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9 Sep 2009 : Column 1959W—continued


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the alleged broadcasting by Hamas of children's television programmes glorifying (a) terrorism and (b) attacks on the State of Israel; and if he will make a statement. [287518]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: While we do not monitor Hamas broadcasting, we are aware of reports of the use of inflammatory language against Israel in their programming. The UK continues to condemn any actions which incite hatred and violence.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of India on the resettlement of members of its Christian community in Orissa. [290914]

Chris Bryant: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed the resettlement of Christian communities with the Indian Government. However the Government welcome the Indian central government's efforts to protect communities, including their efforts to restore law and order and their offer of compensation and assistance to victims of communal violence including in Orissa.

The EU sent a fact finding mission to Orissa in December 2008, in which a member of our High Commission participated, and reported their concerns to the Indian Government. The question of minority rights in Orissa and other affected states following the violence in 2008 was raised at the last EU-India Human Rights Dialogue meeting in early 2009.

We will continue to monitor the situation and raise any concerns relating to the human rights of all minorities in India as appropriate.

Iran: China

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the government of the People's Republic of China to discuss policy towards Iran. [288496]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last met Foreign Minister Yang on 1 February 2009 to discuss Iran. They have spoken on the telephone on the subject a number of times, most recently on 15 July 2009. Senior officials are also in contact.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the killing of two UK citizens working as private security contractors in Iraq by another private security contractor; what restrictions there are upon the recruitment by private security companies of those with diagnosed mental illnesses; what plans the Government have to renew the effectiveness of such restrictions; what guidance his Department has issued to such contractors on their recruitment procedures; and if he will make a statement. [290840]

Chris Bryant: British consular staff continue to provide assistance to the British nationals involved following a recent incident in Iraq where one British national was killed. The Iraqi authorities are investigating and we remain in close contact with all parties concerned.

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The British nationals involved in the incident mentioned above were not working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). When private security companies are employed by the FCO in Iraq, our contracts make it very clear what our requirements are for security personnel, both in terms of their individual skills, qualifications and experience, and their health and fitness. The companies are required to ensure that their personnel are fit for the roles required of them. Our contractors are also required to ensure they comply with all appropriate UK health and safety and discrimination legislation. The FCO considers companies' resourcing and recruitment plans and procedures as part of its evaluation of their bids, at the point at which the contracts are competitively tendered. But we ultimately rely on the companies to ensure that these procedures are robustly and consistently applied under the contract, so as to ensure that the calibre of the contracted personnel is maintained. We naturally monitor the implementation of FCO contracts and raise any concerns with the companies concerned.

There is currently no legislation dealing specifically with the overseas operations of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) registered in or operating from the UK. Recruitment and vetting of personnel by private security companies is currently a matter for the companies concerned. However the Government launched a public consultation in April this year seeking to promote high standards of conduct by PMSCs internationally. Responses to this consultation are currently being analysed.

Iraq: Human Rights

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Iraqi Government on the deaths and injuries to protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention following the recent attack on Camp Ashraf by Iraqi forces; and if he will make a statement. [290777]

Chris Bryant: Our ambassador in Iraq has written to the Iraqi authorities to ask for a review into the recent events at the camp. Officials from our embassy in Baghdad are continuing to follow developments, and will shortly undertake a further visit to the camp.

Our view remains that the residents of Camp Ashraf are not entitled to 'protected persons' status as the Fourth Geneva Convention ceased to apply in Iraq after 28 June 2004, following the end of active hostilities and occupation.

Israel: Borders

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he (a) changed his Department's policy and (b) took other steps in response to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in relation to the wall in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. [288856]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK agrees with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) broad conclusions that building a barrier along the current route, on occupied land, is a clear violation of international law. The Government therefore supported UN General Assembly resolution
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(ES-10/15) that acknowledged the ICJ's advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the barrier in occupied Palestinian territory.

While we recognise fully Israel's right to self-defence and agree that if it decides to build a barrier it should be able to do that, we will continue to make clear to Israel, both in private in and in public, that the barrier must be built either on or behind the Green Line.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will issue an apology for the treatment by the British colonial authorities of Kenyan nationals during the 1950s Kenyan emergency; and if he will make a statement. [286847]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government are aware that the events surrounding the period of the Kenyan emergency give rise to strong feelings in Kenya. The emergency period remains a deeply divisive issue in Kenya and one which historians continue to debate. The road to independence in Kenya was marked with considerable suffering on all sides which is deeply regrettable.

It is important to have open debate about the past. The UK is prepared to contribute to this. Any debate should help address Kenya's current challenges, particularly the importance of reconciliation towards building a stable and prosperous nation.

Libya: Offical Visits

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what ministerial visits to Libya have taken place in the last two years; and what commercial matters were discussed during each such visit. [290819]

Chris Bryant: Two Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers visited Libya in 2008-09. My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Bill Rammell), the then Minister of State, visited Libya from 25-26 February 2009. He met with the Libyan Prime Minister, Dr al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, Energy Minister, Shurkri Ghanem, Europe Minister, Abdulatti Obidi and the then Head of the Libyan External Intelligence Service, Musa Kusa. During my hon. Friend's visit discussions focused on a range of issues including the stalled investigation into WPC Fletcher's murder, regional security matters, counter terrorism co-operation, the African Union (AU), consular matters, visa arrangements and commercial contracts currently under negotiation.

My noble Friend, the then Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, also visited Libya for the AU Summit in July 2009. He did not have any formally arranged meetings with members of the Libyan Government. However, Lord Malloch-Brown met briefly with Ali Treiki, the then Libyan Minister for Africa and the UN, and Musa Kusa, the Libyan Minister for Foreign Affairs while attending the opening ceremony of the summit. No commercial matters were discussed.

There have also been visits to Libya by Ministers from other Government departments: my noble Friend the Minister of State at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Lord Digby-Jones, in May 2008, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo), the Minister of State at the Department of Health, in November 2008, and
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my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), the Secretary of State at the Department of Health, in July 2009.

Lockerbie: Bombings

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government discussed the terms of the United Kingdom's Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya with the United States administration; and if he will make a statement. [290921]

Chris Bryant: The UK and US Governments remained in close contact throughout the negotiation of the UK-Libya Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) and its entry into force. All key ministerial correspondence relating to the negotiation of the PTA was published on 1 September 2009.

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the military build-up in southern Lebanon on the Middle East peace process; and if he will make a statement. [290888]

Chris Bryant: UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701 establishes an area in southern Lebanon free from armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The UK believes that UNSCR 1701 is the best way of achieving lasting stability in Lebanon. We are deeply concerned that Hizballah maintains a substantial military capacity. This is a destabilising factor for the whole region. We strongly condemn all violations of UNSCR 1701 and urge its full implementation. We fully support the work of UNIFIL and its continued role in Lebanon.

Morocco: Students

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further steps he plans to take in response to the decision by the government of Morocco to prevent Saharan students from attending a peace-building conference in Oxford in August 2009. [290916]

Chris Bryant: Following news of the events in Agadir, our Chargé d'Affairs in Rabat raised our concerns with the Secretaire Generale, head of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He stressed that it was particularly disappointing considering Morocco's otherwise good record of allowing attendance at these types of events. We made it clear the Government were extremely concerned by reports of the use of disproportionate force against the participants on their return home to Layounne. The Sécretaire Générale undertook to look into the matter.

We have continued to press for an answer and make our concerns known. This has included close co-ordination with the Swedish EU presidency in Morocco and local human rights non-governmental organisations over this matter. I can assure you that our officials in Rabat and London will continue to press the Moroccan authorities for further clarification of the allegations of mistreatment.

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Nuclear Weapons

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what means he has considered to achieving the abolition of nuclear weapons. [289142]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government are committed to a world free of nuclear weapons and are actively working towards achieving this goal. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out his vision in 'The Road to 2010 - Addressing the Nuclear Question in the Twenty First Century' earlier this month. In this he outlined a three stage process to enable progress towards this goal. This involves:

We remain fully committed to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty as the best vehicle for achieving this goal.

Pakistan: Armed Conflict

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Pakistani authorities on behalf of (a) those attacked at Bahmari Wala, Kasur and (b) other Christians subject to attacks. [288223]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are concerned about reports that members of the Christian community in Bahmari Wala, Pakistan have been attacked. The UK supports freedom of religion and condemns persecution because of faith or beliefs. Incidents such as the attack in Bahmari Wala are an example of the discrimination and violent extremism faced by religious minorities in Pakistan.

We regularly raise our concerns with the government of Pakistan about the situation of religious minorities, both with our EU partners and bilaterally in London and through our High Commission in Islamabad, and will continue to do so. The most recent EU demarche called upon the government of Pakistan to promote tolerance, to effectively protect freedom of belief and freedom of expression and to reform discriminatory legislation in particular blasphemy laws.

With regard to the latest incident officials from the High Commission in Islamabad are monitoring developments closely. We note that a compensation package has been announced for those affected by the attack.

Pakistan: Free Trade

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent consideration he has given to the introduction of a free trade agreement between Pakistan and the EU; and if he will make a statement. [284648]

Mr. McFadden: I have been asked to reply.

We are keen to see the EU improve economic links with Pakistan. One option would be for the EU and Pakistan to negotiate a free trade agreement. At the
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recent EU-Pakistan summit, a package of trade measures was agreed which included enhancement of the EU-Pakistan trade dialogue; a commitment for the EU to remove trade obstacles and provide technical assistance; an agreement to review EU-Pakistan co-operation on capacity building; and a commitment to re-examine the GSP+ preferential scheme with a view to possible inclusion of Pakistan.

These trade measures should help improve economic ties between the EU and Pakistan, and help build the necessary capacity and infrastructure to help Pakistan towards an EU-Pakistan free trade agreement in the longer term.

Palestinians: Israel

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent consideration he has given to his Department's performance on meeting its obligations in respect of the non-recognition of illegal acts under international law, with particular reference to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. [287164]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government take their international and domestic law obligations very seriously. We will continue to make clear to the Israeli Government that all settlement activity is illegal and is a violation of international law. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did so during his meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on 6 July 2009 and also in a conversation with his counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on 1 July 2009.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Palestinian Authority on recognition of the State of Israel as a Jewish state; what response was received; and if he will make a statement. [287520]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We welcome the fact that the Palestinian Authority recognises the state of Israel and is prepared to negotiate a peace deal with it.

The nature of the state of Israel, and the role that religion plays, is a matter for Israelis, although we would expect Israel to respect the rights of minorities as undertaken in Israel's declaration of independence and basic laws. We welcome the fact that the Israeli Government have not said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state should be a precondition for entering negotiations with the Palestinians.

The UK's position is clear that a comprehensive peace should be based on two states, living side by side within secure and agreed borders based on those of 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital for both states. Such a solution is the only way to do justice to the national aspirations of the Jewish people and of the Palestinians.

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