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20 Jun 2006 : Column 1716Wcontinued
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total UK expenditure on reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan has been since 2002; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Since financial year 2001-02, the UK has committed over £1 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan. This includes the most recent pledge of £500 million in development aid made at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2006.
The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to Afghanistan behind the United States. We also remain the largest contributor to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, having committed £295 million between 2002-08.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the reduction in the volume of the poppy harvest which will result from the work of the British and coalition troops in Afghanistan in each of the next four years. 
Dr. Howells: UK forces in Afghanistan are deployed under the international security assistance force (ISAF) and are not there to take direct action against the drugs trade. They will contribute to the broader counter-narcotics effort by providing the secure environment in which the rule of law can be applied, reconstruction can take place and legal rural livelihoods can be developed. ISAF forces will be able to help with the provision of training to Afghan counter-narcotics forces and will, within means and capabilities, provide support to their operations. They will also help the Afghan Government explain their policies to the Afghan people.
Sustainable drug elimination strategies take time. Bringing about a sustainable decrease in poppy cultivation requires a range of activities including arresting and convicting the traffickers who profit from the trade, and putting in place the development programmes which enable farmers to move away from growing poppy. That is why the UK is spending £270 million over a three-year period on supporting the Government of Afghanistans National Drug Control Strategy.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) reports of detainee abuse and (b) extra-judicial police actions in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Offices Annual Human Rights Report states that Afghanistan remains a country of concern for human rights reasons. We continue to receive reports of detainee abuse and extra-judicial action throughout Afghanistan. While the Afghan Government have made real progress in improving human rights, they currently lack the resources and capacity to deal with all the challenges they face.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), established in June 2002, is an autonomous institution within the Afghan Government set up to monitor human rights abuses and implement transitional justice. It continues to work
closely with the Government of Afghanistan and international partners to combat the culture of impunity that has existed in Afghanistan and led to past human rights abuses. Since its inception the Commission has closed some 40 private jails; has had 1,600 people, who were being held illegally, released from prison, and managed eight workshops for prison governors on human rights. Its work is helping the country make a full transition to stability and peace based on democracy and human rights. I am pleased to be able to tell the hon. Member that the UK recently committed US$1 million in funding to the AIHRC.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total UK expenditure on (a) poppy eradication and interdiction, (b) law enforcement and (c) support of alternative livelihoods has been in Afghanistan in each year since 2003. 
Dr. Howells: Over financial years 2003-04 and 2004-05, the UK allocated the following amounts to poppy eradication, law enforcement and interdiction, and alternative livelihoods in Afghanistan:
As interdiction and eradication are separate strands of work the figures are not combined; interdiction figures are combined with law enforcement.
A written ministerial statement providing a breakdown of the £87 million spent over 2005-06 will shortly be released. Over 2006-07, £91.7 million will be spent by the UK on counter-narcotics in Afghanistan.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has for the funding by the UK Government of the Amazon Deforestation Soya Certification project. 
Mr. McCartney: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is providing a total of £239,880 over three years, from its Global Opportunities Fund, for the Amazonian Deforestation Soya Certification project in Brazil. This comprises:
The project is co-funded by The Nature Conservancy do Brasil and aims to help combat deforestation by developing and implementing an independent certification scheme for forest-friendly soya, modeled on advances in timber certification in the Amazon, and thematic certification, such as dolphin-friendly tuna.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the reported use of forced labour of prisoners in Burma. 
Mr. McCartney: We are aware of reports of the use of forced labour by prisoners in Burma. However, we are unable to confirm the extent of the practice as diplomats and non-governmental organisations are not allowed access to prisons to verify this.
We condemn the use of all forced labour and fully support the efforts of the International Labour Organisation to put a permanent end to the practice.
I raised the use of forced labour and our concerns about the general treatment of prisoners with the Burmese ambassador on 15 June 2006.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the comments made by European Commission staff to MEPs on 21 November 2005 that a UN Security Council Resolution on Burma would not be helpful to (a) the UK position and (b) the EU common position on Burma. 
Mr. McCartney: The European Commission has taken no position to date on any proposal for a UN Security Council Resolution on Burma. At the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 12 June, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed that the EU support current US-led efforts to secure a Security Council Resolution. Neither the Commission nor any member state spoke against the proposal, which we fully support.
Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Chinese Government regarding the treatment of animals in China's animal markets. 
Mr. McCartney: The Government take animal rights in China very seriously. We regularly raise the treatment of animals with the Chinese Government, most recently during my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's visit to China in November 2005, as the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We also welcome the work that non-governmental organisations undertake with the Chinese authorities to improve standards of animal welfare and to gradually build support for animal welfare issues there.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which occasions (a) the UK has voted against and the US has voted for and (b) the UK has voted for and the US has voted against the adoption of measures relating to abortion and
family planning related issues by the United Nations since 1997. 
Dr. Howells: Abortion and family planning related issues crop up explicitly and implicitly in a wide range of UN bodies e.g. the General Assemblys Third and Second Committees, the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Population and Development, the United Nations Population Fund Executive Board, the World Health Assembly, General Assembly special sessions on e.g. HIV/AIDS and on Children.
Within those bodies, abortion and family planning related issues arise in a number of resolutions, often unexpected ones.
Generally speaking, most resolutions on family planning related issues in the UN are passed without a vote.
Few UN resolutions explicitly mention abortion. Much of the debate in New York has centred on the phrase sexual and reproductive health services. The US often makes an explanation of position after the adoption of such resolutions, to the effect that they do not recognise abortion as a method of family planning or support abortion in their reproductive health assistance.
Given the aforementioned factors, specifying those occasions on which there have been votes, and which way the US and UK have voted, would incur disproportionate costs.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the comments by US officials that three prisoners detained by the United States at Guantanamo Bay committed suicide as a public relations gesture. 
Dr. Howells: The President of the United States has expressed serious concern about the deaths of three detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. We would share his sense of concern and await the results of the investigation into those deaths that has been promised by the US Government.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK contribution is to the fund provided by the European Union to the Iraqi Government; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: On 22 May 2006, the European Commission announced its intention to allocate €200 million to Iraq for 2006 to build the capacity of Iraqi Ministries and institutions, to assist the constitutional review process, and to promote good governance and the rule of law. This new contribution comes on top of the €518 million provided between 2003 and 2005. The UK share of these contributions is 17.5 per cent.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her EU counterparts about the setting up of a European Commission presence in Baghdad; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: At the 2 November 2004 General Affairs and External Relations Council, EU Foreign Ministers invited the Commission to enhance as appropriate, and with due regard to security, its presence in Baghdad. The Commission intends to open an office soon, which will be based initially in the British embassy in Baghdad. My officials are in close contact with the Commission to finalise the details.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK's role is in restoring the Iraqi oil infrastructure; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: UK-sponsored experts and advisers have worked alongside Iraqi, US and World Bank colleagues to help Iraq consider its options to restore its oil infrastructure. UK Trade and Industry has played a role through a UK-Iraq Joint Board on Learning in the Oil Sector. This aims to help repair some of the skill and knowledge gaps in the sector, including the training of English language trainers for the oil industry.
The Government stand ready to further assist the Government of Iraq to restore its energy sector as required.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what technical assistance the UK is giving to the development of the judicial system and the training of judges in Iraq. 
Dr. Howells: The United Kingdom offers a wide range of support to the Iraqi justice system, including:
training over 260 Iraqi judges, prosecutors, lawyers and justice department officials in human rights, international humanitarian law and independence of the judiciary. This has included training Iraqi trainers to implement humanitarian law training in Iraq;
contribution to an international fund that meets the cost of international advisers to the Iraqi High Tribunal, recruited by the tribunal to provide advice on international law in the trial of Saddam Hussein and members of his former regime;
supporting the development of judicial networks, in particular of young lawyers, in association with the Iraqi Bar Association;
offering support and assistance to help ensure the Central Criminal Court of Iraq has the capacity to uphold the Rule of Law.
The United Kingdom also supports the European Unions integrated Rule of Law Mission, training senior officials from Iraqs judicial, police and correctional services in the UK. The courses expose participants to UK working practices, methods of cooperation across the Rule of Law sector, and the importance of an overall approach which integrates respect for human rights.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the British
Government's policy is on Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank to the 1967 borders and from its settlements within the West Bank; what the Government's policy is on Israel's policy of unilateral withdrawal; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: It remains our position that all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are illegal and that there should be no expansion of/or construction within settlements, in line with the Roadmap.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear that the priority now is negotiations. These are manifestly the best way to move this process forward. But if negotiations do not take the process forward then other ways to move it forward will have to be found. It is the role of the international community to give negotiations the best chance of success.
We remain committed to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, and the establishment of a just and lasting peace.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the shelling of the Beit Lahia beach in the Gaza Strip by Israeli artillery; and what assessment she has made of the effect of the incident on the middle east peace process. 
Dr. Howells: Israel has denied responsibility for the deaths of seven Palestinians on 9 June. However, we remain concerned that Israel's response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip should be proportional. We call on Israel to ensure that civilians, particularly children, are not harmed. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed this matter with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni on 12 June. We also continue to call for an end to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Israeli targets and for calm in the occupied territories. We support President Abbas's efforts to restore order, using legally constituted security forces.
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