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Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the blockade of Gaza on (a) the level of separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and East Jerusalem, (b) efforts to establish a two-state solution in the Middle East, (c) the security situation in (i) Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and (ii) the Middle East and (d) the likelihood of war in the region. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Gaza conflict and Israeli restrictions on Gaza have reversed earlier economic and social development gains. These restrictions do not only affect the every day lives of innocent civilians but also increase the challenges in achieving a comprehensive and just peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. We will continue to press the Israeli government to ease border restrictions in Gaza. We also call on them to reduce the barriers to the movement of people and goods between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to his comments on the BBC World at One programme on 30 December 2008, what assessment he has made of whether the objectives he has set for the Government's policy in respect of Hamas have been achieved; and what the benefit is of this policy. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We continue to believe that it is not productive to talk to Hamas. The military wing of Hamas is proscribed in the UK as a terrorist organisation: it fires rockets at Israeli civilians and puts ordinary Palestinians in harm's way. We believe that to talk to Hamas while it continues to use violence would simply undermine those Palestinians who are committed to peace.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on (a) UK nationals and (b) nationals of other European countries involved in shooting incidents at the Erez crossing in 2009. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are aware of two incidents that have involved the Israeli Defence Forces firing warning shots at EU nationals at the Erez crossing in 2009. One of these incidents involved an official from the British consulate-general in Jerusalem, and the other an official from another EU consulate-general in Jerusalem. There were no casualties in either incident. We have made our concerns clear to the Israeli authorities.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government constantly keep their policies under review. The UK continues to be gravely concerned regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and we urge the Israeli authorities to implement fully UN Security Council Resolution 1860 and reduce restrictions at the Gaza crossings. We also call on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay. These concerns were clearly highlighted in the 8 December EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reiterated to the Israeli Prime Minister on 14 October 2009 the urgent need to permit the flow of essential humanitarian aid and reconstruction material into Gaza.
Chris Bryant: [holding answer 15 December 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be supporting certain international aspects of the Olympic games and Paralympic games, including looking after visiting Heads of State and Government and liaising with countries participating in the games. The FCO currently has a small team in place, co-ordinating our preparations for the games. Other staff are working on London 2012-related projects, including security and protocol issues, and a public diplomacy campaign that seeks to use the games to promote Britain's image abroad.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with representatives from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary-General, Marc Perrin De Brichambaut, when he attended the OSCE Informal Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Corfu in June 2009. The Secretary-General also met the then Minster for Europe (Caroline Flint), when he visited London in February.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the outcomes of the recently held Overseas Territories Consultative Council meeting. 
Chris Bryant: I had open and frank exchanges with the Overseas Territory leaders (except Gibraltar, which did not attend) at this year's Overseas Territories Consultative Council on a wide range of subjects. We agreed the following in a communiqué issued after the meeting:
to continue discussions on the relationship between the UK and the Overseas Territories;
to recommit to the principles of good governance;
that the UK will, where appropriate, assist the Territories to meet their international obligations;
the importance of respect for human rights and the need to safeguard children;
to finalise action within Territories to enable extension to all the populated Territories of the International Labour Organisation convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, during the course of 2010;
the importance of managing public finances so that Territories are better placed to guard against downturns in their economies;
the need to review the Overseas Territories borrowing guidelines;
the importance of implementing recommendations from the Foot review of British offshore financial centres;
that the UK will support efforts to tackle crime in the Overseas Territories.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he received from the organisation Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights on 30 March 2009; what consideration he has given to these representations; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: [holding answer 14 December 2009]: We have received several letters from the organisation Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights throughout 2009. They highlighted human rights concerns including border restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities in Gaza and the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners without charge.
We take the protection of human rights very seriously. The UK have consistently pressed the Israeli authorities to ease border restrictions in Gaza and have also urged them to ensure that their legal processes are in accordance with international law and democratic norms.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have consistently raised the case of the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, in previous rounds of our regular UK/China Human Rights Dialogues. Most recently I also included his name on a case list handed to the Chinese authorities during my visit to China in September 2009. In this we asked the Chinese to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report CRC/C/15/Add.271 which the UK supports. This stated that China should allow an independent expert to visit Gedhun Choekyi Nyima to check his living conditions and well-being and that there are no restrictions on his freedom of movement and that he is free to select a career.
"Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is an ordinary Chinese Tibetan young man and is of good health. At present, he is enjoying a normal life together with his family and receiving good education. The family have repeated many times that they do not want their normal life to be disturbed and that this wish should be sufficiently well respected".
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK has no plans to send British personnel into Somalia as part of the EU security sector reform mission. There are ongoing discussions in the EU about the possibility of a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission for Somalia to train Somali security forces.
If a CSDP mission were to be deployed, the training would take place in another country or other countries because of the fragile security situation inside Somalia. The issue is still being considered and a final decision on a possible CSDP mission will be subject to appropriate assessments, consultation and agreement. Any UK contribution would be dependent on our available resources and the operational needs identified.
Chris Bryant: We understand that the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, will announce the formal programme for their presidency on 15 December 2009. However, the Spanish have already said they will focus on implementing the Lisbon treaty, following up the Copenhagen summit on climate change, putting in place an economic reform strategy for the next 10 years, driving progress on jobs and growth, and bringing Europe closer to its citizens. Innovation and equality will also be important themes. We welcome these emphases.
Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to assist the work of trades unions overseas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 10 December 2009]: We have a strong relationship with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and, through them and through our overseas missions, we work closely with the trade union movement to reach a wide cross-section of civil society overseas. Our worldwide network and the TUC's links with trade union movements around the world mean we are able to work together on issues of mutual concern, such as democracy, human rights and rule of law.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ministers meet formally with senior TUC officials and representatives three times a year at the Joint Advisory Council to discuss international issues; the most recent of these meetings took place on 3 September 2009, and another is planned for January 2010. The TUC and the FCO have designated official contact points, who meet on a regular basis to ensure action is taken on recommendations from the Joint Advisory Council meetings. Additionally, ad hoc meetings take place to discuss geographical and thematic issues.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the recent suspension of human rights legislation in the Turks and Caicos Islands; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: While parts of the constitution have been suspended, the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are still protected under part 1 of the Turks and Caicos Constitution Order 2006, which remains in force. The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Constitution (Interim Amendment) Order 2009 has removed the constitutional right to trial by jury in certain criminal cases.
The Order in Council suspending ministerial Government and the House of Assembly for a period of up to two years was brought into force on 14 August 2009. The order left the human rights provisions of the constitution in place except for the constitutional right to trial by jury in TCI, which was suspended. This provides the possibility in future of having trials by judge alone in the TCI Supreme Court in appropriate cases. This is wholly consistent with the European convention on human rights, which does not require trial by jury. A number of countries have criminal trials without a jury and even in the UK there is no right to trial by jury in every case.
On suspension of the House of Assembly, the UK withdrew its acceptance of protocol 1, article 3 of the European convention on human rights in respect of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which requires contracting parties to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature. However, this withdrawal is for a limited period until reforms have been implemented and elections held by July 2011.
With the approval of the Governor, the TCI Advisory Council and the TCI Human Rights Commission, the right of individual petition, which had previously been accepted in respect of TCI for five years was accepted on a permanent basis in October.
Mr. Straw: Information held by the establishment shows that the costs of reconstruction currently stand at approximately £818,700 and this is set out in the attached table. Each item is rounded up to the nearest £100 or £1,000 for items below and above £1,0000 respectively.
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