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12 Mar 2009 : Column 634W—continued

Sudan: Armed Conflict

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the deployment of Justice and Equality Movement forces in Southern Kordofan; and what recent assessment he has made of the capacity of the UN mission in Sudan to monitor such deployments. [260804]

Gillian Merron: Under the terms of its mandate, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is tasked with supporting the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement. To this end, UNMIS monitors any threat to security including movement of armed groups in the transitional areas, including South Kordofan. UNMIS has deployed a number of officers throughout the transitional areas, who report movements through the UN chain of command.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of levels of (a) government troops and (b) rebel movement forces in southern Darfur; what assessment he has made of the potential effects of changes in such levels on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; and if he will make a statement. [260820]

Gillian Merron: We are aware, through UN reporting, that numbers of Justice and Equality Movement forces have increased throughout Darfur in recent weeks. Darfur remains sovereign Sudanese territory and a Government of Sudan garrison is present throughout. We do not monitor either the level of Sudanese military deployment, or rebel force movement other than in the context of assessing the security threat to the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur and the general status of the various peace processes ongoing in the region.

Any increase in both Government of Sudan and rebel troop levels would be of concern as it could lead to increased levels of tension, which would hamper ongoing efforts to secure peace and stability in Sudan, particularly with regard to the comprehensive peace agreement.

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received any recent reports of the effect on oil prices of the recent attacks in southern Sudan by the Lord’s Resistance Army. [262796]

Gillian Merron: We have received no reports of the effect on oil prices of the recent attacks in southern Sudan by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Sudan: Chad

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the current state of relations between Sudan and Chad; and what discussions he has had with UN Security Council counterparts on the matter. [261922]


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Gillian Merron: We regularly receive reports from a wide variety of sources on the state of relations between Sudan and Chad. Despite the restoration of diplomatic ties on 9 November 2008, relations between the countries remain strained.

We regularly discuss this matter with UN Security Council counterparts, including during discussions of the Secretary General's sixty day reports on the African Union UN Mission in Darfur and the 90 day reports on the UN Mission in Chad.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur to reach its full mandated strength; and if he will make a statement. [260891]

Gillian Merron: As at 31 January 2009, the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was at a total strength of 18,309 troops, police and civilians, comprising 12,541 military personnel (64 per cent. of mandated strength in this area), 2,639 police (41 per cent. of mandated strength in this area), and 3,129 civilians (56 per cent. of mandated strength in this area). Further deployment will take place over the coming weeks and months. We continue to work closely with the UN and potential contributors, and call on all parties to facilitate the full and rapid deployment of UNAMID.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will assess the likely effects of recent decisions of the International Criminal Court in relation to Sudan on levels of co-operation between the government of Sudan and the UN Mission in Sudan; and if he will make a statement. [261735]

Gillian Merron: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 4 March 2009 urged all parties in Sudan to avoid escalation and to protect international personnel and humanitarian workers.

The statement is available at:

The government of Sudan have said they will continue to work with UN agencies and missions.

We are very concerned by the humanitarian implications of its decision to expel 13 international humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), many of whom work closely with the UN. We endorse the UN Secretary-General's call for the government of Sudan urgently to reconsider this decision. We are in close touch on this with the UN, NGOs and other partners.

Sudan: War Crimes

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he is making to the Government of Sudan consequent on the indictment of President Omar al-Bashir; and if he will make a statement. [262839]

Gillian Merron: We are gravely concerned by the humanitarian impact of Sudan's decision to expel 13 international non-governmental organisations following
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the International Criminal Court's announcement. UN humanitarian officials have said this will disrupt over 50 per cent. of the current humanitarian effort in Darfur.

On 5 March 2009 our ambassador in Khartoum urged the Government of Sudan to reconsider. The UN Secretary General, the US and the EU have done the same.

We are underlining the potential risks with the African Union, Arab League and others.

Trade Unions

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which trade unions are recognised in his Department. [262090]

Gillian Merron: The following three unions have agreed rights to represent employees in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and FCO Services:

United Arab Emirates: Sports

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the decision taken by the United Arab Emirates government to deny Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer a visa for the recent World Tennis Association tournament in Dubai. [261950]

Bill Rammell: We are aware of reports about the decision taken by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government to deny Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer a visa for the recent Women’s Tennis Association tournament in Dubai. However, this is an issue for the Governments of Israel and the UAE. We continue to oppose boycotts of Israel and strive for a lasting peace between the Arab world and Israel.

Venezuela: Politics and Government

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for the Government’s policy of the outcome of the recent referendum in Venezuela; and if he will make a statement. [262703]

Gillian Merron: The UK and Venezuela will continue to have a constructive bi-lateral relationship based on shared interests and objectives in areas such as trade, counter-narcotics, energy and consular assistance.

Western Sahara: Politics and Government

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 11 February 2009, Official Report, column 2009W, on Western Sahara, if he will make representations to the Moroccan Ambassador to the UK on Morocco’s continued occupation of Western Sahara when she takes up her post in London. [262792]


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Bill Rammell: The new Moroccan ambassador to the UK has now taken up her post in London. She has yet to meet with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials.

As with all parties to the ongoing dispute, we continue to encourage Morocco to enter into the UN-led negotiation process in a spirit of realism and compromise; and to work towards a mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as called for by the UN Security Council.

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 4 March 2009, Official Report, column 1598W, on Western Sahara: politics and government, what the Government’s policy is on the inclusion of independence as a referendum option under any agreement. [262832]

Bill Rammell: The Government continue to believe that progress towards a negotiated solution to the dispute in Western Sahara providing for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, is best achieved under the auspices of the UN. The Government also continue to believe any referendum on the future status of Western Sahara and the options it presents should be the result of the UN led negotiation process and agreed by all parties to the dispute.

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to answer Question 243945 tabled on 10 December 2008 on overseas posts. [258099]

David Miliband: The question was answered on 10 March 2009, Official Report, columns 217-20W.

Home Department

Departmental Responsibilities

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Ministerial (a) taskforces and (b) action groups she is a member of. [245941]

Jacqui Smith: I am a member of two ministerial taskforces and action groups: the Identity Cards Working Group and the Ministerial Action Group on Violence. However I attend many other meetings with Ministers and external stakeholders.

Drugs: Crime

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons her Department does not make an annual estimate of the levels of acquisitive crime associated with drug addiction; and if she will make a statement. [260063]

Mr. Alan Campbell: The Department does not produce annual estimates of drug-related acquisitive crime. Both drug use and offending are often covert activities and the relationship between them can be complex, consequently such estimates are subject to large uncertainties.


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The Department has published research that shows that drug users account for a large proportion of acquisitive crime, with recent survey data focusing on the extent of acquisitive crime that is class A drug-related. For example:

81 per cent. of arrestees who used heroin and/or crack cocaine (HC) on at least a weekly basis reported committing acquisitive crimes in the 12 months prior to arrest, in comparison to 30 per cent. of those arrestees who did not take HC weekly(1). Additionally, around two-fifths (39 per cent.) of drug treatment seekers reported committing an acquisitive crime in the four weeks prior to interview. This figure rose in the case of heroin and crack cocaine users, with 55 per cent. reporting that they committed an acquisitive crime in the four weeks before interview(2).

European Police Office

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much funding the UK is providing to Europol in 2008-09; and how many British (a) police officers and (b) civil servants are seconded to Europol. [262435]

Meg Hillier: The UK contribution to the funding of Europol in 2008-09 is EUR 9,421,740.

There are no police officers currently seconded to Europol; there is one civil servant seconded. However, figures from 2008 show that 11 United Kingdom police officers and other law enforcement officers are also working at Europol on fixed term appointments.

Immigration Controls: Educational Institutions

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much it cost to establish the accreditation system for educational institutions under Tier 4 of the immigration controls established in 2008; and what estimate she has made of the annual costs of administering the system. [261851]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 9 March 2009]: Since 2007 Ofsted has been paid a total of £50,000 by the UK Border Agency and the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills to help establish the accreditation system for Tier 4 of the Points Based System. Ofsted assesses the accreditation bodies seeking to become approved by the UK Border Agency and chairs the bi-monthly meetings of the Accreditation Standards and Consistency Group.

Discussions on the fees to be paid to Ofsted in the forthcoming year are currently ongoing.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provisions have been made under Tier 4 of the immigration controls established in 2008 for students in respect of whom tuition fees are paid in advance. [261852]


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Mr. Woolas [holding answer 9 March 2009]: The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 314) laid before the House on 9 March 2009, which will become effective on 31 March, includes the immigration rules for tier 4 of the points-based system. These will require that, in addition to having a valid visa letter from a licensed sponsor, a student will need to demonstrate that he or she meets the maintenance requirement of the rules in order to obtain sufficient points.

In order to obtain the points for the funds requirement under tier 4, a student will need to show that he has the full cost of the fees of the course (for first year only if the course is longer than 12 months), plus maintenance of £800 for each month of the course if studying in London, or £600 for each month of the course if studying outside London, up to a maximum of nine months.

If a student has already paid all or part of his fees in advance at the time of his application, he will need to provide verifiable evidence of this and will then need to demonstrate that he has sufficient money to cover the remainder of any fees and to maintain himself in the UK.

Passports: Fraud

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions for passport fraud there have been in the last six years. [262470]

Meg Hillier: The figures recorded by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) for the number of prosecutions known to have been made against individuals who have fraudulently applied for passports, and convictions secured as a result of those prosecutions in the last six years are given in the following table.

Prosecutions Convictions

2003

16

2004

54

April 2005-March 2006

22

12

April 2006-March 2007

75

55

April 2000-March 2008

12

9

April 2008-February 2009

17

5


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