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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what endangered
animal species exist in Gibraltar; and what steps are being taken to protect them. 
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government support proposals to create a regional conflict resolution mechanism for conflicts in the Horn of Africa; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: We are not aware of any specific proposals to create a regional conflict mechanism for conflicts in the Horn of Africa. However, we stand ready to support any internationally or locally generated proposals which contribute to resolving the regional conflicts in the Horn of Africa through constructive and unbiased mechanisms. In this context we welcome the Intergovernmental Authority for Development summit on 27 October and look forward to it reaching positive conclusions for the people of Somalia.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of India on the recent (a) violence against Sikhs in India and (b) mass arrests of Sikhs in India. 
Bill Rammell: We have not made any bilateral representations to the Government of India on these specific issues. It is the Governments long-standing policy that there is no justification for acts of violence against individuals because of their faith and religion. When the issue of freedom of religion came up at the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue in Delhi on 15 February, the EU collectively expressed its concerns about violent attacks against all minority groups in India. The Government will continue to pay close attention to incidents of religious intolerance and will work with the Government of India in supporting their efforts to address minority rights issues.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much funding the British Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia (a) loaned and (b) gave to the EU-led Aceh Monitoring Mission; and whether any such loans have been repaid (i) with and (ii) without interest. 
Gillian Merron: The common costs of the EU-led Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), which ran from 15 September 2005 to 15 December 2006, were financed by the EUs CFSP budget and voluntary contributions from member states. The total Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) budget to run the Mission was 9.3 million euros of which the UK contributed 17 per cent. or 1.58 million euros.
In addition, the UK funded the secondment of nine monitors and three military staff officers, and made a voluntary contribution of £60,000 towards the Missions common costs. This total contribution of £603,689 was funded from the peacekeeping budget of the Treasurys central reserve.
To help finance the initial start up of the AMM, a loan of US dollars 21,313.80 for medical insurance for the international monitors was made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the period 14 to 26 September 2005. This money was refunded by the AMM on 11 October 2005. No interest was paid.
Bill Rammell: Iranian leaders argue that the situation of women in Iran is better than in other countries in the region and are rightly proud that women make up over half of all university students. However, women remain largely excluded from positions of authority, and gender based inequality is widespread and reinforced by Iranian law. We are particularly concerned by the treatment of Iranian women connected to the Campaign for Equality (which aims to collect 1 million signatures on a petition demanding changes to discriminatory laws and educate women about their rights). Many, throughout the country, have been arrested for peaceful activities in support of the campaign and sentenced to prison terms or flogging sentences on charges such as acting against national security and propaganda against the system. The Campaigns website has been blocked by the Iranian authorities 16 times. With the EU, we continue to make our concerns about this known to the Iranian authorities, and have done so at least four times this year. In a public declaration issued on 6 August the EU condemned the arrest of three womens rights activists arrested in Kurdistan province and called on the Iranian authorities to
release these activists unconditionally as soon as possible and to drop all charges against them and other activists of the One Million Signatures campaign who are still under investigation or arrest.
The EU condemned this persecution and intimidation once again in a human rights démarche delivered on 6 October, and called for the release of 16 detained womens rights activists connected to the campaign.
We have serious concerns about Irans poor human rights record. Together with the EU, we remain committed to raising these concerns regularly with the Iranian Government and continue to press
them to work towards international human rights standards and fulfilment of their obligations under UN human rights conventions. We have done so more than 30 times this year in bilateral and EU meetings with the Iranian authorities and in public declarations. Senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials raised concerns about the execution of juvenile offenders, during the visit of Irans Deputy Foreign Minister Safari in September. The most recent EU human rights demarche, covering the full range of concerns, was delivered by the EU presidency on 6 October in Paris, as Iran is becoming increasingly reluctant to receive representations about human rights in Tehran. Recent EU statements have focussed on juvenile execution cases, the situation of religious and ethnic minorities, and the proposed draft penal code which, if adopted, would set out a mandatory death sentence for apostasy. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and speak out about human rights violations in Iran.
Bill Rammell: Encouraging respect for fundamental human rights and political freedoms remains a key element of our Iran policy. We do not get involved in Irans internal political debates, as these are for Iranians themselves to resolve, but together with the EU we continue to promote the internationally recognised principles to which so many Iranians aspire including freedom of speech and transparent, genuinely democratic and accountable government. Our work to assist the development of civil society around the world will continue in support of this goal. We have concerns that Irans electoral processes do not allow for truly competitive elections or democratic opposition, and have urged the Iranian Government to give their citizens a genuine democratic choice about their countrys future, and the opportunity to choose from the full range of candidates.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 July 2008, Official Report, column 1826W, on Iraq: asylum, what the average time taken has been to process an application under (a) the Gateway Protection Programme and (b) the Locally Employed Staff Assistance Scheme. 
Bill Rammell: The Locally Employed Staff assistance scheme offers staff a number of different forms of assistance depending on the circumstances of their employment, including the opportunity of resettlement in the UK, or financial assistance. The time it takes to grant this assistance varies according to the type of assistance sought. The length of time taken to grant each kind of assistance can also vary significantly between different cases: in many cases eligibility can be assessed very quickly, but sometimes we may require more information from applicants, or need to carry out checks to substantiate claims, particularly if those concerned left our employ some time ago.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications for financial assistance under the Locally Employed Staff Assistance scheme have been approved; how much financial assistance has been (a) authorised and (b) distributed in relation to these applications; how many of the applications for financial assistance included claims for dependants; what the total number of claims was for dependants; and what the total amount of extra financial assistance granted to those applicants was as a result. 
Bill Rammell: A total of 349 applications for financial assistance under the Locally Employed Staff Assistance Scheme have so far been approved. US $2,480,988 has been authorised in financial assistance packages of which US $2,418,552 has been paid.
23 applicants from former and current Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff and eight from former and current Department for International Development (DFID) staff have included dependants in their claims. Payments totalling US $86,360 have been made in respect of 79 dependants claimed by former and current FCO staff. Payments totalling US $29,850 have been made in respect of 19 dependants claimed by former and current DFID staff.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has approved payment of US $1,837,740 to a total of 318 former and current staff of which US $1,795,994 has been paid. The information on MOD dependant numbers and costs is not held centrally and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.
Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Israeli authorities over the detention and subsequent treatment of Mohammed Omer. 
Bill Rammell: We understand that the Israeli authorities carried out an investigation and concluded that there was no evidence to support Mr. Omers accusations, although they did confirm that Mr. Omer was hospitalised after fainting. We have not seen a copy of their report, but our embassy in Tel Aviv has written to the Israeli government to raise our concerns about this case and we await a reply.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support the Government are giving to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in its candidate status to join the European Union; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government strongly support Macedonia's aspirations to join the European Union. It was under the UK Presidency that the Republic of Macedonia was granted candidate status in December 2005. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff work closely with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and EU partners, including the EU Special Representative, to encourage Macedonia to move forward
towards EU membership by making the reforms needed to meet the Copenhagen political criteria and the conditions set out in the Stabilisation and Association Process.
The Government provide on-going financial support to a range of projects that seek to encourage progress in the priority areas set out in Macedonia's Accession Partnership, through our Strategic Programme Fund (Reuniting Europe). In 2008-09, this fund is channelling around £860,000 to projects that include work to: improve Macedonia's administrative, policy and strategic capacity for joining the EU; strengthen the parliament and its capacity to scrutinise legislation; help fight corruption; and improve the business environment and tackle unemployment.
Other Government funds are delivering around £640,000 of support in areas such as police reform that are very relevant to the EU integration process and help ensure continued stability. We look forward to Macedonia's continued progress and its membership of the EU when it is ready.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sri Lanka on its opposition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' proposal to establish a UN field presence in the country for monitoring and reporting; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, made clear to the UN Human Rights Council in March the UK's support for a stronger mandate and presence for the UN Human Rights Mission in Sri Lanka. My noble Friend reiterated the UK's concerns over the observance of human rights in Sri Lanka to President Rajapakse, his Ministers and senior officials during his visit to Sri Lanka this summer and urged them to strengthen human rights mechanisms.
Bill Rammell: The Government have not engaged in talks with the Taliban in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. However, the UK does support President Karzai and his Government in their efforts to reconcile all parties to Afghanistans democratic constitution and to bring disaffected Afghans into societys mainstream, providing they renounce violence and accept Afghanistans constitution. In Pakistan, the UK is working to support the Government of Pakistans multi-pronged strategy to tackle militancy in the tribal belt, including development, governance reform and security measures. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear during his visit to Pakistan in April this year, we support the Government of Pakistans plans to reconcile with people who are willing to participate in politics in a non-violent way. Such reconciliation should be designed to marginalise those who are using extremist means for ideological reasons.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the June 2008 Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear energy between the UK and the United Arab Emirates. 
David Miliband: We are happy to do so and have confirmed with the Abu Dhabi authorities that they are too, consistent with the United Arab Emirates Government's welcome commitment to maximising confidence and transparency in the development of their civil nuclear programme.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the occasions on which UK authorities have interviewed Wouter Basson with the permission of the South African authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: I am not aware of any occasions on which British officials have formally interviewed Wouter Basson. When the Government became aware of allegations that South Africa had an offensive Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) programme, UK experts visited South Africa to obtain a clearer assessment of the programmes which had been halted by the South African authorities in 1992. This included meetings at which Basson, as the senior scientist involved, was present.
Bill Rammell: Diplomatic reporting and other correspondence relating to the 1999-2002 trial of Wouter Basson in South Africa was routinely copied to a number of interested Government Departments at the time, including No. 10. As the trial concluded in 2002, my right hon. Friends the current Prime Minister, the current Foreign Secretary, and his predecessor (the Minister for Housing and Planning), have not received reports of the trial.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many acts of piracy off the coast of Yemen (a) were recorded in 2007 and (b) have been recorded to date in 2008; and what assistance the UK has given to the Government of Yemen to tackle such acts. 
David Miliband: There were 60 recorded incidents of piracy in this area during 2007, 48 of which were registered as attempts and 12 were actual boardings. Up until the end of September this year, there have been 75 recorded incidents, 36 of which were registered as attempts and 39 were actual boardings. The Government are assisting the Government of Yemen to develop its programmes to counter threats to the maritime border.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed the security situation in Yemen with his American counterpart; and what the outcome of those discussions was. 
David Miliband: My right hon. Friend, the then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), discussed the security situation with the American authorities in May 2008 during his last visit to Yemen.
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