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2 Nov 2006 : Column 663W—continued

The largest single payments made in each year are:












Bonus payments are not consolidated with base pay and do not therefore contribute to pension entitlements.

EU Presidency

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the German government on the priorities of the German presidency of the EU; and if she will make a statement. [98274]

Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly meets with her German counterpart, including every month at the EU’s General Affairs and External Relations Council for discussions on EU matters. Most recently my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met with the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 24 October during her visit to Berlin. The Constitutional Treaty, Enlargement, Climate Security and Energy were among the issues discussed primarily in the context of the forthcoming German Presidency of the EU.

We will continue to work closely with our German partners at official and Ministerial level ahead of their dual Presidencies of the EU and G8 next year.

EU Veto

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans her Department has to preserve the UK's veto on justice and home affairs issues; and if she will make a statement. [98325]

Mr. Hoon: Article 42 of the Treaty of the EU (the “passerelle”) could be used to change the decision-making arrangements in police and judicial matters, if all member states, including the UK, were to agree. The change could include a move from unanimity, where we have the veto, to qualified majority voting. The European Commission suggested the change as a means of improving decision-making and accountability in the field of police and judicial co-operation.

We welcome efforts to take forward EU co-operation in the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) field, in line with the Hampton Court delivery agenda. We would need to be fully satisfied that any changes to the existing arrangements, including a move from unanimity to qualified majority voting, would genuinely improve the decision making process, and that such a move would be in the UK’s national interest.

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The “passerelle” clause was discussed by EU Interior and Justice Ministries at the JHA Informal Council in Tampere on 20-22 September, and the JHA Council of 5-6 October. A broad exchange of views took place, in which there was limited support for use of the “passerelle” in this context.

It is, as yet, unclear whether the Finnish Presidency will bring forward further work in this area during their Presidency, but the Government consider the current debate to be over. We will keep Parliament informed of any developments.

European Border Agency

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will assess the merits of deploying UK air and maritime assets in order to increase the effectiveness of the European Border Agency (Frontex) in countering the criminal networks responsible for recent influxes of seaborne irregular migrants into Southern Europe. [93677]

Mr. Byrne: I have been asked to reply.

Frontex orchestrates contributions from members and observes on a case-by-case basis. The UK contributes assets to specific Frontex operations on a case-by-case basis depending on the value they can bring to such operations and the benefit of such operations to the UK.

European Regulations

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many EC regulations have been enacted in the UK in each year since 2002. [98376]

Mr. Hoon: The following table shows the number of EC regulations enacted each year since 2002.

EC Regulations enacted 2002 to 2005
Regulations enacted Number of regulations


By Parliament and the Council


By the Council alone


By the Commission





By Parliament and the Council


By the Council alone


By the Commission





By the Parliament and the Council


By the Council alone


By the Commission





By the Parliament and the Council


By the Council alone


By the Commission




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Human Rights

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she first saw the draft of her Department’s 2006 report on Human Rights. [95932]

Mr. Hoon: Drafts of the report were submitted to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary’s office at various stages of the editing process from July onwards. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary approved the final draft on 26 September.

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) role and (b) work of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe. [99109]

Dr. Howells: The UK has supported the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner since the creation of the office in 1999. The Commissioner plays a key role in promoting respect for human rights and ensuring access to human rights for the citizens of Council of Europe member states. His role is fundamental to the core principles of the Council of Europe, which the UK strongly supports. The UK continues to work closely with the Commissioner and seconded an expert to his office from 2001 to 2006.

Alvaro Gil-Robles, the first Commissioner, visited33 member states during his tenure, including the UK in 2004. The UK co-operated fully with the Commissioner during this visit, where he met Ministers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Attorney-General and had an audience with the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Commissioner also met representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Prison Service, various Ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland and representatives of several non-governmental organisations.

The UK responded to the recommendations of the Commissioner in a separate annex to his report, which was published in 2005. The UK welcomed the appointment of Thomas Hammarberg in April as a strong successor to Mr. Gil-Robles and will give him full support in his work.

International Arrest Warrants

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her Department’s policy is on the trial in their country of residence of individuals subject to international arrest warrants. [98074]

Mr. Hoon: The UK is a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and urges all parties to fulfil their commitments to the Court. For instance, with regard to the situation in northern Uganda, the arrest warrants issued by the ICC for several senior Lord’s Resistance Army commanders are a matter for the Court. We welcome the progress made so far at the Juba peace talks but many difficult issues remain. We encourage all parties to work towards a
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solution which brings both peace and justice to the people of northern Uganda, compatible with local community wishes, national laws and the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Islam and Muslim Affairs

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements her Department has in place for offering her advice on Islam and matters relating to Muslims; and who her advisers are on Islam and Muslim affairs. [94334]

Dr. Howells: The Engaging with the Islamic World Group has lead responsibility for offering advice within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on international matters relating to Muslim communities, with the involvement of other officials as appropriate. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the lead Department on domestic matters relating to Muslim communities.

IT Projects

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which information technology projects are being undertaken by (a) her Department and (b) its agencies; what the (i) start date, (ii) original planned completion date, (iii) expected completion date, (iv) originally planned costs and (v) estimated costs are of each; and if she will make a statement. [95868]

Mr. Hoon [pursuant to the reply, 25 October 2006, Official Report, c. 1902-04W]: I regret that an inaccurate answer was given to part of the hon. Member’s question. The answer given states that for the UKvisas Biometrics IT project, the originally planned costs were £101.5 million and the estimated costs £121.7 million. In fact these figures should be reversed. Therefore, for the UKvisas BiometricsIT project, the originally planned costs should read £121.7 million and the estimated costs £101.5 million.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she has taken to offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused by ministerial travel in her Department. [98737]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on5 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1153-54W.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) security situation and (b) prospect of a free and fair general election in 2007 in Nigeria. [97886]

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Mr. Hoon: The security situation, particularly in the Niger Delta, remains of concern. There is a risk of further deterioration in the run up to next April’s election. Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice is kept under constant review. We are in regular contact with the Nigerian authorities and oil companies.

We are working with other countries to support the Independent National Electoral Commission and maximise the prospects for a properly run election next April. UK support stands at £7 million, disbursed through the Department for International Development.


Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2005, Official Report, column 77W, on Palestine, what the outcome was of discussions with EU partners and others on seeking compliance with the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling of 9 July 2004, No. 131; what mechanisms are being used to persuade Israel to comply with international law in ruling No. 131; and what position the UK Government takes on the conclusions of the ICJ. [97734]

Dr. Howells: We understand that our EU partners raise their concerns directly with the Israeli government. The UK continues to make representations to the Israeli government regarding the routing of the barrier. While Israel is entitled to take measures to strengthen their security, the routing of the barrier on occupied land is contrary to international law.

We agree with the broad conclusion of the International Court Justice (ICJ), that building a barrier along the current route is unlawful. We supported UN General Assembly Resolution Emergency Session 10/15 which acknowledged the ICJ Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of the barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the security situation in Jaffna, Sri Lanka; and if she will make a statement. [99142]

Dr. Howells: We are deeply concerned about human rights in Sri Lanka in general. Officials from our high commission in Colombo visited Jaffna in October. It is clear that the fighting between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in that area in recent months has had a serious impact on the security of Jaffna and its residents. The strong military presence and actions, such as wide-ranging curfews, are restricting the freedoms of Jaffna’s civilian population and contributing to increased tensions. We are seriously concerned at reports of large numbers of arrests, and also reports of abductions and disappearances including those of children who may be being made to participate in fighting in clear breach of
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established human rights norms. The human rights of all Sri Lankans must be protected. Violations must be investigated fully. Those responsible should be brought to justice.

We call on the parties to the Sri Lanka conflict to respect the ceasefire agreement, cease hostilities and return to the peace process. We welcome the recent talks in Geneva between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE and encourage both sides to continue to meet in furtherance of the process.

We underline our support for the Norwegian role in the facilitation of the peace process. The only viable route to a long-term resolution of this tragic conflict is through negotiation.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likelihood of a settlement resulting from the Juba peace talks on the security of northern Uganda. [97889]

Mr. Hoon: We were encouraged by the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army on 26 August. This agreement represented an important step towards achieving a lasting and peaceful settlement to the long-running conflict in northern Uganda.

But, as the violence in recent days in southern Sudan demonstrates, the talks’ process remains extremely fragile. A number of key challenges remain to be addressed if the talks are to succeed and all parties must show restraint and commit fully to the mediation process. The UK has provided £250,000 to the UN fund for support to the mediation process.

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