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Madagascar: Closure of British Embassy

Lord Watson of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I set out in my Written Statement on 15 December 2004 (Official Report, cols. WS 84-88) we are making changes to our overseas network to reflect changing demands and challenges and to ensure the UK has a cost-effective and flexible network of overseas representation. This involves the closure of several diplomatic posts, including the British Embassy in Antananarivo.
 
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This is in no way a reflection on the current government of Madagascar or on the quality of our bilateral relations. We will work with the Government of Madagascar to establish alternative forms of British representation.

Sudan: Darfur

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The International Commission of Inquiry is expected to report at the end of January or beginning of February. We strongly support the International Commission of Inquiry, and will decide how to respond to its report when it issues.

China: North Korean Refugees

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have raised the matter of North Korean refugees in China on a number of occasions with the Chinese Government, most recently during the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing in November 2004. We continue to urge China to observe its obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees access to the China/North Korea border region.

Israel and Palestine: London Conference

Lord Steinberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The budget for costs for the London meeting has not been finalised yet. We will be clearer as to the funds allocated nearer to 1 March, when the meeting will take place. We will be happy to supply this information when it becomes available.

We are inviting several states and organisations with an interest to participate, including members of the Quartet, the ad hoc liaison committee (donor group),
 
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the G8, and the International Task Force for Palestinian Reform as well as the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian Authority

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We continue to press the Palestinian Authority to make 100 per cent effort to stop terrorist attacks in line with its road map commitments. The new leadership of the Palestinian Authority has said that it will pursue security reform as a priority, and on 17 January Abu Mazen instructed Palestinian security forces to prevent further attacks on Israeli targets. The UK is working with the Palestinian Authority to improve its operational capacity to provide better security for Palestinians and to prevent attacks on Israel.

Israel: Palestinian Prisoners

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We continue to monitor the situation with regard to Palestinian prisoners and raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities where it is appropriate to do so.

On 27 December 2004 the Israeli Government released at least 159 Palestinian prisoners in what Israeli Prime Minister Sharon described as a goodwill gesture.

International Atomic Energy Agency

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government supported the election of Dr Mohammed El Baradei for his previous two terms as Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Her Majesty's Government believe in general that, for the heads of United Nations bodies, two terms in office should be the maximum. In the case of the Director-General of the IAEA, however, no new candidate for the post has come forward.
 
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Dr A.Q. Khan

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Kingdom authorities are following the investigation by the Pakistani authorities into the activities of Dr A.Q. Khan with close interest, and continue to urge the Pakistani authorities to share the results of these enquiries with their allies and with the relevant international organisations.

North Korea: Reverend Kim Dong-sik

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have raised Reverend Kim's case with the North Korean authorities at official level, both in London and Pyongyang, seeking confirmation of his safety and well-being. We await their response.

Identity Cards: Consultancy Contracts

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The identity cards programme has let management consultancy contracts to the following organisations. Only the PA Consulting contract dated 7 June 2004 remains extant.
OrganisationDetailsDatesAmount
Sirius consortiumAdvice on feasibility and costs27 September 2002£78,724
SchlumbergerSema (Atos Origin)Programme and project management advice1 September 2003£56,000
PA Consulting Services LimitedProvision of project management consultancy5 December 2003£27,200
Shreeveport Management Consultancy,Facilitation of workshops and core proposition development7 January 2004£43,250
Axon Group plcProposals relating to human resources1 March 2004£28,766
Cornwell Management Consultants plcAssessment of potential public sector delivery partners30 March 2004£47,548
PA Consulting Services LimitedProvision of management consultancy for the development of the ID card scheme7 June 2004£5,716,259 to 1/12/04

 
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Immigration Acts: Reasons for Detention

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Information on the reasons for detention of the persons concerned could be obtained only by examination of individual case files at disproportionate cost.


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