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The Government are committed to continue helping the Palestinian people. With a range of partners, we have worked hard to establish the Temporary International Mechanism which has been drawn up to provide needs-based assistance directly to the Palestinian people, without the need to channel funds through the Hamas-led Palestinian Government. The UK will contribute up to £12 million to the mechanism. Additionally, the Government announced on 25 April 2006 a UK contribution of £15 million to support the work of the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East, which supports Palestinian refugees throughout the region, including in Israel and Lebanon. The UK has a strong record of support for the Palestinian people. Since 2001, we have provided £147 million, in addition to our contributions through the EU, which is the biggest donation to the Palestinian people.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department has had with (a) Chile and (b) Argentina on the Pascua Lama open-cast mine project. 
Mr. Hoon: We have not had any specific discussions with the Chilean or Argentine Governments on the Pascua Lama open-cast mine project. We do, however, have a strong and continuing dialogue with both Governments on environmental issues, which includes regular contact with local mining authorities.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is the Governments policy to support the extension of qualified majority voting in the EU in the field of police and home affairs. 
Mr. Hoon: The Government are giving careful consideration to the proposals contained in the Commissions Communication Implementing the Hague Programme: the Way Forward. We welcome efforts to take forward EU work in the Justice and Home Affairs field. In that context, the Finnish presidency have proposed discussion on the use of the Article 42 passerelle, one consequence of which could be the application of qualified majority voting to some parts of EU police and judicial co-operation. We will need to be satisfied that any proposals would genuinely improve the decision making process, and that such a move would be in the UKs national interest.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assurances she has sought from the Saudi Arabian Government that the use of Eurofighter jets due to be exported to Saudi Arabia will be in compliance with international law. 
Any export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia will require an export licence. All export licence applications are assessed on a case by
case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria including Criteria 6the behaviour of the buyer country, including respect for international law. A licence will not be issued if to do so would be inconsistent with the criteria.
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken since 25 July to encourage positive dialogue between warring parties in Sri Lanka. 
Mr. McCartney: Throughout the serious deterioration in the security situation over recent months we have made clear in meetings at the highest levels with the Government of Sri Lanka and also to political representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, our serious concern at the escalation in violence. We have urged all parties to show restraint. We participated in an EU démarche in August to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation. Foreign and Commonwealth officials also met the leader of the Sri Lankan opposition (United National Party) and stressed the importance of political consensus in working towards a solution that satisfies the concerns and legitimate aspirations of all Sri Lankans. We are in close contact with the Government of Norway and continue to underline to both sides our full support for their efforts as peace process facilitators.
President Rajapakse, Foreign Minister Samaraweera and senior Sri Lankan officials met my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Chequers on 31 August. The talks focused on the internal security situation in Sri Lanka and the state of the peace process.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK Government are taking to assist the Government and people of Sri Lanka (a) to achieve a lasting internal peace agreement and (b) to promote civil and political rights for all citizens. 
Dr. Howells: Throughout the escalation in violence over recent months we have made our concerns clear in meetings at the highest levels, with the Government of Sri Lanka and also with political representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. President Rajapakse, Foreign Minister Samaraweera, and senior Sri Lankan officials met my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Chequers on 31 August 2006. The talks focused on the internal security situation in Sri Lanka and the state of the peace process. We are also in close contact with the Government of Norway as the peace process facilitators and we make clear to both sides our full support of their efforts.
We have been deeply concerned following the reports of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, the International Commission of Jurists, about the deteriorating human rights situation in the North and East. Any abuse is to be deplored. We welcome President Rajapakses proposal to,
invite an international independent commission to probe abductions, disappearances and extra-judicial killings in all areas of the country.
We agree with the statement of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, on extra-Judicial killings, Philip Alston that the commission must be independent, credible and effective and that the advice of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights would facilitate the establishment of such a commission.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many
applications for visitors visas from (a) Australia, (b) Canada and (c) South Africa were refused between (i) January and June 2004, (ii) January and June 2005 and (iii) January and June 2006. 
|Visitor applications for Australia, Canada and South Africa with the refusals.|
|Visitor (including family visits)|
|Visitor (excluding family visits)|
These figures have not been published and should only be used for information. Please note that during 2004-05, only family visits were recorded by month, not visits. Therefore the annual figures published for financial year 2004-05 has been stated.
(1) April 2004March 2005 = Published Entry Clearance Statistics
JanuaryJune 2005 = Monthly Statistical Returns7 September 2006
JanuaryJune 2006 = Monthly Statistical Returns7 September 2006
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will investigate claims that women deported from the UK to Zimbabwe have been attacked and sexually abused after returning to Zimbabwe. 
Mr. McCartney: We take allegations of abuse in Zimbabwe extremely seriously. We have therefore put in place enhanced monitoring procedures, including an agreement with the International Organisation for Migration, to monitor the treatment of immigration offenders who have returned from the UK to Zimbabwe. In their 2 August determination, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal found that returnees are not at real risk of mistreatment on return to Zimbabwe by virtue of being returned from the UK. If the hon. Gentleman has any new evidence of such attacks or abuse, we would be grateful if he could pass it to us.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what initiatives he is pursuing for improved control of (a) licensed production and (b) brokerage of arms for export; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The Government believe that the legislation implemented under the Export Control Act 2004, in respect of trafficking and brokering and licensed production, is efficient and effective. However, I am planning next year to review the export controls introduced in 2004. This will enable the Government to gauge their continuing effectiveness including in relation to licensed production and trafficking and brokering.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what export licences to Israel were refused on the ground of (a) aggressive use, (b) contribution to regional conflict, (c) human rights abuses and (d) internal repression in each of the last 10 years; and if he will publish the information held by his Department on the use of UK military equipment by Israel in the occupied territories in that period. 
Margaret Hodge: The Government publish details of refused export licence applications by destination, and the main reasons for their decisions, in their annual and quarterly reports on Strategic Export Controls. The Governments annual reports are available from the Library of the House, and the quarterly reports from the DTI Export Control Organisation website at http://www.dti.gov.uk/europeantrade/strategic-export-control/index.html
Margaret Hodge [holding answers 11 September 2006]: The Financial Reporting Council are leading a public debate on competition and choice in the provision of audit services following the publication in April of a report analysing this market. This report was jointly sponsored by the Council and the Department and the Government are following the current debate closely. That debate will inform future discussions about what actions or changes might be desirable in order to promote competition and choice in the market. The Financial Reporting Council have just published a summary of the debate so far.
It is possible under UK law to appoint joint auditors, and it is for companies to make that decision should they want to do so in the light of their needs and circumstances. I understand that the joint auditing approach has also been raised, in the responses received by the Financial Reporting Council, as one possible route to greater competition and choice in the audit market.
However, the Government recognise that the advice sector plays an import role, particularly in disadvantaged communities. All potential advice providers can bid for a share of any special time-limited grants for which DTI is responsible. For example some Citizens Advice Bureaux are included in the partnerships that gained grants awarded by my Department from the financial inclusion fund, over a two-year period, for providing face-to-face debt advice.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the UK plans to evaluate the operational failure rates of cluster munitions used by Israel that the UK also holds in stock. 
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 11 September 2006]: The Department invites comment from organisations and individuals who have expressed an interest in being kept informed on matters relating to the Companies Bill, and also publishes material on its website (www.dti.gov.uk). Recently, this has included a paper on the application of the Bill to existing companies. DTI officials contacted over 170 organisations and over 120 private individuals to invite representations in writing and will be meeting with a wide range of organisations. A list of the organisations that were contacted has been placed in the Library of the House.
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