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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Both the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) and the UN remain confident that technical preparations are on schedule to meet the 30 January timing for elections. Some 111 groups, with over 7,000 candidates, are registered to contest the national elections. A further 12,000 candidates will contest the provincial elections.
Recent polling data indicate that over 80 per cent of Iraqis want to vote. Security for the elections will of course be vital. The IECI and the Iraqi authorities, with the multinational forces, are working hard to ensure security in all areas to achieve the broadest possible participation.
To date, the IECI has accredited 12,400 Iraqi election observers to ensure that elections are free and fair. In addition, the International Mission for Iraqi Elections, an initiative established by the Canadian Electoral Commission, will carry out a technical assessment of the elections.
In light of the Statement on 12 January to the United Nations Security Council by the senior United Nations envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, that "we may move into a period of intense violence unless swift action is taken", what action they are taking to implement the Security Council Resolution taken under Chapter 7 Powers requiring the disarmament of the Janjaweed by the expiry date in August 2004. [HL753]
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are greatly concerned by the latest report to the United Nations Security Council on Darfur. As Security Council Resolution 1556 of 30 July makes clear, both the Government of Sudan and the rebels must comply with the requirements placed on them by the Security Council, including ending impunity and preventing human rights violations, or face a range of possible measures, including sanctions. We are discussing, with partners in the Security Council, and in light of developments on the ground, how best to respond.
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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is for the African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Council to decide the mandate of the AU mission in Darfur. We fully supported their decision in October 2004 to increase the size of the mission and to broaden its mandate to include more proactive monitoring and to enable them to protect civilians in the immediate vicinity under imminent threat of attack. We have provided over £14 million in support of the AU mission.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: An allegation was made in the UK press in August 2004, based on statistics published by Comtrade, that the UK exported around 200,000 dollars worth of arms to Sudan between 2001 and 2003. We do not believe this information to be correct. The UK adheres fully to the European Union arms embargo which has been in force since 1996.
Details of all UK export licensing decisions are published in the Government's annual reports on strategic export controls (from 2004, licensing information is also published quarterly). The Department for Trade and Industry licensing records show that a total of £11,121 of military-listed goods were licensed by the UK for export to Sudan between 2001 and 2003.
The United Nations International Trade Centre and the United Nations Statistics Division have told us that their statistics are based on Sudanese reporting, and they would revert to the Sudanese authorities for clarification. We have as yet received no information to support the statistics Comtrade published. If we do, we will investigate further and action will be taken against any UK person or entity found to be in breach of UK legislation implementing the arms embargo against Sudan.
How much was paid to the Northern Ireland Court Service in each of the past five years for liquor licence fees; how many licences were issued in these years; and what is the estimated annual average cost of processing such licences. [HL800]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): During the past five years, the total of the fees received by the Northern Ireland Court Service in respect of liquor licensing proceedings was:
Liquor licences for public houses, restaurants, clubs and other relevant premises are renewed every five years; the last renewal period was in 2002. This explains the increase in fees revenue for the period 200203.
|Applications for granting of licence||Applications for licence renewal||Applications for occasional licences|
As the Northern Ireland Court Service records civil court business costs by tier of court and by location, the costs for processing applications for liquor licences could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Her Majesty's Treasury have received a number of letters on poverty-related issues from the Reverend Paul Nicolson of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, the most recent of which specifically focused on working-age poverty and was sent on 10 January 2005. A reply to Reverend Nicolson's letter was sent from officials on 21 January 2005.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): From data obtained from the ORA (Oil Recycling Association), and UKPIA (United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association) approximately 380,000 tonnes of reprocessed fuel is used as fuel oil each year in the UK. These substitute on a like-for-like basis thus saving 380,000 tonnes of virgin fuel oil.
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