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Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what procedures his Department follows for checking the criminal records of employees; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: All Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) employees and contractors/consultants are subjected to criminal record checks as part of the national security vetting process. The FCO has direct links to the police national computer, which shows both spent and unspent convictions.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of successful applicants for jobs in his Department are subjected to a criminal records check; how many (a) successful applicants and (b) criminal records checks there were in each of the last 10 years; how many successful applicants were found to have a criminal record after a criminal records check took place in each of the last 10 years; whether the selection of successful candidates to be subjected to a criminal records check is random or targeted; and if he will make a statement. 
All successful applicants for jobs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are subject to criminal record checks as part of the national security vetting process. Further information in respect of the
number of successful applicants and those found to have a criminal record after a criminal records check could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the European Commissions report on the COREPERCommittee of Permanent Representativesmeetings on the European External Action Service held on 7 and 13 May 2008. 
Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the European Unions new financial sanctions on Iran with particular reference to Irans uranium enrichment programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: On 23 June the EU formally approved the listing of several Iranian individuals and entities, including Bank Melli, under its previous Common Positions. The UK has long argued for EU measures against Iran to reinforce those already imposed in UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1737, UNSCR 1747 and UNSCR 1803. We will pursue further EU action in the coming months and will argue for rigorous EU implementation, of UNSCR 1803 in a new Common Position, which is currently under discussion. The Government fully support strengthening sanctions against Iran, including financial measures, as part of the E3+3s dual-track process of engagement and pressure, to persuade Iran to comply with the Security Council and co-operate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the reasons for recent trends in the levels of violence in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The security situation in Iraq varies from province to province. The security situation in Iraq has improved significantly over the course of the second half of 2007 and 2008. In and around Baghdad, violence has reduced to levels not seen since 2005.
There are a number of factors that have contributed towards the downturn in levels of violence across Iraq. The increased capacity and capability of the Iraqi security forces has had a positive impact in reducing levels of violence. Other factors include the surge of US forces and the emergence of predominantly Sunni tribal 'Awakening' Councils and Sons of Iraq/Concerned Local Citizens, who have turned against al-Qa'eda. The continued ceasefire declared by Moqtada al Sadr in August 2007
has also had a positive effect in the south, although we remain concerned about violence committed by militant elements linked to the Sadrist movement.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on a status of forces agreement permitting US forces to establish permanent military bases in Iraq and granting US forces immunity from Iraqi law; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The US and the Government of Iraq are currently discussing the legal basis for the presence of US military forces following the expiry of UN Security Council Resolution 1790 mandate at the end of 2008. These discussions are essentially a matter for the two countries concerned. We are following their progress closely, however, and are in discussion with coalition partners and the Government of Iraq over our own legal requirements following the end of 2008, with a view to ensuring that our military (and civilian) assistance to Iraq remains on a sound legal footing.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on development of a mainstream political party by Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq if the Mahdi Army disbands; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We encourage all communities in Iraq to engage with the political process and to turn their backs on violence. Political engagement by all sectors of Iraqi society will be crucial in achieving lasting progress on national reconciliation and we continue to support the Government of Iraq in efforts to achieve this goal.
However, we remain concerned that part of Muqtada al-Sadr's 13 June statement stated that his organisation would continue to attack coalition forces. As Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has said, weapons should only be in the hands of the Iraqi security forces. Coalition forces are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and under a UN mandate; they should be able to continue their job of helping to build a stable and secure Iraq without fear of attack.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of (a) rockets and (b) mortar bombs launched into Israeli territory from (i) Gaza and (ii) the Lebanon in each week since January 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Further to the hon. Members question of 17 June 2008, Official Report, column 814W, we do not have a detailed breakdown of the figures. However, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, almost 1,000 rockets and over 1,000 mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip have struck southern Israel between January 2008 and May 2008.
Since January 2007 there have been two incidents of rockets being fired from Lebanon into Israel. On 17 June 2007 two rockets fired from Lebanon hit the town of Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel. On 8 January 2008 two rockets fired from Lebanon hit the Israeli town of Shlomi. The UK condemns these attacks which are a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The UK fully supports the efforts of the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon to prevent such attacks in the future.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Russian counterpart on the conduct of British Council activities in Russia. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 25 June 2008]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the British Council with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Lavrov during their bilateral meeting in London on 1 May 2008.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of progress towards establishing a National Human Rights Commission in Sudan; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) established the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) which was mandated to set up the National Human Rights Commission. The NCRC has drafted the necessary legislation but this has not yet been passed. In the south, a Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission was set up in June 2006. The Interim National Constitution, adopted in 2005 under the CPA, includes a Bill of Rights that enshrines the principle of human rights at all levels of government and society.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he is considering to strengthen the UN Mission in Sudan's human rights mandate; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The UK remains closely involved in supporting the reviews of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) mandate. UN Security Council Resolution 1590, which first mandated UNMIS, ensured that UNMIS has adequate human rights presence and expertise. We support the UN's assessment that the extant mandate is sufficient to underpin UNMIS's monitoring and reporting of human rights violations.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international mechanisms exist to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by Sudanese armed forces; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: Both the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) incorporate an extensive human rights network, with officers investigating alleged human rights abuses by any party. Both UNMIS and UNAMID produce a weekly report of such allegations. Where there is evidence of specific human rights abuse by the Sudanese armed forcesor any other warring factionwe raise it with the appropriate authorities.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the risk of the conflict in Darfur affecting the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The conflict in Darfur has drawn national and international attention away from implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The census carried out in April and May was a milestone in preparing for elections, but high numbers of people displaced by conflict pose significant challenges to achieving free and fair elections.
The CPA is the bedrock for future peace and stability throughout Sudan. The conflict in Darfur will not be resolved without successful implementation of the CPA. We are working with all parties and international partners to implement the CPA, end the conflict in Darfur and to bring lasting peace to Sudan.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the recent clashes in the Abyei area of Sudan on (a) the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan and (b) the conflict in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The fighting in Abyei in mid-May posed a serious threat to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement have shown their commitment to the CPA by agreeing on 8 June a road map to resolve the Abyei dispute.
The CPA is the bedrock for future peace and stability throughout Sudan. The conflict in Darfur will not be resolved without the successful implementation of the CPA. We are working with both parties and international partners to implement fully the Abyei road map and the CPA and to find a lasting solution to the conflict in Darfur.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards developing a joint conflict management strategy along the North-South border in Sudan between the UN Mission in Sudan and the UN country team as referred to in the UN Secretary Generals report to the UN Security Council (S/2008/267); and if he will make a statement. 
The UN, supported by the international community, has a strategy to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and has deployed a multi-functional military and civil mission to do so. This includes the monitoring of areas of
tension along the border. The UN Development Programme held discussions in June on developing a common strategy for the border and for the transitional areas.
The UN Mission in Sudan and UN agencies contributed to a stability and development assessment of the three disputed areas, led by the Department for International Development, which was completed in April this year. The second phase of the assessment, covering the south and the border region, will take place in September/October of this year. The UN continues to review and adjust its focus through assessment and renewal of its mandates.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to paragraph 3.27 of the National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom, Cm 7291, which states he suspects of state-sponsored terrorism. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: As the National Security Strategy says, we are alert to the possibility of sponsorship of terrorist activity by states. However, it is the long-standing policy of the Government not to comment on intelligence matters and it would not be in the interest of national security to discuss, in public, our assessment of possible links between terrorist groups and individual states.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on joint working against global terrorism since the 20 September 2004 joint declaration with India. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The UK and India enjoy a close working relationship on countering terrorism and extremism. This is underpinned by Prime Ministerial agreement at annual UK/India summits to work together in specific areas.
At the most recent summit in January we agreed to intensify mutual exchange of views, experiences and practical cooperation in the fight against terrorism. We have agreed to build on existing co-operation, including in the protection of critical national infrastructure, mass transit systems and the security of major sporting eventsincluding the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympics. In addition, we have agreed to expand co-operation on civil aviation security and crisis management and to establish a new bilateral dialogue on terrorist financing.
Multilaterally, the UK and India remain committed to pursuing an agreement in the UN on the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism. The UK continues to support India's request for full membership of the Financial Action Task Force.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK citizens were (a) arrested and (b) sentenced for drugs offences in the United Arab Emirates in each of the last five years. 
Drugs related offences:
2004-05three arrested and sentenced, one arrested and deported in 2006
2006-07one arrested and sentenced, one arrested and released
2008 to dateone arrested pending judgement.
|(1 )Figures for 2004-05 cannot be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.|
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