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Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has written to Prime Minister Thaçi warmly congratulating him on the first anniversary of Kosovos independence, and has made a statement to the press.
In its first year, Kosovos leaders have made significant progress in demonstrating their commitment to implementing Ahtisaaris Comprehensive Settlement Proposal. Since the largely peaceful transition to independence last February, a new constitution has been brought into force, important legislation has been created to protect communities within Kosovo, the EUs Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), has deployed
across Kosovo and the Kosovo security force has been created. Throughout this, Kosovos Government have tackled obstacles and worked constructively with international partners.
Prime Minister Thaçi has announced the Kosovo Governments priorities for 2009: creating opportunities for capital investment and jobs, modernising Kosovos infrastructure, improving education and the health service and creating a cleaner environment. These are key goals, and there is other important work to do too: improving outreach to communities, for which a successful outcome of the programme to devolve competences to representative local government is important, and working together with EULEX to tackle rule of law issues.
Gillian Merron: The amount spent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on legal fees in respect of counsel and solicitors in private practice by way of disbursements via the Treasury Solicitor (the bulk of our external legal costs) in each of the past five years is as follows:
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports the Government has received on war crimes allegedly committed by Hamas during Operation Cast Lead; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of civilians who were allegedly (a) killed and (b) injured (i) in booby-trapped houses and (ii) by bombs placed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip during the recent hostilities; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (as at 5 February 2009) between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 1,440 Palestinians were killed during the recent conflict in Gaza, of whom 431 were children and 114 were women.
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 shells fired at Israel since 18 January 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the presence in the Gaza Strip of Iranian-made weapons; what assessment he has made of such reports; and what assessment he has made of the extent of the (a) cognisance of and (b) involvement in such activity by the Iranian Government. 
However, we have long had serious concerns about the support that Iran provides in the form of funding, training and arms supplies to groups which are undermining peace in the Middle East through violence, including Hamas. Such support is unacceptable and only serves to undermine regional security. We hope that Iran will instead give political and diplomatic support to the Palestinian Authority in its attempts to build institutions and improve security.
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of the references to Jewish people in the Hamas Charter in relation to the political situation in Gaza. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 10 February 2009]: We have made no recent assessment of the Hamas Charter. We have long been clear that there are significant aspects of the Hamas Charter, its policy and its action which we completely deplore.
The Government condemn all acts of racism, anti-Semitism and religious intolerance. We are fully committed to tackling these manifestations of hatred. That is why we extended the scope of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to cover religiously as well as racially aggravated offences.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the grade and salary range was of each member of his Departments staff seconded to support the Quartet Middle East Envoy in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008; how many such staff at each grade and salary range will be so seconded in 2009; how much his Department spent on such staff in (i) 2007 and (ii) 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has seconded: one higher executive officer equivalent (salary range £23,157 to £31,495); one Grade 7 equivalent (salary range £38,852 to £53,783); and one senior civil servant (salary range £57,300 to £116,000) to work in Tony Blairs office between 2007-08. This is not set to change in 2009. The FCO is funding their salaries.
A locally engaged secondee to the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem from October 2007 to August 2008 was also funded through the Conflict Prevention Pool at a cost of £30,874. The Department for International Development also funds a secondee to provide expert governance analysis.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to promote the inclusion of women in conflict resolution and peace building in Israel and Palestine as provided for under UN Security Council Resolution 1325; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: In both international organisations and at local levels, the UK remains a leading supporter of women's roles in delivering sustainable peace and security. We led the call for the adoption of both UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the follow on resolution UNSCR 1820 and continue to support the inclusion of language that reaffirms the importance of UNSCR 1325 in UN peacekeeping mandates.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Pakistan on the death of Major General Amir Faisal Alavi (Retd); and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has received a letter dated 23 January 2009 from a member of Major General Alavis family, asking the FCO to register an interest in this case with the Pakistani authorities. We are seeking further information and will follow up on that basis.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what safeguards are in place to ensure that financial aid provided by the Government to Gaza is not used by Hamas (a) to procure weapons and (b) for any other military purpose. 
It is vital that aid reaches the people in Gaza who need it and we take any diversion of aid very seriously. There are well developed international mechanisms for the delivery of aid in Gaza, principally through the UN Relief and Works Agency and the World Food Programme. The UK ensures, when deciding which humanitarian agencies to fund, that robust monitoring
and evaluation frameworks are in place and that the organisations have experience of operating in Gaza to minimise any misappropriation of aid.
Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Governments policy is on the sovereignty of the three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 25 November 2008, Official Report, columns 1208-09W, on redundancy, what estimate he has made of the annual payroll savings resulting from staff exit schemes in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07, (c) 2007-08 and (d) 2008-09, excluding the cost of severance packages; and what estimate he has made of such savings to be accrued by his Department in (i) 2009-10 and (ii) 2010-11. 
Gillian Merron [holding answer 5 February 2009]: The annual payroll savings resulting from departures under staff exit schemes in 2007-08 were £5.7 million and in 2008-09 £3.5 million. Complete records are not held centrally for 2005-06 or 2006-07 and to obtain them would incur disproportionate cost.
The figures given for severance commitments in my answer of 25 November 2008 represented the total cost to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (to be paid out over periods of up to 10 years following the departure date) of all the severance packages agreed each year.
Reliable estimates of the balance between cost and savings of these departures would require calculating the annual payments and foregone salary up to age 60 for each member of staff who left under the schemes between 2005 and 2009. This would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the security situation in the Somali capital in the light of reports that Islamist forces have entered the city. 
Although still fragile, security in the Somali capital appears to have improved since Ethiopia withdrew its troops and some displaced people are returning to the city. Some of the forces now in Mogadishu
have been described as Islamist, but only a small number are extremist anti-Government fighters, some of whom are known as the Shabaab.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received from the South African Government on proposed visa requirements for South African citizens visiting the UK. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has received no representations from the South African Government on the proposed visa requirements for South African citizens visiting the UK. In response to the decision to impose a visa regime on South Africa, the South African Government have noted their respect for the UKs sovereign right to make this decision and its commitment to continued co-operation on migration issues of mutual concern.
Caroline Flint: The following figures are official figures obtained from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics for the number of British nationals registered with their local council. A large number of British residents, both full-time and part-time, do not register with either their local consulate or with the Spanish authorities. However, we estimate that there are currently in the region of one million British nationals living in Spain for all or part of the year.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) meetings and (b) other contacts he has had with representatives of the Sri Lankan Government in 2009. 
Bill Rammell: On 30 January 2009, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary telephoned President Rajapakse to discuss the current situation in Sri Lanka and to reiterate his call for a humanitarian ceasefire. Officials from our High Commission hold regular talks with the Sri Lankan Government.
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