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Imports: Non-EU Countries

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: For the financial years 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06, the proportion of goods entering free circulation in the United Kingdom, excluding the categories referred to in the question, that effectively bore no import or customs duties was as follows:

2003-04 68 per cent

2004-05 64 per cent

2005-06 68 per cent

Israel and Palestine: Gaza

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We remain deeply concerned about casualties, civilian suffering and the Israeli Defence Force’s military

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actions in Gaza and have repeatedly made our concerns clear to the Government of Israel. Our ambassador in Tel Aviv last raised our concerns on 15 November. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement on 8 November expressing her concerns about the incident at Beit Hanoun. The text of this statement can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=Open Market/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007 029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1161595533459%20 &year=2006&month=2006-11-01&date=2006-11-08.

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Triesman: We remain concerned about the continuing Qassam rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli civilian targets. We have called on the Palestinian Authority to prevent all terrorist attacks, including these rocket attacks. We welcome the call by Palestinian President Abbas for rocket attacks from Gaza to stop. Our consulate-general in Jerusalem continues to make our concerns clear on this issue. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister discussed the issue of Qassam rockets with Palestinian President Abbas on 10 September.

Israel and Palestine: Peace Initiative

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We are keen to make progress towards a lasting and just peace in Israel and the Occupied Territories. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made advancing the Middle East peace process a UK priority and we are discussing this initiative with partners.

Israel and Palestine: Peace Talks

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Both the Israeli Government and Palestinian President Abbas remain committed to the road map as the way forward. The road map sets out the steps necessary to fulfil the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, and the establishment of a just and lasting

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peace. It provides for a viable and secure state of Palestine and a secure state of Israel, consistent with UN Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace.

The international community will continue to work with both parties to resume viable peace negotiations. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made clear, negotiations are manifestly the best way to move this process forward, and it is the role of the international community to give negotiations the best chance of success.

Israel and Palestine: US Government Attitude

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have made no representations to the US Government following their veto at the UN Security Council on 11 November.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Arms

Lord Turnberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UK continues to be concerned by reports that arms for Hezbollah are being transported from Syria to Lebanon. We continue to monitor the situation carefully.

We are working with our international partners to ensure that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is fully implemented. We are also working with our EU partners to assist the Government of Lebanon to improve security on the Lebanon/Syria border. To this end, the UK has committed £2.5 million to provide the Government of Lebanon with security sector assistance.

Schools: Sport

Baroness Verma asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The annual school sport survey of schools in school sport partnerships is the primary tool used to measure progress towards the PE and school sport PSA target. The survey collects data about pupils’ take-up of at least two hours of high-quality PE and school sport each week, as well as the amount of time pupils in each year group spend on PE within curriculum time. The survey also collects data about the number of pupils who take part in intra-school and inter-school competitive activities. Competitive games are a compulsory part of the national curriculum for PE for all pupils aged five to 14.

The school sport survey has been running since 2003-04 and copies of the results of the three surveys run to date have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The results also set out in detail the methodological approach adopted in carrying out the survey.

Shipping: Merchant Navy

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Recruitment is a matter for the shipping companies themselves. A dedicated industry body, the Merchant Navy Training Board, actively promotes officer training, and the Department for Transport gives financial assistance to training providers through the support for maritime training scheme (SMarT), for the training of officers and ratings. The support available under SMarT at present amounts to roughly 50 per cent of the cost of training provided by maritime colleges. The tonnage tax features a minimum training obligation, which requires each shipping company entering the scheme to recruit and train one officer trainee each year for every 15 officer posts in its fleet.

Sudan: Petroleum Commission

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The National Petroleum Commission (NPC) was established on 30 October 2005 and held its first meeting on 26 November 2005. The NPC, however, has been slow to make progress, with disagreements between the comprehensive peace agreement parties over its mandate and the establishment of its secretariat. We continue to urge both parties to resolve their differences of opinion, and raised the issue with First Vice-President Kiir during his recent visit to the UK.



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Sudan: UN Peacekeeping Force

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The United Nations mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is not mandated to take direct action against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Part of its role in southern Sudan is to help to implement the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) security arrangements. These arrangements are designed to improve overall law and order and to make it difficult for armed groups such as the LRA that are not sanctioned by the CPA to operate in the south.

UNMIS has provided practical support to the peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the LRA in Juba by giving the talks’ cessation of hostilities monitoring team (CHMT) access to its helicopters to monitor the ceasefire signed by the two parties in August. In addition, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has set up the Juba initiative fund to support the talks’ secretariat and the CHMT's activities. The UK has provided £250,000 to this fund.

Sudan: UN Resolutions

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UK fully implements all UN and EU sanctions in relation to Sudan. This includes the targeted measures against the four individuals designated by the Security Council in April this year under Resolution 1672 (2006). On adoption of this resolution, the Government ensured that all the relevant implementing authorities were made aware of the measures so that the necessary action to identify any assets to be frozen and to restrict travel to the UK could be enforced.

Following adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1672, we made it clear that more names would follow. We are taking this forward with our Security Council partners. We will enforce sanctions imposed against any further individuals in the same way as before.



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The UK is a leading proponent of Security Council action to improve the appalling situation in Darfur. With our Security Council partners, we will continue to consider all appropriate options, including further measures, which may help to achieve this.

Taxation: Private Companies

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Government have noted PricewaterhouseCoopers’s July 2006 report and that 45 per cent of the companies surveyed were aware of the enhanced capital allowances on energy-saving technologies, the flat conversion allowance and land remediation relief. Enterprise is a critical ingredient of a flexible, modern economy. The Government are committed to ensuring a competitive and accessible tax environment to facilitate the creation and growth of new firms, promoting the exploitation of new ideas and opportunities, and enhancing competition.

The Government note that the population of businesses surveyed for the study was limited to private companies. By focusing solely on private companies, the report excluded a large population of companies and investors that may be eligible for the tax reliefs. A number of reliefs included in the survey are specifically aimed at external investors rather than businesses. In addition, a number of companies surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers also would not be eligible for the featured reliefs on grounds of company size. Therefore, the Government's assessment is that, although the report is a useful contribution to the debate on how best to support business and the importance of awareness, it would be unwise to draw specific conclusions from it.

Research has shown that government initiatives often take time to get into the decision-making processes of companies. HM Revenue and Customs uses a variety of approaches to raise awareness of tax issues, including information packs, online information, press coverage, simplified guides, media advertising and working with business support services and other external groups—for example, the “Working Together” initiative. The promotion of government initiatives is also often delivered in partnership with other government departments and external stakeholders, including business representative organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce.



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UN: Banned Weapons

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We have not made any assessment of this. The UK has close contacts with UN agencies working in the Middle East, including in Lebanon, where we believe the UN has played a key role in helping to move forward the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. We have no reason to doubt their competence or experience or that of other UN personnel working on the crucial security issues facing the region.


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