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26 Nov 2007 : Column 219Wcontinued
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are in place to protect domestic workers of foreign diplomats in the UK from potential exploitation. 
Meg Munn: Private servants that work for foreign diplomats in the UK are protected from potential exploitation by UK law. We expect foreign diplomats to obey our laws and regulations and take seriously any alleged violation by those entitled to immunity. We would take appropriate action if any allegations of exploitation were to be brought to our attention.
Private servants of foreign diplomats that are recruited from overseas are also protected from potential exploitation by our entry clearance rules. These aim to ensure that foreign diplomats provide written confirmation of the terms and conditions of their workers' employment, together with a separate undertaking that their workers will be adequately maintained and accommodated. Private servants are also given details of where they can find out about their rights under the UK's criminal and employment laws.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on UK citizens living in France of the French Governments decision to alter the healthcare arrangements for non-French nationals below the official relevant age; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 22 November 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister of State, Department of Health my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo) to the hon. Member for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter) on 12 November 2007, Official Report, column 59W.
I raised this issue with the French Minister for Europe, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, during my visit to Paris on 15 November. Monsieur Jouyet acknowledged the serious concern about the effect of this decision and agreed to ask his colleagues to look again at the matter.
Our embassy in Paris will also continue to follow the issue closely. It has posted information on its website for those who could be affected.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to protect the native sea bird population on Gough Island. [Official Report, 6 December 2007, Vol. 468, c. 10MC.]
Meg Munn: Rats and mice have been identified as the main predators of seabirds on Gough Island. The Overseas Territories Environment Programme, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development funded programme, provided £54,954 for the period 2005-07 to the Tristan da Cunha Administration, with technical support being provided by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, to assess the potential for the eradication of these rodents from Gough Island.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance the Government has offered Tristan da Cunha to tackle verminous rodents. 
Meg Munn: The Overseas Territories Environment Programme, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development funded programme, provided £54,954 for the period 2005-07 to the Tristan da Cunha Administration to carry out a feasibility study, with technical support from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, on the eradication of introduced rats from Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island. The study will provide costed options for consideration by the local community.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what forms of EU-Iran dialogue are under way; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The only formal EU-Iran dialogue is the human rights dialogue which was established in 2002 and has been suspended since June 2004. This dialogue yielded limited results, and in its absence, EU member states continue to raise human rights issues with the Iranians both as the EU, and bilaterally.
The EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, has an important role with regard to the Iranian nuclear issue, on which he negotiates with Iran on behalf of the E3+3.
Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in Iran. 
The political establishment in Iran is preparing for the next Majlis (parliamentary) elections on 14 March 2008. Candidates will need to register by early January, and they will be vetted by the Guardian
Council (which can veto candidates it considers contrary to the interests of the Islamic Republic) six to seven weeks before the election date. In the last round of parliamentary elections, the Guardian Council vetoed the candidacies of more than a third of the 8,000 candidates, most of whom were reformists, and 85 of who were incumbent MPs. We are concerned that this may happen againthe Guardian Council has appointed hardliners to the election monitoring panel and reformists appear to be being discouraged from standing.
A key issue in the election is likely to be the economy, especially inflation, where estimates range from the official Iranian figures of around 12 per cent. to independent Iranian estimates of almost twice that. Within this, housing, foodstuffs and medicines have all been subject to above average price growth, making life harder for ordinary Iranians. Irans increased isolation, and the possibility of further multilateral sanctions as a result of Irans refusal to abide by its obligations on its nuclear programme, are also having an impact on international investment in and trade with Iran.
We are concerned by the continued clampdown on internal opposition, which has been going on for several months but appears to be intensifying in the run up to the election campaignincluding, most recently, the arrests of three women affiliated with the Campaign For Equality, which is seeking to end legislation which discriminates against women. This is taking place against the backdrop of a wider deterioration in the human rights environment, including an increase in executions (close to 250 executions this year, compared to 177 for the whole of 2006), including multiple executions (eight reported cases of multiple executions since 22 July this year) and the execution of juveniles (three confirmed cases this year).
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect on Iranian weapons procurement of the proposed US arms package for states neighbouring or near to Iran. 
Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not made an assessment of the impact of any US decisions on Iranian conventional weapons procurement.
Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in Iraq. 
Dr. Howells: It is vital that Iraq's political leaders take advantage of recent improvements in the security situation to make substantive progress in the political process. We continue to press Iraq's political leaders to move the reconciliation process forward through the completion of a thoroughgoing and broadly supported constitutional review and early passage of legislation key to this process, such as that on de-Ba'athification, provincial powers, elections, hydrocarbons and revenue sharing.
We welcome the agreements reached by Iraqi political leaders on some of these contentious issues in August and urge them to follow through on the commitments made.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Japanese counterpart on Japanese resumption of whaling. 
Meg Munn: There have been no recent discussions between my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and Japanese Ministers on this issue.
The UK has consistently criticised Japan for her lethal whaling operations that are authorised under special permits (so called scientific whaling) and has urged Japan to end its scientific whaling activities.
The Government are deeply concerned at the latest Japanese proposals which include a plan to take 50 Humpback whales. In response, we are considering a high level diplomatic protest to the Japanese Government, following consultation with like-minded anti-whaling countries.
Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions his Department has had with the Lebanese Government on emergency aid and reconstruction relief to those displaced by fighting in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. 
Mr. Malik: I have been asked to reply.
The UK Government engage with the Lebanese Government through the British embassy in Beirut. The embassy has regular discussions with the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, in the Prime Ministers Office, which is responsible for co-ordinating relief efforts and also with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees, which oversee reconstruction relief. Her Majestys ambassador to Lebanon visited Nah al-Bared camp on 6 November 2007.
DFID does not have a bilateral programme or presence in Lebanon. This is consistent with the UKs policy to increasingly support middle income countries through multinational organisations such as the World Bank and the European Commission. However, DFID is providing UNRWA with long term financial support (£100 million) up to 2011 to help them address problems facing Palestinian communities in Lebanon and elsewhere. We are also providing almost £1 million to the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) for the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Lebanon.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the implementation of European Union sanctions on Lebanon, with particular reference to the UKs compliance; what the total amount of assets frozen is by (a) EU member states and (b) the United
Kingdom in line with these sanctions; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The UK is firmly committed to the full implementation of all EU sanctions, along with our EU partners.
There are no EU financial sanctions imposed on Lebanon. EU Common Position 2005/888/Common Foreign and Security Policy, inter alia, places an asset freeze on those suspected of involvement in the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri. This Common Position implements UN Sanctions and to date no individuals have been targeted for the assets freeze by the UN. Consequently the UK has not frozen any assets.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the implementation of European Union sanctions on Liberia, with particular reference to the UKs compliance; what the total amount of assets frozen is by (a) EU member states and (b) the United Kingdom in line with these sanctions; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The UK is firmly committed to the full implementation of all EU sanctions, along with our EU partners.
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.
The reported balance of UK frozen funds in relation to UN and EU sanctions on Liberia amounts to £266,181.46 and 1,227.00 in euros.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Mr. Blairs speech to the Al Smith Memorial Dinner on 19 October 2007 reflects Quartet policy on Iran; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The role of the Quartet is to support the Middle East Peace Process. It does not have a formal policy towards Iran. However, the Quartet has said that it supports the efforts of responsible regional states to help calm the situation, and will continue to promote a negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting Middle East peace in line with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. It has urged all states in the region to work closely with Mr. Blair to this end and encouraged robust international support for his efforts.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what preparations have been made for the non-proliferation treaty review conference talks in 2010, what role he expects the
European Union will play in these talks; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The United Kingdom strongly supports the European Unions Common Position of strengthening the three key pillarsnon-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear technologyof the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). EU member states played an important role in the positive outcome to this years NPT Preparatory Committee. We will continue to work closely with European Union partners to achieve success in the new non-proliferation treaty (NPT) review cycle.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what conclusions were reached at the 12 November Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the situation in (a) Pakistan and (b) Zimbabwe; and what action was agreed in each case. 
David Miliband: The Commonwealth Secretariat issued a statement following the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting on 12 November. The full text is available at:
My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, represented the UK at the meeting.
Zimbabwe is no longer in the Commonwealth, and was therefore not discussed.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of UK financial assistance to Pakistan is for counter-terrorism purposes; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Moore) on 20 November 2007, Official Report, columns 743-44W and the reply my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development gave to the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk on 19 November 2007, Official Report, columns 533-34W. The total planned expenditure on UK co-operation with Pakistan in 2007-08 is £111.7 million of which £2.3 million (2 per cent.) is for counter- terrorism programmes funded through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Global Opportunities Fund.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 3 September 2007, Official Report, column 1584W, on redundancy pay, how much was spent by his Department on voluntary redundancy payments in the last 12 months. 
Between November 2006 and October 2007 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spent £1,749,531 on voluntary redundancy payments.
These departures formed part of a restructuring programme to enable FCO Services, an Executive Agency of the FCO, to operate successfully as a Trading Fund from April 2008.
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