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15. Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had in the General Affairs Council on policy to improve EU energy security; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: The September General Affairs and External Relations Council reconfirmed security of energy supply as a priority and reviewed progress. The October European Council endorsed initiatives to diversify supplies, increase energy efficiency and improve functioning of EU energy markets. A new EU Energy Action Plan is planned for 2010.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK continues to call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings into Gaza more fully. The Prime Minister raised this directly with the Israeli Prime Minister on 15 October 2009; I did the same on 27 October 2009 with the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister. Securing better access to Gaza will remain a priority for the Government.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently discussed nuclear non-proliferation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in London on 11 October 2009. Mrs. Clinton said after that meeting that British leadership had been pivotal in the run up to the historic Security Council session chaired by President Barack Obama on 24 September 2009, which unanimously adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1887 and committed us to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: I regularly discuss nuclear non-proliferation with EU colleagues most recently with Guido Westerwelle, the new German Foreign Minister, last month. It is important that EU member states collectively and individually work to ensure the success of next year's Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly discuss nuclear non-proliferation with EU colleagues, most recently with Guido Westerwelle, the new German Foreign Minister, last month. It is important that EU member states collectively and individually work to ensure the success of next year's Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
23. Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his latest assessment is of the prospects for progress towards disarmament and non-proliferation at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010. 
There are clear indications that the mood is changing. The UN Security Council Summit and Resolution 1887 of 24 September 2009 showed the international community united in support of creating
the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons and for strengthening the non-proliferation framework. The Government will continue to work hard to re-energise international consensus to ensure a successful review conference next May.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Inclusive Government continue to make encouraging progress on economic reform. But we are disappointed by the slow pace of political reform, spasmodic violence and the continuation of human rights abuses. The recent Southern African Development Community summit in Mozambique confirmed regional commitment to pushing for further implementation of the Global Political Agreement. That is encouraging: but the proof will be in the delivery. We urge the Zimbabwean political parties to comply.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had a number of recent conversations with key Government of Pakistan counterparts on countering terrorism, notably with President Zardari in Kabul on 19 November 2009, and in a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Qureshi on 23 November 2009. We continue to discuss areas of mutual counter terrorism cooperation.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the merits of holding a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. 
Chris Bryant: The UK has a Parliament whose Members are elected to take decisions that affect the nation. There has to be a strong reason to have a referendum in the UK. There was no referendum on our entry into the then European Community in 1973: that decision was made by our democratically-elected Parliament.
22. Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of progress in the middle east peace process; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: This is a challenging time. People feel frustrated that negotiations have not yet been re-launched. But we must not give up hope. Negotiations are the only way to achieve a two-state solution. The US remains committed to this goal, and it has our full support. We want the recent Israeli announcement to become a step on the way to the resumption of meaningful negotiations.
I will meet St. Helena Councillor Gunnell on 7 and 9 December 2009 during the Overseas Territories Consultative Council meeting. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials remain in regular contact with St. Helena officials.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what account was taken of the UN International Law of the Sea in respect of his Department's proposal to establish a Chagos Archipelago Marine Protected Area. 
Chris Bryant: No decision has yet been taken on whether a Marine Protected Area will be established in the British Indian Ocean Territory. A decision will be taken following the public consultation which is currently underway. Any Marine Protected Area that may be established will be compliant with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what geographic limits have been set for the enforceable implementation of the proposed Chagos Archipelago Marine Protected Area. 
Chris Bryant: No decision has yet been taken on whether a Marine Protected Area will be established in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). A decision will be taken following the public consultation which is at present underway. The geographic extent of protection will depend on which, if any, of the options for the fisheries is decided upon.
The maximum limit of any Marine Protected Area in the BIOT would be within the 200 nautical miles radius of the Environmental Preservation and Protection Zone of the BIOT. This zone was established by formal Proclamation No. 1 of 17 September 2003 and issued by the Commissioner for BIOT. A copy of the Proclamation, together with copies of the relevant charts and co-ordinates was deposited with the UN on 12 March 2004 in accordance with Article 75, paragraph 2 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and can be viewed at the following link:
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will restart his Department's programme of human rights training and assistance for senior military personnel in Colombia. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: On 3 December my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on behalf of the UK. Before the UK can proceed with ratifying the Convention legislation is necessary to implement in UK law the Convention's prohibitions on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. On 19 November 2009 the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill was introduced in the House of Lords. This Bill would implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibitions. It is the Government's aim to ratify the Convention as soon as possible following the Act's entry into force.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many allegations his Department has received of ill-treatment of asylum seekers returned from the UK to the Democratic Republic of Congo in each of the last four years; and how many inquiries his Department has carried out into such allegations in each such year. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 30 November 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not record the number of allegations of ill-treatment of individuals who return to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The FCO and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) do not proactively monitor the treatment of individuals who return to the DRC, unless there are exceptional circumstances that warrant doing so. Where specific allegations are made that a returning asylum seeker has experienced ill-treatment, then these allegations are investigated jointly by the UKBA and the FCO.
The best way to avoid ill-treatment is to make sure that we do not return those who are at real risk. The DRC authorities' treatment of returning failed asylum seekers to the DRC has been covered as a discrete issue in numerous immigration appeal decisions over the past five years, all of which have held that returned failed asylum seekers are not at risk of persecution on account of having claimed asylum in the UK.
On 3 December 2008, the Court of Appeal upheld an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal finding that there is no evidence that failed asylum seekers who are returned from the UK to DRC face a risk of persecution on return. We remain satisfied that failed asylum seekers are at no greater risk of being singled out for questioning by the authorities than any other DRC national returning to the country after time spent away.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criminal offences have been (a) abolished and (b) created by primary legislation sponsored by his Department since 1 May 2008. 
The Geneva Conventions and UN Personnel (Protocols) Act 2009 (i) amends the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 to provide protection under the criminal law in respect of grave breaches of the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, involving the misuse of the new humanitarian emblem, the Red Crystal and (ii) amends the United Nations Personnel Act 1997 to provide that offences under that Act will also apply to attacks against UN workers involved in delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance, as required by the 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention in the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has one Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA), Professor David Clary FRS, appointed in August 2009. Professor Clary is supported by two civil servants, consisting of the Head of CSA Office and 50 per cent. of a shared Personal Assistant.
The joint FCO-Department for Business Innovation and Skills (DBIS) Science and Innovation Network (SIN) has approximately 90 full-time equivalent staff, including locally engaged staff, in 40 cities across 25 countries. Of these, 18 are UK civil servants.
SIN officers are scientifically literate staff based in FCO Posts, mainly in countries with the greatest science and innovation activities. They do not necessarily come from a science background. The UK management team for the SIN are based in the International Science and Innovation Unit at DBIS.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with his (a) German and (b) French counterpart on the appointment of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy before the appointment was made. 
Chris Bryant: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had regular contact with his French and German opposite numbers on a range of Lisbon treaty implementation issues, including on the appointment of the High Representative.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had on an (a) Hamas funding of minority parties in Eastern and Central Europe and (b) the potential for such parties to participate in coalition governments in EU member and partner states in the period to 2014. 
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