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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to conduct an inquiry into the Iraqi Oil for Food programme, with specific reference to British involvement. 
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 23 May 2005, Official Report, column 29W and to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's response to the
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Foreign Affairs Committee's 6th report on Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, presented to Parliament on 8 June 2005, paragraph 5, page 5. The report is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website at http://www.fco.gov.uk/Files/kfile/Cm6590.pdf
Dr. Howells: The Government support fully the work of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) investigating the allegations of corruption surrounding the UN's Iraq Oil for Food Programme. There have been no ministerial representations to the Independent Inquiry Committee. However, UK Government officials are in frequent contact with IIC staff regarding their investigations.
Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with representatives of Israel regarding the future of the Separation Wall. 
Dr. Howells: Most recently my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised his concerns about the route of the barrier with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during his visit to Israel on 7 June 2005. The Foreign Secretary reiterated this Government's position that, while we fully recognise Israel's right to self-defence, we believe that the barrier should be built either on or behind the Green Line.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) the Israeli separation wall, (b) Israel's plans to build houses in the E1 corridor and (c) Israeli plans for Al-Bustan in the Silwan Valley. 
Dr. Howells: The UK fully recognises Israel's right to self-defence, and agrees that a barrier is a reasonable way to achieve this. But the barrier's route should be on or behind the Green Line, and not on occupied territory. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated our position on this to Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom during his visit to Israel on 7 June.
Settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. We oppose Israeli Government plans to build 3,500 housing units in Elan area between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. The Israeli Government says there is no prospect of the plan being implemented soon. But its implementation would effectively split the West Bank in two. The Foreign Secretary also raised this Government's concerns over the impact of continued settlement activity with Israeli Prime Minster Sharon during his recent visit to Israel.
We were disturbed to hear reports of plans by Israel to demolish 88 homes in Silwan in East Jerusalem and we raised our concerns with the Israeli authorities. We are encouraged to hear that there is now no intention to issue orders to demolish these homes.
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Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts from (a) the US, (b) Russia and (c) the EU regarding the Middle East peace process; and if he will make a statement. 
Quartet members met at Ministerial level in Moscow on 9 May. We believe it remains crucial that the Quartet plays a central role on the MEPP. As presidency of the EU from July, we shall represent the EU on the Quartet, and shall do whatever we can to use that opportunity to seek progress towards the goal of a negotiated, two-state solution.
Dr. Howells: There have been positive steps on the Middle East peace process since the beginning of the year. Progress includes renewed high level contact between the parties and a dramatic fall in the level of violence and number of casualties. However, the situation remains fragile.
The UK remains energetically engaged. It is important that the momentum of progress is maintained. US Security co-ordinator General Ward and the Quartet's disengagement representative Jim Wolfensohn are leading work on security, and economic and governance issues, respectively. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited the region on 78 June to offer UK support for both sides and for General Ward and Mr. Wolfensohn, and to encourage the parties to do all they can to take advantage of the opportunities for progress.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent (a) discussions and (b) meetings (i) he and (ii) his staff have had with (A) Israeli and (B) Palestinian representatives. 
Dr. Howells: We have regular meetings and discussions with both Israeli and Palestinian representatives at all levels. Most recently my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Israel and Palestine on 78 June. The Foreign Secretary had a range of meetings, including with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Shalom, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) and Foreign Minister Nasser Al Qidwa, as well as US security co-ordinator General Ward and Quartet co-ordinator for disengagement Jim Wolfensohn.
We have no immediate plans to host another conference in London on the Middle East peace process. We continue to work with partners to ensure
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that progress on follow-up work to the London Meeting of 1 March is maintained. We also support Israeli disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank as an important step towards reviving the momentum of the Middle East peace process.
Dr. Howells: The continued passing of the death sentence by the Palestinian Authority is a matter of concern. On 13 June 2005, four convicted murderers were executed by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. The UK has repeatedly raised its concerns with the Palestinian Authority and will raise its concerns about these recent executions. Dutch diplomats (as local EU Presidency) have already made representations to the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 13 June 2005 executions. We also plan to raise this bilaterally with the Palestinian Authority at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in his Department received honours in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List; and at what rank of honour. 
|MBE||13 (including four locally engaged staff overseas)|
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Russia has made important progress along the path of economic and democratic reforms since the break-up of the Soviet Union. But it is clear that its handling of the Yukos affair raises important questions about the rule of law with implications for business and foreign investors alike. We have, through regular Ministerial as well as Embassy contacts with the Russian Government, made clear our concerns in this respect. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also discussed the present state of Russia and its future development when he met President Putin in Moscow on 13 June.
We welcome President Putin's words in his address to the Russian Parliament on 25 April when he said that the tax authorities had no rights to terrorise business.
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We continue to make clear the importance to investors of an environment in which they can do business and where their legal and property rights are protected.
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