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Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring systems are in place to guarantee that UK manufactured and licensed equipment, components and spares are not used against civilians in Israel's Occupied Territories; and if he will make a statement. [19563R]

Mr. Bradshaw: We assess all export licensed applications on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria in light of circumstances prevailing at the time. We are keeping the situation under close review. We have no evidence that equipment manufactured in the UK and licensed for export by this Government has been used by Israeli forces against civilians in the Occupied Territories during the recent and continuing violence. We would be concerned if such evidence came to light.

We use information supplied by a number of sources to check that British equipment is not being used against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, including information gathered by our embassy and non-governmental organisations among others.

However, the surest way of preventing UK defence exports from being misused is to refuse an export licence if it is assessed that an unacceptable risk of misuse or diversion exists, among other reasons. To this end, the Government have also taken steps to strengthen the process of risk assessment when considering export licence applications for any destination. For example, we have improved our procedures for gathering information on end-users of potential concern from UK overseas posts. We also take into account reliable information received about end-users of concern from a variety of external sources, including international reporting bodies and non-governmental organisations.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to encourage the setting up of an international monitoring presence in Israel's Occupied Territories; what specific proposals have been put forward by the British Government; and if he will make a statement. [19564R]

Mr. Bradshaw: We condemn the suicide bomb attacks in Israel over the weekend, and regret the cycle of violence now taking place in the region. It is clear that Israel and the Palestinians must return to dialogue as the only means of securing a just and lasting peace in the middle east. It remains our view that third-party monitoring, accepted by both parties, would serve their interests in implementing the Mitchell recommendations.

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In common with the US and our EU partners, we stand ready to contribute to monitoring if both parties agree to their presence.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the role the Government are playing at the Bonn Conference on the future of Afghanistan. [20808]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Bonn conference concluded successfully on 5 December with an agreement on a power- sharing transitional government. We congratulate the Afghan participants and the United Nations, particularly the Secretary General's Special Representative, Mr. Brahimi, on this significant achievement which will, we believe be the first step towards a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. We have played an important role behind the scenes in encouraging the interested parties to strike a deal. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had a number of conversations with key figures to this end, the British Office in Kabul has engaged directly with United Front leaders, and a senior diplomat, Robert Cooper, attended the Bonn conference. The Royal Air Force facilitated the travel of some of the delegates from Kabul.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Russian Government on its decision to place troops within Afghanistan. [20807]

Mr. Bradshaw: We are not aware of any decision by the Russian Government to place troops within Afghanistan. The Russian personnel who have been deployed there are from the Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM) and are setting up medical facilities and a humanitarian centre. The United States, through CENTCOM, were aware of their inbound flights.


Mr. Mudie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many appeals have been lodged since October 2000 by overseas visitors against refusal of visas; of these, how many have requested (a) oral and (b) written appeals; and what is the success rate in both categories. [19642]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

The Immigration Appellate Authority has received 4,040 family visit visa appeals in the period from 2 October 2000 to 31 October 2001. Of that total, 1,982 appeals were received for an oral hearing and 2,058 for a determination on the papers alone.

The success rate of appeals determined by an Adjudicator over the same period is as follows:

The Immigration Appeal Tribunal (IAT), the higher tier of the Authority, has received 110 substantive appeals. Of these, 13 were for oral hearing and 97 for determination on the papers alone.

The success rate of appeals determined by the IAT is as follows:

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Petrol Prices

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations she has received over (a) the retail price of petrol distributed through the oil companies' own forecourts and (b) the wholesale price for petrol charged to independent retailers of fuel. [6078]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 15 October 2001]: The price of motor fuel is a subject on which I receive a considerable amount of correspondence from many parts of the community. However I have not received any substantive representations on the issue referred to by the hon. Member.

If the wholesale or retail price for petrol raises competition concerns it should be brought to the attention of the Director General of Fair Trading, who is responsible for investigating allegations of anti-competitive behaviour.

The Director General has investigated differential pricing by oil companies and has found that the competition legislation has not been breached.

As a result of concerns which have been expressed about the operation of the fuel market in those areas, the Office of Fair Trading undertook investigations in the Highlands and Islands and Western Isles, covering a range of matters, including information regarding the wholesale and retail pricing of fuel.

The OFT published reports in July last year and October this year, which concluded that, in the Highlands and Islands area as a whole and also in the Western Isles, there was no evidence of any sustained widening of pump price differentials as compared with the rest of the UK.

Special Advisers and Press Officers

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed (i) full time, (ii) part time and (iii) on a contract basis by her Department in each year since 1992. [6921]

Mrs. Liddell: In the former Scottish Office there were two full-time special advisers in post as any one time in the financial years 1992–93 to 1997–98 and three in 1998–99. The number of press officers employed was as follows:


The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. In 1999–2000 and 2000–01, there were three special advisers in post at any one time (one unpaid). The Department currently has two special advisers. Since 1 July 1999, the Department has had four press officers.

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Departmental Properties

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will estimate the total running costs for buildings used, owned or rented by her Department for each nation and region of the UK, and estimate the average cost per square metre for properties used by her Department as a whole, and by region and nation of the UK. [6807]

Mrs. Liddell: The estimated running costs for the buildings rented by my Department in Scotland for 2001–02 is £742,000. The running costs for the Department's building in London is estimated to be £571,000.

The estimated average cost per square metre for properties occupied by the Department is £294; this comprises £352 per square metre in Scotland and £242 per square metre in London.

Housing Debt

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland under what Treasury heading, and by what mechanism, moneys would be paid by HM Treasury to (a) the City of Glasgow council and (b) the Scottish Executive for the clearance of overhanging housing debt in the event of a Glasgow residents' vote in favour of the current housing stock transfer proposals; and if she will make a statement. [7796]

Mrs. Liddell: If the current Glasgow housing stock transfer proposals are agreed, my Department will provide appropriate additional funding to the Scottish Executive as part of the block grant for devolved services. It will then be for the Executive to make appropriate arrangements with the city of Glasgow council. The proposals in relation to housing debt in Scotland where a stock transfer takes place are on the same lines as the arrangements in England and Wales.

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