|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will review the decision to explore contacts with Hezbollahs political wing after the Lebanese election on 7 June 2009. 
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with their counterparts in (i) the United States, (ii) France, (iii) Israel, (iv) Lebanon, (v) Canada, (vi) Syria and (vii) Iran on Government policy on Hezbollah; and what views were expressed by each of those governments. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials and myself meet regularly with counterparts in other governments and discuss a broad agenda, including, where appropriate, Government policy on Hezbollah. It is not for the FCO to state the views of other governments.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Iran on the seven Bahai leaders who have been under arrest in Iran for the last 12 months. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 1 June 2009]: We have repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Iranian Government regarding the treatment of the seven Bahai leaders. The EU, with strong UK support, has called for their immediate release on several occasions.
I issued a statement on 16 February 2009, backed by an EU statement on 17 February 2009, expressing our concern at the charges against them and calling for the Iranian Government to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings. I then issued a further statement on 14 May 2009 to mark the one year anniversary of their arrest. In this statement I reiterated concerns
for their well-being and again called for the Iranian Government to ensure that these individuals are protected and given a fair trial in accordance with international standards.
The UK will continue to urge Iran to put an end to persecution of religious minorities and to respect the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in article 18 of the international covenant on civil and political rights, to which Iran is a state party.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will withdraw his Departments objection to the publication of Sir Jeremy Greenstocks proposed book on Iraq. 
Bill Rammell: Sir Jeremy Greenstock submitted a draft copy of his book to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2005. The FCO was unable to clear the draft and despite attempts by both sides to solve outstanding concerns, it was put on hold. Sir Jeremy indicated in 2005 that he would seek clearance at a later date. We have not received any further contact.
Bill Rammell [holding answer 21 May 2009]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 13 May 2009 and Defence Minister Barak on 6 May 2009. He also stressed the importance of greater access in his statement to the UN Security Council on 11 May 2009.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the discovery by Egyptian security forces on 14 May 2009 of weapons and explosive devices along the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: We are aware of reports of munitions found along the Egyptian-Israeli border. We continue to work closely with international partners to tackle the issue of arms smuggling into Gaza; the UK hosted an international meeting on the issue in March 2009 and will attend a follow-up meeting in June 2009. We condemn any attempt to smuggle arms into Gaza.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of allegations that intelligence services in the UK are supplying intelligence to Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 1 June 2009]: We are aware of recent press reports, upon which we assume the question is based and which originate in a speculative Spanish radio report, citing allegations that Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden have been receiving information from shipping consultants in London. The allegations contained in the original report and subsequent press reporting are unsubstantiated and unfounded.
Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the alleged use of heavy artillery by the Government of Sri Lanka on civilians in Northern Sri Lanka between 8 and 11 May 2009. 
Bill Rammell: We are aware of disturbing reports of the use of heavy weapons by both sides during the conflict and are seeking to verify the accuracy of these reports. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said at the UN on 11 May 2009, we are appalled at the recent reports of civilian casualties. Following the Foreign Secretarys discussions with US Secretary Clinton on 12 May 2009, they released a joint statement calling for the Government of Sri Lanka to abide by its commitment of 27 April 2009 to end major combat operations and the use of heavy weapons. We welcome the end to hostilities and urge the Sri Lankan Government to now focus on the immediate welfare of internally displaced persons and for the long term peace and stability of Sri Lanka.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU and US counterparts on whether the recent actions of the Sri Lankan Government constitute genocide. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly discusses the situation in Sri Lanka with his US and EU counterparts. As he has made clear, most recently in his joint statement with US Secretary Clinton of 12 May 2009, we are profoundly concerned at the humanitarian crisis and are alarmed by the continued reports of high civilian causalities. We condemn the killing of civilians in the strongest possible terms. As I repeated in the House during the topical debate on Sri Lanka on 14 May 2009, Official Report, column 1034, we would support an early investigation into all incidents that may have resulted in civilian casualties, to determine whether war crimes have been committed.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Statement of 30 April 2009, Official Report, columns 1048-50, on Sri Lanka, what steps he is taking to ensure that the UN Security Council addresses the conflict in Sri Lanka. 
On 19 May 2009, the Sri Lankan President announced that military forces had retaken all the territory once held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and that they had captured or killed the senior leadership of that organisation. Our primary
concern remains the immediate humanitarian crisis affecting the civilians displaced by the fighting and the long-term political and economic peace and stability of Sri Lanka. We continue to work with the UN, EU, the Sri Lankan Government and key international partners to try to alleviate the humanitarian situation and to press for progress on a political solution that is based on equality, consent and rule of law.
Within the UN, we have been working to ensure the Security Council remained fully briefed on the situation in Sri Lanka. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Sri Lanka with UN Security Council representatives on 11 May 2009, and the UK raised Sri Lanka at the UN Security Council on 13 May 2009. We fully supported the visits by senior UN staff to Sri Lanka, including John Holmes (UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs) and Vijay Nambiar, (UN Secretary-Generals Chief of Staff) and, in the face of some opposition from others, we supported their subsequent briefings to the Security Council. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed Sri Lanka with the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 19 May 2009. These actions at the UN have been important, not least in keeping the spotlight of international concern on Sri Lanka.
We have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to use the opportunity of the visits by Mr. Nambiar and the UN Secretary-General himself, to recognise that the UN has a central role to play, both in the delivery of humanitarian aid and in encouraging the process of political reconciliation that must be an integral part of rebuilding Sri Lankas civil society.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on holding independent war crimes investigations of the actions of the Sri Lankan military. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 1 June 2009]: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear in his written ministerial statement on 19 May 2009, Official Report, column 73 WS, we endorse the European Council's call for alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law to be investigated through an independent inquiry, and for those accountable to be brought to justice. We believe this could play an important role in the post-conflict reconciliation process.
Bill Rammell: We are not aware of any current proposals for a UN Special Envoy to Sri Lanka. We welcome the high level engagement by the UN, including the recent visits to Sri Lanka by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar and UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes. We fully support the efforts of the UN in regard to the situation in Sri Lanka and welcome the UN Secretary-Generals continued involvement.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 1 April 2009, Official Report, columns 1199-200W, on Sudan: overseas aid, how many international aid organisations have been permitted to return to Darfur; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The Government of Sudan have not reversed their decision and none of the international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) expelled from Darfur and other parts of northern Sudan have been permitted to return to Darfur. The UK, along with many other countries, has made clear its strong view that these NGOs were doing essential work and need to be allowed back.
Detailed discussions continue between the UN and Government of Sudan on steps to restore humanitarian capacity and to secure a safe operating environment for NGOs. The UK is in close touch with the UN, the Government of Sudan and other partners on these issues.
Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress he has made in respect of the case of Maryam Kallis, recently arrested in Syria; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this case with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, during a telephone conversation on 8 May 2009. Consular officials in Damascus have visited Mrs. Kallis on two occasions, on 8 and 23 April 2009 and we have requested further consular access. We have asked the Syrian authorities to allow Mrs. Kallis access to legal representation and that her family are allowed to visit her. We have made clear to the Syrian authorities that we expect them either to charge or to release Mrs. Kallis as soon as possible. We continue to pursue this case repeatedly at an official level with the Syrian authorities.
I refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement of 16 March 2009, Official Report, column 39WS. The Commission of Inquirys final report was due by 31 May 2009. Unless the Commissioners final report significantly changes our current assessment of the situation, the order suspending parts of the constitution will be brought into force after the final report is received and has been considered.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what difference in cost to his Department there is between filling an overseas post relating to UK Trade and Investment with an officer of the Diplomatic Service and an official from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; and whether this difference is taken into account when posts are allocated. 
Gillian Merron: UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) jobs overseas are subject to internal open competition in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UKTI and Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform (BERR). Successful candidates are chosen only on merit, in the interests of getting the best person for the job. BERR staff taking up UKTI positions overseas transfer to diplomatic service terms and conditions for the duration of their posting.
It is not possible to provide a difference in cost between filling a UKTI overseas post with an officer of the diplomatic service and an official from BERR as costs are dependent on the post, the destination country and the grade and personal circumstances of the officer.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of the United Arab Emirates on the examination of alleged video evidence of acts of torture by uniformed police and others in that country. 
Bill Rammell: The Government are absolutely opposed to the use of torture under any circumstances. We note the official statement of the Government of the United Arab Emirates on 30 April 2009 unequivocally condemning the actions depicted in the video. We welcome the decision of the Human Rights Office of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to conduct a comprehensive review of this case and to make its findings public at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who the Administering Power for the Non Self-Governing territory of Western Sahara is as referred to in General Assembly Resolution 63/110 on the Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. 
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when his Department last reviewed its assets and land and property holdings with a view to identifying and disposing of surpluses. 
Jonathan Shaw: The DWP does not own any land or property. The Department has outsourced its estate through a PFI Contract known as PRIME, under which it pays a charge for serviced accommodation for each building covering the cost of the space occupied, the maintenance of the building, plant, fixtures and fittings, and of the facilities management services provided.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|