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Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the role of Hezbollah in terrorist activity in (a) southern Lebanon and (b) the Palestinian Territories. 
Dr. Howells: We are not aware of any involvement by Hizballah in terrorist activity in southern Lebanon. However, we remain very concerned by Hizballah's support for terrorist activity within the Occupied Territories.
Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Israel about its attack on the prison in Jericho; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary called the Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs on 14 March to urge restraint. Our ambassador in Tel Aviv also called the Israeli Authorities on two separate occasions on 14 March to ask for assurances that the six detainees would not be harmed. On 15 March, our ambassador spoke to the Israeli Authorities requesting: access to the ex-Jericho prisoners by representatives of the International Committee Red Cross; assurances that the prisoners would have access to lawyers; and that any trial for the prisoners would be fair and transparent.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of Libya's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: Libya signed the historic agreement to renounce all of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes in December 2003. We have since seen no indication that Libya has attempted to restart its abandoned programmes.
Together with the United States, we continue to assist Libya with the destruction and removal of all components of its WMD programmes, and to promote the engagement and redirection of its WMD personnel into civilian fields.
We welcome the opening of a dialogue between the Libyan authorities and groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and progress made in the joint programme on prison management between the Libyan Secretariat of Justice and the International Centre for Prison Studies, financed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Global Opportunities Fund. We also welcome the abolition of the Revolutionary Guards Courts, the recent debate in the Basic People's Congresses on the possible abolition or further restriction of the death penalty, and the release of political prisoners this year.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether Libya has complied with all its obligations in respect of Lockerbie; and if he will make a statement; 
Dr. Howells: Libyan co-operation has resulted in the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who is currently serving a 27-year sentence in Greenock Prison. Libya has also paid out US $8 million to each of the victim's families. A further US $2 million will be paid to each of the victim's families once the United States removes Libya from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Libyan authorities about the freedom of Libyan journalists and political prisoners; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: There have been no ministerial discussions. The Government remain concerned about the lack of freedom of expression in Libya, including a free media. We have welcomed the release of 14 political prisoners in January 2006 and hope for further releases. We will continue to monitor and raise these issues with the Libyans.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to the Palestinian Authority about the destruction of the British Council building in Gaza. 
Dr. Howells: I spoke with Manuel Hassassian, Head of the UK Palestinian General Delegation, on 15 March to express my concern at the damage caused to the British Council buildings in Gaza and Ramallah. Our Consul General in Jerusalem also raised his concerns with senior members of the Palestinian Authority. We were grateful for the initial protection offered by Palestinian Security Forces which allowed the building in Gaza to be evacuated. However we regret that stronger measures could not have been deployed to prevent the destruction of facilities designed to support the Palestinian people.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what grounds the Department is making a claim against Capgemini for lack of sufficient memory in the Prism IT system; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been working with both Oracle and Capgemini to address issues connected with performance of its Prism system. A number of improvements are now in train, including upgrading the memory of the system. The FCO maintains a close and constructive dialogue with Capgemini about all contractual matters. Given the ongoing nature of discussions it would not be appropriate for me to give further details at this stage.
Dr. Howells: The second report of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission's (UNIIIC) on 12 December 2005 highlighted Syrian non-compliance with the UNIIIC. In response to this report, United Nations Security Council resolution 1644 was adopted on 15 December, which underscored Syria's obligation and commitment to co-operate fully and unconditionally with the UNIIIC.
The UNIIIC's most recent report on 15 March stated that an understanding had been reached between the UNIIIC and the Syrian Government on the operational modalities with regards future co-operation and that this understanding will be tested in the upcoming months.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will advocate to non-signatory countries ratification of the United Nations Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, 1956. 
Ian Pearson: The Government is in the process of considering whether to lobby non-signatory countries on the ratification of the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, as part of its activities to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 2007.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to his counterparts in other countries (a) to ratify international standards which prohibit slavery and (b) to introduce stronger international mechanisms to monitor and report on compliance with these standards. 
As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Government are committed to marking the 200th anniversary of the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 2007. The Government are currently considering what activities they will pursue to commemorate this event, including those suggested by my hon. Friend.
22 Mar 2006 : Column 425W
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