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Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to support and promote provincial and district level governance in Afghanistan outside the Kabul district. 
Chris Bryant: I currently have no plans to visit Belarus. These issues are discussed regularly at official level. My predecessor, the then Minister for Europe, my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) met the Belarasian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky when he visited the UK in November 2008.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the state of relations between Belarus and the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: Our interest is to see Belarus contribute to the long term stability of the region in which it is situated. We believe this would best be achieved through further political and economic reform, and to that end we seek to encourage a stronger relationship between Belarus and the EU, which would include closer alignment to European standards and values. We recognise, at the same time, that Belarus has a close co-operative relationship with the Russian Federation. In line with other EU member states, we continue to base our political relationship on the need for the respect for basic human rights and political freedoms, and regularly raise issues of concern.
On the economic side, bilateral trade and investment are very small. We have welcomed Belarus's engagement with international organisations, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as the basis for much needed economic reform. At a human level, the UK has a memorandum of understanding in place with Belarus on respite visits for children suffering from the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and we offer a small number of scholarships each year through the Chevening Programme which allows Belarusian citizens the opportunity to study at UK higher educational institutions.
Chris Bryant: The political situation in Belarus remains very restrictive. We are concerned by the lack of recognition by the authorities that the existence of an opposition is a vital part of a properly functioning democracy. Presidential elections in 2006 were described by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election observation mission as
"severely flawed due to the arbitrary use of state power and restrictions on basic rights"
Local elections are due in spring 2010, and presidential elections are due before February 2011. I welcome the Belarusian decision to discuss electoral reforms with the OSCE. This is a step in the right direction. We and the international community will be watching developments carefully in the run up to these elections.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of corruption in the judicial system in Cameroon; and what discussions he has had with the Cameroon government on the matter. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Cameroon is rated 146 of 180 countries on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2009. While reliable information on corruption in the judicial system in Cameroon is difficult to obtain, the system is widely acknowledged as inefficient, leading to high levels of corruption. Our high commission in Yaoundé co-ordinates with other diplomatic missions and multinational organisations on anti-corruption measures, and together give political direction to a programme of technical assistance to the Government of Cameroon (the CHOC programme).
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the extent of wildlife trafficking in Cameroon; and what discussions he has had with the Cameroon government on the matter. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are in contact with a number of organisations and individuals involved in the fight against wildlife trafficking in Cameroon, including through the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA), a Cameroonian non-government organisation that has received Government funding. LAGA works closely with the Cameroonian Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife Protection to enforce laws on wildlife trafficking and achieved the first prosecutions in Cameroonian courts for wildlife trafficking offences.
The Cameroonian law enforcement authorities have had some notable successes in recent months in intercepting illegal shipments of wildlife. In November 2009, our High Commissioner met the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Protection and underlined the importance we place on sustained government efforts to identify, interdict and prosecute wildlife trafficking.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to encourage rehabilitation programs for drug addicts serving prison sentences in the British Caribbean Overseas Territories. 
Chris Bryant: In Anguilla, all prisoners identified with a substance misuse problem are offered drug services after their arrival in prison. There are also plans that early in 2010 the services of a local drug counsellor, currently employed by the education authority, will visit the prison to facilitate group work. The resident prison counsellor offers one-to-one sessions for substance abusers and this is reinforced by the rehabilitation department who offer drug awareness training. The prison's change manager, a former UK prison governor who was appointed in June 2009, has drafted a strategic plan for the prison which will include access to improved drug and general rehabilitative services.
In the British Virgin Islands a drugs counsellor visits the prison on a regular basis to run group sessions with prisoners with drug abuse issues, working in conjunction with the prison's resettlement department and its internal counsellor. Subject to funding in the next financial year, the British Virgin Islands prison adviser, a former UK prison governor who was recruited in early 2009, has a proposal to increase the number of hours of both group and individual drug work with prisoners.
The Cayman Islands has a well developed and well resourced drug programme, both within prison and in the community. The introduction of drug courts has sought to divert from prison those who do not need to be incarcerated and who can undergo rehabilitation in the community.
In Montserrat the prison has recently established a formal process for external drug workers to visit the prison on a regular basis. Although the numbers of prisoners with drug abuse issues are small, the sessions are aimed at all prisoners in order to provide awareness of the issues associated with drugs.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands a drug worker continues to visit the prison regularly, to hold both group and individual sessions. The Overseas Territories prison reform co-ordinator has held a number of meetings locally in recent months with the aim of seeking to progress both prison and community based drug rehabilitation, linked to sentencing amendments. It is hoped that this issue will progress in 2010.
Chris Bryant: The Government's chief objective is to deepen the already excellent bilateral relationship which was greatly bolstered during 2009 through visits by HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and through the first ever visit by a serving Prime Minister. We will seek an early opportunity to arrange the next round of our existing High Level Political Talks once the new Chilean Government takes office in March 2010. We aim to work with the Chilean military to capitalise on its experience in UN and peace-keeping operations in Haiti, Bosnia and Cyprus through a continuing programme of high-level staff visits. We will also continue to promote a growing bilateral trade, commercial and investment relationship with Chile, while advocating a similar pro-market stance in international trade talks. The UK's overriding aim is to be a partner of choice for Chile in key international and public policy issues of mutual concern.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex to "The UK and China: A framework for engagement" that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of
State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs launched in January 2009. A copy of this is available on our UK in China website at:
(a) to get the best for Britain from China's rise;
(b) to foster China's emergence as a responsible global player; and
(c) to promote sustainable development, modernisation and internal reform within China.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are aware of Tenzin's case and are concerned for his well-being. I raised this case most recently during my visit to China in September 2009 where we included Tenzin's name as part of an individual case list, which was handed over during the visit.
"on 23 January 2003, Sichuan Provincial High People's Court reviewed and approved Tenzin's death sentence with a two-year suspension of execution and life deprivation of political rights for the crimes of bombing and instigating secession. On 26 January 2005, Sichuan Provincial High People's Court decided to commune his punishment to life imprisonment and life deprivation of political rights. He is now jailed in the Chuandong Prison of Sichuan Province".
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2009, Official Report, column 420W, on Colombia: overseas trade, if he will make it his policy to withdraw from the negotiation of a free trade agreement with Colombia. 
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 770W, on Colombia: trade unions, what reports his Department has seen on the number of trade unionists murdered in Colombia in the last 12 months; and how many murders are referred to in each such report. 
Chris Bryant: In terms of formal cumulative reports, the Colombian Presidential Programme for Human Rights reports a total of 28 murdered trade unionists from January to November 2009 (down from 34 in the same period in 2008). Alternatively, the Escuela Nacional Sindicalista reports 36 trade unionists killed from 1 January to 30 November 2009 (against a total of 49 recorded for the whole of 2008).
We receive representations throughout the year from UK trade unions and non-governmental organisations
about the number of murdered trade unionists in Colombia. Statistics tend to be based on a calendar year, rather than on a 12 month basis.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of invoices submitted to his Department have been paid within 10 days in each month since October 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
|Invoices paid within 10 days|
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by his Department since 1 May 2008. 
Chris Bryant: For the United Kingdom, 29 offences have been created altogether by The Iran (United Nations Sanctions) Order 2009 (SI 2009/886), The North Korea (United Nations Sanctions) Order 2009 (SI 2009/1749) and The North Korea (United Nations Sanctions) (Amendment) Order 2009 (SI 2009/3213) and nil offences have been abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 1 May 2008.
For the overseas territories, 43 offences have been created altogether by The International Criminal Court Act 2001 (Overseas Territories) Order 2009 (SI 2009/1738), The Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) (Amendment) Order 2008 (SI 2009/3125), The North Korea (United Nations Measures) (Overseas Territories) (Amendment) Order 2009 (SI 2009/1746), The Burma (Restrictive Measures) (Overseas Territories) Order 2009 (SI 2009/3008) and The Export of Goods, Transfer of Technology and Provision of Technical Assistance (Control) (Overseas Territories) (Amendment) Order 2009 (SI 2009/3212) and 23 offences were abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 1 May 2008.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors determine the allocation of questions for written answer to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Rhondda; and on what issues (a) within and (b) outside his listed Ministerial responsibilities he will answer questions. 
Chris Bryant: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State answers questions tabled by the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) and the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey). He answers questions from all hon. Members on security matters.
European Union; Europe, including Balkans, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova; Russia, South Caucasus, Central Asia; OSCE and Council of Europe; Overseas Territories; South America; Australasia and Pacific; Consular policy; Olympics; human resources and diversity; Public Diplomacy, including British Council and BBC World Service; Shanghai Expo 2010; and Protocol. I also answer questions on the Caribbean and Central America and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers will on occasion answer questions on behalf of their colleagues, for example if a Minister is travelling.
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