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China and Tibet

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the numbers of political prisoners in (a) Tibet and (b) China. [28325]

Mr. MacShane: According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch there is a lack of conclusive independent information on the numbers concerned. Unofficial estimates of those imprisoned for political beliefs and activities are that they may number in the thousands, with many more in administrative detention. The detention of democracy activists and the widespread use of administrative detention are among the central concerns we raise with the Chinese authorities.

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GCHQ

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is in respect of the monitoring by GCHQ of communications originating and terminating within the UK. [28635]

Mr. Straw: GCHQ may monitor communications originating and terminating within the UK only in accordance with law, and in particular with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the purpose of Morwenstow station: and how many (a) US and (b) UK personnel are based there. [28584]

Mr. Straw: GCHQ Bude, previously known as the Composite Signals Organisation Station at Morwenstow, employs approximately 200 people and provides intelligence support serving the interest of the UK and its allies. It is long standing policy not to provide details about the operations carried out at Bude or to provide a detailed breakdown of staffing.

Parliamentary Questions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many answers to parliamentary questions have not been answered by his Department under exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information in each year since 1994. [29419]

Mr. Straw: We do not keep separate records of answers that refer to the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. To answer this question would entail checking every answer from FCO Ministers since 1994, which could only be done at disproportionate cost.

The Public Administration Committee's Fourth Report on Ministerial Accountability and Parliamentary Questions published on 10 November 1999 (HC 821) includes at Memorandum 7 a list of answers provided by the FCO during Parliamentary Session 1997 to 1998 which referred to the Code of Practice. None referred to Exemption 13 of the Code. The Committee's Fourth Report published on 13 December 2000 (HC 61) lists answers provided for the 1998 to 1999 Session. Five questions answered by the FCO refer to Exemption 13. (Memorandum 6.)

The Committee has not yet published a report covering the 1999 to 2000 Session. Two answers from the FCO in that Session referred to Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice.

International Drug Trade

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of developments since September in Afghanistan on the international drug trade. [28632]

Mr. Bradshaw: To date, we have not detected a clear impact on the drugs trade in the UK or Europe but we continue to monitor events closely.

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We and our international partners are committed to working with the Afghanistan's Interim Administration to tackle drugs cultivation in Afghanistan. We welcome the Chairman of the Interim Administration's edict banning involvement in the drugs trade. Drug control is an important aspect of reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Intelligence Sharing

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in what circumstances material obtained by interception (a) by the UK Government about foreign nationals is passed to the domestic authorities of those foreign nationals and (b) by foreign Governments about UK citizens is passed to the UK authorities. [28624]

Mr. Straw: It has long been the policy of this and previous Governments not to comment on intelligence- related arrangements that might exist between the UK and other countries. If any material were identified under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, its dissemination would be strictly controlled by the conditions set out in section 15 of the Act.

Mrs. Blair

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions his Department has provided support for Mrs. Blair during the Prime Minister's official visits abroad in the periods (a) May 1997 to April 1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999, (c) May 1999 to April 2000, (d) May 2000 to April 2001 and (e) since May 2001. [28627]

Mr. MacShane: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, and British embassies and High Commissions around the world, have assisted No. 10 in arranging official programmes for Mrs. Blair whenever she has accompanied the Prime Minister on his official visits overseas. This is in accordance with the Cabinet Office Ministerial Code of July 1997. Mrs. Blair has accompanied the Prime Minister on the following number of occasions:






Stolen Equipment

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what equipment has been stolen from his Department since 1 May 1997; and what the approximate value of each item was. [26830]

Mr. Straw: The following equipment has been stolen from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK since 1 May 1997:

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Items stolenValue (£)
4 June 1997Laser jet and monitor screen600
16 June 1997Computer CPU750
16 June 1997Answerphone100
27 October 1997Laptop2,000
27 May 1998Video player150
3 July 1998CD rom player150
12 November 1998Computer mouse30
4 August 1998Cannon colour printer140
6 January 1999Socket mother board
Intel processor
Hard disk   300
Video card
Internal Modem Card
13 May 1999Laptop2,000
3 September 1999Laptop2,000
4 October 1999Answerphone100
10 January 2000Hard disks on 2 computer stations400
21 January 2000Hard drives
Ram and CPU   900
Processors on 2 computers
28 March 2000Computer components500
15 April 2000Laptop2,000
17 April 2000Ram and processors300
26 April 2000Ram and processors 300
4 May 2000Ram and processors300
4 December 2000Palm pilot computer500
28 February 2001Computer and hardware digital
Camera CDRW   1,200
Drives Firecrest PC
External CD Rom for laptop
27 February 2001Laptop Toshiba2,000
Unknown Scanner300
16 March 2001Laptop2,000
11 April 2001Minidisc player200
10 April 2001Telephone80
13 March 2001Shortwave radio200
22 May 2001Boxed PC including monitor/keyboard1,200
17 August 2001Flat screen monitor450
29 October 2001Laptop2,000
10 January 20027x17" monitors1,400

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Subcontinent

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the military situation (a) between India and Pakistan and (b) over Kashmir. [29510]

Mr. Bradshaw: We remain concerned by the continuing military and political tensions between India and Pakistan. We hope that India and Pakistan will continue to seek ways to return to dialogue to resolve all the issues between them. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has kept in close contact over the past month with his Indian and Pakistani counterparts, and with other key interlocutors.

Interception of Communications

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 368W, on interception of communications, by what means a statement to the House would be made. [28519]

The Prime Minister: I am replying to this question as it relates to matters for which I am responsible.

Should circumstances arise in which a statement of the kind mentioned in my earlier reply needs to be made, I would then consider the appropriate form.

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