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25 Jan 2008 : Column 2312W—continued


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff are expected to require additional language training as a result of the decision to increase the number of UK diplomats in the Middle East and South Asia by 30 per cent.; and if he will make a statement. [179171]

David Miliband: I refer the right hon. Member to my written ministerial statement of 23 January 2008, Official Report, columns 52-53WS.

We will provide training for staff going to the Middle East and South Asia in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Pashto and Urdu wherever there is an operational requirement. We do not yet know precisely how many staff will require this. It will depend on a range of factors, including the location, role and existing language skills of each officer.


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British Nationals: Overseas Detention

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK nationals (a) are serving life sentences and (b) have been sentenced to death and are imprisoned in prisons overseas. [181709]

Meg Munn: As at 31 December 2007, British consular officials were aware of 2,419 British nationals detained overseas. We do not compile separate statistics on those detainees serving life sentences. We provide the same consular assistance regardless of sentence.

We are currently aware of 10 British nationals abroad who have been sentenced to death. A further eight British nationals have been charged with offences that may carry the death penalty.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK nationals are currently in prison overseas; and what estimated proportion of these cases relate to (a) violent crime and (b) drugs offences. [181710]

Meg Munn: As at 31 December 2007, British consular officials were aware of 2,419 British nationals detained overseas. We do not keep statistics on the numbers of British nationals detained for violent crime.

We do, however, keep statistics for those detained on drug offences. Of the total number of British nationals currently detained abroad, 40 per cent. are for drugs related offences.

Pakistan: Nuclear Power

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of nuclear safety and security in Pakistan; and whether he has raised the matter with his Pakistani counterpart. [180802]

David Miliband: We continue to monitor closely issues of nuclear safety and security within Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has recently given the UK assurances about the security around its nuclear installations.

Somalia: Armed Conflict

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the security situation in Somalia on peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. [180740]

Meg Munn: The Government are very concerned about the continuing potential for the security situation in Somalia to affect peace and stability in the horn of Africa.

The UK is working with the international community and the UN to encourage the development of government institutions in Somalia that will enable the authorities to develop the capacity to tackle insecurity in Somalia and reduce the risk to neighbouring countries.


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Somalia: Human Rights

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government is taking with its international partners to improve the monitoring of the human rights situation in Somalia. [180724]

Meg Munn: The Government attach great importance to the protection of human rights. In Somalia, the security situation means that monitoring the human rights situation and gathering reliable information is very difficult. The UK is working with EU and UN agencies to find practicable solutions to increasing monitoring without endangering the individuals tasked with investigating allegations of abuse.

We urge the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to embrace its responsibility to protect the human rights of its citizens. We believe the improvement of governance and rule of law in Somalia is the best way to improve human rights situation in the country. We are therefore working closely with international partners and the Transitional Federal Government to support improvement in governance institutions in Somalia.

Somalia: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) financial and (b) logistical support the Government are providing to the AU Mission in Somalia. [180741]

Meg Munn: During the financial year (FY) 2007-08, the Government have committed the following expenditure for support to the African Union for their mission to Somalia:

The current total UK commitment for supporting the African Union mission to Somalia during FY 2007-08 is £8,300,000.

Sudan: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which five key posts the UK is filling in the Darfur-Darfur dialogue and consultation. [180798]

Meg Munn: The Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) is the main mechanism for engaging Darfurian civil society in the Political Process, and will be the main mechanism for engaging Darfurian civil society in longer-term reconciliation and rehabilitation.
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The five key posts being filled by the UK for an initial six-month period are: Chief of Operations, Communication Officer and three Field Co-ordinators. This support over the next six months will help the DDDC to increase its financial management, planning and implementation capacity.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK is taking to secure a ceasefire in Darfur; and what progress has been made in achieving that objective. [180800]

David Miliband: The UK welcomed the Government of Sudan’s announcement on 27 October 2007 of a unilateral cessation of hostilities. We have urged others to make the same commitment and all parties to honour their commitments. We are working with the UN, the African Union (AU), key allies and troop contributing countries to ensure that the AU/UN hybrid operation in Darfur is an effective peacekeeping force; and with the UN, the AU and other international partners to ensure that any new agreement on a cessation of hostilities can be effectively monitored.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 97W, on Sudan: peacekeeping operations, what (a) issues have been discussed and (b) conclusions have been reached in discussions with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations on the UN-EU mission in Chad/Central African Republic and the UN-AU hybrid mission in Darfur. [180835]

Meg Munn: We have repeatedly discussed with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the appropriate EU authorities the issue of co-ordination between the African Union/UN hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which assumed authority on 31 December 2007, and the UN/EU mission in Chad/Central African Republic (EUFOR) which is scheduled to start deploying in February. UNAMID has a number of liaison officers deployed in Abeche in Eastern Chad and we understand EUFOR may also deploy liaison officers in Darfur.

We have also extended the Joint Action of the EU Special Representative to Sudan to cover the EUFOR deployment in Chad, and to encourage co-ordination between the two missions. We are monitoring incursions across the Chad-Sudan border and, in bilateral contacts, we have urged both the Government of Sudan and the Government of Chad to exercise restraint.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 98W, on Sudan: peacekeeping operations, what action is planned at the UN Security Council in light of the lack of full co-operation by the Government of Sudan over the UNAMID deployment; and if he will make a statement. [180857]


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David Miliband: The UN Security Council will continue to take a close interest in the African Union/UN hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) deployment throughout 2008. In response to the attack on a UNAMID convoy on 7 January, the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement on 11 January that called on the Government of Sudan to conclude

We will continue to press the Government of Sudan to resolve outstanding issues, including force composition, the Status of Forces Agreement and night flying rights. We will also continue to discuss this issue with EU partners and to reiterate with them our readiness to consider further measures in the UN framework against any party that obstructs the prompt deployment of an effective force.

Terrorism: Detainees

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the US administration on the destruction of videotapes of interrogations with suspected al-Qaeda operatives by the CIA in 2005. [181472]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed this subject with the US administration.

USA: Detainees

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any information has been passed to the UK from detainees held by the US administration since 2001, obtained through the use of interrogation techniques which may constitute torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under British law, including the technique known as waterboarding. [182070]

Dr. Howells: It is the long-standing policy of the Government not to comment on matters relating to intelligence issues.

The UK unreservedly condemns the use of torture as a matter of fundamental principle. The Government, including its intelligence and security agencies, never uses torture for any purpose, including obtaining information. Nor would we instigate action by others to do so.

Transport

A2: Gravesham

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost is of replacing the underpass connecting Down’s Road and Hog Lane under the A2 in Gravesham. [180186]

Mr. Tom Harris: No estimate was made of the cost of replacing the underpass connecting Down’s Road and Hog Lane under the A2 in Gravesham.

However, the estimated cost of the road and road bridge due to replace the underpass is £1.1 million.


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A27: Selmeston

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are being taken to improve safety on the A27 in the Selmeston area; and what the timetable is in each case. [181978]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency undertook investigations into accident types in the Selmeston area in 2006-07. As a result, a programme of schemes has been developed to address safety concerns.

In December 2007 the Highways Agency extended the double white lines and the existing 40 mph speed limit by approximately 400 metres west of Selmeston village where accidents have occurred due to vehicle movements at a bend and lay-by.

During the next three years the Agency is planning, subject to funding, to improve safety on the A27 in the Selmeston area in two other locations:

A303

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she plans to upgrade the (a) A303 and (b) A358; and if she will make a statement. [181799]

Mr. Tom Harris: Further work on plans to upgrade the A303 and the A358 has been put on hold while the implications of the A303 Stonehenge decision for the wider strategy of improving the A303/A358 corridor are resolved between the Department of Transport and the South West region.

A303: Stonehenge

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who will fund (a) proposed road junction improvements on the A303 at Long Barrow Roundabout and Countess Roundabout near Stonehenge and (b) a proposed new roundabout at the junction of the A344 and A360 at Airman’s Corner as a result of the Government’s decision to build a new visitor centre at Stonehenge by 2012. [180946]

Mr. Tom Harris: No decisions have yet been taken on whether or not junction improvements are to be pursued on the A303 at Countess and Longbarrow roundabouts or on the A344/A360 at Airman’s Corner. Such measures will be considered as part of the development of proposals for improving the visitor facilities at Stonehenge. Decisions about funding will be made when decisions are made in due course about what, if any, improvement measures are to be pursued.

A38: Plymouth

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will assess the causes of road traffic accidents on the A38 between Marsh Mills and Ivybridge in Devon over the past 12 months. [182123]


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Mr. Tom Harris: Any investigation by the Highways Agency would have to await the outcome of police investigations. The agency obtains details of accidents from the police, who provide this data once their own investigations and those of any coroner’s inquest, if appropriate, have finished. This process can take up to a year to complete.

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will order an inquiry to be carried out into the number of road traffic accidents on the A38 between Plymouth and Ivybridge in Devon. [182124]

Mr. Tom Harris: It is not possible to justify an inquiry into the number of road traffic accidents on this section of the A38, as the collision rate for the last five years is more than 10 per cent. lower than the national average for this type of trunk road. The Highways Agency continually monitors safety on its roads with a view to implementing improvements as priority allows.


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