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Afghanistan

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are to extend the military action in Afghanistan to other countries. [16665]

22 Nov 2001 : Column: 406W

Mr. Bradshaw: Our military action is focused on the al-Qaeda network and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the role of states other than Afghanistan in having assisted Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda; and if he will list those states. [16421]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government are not speculating about the involvement of anyone other than UBL and al-Qaeda in the 11 September attacks. Al-Qaeda is a network of individuals and resources concerned with terrorism and operating covertly in many countries in Central, South and South-East Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America. There is no evidence that any states beyond Afghanistan are supporting the terrorist activities of al-Qaeda.

EU Constitution

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government are opposed in principle to an EU constitution; and if he will make a statement. [16407]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) on 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 976W.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had about the inclusion of a possible EU constitution in the forthcoming Laeken declaration on the future of Europe. [16408]

Peter Hain: It was agreed at Nice that there should be a wide and deep debate on the future of Europe before the next IGC in 2004. The Laeken European Council in December will decide on how to take that debate forward.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many employees of (a) his Department and (b) agencies sponsored by his Department work in (i) London, (ii) areas benefiting from EU objective 1 status, (iii) areas with objective 2 status, and (iv) other areas. [16107]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 19 November 2001]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and its agency (Wiston House, Wilton park, Steyning, West Sussex), employs staff in four separate locations. The number of staff in each are as follows, listed in the four categories requested:

Number
(i) London2,231
(ii) EU objective 1 status0
(iii) EU objective 2 status0
(iv) Other
Milton Keynes716
Croydon136
West Sussex61


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Chechnya Murders

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has received about the involvement of Osama bin Laden in the deaths of three UK citizens in Chechnya in 1998; and if he will make a statement. [16963]

Mr. Bradshaw: We first became aware of the allegation that bin Laden/the Taleban ordered the deaths of the four men last year, when it appeared in an official Russian publication called "Chechnya: The White Paper". A similar article appeared in the Russian newspaper "Gazeta" on 24 October 2001. To date, we have been unable to verify the story, although we have been in contact with the Russian authorities and the author of the "Gazeta" article.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ask the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to reopen his inquiries concerning the deaths of three UK citizens in Chechnya in 1998; and if he will make a statement. [16964]

Mr. Bradshaw: The British police have no general remit to conduct a criminal investigation into the murder of British nationals overseas. This is a matter for the local law enforcement agencies. We will continue to press the Russian authorities for details of the progress of their investigation.

The Metropolitan Police Service did carry out certain inquiries in support of the Coroner's Inquest into the men's deaths. But their role was limited to providing enough information to the coroner so that he could reach a verdict as to the cause of death and judge whether it was lawful or otherwise.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department took to ensure that Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice given to Granger Telecom and BT in 1998 on travel to Chechnya was passed onto three UK citizens in Chechnya; and if he will make a statement. [16965]

Mr. Bradshaw: The FCO cannot interfere in a company's personnel operations, but we do expect UK employers to take the FCO travel advice into account when planning to send their employees overseas. FCO travel advice was first drawn to the attention of Granger Telecom in July 1998, when we first learned of their activities in Chechnya. Our advice was clear and unambiguous:


We wrote to Granger Telecom in mid-August 1998 pointing out the dangers of working in Chechnya and handed over a copy of the travel advice during a meeting with them at the FCO on 21 August. We also reminded Granger of our travel advice by phone on 22 and 23 September 1998.

22 Nov 2001 : Column: 408W

Zimbabwe

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made on Zimbabwean farmers and President Mugabe's decree amending the Land Acquisition Act. [16815]

Mr. Bradshaw: We continue to urge the Zimbabwean Government to honour its commitments, under the Abuja Agreement of 6 September, to implement a land reform programme in a fair, just and sustainable manner in the interest of all the people of Zimbabwe. We hope that the Government will engage constructively with the UNDP in pursuing such a programme, on the basis of the UNDP proposals of December 2000.

Extradition

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries which have made extradition requests to the UK in respect of their nationals who are alleged members of Islamic groups who are living here. [11183]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I have been asked to reply.

There are currently nine requests outstanding for the extradition of fugitives accused of involvement in Islamic terrorist activity. Six of those requests had been received before the events of 11 September. The requesting jurisdictions in these cases are as follows:

Requesting jurisdictionNumber of requests
United States of America5
France2
Italy1
Algeria1

Save in relation to the request from Algeria, none of the other fugitives involved is a national of those countries. All of them are in extradition custody.

SCOTLAND

Island Transport

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was expended by the Government in the last three years prior to the introduction of devolution for Scotland on the maintenance of transport links between the Scottish mainland and her offshore islands. [7197]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 15 October 2001]: Relevant information held by the Scottish Executive is in the table. Elements of this programme expenditure relate to services of benefit to remote mainland areas. It is not practical to disaggregate the recorded expenditure in order to provide figures for support to services linking the islands and the mainland. Footnotes have been provided to give guidance on the figures supplied for each programme.

22 Nov 2001 : Column: 409W

£ million

Programme1996–971997–981998–99
P&O Ferries/Tariff Rebate Subside(10)8.67411.53314.289
Piers and Harbours Grants(11)2.9011.4341.613
Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries(12)13.64620.17823.450
Lifeline Air Services(13)0.2100.3460.365
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited(14)7.1807.0006.179
Skye Bridge(15)0.0960.2840.732

(10) Spending subsidies scheduled passenger and accompanied car services to Orkney and Shetland. Tariff Rebate Subsidy is paid to eligible shipping operators carrying specified goods. The scheme aims to reduce the cost of imports and exports in the island and seaboard areas of the Highlands and Islands.

(11) Grant payments to local authorities, CalMac and Independent Harbour Trusts schemes to support the development and upgrading of piers and harbours.

(12) Deficit grant, capital grants, loans and repayments to CalMac to maintain affordable sea links to the island communities, to protect fares and levels of service.

(13) Subsidy scheme supports and safeguards lifeline passenger air services between Glasgow and Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.

(14) Deficit grant, capital grant, loans and repayments to HIAL to deliver safe, affordable, efficient and cost-effective airport services at HIAL's 10 airports across the Highlands and Islands.

(15) Payments under PFI contract agreement with Skye Bridge Limited, and associated costs. Figures include payments following introduction of frequent user toll discount scheme from January 1998.



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