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11 Mar 2008 : Column 329W—continued

European Commission: Greater London

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the European Commission on its representative office for the European Commission in London. [191934]


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Mr. Jim Murphy: We have received no representations from the European Commission on its representative office for the European Commission in London.

International Cooperation: Human Rights

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to propose the inclusion of the UN holocaust education department on the preparatory committee for the Durban II conference at the Geneva preparatory committee of April 2008. [191577]

Meg Munn: The Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference is comprised of UN member states (as for other UN meetings). Non-governmental organisations, and UN Specialised Agencies, funds and programmes can observe in accordance with UN practice. The UN Secretariat—of which the holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme is a part—would not normally participate in the Committee’s deliberations in its own right.

As stated in the response I gave to my hon. Friend on 28 February2008, Official Report, columns 1822-23W, the Government will seek opportunities with our EU partners to give holocaust education and remembrance appropriate attention as negotiations continue. As the preparatory process for the Durban Review Conference unfolds, we would expect input from all parts of the UN system that deals with issues relevant to the Conference.

Iran: Banks

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what steps will be taken by UK authorities as a result of the inclusion of Iranian banks Melli and Mellat in UN Security Council Resolution 1803 (2008); and if he will make a statement; [192787]

(2) what steps the Government plan to take to exercise vigilance over the activities of financial institutions in the UK with all banks domiciled in Iran, as required in UN Security Council Resolution 1803 (2008). [192786]

Jane Kennedy: I have been asked to reply.

In October 2007 HM Treasury, following agreement by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), advised the financial sector to consider applying increased scrutiny and due diligence to transactions associated with Iran due to deficiencies in Iran's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regimes. We reiterated this on 29 February 2008 following a second FATF statement.

On 4 March 2008 HM Treasury published a notice on its website again advising caution and alerting the UK financial sector to the financial measures in UN Security Council Resolution 1803, which mentions banks Melli and Sanderat. The notice is available at <http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/9/C/fin_sanctions_iran_notification_040308.pdf>;

The UK also monitors the activities of UK financial institutions with all banks domiciled in Iran, in accordance with its international commitments.


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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the possible links between Iranian banks Melli and Mellat, including their branches and subsidiaries abroad, and activities contributing to proliferation sensitive activities in Iran; and if he will make a statement. [192788]

Jane Kennedy: I have been asked to reply.

Banks Melli and Saderat, rather than Melli and Mellat, are mentioned in the text of UN Security Council Resolution 1803.

The UK shares the concerns of the UN Security Council about bank Melli's and bank Saderat's links to the Iranian nuclear and missile programmes. The Security Council has called upon all states to exercise vigilance over the banks to prevent Iran from proliferating nuclear sensitive material. The UK continues to monitor banks Melli and Saderat in accordance with its international commitments.

Israel: Official Visits

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much the seminar on stem cell research being organised by the British Embassy in Israel on 26 and 27 March 2008 will cost; who has been invited to (a) speak and (b) attend; what criteria were used in selecting speakers for this seminar; whether speakers at the seminar will be paid (i) travelling expenses, (ii) travel time, (iii) accommodation expenses and (iv) a speaker’s fee; if he will place in the Library material produced for the seminar by the British Embassy; how many staff in the British Embassy will (A) attend and (B) participate; how much was spent on advertising this seminar; whether there are any restrictions on those persons wishing to attend this seminar; and if he will make a statement. [189011]

Meg Munn: The seminar is entitled “Stem Cell Research—Social and Ethical issues” and has a budget of £15,500. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has invited Dr. Lyle Armstrong, Sir Martin Evans (not yet confirmed), Dr. Chris Mason, the noble Lord Patel and Professor Andrew Webster to speak at the seminar. Researchers and students in the biomedical areas, clinicians, physicians, regulators, philosophers and the general public will be invited to attend.

In order to select speakers our Embassy consulted the following stakeholders:

Speakers will be paid travelling and accommodation expenses. Speakers will not be paid for travel time or a fee. A report on the seminar will be written and placed in the Library of the House.

Two officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv will attend as participants. No funds have been spent on advertising and there are no restrictions on who can attend the seminar—it is open to all.


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Kenya: Politics and Government

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the power-sharing agreement brokered in Kenya; and if he will make a statement. [192211]

Meg Munn: We welcome the power-sharing agreement signed by President Kibaki and Raila Odinga on 28 February 2008. We consider that it provides a strong foundation on which to bring Kenya back to the path to prosperity, democracy and stability. The imperative is for Kenya's leaders to implement the agreement in full and to build up a sense of national reconciliation. The UK is committed to supporting Kenya and its people in doing so.

I am placing copies of the documents in the Library of the House.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what follow-up mechanisms have been agreed for the implementation of the agreement of the principles of partnership of the coalition government in Kenya; and what role the UK will play in those mechanisms. [192245]

David Miliband: In order to implement their power-sharing agreement, Kenya’s leaders are committed to a number of important new mechanisms. These include both transitional constitutional arrangements, such as the office of Prime Minister, and others such as a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, a Commission of Enquiry on Post Election Violence and an independent Review Committee on the 2007 elections. The international community, including the UK, strongly supports the terms of the agreement as the basis on which Kenya can return to the path of prosperity, democracy, and stability. We are committed to lending our support to the development of robust mechanisms to deliver reconciliation and reform.

Pakistan: Diplomatic Service

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK diplomats and civil servants are working in (a) Pakistan and (b) Japan. [192209]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently employs 128 UK civil servants (from both the diplomatic and home civil service) at its posts in Pakistan and 41 in Japan.

Public Access

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements are in place for members of the public to visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and on how many occasions in the last 12 months such visits took place. [191974]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) participates each year in Open House London Weekend, organised by the Open House architectural and educational charity. The Historic Fine Rooms are open to the public throughout the weekend from 10 am
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to 5 pm. No advance booking is necessary and there are no restrictions on numbers.

In 2007, Open House London Weekend took place on 15 to 16 September, where almost 7,000 people visited the FCO.

The FCO also manages an informal programme of guided tours for members of accredited societies and organisations. These tours are carried out by volunteer members of staff in addition to their existing roles. Given this, and that the Fine Rooms are in continual official use, opportunities for these tours are limited. During the last 12 months, we offered 25 such tours. As there is now a three year waiting list, we have temporarily suspended further bookings.

Somalia: Armed Conflict

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the alleged US bombing of Dhoble in Somalia; and if he will make a statement. [192210]

Meg Munn: We have received no further reports of this incident. Government policy towards Somalia will continue, together with the international community, to work for improvements in the inter-linked political, security and humanitarian tracks.

Somalia: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards the full deployment of the African Union mission to Somalia; and what assessment has been made of the impact that the deployment has had on the security situation in the country. [192026]

Meg Munn: The African Union mission to Somalia currently consists of approximately 1,600 Ugandan troops and 300 Burundian troops. The Burundians are bringing their contingent up to one full battalion and have committed a further battalion, which they intend to deploy within the next few months once it is fully equipped. Nigeria is due to send an advance reconnaissance party to Somalia during March to prepare for their deployment of one battalion.

The additional troops will take the total strength of the African Union mission to approximately 4,000, enabling the mission to expand operations to a larger area of Mogadishu.

The mission has contributed to the security of Mogadishu by patrolling parts of the city and securing the airport, sea port and the President’s residence (Villa Somalia). It has also provided a valuable contribution to the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Somalia: Police

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on UK and EU support for the UN Rule of Law programme for training Somalian civilian police officers; and how many Somalian police officers have been trained as a result of this programme. [192025]


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Meg Munn: Between 2006 and 2008, the UK, through the Department for International Development (DfID), has committed £6 million to the UN Development Programme Rule of Law and Security Programme for Somalia, including Somaliland. DfID funds, together with those of the European Commission and the Governments of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy and the US, support five programme areas: Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration; Law Enforcement; Strengthening of the Judiciary; Gender and Human Rights; and Mine Action.

The Law Enforcement component of the programme has trained 3,410 police officers. Of these, 2,410 are deployed in South-Central Somalia and Puntland and 1,000 are deployed in Somaliland.

Sudan: Arms Control

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of regional compliance with the UN arms embargo on Darfur; and whether plans are being considered to extend the embargo to the whole of Sudan. [192022]

Meg Munn: The UN Panel of Experts, established by UN Security Council Resolution 1591, is responsible for monitoring the arms embargo on Darfur. In its latest report, published on 3 October 2007, the panel established that violations of the arms embargo continued, both by the Government of Sudan and non-state armed groups, during the period of the report, from 29 September 2006 to 29 August 2007. The panel reported that weapons, specifically heavy weapons (artillery pieces), small arms, ammunition and other military equipment were entering the Darfur states in breach of the embargo from several countries including regional neighbours.

The UK proposed in the UN Sanctions Committee of 6 November 2007 to extend its arms embargo on Darfur to all of Sudan, but not all Security Council members agree. We will continue to press for an extension of the arms embargo. The EU has implemented an arms embargo on the whole of Sudan via Common Position 2005/411/CFSP, adopted 30 May 2005.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what grounds troop contributions to UNAMID from (a) Norway and (b) Sweden were refused by the government of Sudan; and whether any other contributions from countries on the list sent by the United Nations and the African Union to the government of Sudan in October 2007 have been rejected. [192021]

Meg Munn: Sweden and Norway announced in a joint press statement on 9 January 2008 that they were withdrawing their offer to provide a 350 strong engineering battalion to the UN-African Union (AU) Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) because of Sudan's continued refusal to accept the offer.

The Government of Sudan have not provided a formal reply to the list of troop contributing countries that the AU and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations agreed last autumn, including any specific
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grounds for refusing the offers from Sweden and Norway. More generally, the Government of Sudan have said there is no need for non-African troop contributions in UNAMID on the grounds that African countries have offered sufficient contributions. Discussions on deployment continue between the UN, AU and the Government of Sudan.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in appointing a Joint United Nations-African Union Chief Mediator for Darfur; what the mandate of the envoy will be; and when he or she is expected to be in post. [192023]

Meg Munn: We understand that discussions are continuing between the UN and African Union (AU) on the appointment of a Joint UN-AU Chief Mediator who would work to the AU and UN Special Envoys for the Darfur Political Process, Mr. Jan Eliasson and Mr. Salim Salim. Until a Joint Chief Mediator is in place, the current AU and UN negotiators remain in place, working to the Special Envoys.

Zimbabwe: EC External Relations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress made in securing the appointment of an EU envoy to Zimbabwe. [192912]

Meg Munn [holding answer 10 March 2008]: At the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on 15 October 2007, Foreign Ministers agreed to appoint an envoy to investigate and report back on the situation in Zimbabwe. The envoy was subsequently appointed., and has since conducted a fact-finding visit to the African Union in Addis Ababa and the Southern African region, and delivered a report to the EU on the situation.

Zimbabwe: Elections

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what provisions are in place for international monitoring of the 29 March elections in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [192910]

Meg Munn [holding answer 10 March 2008]: International monitoring of the forthcoming Zimbabwean elections will play a key role in determining whether they meet international norms and standards, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and the Southern African Development Community principles and guidelines concerning elections, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. The Government of Zimbabwe have stated that organisations may only observe the elections by invitation. A number of organisations, including the Southern African Development Community governments, have been invited to send observation teams. Regrettably, invitations have not been extended to a number of countries and a range of major democratic institutions, including the EU. We are concerned that this will constrain the ability of the international community to assess the conduct and outcome of the elections.


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