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Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Tunisian Government about the arrest and detention of the journalist Sihem Ben Sedrine; and when he last received reports about the human rights situation in Tunisia. 
Mr. Bradshaw: I will write to the Tunisian Deputy Foreign Minister to express my concern at the arrest and detention of the journalist Sihem Ben Sedrine. In addition to regular reports from FCO officials, I have also received the latest statement from Amnesty International and other international human right organisations about the human rights situation in Tunisia.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by the Government to bring an end to the ill-treatment of civilians in Chechnya by Russian forces; and what human rights violations have been reported to have occurred last week during operations by Russian forces in the Chechen villages of Sernovodsk, Assinovskaya and Kurchaloi. 
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which British diplomatic missions locally engaged staff are paid below local poverty datum lines; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The salary scales and conditions of service for locally engaged staff are set in each country by reference to the good local practice of comparable employers, at a level enabling our posts to recruit, retain and motivate suitable staff. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office greatly values the contribution of its local staff.
Ann Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made to establish the British Consulate office in Jalandhar, Punjab; and if it will provide full consulate services. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We propose to open visa liaison offices in Jalandhar (Punjab) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat). The objective behind this initiative is to make our visa services in India more accessible to our customers. The offices, which will be staffed by locally employed personnel, will assist applicants in completing visa application formalities and offering guidance on visa related matters to those who need it. We also hope that entry clearance officers from Delhi and Bombay will visit the offices on a regular basis to assess the visa applications of those who would find it difficult to undertake the long journey to one of our visa issuing posts, such as old and infirm applicants.
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David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what office accommodation, staff and other facilities have been made available to Lord Levy at the Foreign Office. 
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) national and (b) international awareness events his Department has participated in since June 1997 in the form of (i) sponsorship, (ii) departmental attendance, (iii) similar departmental activities and (iv) a message of support. 
Mr. Straw: My Department has been involved in many international and national awareness events since June 1997 in support of departmental objectives. The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. I would be happy to provide the right hon. Member with further details if he could be specific about the events he has in mind.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received regarding (a) the seven Israeli soldiers and (b) the Israeli civilian, Elchanan Tenenboim, held captive by Hezbollah; and what plans he has to take steps to assist in bringing about their release. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 19 July 2001]: This Government condemn hostage taking under any circumstances. On 3 May my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary and my hon. Friend the then Minister of State met the families of the three soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah on 7 October and the reservist Colonel kidnapped on 4 October. We have received a number of letters from Members of this House and members of the public raising their concern about the fate of the captives.
The Government are doing what they can to help and have raised these cases, and continue to do so, with the relevant countries in the region pressing particularly for access to the hostages for the ICRC. We strongly support all efforts to secure the release of all hostages, particularly efforts led by the United Nations Secretary General.
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Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list, for each British post abroad which operates a pre-sift system for people applying for visit visas, how many people (a) were advised to withdraw their applications and (b) followed that advice, in (i) 1999, (ii) 2000 and (iii) 2001 for the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We do not record the number of applicants who are advised to withdraw their application at the pre-shift stage. To ask posts to provide this information now would require them to carry out a manual search of their records. This could be done only at disproportionate cost.
The 2001 figures are based on monthly statistical reports received from the 109 largest posts up to May 2001. The remaining posts submit information on an annual basis. To answer this question for all 164 posts we would have to ask those additional posts to extract the information requested. Given that these posts are smaller it is unlikely that many of them will pre-sift applications.
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