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8 Mar 2007 : Column 2131Wcontinued
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the number of warships based at Portsmouth has been reduced since 2004. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 26 February 2007]: The number of warships based in Portsmouth, as in any port, will change as old warships are taken out of service and new warships enter service. Warships may also from time to time be reassigned to a different base port. A number of Portsmouth-based warships have been taken out of service since 2004: three Type 42 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, two mine counter measures vessels and one offshore patrol vessel.
Mrs. May: To ask the Prime Minister how much has been allocated for political advisers for the Prime Minister for 2007-08. 
The Prime Minister: Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each pay band.
I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement I made on 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 86-91WS. Information on the number of special advisers before 2003 was provided at regular intervals. This information is available in the Libraries of the House. Information on special advisers for 2007-08 will be published in the normal way.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Prime Minister whether he plans to respond to each person who signs up to support each petition on the Number 10 website. 
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1668W.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Prime Minister (1) whether the email addresses of individuals who sign an e-petition on the Downing street website are kept after the deadline for signing has passed; 
(2) how many individual email addresses were collected as they signed e-petitions on the Downing street website. 
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) on 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1668W.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Leader of the House if he will assess the merits of arranging for the publication in the Official Report of all letters written to hon. Members by Ministers and from chief executives of non departmental public bodies in lieu of a written parliamentary answer. 
Mr. Straw: Yes. As a result of the hon. Members question, I have put in hand the assessment he suggests. I will issue a written ministerial statement when it is complete.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional 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. 
Vera Baird: It is not possible to find out whether DCA Ministers have been requested to appear before these committees since 2004 without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, column 881W, on the Lord Chancellor: functions, what the (a) purpose and (b) occasion was of the seven functions that were funded through the public purse. 
Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 11 January 2007, Official Report, column 690W.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent representations she has received on access to legal aid in cases before magistrates courts. 
Vera Baird: Since 2 October 2006, the issue of access to legal aid in cases before the magistrates courts has been raised in approximately 20 pieces of correspondence to my Department.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much money from the public purse (a) her Department and (b) its agencies gave to (i) the Smith Institute and (ii) its subsidiary SI Events Ltd. in each year since 1997; and for what purpose each payment was made. 
Vera Baird: The Department and its agencies have not given or paid any monies from the public purse in any year since 1997 to the Smith Institute or its subsidiary SI Events Ltd.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which (a) uninhabited and (b) other overseas island territories are UK possessions. 
Mr. Hoon: The British Overseas Territories of the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands have no indigenous populations. The other British Overseas Territories are Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena and its dependencies (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha), the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus. The British Antarctic Territory and Gibraltar are not islands.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when her Department last engaged in formal discussions with the government of Brunei Darussalam; and what was discussed at that meeting. 
Mr. McCartney: I met Pehim Lim, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 4 December 2006. This was the most recent formal ministerial-level meeting. We discussed the close and constructive UK-Brunei bilateral relationship, the Association of South East Asian Nations, Burma and interfaith issues.
We also have regular discussions with the Bruneian government at an official level on a range of issues, in London and Bandar Seri Begawan.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether (a) she and (b) representatives from her Department have any plans to visit Brunei Darussalam in 2007 to build bilateral relations. 
Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no current plans to visit Brunei, but there are regular visits by officials in both directions. The bilateral relationship between the UK and Brunei is close, based on historical ties, with strong defence, education and trade links.
I met Pehim Lim, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 4 December 2006. This was the most recent formal ministerial-level meeting. We discussed the close and constructive UK-Brunei bilateral relationship, the Association of South East Asian Nations, Burma and interfaith issues.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations her Department has made to the United Nations on resolving the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and what estimate she has made of the impact this conflict has had on numbers of people seeking asylum from that country within the United Kingdom. 
Mr. McCartney: Our embassy in Kinshasa works closely with MONUC (UN peacekeeping force) and the UN Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), William Swing. We also work closely with the UN in New York in our efforts to achieving durable peace in the DRC. I met William Swing on 2 March in London to discuss the situation in the DRC, as did my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence.
We welcome the progress made in bringing peace and stability to the DRC following recent democratic elections. But we remain concerned by pockets of ongoing conflict in eastern DRC. We continue to encourage MONUC to act robustly against militia groups who threaten the civilian population and support their current mandate and troop strength to do this.
We are aware that conflict can cause people to leave their countries and claim asylum elsewhere. The number of people from the DRC claiming asylum in the UK has fallen since the country began to stabilise in 2003.
Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcomes were of the Minister of State for Europe's recent visit to the Ukraine and Moldovia; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 7 March 2007]: During my visit to Ukraine I had the opportunity to discuss with the President and the Prime Minister, as well as other opinion formers, Ukraines aim of closer integration with the EU. I underlined the UKs strong support for this objective. I observed the progress that has been made in consolidating democracy and media freedom since the Orange revolution and encouraged those I met to continue to build on these changes. I also underlined the UKs support for Ukraines reform programme which will bring them closer to the EUs standards and norms and allow Ukraines relationship with the EU to be further developed.
During my visit to Moldova I met with President Voronin as well as other Ministers and leading opinion formers. I discussed Moldovas aim of closer integration with the EU, and their implementation of the EU Moldova Action Plan. I was able to hear in more detail Moldovas priorities for reform, and to restate the UKs support for closer EU integration as well as practical support for the process of reform. I also met civil society representatives and heard their views of the major issues Moldova faces.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations her Department has made to the United Nations on the refusal by Iran to meet the deadline imposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency on its uranium enrichment programme. 
As the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohammed
El-Baradei, made clear in his most recent report on 22 February, Iran has failed to take the steps required by the United Nations Security Council, including full suspension of all uranium enrichment related, reprocessing and heavy water related activities. The Security Council said in resolution 1737, adopted unanimously on 23 December 2006, that it would adopt further sanctions if Iran did not comply. Senior officials from the E3+3 (France, Germany, UK + China, Russia, US) met in London on 24 February to discuss next steps and E3+3 permanent representatives in New York did so on 5 March. We expect to discuss a further resolution with Security Council members soon.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what account she has taken of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 in formulating UK foreign policy in Iraq. 
Dr. Howells: The UK maintains a regular dialogue with the Iraqi government, at various levels, about the important role of women in society. The Iraqi Constitution contains provisions that protects womens rights and their role in national decision making, for example electoral law must aim to achieve at least 25 per cent. female representation in the Council of Representatives. The UK has taken a number of steps to support this, most recently we:
part-funded a conference on using international human rights law and Iraqi domestic law to protect women's rights, for Iraqi judges, parliamentarians and womens activists;
brought a delegation of senior officials from Basras judiciary, police and prison service to the UK, to examine how the UK deals with women and juvenile issues in detention;
are supporting a professional skills workshop for women journalists, aimed at ensuring a more diverse and gender-sensitive media; and
are supporting a seminar for Iraqi civil society organisations to develop projects to highlight the impact of the Iraqi Constitution, currently being reviewed, on women.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Minister for Africa had with the President of the Transitional Federal government of Somalia on the security situation in Somalia at their recent meeting; whether they agree on who is responsible for the recent violence in Somalia; and if she will make a statement. 
The President of the Transitional Federal Republic of Somalia and my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, spoke about the security situation in Somalia at their recent meeting. They agreed that the arrival of the African Union Mission in Somalia would help to improve security in Somalia. Despite efforts by the Transitional Federal government of Somalia, some
rogue elements continue to mount limited attacks. We condemn those responsible for the recent attacks in Mogadishu and call on all parties to reject violence and commit to peaceful dialogue.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the recent visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Sudan; whether she has made representations to the governments of those countries on introducing UN-UK hybrid force units into Darfur; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 7 March 2007]: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Sudan from 28 February to 1 March following an invitation from President Bashir. President Bashir had previously visited Iran on 24-27 April 2006.
Press reports suggest that the Presidents discussed bilateral and regional issues. There is no suggestion that President Ahmadinejad pressed President Bashir on the need to accept the hybrid force.
We regularly press the Government of Sudan to make good on its pledge to accept a UN/African Union (AU) hybrid force, made at last years AU Abuja summit. We have lobbied a wide range of third countries which we believe would be prepared to use their influence with the Government of Sudan, urging them also to make the case for this.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the general elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands on 9 February 2007; and whether they met international standards of being free and fair. 
Mr. Hoon: In their public statement the day after the election, the International Observers of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) elections concluded that the election was conducted in full accordance with electoral law. They will produce a report, with some recommendations on how to further improve the electoral process in the TCI.
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