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Signed in July 2005, the Joint Declaration of An Enduring Relationship between the UK and Afghanistan is a bilateral agreement between the UK and Afghanistan. The Enduring Relationship Action Plan 2006-07 sets out the commitments between the
two Governments under the 2005 Joint Declaration. Both are available in the Library of the House. Under both the Joint Declaration and the Action Plan, the UK agreed to help Afghanistan mobilise and co-ordinate international efforts to end the drugs trade, in support of the four national priorities identified in the Afghan Government's national drug control strategy (NDCS) - targeting the trafficker, strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods, reducing demand and developing state institutions. We are spending £270 million over three years in support of the NDCS.
Mr. Hoon: The then Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, the late Nicholas Ridley, visited Bolivia in 1980. Since then a number of other Ministerial visits to Bolivia have taken place. The then Minister for Trade, right hon. Brian Wilson, visited in May 1999 and the then Secretary of State for International Development, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short), visited in August 1999. Most recently, the then Minister for Energy, right hon. Brian Wilson, visited in 2002.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has raised the matter of the provision of assistance by British consular officials to British nationals of Chinese ethnic origin in China, Hong Kong and the Macao Special Administrative Regions with the Chinese Government in the last 12 months; and whether she plans to take up this matter with the Chinese Government in the future. 
Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not raised the matter of consular assistance to British nationals of Chinese ethnic origin in China, Hong Kong and the Macao Special Administrative Regions in the last 12 months, and has no plans to do so in the immediate future. Consular officials continue to make representations when appropriate.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much energy in kilowatt hours was purchased by her Department from renewable sources in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of progress in the political, economic and social conditions in the Iraqi provinces of (a) Al Basrah, (b) Al Muthanna, (c) Dhi Qar and (d) Maysan. 
Margaret Beckett: Political tension in Basra has increased following the recent withdrawal of the Fadila political party from the United Iraqi Alliance (the main Shi'a coalition). This has on occasion erupted into violence. The challenging security situation and the legacy of a distorted command economy have slowed economic development in Basra and unemployment is high. The Government are working to build the capability of local institutions, including through the work of the provincial reconstruction team (PRT). Basra's elected provincial council was the first to write its own provincial development strategythe key to unlocking central Government investment. The Basra Development Forum has also been an important step towards building a closer co-operation between provincial authorities in Basra and central authorities in Baghdad to help improve the situation.
Muthanna and Dhi Qar were transferred to Iraqi security control last year. Both provinces remain stable and their local authorities have shown themselves capable of managing the challenges they face. Unemployment is high in Dhi Qar, as well as in Muthanna. The Dhi Qar PRT is pursuing a range of projects, from basic infrastructure, water purification and electrical sub-stations, through to an amusement park and museum in Nasiriyah, and support for Dhi Qar artists' groups to improve the quality of life for local citizens. The Muthanna PRT is working with the provincial government to carry forward projects aimed at the province's most pressing problems: unemployment, agricultural reform, water, electricity and transport. In both al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar, the PRTs are working with the provincial authorities to build their budgetary planning capacity.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 April 2007, Official Report, column 914W, on Iraq: peace keeping operations, if she will make it her policy to provide assistance from British overseas posts to Iraqi nationals who have left Iraq after threats of violence because of their work as interpreters with the British Army. 
Dr. Howells: We already consider requests for assistance from British overseas posts to Iraqi nationals who have left Iraq after threats of violence because of their work as interpreters with the British army. As I said in my response to my hon. Friend on 23 April 2007, Official Report, column 914W all such requests for assistance are dealt with on a case by case basis, taking account of individual circumstances.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she expects to reply to the letter of 14 March from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on Mr. T.L. Pun. 
Margaret Beckett: The letter sent from my right hon. Friend was received without his constituent's responses to the reasons for refusal provided by the entry clearance officer, preventing my providing a meaningful reply. My officials contacted my right hon. Friend's constituency office on 5 and 20 April to obtain a copy of the paperwork. When officials have received the paperwork from my right hon. Friend's office I will be able to send an appropriate reply.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has made representations to the Nigerian Government following the recent presidential and gubernatorial elections on strengthening (a) the Anti-Corruption Commission and (b) the Independent Electoral Commission. 
Mr. McCartney: Immediately after the 21 April presidential elections our high commissioner in Abuja and my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) made representations to President Obasanjo and President-elect Umaru Musa YarAdua, making clear that we were disappointed by the violence, corruption and the Independent National Electoral Commissions management of the elections, and that the Government of Nigeria must address these shortcomings and return to the path of reform, including the fight against corruption.
We will continue to make such representations, including on the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, until the Government address our concerns.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she expects to receive reports from international observers following the recent presidential and gubernatorial elections in Nigeria. 
The main international observer missions have published preliminary statements. The EU election observation mission published a Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions on 23 April, which is available on the EU website at: www.europa. eu/index_en.htm. The EU mission will publish a final report within two months of the conclusion of the entire electoral process. The chairman of the
Commonwealth Observer Group issued an interim statement on 22 April available at: www.the commonwealth.org/. The final report of the Observer Group will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who in turn will forward it to the Government of Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission, political parties and then to all Commonwealth Governments. The National Democratic Institute issued a preliminary statement of observations and recommendations on 23 April (www.ndi.org). The International Republican Institute issued a statement of Preliminary Findings on 22 April (www.iri.org) and the observer mission of the Economic Community of West African States published Preliminary Declarations on the state elections on 15 April and on the federal elections on 23 April (www.ecowas.int).
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from European Union election observers on the extent of (a) tampering with ballots and (b) voter intimidation in the recent presidential and gubernatorial elections in Nigeria. 
Mr. McCartney: In its preliminary conclusions on the elections published on 23 April (www.eueom-ng.org), the EU election observation mission reports that in the state elections, EU observers witnessed incidents of hijacking of ballot boxes. In almost one fifth of polling stations visited, attempts to influence voters were witnessed. Disorder inside polling stations was witnessed in 15 per cent. of polling stations visited during closing and counting. In almost 30 per cent. of collation centres EU observers had indications of proof that polling results were fraudulently changed. EU observers witnessed cases of fraud, such as that in five wards in Zamfara state, where no elections took place but fake results were included in the governorship elections for the wards concerned. On election day disruption, sometimes violent, of the polling and counting processes by groups of thugs was observed in several states.
In the federal elections EU observers witnessed examples of ballot box stuffing, alteration of official result forms, stealing of sensitive polling materials, vote buying and under age voting. In 14 per cent. of observed polling stations attempts were made to influence voters. Cases of vote buying were observed in Niger and Jigawa states. Disorder was observed in 24 per cent. of the result transfer and collation centre processes observed. A number of fraudulent practices were observed. In many polling stations unused ballot papers were marked and stuffed into the ballot box resulting in almost 100 per cent. voter turnout, as observed in Kwara, Gombe, Edo and Niger states.
Violence was judged to have been a major concern and incidents increased as the elections drew nearer. The EU observers state that credible reports indicate a total of at least 200 people were killed in election-related incidents before and during the elections. The widespread use of thugs by a number of political parties created a significant degree of fear and intimidation. Numerous violent incidents were reported by EU observers, often involving destruction of campaign material and party offices, harassment,
intimidation and violent clashes between party supporters. Political sponsorship, recruitment and use of thugs was witnessed by EU observers in Borno, Abia, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger, Oyo, Osun, Kogi and Edo states. Assaults, assassination of candidates and attempted assassinations of candidates were reported in the pre-election period. A heavier security presence contributed to a reduction in violent incidents in the federal elections. But turnout of women for the federal elections on 21 April appeared to be lower than for the state elections on 14 April, which could have been due, at least in part, to violence during the state elections.
These observations have been confirmed in most respects by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) who undertook an observation mission on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department has taken to ensure that no products emanating from settlements built in occupied territory in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention are purchased by her Department and its overseas missions. 
Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not currently have a policy precluding the purchase of goods emanating from the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The FCOs policy on the procurement of goods is based on value for money, having due regard to propriety and regularity and ensuring full compliance with the EU consolidated Public Procurement directive, implemented in the UK by the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, where applicable. However, in practice the FCO in London and FCO Posts do not purchase goods from the settlements.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will instruct overseas missions not to purchase and consume products emanating from settlements built in Occupied Territories in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. 
Dr. Howells: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave her today (UIN 132723). There is no provision in either the EU consolidated Public Procurement directive or the UK Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 5) to instruct the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices overseas missions in this way and I do not therefore intend to do so.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations have been made to Israel and the Palestinian authorities on the release of Palestinian tax and customs revenues collected by Israel. 
At the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 23 April, EU Foreign Ministers repeated their call for Israel to immediately resume the transfer of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues, directly or through the Temporary International mechanism. We support this. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office raised this issue with the Israeli Embassy in London on 18 April.
We have not made any formal representations to the Palestinian authorities, as it is the Palestinian Authoritys money that is being withheld. However, we have discussed the issue with the Palestinian Authority on a number of occasions.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which occasions the Government overrode the scrutiny reserve resolution in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Hoon: The following table provides information on the number of overrides in each House since the Government began sending twice-yearly lists to the chairpersons of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee and the House of Lords European Union Committee. Details of each case are included in these lists. In each case a Minister overrides the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution, they account for their action in writing to the chairperson of each Scrutiny Committee.
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|(1) Figures for the first half of 2005 include a period when Parliament was dissolved and a period immediately after the opening of Parliament, before the European Union Committee in the House of Lords and the European Scrutiny Committee in the House of Commons could be appointed.|
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