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29 Jan 2007 : Column 32W—continued

No RFAs were sold on a Government-to-Government basis during this period.

Veterans Badge

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of people entitled to the Veterans Badge; how many claimed the badge in each month since its introduction, broken down by parliamentary constituency; and if he will make a statement. [116470]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 22 January 2007]: The Ministry of Defence has insufficient information to make an accurate assessment of the number of people entitled to the HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge but estimates that the total number is around 5 million.

The Veterans Badge was administered in London between May 2004 and 17 April 2005. During this period, 82,000 badges were issued; however, detailed records of monthly application numbers were not kept.

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Since 18 April 2005, the Veterans Agency has been responsible for the Badge’s administration. During this period, it has received 300,493 applications and issued 277,465 badges. The applications have been received as follows:














































The databases for the scheme do not have the capability to extract records of applicants by individual parliamentary constituencies.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghan Refugees

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of comments of the Pakistani Prime Minister on Afghan refugees living in Pakistan on the achievement of aims of the London compact. [111590]

Dr. Howells: We support the principle of closing the refugee camps in Pakistan, in an orderly, carefully managed way that respects the rights of the refugees and international agreements. We are in close touch with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in both Geneva and Islamabad and are discussing with them their strategy for 2007. The Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan are due to meet with the UNHCR in Lahore on 6 February to discuss how they can work together to create the conditions necessary for significant returns in 2007.

The Afghan Government and the international community continue towards the benchmarks agreed in the Afghanistan compact in 2006.

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African Union: Sudan

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has made representations to the African Union on whether Sudan should assume its presidency for 2007-08. [112231]

Mr. McCartney: The African Union (AU) is an important partner for the UK and the wider international community on key issues that affect African development. It has a major role to play in helping to prevent and resolve conflict in conjunction with the United Nations and others.

The choice of the next AU Chairperson is a matter for AU member states. We expect the AU to ensure that whomever is chosen will be in a position to continue to build the capacity and credibility of the organisation, across the range of its activities.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the freedom of the press in Bangladesh and its implications for the observance of human rights by the Government of that country. [111623]

Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) on 27 November 2006, Official Report, columns 460-461W.

The Constitution of Bangladesh gives the state wide powers under a state of emergency, which can be used to restrict freedom of speech. We nevertheless look to the caretaker Government to observe human rights standards for all citizens. A vibrant and diverse media plays an important role in democratic life in the country.

British Citizens: Convictions Abroad

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1403W, on British citizens’ convictions abroad, for how many individuals convicted and given a custodial sentence her Department’s database holds passport details. [112200]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office consular assistance database—Compass—does not incorporate a function to generate statistics on the number of British nationals under custodial sentence overseas for whom it holds passport details. This is primarily because such statistics are not needed for our principal function of ensuring the welfare of British nationals in detention overseas.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of recent ASEAN
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criticism of the Burmese regime for achieving (a) national reconciliation and (b) the release of political prisoners; and what representations she has made to counterparts in ASEAN member states on a charter for the association establishing common standards of governance among members. [111536]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 22 January 2007, Official Report, column 1448W.

At the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, held in the Philippines on 13 and 14 January, ASEAN encouraged Burma to make greater progress towards national reconciliation and called for the release of those placed under detention. I believe ASEAN can play an important role in encouraging positive change in Burma. The UK, therefore, welcomed the stance ASEAN has taken.


Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by the British high commission in Yaoundé concerning the arrest and holding of Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor and other members of the Southern Cameroon National Council at a press conference in the town of Bamenda on 20 January. [111207]

Mr. McCartney: Our high commission in Yaoundé has not made any representations to the Cameroon authorities regarding this incident. However, they have been in contact with the National Human Rights Commission representative in Bamenda to discuss whether any human rights violations occurred. Their comprehensive report of the events is expected imminently, we will give it careful consideration and take forward any representations that are necessary.

Departmental Contracts: Iraq

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contracts have been awarded to ArmorGroup by her Department for work in Iraq; what the start and end dates of each contract were; what the purpose of each contract was; and how many people were employed under the terms of each contract. [111388]

Dr. Howells: ArmorGroup have been awarded three Foreign and Commonwealth Office contracts for work in Iraq.

The first was for provision of static guarding of our embassy office in Basra. It started on 1 July 2004, ran to 30 June 2006 and employed a maximum of 93 personnel. These figures varied during the course of the contract.

The second was for the provision of static guarding at our embassy in Baghdad. This contract also started on 1 July 2004 and ran to 30 June 2006. It employed a maximum of 113 personnel. Again, these figures varied during the course of the contract.

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The third is to provide police mentors to work on policing projects in Baghdad and southern Iraq. This contract started on 4 June 2004 and is due to expire in June 2007. There are currently 71(1) people employed on this contract and the maximum employed at any time during the course of the contract has been 91.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contracts let by her Department for work in Iraq were in relation to projects funded in part or wholly by the (a) Japanese and (b) Dutch Governments. [111392]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has one contract in Iraq which is directly related to a project funded by the Dutch Government. In August 2005 the FCO extended its contract with ArmorGroup, which provides police mentors to Iraq, to include an additional 17 mentors to carry out training and mentoring in Al-Muthanna province. This additional capacity was funded in full by the Dutch Government and lasted until February 2006.

We have not let any contracts in Iraq in relation to projects funded partly or wholly by the Japanese Government.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how often and when the contract awarded to ArmorGroup for training the Iraqi police in June 2004 was (a) reviewed and (b) extended; and whether ArmorGroup was paid per day or per person employed. [111395]

Dr. Howells: The contract originally awarded to ArmorGroup in June 2004 for police training and mentoring in Iraq was for an initial five months and has been extended a total of five times. The extensions were for the following periods:

Each extension has included a review of prices to ensure value for money. The policing work carried out by ArmorGroup is under the command and direction of a senior serving British policeman, with whom Foreign and Commonwealth Office works in raising issues relating to the performance or staffing of the ArmorGroup contract. We have also commissioned independent reviews of our policing programme to assess its effectiveness including the security sector development advisory team in May 2005, Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s assessment of the UK’s policing programme in January 2006 and chief constable Paul Kernaghan’s progress assessment visit on 4-7 October 2006.

Payment to ArmorGroup is made on a per person per day in country basis.

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Guantanamo Bay

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the indefinite detention of British residents in Guantanamo Bay on the UK’s foreign relations. [111488]

Dr. Howells: Indefinite detention of detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, regardless of their nationality or place of former residence, is a matter of concern to us, on human rights grounds rather than for its effect on our relations with other states. As we have made clear, the detention facility should be closed. We therefore welcome President Bush’s public statements expressing a wish to close Guantanamo Bay and the US Administration’s efforts to reduce numbers at the camp. But we recognise the need for careful consideration on how numbers at the camp are reduced to ensure international security is maintained and the human rights of detainees respected.

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has made to the US Administration asking for the immediate release of British residents who remain detained in Guantanamo Bay. [111696]

Dr. Howells: It is long-standing policy that the Government are not in a position to provide consular assistance or diplomatic protection to foreign nationals, including those held at Guantanamo Bay, except where we have a specific agreement with another state to do so.

We discuss a range of detainee issues, including Guantanamo Bay, with the US Administration but our focus is on the situation of all detainees at Guantanamo, including those formerly resident in the UK. We have raised humanitarian issues relating to detainees who were formerly resident in the UK with the US on a number of occasions, as part of these regular exchanges.

We agreed in March 2006 to make representations to the US Government for the release of Bisher Al-Rawi from Guantanamo Bay and his return to the UK. That decision was based on the particular circumstances in his case. On 6 April 2006 my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) wrote to the US Secretary of State to ask formally for Mr. Al-Rawi’s release and return. Detailed discussions between our Governments have continued ever since. While these are sensitive and complicated issues that take time, we are committed to securing Mr. Al-Rawi’s release from Guantanamo Bay and his return to the UK.

Hans Blix: Report

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when her Department received copies of the report prepared by Dr. Hans Blix entitled Weapons of Terror - Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms; and if she will make a statement. [111789]

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Dr. Howells: Dr. Blix handed over a copy of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission report to the Government at a meeting with officials in London on 12 June 2006. He had earlier briefed ambassadors from EU member states on 9 June 2006 in Brussels, where he had also handed over copies of the report.

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