Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of allegations that (a) the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and (b) the Rashtriya Swayamsesak Sangh are linked to the campaign of violence against Christians in Orissa; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Government are aware of reports that individuals from these organisations were involved in the recent violence in Orissa State. We are not in a position to verify this credibility. It is for the government of India and the relevant state authorities to investigate any such links and take appropriate action.
Bill Rammell: Since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been in touch with Indian Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee. He has expressed the UK's full support to the Indian government in its efforts to investigate the attacks and bring to justice those responsible.
Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will urge the Iraqi government to conduct an investigation into the alleged involvement of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the recent assassinations of Christians in Mosul, and to publish all that investigations findings. 
Bill Rammell: The Iraqi government has established a high level investigatory committee to look into the violence in Mosul. We will discuss the findings with the Iraqi authorities when the report is completed.
Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will urge the Iraqi government to support the rights of Iraqs minorities by reinstating Article 50 in the new provincial elections law. 
Bill Rammell: On 8 November 2008, Iraqs Presidency Council ratified an amendment that reinstated Article 50 in the new provincial elections law. The amendment provides guaranteed seats on provincial councils for Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks and Mandeans in Ninewa, Baghdad and Basra provinces in the forthcoming elections.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions the UKs intelligence agencies have sought assurances from their Israeli counterparts on their humane treatment of detainees in the last five years. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the Pakistan government on the suspected death of Mr Rashid Rauf following a US air strike on the village of Ali Khel on 22 November 2008. 
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of staff employed by the Russian Service of the BBC World Service were previously employed in media posts in the former USSR. 
Caroline Flint: All staff employed by the BBC, regardless of country of origin or background, have to meet robust selection criteria, and once working for the BBC must adhere to strict editorial policies and guidelines. The BBC does not keep specific information about their previous employment.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the reductions to the British Council's regional network in Russia are, as referred to on page 28 of his Department's Autumn 2008 Performance Report. 
David Miliband: The reductions to the British Council's regional network referred to on page 28 of the Autumn Performance Report referred to the planned closures of the following British Council regional centres:
In addition to this strategic reduction, the British Council suspended its operations in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg in 2008. The British Council now has a single office in Moscow, without walk-in public access. The resources from its former library and information centre in Moscow were handed over to the State Library of Foreign Literature and have been made available to the public.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of people arrested and detained in Northern Sri Lanka in connection with the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam since January 2008. 
Bill Rammell: It is extremely difficult to obtain accurate, independent information about events in northern Sri Lanka where the armed forces are engaged in active military hostilities with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and so we have no credible information on which to base an estimate. We nevertheless continue to be seriously concerned about human rights across Sri Lanka, including reports of incidents of the targeting and mistreatment of civilians, intimidation of the media, abductions and disappearances, arrests and detentions and the internal displacement of the population by conflict.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government has made a recent proposal to the Secretary General of the UN regarding the rotation of the countries holding a veto in the UN Security Council. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the UK last used its veto in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) (a) alone and (b) with one or more other members of the UNSC doing so at the same time separately or collectively, with other members of the UNSC. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times the UK has used its veto in the UN Security Council (UNSC) (a) alone and (b) with one or more other members of the UNSC doing so at the same time in the last 20 years. 
Bill Rammell: The UK has used its veto in the UN Security Council 30 times. It has used its veto alone five times. On the remaining 25 occasions, it used its veto at the same time as other members of the P5.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Zimbabwe, with reference to the recent riots and protests by the Zimbabwean Army; and if he will make a statement. 
There have been outbreaks of violence by soldiers not being able to access their pay after banks appeared to run out of cash. This is a further illustration of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe caused by
the misrule of Mugabes government. Restrictions on public meetings and marches persist. Abductions of individuals belonging to the MDC and others defending human rights continue to demonstrate that Mugabe has no intention of reform and genuine power sharing. The EU has unanimously condemned the current health crisis as being a consequence of Mugabes misrule and has agreed to extend targeted measures against his clique. We are providing humanitarian support for those effected by disease and hunger. We will continue to work with the wider international community who are increasingly vocal in their calls for change in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on future action on Zimbabwe by the UN Security Council; what steps are next envisaged; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: We are pursuing all available options to encourage a resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe, including further UN Security Council discussions. We will continue to ensure that Zimbabwe remains on the Council's agenda, and that it continues to press for an urgent end to the crisis. The Security Council discussed Zimbabwe on 15 December and we will press for further discussion in the coming months. Pressure from African leaders will also help to secure a change for Zimbabwe.