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| Source: Central Referencing System UKvisas makes every effort to ensure that statistics produced from Central Referencing System are accurate. However, the complexity of our global business, including technical failures or occasional inconsistencies in data entry across over 150 offices means that we cannot 100% guarantee accuracy.|
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the (a) security, (b) political stability and (c) human rights situation in Chechnya; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We regularly monitor the situation in Chechnya and the wider North Caucasus. Recent years have seen a gradual improvement in the security situation in Chechnya, resulting in the UN downgrading its security classification for Chechnya from Phase 5 to Phase 4 in August. Russian and local security forces have had some success in improving security recently. The death of Shamil Basayev has been followed by an amnesty under which over 200 fighters are reported to have turned themselves in, creating the opportunity for a process of reconciliation that could underpin long-term security.
Following the elections to the Chechen parliament in November 2005, the Chechen Republic now has fully constituted structures of government. We believe that the best guarantee for political stability in Chechnya is for the Russian and local Chechen authorities to work together to strengthen these new institutions, improving their democratic accountability.
The human rights situation in the republic is still deeply troubling and we regularly raise these issues with the Russian government. There are ongoing reports of torture, extrajudicial killing and abductions in Chechnya, which Chechen President Alu Alkhanov has acknowledged are a terrible crime. We believe that security measures which do not respect international human rights law are counter-productive, and that a long-term solution to the regions problems is only possible once an end has been put to human rights abuses.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many personnel are monitoring the end-use of British arms exports to Saudi Arabia; and what resources have been allocated for this work. 
Dr. Howells: All export licence applications from the UK are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria, taking full account of the prevailing circumstances at the time of application. This is carried out by dedicated export licensing teams in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development.
In common with all of our diplomatic posts, our Embassy in Riyadh monitors local developments closely and notes any information which comes to light that military equipment supplied by the UK has been used in a manner inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria. The Government will take this into consideration when assessing any future export licence applications. The Government may also revoke relevant licence(s) and ask the authorities in the country concerned to investigate.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what departmental procedures are in place to encourage staff to apply for secondments to the (a) United Nations and (b) World Bank; and how many (i) applicants and (ii) successful applicants have been women in the last three years. 
Dr. Howells: There are no formal departmental procedures for Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff to apply for secondments to the UN. Individuals are encouraged to identify opportunities for secondments outside the FCO. We also actively look for opportunities across the UN system, working with our UN posts, and advertise any secondment opportunities to staff in line with normal internal FCO recruitment procedures. We do not maintain statistics on applicants but adhering to the FCO's equal opportunities policy, secondment opportunities are open to all staff.
We are not aware of any FCO staff currently on secondment to the World Bank. The Department for International Development are the lead Whitehall Department on the World Bank and have seconded a number of officials to the organisation.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria her Department is using to determine the design and contents of the British pavilion at the 2010 Better City Better Life Expo in Shanghai. 
Mr. McCartney: In August my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister accepted the Chinese invitation for the UK to participate in Shanghai Expo 2010. This is a fantastic opportunity to broaden and deepen the United Kingdoms relations with China. The theme of Expo 2010Better City Better Lifeis one where the UK has much expertise and experience. Expo 2010 will provide the perfect opportunity to highlight British creativity, diversity and innovation and our contribution to dealing with global challenges such as sustainable development, including climate change. These are challenges that the UK and China have already agreed we need to tackle together.
It is intended that the UK facilities at Shanghai will be jointly funded by the public and private sectors; a model successfully used for the Aichi World Expo in 2005. Once stakeholders have committed funding, a steering committee will be formed to agree the detailed design and content of the UK pavilion. An open
competition for the design, build and operation of the pavilion, will be decided by public tender in the course of 2007.
Mr. McCartney: Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Head of State is the President, currently Mr S R Nathan. General elections are held every five years and presidential elections every six years. The People's Action Party have won every general election since 1959 and currently hold 82 of the 84 elected seats in Parliament. The Workers' Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance hold the other two elected seats. There is a further opposition MP in Parliament from the Workers' Party who was selected as a non-constituency MP (NCMP), as provided for by Singapore law. The Prime Minister of Singapore, currently Mr Lee Hsien Loong, is appointed by the President as the leader of the majority party in Parliament. All other Ministers are also MPs.
The Singapore legal system is similar to the English common law system. A written constitution provides for the separation of the three organs of state (executive, legislative and judiciary) and is the supreme law of Singapore. It also provides for the independence of the Supreme Court judges and enshrines the fundamental rights of the individual. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and freedom of the press but it also permits restrictions on these rights.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her (a) UN Security Council counterparts and (b) EU counterparts about future peacekeeping operations in Somalia. 
Mr. McCartney: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, discussed a possible peace-support mission in Somalia with a number of international interlocutors during the UN General Assembly in New York in September. The UN Security Council is considering the Intergovernmental Authority on Developments request for an exemption to the UN arms embargo to permit a regional deployment to support the Transitional Federal Institutions in Somalia, including whether/how a peace-support mission would contribute to peace and stability there. The UK is also a member of the International Contact Group on Somalia (comprising the EU, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Tanzania and the US, together with the UN, African Union and League of Arab States) which meets periodically, most recently in August 2006.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the
answer of 19 June 2006, Official Report, column 1615W, on special envoys, what remuneration has been paid to Baroness Symons for this function since her appointment. 
Dr. Howells: My noble Friend right hon. Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean was not remunerated in her role in the Two Kingdoms Dialogue. She was paid £6,000 for the work she undertook as my right hon. Friend the Prime Ministers Special Representative for Memoranda of Understanding for deportation of terrorist suspects.
Dr. Howells: We fully support the efforts of the Norwegian government in their role as facilitators of the peace process in Sri Lanka. We met the Norwegian Special Envoy, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, in August at senior official level, and have spoken a number of times since. We remain in close contact with the Norwegian government on the peace process.
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the government of Sri Lanka about refugees who have fled from the Trincomalee area. 
Dr. Howells: The UK, EU and international partners have strongly pressed the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to guarantee free access for relief agencies and humanitarian aid to those people and areas affected. Most recently on 12 September, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms, during a visit to Sri Lanka, raised UK concerns on human rights and humanitarian issues with President Rajapake. The Department for International Development last month made a contribution of over half a million pounds (one million US Dollars) in additional funds to the UN and Red Cross to help Sri Lankans displaced by recent violence; this would include those who have fled from the Trincomalee area.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the President of Sri Lanka on implementation of the ceasefire agreement. 
Dr. Howells: Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met President Rajapakse, and Foreign Minister Samaraweera, at Chequers on 31 August. The talks focused on the internal security situation in Sri Lanka and the state of the peace process.
All applications from the UK are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing
Criteria, taking full account of the prevailing circumstances at the time of application. This process includes specific criteria whereby we will not issue a licence where there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression, might aggravate existing tensions or conflict in the country of final destination or that the export may be used aggressively against another country. Details of all export licences approved to Sri Lanka are available in the Quarterly and Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls and are subject to detailed retrospective scrutiny by the Quadripartite Committee. The quarterly and annual reports are available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at:
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