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Identity Cards: Scotland and Wales

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: The Scotland Office and the Wales Office have not made any analysis or estimate of the costs which might fall to the Scottish Executive or Welsh Assembly following on from enactment of the Identity Cards Bill, and have no plans to do so.

India: Human Rights

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The EU-India dialogue on human rights took place on 1 December in New Delhi. The agenda for the dialogue, which was agreed between EU partners and the Government of India, included multilateral issues, minorities and treatment of immigrants, human rights and security. Within the context of an informative and constructive discussion on minorities, the EU Troika raised the considerable public and parliamentary interest in the EU in Dalit issues in India. This included the issue of Dalit conversions to certain religions, which resulted in the loss of certain privileges and reservations and India's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Both sides were keen to take forward these discussions and this will be taken forward by future EU presidencies. We also hope that this dialogue might lead to a further ad hoc dialogue between minorities experts from the EU and India.

The UK presidency in New Delhi consulted European Union colleagues regularly in the lead-up to the EU-India human rights dialogue. An EU Working Group on Human Rights has existed in New Delhi for a number of years. The British High Commission in New Delhi maintains regular contact with a wide range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups in respect to a range of human
 
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rights issues, including minority and Dalit rights. Ministers in the UK and Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have also held meetings with NGOs to discuss issues relating to human rights in India.

Influenza Pandemic

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): We are aware of the issues raised by Dr John Beigel regarding antivirals and we were already looking into them when he raised them. We will continue to review our antiviral strategy and these issues, such as antiviral resistance and post-exposure prophylaxis, will be discussed in detail at the next Scientific Advisory Group.

Iran: Capital Punishment

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): In our role as presidency of the European Union, we have pressed the Iranian authorities on Iran's use of capital punishment six times in the period since President Ahmadinejad was inaugurated in early August. We did so most recently on 8 December.

Iran: Presidential Comments on Israel

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): On 8 December, President Ahmadinejad reportedly questioned the existence of the Holocaust and proposed that Israel should be moved to Europe. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, acting on behalf of the UK presidency of the European Union, condemned the comments unreservedly. He called them wholly unacceptable and said they had no place in civilised political debate.
 
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Iraq: Iranian Involvement in Prisons

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have no evidence of official Iranian involvement in any prison in Iraq.

Kazakhstan: UK Ambassador

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Our ambassador visited Astana for four successive weeks up to 4 November and then again on 16 November. He was there again on 14 December for a farewell call on the Foreign Minister.

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: Our ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan is leaving the country on 16 December. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to arrange a final call on the president, not least due to the recent presidential elections. But we hope that soon after his arrival our new ambassador will have the opportunity to present his credentials and meet the president.

Understandably, individual meetings with the president do not take place often. However, since presenting his own credentials, the current ambassador has met the president on several occasions at receptions, conferences or when accompanying high-level visitors such as my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in February 2004.

M11

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: Officials' advice to Ministers on the widening of the M11 between Junctions 8 and 9 was policy advice within government and it would not be appropriate to place it in the Library. I have, however, arranged for the letter that an official from the department sent to the secretary to the panel for the examination in public of the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy on 14 November to be placed in the Library. The letter sets out the reasons why we decided that widening of the M11 between Junctions 8 and 9 should not be progressed within the next 10 to 15 years.

Identity Cards: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The department has not finalised its estimates of the benefits or costs of using the ID cards scheme to support the services which it oversees.


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