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Extraordinary Rendition Flights

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The reply of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Jack Straw) of 12 December to the question put by the right honourable Member for North East Fife, Sir Menzies Campbell, (Official Report, House of Commons, Col. 1652W), stated that officials had identified a few instances during the administration of President Clinton where the US authorities had requested permission to render a detainee through UK territory or airspace. I added that officials continued to search the records.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have now completed a search of all relevant records back to May 1997. This search has turned up one further case, also in 1998: the Government declined a US request to refuel a flight carrying two detainees en route to the US.
 
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Iraq: Export Licences

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The arms embargo in Iraq continues under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 with exemptions for supplies of arms and related materiel required by the Government of Iraq (GoI) or the multi-national force (MNF) to serve the purposes of the resolution.

Following a thorough review of their procedures for processing export licence applications to Iraq, Her Majesty's Government will consider as exempt from the embargo exports to the GoI, the MNF, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, diplomatic missions in Iraq and entities contracted or subcontracted to GoI or the MNF. Export licence applications to these end users will not therefore require the approval of the GoI or MNF prior to approval of the application. For exports serving the purposes of UNSCR 1546 to entities other than these, Her Majesty's Government will seek the approval of the GoI or MNF to ensure that the proposed export is exempt from the embargo. Her Majesty's Government will keep the Government of Iraq informed on a quarterly basis of all exports of military equipment to Iraq.

Iraq: Reserve Forces

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am announcing today that a new order has been made under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 so that reservists may continue to be called out into service to support operations in Iraq. The new order is effective until 3 January 2007 and replaces the previous order that expired earlier this month.

During the course of the past year, some 2,000 reservists were called out and accepted into service to support operations in Iraq. Details of the next tranche of reservists to be called out were announced to the House on 6 December 2005 (Official Report, col. WS 64). Some 700 reservists are involved and they will be deployed to theatre from May, where the majority will complete six month tours. We remain very appreciative of the continuing support and commitment shown by reservists, their employers and their families.

Northern Ireland Companies Registry: Annual Report 2004

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Angela Smith) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
 
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In accordance with Article 677 of the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, copies of the Companies Registry Annual Report 2004 have been placed today in the Libraries of both Houses.

Ports

Lord Davies of Oldham: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Alistair Darling) made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Ports in the United Kingdom play a vital role in supporting the national economy and contributing to sustainable development. The Government are committed to maintaining and enhancing that role through their broad approach to ports policy and through the decisions they take on individual ports applications. We aim to exercise our responsibility in respect of applications as promptly as possible, consistent with the need to consider all relevant factors and allow all interested parties sufficient opportunity to comment.

I can now report to the House that, as part of that process, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Derek Twigg) announced on 21 December that he was minded to approve the proposal from Hutchison Ports UK for a container port at Bathside Bay at Harwich, Essex. He noted, however, that there are some matters which require further clarification, including making sure that the right conditions are imposed on the development to secure the necessary highways improvements in good time to provide congestion relief. A similar letter, covering planning and listed building appeals related to the development, was issued by my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister. The Government believe that this expansion in deep-sea container port capacity is justified by the economic benefits it will bring regionally and nationally. But they understand that there should be controls imposed on the development, to provide new road and rail infrastructure so that congestion does not increase, to provide compensatory habitats for wildlife displaced by the scheme, and to reduce other environmental impacts such as noise, pollution and the visual impact.

My honourable friend had already announced in July last year that he was minded to approve the proposal from P&O Ports for a new container port at London Gateway, near Thurrock in Essex. Working in conjunction with my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister, who had announced in parallel that he was minded to approve the proposed adjoining logistics centre at London Gateway, we have invited representations regarding road access and other matters both on that proposal and now on Bathside Bay. We will consider any representations carefully before moving to final decisions.

My honourable friend is also considering a separate proposal from Hutchison for providing further deep-sea container port capacity through the reconfiguration of the Felixstowe South site in Suffolk. He, together with my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister, expects to make announcements on that shortly.
 
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The ports industry is responding to demand for capacity in other traffic sectors as well. On 21 December, my honourable friend also made a final decision approving the application from Associated British Ports plc to construct a short-sea container terminal at Quay 2005 in Hull. After carefully considering the likely impacts on local residents, and
 
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balancing them against the wider economic benefits, the Government are satisfied that this project will overall bring significant benefits to the city of Hull and the region as a whole. The Government are also satisfied that the project's likely impacts on nature conservation sites will be adequately compensated for by the creation of replacement habitat in the Humber estuary.


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