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Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people have applied for the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal; how many Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medals have been awarded; what the average timeframe was from application to issuance of the medal since its introduction; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) is a commemorative medal issued by the Malaysian Government for service between August 1957 and August 1966. Records of the numbers of applications, numbers of medals issued, and the average timeframe from application to issue are not held by the Government.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for administering the policy relating to the acceptance and wear of non-British awards by British citizens. However, the Ministry of Defence has agreed to endorse applications for the PJM from veterans and to pass them on to the Malaysian high commission. Several thousand have been passed on, but no record of their numbers has been kept. Veterans who wish to check the progress of their applications should write to the Malaysian high commission.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she discussed Israels withholding of Palestinian tax revenues with her Israeli counterpart when she met her on 6 February 2007; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: I did not discuss the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni during my visit to the region on 5-7 February. I did raise this with her on 2 January. We welcome Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas meeting on 23 December 2006, and the resulting release of US$100 million in Palestinian tax revenues. We continue to call upon Israel to release all revenues withheld since 18 February 2006.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of progress towards (a) restoring direct funding to the Palestinian Authority and (b) the release to the Palestinian Authority of tax revenues being withheld by Israel; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The EU has maintained its humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population. In 2006 the EU gave over €680 million to the Palestinian people, more than in any other year. The UK has contributed £12 million to the Temporary International Mechanism and announced in December 2005 a four-year, £76.6 million commitment to the UN Relief and Works Agency.
We welcome Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbass meeting on 23 December 2006, and the resulting release of US$100 million in Palestinian tax revenues. We continue to call upon Israel to release all revenues withheld since 18 February 2006.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of recent events in the Palestinian Territories for the peace process; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: We remain concerned at the security situation in Gaza. On 7 February the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that in 2007 86 Palestinians including 11 children had been killed in intra-Palestinian violence and 486 injured. Hamas and Fatah have since renewed the ceasefire, which is still holding. Israeli military actions have also killed civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Government of Israel. We have also raised our concerns about the firing of Qassam rockets at Israeli towns with Palestinian President Abbas. We welcome his call for the firing of these rockets to stop
We welcome Saudi Arabias efforts to broker a National Unity Government with a meeting between the parties in Mecca. The news from Mecca is an interesting and important development. We will need to study these proposals carefully and discuss them with our European and other partners. We also welcome the outcomes from the Quartet meeting in Washington on 2 February, particularly the commitment to a renewed political process with the aim of launching meaningful negotiations, the upcoming meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas, and US Secretary of State Rice and the Quartets commitment to meet regularly at both the principals and envoys level.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will release the negotiating record for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations between 1965 and 1968 from the National Archives. 
Dr. Howells: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was negotiated in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva; the plenary statements and documents of the participants are already publicly available. Foreign and Commonwealth Office internal papers on the negotiations are open at the National Archives. Full file lists can be obtained from the National Archives website at:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average length of time taken to obtain a UK visa from the
British embassy in Islamabad was in the latest period for which figures are available. 
|Public service agreement (PSA), figures for Islamabad from August 2006 to January 2007|
|Percentage of target met||Average days taken (failed targets)||Average days taken (succeeded targets)||Average days taken (all apps)|
| Notes: 1. PSA 1: 90 per cent. of straightforward non-settlement visa applications to be processed and available return to the applicant within 24 hours from the date of receipt by the visa section. 2. PSA 2: 90 per cent. of non-settlement applications requiring further enquiries or interview to be decided within 15 working days from the date of receipt by a visa section. 3 PSA 3: 90 per cent. of applicants for settlement visa to be assessed or interviewed within 12 weeks.|
4. These statistics have not been published and should be used for information purposes only.
Source: CRS Monthly PSA Summary 19th February 2007.
The number of applications for entry clearance submitted at our High Commission in Islamabad increased significantly in 2006 with demand in August up 49 per cent. compared with August 2005. Regrettably, at this time the visa section in our High Commission in Islamabad continued to carry significant vacancies at both Entry Clearance Officer and Entry Clearance Manager level and this situation was not rectified until the end of October.
Demand in January 2007 was up 13.9 per cent. compared with January 2006. As the table shows, a high proportion of straightforward applicants continued to receive a response within PSA time scales. Local stakeholders continue to assess the operation as the most efficient service in Pakistan. However, UK Visas is constantly striving to improve its service and meet its targets.
Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of UK visas refused at the British embassy in Islamabad were later granted on appeal in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Dr. Howells: The April 2006 to January 2007 records for the visa section at our high commission in Islamabad show a total of 68,005 refusals. We do not have precise figures of the number of appeals allowed as a number of appeals made against these decisions are still in the appeals system and have not been decided. To date, approximately 44 per cent. of appeals have been allowed by an immigration judge. Our visa section in Islamabad is currently in discussion with Home Office Presenting Officers Units in the UK to establish a process to record the exact figures.
Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average length of time taken was for UK visas issued through the British embassy in Islamabad to be issued once the decision was taken that the application was valid in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Dr. Howells: At our high commission in Islamabad, the average time taken from the entry clearance officer deciding to issue entry clearance to the actual issue of a visa is within 24 hours. The only exceptions are in cases where the initial decision has subsequently been overturned by the entry clearance manager or following an appeal, where the passport is not held on file and has to be requested from the applicant; following receipt of a passport, visas are usually issued within 24 hours.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has received concerning the decision of the Attorney-General to halt the Serious Fraud Office investigation into arms sales to Saudi Arabia. 
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of Serbias compliance with its obligations to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; and if she will make a statement; 
Margaret Beckett: In May 2006 the European Commission suspended Serbias Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) negotiations with the EU because of their lack of co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). At the 14-15 December 2006 European Council, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to Serbias European course. Following Serbias parliamentary elections on 21 January, the United Kingdom hopes that the political leaders in Serbia will quickly form a Government committed to pursuing Serbias European course. As EU Foreign Ministers made clear at the 12-13 February General Affairs and External Relations Council, the new Government in Belgrade will need to show clear commitment and take concrete and effective action for full co-operation with the ICTY to enable the Commission to resume SAA negotiations.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to her answer of 25 January 2007, Official Report, columns 1954-55W, on Somalia, what factors she took into account when deciding not to recognise Somaliland; and in what circumstances she would review government policy and recognition. 
Margaret Beckett: We do not recognise Somaliland as an independent state. The factors we keep under review include: the position of the rest of the international community, none of whom recognise Somaliland; Somalilands achievements over the last decade which we readily acknowledge and continue to support; the position of the Somaliland authorities; and opinion within Somaliland and that of African countries and the African Union. The UK believes it is for these African partners to take the lead on the question of Somalilands future international status. We hope that Somaliland will engage in early dialogue with the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia and that a mutually acceptable solution for their future relationship can be agreed.
Margaret Beckett: We have no diplomatic representation in Somalia, including Somaliland. Relations with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia are handled by our high commission in Nairobi; and those with the Somaliland authorities are handled by our embassy in Addis Ababa.
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