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Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 to be deployed; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The UN-African Union (AU) hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) is due to assume authority from the current AU Mission in Sudan no later than 31 December 2007, as mandated in UN Security Council Resolution 1769 of 31 July 2007. We are pressing the UN and the AU to have an effective deployment by this date.
Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many asylum applications were received at UK posts abroad in 2006-07; and of those how many were (a) granted and (b) refused. 
There are no provisions in the immigration rules covering asylum applications. Under the 1951 Convention on Refugees the UK is obliged to consider asylum applications made in the UK only. Under the 1951 Convention asylum applications cannot be submitted in the applicant's home country.
Anyone approaching a UK diplomatic post overseas to claim asylum in a country other than their own would be referred to the local Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or advised to seek protection from the host government.
Mr. Jim Murphy: We are concerned about the recent deterioration of the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). We are urging politicians from all sides to refrain from actions which undermine the foundations of the state, to ensure the efficient operation of state institutions and to take forward reforms which are necessary for BiH to move forward. We fully support High Representative Lajcak and urge all parties to uphold their obligations to respect and implement his decisions. The security situation within BiH remains stable.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what value of funds belonging to the Burmese regime have been (a) identified and (b) frozen since 2000 by EU member states in accordance with the EUs Common Position 2000/346/CFSP. 
Dr. Howells: EU member states do not systematically share detailed information concerning the value of funds they have identified and frozen. However, they are legally obliged to freeze all funds and economic resources belonging to persons listed under the sanctions regime. It is prohibited to make funds or economic resources available, directly or indirectly, to these persons.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what broader measures that target sources of revenue for the Burmese regime the Government has discussed with other EU member states as referred to in the answer of 23 October 2007, Official Report, column 188W, on Burma: sanctions. 
Dr. Howells: The UK has concentrated in its discussions with EU partners on implementation of the decisions, which were agreed by the EU on 15 October. Those decisions were aimed at increasing pressure on the Burmese regime through an export ban on equipment to the sectors of logs and timber and mining of metals, minerals, precious and semi-precious stones; an import ban of products of these sectors; and an investment ban on these sectors.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of the Peoples Republic of China on the development of the Chinese legal system to internationally-recognised standards; whether he expects such reforms to the Chinese legal system to be in place by 2012; and if he will make a statement. 
We regularly urge the Chinese government to ensure that domestic legislation complies with international standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). During
his visit to China in August my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, urged China to progress reforms and ratify the ICCPR as soon as possible. The Director of Public Prosecutions also raised ICCPR and Chinas criminal justice system when he visited Beijing in September. The Chinese government remains unwilling to commit to a timetable for ICCPR ratification. In 1997 the 15(th) Party Congress committed to developing a socialist legal system by 2010. President Hu Jintaos speech to the 17(th) Party Congress in October 2007 repeated the goal of
speeding up the building of a socialist country under the rule of law.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he has made to the proposals of some of the Commonwealth African members who wish to transfer the Commonwealth Headquarters from London to Kampala, Uganda. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the proposal by Commonwealth countries in Africa to transfer the Commonwealth Secretariat from London to Uganda; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will take steps to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention 169 on the land rights of indigenous people. 
The Government have no plans to sign and ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 1989 (ILO 169). The UK takes its international law obligations very seriously and as a general rule will only sign and ratify an instrument when we can ensure our full compliance with it and commit to its implementation. The UK position with regard to ILO 169 was set out in a 1989 Department for Education and Employment White Paper ("Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries" Command Paper Number: CM 1078). As the White Paper noted, ILO 169 was essentially an update of the 1957 ILO Convention 107. The White Paper explained that Convention 107 could not be
applied to the UK as there are no indigenous, tribal or semi-tribal people there, and so had not been ratified by the UK. The same arguments applied to ILO 169 as it did not alter the scope of Convention 107. This position still stands.
The UK is committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. On 13 September 2007, the UK voted in favour of the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN General Assembly, as we had previously done at the Human Rights Council in June 2006. The adoption of this Declaration marks a significant advance for indigenous peoples around the world.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that English wine is served exclusively or at the request of guests at meals, parties and receptions hosted by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: All public procurement procedures must comply with the European Community treaty. The key principles of the treaty, from a public procurement point of view, are the free movement of goods and services, and non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality. This legislation is designed to ensure that all public procurement across the EU is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory.
This means that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cannot specify that it will buy goods (e.g. wine) only from a particular country or locality, as that would discriminate against producers from other EU member states.
Mr. Keith Simpson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Departments in-house language group was established;
and how many of his Departments staff have received foreign language training in the language school since its establishment. 
Dr. Howells: The Diplomatic Language Laboratory was established at Westminster in 1965 and become the Diplomatic Service Language Centre in 1968. Since the 1990s, between 250-400 officers per year received language training at the Centre until its closure on 2 October 2007. To provide more detailed information on how many staff have been trained by the language school would incur disproportionate cost.
The Middle East Centre for Arab Studies (MECAS) was established in 1944 and came under Foreign Office direction from around 1947. Around 1,100 students passed through MECAS between 1944 and 1978, when it closed.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the full-time equivalent headcount in his Department is; what the forecast full-time equivalent headcount for his Department is for financial years (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: On 1 October 2006 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and its agencies (Wilton Park and FCO Services) employed 6,130 full-time equivalent UK civil servants. In addition FCO missions overseas employ approximately 10,000 locally recruited staff.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by his Department on renovation and refurbishment of its properties in each of the last five years. 
|Financial year||Major capital expenditure on refurbishments||Administration cost expenditure on minor repairs and refurbishment|
The Government will recommend that there is sufficient time for debate on the Floor of the House so that the Bill is examined in the fullest of detail and all points of view can be heard
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on a European Security and Defence Policy mission to Guinea Bissau. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Following the report of a recent joint Council/Commission fact-finding mission, preparatory discussions have begun at official level about a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) mission to Guinea-Bissau. No decisions have been taken, but, in principle, the Government supports the case for a targeted civilian ESDP mission to provide strategic advice to the Guinea-Bissau authorities on reform of the police, justice and security sector, to strengthen Guinea-Bissaus capacity to tackle the transit of drugs through its territory from Latin America to Europe.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Chief Executive's Green Paper on Constitutional Development; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: My right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Margaret Beckett) and my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, both discussed constitutional development with the Chief Executive when they visited Hong Kong in May and August 2007 respectively. I also had discussions with the Hong Kong Financial Secretary, John Tsang, at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council annual dinner last month. I hope that following the conclusion of the consultation period on the Green Paper, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will take the lead in producing proposals around which consensus can gather.
Dr. Howells: The UK detains individuals in Iraq for imperative security under the authority of UN Security Council Resolution 1723 (2006). It is a power we use sparingly. We hold 36 detainees at present.
The rule of law is paramount. UK service personnel can, and will, be prosecuted if there is evidence that they have tortured, assaulted or committed any other offence against a person. UK forces are subject to English criminal law at all times wherever in the world they are serving. As a matter of policy we apply the standards of conduct set out in the Geneva Conventions.
We have a stringent review procedure to ensure that internees are released as soon as they cease to pose an imperative threat to security. Internee cases are reviewed on a monthly basis. Individuals have the right to provide written representation at the monthly reviews of their internment and have regular access to lawyers. A joint Iraqi/Coalition review board sits quarterly to assess the cases of all UK-held internees and make recommendations. A separate joint Iraqi/Coalition internment committee reviews detention cases after 18 months to decide whether continued internment is necessary.
Where possible, we seek to transfer the cases of individual detainees to the Iraqi justice system. We have assurances from the Government of Iraq that anyone transferred from UK to Iraqi custody will be treated in accordance with basic international human rights principles.
The International Committee for the Red Cross has regular and open access to our internment facility and all our internees. The facility has also been inspected by a team from the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights.
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