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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions
(a) he, (b) Ministers and (c) officials in his Department have had with the government of Israel on suicide bombings in Israel; what recent representations he has received on the subject; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary publicly condemned the suicide attack in Dimona on 4 February 2008. There can be no justification for attacks that deliberately target civilians. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary speaks regularly to Israeli Foreign Secretary Livni about issues relating to Israeli security, most recently on 6 March 2008. Our embassy in Tel Aviv has regular discussions with the Israeli government about issues relating to Israeli security.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he (a) has had recently and (b) plans to have with EU counterparts on the reported storage of (i) rockets and (ii) arms by Hamas in civilian areas in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: We have regular discussions with our EU partners on the subject of Israel's security. We condemn all terrorist activities. However, we have had no particular discussions with our EU counterparts on the storage of arms and rockets in civilian areas by Hamas. The UK condemns the storage of arms and rockets by Hamas in civilian areas. The UK urges all parties to adopt a peaceful, political resolution to the conflict.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he (a) has had and (b) plans to have with EU counterparts on reported comments by the President of the Palestinian Authority on the recognition by Hamas of the state of Israel; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular discussions with his EU counterparts on the subject of the middle east peace process, including on our position on Hamas, most recently at the informal Foreign Ministers' meeting (Gymnich). They will continue at the April EU General Affairs and External Relations Council. Our policy towards Hamas remains the same based on the three Quartet principles: recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and renunciation of violence.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government has made to the Government of Israel to open the border passes to the Gaza Strip. 
Mr. Jim Murphy
[holding answer 25 March 2008]: The UK believes that the Gaza border crossings should be opened for both humanitarian and commercial activity. On 28 January 2008 my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, with his EU colleagues, announced
that the EU would be willing to redeploy the EU border assistance mission at Rafah when conditions allow. Our embassy in Tel Aviv regularly raises this issue with the Israeli Government.
Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Ministers were advised of or were asked to consider or approve the decision to set aside the rule preventing the wearing of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal during the anniversary celebrations of Malaysian independence. 
Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the decision not to allow recipients of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal to wear the decoration on public occasions was set aside for the celebration coinciding with the anniversary celebrations of Malaysian independence. 
Meg Munn: Ministers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence put forward a proposal to the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals that veterans exceptionally be allowed to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal during the main independence celebrations in Malaysia because of the significance of the anniversary.
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed Western Sahara with his Moroccan counterpart. However, when I met the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Mr. Taieb Fassi Fihri, during the UK-Morocco ministerial dialogue forum in July 2007, we discussed a wide range of issues relating to Western Sahara and expressed our hope that a mutually acceptable political solution would be found, which would provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara. To this end, the UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his personal envoy to the Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will answer question 186869, on the demarcation of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, tabled on 7 February 2008. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The United Nations Population Division provides the following figures for average life expectancy at age 15 (taken as the beginning of their reproductive life) for women in sub-Saharan Africa:
1995-2000: 48.5 years;
2005-2010: 46.7 years.
Mr. Malik: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Chinese Embassy have been discussing collaboration around mitigating the environmental and social impact of investments to reopen and upgrade roads infrastructure.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development at how many events held by his Department (a) wine and (b) Fairtrade wine were served in the last three years; and what assessment his Department has made of the merits of serving Fairtrade wine at future events. 
Our contracted catering company is required to supply Fairtrade or other ethically traded items if specifically requested to do so by the function organisers. In line with HMG policy, DFID is committed to improving market access to producers in developing countries through increased participation in fair and sustainable supply chains.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many and what percentage of staff in his Department were making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions in each of the last two years. 
Gillian Merron: 201 members of staff in the Department for International Development (or 11.4 per cent. of the staff employed by the department) were making additional voluntary pension contributions through deductions from their pay in February 2007. This has reduced to 188 members of staff (or 10.9 per cent. of those employed by the department) who were making additional voluntary pension contributions through deductions from their pay in February 2008.
Mr. Malik: Since 2003, the Department for International Development (DFID) has allocated £7.75 million to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which leads the international response to the Iraqi refugee situation. Of this, £3 million has been committed for 2008. DFID has not earmarked contributions to UNHCR for specific countries, but has supported UNHCR's annual Iraq situation appeals. These appeals focus primarily on Jordan, Syria and Iraq, but also cover operations in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Our support helps UNHCR provide assistance to Iraqi refugees (including food, cash assistance, legal aid and school materials) and support to health and education systems in countries that have taken in large numbers of people displaced from Iraq. DFID's contributions to UNHCR form part of our overall humanitarian assistance allocation for Iraq, totalling £147 million since 2003.
The UK, as a major contributor to the European Commission (EC), has also supported the EC's programmes in Jordan and Syria. Last year, the EC allocated €50 million in support of Iraqi refugees in the middle east region. This included an additional €9 million to their ongoing health sector modernisation project in Syria. This money will strengthen health services in areas with large Iraqi populations. In Jordan, the EC has allocated €26.7 million in budget support, which will build capacity in the Jordanian education sector to accommodate Iraqi refugee children.
Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2008, Official Report, column 1144W, on overseas aid, which European Commission country strategy papers do not meet the criteria for adherence to the legal and policy base and alignment set out in partner countries' national plans. 
Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development considers that all of the country strategy papers published to date have adhered to the legal and policy base and been aligned with the partner countries' priorities.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the funding required to ensure universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services by 2010; and how much of this he estimates is required to be met by (a) G8 members and (b) the UK. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many closure orders under section 169A of the Licensing Act 2003 for persistently selling alcohol to children had been made at the latest date for which figures are available; 
Mr. Sutcliffe: We do not currently hold this data. Sections 147B and 169A of the Licensing Act 2003 relate to the new offence of persistently selling alcohol to children which came into force when Chapter 3 of Part 1 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) was commenced on 6 April 2007. The Department for Culture, Media and Sports Statistical Bulletin on Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing, which includes information on licence suspensions, covers activity in the 12 months to 31 March 2007 and therefore pre-dates the persistent sales of alcohol to children offence coming into effect. However, we intend to repeat the data collection exercise this year and expect to publish a new Bulletin in the autumn to cover the period from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the likely effect on creative industries of the reduction in funding for equivalent and lower level qualifications; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: My Department has made no formal assessment of the likely effect on creative industries of the reduction in funding for equivalent and lower level qualifications. We have been in conversation with the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS) to highlight some of the key issues for DCMS however, and how they intend to monitor the impact of the arrangements.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many children under the age of 16 years (a) participated in arts activity, (b) attended an arts event, (c) accessed a museum or gallery and (d) visited an historic environment site in each year since 1997 for which figures are available. 
Margaret Hodge: We do not have year on year data recording children's involvement with these cultural activities. However, our Taking Part survey, conducted in 2006, showed that the following proportions of 11 to 15-year-olds:
(a) Attended an arts event: 74 per cent;
(b) Participated in an arts activity: 91 per cent;
(c) Visited a museum or gallery: 55 per cent;
(d) Visited a historic environment site: 72 per cent.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what activities the UK will be participating in as its contribution to the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue; and what the projected cost of each activity will be. 
In the UK a number of bodies including Liverpool Capital of Culture, Bristol city council and the Victoria and Albert Museum have planned programmes which tie in with the Year of Intercultural Dialogue. These are not directly funded by my Department. There are no plans at present for DCMS Ministers to attend any events marking the
European Year of Intercultural Dialogue outside the UK. An official from my Department attended the launch event for the Year of Intercultural Dialogue hosted by the Slovenian EU presidency in Ljubljana on 6-7 January. The cost to my Department was £207.
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