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John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take in respect of the letter to his Department from the Fourth Section Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights dated 23 October. 
Meg Munn: Any action in respect of deportations is for the Home Office. We are consulting with the Home Office and anticipate responding to the European Court of Human Right's letter of 23 October 2007 shortly.
Dr. Howells: The terms locally-engaged, locally-employed and local staff are used interchangeably. Both refer to staff who are recruited locally, as opposed to UK-based personnel who deploy or are posted to Iraq.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is the Governments policy to support the introduction of targeted measures against the political and military leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as recommended by the UN Secretary General in his report on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka S/2006/1006, December 2006. 
We have been seriously concerned by reports that have criticised parties to the Sri Lanka conflict including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) and the Karuna faction for the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law. We deplore this practice: there can be no excuse for failing to observe such basic human rights. The UK is a member of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. We fully support the Working Groups conclusions of 13 June 2007, which strongly condemned the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the LTTE and the Karuna faction and called for an immediate end to these practices. The UK also supports the Working Groups call for further steps to be taken in the coming months if parties to the conflict in Sri Lanka do not heed this call for progress to be made.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise with President Gayoom of the Maldives at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Kampala concerns on progress on the Road Map to Reform in the Maldives. 
I highlighted the UKs excellent relationships with the Maldives, bilaterally and through our shared membership of the Commonwealth. I made clear that although there had been positive developments on the reform process to adopt a new constitution and establish multi-party democracy in Maldives, much further work remained. In a series of meetings since the summer with President Gayoom, his Ministers and the Maldives Democratic Party, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers and senior officials have urged all to redouble their efforts to implement reform. This will be vital in order to meet the 30 November deadline for concluding the new constitution and to lay the groundwork for presidential elections in 2008.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Iran to ensure that Mansour Osanlou, the gaoled leader of the bus workers' union in Tehran, receives proper medical care for his eye condition; and if he will make a statement. 
According to a 23 October report from Amnesty International, Mansour Osanlou (the detained president of the Syndicate of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company) finally underwent an eye operation in a Tehran hospital on 20 October, where his family were allowed to visit him. We believe he returned to Evin prison on 25 October. We remain concerned about the treatment of prisoners in Iran, including lack of access to legal representation and medical treatment. In a meeting with the Iranian
Ambassador on 16 July I raised specific concerns about the treatment of Mr. Osanlou and urged Iran to ensure that he is treated well and in accordance with his rights.
Mr. Osanlou has been arrested and detained several times over the last two years for his involvement in peaceful industrial action by the bus worker's union. We have serious concerns about Iran's 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 are following Mr. Osanlou's situation closely, and will continue to raise our concerns with the Iranian authorities, bilaterally and through the EU.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to answer the letter to him dated 25 September from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. R. Tierney. 
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 October 2007, Official Report, columns 52-3W, on occupied territories: peace negotiations, whether Syria has been invited to the November meeting. 
Dr. Howells: Bolivian opposition Senator Oscar Ortiz Antelo made a private visit to the UK in early October. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) helped put Senator Ortiz in contact with the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Latin America and Bolivia, as well as with some academics and media. (FCO) officials did not attend these meetings, but the official and the research analyst responsible for Bolivia separately held a working meeting with Senator Ortiz. The FCO had no financial involvement in the visit.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make an assessment of the extent to which the geographical distribution of posts in Pakistan where visa applications are dealt with matches the geographical distribution of the residences of those making applications; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost has been of the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah to (a) the UK and (b) the EU; and what it has done since the border was closed in June. 
Dr. Howells: The EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) at Rafah will cost the EU €7 million (£4,900,000) this year. The UK will pay a total of €1.19million (£832,000) of this as part of its 17 per cent. contribution to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) budget. Any reduction in mission costs arising from the closure of the border will not revert to the UK, but be redistributed within the CFSP budget.
Since Hamas' take-over of Gaza, Gaza's crossings have either been closed, or only open for the import of humanitarian goods. The EUBAM mission is standing by at minimum operational strength, ready to resume its border-monitoring role at Rafah as soon as the situation allows. In the meantime, EUBAM staff are concentrating on the capacity building part of their mandate and offering support to the European Security and Defence Policy police mission in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS). As one example of this, EUBAM Rafah experts recently assisted EUPOL COPPS in the delivery of public order training to the Palestinian civil police in the west bank.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what basis Polish people were able to vote in the UK in the recent Polish general election; and whether any reciprocal arrangements are in place to enable British citizens in other EU countries to vote in British general elections. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The embassy of the Republic of Poland informed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by diplomatic note that 20 polling stations were organised across the UK, including four in London, two in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. Postal votes were not available to Polish citizens living in the UK.
All British citizens living overseas, who were resident in the UK within the previous 15 years, can apply to become an overseas elector. They will then be able to vote in UK general and European parliamentary elections by postal or proxy vote. Voting at embassies and consulates overseas is not available.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 October 2007, Official Report, columns 191-2W, on the Republic of Ireland: diplomatic service, whether (a) the decision to dispose of Glancairn, Co. Dublin, (b) its subsequent lease back to his Department and (c) the purchase of Malay Grange, Dublin was considered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Board before a decision was made by Ministers. 
Meg Munn: The matters referred to by my hon. Friend date back to the period 1998-2003. The papers available to us show that the decisions were taken by Ministers, on the advice of officials, as is normal for major Estates issues. Without an exhaustive search of the records, at disproportionate cost, it would not be possible to be more specific than this.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 October 2007, Official Report, column 53W, on the Republic of Ireland: honours, by what date it was necessary for persons referred to in his reply to have notified the Secretary of State of their intention to remain a British subject. 
Meg Munn: As long as the person was born in Ireland before 1 January 1949, there is no deadline on notifying the Secretary of State for the Home Department of their intentions to remain a British subject.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons the Government and its EU partners decided not to table a resolution on Sri Lanka at the sixth session of the UN Human Rights Council in September. 
Dr. Howells: The UK expressed concern about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka both nationally and through the EU in statements at the September 2007 session of the Human Rights Council. The EU also pushed for consideration by the Council as a whole by restarting negotiations on a text with the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka with a view to updating the draft Decision originally tabled in October 2006. The EU and the Government of Sri Lanka were not able to agree wording, and the EU did not consider it appropriate to proceed further in advance of the visit of Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which took place from 10-15 October. The EUs text remains pending. We shall continue to use other opportunities at UN human rights bodies to raise our concerns.
Dr. Howells: The situation in Sri Lanka is not on the UN Security Councils formal agenda (i.e. listed as a matter of which the Council is currently seized). However, Sri Lanka has been mentioned in 27 Security Council debates since 2003, including in thematic discussions on Protection of Civilians; briefings by the High Commissioner for Refugees; and Reports of the Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security.
During the Security Councils biannual debate on protection of civilians in June this year, the UK expressed particular concern over the high human cost the escalation in conflict in Sri Lanka had brought.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) security and (b) human rights situation in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We remain deeply concerned about the security situation in Sri Lanka. We have made clear our view that violence will not resolve the conflict. We have emphasised our willingness to assist efforts to help bring about a peaceful solution. We continue to stress to the Government of Sri Lanka the need to set out a credible framework for a negotiated settlement that can satisfy the legitimate aspirations of all Sri Lankans.
We continue to raise our concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, did so most recently last month with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Bogollagama. There are reports of serious abuses by Government forces as well as by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Karuna faction. Abuses include extra-judicial killings, disappearances and the use of child soldiers. Addressing human rights violations is a central part of our approach to finding a long-term solution to the conflict. We believe it is vital that reports of human rights violations in Sri Lanka are investigated fully and that those responsible are brought to justice. We have supported calls by the EU for the introduction of a UN-backed Human Rights Monitoring mission.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answers of 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 554W, on Ukraine: entry clearance, what average number of appointments have been (a) kept and (b) missed since the visa section in Kiev introduced an appointments system with a limit of seven per day. 
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 554W, on Ukraine: entry clearances, what average number of appointments were held per day before the introduction of the seven appointments per day limit. 
Dr. Howells: During the summer of 2007 an average of nine appointment slots for settlement applications were available per day in response to the increased demand. Prior to this the limit had been set at five appointments per day since October 2006.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 554W, on Ukraine: entry clearances, what the average notice period given for appointments was in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 554W, on Ukraine: entry clearances, what representations he has received on extending the minimum notice period of appointments for applications. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not received any representations on this issue apart from the hon. Members parliamentary questions, which I answered on 9 October 2007, Official Report, column 554W.
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