolicited call from (a) the Pension Service and (b) another agency for which his Department is responsible went on to make (i) a successful and (ii) an unsuccessful application for pension credit, broken down by parliamentary constituency; and how many did not respond. 
|April 2005-March 2006||Number|
|(1) This is the number of outbound calls made by pension credit application line staff where they have been successful in contacting the customer to discuss their eligibility for pension credit. (2) These are effective visits following direct approach made by Local Service staff to provide the customer with a full benefit entitlement check (which includes pension credit). Initial contact to customers by Local Service staff was made by invitation letter or telephone call to discuss entitlement to financial benefits including pension credit.|
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