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Dr. Howells: The Government are committed to promoting freedom of expression and the media worldwide. Journalists, media professionals and
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associated personnel must be provided with the protection that they need under domestic and international law.

In addition to tabling, with our EU partners, UN Security Council Resolution 1738 in December 2006, the UK will continue to work with partners to support efforts to promote and strengthen respect for international law, in particular in this area. An essential part of this is our strong support for the international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, which are a key part of international efforts to combat the crimes of most concern to the international community. We expect that the Red Cross Conference in Geneva in November will amongst other things discuss reaffirmation of international humanitarian law.

The UK regularly speaks out when journalists are murdered, attacked or harassed. We raise cases with foreign governments, urging compliance with international law. For example, we engaged with the Russian Federation following the death of Anna Politkovskaya.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures have been introduced to ensure the UK’s compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738, on the protection of journalists in armed conflict; and if she will make a statement. [140897]

Dr. Howells: The Government are committed to promoting freedom of expression and the media worldwide. Journalists, media professionals and associated personnel must be provided with the protection that they need under domestic and international law.

To assist this process, and raise awareness of the violence directed against journalists in conflict zones, the UK and its EU partners tabled UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1738 in December 2006. The resolution condemned violence directed against journalists in conflict zones. It called on parties involved in conflict to stop deliberate attacks against journalists, and respect them as civilians under international law.

No specific new measures were required of the UK to implement UNSCR 1738. UK military forces are already required to act in compliance with the provisions of international humanitarian law relating to the protection of civilians, including journalists, to which the resolution refers.

Funding is available to support measures to protect journalists in armed conflict through a new human rights strand of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Global Opportunities Fund. For example, we have funded work in Colombia, with the International News Safety Institute, aimed at creating a culture of safety in journalism and reducing the risks journalists face at work.

The UK regularly speaks out when journalists are murdered, attacked or harassed. We raise cases with foreign governments, urging compliance with international law. For example, we engaged with the Russian Federation following the death of Anna Politkovskaya.


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The Government will continue to tackle the targeting of journalists. They are an essential component of healthy, democratic societies. They need and deserve protection for their role.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) correspondence and (b) discussions her Department has had with (i) European partners and (ii) others to seek the earliest possible compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738, on the protection of journalists in armed conflict; and if she will make a statement. [140898]

Dr. Howells: We have had no specific discussions with European partners and others on compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1738. Compliance is the responsibility of UN States. We do continue to discuss wider matters of international humanitarian law, under which journalists are covered, and to take joint action on individual cases.

Bangladesh

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the arrests of 10 British citizens in Syhlet, Bangladesh, on 14 May; what representations she has made on this issue; and if she will make a statement. [140633]

Dr. Howells: We understand that the 10 British citizens were part of a gathering of over 40 people who were arrested in Syhlet for allegedly breaching the current restrictions in Bangladesh on the holding of political meetings.

We take our consular responsibilities to British nationals very seriously. On becoming aware of the arrests, our High Commission in Dhaka raised the case with the caretaker government and sought consular access. Following an order of the High Court in Dhaka on 22 May nine of the detained British citizens have been released on bail and one has since returned to the UK. The High Commission continues to provide consular assistance to the remaining detainee.

We continue to emphasise to the caretaker government, and to the armed forces, the need to respect human rights and the rule of law.

EC Internal Relations

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which projects were funded by her Department’s budget for EU Communications in each year since 1997; and how much the total budget was in each year. [137521]

Mr. Hoon: The spend in each financial year from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) EU Directorate budget codes related to EU communications in the UK are:


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£

1997-98

(1)13,500

1998-99

(2)

1999-2000

102,574

2000-01

258,000

2001-02

246,819

2002-03

167,891

2003-04

604,730

2004-05

400,499

2005-06(3)

274,274

2006-07

(4)

2007-08

(5)265,000

(1 )Excluding EU presidency EU communications.
(2 )Figures not available.
(3 )Plus £434,233 EU presidency public diplomacy.
(4 )Final figures not yet available
(5 )Allocated budget:

Funding may have been provided from other FCO budgets, for example on activities relating to the EU’s roles on a range of FCO strategic priorities, for the 1998 UK presidency and for activities by UK embassies in Europe. Given the wide range of possible budgets and relevant projects comprehensive details could only be collated at disproportionate cost.

In line with the FCO’s public service agreement, FCO spending on EU communications covers a wide range of projects to raise awareness and debate on EU issues, such as:

website, publications and public events on EU issues.

Ilois: Resettlement

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she intends to petition the House of Lords for leave to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal on 23 May regarding the Chagos Islands; what estimate she has made of the likely cost of such an appeal; and if she will make a statement. [140497]

Margaret Beckett: I will consider the 23 May judgment of the Court of Appeal carefully and have in this regard asked officials for farther advice. I reserve the right to petition the House of Lords to grant permission to appeal, as I am entitled to do within one month.

The costs of a further appeal are estimated at £140,000.

The Government’s policy in relation to the British Indian Ocean Territory therefore remains the subject of possible ongoing legal proceedings and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1481W, on Iraq: peacekeeping operations, whether the two requests for assistance on behalf of three Iraqi nationals were agreed to. [140670]

Dr. Howells: In line with our policy worldwide we do not comment on the substance of individual immigration or consular cases.


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As I said in my response to my hon. Friend on 24 May 2007, Official Report, column 1481W, all requests for assistance are dealt with on a case by case basis, taking account of individual circumstances. If after assessment we decide that an individual’s circumstances do not merit our assistance, we encourage them to contact local UN High Commissioner for Refugees offices, available national refugee bodies or other relevant agencies.

Pakistan: Religious Freedom

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will (a) make representations on behalf of the Christian community based in North West Frontier Province in Pakistan to seek greater protection for them and (b) make representations to the government of Pakistan to desist from imposing apostasy laws. [140984]

Dr. Howells: As my hon. Friend is aware, we regularly raise our concerns over the situation of religious minorities with the Government of Pakistan, bilaterally and together with our EU partners.

We are aware of the difficulties faced by the Christian community in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and will continue to follow developments. We will also continue to monitor the progress of the draft Apostasy Bill. Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and we will continue to voice our concerns to the Government of Pakistan.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of the number of blasphemy cases being heard in the Pakistani courts; and what representations she has made to the Pakistan government in the case of Younis Masih. [141055]

Dr. Howells: We follow closely the subject of blasphemy trials in Pakistan. We receive reports on blasphemy trials from human rights groups and monitor cases reported in the media.

We do not usually raise individual cases and have not recently made any representations to the Pakistani authorities on the case of Younis Masih. However, we regularly raise our concerns about blasphemy legislation and its effects on minority groups with the Government of Pakistan, both bilaterally and with our EU partners, and will continue to do so. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, most recently raised this issue in correspondence with the Government of Pakistan in February.

Health

Blood: Contamination

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if her Department will release the audit certificates for files containing documents mistakenly destroyed by the Department in the 1990s and which were the subject of an Internal Audit Report in April 2000 before the end of the inquiry chaired by Lord Archer into contaminated blood and blood products; and if she will make a statement; [141006]


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(2) what records her Department holds on the work of the Advisory Committee on the Virological Safety of Blood relating to the years 1989 to 1993; and if she will make a statement. [141032]

Caroline Flint: The Department holds seven files on the work of the Advisory Committee on the Virological Safety of Blood for the period 1989-93.

I regret that some volumes were destroyed in the 1990s, and this was the subject of an internal review and report in 2000 which is now in the public domain. The internal audit report clearly sets out the sequence of events which led to the destruction of files.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will release the documents returned to the Department by solicitors in a previous litigation against the Department as referred to in the Review of Documentation relating to the Safety of Blood Products 1970 to 1985 to the independent public inquiry chaired by Lord Archer into contaminated blood and blood products; and if she will make a statement. [141029]

Caroline Flint: The papers returned to the Department by solicitors have already been released in line with the Freedom of Information Act, and are in the public domain.

The Department has given an undertaking to release all the papers held on the issue of blood safety between 1970-85. The papers returned from solicitors and the references to the report “Self Sufficiency in Blood Products in England and Wales” will consequently be sent to the independent inquiry.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans her Department has to submit (a) written evidence and (b) oral evidence from (i) Ministers, (ii) civil servants and (iii) NHS staff to the independent public inquiry chaired by Lord Archer into contaminated blood and blood products; and if she will make a statement; [141030]

(2) whether her Department has been asked to provide (a) Ministers, (b) civil servants and (c) NHS staff as witnesses for oral evidence in the independent public inquiry chaired by Lord Archer into contaminated blood and blood products; and if she will make a statement. [141031]


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Caroline Flint: Lord Archer of Sandwell wrote to the Secretary of State for Health in February to invite the Department to give evidence at the independent inquiry.

Officials met with members of the inquiry team on 25 April 2007 to discuss what information the Department may be able to provide to the inquiry. We have made available a recently completed document on the “Review of Documentation Relating to the Safety of Blood Products 1970-1985 (Non A Non B Hepatitis)”, and the supporting references. Copies of the document are available in the Library.

Officials continue to liaise with the secretary to the inquiry team.

Departments: Private Finance Initiative

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the value was of annual private finance initiative payments made by her Department from (a) capital and (b) revenue budgets in each of the last five years; [137809]

(2) what value of annual private finance initiative (PFI) payments was (a) to repay capital and (b) expenditure on other parts of each PFI contract in each of the last five years, broken down by project. [137811]

Andy Burnham: The value of annual private finance initiative payments made for each of the last five years is provided in the following table.

The annual payments made by national health service trusts to their private sector partners are taken from their revenue budgets and cover financing charges (capital repayment and interest charges), building maintenance and, in many cases, the non-clinical support services such as cleaning, laundry, catering, portering and security. The building and support services can account for between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the annual payments.

We are not able to provide precise figures breaking down the annual payments into financing charges and other expenditure as this would require examining the financial model for each scheme which would incur disproportionate costs.


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