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14 July 2006 : Column 2132W—continued


14 July 2006 : Column 2133W

Information on advertisement costs incurred by overseas posts and non-departmental public bodies could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Afghanistan

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken to curb opium production in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. [81227]

Dr. Howells: The UK is Afghanistan's partner nation on counter-narcotics. We are spending over £270 million over three years in support of the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy. We believe the strategy represents the best means of tackling opium production and trafficking in and from Afghanistan and are working with the Afghans to sharpen delivery on the ground. I also refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement I made on Afghanistan: Counter Narcotics, 13 July 2006, Official Report, columns 75-76WS, which includes details on progress made to date as well as the allocation of UK funding.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what quantity of opium has been seized by the Afghan Special Narcotics Force since May 2005; and what the procedure is for the disposal of opium. [84894]

Dr. Howells: According to the Ministry of the Interior of Afghanistan, the Afghan Special Narcotics Force and the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, since May 2005, have made seizures of opiates (opium, heroin and morphine base) equivalent to 186.6 metric tonnes of opium.

In accordance with the new Afghan Counter Narcotics Law post seizure the opiates are either destroyed at site, while retaining a small sample for evidential purposes for use in criminal proceedings, or stored and destroyed centrally.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her German counterpart on ensuring that adequate vetting procedures are in place to ensure that the Afghan police are not infiltrated by the Taliban. [85108]

Dr. Howells: The Afghanistan Compact, which was launched at the London Conference in January 2006, sets out benchmarks and timelines for the next phase in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process. This includes the establishment of clear and transparent national appointments mechanisms for the public sector, including vetting procedures. Implementation will be phased over five years.

I have not had recent discussions with my German counterpart on this subject but our Embassy in Kabul is in close touch with the German-led Police Project Office about the police reform process.

Africa (Peacekeeping Capability)

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contributions the UK plans to make to strengthen African peacekeeping capability following the meeting of G8 officials and donor parties in Moscow on 8 June; and if she will make a statement. [84212]


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Margaret Beckett: The UK remains strongly committed to supporting the African Union’s (AU) goal of enhancing African peacekeeping capacity and establishing an African Standby Force (ASF). The meeting of G8 officials and other donors on 8 June was an operational level meeting to review latest progress and further improve co-ordination of peace support operations (PSO) assistance initiatives to the AU and its member states.

The UK provides significant levels of PSO training to African national forces geared to both preparation for specific deployments and to building longer-term capacity and skills. UK support, both financial and through the provision of military training staff, to African training centres of excellence such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre is also helping to strengthen African regional training—an area of growing importance as the ASF regional brigades are officially formed. In collaboration with other international partners, the UK is providing technical and financial assistance to the AU’s Peace and Security Department through a series of workshops in 2006 to design policy and procedure for the ASF. UK financial support for PSO capacity building projects in Africa between 2001 and 2005 has been steadily increasing and was over £24 million in 2004-05.

British Passport Holders

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg) of 15 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1373-5W, on British passport holders, how many British passport holders are estimated to be registered at their local British representative mission. [84735]

Dr. Howells: We do not maintain a central list of British passport holders who have registered at our overseas missions. It is not compulsory to register and the numbers who do so are very low. We will shortly have available an updated online facility to allow British nationals to register electronically. We hope this will increase the number of people registering.

Bulgaria/Romania

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's plans are regarding the freedom of movement of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens into the UK upon their accession to the European Union, with particular reference to the Roma population. [84725]

Mr. Hoon: Upon accession, all citizens from Bulgaria and Romania will enjoy the same freedom of movement within the EU, including the UK, as citizens of the other 25 member states. We do not discriminate on the basis of ethnic origin.


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China

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consular provision there is for British nationals in Taiwan province of the People's Republic of China. [84703]

Dr. Howells: The Government do not recognise Taiwan as a state. We do not carry out any formal consular activities in Taiwan. However, the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei, within the limitations of its status, provides assistance to British nationals in line with the recently published “Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide”, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Colombia

Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Colombian Government on threats by paramilitary organisations to kill students and staff at the University of Antioquia. [83998]

Mr. Hoon: Human rights are at the heart of our policy towards Colombia. We remain concerned about the situation faced by civil society there. Although we have not made any specific representations to the Colombian Government on this issue, we keep the human rights situation in the country under constant review and frequently raise individual cases with the Government of Colombia. We also support a range of projects aimed at improving human rights in line with the spirit of UN human rights recommendations. Among our current priorities are the protection and promotion of human rights defenders, the protection of child rights and improvements in the rule of law. We will continue to engage with the Government of Colombia on human rights issues.

Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Colombian Government on the confrontation and dismantling of paramilitary groups. [83999]

Mr. Hoon: There have not been any recent discussions at Ministerial level on this issue, although we regularly raise it with our Colombian counterparts at official level. The UK and the EU have consistently called for a legal framework for the process of demobilisation, disarmament and reinsertion of illegal armed groups. In the EU Ministerial General Affairs and External Relations Council Conclusions of 3 October 2005, the UK and its EU partners recognised the importance of the Colombian Justice and Peace Law, agreed in July the same year, in providing an overall legal framework for this process. With our international partners, the UK has encouraged the Government of Colombia to implement this new law transparently so that it will have a positive impact on the peace building process. The Colombian Government announced on 18 April the completion of the formal process of demobilisation which saw over 30,000 paramilitaries demobilise. We will continue to work with our partners to help the Government of Colombia address the challenges it faces.


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Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations have been made by the UK Government to the Government of Colombia about trade union rights. [84493]

Mr. Hoon: We remain very concerned about the human rights situation faced by civil society, including trade unionists, in Colombia. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, raised the issue of engaging with civil society with Colombian Defence Minister-designate Juan Manuel Santos when they met on 5 July with Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco in the fringes of the EU/Latin America and the Caribbean summit on 12 May. In April, our embassy staff in Bogota met with the Vice President of the National Union of Hospital and Health Workers, and with the Human Rights Director of the Central Union of Workers in May. We also regularly meet British and Colombian trade unionists and other civil society groups, in the UK and Colombia, to hear their views and discuss how the Government can best support them. My noble Friend Lord Triesman met a British trade union delegation on 6 March to discuss their recent visit to Colombia and hear their concerns about human rights. In February, we also funded a working visit to the UK by eight senior Colombian trade unionists to demonstrate our support to civil society in Colombia and the important role it has to play in helping find solutions.

Departmental Resource Accounts

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2006, Official Report, column 298W, on departmental resource accounts, what the items listed were; and what the reason was for the need for their disposal. [82055]

Mr. Hoon: As my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) said in his reply to the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) on 27 February 2006, Official Report, column 298W, these were items which were identified as having been disposed of, but action had not been taken to remove them from the asset register. The assets were disposed of or consumed in the ordinary course of business. The disposal value was made up of a large number of assets with relatively minor values and the disposal of these items did not occur as a single event. Due to the large number of items that have been disposed of, it is not possible to list them all in this reply. However, a copy of the full list will be placed in the Library of the House. I will also arrange for the list to be sent to the hon. Member.

European Constitution

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) of 20 October 2005, Official Report, column 1204W, on the European constitution, which themes and regions have been identified as areas of common foreign and security policy activity for which strategic interests and objectives have yet to be ascribed. [84204]


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Mr. Hoon: We understand that the question refers to EU common strategies. As my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Europe (Mr. Alexander) stated in his answer to the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) on 20 October 2005, Official Report, column 1204W, there have only been three examples of EU common strategies, under the umbrella of Common Foreign and Security Policy: Russia, Ukraine and Euromed.

Extraordinary Rendition

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of reports that Prestwick, Shannon and Bangor airports were used for the refuelling of flights involved in either the inbound or outbound stages of extraordinary rendition operations. [80349]

Margaret Beckett: Bangor and Shannon airports, which are mentioned in the report into the extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects published on 7 June by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, are of course in the United States and the Republic of Ireland respectively. The Government are not therefore in a position to assess those claims. In so far as the claims about Prestwick airport are concerned, there is no evidence that any of the flights identified in the data supplied by Eurocontrol to the Council of Europe’s inquiry were involved in rendition through the UK. I refer the right hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary’s (Mr. Straw) written ministerial statement of 20 January 2006, Official Report, columns 37-38WS which summarises the position in respect of renditions through UK territory or airspace since May 1997.

Honours

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which individuals who are not UK citizens were awarded honours between 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2002; and what the (a) date of announcement, (b) honour concerned and (c) reason for the award was in each case. [84194]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 July 2006]: As the information requested is lengthy, I will arrange for it to be placed in the Library of the House and will also arrange for a copy to be sent directly to the hon. Member.

As honorary awards to citizens of countries where Her Majesty the Queen is not Head of State are not formally announced, the date of the Queen's formal approval of such awards has been given.

Hospitality Expenses

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2006, Official Report, column 838W, on hospitality expenses, what the total cost across Whitehall was of expenditure on alcohol recorded by Government Hospitality in each of the last five years. [84591]


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Mr. Hoon: Government Hospitality recorded the following expenditure on new stock for the Government cellar for the past five years:

Expenditure (£)

2001-02

92,772

2002-03

91,860

2003-04

93,503

2004-05

60,059

2005-06

95,264


Latin America (Trade Unions)

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on trade union rights in Latin American countries. [84490]

Mr. Hoon: In view of continuing social and economic inequality, and the impact of globalisation on labour markets in Latin American countries, trade unions have a key role in protecting employment rights throughout the region. However, the extent to which unions are effective in influencing the economic and social debate, and in achieving the objectives of their members, varies hugely from country to country due to a wide range of social and political circumstances. This Government fully support the rights of trade unions world-wide. We have played a leading role in ensuring that the international framework to promote international labour rights, and to tackle abuses of those rights throughout the world, is in place, particularly through our work with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN specialised agency responsible for developing, promoting and monitoring labour standards. The ILO’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work commits all countries to respect, promote and to realise the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining as well as the ending of forced labour, child labour and discrimination in employment.

MI6

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the work of the Information Operations section of MI6; and what policy applies to the undertaking of operations within the UK. [84196]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 July 2006]: It is the long-standing policy of the Government not to comment on intelligence matters.

The policy applying to any operation undertaken by the Secret Intelligence Service is governed by the provisions of the Intelligence Services Act (1994).

North Korea

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the nuclear missile tests undertaken by North Korea; and if she will make a statement. [84683]


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Dr. Howells: On 4 and 5 July, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a series of missile launches. These included No-Dong ballistic missiles and a Taepodong II missile; the latter was the first test of this system and failed some 40 seconds after launch.

While it is possible that both No-Dong and Taepodong II missiles, correctly configured, may have the capability to carry a nuclear warhead over a long distance, we have no indication the DPRK has ever attempted to test any missile with a nuclear warhead.

Nevertheless, we are seriously concerned that the DPRK decided to go ahead with these missile launches, despite international pressure on it not to. These tests are provocative and only serve to raise tensions in the region. Following the launches, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a statement condemning them and strongly urged the Government of the DPRK to adhere to its commitment to a moratorium on missile testing.


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