|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
18 Jan 2010 : Column 99Wcontinued
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Moroccan authorities against the (a) deportation from Western Sahara of Aminatou Haidar and (b) prevention of Saharawi human rights activists from travelling abroad. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discussed the case of Aminatou Haidar with the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Mr. Taieb Fassi Fihri, on 11 December 2009. His officials in London, our embassy in Rabat and the UK's Mission to the UN in New York, also discussed
the case with their Moroccan counterparts throughout the period Ms Haidar was on hunger strike. The Government are pleased that the situation has been resolved. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials will continue to monitor the human dimension of the Western Sahara conflict and encourage greater transparency on human rights issues by all parties to the conflict.
We have not received any representations regarding Saharawi human rights activists being prevented from travelling abroad.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 January 2010, Official Report, column 407W, on Belarus, whether his Department plans to provide assistance to international missions to monitor the conduct of the forthcoming (a) local and (b) presidential elections in Belarus. 
Chris Bryant: Our policy on Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observation missions remains to provide up to 10 per cent. of observers on an ad hoc basis. In the case of the elections in Belarus, and others in the next financial year, we have not yet decided on the level of assistance we will provide.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many visits he has made to UK overseas territories in the last 12 months; and what the purpose was of each visit. 
Chris Bryant: In the last 12 months my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made two visits to the Overseas Territories.
He visited Gibraltar on 21 July 2009 to attend the latest ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Forum of Dialogue on Gibraltar. From 24 to 26 November 2009 he accompanied Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh on their visit to Bermuda to mark the 400th anniversary of the first settlement of the island.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2010, Official Report, column 951W, on departmental flags, whether any EU flags were purchased by his Department in each of the last five years. 
Chris Bryant: Three EU flags have been purchased in the UK since 2008, one in 2008 and two in 2009. Prior to 2008 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office contracted an external contractor to provide a flag raising service and therefore did not buy flags.
Details of flags purchased overseas are not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many sessions of media training were organised for Ministers in his Department in each of the last three years. 
Chris Bryant: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 13 January 2010, Official Report, column 977W.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2010, Official Report, column 954W, on Government hospitality: wines, what software package is used to maintain a record of wine (a) used and (b) purchased for the Government wine cellar. 
Chris Bryant: Government Hospitality has been working with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services over the last 24 months to develop a new software package, based on the Windows SharePoint system, for the management of all cellar transactions. This system is now operational, but a substantial backlog of data are still being updated.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2010, Official Report, column 954W, on Government hospitality: wines, what the cost to the public purse was of bottles of wine purchased for the Government wine cellar in 2008-09. 
Chris Bryant: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 26 November 2009, Official Report, column 305W.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department is providing to British citizens in Haiti following the recent earthquake in that country. 
Chris Bryant: Our ambassador and consular staff from our embassy in neighbouring Dominican Republic have been deployed in Haiti since the day after the earthquake, providing support to our honorary consul in Port-au-Prince. An eight-man Rapid Deployment Team has been sent to provide additional support to British nationals affected by the disaster. Our staff have been making every effort to contact all British nationals in Haiti to ensure their welfare and provide assistance to those who wish to leave the country.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) documents and (b) other types of information held in electronic format at each level of security classification the Iraq Inquiry has requested from his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, on 14 December 2009, Official Report, columns 840-41W.
Mr. Marshall-Andrews: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he was informed of the content of the speech made by the Attorney-General to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on 5 January 2010. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Ministerial speeches, statements and publications on any subject in Government are discussed and cleared by Ministers and officials as appropriate as part of normal business.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 21 July 2009, Official Report, columns 1256-57W, on languages, whether more Dari and Pashto speakers will be required to accompany the recent troop surge. 
Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.
The Ministry of Defence continually reviews language support to those forces deployed in Afghanistan, and there has been an increase in both Dari and Pashto speakers to support the recent troop surge.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the issue of Morocco's compliance with UN Security Council resolutions on a referendum on self-determination were raised in discussions between the EU and Morocco on advanced status. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: UN Security Council resolutions were not raised in discussions between the EU and Morocco on advanced status. The UK remains committed to a mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara dispute, which provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We continue to support the work of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, and his efforts towards building confidence between the parties.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answers of 5 January 2010, Official Report, column 205W, on Nosratollah Tajik, for what purpose officials in his Department have had discussions with officials of the US Administration in London and Washington; and whether officials on each occasion indicated that extradition was a judicial process over which the Foreign Secretary had no control. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Officials regularly discuss issues of mutual interest with their US counterparts, both in London and in Washington. Such discussions have included updates on the extradition of Mr. Nosratollah Tajik. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have consistently made clear that this is a judicial process over which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no control.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department is providing in respect of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: In the run up to the presidential election in Sri Lanka on 26 January 2010, we are providing funding to help support the work of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), an independent Sri Lankan election monitoring body.
We also continue to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to take effective measures to ensure the election is free and fair. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wrote to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 11 January 2010 to urge his Government to ensure effective measures are in place to prevent and control election related violence, as well as ensuring the Election Commissioner's rulings are implemented effectively by the police and other authorities.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of levels of press freedom in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are aware of the serious threats against media personnel who are critical of the Government of Sri Lanka and monitor the subject closely. On 27 October 2009, the EU expressed its concern about reports of severe harassment of journalists, restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. We regularly urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take decisive action to guarantee press freedom.
In August journalist JS Tissainayagam was sentenced to 20 years following a conviction related to his writing. We are concerned about the message this sentence sends on the state of media freedoms in Sri Lanka. Mr. Tissainayagam was granted bail this week pending the outcome of his appeal. We are monitoring developments in the case closely.
Investigations have so far failed to identify those responsible for the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the Editor of The Sunday Leader, who was shot dead in Colombo on 8 January 2009. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary most recently wrote to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 11 January 2010 to urge his Government to do everything possible to investigate the killing and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
Sir Patrick Cormack: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements have been made for the conference on Yemen which he recently announced. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The meeting on Yemen which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced will take place on 27 January 2010, and is likely to last for around two hours. It will be principally at Foreign Minister level.
We are in the process of discussing participation and the agenda with key international partners.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what aims and objectives he has set for UK foreign policy in respect of Yemen. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Yemen continues to face economic crisis and state failure. Any worsening of the instability, terrorist activity and poverty already present in Yemen will have a detrimental effect on security-within Yemen and in the region.
The UK strategy is to tackle the core social, political and economic causes of these problems, in co-operation with the international community. The meeting in London on 27 January 2010 is part of our wider strategy towards Yemen, which aims to work with the international community to support the efforts of the Yemeni Government to address the fundamental problems they are facing.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make an assessment of the impact of the privatisation of CDC on achievement of his Department's development goals. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Between 1997 and 2003, the Department for International Development (DFID) reviewed several restructuring options for CDC, including privatisation. CDC remains in HMG ownership and the investment process of CDC was reformed in 2004. All CDC funding is now channelled through investment funds that invest in the creation and growth of viable business in poorer developing countries.
A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in 2008 concluded that
"by achieving the strong financial results that it has, CDC will have made a credible contribution to economic development in its target countries while also encouraging other foreign investors to engage with them".
Through this contribution to economic growth the CDC has continued to contribute to the Department for International Development's (DFID's) goal of long-term poverty reduction.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) area and (b) estimated value is of (i) vacant and (ii) occupied office space (A) owned and (B) rented by his Department. 
Mr. Michael Foster:
The Department for International Development has two office buildings in the UK. Our office at 1 Palace Street, London is a leasehold, with a net internal area of 16,405 square metres. Our office at
Abercrombie House, East Kilbride is freehold with a net internal area of 10,680 square metres.
Both buildings are fully occupied, although in the case of 1 Palace Street the building is shared with Visit Britain and Visit England, agencies of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The estimated market annual rental value assuming an underletting to another Government Department is as follows:
1 Palace Street: £9.6 million
Abercrombie House: £1.9 million.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what his most recent estimate is of the number of people in North Korea affected by food shortages and malnutrition; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what his most recent assessment is of the extent of food shortages in North Korea; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Michael Foster: It is not possible to give a recent assessment of the level of food shortages in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Government of the DPRK refused to allow the relevant UN agencies (the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation) to carry out a crop and food assessment during October 2009 that would have established the outcome of the harvest. The Government of the DPRK has said that the harvest last year was 7 per cent. larger than 2008, but this figure cannot be confirmed.
The World Food Programme estimates that 8 million inhabitants of the DPRK do not have enough food for a basic standard of living and that chronic malnutrition continues to be a major concern.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|