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Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to encourage staff working at Hanslope Park to (a) use public transport and (b) car share to minimise congestion on roads around the site during rush hour. 
Chris Bryant: There is currently no viable option for staff wishing to commute to Hanslope Park by public transport. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) operate a car share scheme at Hanslope Park and at last count in April 2008, 19.2 per cent. of staff commuted in a shared vehicle.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the process by which the proposed President of the European Council and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy were selected. 
Chris Bryant: The elected leaders of the 27 member states of the EU came together in the European Council and decided unanimously to appoint Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Council, and Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland as High Representative.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken with the Government of India to assist in the protection of Christians in Orissa. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
The Government have not provided assistance to the Government of India for the protection
of Christians in Orissa. The Department for International Development is providing £10 million for community development in Orissa through the Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme from 2004-10. The programme has helped to increase incomes, reduce malnutrition and improve water and sanitation for over 375,000 tribal men and women in four districts of Orissa, including Kandhamal.
Our high commission in New Delhi is also supporting a pilot project to improve access to justice in Kandhamal by improving awareness of citizens' rights and the capacity of lawyers to effectively pursue cases for victims of the communal violence in 2008.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made any recent representations to the Iranian authorities on the continued use of the death penalty in that country. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK has ongoing concerns about the number of executions in Iran and in particular its use against juvenile offenders. We are committed to speaking out publicly against the death penalty and frequently make representations on behalf of individuals at risk of execution.
We have done so on over twenty occasions in 2009. In October, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary condemned the execution of Behnood Shojaee for a crime he committed at the age of 17, and expressed grave concern for Safar Angoti, a juvenile facing imminent execution. Most recently, on 20 November 2009, the Swedish Government, as president of the EU, summoned the Iranian ambassador in Stockholm to condemn a spate of executions, including that of Kurdish activist Ehsan Fattahian. They expressed concern that a high number of Kurds faced a similar fate and called for clemency.
The presidency also expressed concern that at least five persons have been sentenced to death as a result of mass trials following the disputed election result. We are concerned that the accused had not been given the right to fair trial in accordance with standards laid down in international law.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment has been made of Iranian compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions banning the export of arms from Iran; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The UK takes allegations of violations of UN Security Council Resolutions very seriously. We are aware that the Iran Sanctions Committee is currently investigating recent incidents with the member states concerned. The Committee will provide a report on its activities in its annual report, which will be published in December 2009. The Government fully support the Committee pursuing this matter thoroughly and urgently.
David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Iran on the treatment of members of the Baha'i faith in that country. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Alongside our EU partners we have expressed concerns about the treatment of the Baha'i community in Iran to the Iranian Government on several occasions. The EU Presidency summoned the Iranian Ambassador on 10 July 2009, and expressed deep concern about the overall situation of the Baha'is in Iran, especially the charges "espionage" and "corruption on earth" against the seven Baha'i leaders imprisoned for over a year without trial.
Most recently, on 20 November 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution on human rights in Iran for the seventh consecutive year. The Resolution condemns "attacks on Baha'is and their faith in State-sponsored media, increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify, monitor and arbitrarily detain Baha'is, preventing members of the Baha'i faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically".
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK has serious concerns about wide ranging restrictions on press and media in Iran. Since the elections in June repressive measures have been reinforced and pressure on journalists has increased. Restrictions on both domestic and foreign media remain at an even higher level than before the elections.
Alongside EU partners we have made it clear to the Iranian authorities that these restrictions are unacceptable. In June, EU Ministers condemned interference with the media, including the unjustified detention of journalists and the expulsion of foreign correspondents. In a meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister in Tehran on 26 August, the EU made clear that the ongoing media restrictions were unacceptable. In a declaration of 23 October, the EU, with strong UK support, deplored the ongoing violations of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in connection with the events following the elections.
We have also supported action at the UN. On 20 November, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran for the seventh consecutive year. This resolution, co-sponsored by the EU
"expresses deep concern at ongoing, systemic and serious restrictions of...freedom of opinion and expression, including those imposed on the media, Internet users and trade unions."
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been spent on each project funded under the Strategic Programme Fund in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in each of the last five years. 
|Afghan Counter Narcotics||Counter Terrorism and Radicalisation||Engaging with the Islamic World||Total||Counter Terrorism and Radicalisation|
The Afghan Counter Narcotics programme has by far the lion's share of SPF expenditure in Afghanistan. Projects are directed towards the Afghan National Drugs Control Strategy which has eight pillars of activity: raising public awareness; promoting international and regional co-operation; promoting alternative livelihoods; reducing demand for drugs; law enforcement; establishing an effective criminal justice system; targeted eradication of opium; building effective Afghan Government institutions.
Projects under the Counter Terrorism and Engaging with the Islamic World programmes have focused on developing police and security capabilities, including the design and build of good governance structures in Afghanistan and Iraq. The work is closely aligned with our counter-terrorism objectives as set out in the Government's counter-terrorism strategy, Contest.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on changes in the levels of trading and economic activity on the West Bank following the removal by Israel of checkpoints and security barriers. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: There has not yet been a detailed assessment of the impact of the removal of some obstacles in the West Bank on levels of trading and economic activity, because the changes occurred too recently to have gathered comprehensive data. However, there is clear anecdotal evidence that the new permissive regime which allows Israeli Arabs to enter and shop in Palestinian areas (Area A in the West Bank) is boosting trade and service industries in these areas. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that Palestinians now have access to most places in the West Bank, although delays continue to be economically costly. There continue to be problems and delays for Palestinian businesses in the West Bank that wish to import or export goods; but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the volume of exports from the West Bank may have increased as a result of the extended commercial opening hours of the Allenby crossing.
Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Italian government on the pay levels of British academics working in Italian universities. 
Chris Bryant: In its judgments of June 2001 and July 2006, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found that the Italian Government was in breach of European law, because a 1995 law had discriminated against non-Italian nationals in determining the rights and benefits of foreign-language assistants in universities, who were redesignated as "linguistic experts" under the new law.
The Association of Foreign Lecturers in Italy has contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about this case. My officials advised them to raise their concerns over Italy's alleged non-compliance with the ECJ ruling with the European Commission, the body legally responsible for enforcing compliance with European law. Officials will meet the Association on 8 December 2009 to discuss the outcome of the latter's consultations with the Commission.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the number of Hezbollah (a) troops, (b) rockets and (c) training camps in southern Lebanon. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The latest UN report on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701 highlighted that Hezbollah continues to maintain a substantial military capacity distinct from that of the Lebanese State, in direct contravention of UNSCRs 1559 and 1701. It also makes clear that Hezbollah have not challenged allegations regarding its armament and increased military capability. All these reports are available on the UN website at:
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterpart in the (a) EU, (b) US and (c) Russian Federation on the proposal for a Palestinian state made by the Palestinian Prime Minister. 
Making progress on these issues is essential for the creation of a future Palestinian State. The UK therefore discusses them regularly with key partners: EU Foreign Ministers most recently pledged their support for the proposal at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 17 November 2009; my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular conversations on the Middle East Peace Process with US Special Envoy to the Middle East, Senator George Mitchell; and on 2 November 2009, the Foreign Secretary released a joint statement with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov where we urged:
"the Palestinian National Authority to continue in its efforts to strengthen security and the rule of law, building on achievements reached so far".
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions with the Russian Federation government about the imprisonment and trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. 
Chris Bryant: We regularly raise our concerns regarding the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, bilaterally and through the EU. The issue was last raised by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on 2 November 2009 during the Foreign Secretary's visit to Moscow.
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