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Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on the marking of (a) Christmas, (b) Easter and (c) other religious festivals in British Embassies and High Commissions overseas; and if he will place in the Library a copy of such guidance. 
Gillian Merron [holding answer 14 May 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognises the significant contribution played by different faiths, both home and abroad, to the fabric of UK society. We currently have no central guidance on this matter as we leave this to the discretion of our Heads of Mission overseas. However, I have asked officials to review whether formal guidance is necessary.
Caroline Flint: The UK contribution to Operation Atalanta includes the operation commander and the operation headquarters at Northwood. The Royal Navy also provided HMS Northumberland for the first phase of the operation but she has since moved onto other duties. While not formally part of the mission, tanker support has been provided, on an occasional basis, through RFA Wave Knight.
Greece, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK have provided a combination of assets and manpower to Operation Atalanta. Specific details of which can be found on the EU operation headquarters website:
The UK is also providing a liaison officer embedded in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a naval coalition conducting counter terrorism, counter narcotics,
counter smuggling and counter piracy operations. The Royal Navy also contributes a frigate, currently HMS Portland to Combined Maritime Forces. EU and CMF operations work together highly effectively in pursuing common objectives.
Caroline Flint [holding answer 18 May 2009]: In December 2005 the European Council agreed for an EU budget review to take place by the end of 2009. We look forward to discussing the Commission's white paper with member states.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has made to the Government of the Gambia on (a) the case of David and Fiona Fulton and (b) new charges brought against David and Fiona Fulton. 
Gillian Merron: We have registered our interest in the Fulton case with the Gambian authorities and made representations where appropriate on behalf of Mr. Fulton. Mr. Fulton has not asked us to make representations with regard to the latest charges brought against him. Mrs Fulton does not face new charges.
They discussed the success of the recent democratic elections in Ghana and the positive example this has set in the region, the continued work between both Governments on promoting stability in West Africa and the need for an equitable solution to the challenge of climate change. The discussion also touched upon the rich variety of educational and cultural links between the UK and Ghana.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the probable outcome of the general election in India; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Indian election result was announced on 16 May 2009. It was expected that no one party would have a sufficient majority to form the new Indian Government. The relevant political parties will now consult to form the next coalition. The UK enjoys constructive relations with India and we look forward to working with the new Indian Government.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Iranian authorities on the detention without charge of Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh in Evin Prison in Iran. 
Bill Rammell: We have received worrying reports that Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh are being held in Evin prison following their arrest by Iranian security officers on 5 March 2009. The women are known be practicing Christians. Reports suggest that neither have been charged with any crime defined under Iranian or international legislation, nor have they been permitted access to lawyers. The UK has genuine concerns for their safety and well-being, which are heightened by the fact that the Iranian Parliament is currently debating a draft Bill which could codify life imprisonment for female apostates.
We have made clear to the Iranian authorities on many occasions that we believe persecution of individuals on the grounds of their ethnicity or religious beliefs is unacceptable, and will continue to do so through the EU and bilaterally. We will continue to press the Iranian authorities to take seriously their international human rights obligations and uphold the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Iran is a state party).
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the Government of Iraq on (a) the return of monies held in escrow under the UN oil-for-food programme and not yet received and (b) the disbursement of international commitments for development aid; what estimate he has made of the sums due to the Iraqi Government in each case; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Government have not received any specific representations from the Government of Iraq (GoI) on the oil-for-food programme. However, the GoI has asked us to help it resolve outstanding UN resolutions relating to Iraq. We support the review of those UN Security Council Resolutions that are still in effect as part of the process to help Iraq normalise its relationship with the international community.
We will continue to work with other members of the UN Security Council to resolve outstanding issues on the oil-for-food programme so that it can be concluded with the mutual agreement of all parties, including the Iraqi Government.
We have not received any representations from the GoI on the disbursement of international development commitments. Any outstanding commitments from the international community regarding the disbursement of development funds are a matter for the GoI to address direct with donors.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) the government of Malta and (b) the EU on illegal migration to Malta from the African coast; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last met Foreign Minster Dr. Tonio Borg on 20 November 2008. During this meeting migration was discussed, and Dr. Borg mentioned co-operation with Italy on illegal migration.
Illegal migration was also raised by Malta and Italy at the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on 27 April 2009, where Ministers noted the challenges that migration across the Mediterranean poses for all member states.
In addition, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary attends the Justice and Home Affairs Council, where illegal transit migration routes from Africa through the Mediterranean are regularly discussed.
We remain concerned that there has been little progress towards the restoration of democracy, despite increasing international pressure. We, in line with international partners like the EU, US, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the African Union, maintain working level contact with Mauritanian officials.
The UK continues to call for the immediate, unconditional, and safe release of Gilad Shalit, in public and in private. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this most recently in his statement to the UN
Security Council on 11 May 2009. The case of Corporal Shalit was also discussed during an EU Foreign Ministers meeting in March 2009.
Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what recent representations (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have made to the Palestinian Authority on Israeli soldier Corporal Shalit. 
Bill Rammell: The UK continues to call for the immediate, unconditional, and safe release of Gilad Shalit, in public and in private. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this most recently in his statement to the UN Security Council on 11 May 2009. We have also shown our support to Corporal Shalits family by meeting his parents on several occasions.
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will investigate reports of the torture and solitary confinement of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza, detained at Ayat-Melol prison. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether representatives from his Department plan to attend the international conference on piracy in Malaysia in May 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: We have not received any specific reports of serious anti-Semitic incidents having taken place recently in Spain although we are aware of surveys which have suggested a rise in unfavourable views of Jews.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are for further UN Security Council action in response to the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been in regular contact with his counterparts in the UN Security Council on the situation in Sri Lanka. Most recently he held talks at the UN on 11 May 2009 with the UN Secretary General, other UN Security Council members and non-governmental organisations. The UK again raised Sri Lanka at the UN Security Council on 13 May 2009, under Other Matters, and UN Security Council members released a statement urging the Government of Sri Lanka to extend full co-operation to the UN in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis.
We welcome the continued engagement by the UN, sometimes in the face of opposition from others, and we will continue to look for further opportunities to keep the UN focused on the situation in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his UN Security Council counterparts on the $1.9 billion IMF emergency loan package for Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly discusses the situation in Sri Lanka with his counterparts in the UN Security Council, most recently on 11 May 2009. However, the International Monetary Fund has not yet presented a programme for Sri Lanka and the UK has not been asked to vote on a programme yet. Once a programme is presented, it will be assessed on its merits and the situation on the ground in Sri Lanka at the time to decide whether it will help the people of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress has been made in talks between his Department and representatives of (a) Spain and (b) Gibraltar on territorial waters; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: There have been no recent talks between the UK and either Spain or Gibraltar on the sovereignty of territorial waters. The Government are fully confident of its sovereignty over British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) and continues to make this clear to Spain whenever appropriate.
However, the UK has made written and oral representations to Spain regarding European Commission Decision 2009/95/EC. Under the decision, Spain has put forward a site of community importance under the Habitats Directive which encompasses BGTW, including an existing site designated by the UK under the same directive. As the UK is the only member state competent to propose a site covering BGTW, we do not recognise the validity of the adopted site. The UK is deeply concerned that Spain should seek to designate an area of BGTW and that this designation should have been approved.
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