14 Mar 2001 : Column: 597W

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 14 March 2001

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

China

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the Government of China about the 10th report, Session 1999-2000, of the Foreign Affairs Committee. [152855]

Mr. Battle: Immediately after publication of the FAC report, Chinese officials in London and Peking told us that they were unhappy with aspects of its contents. The Chinese Government have issued a number of public statements criticising the report.

Military Attaches

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the statements made on 27 February 2001, Official Report, column 700, relating to remarks attributed to French and Italian military attaches in Washington. [153136]

Mr. Vaz: The Italian ambassador and the French military attache have both written to the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) to deny the remarks attributed to the Italian and French military attaches in Washington on 27 February 2001, Official Report, column 700.

Election Observers

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many foreign elections have been observed in the past five years by publicly funded British observers. [153459]

Mr. Battle: I regret that the information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Nonetheless, between spring 1999 and spring 2000 the UK supported election observation in 19 countries, either by providing international observers or by funding domestic observers.

HMS Tireless

Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he intends to hold with regional Government representatives in Andalucia regarding HMS Tireless. [153160]

Mr. Vaz: We have had regular contact regarding HMS Tireless with the local and regional Andalucian authorities through our Embassy in Madrid. There has also been an exchange of correspondence at ministerial level. We have always made clear that we acknowledge the concerns of the people in the region. We will continue to do all we can to allay these concerns and to provide assurances regarding the safety of HMS Tireless.

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Indonesia

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent contact he has had with the Government of Indonesia concerning inter-communal killings. [153539]

Mr. Battle: We are deeply concerned by reports of inter-communal violence in Kalimantan and regret the extensive loss of life resulting from these clashes. We have urged the communities involved to halt the violence. We called on the Indonesian authorities to re-establish law and order, and to assist the communities in finding a peaceful and lasting solution. I issued a statement to this effect on 27 February.

Brunei

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Brunei concerning the recent arrest of seven Christians. [153725]

Mr. Battle: A total of seven were initially detained. Four people have now been released, but three remain in detention. Our High Commissioner in Brunei is in close contact with local church leaders and has discussed the matter with senior officials in the Bruneian Government; and we are co-ordinating our actions with EU counterparts. Our High Commissioner in Brunei will continue, both through contacts with the Bruneian authorities and in consultation with EU partners and other Governments represented in Brunei, to press for those detained to be treated in line with Brunei's obligations as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Kurdish Organisations

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent contacts he has had with (a) the PKK and (b) other Kurdish organisations in Turkey and elsewhere. [153594]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 13 March 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any contacts with the PKK or any recent contacts with other Kurdish organisations in Turkey or elsewhere.

Macedonia

Mr. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Macedonia with respect to recent inter-communal violence. [153593]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 13 March 2001]: I last spoke to the Macedonian Foreign Minister on 2 March, when I expressed our deep concern over the occupation of the Macedonian village near the Kosovo border by a group of Albanian extremists. I also commended the restraint shown by the Macedonian Government. On 12 March the Prime Minister wrote to President Trajkovski to express support for the Macedonian Government. I welcome the robust action taken by NATO and KFOR, not only in tightening control over the Kosovo side of the border but also in strengthening co-ordination with the Macedonian Government.

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Gibraltar

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations he has had with the Home Office about fulfilling the commitment to extend the European Parliament franchise to Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement. [153458]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 13 March 2001]: We are in regular contact with Home Office Ministers and officials on this issue. As I said in my evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee on 7 March, HMG unequivocally accept their obligation to secure the European parliamentary franchise for Gibraltar. We are carefully considering all possible options for achieving this objective before the 2004 EP elections.

Colombia

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings UK representatives have held with human rights organisations in Colombia since May 1997; and how many embassy staff in Colombia are dedicated to human rights work. [153692]

Mr. Battle: UK representatives have a regular and on-going dialogue with human rights organisations in Colombia. My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office and I met a range of human rights organisations, NGOs, church and trade union leaders during our visit to Colombia in September 2000, including representatives from Christian Aid, CODHES, Mandato Ciudadano por la Paz, Indepaz, Redepaz, No Mas, and also Padre Francisco de Roux and Monsignor Pedro Rubiano. Recently on 8 March in London, I hosted a round table on Colombia with UK NGOs, Padre de Roux and the Presidential Counsellor for Security and Alternative Development. My right hon. Friend met a number of other leading human rights organisations during her visit to Colombia in March this year, including Women Waging Peace, CINEP and CCJ. We value all these contacts and will continue this substantial dialogue.

Human rights are central to the work of the embassy in Bogota. A considerable proportion of the time of several embassy staff is devoted to human rights work.

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial support has been given by the UK to Plan Colombia to date; and what further expenditure is planned. [153693]

Mr. Battle: I refer to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend on 14 December 2000, Official Report, columns 227-28W. There is no UK Government financial involvement in Plan Colombia either bilaterally or through the EU. Assistance through the EU of 105 million euro will support human rights, long-term economic and social development, and an end to violence. No expenditure is planned by the UK Government to support Plan Colombia.

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UN Commission on Human Rights

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the British representatives at the UN Commission on Human Rights held in Geneva for each session since May 1997; what reports have been issued by the Commission; and if he will place them in the Library. [153691]

Mr. Battle: The UK delegation to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has, since the 54th session in 1998, been headed by Mrs. Audrey Glover CMG. The delegation has also included representatives from the UK missions to the UN in Geneva and New York, as well as from the Human Rights Policy Department and the Global Issues Research Group of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All reports issued by the Commission, and all resolutions adopted, are available in full on the following website: www.unhchr.ch. I understand that the House of Commons Library receives UN documents, including the annual report of the CHR.


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