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8 Jan 2007 : Column 7Wcontinued
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representation the UK has in Madagascar. 
Mr. McCartney: UK diplomatic links with Madagascar are conducted through a non-resident ambassador based in Port Louis, Mauritius, and an Honorary Consul based in Antananarivo (we are currently seeking accreditation for these officials), and through contact with the Malagasy embassy in London.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she plans to reopen an embassy in Madagascar following the decision of the Madagascan authorities to open an embassy in London. 
Mr. McCartney: We have no plans to reopen our embassy in Madagascar.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department plans to hold with (a) Iraq, (b) Jordan and (c) Libya on establishing British Army bases there on long-term leases. 
Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no plans to hold talks with Iraq, Jordan and Libya on establishing British army bases on long-term leases.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the nuclear capability of the Democratic Republic of North Korea; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) claims to have reprocessed the 8,000 spent fuel rods removed from the 25 megawatt reactor at Yongbyon in 1994. If these claims are true, the DPRK could have extracted sufficient plutonium for up to five nuclear warheads from this spent fuel.
North Korea's partially successful nuclear test on 9 October has added to our concerns over its nuclear programme. Their actions jeopardise regional stability in north-east Asia and pose a clear threat to international peace and security. The measures set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1718 send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate acts of this nature.
We continue to believe the DPRK is pursuing efforts towards production of highly enriched uranium (HEU), based on centrifuge enrichment technology which the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan has admitted supplying to the DPRK. But we have no information on how successful these attempts to produce HEU have been.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have made representations to the Israeli authorities on the effect of (a) the Annexation Wall and (b) the failure to renew temporary access permits for staff and students on the future of the Arab Orphan School in Atarot, East Jerusalem. 
Dr. Howells: We have not made any representations to the Israeli Government about this issue. However, during his visit to the region on 11 to 13 December, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised our concerns about the barrier with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni.
We are concerned at the restrictions on freedom of movement in the occupied territories. We understand the current difficulties that Palestinian students are facing to enter Israel in order to continue their education. On 19 December the Israeli Supreme Court gave the Israeli Government 60 days to determine clear criteria to grant Palestinian students special permits to allow them to enter Israel for a period of over six months.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many parliamentary written questions her Department received in each
parliamentary session since 2001; and how many of these questions (a) were not answered because of disproportionate cost, (b) were not answered, (c) received answers referring back to a previous answer (i) asked by the hon. Member and (ii) asked by another hon. Member and (d) were grouped together for answer. 
Margaret Beckett: This information is not held centrally and could not be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost. I can however provide (in the table) a breakdown of the number of questions answered in each year; the number of ordinary written questions answered on time; and the number of named day questions answered on the allocated day.
|Parliamentary Session||Total number of ordinary written questions||Total number of ordinary written questions answered within one week||Total number of named day questions||Total number of named day questions answered on allocated day|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what target her Department has for the maximum acceptable amount of time to answer parliamentary written questions; and what percentage of parliamentary answers met that target in each parliamentary session since 2001. 
Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) places great importance on parliamentary questions and undertakes to answer all questions promptly. FCO Ministers and officials endeavour to answer named day questions on the allocated day and ordinary written questions within one week. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him today (UIN 107462).
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions in the past three years her Department (a) initiated and (b) attended, when called by another Department, handling strategy meetings to deal with written parliamentary questions tabled by the hon. Member for Thurrock. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 12 December 2006]: My Department has neither initiated, nor been invited to attend, handling strategy meetings to deal with written parliamentary questions tabled by my hon. Friend.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her (a) EU and (b) US counterparts on ways to strengthen the UN arms embargo against Somalia; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: We hold regular talks with our EU and Security Council partners, including the US. We are considering ways to strengthen the arms embargo and improve its implementation. We have urged all parties inside Somalia and neighbouring states to respect the arms embargo and do nothing to provoke violence in Somalia. UN Security Council Resolution 1725, unanimously adopted on 6 December 2006, emphasised the continued contribution made to Somalias peace and security by the arms embargo and demanded that all member states fully comply with it.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UK has offered any support to the forthcoming African Union protection and training mission to Somalia. 
Margaret Beckett: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Mr. McCartney) gave to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1801W.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international agreement there is on the scale of the African Union protection and training mission to Somalia mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1725 (2006); and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Work on planning the mission is ongoing. UN Security Council Resolution 1725 requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Commission of the African Union and the secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, to report on the implementation of the mandate within 30 days.
Lynda Waltho: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government have to work with European partners to introduce targeted sanctions on perpetrators of violence in Darfur. 
Dr. Howells: The UK is a leading proponent of targeted measures, through both the EU and the UN Security Council, to help bring the conflict in Darfur to an end. The EU has had an arms embargo on Sudan in place since 1994. We will support further EU action to help resolve the crisis in Darfur.
UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1591 imposed targeted sanctions, an assets freeze and a travel ban, on individuals deemed to be obstructing the peace process or who commit atrocities in Darfur. UNSCR 1672 applied targeted sanctions to four individuals from all sides. We have made clear that more names will follow.
Lynda Waltho: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government have had with (a) the US Administration and (b) European partners on implementation of (i) a no-fly zone over Darfur, (ii) targeted sanctions against perpetrators of the violence in Darfur and (iii) increasing areas in which humanitarian programmes may be operated in Darfur. 
Dr. Howells: We maintain a regular dialogue, at the highest level, with the US and with European partners on Darfur. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised Darfur with President Bush during his recent visit to Washington, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Darfur with European counterparts during the European Council on 14 and 15 December.
We are pressing Sudan to implement the decisions of the recent meetings in Addis Ababa and Abuja, including accepting UN assistance for the AU force, maintaining the ceasefire and renewing its political dialogue with the rebels. The Government of Sudan should be clear that they have a choice between co-operating in this way or facing tougher measures if they do not. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, a no-fly zone is one of the options available to the international community should the Government of Sudan fail to co-operate.
We also continue to look at the case for designating further individuals to targeted sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1591.
We continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that they must co-operate in full with the humanitarian effort in Darfur. We welcome the recent extension of the visa moratorium for all UN and non-governmental organisation agencies operating in Darfur.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her Departments policy is on the proposal for a no-fly zone in Sudan. 
Dr. Howells: We are pressing Sudan to implement the decisions of the recent meetings in Addis Ababa and Abuja, including accepting UN assistance for the African Union force, maintaining the ceasefire and renewing its political dialogue with the rebels. The Government of Sudan should be clear that they have a choice between co-operating in this way or facing tougher measures if they do not. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, a no-fly zone is one of the options available to the international community should the Government of Sudan fail to co-operate.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the United Nations Human Rights Council mission to Darfur; what representations she has made to UN member states on Sudanese Government co-operation; and what reports she has received from (a) the UK ambassador to the UN and (b) the British embassy, Khartoum. 
Dr. Howells: The Government welcome the holding of the UN Human Rights Council's special session on Darfur on 12 and 13 December and its decision to send an expert human rights mission to Darfur. The Sudanese Government must give the mission their full cooperation. The mission will report back to the Human Rights Council in March.
The UK worked hard throughout the recent special session to ensure the agreement of other members of the Human Rights Council and of the UN on the need to tackle effectively human rights violations in Darfur. Our ambassador in Khartoum regularly raises our human rights concerns with the Sudanese Government. We are in constant touch with our missions to the UN in New York and Geneva.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from the UN Mission in Sudan on (a) kidnapping of AMIS military personnel and (b) the hijacking of vehicles belonging to (i) African Union and (ii) non-governmental organisations. 
Dr. Howells: We have received numerous reports of attacks against African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) personnel in Darfur including, most recently, one report of kidnapping of AMIS personnel last week which has now been resolved. We have also received reports of attacks against AMIS vehicles by both sides in the conflict. AMIS bases were also threatened by groups of civilians recently in both El Fasher and El Geneinah. It has been reported that in the past four months alone there have been 29 humanitarian vehicles hijacked in Darfur. There have also been frequent hijackings of non-governmental organisation vehicles.
We utterly condemn recent attacks on civilians, on AMIS personnel and on aid workers in Darfur. We are calling on both the Government of Sudan and the rebels to stop fighting immediately and resume a political dialogue aimed at bringing the non-signatories into the Darfur Peace Agreement. We are also urging the Sudanese Government to take immediate steps to implement the commitments they made in Addis Ababa on 16 November.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the current security situation at El Fasher. 
There were clashes in El Fasher on 4 December and in the following days between Arab militia and rebels connected with Minni Minawi,
resulting in fatalities on both sides. The UN evacuated its non-essential staff and those of non-governmental organisations in the town. The situation was unstable for several days following these clashes, with sporadic shooting especially at night and some robbery and harassment in the market. However, in the last few days a large number of militia have left the town, the Government of Sudan has increased their patrolling and the situation is now calm.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcomes were of the recent meeting of the Tripartite Mechanism in Khartoum; and what reports she has received on plans to implement the UN support package to AMIS. 
Dr. Howells: The joint UN/African Union (AU)/Sudanese Government Tripartite Mechanism is awaiting the appointment of a Sudanese Government representative and has not yet been formalised. However, there was a meeting between the parties involved last week.
We are in touch with the AU, the UN and with the Sudanese Government about implementation of UN support for the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which is currently focused on implementing the Light Support Package, as set out in the conclusions of the High Level meeting on Darfur held in Addis Ababa on 16 November. It is crucial that AMIS is bolstered by the phased UN support package agreed by the AU Peace and Security Council if it is to be effective in promoting peace and stability in Darfur. We will continue to press the Government of Sudan to agree to this, urge our international partners to do the same and go on providing support to AMIS.
Lynda Waltho: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Government policy is on the proposed introduction of a no-fly zone over Darfur. 
Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) today (UIN 110243).
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