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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what specific reinforcements have been made by the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has not been reinforced externally. The mission has re-deployed existing resources within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to tackle the current crisis in North Kivu. These include the redeployment of an additional battalion and two additional attack helicopters. MONUC has increased its overall troop strength in Goma from 850 to 1,500. The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and MONUC are examining further potential reinforcements from other areas of operations within the DRC. The UK supports this reorganisation of MONUCs resources and we will work through the UN Security Council to ensure the missions resources are deployed as effectively as possible.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the length of time needed to identify and deploy additional resources for the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The UN Secretary General wrote to Security Council member states on 31 October and will further report to the Security Council with recommendations on the additional resources required by the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) in mid November. These resource requests are not in immediate response to the current crisis. The Security Council will examine these recommendations and make a decision on the resources needed by MONUC. Should additional resources be approved, it will be the responsibility of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to ensure they are quickly identified and deployed. The length of time that would be needed for this would be subject to the availability of peacekeeping resources, and the willingness of troop and police-contributing countries to make commitments to the mission.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people aged over (a) 55 and (b) 60 years were recruited by his Department in 2007-08; and what percentage in each case this was of the number of new recruits. 
Gillian Merron: The following figures indicate how many people aged over 55 and 60 years were recruited by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2007-08 and what percentage in each case this was of the number of new recruits.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which companies were used by his Department for providing temporary staff in each of the last five years; and what the value of contracts with each such company was in each of those years. 
Gillian Merron: In hiring temporary staff, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) directorates may choose employment agencies from a list of companies provided by the FCO's Human Resources Directorate. These are Eclipse, Manpower, Select and Kelly Services. However, directorates may choose another company if there are valid economic or other reasons for doing so.
The FCO does not maintain central records of the value of contracts between directorates and individual companies. These figures cannot be obtained without disproportionate cost. Figures for total expenditure on agency staff since 2003 are available and are as follows:
| Note: FCOS expenditure is included in all of the above figures.|
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants for whom he has responsibility represent the interests of (a) Wales, (b) Scotland and (c) Northern Ireland at the European Union; what the costs were of each office in which such staff were employed in the latest year for which figures are available, broken down by (i) staff, (ii) office rental and (iii) other costs. 
Gillian Merron: The civil servants who represent Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the EU are part of the devolved Administrations representation to the EU. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs does not have direct responsibility for any civil servants who represent Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office therefore does not hold information about the costs of the offices.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the Iranian judiciarys decision to abolish the death penalty for juvenile offenders, save for
those accused of murder; what recent representations he has made to the Iranian authorities on the subject; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: We received reports that, on 16 October, Irans Deputy Prosecutor-General for Judicial Affairs announced that a directive had been issued to all judicial officials stating that people convicted of crimes which took place when they were under the age of 18 would not be executed and would instead be given alternative sentences, regardless of their offence. However, on 18 October he clarified that this only applied to non-sharia crimes, and that sharia crimes such as murder were not included.
Despite its international human rights commitments, Iran remains the worlds number one executioner of children. While we welcome any small step towards the abolition of this abhorrent practice in the country, all six juveniles executed so far this year had been sentenced for sharia crimes, making the impact of the directive limited. Additionally, similar non-binding directives or declared moratoria by the Iranian judiciary have had limited impact and have not subsequently been adopted into law. International human rights organisations expressed concerns that the statement intended to deliberately mislead Iranian and international public opinion.
The UK Governments principled opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances is well known, and the execution of juvenile offenders is considered to be against all human rights standards. We will, therefore, continue to urge the Iranian Government to end the execution of juveniles once and for all in both law and practice. This year alone we, and the EU, have raised this subject and made representations in individual cases of juveniles facing execution at least twenty-two times in meetings with the Iranian authorities and through public statements. Senior Foreign Office officials did so most recently during the visit of Irans Deputy Foreign Minister in September.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports he has received on the number of Christians in Mosul who have fled as a result of attacks since September 2008; and if he will make a statement; 
Bill Rammell: The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration has reported that 1,424 Christian families have been displaced from Mosul since September 2008. There are recent media reports that a small number of these families are now returning to their homes following intervention by the Iraqi Security Forces. We have no authoritative figures on the number of churches which have been attacked.
We welcome the swift action taken by the Iraqi Government to ensure security in Mosul following the recent attacks by extremist groups against Christians and other minorities. We welcome too the condemnation of these attacks by Iraqs religious and political leaders. These cowardly acts underline, once again, how little the extremists have to offer the Iraqi people.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the countries that gave the UK Government information relating to the UK Government's claim in the September 2002 Dossier that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Africa complied with the request in UN Resolution 1441 to pass the same information to the International Atomic Energy Agency. 
Bill Rammell: In the case of the intelligence that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Africa, the Government asked the originators of the intelligence to discuss the issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and we understand that they did this.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of the post to which Jack McConnell has been appointed; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked Jack McConnell MSP to become his Special Representative for Conflict Resolution Mechanisms. Mr. McConnell will be based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), working with the FCO, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence. His travel and other out-of-pocket expenses will be able covered by the Departments concerned.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of draft amendments to Kazakhstan legislation relating to freedom of religion and belief under discussion in the Kazakhstan Senate; and if he will urge the government of Kazakhstan to implement the relevant recommendations of the OSCE Advisory Council of Experts on Freedom of Religion and Belief. 
Caroline Flint: We have made clear to the Kazakhstani authorities our concerns about the draft law, and our view that they should take on board the recommendations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) experts. In April, our ambassador called on Ardak Doszhan, Head of the Committee on Religious Affairs under the Ministry of Justice and raised our concerns about the law. In June, the French ambassador, in his capacity as EU presidency, demarched the Kazakhstani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These concerns are also reflected in the EU's statement at the OSCE Permanent Council on 23 October 2008, which called on the Senate to reconsider the draft legislation to ensure its consistency with Kazakhstan's OSCE commitments.
Separately, the UK is funding via Freedom House a group of Kazakhstani non-governmental organisations to monitor progress on the commitments made by Kazakhstan at the OSCE Ministerial in Madrid last year. This work includes legislative developments on freedom of conscience.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Ministers in his Department last met representatives of the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; and what was discussed. 
Caroline Flint: I met Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Ivica Bocevski, on 14 October. Our discussion focussed on Macedonias progress towards EU accession. I welcomed the progress outlined by Mr. Bocevski and encouraged Macedonia to continue in its reforms. I also welcomed Macedonias recent recognition of Kosovo, which represents a contribution to greater regional stability. Mr. Bocevski indicated Macedonias desire to make progress in the negotiations under the UN on the bilateral name issue with Greece. He also updated me on Macedonias efforts to tighten border management procedures and document security.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of support provided to Israeli settlers by (a) the Israeli government and (b) the Israeli military; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Israeli government and defence forces provide a wide range of financial and security assistance to settlers. We regard all settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as illegal under international law and settlement construction as a serious obstacle to peace. The Roadmap is clear that Israel should freeze all settlement construction including the natural growth of existing settlements, and dismantle all outposts built since 2001. We have repeatedly raised our concerns about settlement activity with the Israeli government at the highest level.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the United States' recent military action in Syria on the Middle East peace process. 
Bill Rammell: We are currently seeking full details of the incident on the Syria/Iraq border. It is the longstanding position of the British Government to regret any civilian casualties, no matter how they are caused. The incident is now an issue for discussion between the Syrian, Iraqi and US Governments.
The UK supports a comprehensive and just resolution to the middle east peace process. We strongly support the ongoing peace talks between Israel and Syria, mediated by Turkey, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian talks initiated at Annapolis in 2007. It is essential that these talks continue over the coming months. We will do all that we can to support them.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will take steps to discourage UK residents from purchasing properties inside illegal Israeli settlements; 
Bill Rammell: We do not hold figures on the number of houses in Israeli settlements owned by UK nationals. All settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal under international law and settlement construction is a serious obstacle to peace. Given that, we would certainly not want any UK nationals resident in Israel to purchase property inside one of those illegal settlements. We are looking at whether there are effective ways in which we can actively discourage them from so doing.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response the UK Government plan to make at the United Nations to the report of Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories on Israeli violations of Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights in the case of journalist Mohammed Omer. 
Bill Rammell: The report was first presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2008. The UK does not intend to respond unilaterally to this report. We will respond collectively with our EU partners when this report is discussed at the UN in New York later this year.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Saudi Arabian Government on use of the death penalty in that country since 2006. 
Bill Rammell: We continue to work with the Government of Saudi Arabia on reform issues and regularly raise our concerns at the highest level, including at ministerial level. Most recently, on 15 October our embassy in Riyadh urged the governmental Human Rights Commission to end the use of capital punishment, especially in the cases of minors. The Government also regularly act with other EU states to raise the issue of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Saudi Arabian Government seeking (a) a moratorium on executions and (b) an end to use of the death penalty against children in that country. 
Bill Rammell: We regularly raise our concerns about capital punishment with the Saudi Government. Most recently, on 15 October, our embassy in Riyadh urged the governmental Human Rights Commission to end the use of capital punishment, especially in the cases of minors. The Government also regularly act with other EU states to raise the issue of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia.
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