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20 Nov 2007 : Column 745Wcontinued
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government has made to the (a) European Commission and (b) European Parliament in relation to Commission proposal COM (2007) 0364 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, amending Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Government have set out their views on this proposal in the course of a range of contacts with the European Commission and European Parliament following the presentation in July 2007.
Since July, the Government have had the opportunity to discuss this proposal with the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament in line with the terms of the Explanatory Memorandum submitted to Parliament on 23 July.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the security situation on the border between Serbia and Macedonia; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Our assessment is that the situation along Macedonias northern border is largely stable. Border control on Kosovos border with Macedonia is undertaken by NATOs Kosovo Force (KFOR), who have good links with the Macedonian Ministry of Interior.
There continues to be a number of sporadic incidents. But these are generally perpetrated by organised and individual criminal elements and are not of a political nature. Most recently, a significant police operation took place on 7 November around the village of Brodec targeting civilian elements, which resulted in six arrests and six fatalities. The Macedonian Ministry of Interior reported no civilian or police casualties.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors underlay the decision by the EU to initial the Stabilisation and Association Accord with Serbia; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The initialling of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia was a technical decision made by the European Commission. In taking this decision, the Commission took into consideration a report from UN War Crimes Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, which assessed that there had been an improvement both in the search for fugitives and in the access to documents.
As the EU made clear in the conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 18 June 2007, the pace and conclusion of the negotiations on the SAA would in particular depend on Serbia's progress in developing the necessary legislative framework and administrative capacity to implement its obligations under the Agreement, and on full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what EU criteria have been met by Serbia which allowed it to initial a Stabilisation and Association Accord with the EU; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him today (UIN 165379).
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the amount spent on the renovation of the Uganda State House in advance of the Queen's state visit. 
Dr. Howells: We are aware that the renovations to the Ugandan State House will cost a total of US$33 million. The UK has not made any financial contribution towards these costs.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government contributed to the cost of the renovation of the Ugandan State House prior to HM Queen Elizabeths visit. 
Dr. Howells: The Government have not made a financial contribution towards the costs of the renovation of the Ugandan State House.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding commitment has been made by the international community to the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force; and whether the funding has been received. 
Dr. Howells: All members of the UN will fund the UN-African Union (AU) hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) through their assessed contributions. Discussions of UNAMIDs budget are currently underway at the UN. We continue to pay for troop rotations to the AU Mission in Sudan, which will become part of the UNAMID force.
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the level of (a) corruption, (b) electoral fraud and (c) human rights abuses in Venezuela. 
Dr. Howells: Corruption is a problem in Venezuela, as the Venezuelan government acknowledges. Venezuela was ranked 162 of a total of 179 in the Transparency International corruption perception index for 2007 (down from 138(th) place in 2006).
The EU election monitoring mission to Venezuela for the 2006 presidential elections found that
the electoral process complied in general with international standards and with national legislation as regards the management of the electoral administration.
We encourage the Government of Venezuela to act on all of the missions recommendations for future campaigns, including during the referendum on constitutional reform on 2 December, so that the people of Venezuela can take fully informed decisions in a democratic and safe environment.
As in all countries, we monitor the human rights situation in Venezuela closely. We are encouraged by the positive steps taken by the Venezuelan government to improve the basic rights of the poorest sections of society, including in medical care. There are however a number of areas of concern, including difficult conditions in Venezuelan prisons and the deteriorating crime situation in major cities, with criminals too often enjoying impunity. Along with EU partners, we have also called for the Venezuelan government to uphold freedom of speech and freedom of the press as essential elements of democracy.
Civil society has a vital role to play in ensuring the greatest possible protection of human rights and democratic values, and we will continue to work with them and the Government of Venezuela to achieve these objectives.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what conferences have been hosted by Wilton Park since 27 June 2007; and what the (a) cost to the public purse, (b) titles and (c) names of Ministers attending and (d) names of private sponsors were. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Between 27 June 2007 and 14 November 2007 Wilton Park has hosted the following conferences:
Human Trafficking : How Best to Stem the Flow;
The EU's Institutional Future: Prospects for the Inter-governmental conference and beyond (in Warsaw);
Europe in the World: Developing the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy;
What Future Priorities for the United Nations?
Climate and energy Security: Towards a low carbon approach;
Working with Libya today: International and economic relationsperspectives for change;
Atlantic Youth Forum;
Curbing Money Laundering: International Challenges;
Energy Security in the European Union: The Eastern and Baltic Dimension (in Latvia);
Countering Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) Proliferation;
Polar Regions: Challenges and Possibilities;
Migration: Towards a Coherent Policy (w/Euroforum in Spain);
Democracy for development;
Understanding deradicalisation; and
Conflict prevention and development co-operation in Africa: A policy workshop.
Wilton Park is an Executive Agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Wilton Park's financial target is to recover its running costs each year, although the FCO annually provides funding for capital costs at Wilton Park and strategic sponsorship of £123,000 per year.
In financial year 2006-07, Wilton Park achieved its financial target. As Wilton Park is an Executive Agency of the FCO, there are arrangements in place for the FCO to cover any shortfall in the annual funding of Wilton Park.
The following Ministers have attended Wilton Park between 27 June 2007 and 14 November 2007:-
my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Kim Howells;
my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Amos;
my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, Tony McNulty, and my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown.
The following private sponsors provided support for the Wilton Park conferences during this period:-
Office of the Committee for European Integration, Warsaw
The European Centre-Natolin
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership
Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
US Dept of StateBureau of Arms Control
Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales, Spain
World Bank Institute
Department for International Development
UN Development Programme Africa.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what provisions are in place to provide for the safe passage of British citizens from Zimbabwe should the security situation necessitate such action. 
Dr. Howells: We take very seriously our consular responsibility for all British nationals in Zimbabwe and keep Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice under constant review. There have been no incidents recently that prompt us to consider that the threat to British nationals has increased significantly. We have contingency arrangements in place, as we do for many other countries, should the security situation change. These focus on British nationals leaving Zimbabwe by public and private means.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what account is taken of security of supply by his Department in formulating policy relating to support for UK agriculture. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA takes the issue of food security very seriously. Food security is about ensuring consumers have access to a stable and adequate supply of food. In December 2006, DEFRA published a wide-ranging study of food security which concluded that the UK, being a rich, open economy, has a very robust and diverse food supply.
A key objective of our vision for farming is for British consumption of British food to come from the skills, innovation, investment, branding, and quality assurance of a market-focused farming industry. DEFRA's Farming For the Future programme will help create the right conditions to achieve this vision.
The UK has long been a net importer of food and the Government believe that an important element in facilitating national and international food security is improved trading relationships based on more open international markets and reductions in trade distorting subsidies.
We will continue to monitor key indicators of our food security. These include the level of diversity of our trading partners, trends in world commodity markets, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations' analysis of trends in global food production and demand as well as the level of self sufficiency for the EU as a whole (which is currently over 90 per cent.).
We recognise too that our food chain relies on various forms of energy and that energy security is a primary concern. The Government's Energy White Paper (May 2007), specifically considers how our energy security can be maintained and enhanced in an uncertain world.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Home Affairs and the Lord Chancellor on the implementation of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 in relation to section 32 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. 
Jonathan Shaw: Post-conviction powers are the responsibility of the Home Office to implement. However, DEFRA officials hold regular discussions, on this and a range of other issues, with stakeholders and colleagues in other Government Departments.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what standard will be adopted as the minimum acceptable for UK bathing waters under the revised bathing water directive when it comes into force in March 2008. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 19 November 2007]: The revised bathing water directive requires that all UK bathing waters must achieve at least the 'sufficient' classification (with limited exceptions) by the end of the 2015 bathing season. The 'sufficient' standard is more stringent than the 'mandatory' standard, the minimum to be achieved under the current bathing water directive.
DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government have recently launched a joint consultation putting forward proposals for the implementation of the revised directive in England and Wales which can be found on the DEFRA website.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of bathing waters tested by the Environment Agency in the most recent year for which figures are available would be classified as (a) poor, (b) satisfactory, (c) good and (d) excellent under the revised bathing water directive which comes into force in March 2008. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 19 November 2007]: The Environment Agency has used its bathing water quality monitoring data from 2003 to 2006 to assess the compliance rate that might be expected in England under the revised bathing water directive (see following table). These predictions are necessarily made on the assumption that no further action is taken to improve bathing water quality between now and when the first classifications under the revised bathing water directive are expected to be made at the end of the 2015 bathing season. However, measures will continue to be taken in the catchments of some bathing waters to ensure they comply with the requirements of both the current and revised bathing water directives.
|Classification||Number of bathing waters|
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