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Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Iranian Government for information on the physical health and wellbeing of Iranian trade union leader Mansour Ossanlou, who was abducted in Tehran; and if he will call for his prompt release. 
Dr. Howells: Mansour Ossanlou, President of the Syndicate of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, has been arrested and detained several times over the last two years for his involvement in peaceful industrial action by the bus union. We, along with the EU, have serious concerns about Irans commitment to uphold its international obligations with regard to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to form or join trade unions. We have therefore been monitoring Mr. Ossanlous situation closely. We were extremely concerned at his forcible detention by unidentified assailants on 10 July. It has since been confirmed that he is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran and is being investigated for alleged distribution of propaganda against the regime. We understand that neither his family nor his lawyers have had full access to visit him in prison.
On 16 July I called in the Iranian ambassador to London to discuss human rights issues. I raised specific concerns about the treatment of Mr. Ossanlou, and urged Iran to ensure that he is treated well and in accordance with his rights. I highlighted that we consider his arrest to be a direct breach of Irans commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In meetings with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 21 July and 1 September, the EU presidency also condemned Mr. Ossanlous violent arrest and detention for peaceful actions in support of civil rights.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK policy is on the 21 August 2007 agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Islamic Republic of Iran in relation to Irans nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 17 September 2007]: The agreement announced on 21 August between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sets out a workplan for Iran to address outstanding issues concerning its past nuclear programme. If Iran implements it in full, it may prove to be a step towards
resolving the Iranian nuclear problem. But addressing the outstanding issues is only one of the steps the International Community requires Iran to take in order to restore confidence in its intentions. As the UN Security Council has unanimously demanded in Resolutions 1696, 1737 and 1747, and as the IAEA Board of Governors made clear in its Resolution GOV/2006/14 of February 2006, Iran also needs to implement fully the Additional Protocol and additional measures that the IAEA has requested, and to suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Until Iran meets these obligations we will continue to follow the dual track strategy agreed with our partners in the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States), and to discuss further measures aimed at persuading Iran to fulfil all its international obligations.
Dr. Howells: Implementation of Article 140 is a matter for the Government of Iraq. We continue to encourage the Iraqi and Kurdish regional authorities to ensure that the Article 140 process is fair and transparent and reflects, so far as is possible, the views of each of the different communities involved.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 May 2007, Official Report, column 973W, on Iraq: armed forces, what changes were made to agreed plans as a result of the events referred to. 
Dr. Howells: As I said in my response to my right hon. Friend on 18 May 2007, Official Report, column 973W, the detail of exchanges between the Government and the US Administration in 2003 remains confidential. Planning remained flexible throughout this period to take full account of developments on the ground.
Dr. Howells: Article 56 of the Iraqi constitution allows for elections for the Council of Representatives to be held 45 days preceding the conclusion of the Council of Representatives four-calendar-year electoral term. The current electoral term began on 16 March 2006, the date of the first session of the present Council of Representatives. Elections should therefore be held on 30 January 2010.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been paid to private military security companies in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan to protect (i) Foreign and Commonwealth Office personnel, (ii) other British Government personnel and (iii) British Government civilian and military infrastructure; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband [ holding answer 10 September 2007]: The amounts paid to private security companies in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Government personnel and Government civilian and military infrastructure are provided as follows.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will take steps to bring to justice those Islamic extremists responsible for the systematic intimidation and driving out of Christians from Dora district and the neighbourhoods of Al-Baya'a, Al-Thurat and Al-Saydia in Baghdad; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: Responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed in Iraq is the responsibility of the Iraqi security forces and judicial authorities. The Government remain deeply concerned about the high levels of violence which Iraqis, including Christians, are having to endure. We continue to raise this in our regular contacts with the Iraqi Government and to press for action to protect all Iraqis. We understand that the Iraqi authorities, with the backing of coalition forces, have increased the security presence in Dora.
Dr. Howells: The UK does not conduct an independent assessment of levels of cannabis production in Jamaica. We rely on the internationally accepted reporting from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). According to their World Drugs Report 2007, available at: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/world_drug_ report.html, cannabis production (herb and resin) takes place in nearly all the countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The UNODC report estimates that Jamaican cannabis resin represented 3.1 per cent. of global production in 2003-05.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the discussions with President Gayoom of the Maldives during his recent visit to the UK covered (a) charges brought against members of the opposition and (b) the use of state resources and media for President Gayooms partys campaign for the referendum. 
Dr. Howells: My noble Friend the Minister with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, met President Gayoom at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 20 July. They discussed the economic and political situation in Maldives, but did not cover the specific issues raised by the hon. Member. Lord Malloch-Brown issued a statement following the meeting calling for free and fair elections and successful conduct of the referendum which is available on the FCO website at:
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress made by the Special Majlis towards amending the new constitution of the Maldives. 
Dr. Howells: Since the election of the Special Majlis (Constituent Assembly), progress towards the new constitution has been slow. But there have been advances, in particular in relation to the legalisation of political parties, a more tolerant approach to press freedom and the release from detention of many political prisoners.
The referendum in Maldives on 18 August has given the Special Majlis a mandate to develop a constitution based on a presidential system of government. We urge all political parties to work together to ensure that this is done in a transparent manner and that it results in a constitution which delivers a liberal multi-party democracy.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the progress made by the Government of the Maldives in reforming the judiciary since the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in February 2007. 
Dr. Howells: Judicial reform is an important part of the reform process in Maldives. The Maldivian Government has stated publicly that they are drafting secondary legislation on the regulation of the judicial sector. This will need to be compatible with new draft constitutional provisions. We understand that the UN Development Programme is funding an international consultant whose role is to provide technical assistance to the Maldivian Government for this purpose.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy for the UK or the EU to send international observers to the referendum to be held in the Maldives on 18 August. 
Dr. Howells: At short notice, the Maldivian Government invited the EU, Commonwealth and the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation to observe the referendum. The EU and Commonwealth were unable to send formal observer missions, although the Commonwealth did send a small Election Experts Team. Officials from our High Commission in Colombo, accredited to Maldives, visited the country on polling day and met key stakeholders.
Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the British High Commissioner for Cyprus last visited northern Cyprus; who he met from the Turkish Cypriot Administration on that occasion; and what area of northern Cyprus he visited. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Our High Commissioner in Nicosia visits northern Cyprus frequently. On 3 October he accompanied my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Joan Ryan), in her role as Special Representative to Cyprus, on her calls on a wide range of representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in northern Nicosia.
Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place between his Department and property estate agents in the United Kingdom who offer properties in northern Cyprus for sale to British citizens on the advice to be offered to prospective purchasers. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Government have no locus to intervene with estate agents in the UK offering properties for sale in northern Cyprus. As such, no discussions have taken place. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel advice remains the most appropriate and effective way for the Government to warn British citizens of the potential risks involved.
Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have taken place with officials of the Turkish Cypriot Administration in northern Cyprus on the extent of private housing development taking place in northern Cyprus; and when such discussions last took place. 
Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports have been received from the British High Commissioner for Cyprus on the extent of private housing development taking place in northern Cyprus. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Our High Commission in Nicosia reports regularly on the general scale and location of property development in northern Cyprus, as well as on other specific issues such as electrification of the Karpas region.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his (a) Pakistani and (b) United States counterparts on securing the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan; what the outcome was of these discussions; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband [holding answer 12 September 2007]: I have discussed issues relating to Afghanistan-Pakistan border security on a number of occasions, including with Pakistani Foreign Minister Kasuri and with US Secretary of State Rice. All parties have reaffirmed their long-term commitment to Afghanistan, and the desire to see stable and peaceful development in the border areas and the wider region.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many entry clearance applications have been received from Palestinian citizens residing in (a) east Jerusalem, (b) the west bank and (c) the Gaza strip in the last 12 months; and what percentage of these applications were approved. 
Between 1 October 2006 and 1 October 2007 the consulate general received 1,075 applications for entry clearance from holders of Palestinian Authority travel documents living in the west bank and Gaza. 880 of these applications were issued and 154 were refused. Forty-one applications were either withdrawn, lapsed or are in progress. To collate statistics on whether applicants are resident in the west bank or Gaza would incur disproportionate cost as details of applicants' residency are not recorded centrally.
There were 543 applications from holders of Jordanian T Series documents, Jordanian passports and holders of Israeli issued Laissez Passers, which show the nationality as Jordanian. To determine which ones are from Palestinians resident in east Jerusalem would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons entry visas were not granted to the Palestine under-19 football squad and its support staff; and what representations he has received on the matter. 
Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Harry Cohen) on 10 September 2007, Official Report, column 2008W.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average waiting time is for Russian (a) students, (b) politicians, (c) business people and (d) others between application for and grant of visas to visit the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: UKvisas does not keep statistics on average waiting times for different types of visa applications. Instead, UKvisas performance is measured against the following Public Service Agreement (PSA) standards:
PSA 1: 90 per cent. of straightforward non-settlement applications to be processed within 24 hours.
PSA 2: 90 per cent. of non-settlement applications requiring further inquiries or interview to be processed within 15 days.
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