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Mr. Thomas: DFID plans to maintain its Latin American offices during the current spending review period. Any decisions about office arrangements beyond 2008-09 in Latin America and elsewhere will be taken in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review next year.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether bilateral aid to Latin America will continue in its existing (a) form and (b) scale over the next three years. 
Mr. Thomas: DFIDs only bilateral country programme in Latin America is for Nicaraguathe only low-income country on the continent. The programme budget for Nicaragua is £4 million in each of the years 2006-07 and 2007-08. Decisions about the form and scale of the Nicaraguan programme from 2008-09 will be taken in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review next year.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the level of funding allocated to Latin American countries in 2006-07 will be maintained; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID currently has plans to allocate £8 million in 2006-07 and 2007-08 to the Latin American regional programme, and £4 million per year to the bilateral programme in Nicaragua. Decisions about funding allocations to Latin American countries from 2008-09 will be taken in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding has been provided by (a) the UK Government and (b) other members of the Quartet to the Palestinian Territories through the Temporary International Mechanism in each month since its establishment. 
Hilary Benn: The UK has so far contributed£9 million to the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). Three million pounds was provided in August 2006 for the purchase of health supplies, £3 million was paid in allowances to the poorest PA workers in November 2006 and £3 million was provided for essential operating, maintenance and repair costs for water, sanitation and electricity services in November 2006. Substantial funding through the TIM has also been provided by the European Community and EU member states. Other Quartet members have not yet contributed.
In total, approximately £117 million in EU funding is expected to be disbursed through the TIM by the end of 2006. Monthly expenditure through the TIM for the period between July and October 2006 was as follows:
|Non-salary recurrent costs||Emergency relief||Social allowances||Total|
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the possibility that tax moneys currently withheld by Israel could be paid to the Palestinians through the Temporary International Mechanism. 
Hilary Benn: So far Israel has not paid outstanding Palestinian clearance revenues through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). According to International Monetary Fund reporting Israel has used some clearance revenues to pay Palestinian utility bills owed to Israeli state companies. We understand that this was agreed to by the Palestinian authorities. Israel has also offered to use the Palestinian clearance revenues to procure health supplies. However, we understand that this was not accepted by the Palestinian presidency, as it objected to Israel dictating how its revenues were spent.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with Quartet partners on increasing the levels of funding through the Temporary International Mechanism to match the levels of previous direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. 
Hilary Benn: The Quartet (the EU, US, UN and Russia) agreed on 20 September to continue and expand the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) in the light of the continuing needs of the Palestinian people.
Total EU funding through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) now significantly exceeds levels of previous direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Total budgetary aid to the Palestinian Authority in 2005 was around £65 million. Aid for Palestinian basic needs through the TIM will reach around £117 million this year.
The TIM is making a real impact in mitigating the humanitarian situation. Largely because of increased aid levels, the World Bank has revised its 2006 GDP forecast from a decline of 26 per cent. to a decline of9 per cent. Without the TIM and other aid, notably from Arab donors, the situation for Palestinians would be far worse than it is now.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the likely duration of the Temporary International Mechanism; and when he expects full financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority to be resumed. 
The Quartet, in its statement of20 September, extended the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) until the end of 2006. Should a
Palestinian Government with a platform based onthe Quartet's principles be formed, the EU and other donors are likely to seek to resume financial assistance as soon as possible. In the meantime the humanitarian case for direct assistance to the Palestinian people remains and there is a need for mechanisms to deliver this, such as the TIM. A decision on whether further to extend the TIM is likely before the end of the year.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department has a traffic light system in place for processing parliamentary questions, where questions are categorised using a colour code. 
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the closure of the A9 road to Jaffna on the delivery of food aid in Sri Lanka; and what representations he has made regarding reopening the road. 
Mr. Thomas: The British Government have followed developments closely since the A9 road to Jaffna closed in mid August. British officials visited Jaffna in October and November to see at first hand the impact of the road closures. We maintain close contact with those with a presence in Jaffna peninsula. There are food shortages and rising food prices. The UK will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka has raised with the Government the need to ensure that sufficient supplies reach the people of Jaffna. We fully support the statement by the co-chairs of the peace process (EU, Japan, Norway, US) that there should be an immediate, permanent and unconditional opening of the sea and road routes for humanitarian convoys of essential supplies.
As an Inter-Ministerial Group, which brings together a wide range of Departments, we provide high-level leadership and accountability to drive this important work forward, and oversee the development
of the National Delivery Plan, which has provided a clear framework for delivery across Government in a joined-up and strategic way.
The Plan underpins the Specialist Domestic Violence Court Programme, which has been designed to address the high attrition rates for domestic violence by bringing more offenders to justice, and putting the safety of victims at the heart of the process. We have also strengthened measures to help victims by rolling out Independent Domestic Violence Advisers across all specialist domestic violence courts and have allocated funding to all areas to provide extra support.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on improving the services offered to women seeking refuge from domestic violence. 
Meg Munn: As Minister for Women and Equality, I sit on the Inter-Ministerial Group for Domestic Violence, which performance-manages the cross-Government National Domestic Violence Delivery Plan by reviewing progress at quarterly meetings. This is the mechanism for improving the services offered to women seeking refuge from domestic violence nationally.
A substantially revised domestic violence Best Value Performance Indicator for local authorities will help assess overall provision and effectiveness of local authority services designed to help victims of domestic violence.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the EC flight ban on members of Al Qaeda, amended Council Regulation (EC) 467/2001; and how many UK citizens have been identified and prevented from travelling under this regulation. 
Dr. Howells: Council Regulation (EC) 467/2001 strengthened the EC ban on flights to and from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, in fulfilment of UN Security Council Resolution 1333. The ban related to airlines rather than individuals, so it is impossible to quantify the number of individuals who might have been affected. Council Regulation (EC) 467/2001 was repealed in 2003, in fulfilment of UN Security Council Resolution 1390, which terminated the flight ban.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the level of unrest related to the general elections in Bangladesh; what action her Department is taking (a) to support the UN Envoy to that country and (b) to ensure that the elections are free and fair; and which (i) UK and (ii) international observers she expects to be present at those elections. 
Dr. Howells: Elections are scheduled for January 2007 in Bangladesh. It is vital for the future of Bangladesh that these elections are seen to be free, fair and peaceful, and that the result reflects the will of the people. We are concerned about the levels of political violence in the country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield, the Minister for Trade, stressed to political leaders and the media the importance of positive issue-based dialogue and campaigning to the exclusion of violence when he visited Dhaka on 22-23 November. Through the Department for International Development we are providing support to Bangladeshi non-governmental organisations working to promote non-violence, and issue-based campaigning. We have urged the political parties to demonstrate leadership by publicly calling for peace and restraint.
We fully support the efforts of the international partners including the UN, the EU, the US National Democratic Institute and the Commonwealth to this end. The Commonwealth and the EU have both announced that they will send election observation missions to Bangladesh. The UK expects to participate in the EU observation mission.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the statement by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari to the Security Council following his visit to Burma; what steps she is taking to support (a) the release of political prisoners, (b) humanitarian access, (c) a more inclusive political process and (d) cessation of hostilities against ethnic minorities in Burma; and what representations she has made to (i) HM ambassador to the United Nations and (ii) foreign Ministries overseas on securing a response from the Burmese Government to the concerns of the international community. 
Mr. McCartney: Ibrahim Gambari, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the UN Security Council on 27 November about his visit to Burma. I also discussed the visit with Mr. Gambarion 15 November. We welcome the report of Mr. Gambaris visit and his continuing efforts to promote peaceful political change and the full respect for international human rights and humanitarian law in Burma. We agree with his assessment that the Government of Burma must show tangible progress on the issues of concern.
Our permanent representative to the United Nations, Emyr Jones Parry, played a full and active part in the subsequent discussion in the UN Security Council on 27 November. Ambassador Jones Parry called for the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; unhindered access for humanitarian aid agencies; a credible and inclusive national convention process; the cessation of attacks
on the Karen and other ethnic groups and co-operation with the International Labour Organisation.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Governments of (a) United Arab Emirates, (b) Yemen, (c) Turkey, (d) Egypt, (e) Morocco, (f) Algeria and (g) Saudi Arabia on the development of civil nuclear power generation. 
Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no discussions with the Governments referred to by my right hon. Friend in regard to development of civil nuclear power generation. However, British Government officials are in regular contact on a broad range of energy issues with Governments in the middle east and North Africa.
International humanitarian law distinguishes between international armed conflicts and non-international armed conflicts, but contains no definition of these terms. Whether an armed conflict can be said to exist in a particular situation is essentially a question of fact depending on the surrounding circumstances. However, guidance for assessing whether a non-international armed conflict exists can be found in Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions, which deals with the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. Protocol II applies to conflicts between the forces of a state and
dissident armed forces or other organised armed groups which, under responsible command, exercise control over part of the states territory to enable them to carry out a sustained and concerted military operations.
situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence and other acts of a similar nature
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