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Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with the Israeli authorities concerning the legality of the killing of Mr. Ian Hook; and if he will make a statement; 
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Netanyahu, on 22 November 2002. Mr. Netanyahu promised an immediate investigation and gave an undertaking to share the results as soon as he had them. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised the matter with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Sharon, on 29 November 2002. I also raised it with the Israeli Ambassador, Mr. Shtauber, on 4 and 5 December 2002. There has also been frequent contact between our embassy in Tel Aviv and the Israeli authorities, and our Chargé d'Affaires discussed the IDF inquiry with a senior IDF officer on 3 December 2002, at the IDF's request.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken by the Government to assist the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo to identify the ultimate owners and beneficiaries of Tremalt Ltd. 
Mr. Straw: The UN Panel of Expert's mandate expired on 18 October 2002. Discussions are under way at the UN on how to renew its mandate. The UK will maintain a dialogue with the Panel, once its mandate is renewed. We will continue to comment on information the Panel wishes to discuss with the UK, as requested.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under whose direction Governors of overseas territories act on (a) matters devolved to overseas legislation and (b) other matters. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Governors of overseas territories act under the direction of the Foreign Secretary. The extent to which the Foreign Secretary may instruct a Governor as to the exercise of his functions depends on the terms of the Constitution and legislation in force in each territory.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what his policy is on the representation of (a) overseas territories outside Europe and (b) crown dependencies in the European Parliament; 
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Gibraltar is the only UK overseas territory inside the European Union. Following a 1999 European Court of Human Rights judgment, the UK is required to ensure that Gibraltarians can vote in European Parliament elections. The Government introduced the European Parliament (Representation) Bill in November 2002 in order to provide for Gibraltar's enfranchisement in time for the 2004 European Parliamentary elections.
The other overseas territories and the crown dependencies are not part of the European Union. They have their own elected governments and no direct representation in the European Parliament. Their constituents are free to raise with UK MEPs any concerns they may have with regard to EU legislation or other EU matters, and their governments are free to raise with HMG any such concerns they may have.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list for his Department (a) those Comprehensive Spending Review 1998 targets that were outstanding at the time of the statement on the Comprehensive Spending Review 2002, (b) progress on such targets since then and (c) the expected date when targets not yet achieved will be met. 
Mr. MacShane: Progress against the FCO's targets agreed under the 1998 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR98) for the period 19992002 was reported in Appendix K of the FCO's 2002 Departmental Report, which was published in June 2002, and is available on the FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk). CSR98 targets were superseded by targets agreed under the 2000 Spending Review (SR2000) for the period 200104. SR2000 targets and the new targets agreed under the 2002 Spending Review (SR2002) for the period 200306 are also available on the FCO website.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with allies about dealing with the proliferation of surface-to-air missiles; and what actions he proposes to take. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The states participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement, including the United Kingdom, recognising the special danger posed by such weapons, adopted specific export control guidelines for Man-Portable Air Defence Systems in December 2000.
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: We will discuss the full range of bilateral and international issues with President Bashar al-Assad including reform, human rights, Iraq, the Middle East Peace Process and the fight against terrorism.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether he will discuss support for terrorist organisations with the President of Syria during his forthcoming visit to the UK; 
(3) whether he will discuss the fate of Israeli missing servicemen with President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria during his forthcoming visit to the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: President Bashar Al-Assad is visiting the United Kingdom, at the invitation of Her Majesty's Government, as a follow-up to the Prime Minister's visit to Syria in October 2001. Discussions during the visit will cover the full range of bilateral and international issues, including reform, human rights, Iraq, the Middle East Peace Process and the fight against terrorism, including terrorist organisations in Syria and the fate of missing Israeli servicemen.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which United Nations (a) Security Council resolutions and (b) General Assembly resolutions the United Kingdom has voted on in the current session; how the United Kingdom voted in each case; what steps his Department takes to maximise media coverage of United Nations resolutions and debates; and if he will make it his policy to make a written statement in the Official Report on the United Kingdom voting record at the United Nations. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York and other British embassies and high commissions frequently issue press releases and have information on their websites which publicise UN activities.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements there will be for pensioners to get documents verified for the purposes of claiming benefits without posting them to regional Pension Service centres. 
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post as they do now. However where a pensioner requires it we expect to be able to verify documents via the local service.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to ensure that women will continue to receive their benefits payment independent of men when the new payment method for benefits is introduced. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 December 2002]: The Department for Work and Pensions is providing customers with information (including letters and leaflets) which clearly sets out the account options as part of the move to payment directly into bank accounts. All customers including women will have the option to open an account in their name only if they want independent access to their benefit payments.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) pensioner groups and (b) poverty groups as part of the project to change payment systems from one of benefit books to direct bank account payments. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 December 2002]: Special interest groups including those that represent pensioner and poverty groups have been involved throughout the development of the move to direct payment. Regular meetings are held with these groups to discuss progress. The most recent meeting was held on 28 November 2002.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research the Department has undertaken into the advantages of moving to paying benefits to bank accounts only; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 December 2002]: Payment directly into accounts is a safe, convenient, more modern and efficient way to pay benefits and pensions. More people are already choosing to be paid this way. The Department conducted research of benefit recipients who were not already paid this way to provide an overview of their characteristics, experiences and attitudes. Some people indicated that they wanted to be able to continue to access their money from post office branches and also to be able to continue to collect it weekly. Both of these options will be available when this payment method becomes the normal way we pay benefits from April 2003.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) research and (b) risk assessment has been undertaken by the Department on the number of customers who do not have bank accounts in which to receive their benefits; and what contingency plans the Department has for those without bank accounts for the payment of benefits. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 16 December 2002]: Benefit customers are increasingly choosing direct payment as the way they want their benefit or pension paid. Research has shown that around 85 per cent. of benefit customers already have access to bank accounts. The introduction of universal banking services (which consist of two elements: access to a basic bank account and the post office card account) will open up a wider
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range of banking and financial services. We have always recognised that there will be a small group of people who we cannot pay directly into an account. We will develop an alternate method to pay this group of people.
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