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19 July 2007 : Column 525W—continued

Occupied Territories: Peace Keeping Operations

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Government policy is on the proposal put forward by 10 EU Foreign Ministers for an international force to patrol the Palestinian territories; and if he will make a statement. [149630]

David Miliband: We are concerned about the security situation in Gaza. However, any international force would need the full support and agreement of all parties concerned.

Official Visits: Moldova

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what preparations he plans to make in response to the visit of the President of Moldova to the United Kingdom later in 2007; what (a) events and (b) meetings are planned; and if he will make a statement. [150533]

Mr. Jim Murphy: We are looking at future opportunities for inward visits from Moldova from senior figures including the President of Moldova. The timing of the president’s visit, however, has not yet been confirmed. It would be inappropriate to comment, therefore, on the tentative arrangements made thus far.

The UK enjoys a constructive relationship with Moldova and welcomes further co-operation between the UK and Moldova both bilaterally and within the EU. Over the last year, we have welcomed many high profile visitors to the UK, particularly Moldovan Ministers and parliamentarians. The Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, Dr. Marian Lupu, visited the UK in February last year for meetings with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials. Valeriu Ostalep, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration visited the UK in July 2006, while the Minister of Defence, Valeriu Plesca, visited the UK in September 2006, meeting with, among others, my noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence, Lord Drayson. My right hon. Friend the then Minister for Europe (Mr. Hoon), met President Voronin and other senior figures during his visit to Moldova in February this year, and met the First Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs. Zinaida Grecian√(r)i on her visit here last November.

Pakistan: Politics and Government

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of reports that the Government of Pakistan has relaxed the conditions of AQ Khan's house arrest; and whether he has made representations to the Government of Pakistan on this subject. [148959]


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David Miliband: We have noted recent press reports that some of AQ Khan's house arrest restrictions have been eased and our high commission in Islamabad has raised this with the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The MFA has assured us that there has been no change in AQ Khan's status and their official spokesman has also denied the suggestion.

Palestinians: International Assistance

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza who will receive salary remittances via restored EU funding through the Temporary International Mechanism. [148958]

David Miliband: 30,000 Palestinian Authority (PA) employees in Gaza currently receive allowances under the Temporary International Mechanism.

On 18 June, EU Foreign Ministers discussed the resumption of assistance to the PA. They concluded that the EU should develop the conditions for urgent practical and financial assistance. The EU has not yet decided how this will be delivered and is discussing options with the PA. These options include funding for private sector arrears and allowances for other PA workers. We expect the EU to announce its decision in the next few weeks.

Palestinians: Migration

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of Palestinians who have left Gaza since 12 June as a result of the violence and change in administration there; and if he will make a statement. [148961]

David Miliband: We have made no estimate of the number of Palestinians who have left Gaza since 12 June. However, the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights estimates that 600 Palestinians have tried to leave Gaza for the west bank since 12 June. On 16 and 17 June, Israeli authorities allowed approximately 150 Palestinians to travel to the west bank. The Israeli authorities also allowed a few Palestinian patients to travel to Israel to receive medical treatment through the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Portugal: EU-Africa Summit

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy not to attend the EU-Africa Summit in Portugal in December if Robert Mugabe is present at the summit. [149746]

Meg Munn: No decision on this has been taken since invitations have not yet been issued for the summit. It is not clear whether the Portuguese intend to invite Foreign Ministers as well as Heads of State and Government. We have made clear to EU and African partners that we believe that the presence of Robert Mugabe would undermine the summit’s important agenda.


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Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on whether the EU Common Position banning travel in the EU by members of the Government of Zimbabwe permits the attendance of Robert Mugabe or other members of the Government of Zimbabwe at the EU-Africa Summit in Portugal in December. [149747]

Meg Munn: Article 4(5) of the EU Common Position of Zimbabwe 2004/161/Common Foreign and Security Policy lists the circumstances under which an individual listed in the annex as subject to a visa ban may be granted an exemption from the ban. This includes attendance at intergovernmental meetings, included those promoted by the EU, where a political dialogue is conducted that directly promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. If a member state proposes to grant an exemption, this will be decided according to the procedure in article 4(6). At present, no proposal has been made in connection with the EU-Africa summit.

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the (a) African Union and (b) the Southern African Development Community on the attendance of Robert Mugabe and other representatives of the Government of Zimbabwe at the EU-Africa Summit in Portugal in December 2007. [149103]

Meg Munn: We continue to make clear in our contacts with African leaders, including the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, that Robert Mugabe’s attendance at the EU-Africa summit is undesirable and would undermine the summit’s important work on issues of mutual concern such as peacekeeping and security, climate change, good governance and poverty reduction in Africa.

Rainforests: Conservation

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made to international institutions on the protection of the Congo rainforest. [150175]

Meg Munn: The Government maintain a regular dialogue with the World Bank, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government to help develop innovative forest management and financing systems that provide alternatives to industrial logging. The Department for International Development-funded Roundtable Review is bringing together the World Bank, international NGOs and other key actors in a constructive dialogue to shape the future of the DRC's forests in a way that benefits the people of the DRC. The Government have pledged a US$500,000 contribution to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund to improve forest governance which will enable us to work with the World Bank, the EU, France and Belgium who are all key international players with important roles to play in support of the DRC's forests. And the UK's contribution of £50 million for the Congo Basin Initiative will support the important work to protect the Congo basin forests and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.


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Saudi Arabia: BAE Systems

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the US Administration requesting details of the inquiry into the Al Yamamah contract. [148693]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has received no such representations.

Sudan: Peace Keeping Operations

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 217W, on Sudan: peacekeeping operations, whether it is UK policy that the forthcoming UN Security Council resolution mandating the deployment of the AU-UN hybrid force should include provision for a no-fly zone and enhanced air monitoring in Darfur. [148976]

David Miliband: We are considering a number of measures to improve air monitoring in Darfur. Such measures will not be included in the UN Security Council Resolution that we are currently preparing with other Security Council members. This resolution will mandate the UN elements of the joint African Union (AU)/UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, as set out in the report produced by the AU and UN and presented to the Government of Sudan in Addis Ababa on 12 June. Copies of this report are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 218W, on Sudan: peacekeeping operations, how many African troops the UN is seeking to source for the AU-UN hybrid force; how many African countries have indicated their willingness to supply troops; and when a decision on whether to begin sourcing non-African troops would be made. [148977]

David Miliband: The African Union and UN have agreed that the hybrid force should include up to 19,555 troops. The UN will source troops from non-African countries if there are not sufficient African troops available. The formal process of force generation will be carried out by the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations, once a UN Security Council Resolution has been passed mandating the force.

Sudan: Politics and Government

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what preparations the Government are involved in to ensure that forthcoming elections in Sudan are adequately monitored by international representatives. [149984]

Meg Munn: While preparations for the 2008-09 elections are under way, we and other donors are concerned that the elections process is behind schedule.


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We are pushing all sides, including our international partners, to ensure that they implement their commitments, including on elections, under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as quickly as possible. We have taken the initiative to develop a joint donor strategy to co-ordinate support for the elections, including the need for effective election monitoring. We are pressing the UN to lead on election monitoring work. The EU has not yet indicated what its role will be in respect of election monitoring.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding he has made available to the different political parties operating in Sudan to assist their preparations for elections in 2009; and if he will make a statement. [149985]

Meg Munn: The UK is providing technical assistance and capacity building activities to support the major political parties in the Sudan in preparing for the 2008-09 elections. We are currently funding a 30-month project implemented by a consortium led by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance of Sweden. The project budget of £550,000 covers workshops to train party representatives in democratic principles, the elections process, the representation of women and minorities and how to run election campaigns.

We are considering options to expand the political parties training project to a larger number of parties in both the north and south and to fund media training on election reporting.

Uganda: Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1300W, on Uganda: Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, whether British police officers will be present during the Commonwealth meeting; and if he will make a statement. [149947]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to my written reply to him on 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1300W. British police officers will be present in Uganda during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Uganda: Elections

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1300W, on Uganda: politics and government, what reports he has received on the likelihood of President Museveni contesting elections in 2011; and if he will make a statement. [149518]

Meg Munn: The Ugandan Parliament voted in 2005 to lift the constitutional two-term limit, to allow incumbents to serve an unlimited number of terms. We have not received any confirmed reports about whether President Museveni intends to stand in the 2011 elections.


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Uganda: Politics and Government

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Uganda on the recent treatment of Dr. Kizza Besigye, leader of the Opposition. [150453]

Meg Munn: We have not made any recent representations to the Government of Uganda specifically about Dr. Besigye. We do, however, closely monitor the People's Redemption Army trial in which Besigye is a defendant and are pushing for a swift and fair conclusion of the legal process. In the course of our regular dialogue with the Government of Uganda, we continue to press them, including at senior political level, on all aspects of engaging with the Opposition and further developing multi-party democracy.

Children, Schools and Families

Adoptions: Appeals

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many adoptions were challenged by the birth parent in each of the last three years. [151069]

Kevin Brennan: Statistical information for the years 2003-05 on the number of contested and uncontested adoption orders which were granted in England and Wales is included in Table 6.3 in the Statistics Series ‘Marriage, divorce and adoptions’, Volume FM2, published by the Office for National Statistics. A copy of this publication is available in the House Library and on the National Statistics website at:

Statistics for 2006 have not yet been published.

Children’s Centres

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many Sure Start children's centres there were in England in each year from 1996-97 to 2006-07; and what estimate he has made of the likely number of such centres in each year from 2007-08 to 2010-11. [149114]

Beverley Hughes: Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) were established before children's centres, with 524 set up between 1999 and 2003. The first table gives cumulative figures for SSLPs open in each financial year across this period:

Number of Sure Start Local Programmes

1999-2000

51

2000-01

142

2001-02

259

2002-03

445

2003-04

524



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The first Sure Start children's centres were opened in June 2003, and the following table shows cumulative figures across each financial year up to 2007-08. The figures include former SSLPs as the vast majority of these have taken on children's centre status over this period.

Number of Sure Start Children's Centres (including those that were initially SSLPs)

2004

65

2005

226

2006

836

2007

1,262

2008

(1)2,500

(1 )Forecast based on progress towards Government target.

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