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Government Communications Headquarters

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total cost of the compensation for loss of pension rights which his Department has agreed to pay to the 14 former employees of GCHQ. [66489]

Mr. Robin Cook [holding answer 19 January 1999]: The additional pension benefits will be provided through a special scheme under the Superannuation Act 1972. That scheme will be limited to the fourteen who were dismissed. The level of compensation will reflect two factors; the impact on pensionable pay on retirement of the decisions about pay taken by GCHQ in the light of the refusal of the fourteen to resign from their trade union; and the loss of pensionable service. The cost will be met from within existing resources.

European Commission (Firearms)

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the eligibility of European Commission protection officers to carry firearms in the United Kingdom. [67451]

Ms Quin: The eligibility of European Commission protection officers to carry firearms in the United Kingdom is the responsibility of the Home Office, and subject to the issuing of a permit by the Metropolitan Police under the authority of the Home Secretary. To date, no such permit has been issued to a Commission protection officer. One would be issued only in exceptional circumstances, and then only if the protection officer were accompanied by an armed Metropolitan Police Special Branch Officer.

Muslim Council of Britain

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent meeting with the Muslim Council of Britain. [67960]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 494

Mr. Fatchett: I met a range of representatives of the British Muslim Community including the Muslim Council of Britain on 20 January. I briefed them on the situation regarding the British nationals currently being held in Yemen, especially the efforts made so far by Ministers and FCO officials on behalf of the detainees. I reassured them that all British Citizens are given equal consular protection and support, regardless of their creed, race or religion.

India

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent meeting with the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India. [67958]

Mr. Fatchett: I had wide ranging talks with Mr. Mishra and Indian officials on various issues of mutual interest.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit India. [67959]

Mr. Fatchett: Neither my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary nor I have any plans to visit India at present. I visited India in November 1998, when I was able to hold a range of bilateral talks.

Entry Clearance Interviews

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to announce which post will be used as a pilot for the recording of entry clearance interviews. [67957]

Mr. Fatchett: This Department is consulting candidate Posts and preparing the necessary procedures for the pilot project. I expect this preparatory process to take several weeks. We will announce the name of the Post chosen for the pilot scheme as soon as possible.

Bangladesh

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to announce the name of the new British High Commissioner to Bangladesh. [67961]

Mr. Fatchett: There is no date for this announcement yet. It is normal procedure to announce appointments three to four months in advance of change over.

Electro-shock Batons

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what end use monitoring his Department has undertaken into the use of the electro-shock batons trans-shipped from the United States to Saudi Arabia via the United Kingdom in 1993. [68189]

Mr. Fatchett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not routinely undertake end-use monitoring once an export licence has been granted; potential end-use considerations are taken into account as part of the licence handling process before export. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced on 28 July 1997, Official Report, columns 65-66, a ban on the export of electro-shock equipment and other equipment which could be used for torture.

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 495

British Council

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the British Council's record of investment in (a) its premises and (b) information technology. [68307]

Mr. Fatchett: The British Council's investment strategy is discussed with the FCO as part of the process of agreeing the Council's Corporate Plan. The Council requires the prior approval of the FCO for investment of over £500,000 for property and £250,000 for other projects, and it is responsible for preparing post-project appraisals.

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what responsibilities which his Department had prior to the Comprehensive Spending Review are to be (a) discontinued by his Department, (b) transferred to another department, (c) transferred to an executive agency and (d) added to his Department over the period 1998-99 to 2001-02. [68401]

Mr. Fatchett: The information is as follows:





Departmental Legislation

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what additional legislation, not currently before Parliament, was assumed in the production of his Department's spending allocation for 1999-2000 to 2001-02 in the Comprehensive Spending Review. [68417]

Mr. Fatchett: There is a long-standing convention that legislative proposals for each year are not announced before the Queen's Speech at the start of the relevant Session.

Chevening Scholarships

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Chevening scholarships have been awarded, and at what cost, in each of the past five years. [68337]

Mr. Fatchett: The numbers and costs of Chevening Scholarships awarded in the past five years are:

YearScholars(20)£ million
1998-993,96727.2
1997-984,05327
1996-973,96725.8
1995-963,96726.9
1994-953,88024.9

(20) Including both new scholars and continuing awards


These figures include the jointly funded Chevening awards, co-sponsored by the FCO, British universities, and commercial and other partners.

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 496

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Chevening scholarship programme; how many scholarships, at what cost are planned for the next three years; and if he will make a statement. [68338]

Mr. Fatchett: The Chevening scholarship programme is our main scholarship scheme overseas. It is co-funded by the FCO and DfID. It has a well developed procedure for selection of students, and for maintaining contact when they return home. Chevening Scholars benefit from studying at Higher Education Institutions in the UK, experience the British way of life, make valuable contacts with British counterparts, and return home with a better understanding of the UK and of British values. On return home they make an important contribution to the life of their own countries.

The estimated numbers of Chevening awards and costs for the next three years, assuming the present basis of funding continues, are:

YearScholars(21)£ million
1999-20003,98530
2000-014,02530.2
2001-024,06530.6

(21) Including both new scholars and continuing awards


These figures include the jointly funded Chevening awards, co-sponsored by the FCO, British universities, and commercial and other partners. A cross-Whitehall study is being undertaken of how to attract more foreign students to the UK. An assessment of the Chevening scheme is included in this study.


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