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José Bustani

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) the UK's support for the dismissal of José Bustani as director general of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons in 2002 and (b) the International Labour Organisation judgment on 26 July 2003 relating to Mr. Bustani's dismissal. [5917]

Dr. Howells: In a vote of no confidence at the March 2002 Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons Executive Council, a significant proportion of the Council showed they had lost confidence in Mr. Bustani in his role as director general. Only five of the council's 41 members voted in support of Mr. Bustani. As Mr. Bustani did not resign following this vote, a special conference of states party was held in April 2002 and a subsequent vote supported the earlier results. Mr. Bustani's appointment was accordingly terminated. It was our view that Mr. Bustani should be replaced by someone who enjoyed the full confidence of all the states party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Our policy throughout was guided by our judgment of what was in the best interests of the OPCW and the CWC.

Mr. Bustani pursued a compensation claim against the OPCW before the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal. The judgment reached by the Tribunal in July 2003 awarded Mr. Bustani damages, including payment for loss of earnings. The OPCW subsequently appealed against the award for loss of earnings and the damages were later reduced. The OPCW duly paid Mr. Bustani the reduced damages in accordance with its legal obligation to do so.

Sri Lanka (Tamil Separatists)

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in Sri Lanka, with particular reference to the Tamil separatists. [6033]

Dr. Howells: We are encouraged that the three-year-old ceasefire between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) remains in place. It is essential that it continues to do so and that both sides desist from activities which could put it in danger. In this context we fully endorse the recent
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statement by the Tokyo Conference of Co-chairs expressing concern that respect for the ceasefire is being undermined by persistent violence producing a climate of impunity. We call upon the LTTE to end their assassinations and stop their recruitment and use of child soldiers. We also call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to take decisive action to ensure that killings are stopped and paramilitaries are disarmed immediately as required by the ceasefire agreement.

The Government are concerned that there have been no direct peace talks since April 2003. We work closely with international partners to encourage all parties to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible. The tragedy of the 26 December 2004 tsunami represented an opportunity for all communities in Sri Lanka to work together. The putting in place of a post-tsunami aid coordination mechanism for the North and East should provide a framework for more effective tsunami assistance and help build confidence between the two sides. We welcome the determination shown by the President to achieve the enactment of such a joint mechanism and encourage all sides to implement it rapidly and effectively.

UN Disengagement Observer Force

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the United Nations Secretary-General's proposal to extend the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Middle East. [5689]

Dr. Howells: The UK supports the UN Secretary-General's proposal to extend the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for a further six months until 31 December 2005. If agreed by the Security Council, we look forward to the Secretary-General's report on developments at the end of that period.

UN Resolution 1559

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the implementation of resolution 1559 of the United Nations Security Council. [5692]

Dr. Howells: Our assessment of the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 does not differ from the UN secretary-general's in his first six-monthly report on the implementation of UNSCR 1559 (UN document S/2005/272), which was issued on 26 April 2005.

With our partners in the international community, the UK will work towards full implementation of UNSCR 1559.


Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on the issuing of visas to overseas doctors; and if he will make a statement. [6240]

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Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not received any recent representations on the issuing of visas to overseas doctors and neither has my noble Friend the Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman of Tottenham) responsible for entry clearance overseas.

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how long a person who has been granted a two-year visitors' visa has to stay out of the country after making a first visit of six months' duration before he or she may return for a second visit. [6206]

Dr. Howells: There is no minimum period for a person issued with a two-year multiple entry visa to be out of the UK after a six-month visit, before being allowed to re-enter. Re-entering the UK would be subject to the immigration officer at the port of entry being satisfied that each of the visa requirements is met by the visitor. This includes showing that the visitor is genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for a limited period not exceeding six months and that he/she intends to leave the UK at the end of this visit as stated by him/her.

World War Two Medals

Mr. Benton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 24 May 2005, Official Report, column 1355W, on world war two medals, whether he has made a decision on the possibility of an exception to the rules governing the acceptance and wearing of foreign awards to enable British veterans who served on Arctic Convoys during the second world war to receive the Russian Defence of the Soviet Arctic Region medal. [6301]

Mr. Straw: No final decision was taken on this matter because, in December 2004, the Russian authorities made known that they were no longer considering conferring the medal for the Defence of the Soviet Arctic Region on foreign war veterans.


Court Fines

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much revenue has been paid to the Exchequer from court fines in England in each year since 1995. [5973]

Ms Harman: The table shows the total amount of fine receipts collected between 1994–95 and 2004–05.

Traditionally all receipts from court fines have been returned to the consolidated fund and re-allocated through the spending review process. However since 2002–03 DCA has piloted a scheme aimed at increasing recovery rates of fines, in order to increase the effectiveness of the punishment as a deterrent. As part of this scheme my Department (DCA) retain a proportion of the fine income to finance enforcement costs. The DCA departmental expenditure limit is adjusted to take account of this new arrangement.
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Fine receipts paid to consolidated fund in the financial year
£ million

Total fine receiptsAmount paid to HM Treasury consolidated fundAmount retained by DCA for enforcement costs

1. The figures given are for fine receipts in England and Wales.
2. Figures are not separately collated for England.

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