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Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for West Derbyshire of 10 September 2009 concerning the visa section in Benghazi, Libya ref: PM/OP/Shafie. 
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice he has received on whether the blockade of Gaza constitutes collective punishment within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Although there is no permanent physical Israeli presence in Gaza, given the significant control that Israel has over Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters, Israel retains obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power. We are very concerned at both continued Israeli restrictions and the ongoing threat to civilians in southern Israel from indiscriminate rocket attacks. We will continue to press the Israeli Government to ease their restrictions on the crossings into Gaza.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has reviewed the compatibility of the blockade of Gaza with the obligations of Israel in respect of trade and human rights under (a) the EU-Israel Association Agreement, (b) the EU-Palestinian Authority Interim Association Agreement and (c) its membership of the World Trade Organisation. 
The relationship between the European Communities, EU member states and Israel set out in the EU-Israel Association Agreement depends on respect for human rights and democratic principles as set out in Article 2. Article 3 of the Agreement establishes a regular dialogue between the EU and Israel which takes place through the annual EU-Israel Association Council, and the preparatory Association Committees and sub-committees. The Government and the EU continue to urge the Israeli Government to open the crossings into Gaza more fully.
The Interim Association Agreement on Trade and Cooperation between the European Community and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority) does not impose obligations on Israel.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: According to UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Israeli "buffer zone" inside Gaza makes up approximately 30 per cent. of all arable land. While Israel has the right to defend itself, we are concerned at the impact of the "buffer zone" on Palestinian farmers and the population of Gaza.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to intensify efforts to provide (a) arrangements and (b) guarantees to ensure the sustained reopening of
crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement as required under action 6 of UN Security Council Resolution 1860; and what arrangements and guarantees have been put in place in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We continue to urge the Israeli Government to open the crossings into Gaza not only for humanitarian supplies, but also for reconstruction materials, commercial trade and people-as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1860. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made this clear to the Prime Minister of Israel on 14 October 2009.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has also recently written to the Israeli Government about this matter, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 25 November 2009. Securing better access to Gaza will remain a high priority for the Government.
UN Security Council Resolution 1860 was also clear on the need to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition. We also call on Hamas to cease all rocket attacks and immediately release Gilad Shalit.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2009, Official Report, column 429W, on the Middle East: armed conflict, what the nature is of (a) the toxic materials that have been identified and (b) the contamination detected; and if he will make a statement. 
The contamination found in rubble in Gaza since the end of the conflict comprises items of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and parts or pieces thereof (explosive remnants of war-ERW), as well as small arms ammunition. According to the UN Mines Action Team, 28 per cent. of the UXO/ERW found to early June contained white phosphorus, and 72 per cent. contained high explosives.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 November 2009, Official Report, column 305W, on the Middle East: armed conflict, what the legal restraints are that apply to implementation of the Prime Minister's proposal of naval assistance to interdict arms smuggling to Gaza. 
David Miliband: Maritime interdiction operations concerning Gaza must be carried out in accordance with the applicable rules of international law, including the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Interdiction operations must be authorised either by the flag state, as well as the coastal state if in territorial waters, or under a resolution of the UN Security Council, or justified for reasons of self-defence. Action to take forward my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's initiative therefore needs to be carefully considered in light of the facts and circumstances of the particular case.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made at the United Nations General Assembly to ensure that a full investigation is undertaken into the findings of the Goldstone Report on the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK along with our EU partners played our full part in the 4-5 November 2009 UN General Assembly debate on the Goldstone report. We worked hard before the vote to reach a consensus on a resolution we could support. In the end we had to abstain, with France and 42 others, because voting for would have meant endorsing the report and ignoring its flaws. However, we maintain that the issues raised by the report are serious and the parties should address them. We were fully supportive of the core of the resolution: the need for credible, independent investigations.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of the 32 million euro in European Union funding for the reconstruction in Gaza announced by the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy in March 2009 has been disbursed; and if he will make a statement. 
The €32 million pledge for Gaza made by the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy in March 2009 was for humanitarian aid and early recovery activities. Since then, the European Union (EU) has more than exceeded disbursement of its pledge through a range of activities including cash for work and removal of rubble and unexploded ordnance.
Like the Department for International Development (DFID), the EU has been unable to spend money on formal reconstruction activities in Gaza due to Israeli restrictions on the import of essential materials.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives he has proposed to his overseas counterparts to overcome restrictions on the entry of materials for reconstruction into Gaza; and what his policy is on overcoming such restrictions. 
David Miliband: Along with our key international allies, the UK continues to press the Israeli authorities to ease border restrictions into Gaza. It is imperative the Israeli authorities permit the passage of essential humanitarian aid and reconstruction material. I have raised my concerns during conversations with my counterpart and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has similarly raised them. These concerns were also highlighted at the EU Foreign Ministers' meeting on 8 December 2009.
The UK is a strong supporter of the UN's Framework for Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza, a statement of key humanitarian principles on access and non-interference with humanitarian aid. The UN will shortly produce its second report against the Framework, tracking compliance of the parties to the conflict with the principles in the Framework. We have raised the Framework in discussions with the Government of Israel.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 14 July 2009, Official Report, columns 320-324W, on departmental contracts, what the purpose was of the contract with Mott MacDonald listed as Basra: Hollyoaks-Additional Protection; when funds under that contract were disbursed; what assessment was made of the benefits to his Department of that expenditure; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: The purpose of the contract with Mott MacDonald was to design and build additional physical security measures at Basra Air Station. The additional measures were required because in early 2008 the base was experiencing a significant amount of indirect fire from insurgents in the form of mortars and rockets.
Mott MacDonald had a design office at the air base together with access to contractors to carry out the building work. The contract value was £142,082.50 and payment was made in May 2008 following completion of the works on 30 April 2008.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will urge the Government of the People's Republic of China to create a corridor of access to allow the United Nations to assist North Korean refugees in China. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We raise the issue of North Korean refugees with Chinese officials at every appropriate opportunity. Most recently I raised it when I visited China in September 2009. We are concerned about the fate of these migrants if they are returned to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We continue to press China to grant the UN High Commissioner for Refugees access to the border region.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will urge the government of the People's Republic of China to take steps to prevent North Korean agents abducting North Korean refugees from China. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We occasionally hear reports from non-governmental organisations that North Korean agents have abducted North Korean refugees and those working with them in China. We do not have reports of any recent cases. We raise our concerns about the welfare of North Korean refugees with the Chinese Government at every appropriate opportunity. Most recently I raised it during my visit to China in September 2009 and urged China to grant the UN High Commission for Refugees access to the border region.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps at the United Nations to seek the establishment of a commission of inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity in North Korea. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK is very concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea. For action at UN level, our priority is for North Korea engagement in the Universal Periodical Review process underway and for them to acknowledge the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur, and allow him access to the country. We actively supported the renewal of his mandate at the last Human Rights Council in April 2009.
We believe that the Universal Periodic Review and the Special Rapporteur mechanism remain the most effective way to seek to engage North Korea on their human rights records, rather than a commission of inquiry.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that concerns over human rights violations in North Korea are reflected in the next EU Common Position on North Korea. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are not aware of any plans for the EU to adopt a new Common Position on North Korea. However, tackling North Korea's serious human rights abuses remain a top priority, as reflected in the EU East Asia Policy Guidelines which were agreed in 2005. The EU co-sponsors the human rights resolutions on North Korea at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. The EU also looks for every appropriate opportunity to engage North Korea practically on human rights.
Most recently the EU Troika raised their concerns during their visit to Pyongyang in October. The EU continues to work for reinstatement of the Human Rights Dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, suspended by the North Korean side in 2003.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that concerns over human rights violations in North Korea are raised in to bilateral (a) negotiations and (b) discussions with representatives of that country. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We remain concerned about the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and take every appropriate opportunity to raise human rights issues with DPRK representatives.
Most recently, we raised human rights with the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs during a visit to Pyongyang by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Asia Pacific Director in November 2009. We urged North Korea to restart its human rights dialogue with the EU and allow access for the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korea. Our embassy in Pyongyang also tries to engage practically where it can and this year provided assistance to a nursery, a hospital and an association for the disabled.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to draw attention to the human rights situation in North Korea in the United Nations. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK supported the resolution on Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the UN Human Rights Council in April 2009. As part of the EU, it co-sponsored the UNGA resolution in December to raise awareness of the human rights situation in DPRK and promote action. The UK played an active role in the UN's Universal Periodic Review of DPRK in December which offers an opportunity to increase practical engagement on human rights. As part of that review, the UK requested further information on a range of issues, including freedom of expression, religious freedoms and the death penalty. We have also urged the DPRK to allow the UN Special Rapporteur for the DPRK to visit the country and suggest technical assistance where needed.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions there have been between the US authorities and the (a) UK Mission in the United States and (b) Foreign and Commonwealth Office on their request for the extradition of Nosratollah Tajik; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions there have been between the government of Iran and the (a) UK Mission in Tehran and (b) Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the request made to the UK by the United States for the extradition of Nosratollah Tajik; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Officials and Ministers have discussed the extradition of Nosratollah Tajik with Iranian officials and Ministers on many occasions since Mr. Tajik's arrest in 2006. Most recently the Iranian Foreign Minister raised this issue with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs during a telephone conversation on 1 November 2009. We have explained to the Iranian authorities that extradition is a judicial process over which the Foreign Secretary has no control.
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