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Scotland

Departmental Pensions

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many and what proportion of civil servants in his Department are members of the (a) Classic, (b) Classic Plus, (c) Nuvos and (d) Premium civil service pension schemes. [229526]

Ann McKechin: All staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice. The Office does not maintain a central record of the pension status of staff; such records are held by the parent Departments.

Departmental Public Participation

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many citizens' juries his Department has held since 1 July 2007; what the cost was of each; what issues were discussed at each event; and how many (a) Ministers and (b) members of the public attended each event. [227467]

Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office has not arranged any citizens' juries since 1 July 2007.

Departmental Recruitment

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many vacant posts in his Department were advertised in each of the last three years; and at what cost. [230598]

Ann McKechin: All the staff in the Scotland Office are on loan from other Government Departments and the Office reimburses those Departments for the costs involved. In the last three years, the Office has directly advertised externally for one post, and contributed towards the advertising costs of a joint campaign with the Scottish Executive for other staff, at a total cost of £8,069.

Plain English

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many documents produced by his Department were submitted to the Plain English Campaign for approval for Crystal Mark status in each year since 2005; and how many documents achieved such status in each year. [230501]

Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office has not submitted any documents to the Plain English Campaign for Crystal Mark status.


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Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department has spent on Plain English Campaign training courses in each year since 2005. [231238]

Ann McKechin: The main objectives for the Scotland Office set out in its annual report do not envisage the production of documents for public consumption and accordingly it has not felt necessary for staff to attend such courses.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

EC Countries: Asylum

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that other European Union states share responsibility for providing asylum to those from outside the EU who require it. [227836]

Caroline Flint: The Government have actively participated in the existing Common European Asylum System of directives establishing minimum standards for asylum practices and procedures, and the Dublin Regulation determining responsibility for examining asylum claims.

The Government welcome the opportunity afforded by the European Commission's Policy Plan on Asylum and the Migration Pact which was agreed at the October European Council, to develop greater practical cooperation between member states and non-governmental organisations in the area of asylum.

Falkland Islands: Argentina

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the state of relations between the Falkland Islands and Argentina. [227030]

Gillian Merron: The United Kingdom is responsible for the Falkland Islands' foreign relations. The UK values its relationship with Argentina as an important international partner. We have a close and productive relationship on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including human rights, sustainable development and counter-proliferation, and continue to look for practical ways to co-operate with Argentina on a range of South Atlantic issues. However, the Argentine sovereignty claim to the Falkland Islands and the Argentine refusal to recognise the democratically elected Falkland Islands Government, casts a shadow over our relationship. The principle of self-determination, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, underlies our position on the Falkland Islands.

Iraq: Asylum

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 15 September 2008, Official Report, column 2186W, on Iraq: asylum, how many of the 422 applications received by the UK Border Agency from Iraqi nationals under the Gateway Protection Programme have now been approved; how many new applications have since been received; and how many of these applications have been approved. [227906]


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Bill Rammell: Of the 422 Iraqi individuals who had been referred to the UK Border Agency for resettlement under the Gateway Protection Programme before 15 September, 256 individuals (91 case applicants) have so far been approved. Since 15 September, three new case applications (nine individuals) have been received. None of these have yet been approved.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 15 September 2008, Official Report, column 2186W, on Iraq: asylum, of those applications (a) received by the UK Border Agency from Iraqi nationals under the Gateway Protection Programme and (b) for exceptional leave to remain under the Locally Employed Staff Assistance scheme, how many have included claims for dependants; what the total number is of dependants claimed on each scheme; and how many dependants are associated with those applications which have been approved. [227907]

Bill Rammell: Information on the total number of dependants covered by applications to the locally employed staff assistance scheme is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. To date, 165 dependants have been approved for resettlement in the UK under the Gateway programme, and 51 dependants have been granted indefinite leave to enter under the scheme for serving staff.

Israel: Terrorism

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he received of terrorist attacks in the State of Israel since July 2008; what discussions he has had with the Government of the State of Israel on terrorism in Israel since July 2008; and if he will make a statement. [227593]

Bill Rammell: We welcome the Gaza ceasefire which has reduced the number of attacks and brought calm to the lives of civilians in both southern Israel and in Gaza. However, the UK remains concerned by any attack against Israel.

There have been five attacks during the period in question in Jerusalem and the State of Israel. These were:


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We discuss various issues, including security, with Israeli officials on a regular basis and will continue to devote our efforts to the Annapolis process with the vision of two states, living side by side in peace and security.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department, (c) officials in his Department, (d) the British Ambassador to Egypt and (e) officials in the British Embassy in Egypt have had since August 2008 with the Government of Egypt on the trafficking of (i) weapons and (ii) people into Gaza from Egypt via under-border tunnels; what response was received in each case; what reports he has received on the number of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt that have been (A) discovered and (B) closed; and if he will make a statement. [227595]

Bill Rammell: The UK welcomes any appropriate action taken to reduce trafficking of weapons and people into Gaza. Earlier in the year, we pressed Egypt to act on smuggling. But this issue has not been explicitly raised with the Egyptian authorities since August 2008.

Egypt is actively addressing the issue. With the number of tunnels being discovered and closed constantly changing, we are unable to provide a definitive figure, but we continue to monitor the situation.

Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons Colonel Karuna was released from UK custody; what assessment he has made of Colonel Karuna’s status as a member of the Sri Lanka parliament given the allegations of human rights abuses against him; and if he will make a statement. [227023]

Bill Rammell: Venamoorthi Muralitharan (aka Karuna Amman) was removed from the UK on 2 July, after completing a custodial sentence for possessing false documents. At the time, the Crown Prosecution Service advised that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in the UK for other offences.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on Sri Lanka’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council; and if he will make a statement. [227026]

Bill Rammell: The UK expects every member of the UN Human Rights Council to act in accordance with the spirit of UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 in upholding the highest standards of human rights promotion and protection and co-operating fully with the Council.

Sri Lanka: Internally Displaced Persons

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to promote freedom of movement for displaced people in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka. [227287]


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Bill Rammell: On 26 September, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development stressed to President Rajapakse the need to secure the humanitarian space of some 200 to 250 thousand people affected by renewed conflict.

I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Michael Foster, on the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka during the debate on 15 October 2008, Official Report, columns 240-49WH.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Sri Lankan authorities on recent events in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. [227288]

Bill Rammell: On 26 September, my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development met President Rajapakse in New York and raised the issue of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. They stressed the need to secure the humanitarian space and provide humanitarian relief in northern Sri Lanka and called for a sustainable political solution to the conflict.

Sri Lanka: Politics and Government

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Sri Lankan Government over their responsibility to (a) ensure that security forces operate under the rule of domestic and international law and (b) bring to justice those of the security forces who commit crimes, including war crimes and abuses of human rights; and if he will make a statement. [227017]

Bill Rammell: We remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian rights situation in Sri Lanka and urge all parties to the conflict to respect the rights of civilians. We continue to press for full investigation of alleged breaches of international law and action to bring perpetrators to justice. In July, my noble Friend, the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, raised the UK’s concerns over human rights in Sri Lanka with the Sri Lankan government, including with President Rajapakse, and the Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the recent statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the misrepresentation of its findings by the Sri Lankan Government. [227027]

Bill Rammell: We share the International Committee of the Red Cross’s concerns over the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. My noble Friend, the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, expressed similar concerns to President Rajapakse, his Ministers and senior officials during his visit to Sri Lanka this summer.


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Sudan: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of progress in implementing a consultation process with the population of the Nuba Mountains as part of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. [226729]

Gillian Merron: We have had no reports of progress in implementing the consultation process with the population in the Nuba Mountains. We are monitoring developments in the region because of the specific references to the Nuba Mountains in the Comprehensive Peace Agreements, which we continue to press all parties to implement in full.

UN Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reservations have been sought by the Government on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and if he will make a statement. [204963]

Maria Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The United Kingdom signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981, and ratified with reservations in 1986. The UK reservations in 1986 were general reservations (a-d), and specific reservations on article 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 15 and 16. Since that time the Government have not sought any new reservations on the Convention and have withdrawn a number of reservations, most notably in 1995 and 1996.

The UK's sixth periodic report to the CEDAW committee on progress towards the implementation of the Convention was submitted on 1 May 2007. The report notes that the UK has withdrawn the CEDAW reservation relating to immigration and has modified the reservation relating to the throne and the armed forces. The UK currently has reservations on: general reservations (a, c, and d), and specific reservations on article 9, 11, 15(3) and 16.

The current reservations will be reviewed in 2008-09 as part of the follow up plan from the UK's examination by the CEDAW Committee in July 2008.

Olympics

Olympic Games 2012: Finance

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will provide a breakdown by main budget heading of the (a) £66 million contribution to paralympic costs and (b) £32 million allocated to the Look of London contained in the public sector funding package for London 2012. [229335]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 23 October 2008]: The £66 million is the Government's planned contribution, within the £9.325 billion funding package, towards the
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hosting of the Paralympic games by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). The precise breakdown of costs will need to be agreed between LOCOG and the Government as detailed plans for the Paralympics develop.

Expenditure on the Look of London is expected to take place in the financial years of 2011-12 and 2012-13. The breakdown of costs within this £32 million funding will be determined in the next spending round, and detailed budgets agreed nearer the time.


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