|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures he plans to put in place to ensure foreign registered vehicles comply with (a) congestion charging and (b) other road pricing mechanisms; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: Local authorities considering road pricing pilots are at an early stage in developing their proposals. Any enforcement regime will be part of those proposals. It is too early to say how such enforcement regimes will operate in respect of foreign vehicles.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many issues have been raised with the Government by the International Committee for the Red Cross in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq; how many of the issues raised (i) related to the UK forces and (ii) were communicated to the UK in its role as a member of the multinational forces; how many detainees were the subject of issues raised; whether the Government has responded in each case; whether the International Committee for the Red Cross has declared itself to the Government as dissatisfied with the response or raised the issue again subsequently; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: As my hon. Friend is aware from the previous written answer I gave to him on 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1654W and the answer my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Bill Rammell) gave to him on 16 November 2004, Official Report, column 1340W, we and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regard the contents of our frequent contacts with them, including on Iraq and Afghanistan, as confidential. We would not wish to break with this customary practice as it would risk undermining the ICRCs work in other countries. This principle of confidentiality allows the ICRC to remain impartial, gain repeated and unrestricted access to prisoners, and urge detaining authorities to make any improvements that may be necessary.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which members of the Bermuda Overseas Territory Government have served as conscripts in the Royal Bermuda Regiment. 
Mr. Hoon: Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been in touch with the Bermuda Regiment who have advised that four of the 20 male members of the governing party have served as conscripted soldiersThe hon. David Burch, The hon. Derrick Burgess, The hon. Terry Lister and Senator Wayne Caines.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on relations between the UK Government and the government of (a) Gibraltar, (b) the Falklands, (c) the British Virgin Islands, (d) the Cayman Islands and (e) the Turks and Caicos Islands. 
Mr. Hoon: Relations between the UK and the Governments of Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are good. We work in partnership with the governments of all the UK's overseas territories and expect to continue this with the new Government of the TCI following elections there on 9 February.
On 21 to 22 November 2006 elected leaders of each of these governments, except Gibraltar, attended the eighth Overseas Territories Consultative Council in London chaired by my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham. The Council held productive discussions on issues which included good governance, human rights, criminal justice strategy, the challenge of climate change and disaster preparedness.
The UK has had a close relationship with the Government of Gibraltar in recent months, most notably in the context of the Trilateral Agreement reached in Cordoba last September and the drafting of Gibraltar's new constitution, which came into effect in January.
Mr. Hoon: Governors of the overseas territories have a car provided as their official vehicle, either by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) or by the territory government. The FCO currently provides the official vehicles for Governors in Turks and Caicos Islands (Providenciales only), Anguilla, Gibraltar and Montserrat. The make of car provided in each territory is as follows:
|(1) Governor is non-resident.|
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a Government Minister last visited the British Virgin Islands; and what plans there are for a Ministerial visit to the British Virgin Islands. 
Mr. Hoon: My hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Bill Rammell, made an official visit to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in September 2004.
There are no plans for a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister to make a further early visit to the BVI. Foreign engagements for Government Ministers are kept under constant review. It is not practice to announce such visits until they are firm. Because of the unpredictable nature of world events, final decisions on overseas visits are often not possible until very shortly before a visit and an announcement is sometimes not possible until a visit is under way.
A delegation from the BVI, including the Chief Minister and leader of the Opposition, will be travelling to the UK to take part in constitutional review talks with my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, later this month.
Mr. McCartney: There are severe restrictions on freedom of all religions, including towards members of the majority Buddhist faith, particularly if they are perceived as anti-government. Ethnic minority communities, many of whom are Christian, are disproportionately affected by the wider pattern of human rights abuse carried out by the Burmese regime.
I have raised the human rights situation regularly with the Burmese regime and other governments in the region. On 16 June 2006, I called in the Burmese
ambassador and on 5 July 2006 I wrote to the Burmese Foreign Minister, highlighting our many concerns, including the freedom to express religious belief. On 18 September 2006, I raised the serious human rights situation with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) ambassadors, including the Burmese ambassador, and on 4 December 2006 with the ASEAN Secretary-General. I have also raised Burma with the Governments of China, India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea. I have discussed the human rights abuses taking place in Burma with Juan Mendéz, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. I discussed Burma in detail with Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on 15 November 2006, following his visit to the country.
In addition, our ambassador in Rangoon regularly raises human rights with the regime, most recently when he met the Burmese Ministers for Planning and Immigration and the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister on 5 January.
On 24 January, I met representatives from the Burmese Chin and Kachin ethnic groups to discuss the many difficulties faced by their respective communities, including violations of their religious freedoms.
We shall continue, bilaterally and with international partners, to urge the Burmese regime to pursue laws and practices which foster tolerance and mutual respect and protect religious minorities from persecution and discrimination.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Chinese Government to encourage the introduction of legislation in China to prohibit the use of evidence from torture in Chinese courts. 
Mr. McCartney: Combating torture in China remains a priority for the Government. We have consistently lobbied the Chinese Government to unambiguously prohibit the use of evidence obtained through torture. At the most recent round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue held in London on Monday 5 February, we encouraged China to introduce legislation to prohibit the use of evidence obtained through torture. Through the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices Global Opportunities Fund, Sustainable Development strand, we impress the need for improved judicial process, policing practice and detention centres and have supported programmes offering training to police, prison staff and prison inspectors. We also funded the first international seminar to take place in China on the UN Convention Against Torture in August 2006.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, column 820W, on Colombia, what assessment her Department has made of the observance of the human rights of (a) Raquel Castro and (b) Samuel Morales by the Colombian authorities since their arrest on 5 August 2004; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: While our embassy in Bogota is responsible for monitoring the welfare of any British citizens in detention in Colombia it is not responsible for, nor able to monitor closely, the human rights of non-British nationals, such as Mr. Morales and Ms Castro. However, it regularly impresses upon the Colombian Government the importance we attach to human rights and respect for the rule of law. It also maintains ongoing dialogue with leaders of the Colombian trade union movement over human rights and labour issues.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently sponsored training courses for the Colombian judiciary and prosecuting services aimed at helping them to further improve the administration of justice in Colombia. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, has also met Colombian trade unionists in both Colombia and London.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, column 820W, on Colombia, what information the UK embassy in Bogota has received from the Colombian Government on the legal case against Samuel Morales and Raquel Castro; what reports she has received from the embassy on the case since receipt of that information; whether she has made representations to the Colombian authorities on (a) the safety of the conviction and (b) the nature of the offence with which they were charged; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The Colombians have advised our embassy in Bogota of the current stage of the judicial process each time the embassy sought information on developments in the case against Mr. Morales and Ms Castro. These regular updates did not include specific details of the case itself. Rather, our embassy has consistently sought assurances from the Colombian Government that the human rights of the detainees were being fully observed. It has not questioned the safety of the convictions nor the nature of the offence. While we have concerns over the human rights situation in Colombia, and engage regularly with the Colombian Government over specific cases, we have neither the locus nor the resources to monitor and evaluate every legal and technical aspect of each case.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what occasions (a) she and (b) departmental Ministers have been requested to appear before committees of (i) devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament since 2004; on what topic in each case; how many and what proportion of such requests were accepted; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers regularly attend committees of the devolved institutions and the European Parliament in the course of official business. It is not possible to provide the more detailed information requested without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hoon: We are well advanced in our preparations for the Gender Equality Duty. In November 2006, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) published its first overarching Diversity Equality Scheme, which incorporates our Gender Equality Scheme. We see all diversity strandsincluding genderas of equal importance and in line with many employers we have produced one scheme to underline that message. Our Diversity Equality Scheme has provided us with a framework to ensure that the FCO meets its statutory duties and promotes inclusive management practice so that all staff of whatever background are encouraged to fulfil their potential.
Using the schemes framework, we have consulted extensively with FCO staff and key stakeholders, in order to ensure we fully identify gender equality issues for the FCO as an employer and a provider of services and functions. This has included surveys, Gender Equality Workshops and a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis of FCO gender equality issues. With the assistance of the Women and Equality Unit at the Department for Communities and Local Government, a detailed action plan is being drawn up.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that it and related bodies are in compliance with the gender equality duty in the Equality Act 2006 by the April 2007 deadline. 
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many vehicles belonging to her Department were (a) lost and (b) stolen in each year since 1997; and what the (i) make and model and (ii) value was of each vehicle. 
Mr. Hoon: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services are not aware of any official vehicles that were lost or stolen since 1997. We are unable to check every overseas Post who have an official vehicle fleet as this would incur disproportionate cost, but we have no notification locally that would indicate any loss or stolen vehicles in the overseas fleet.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|