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Afghanistan

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to ensure that the protection of children's rights is incorporated into the international communities action regarding Afghanistan. [23045]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Bonn Agreement states the commitment of the participants in the peace talks to promote national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights in Afghanistan.

The international community is fully committed to the restoration of the rights of children in Afghanistan. The Government fully support the work of UNICEF and other NGOs working to achieve this.

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UNICEF's operations to date have focused on immediate relief requirements. 1.7 million children remain in need of urgent assistance. The international coalition has made it clear that the humanitarian action in Afghanistan is as important as miliary action. The Taliban were one of the main obstacles to getting humanitarian relief through. Now that their grip on most of the country has gone, many more aid convoys are reaching the people who need them.

Under the Taliban, women were not allowed to teach. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, in Kabul alone, 100,000 girls and 150,000 boys were forced to leave school. The provision of education will be key to the protection of children's rights in Afghanistan. UNICEF is currently planning for the start of the next school year in March. They hope to get 30,000 teachers and as many children as possible back to school then.

Pakistan

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made on the use of capital punishment against people who transgress blasphemy laws in Pakistan. [23125]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) on 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 966W.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which Government Ministers have visited Pakistan in each of the last three years. [23713]

Mr. Bradshaw: The following Government Ministers have visited Pakistan in each of the last three years:









Permanent Secretary

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the names of persons who were on the shortlist for the position of Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. [23232]

Mr. Bradshaw: Sir Michael Jay was selected to follow Sir John Kerr as head of the Diplomatic Service, and Permanent Under-Secretary of State, following consideration of all members of the Service who had the requisite experience and were willing to run. It is not our normal practice to make public the names of unsuccessful

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candidates as to do so would be a breach of the non-disclosure provision of the Data Protection Act 1998. Exemption 15A of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information refers.

Race Discrimination

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many race discrimination cases there have been against his Department in the last four years. [23229]

Mr. Bradshaw: Six claims have been lodged with the Employment Tribunal in the last four years which have cited race discrimination. Only one case proceeded to a full hearing, which was found in favour of the FCO. The other five cases were either withdrawn or settled out of court.

International Criminal Court

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress has been made in ratifying the statutes establishing the International Criminal Court. [23393]

Peter Hain: The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was open for signature between 17 July 1998 and 31 December 2000. During this period 139 states signed the statute of which 46 have since ratified. The United Kingdom deposited its instruments of ratification on 4 October 2001, the 42nd state to do so. One state has acceded to the statute. The statute will come into force upon receipt of the 60th ratification or accession.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Refreshment Department

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, (1) how many people have been employed by the Refreshment Department in each year since 1990; [21657]

Mr. Kirkwood: The hon. Member will recall that by 1990, when Sir Robin Ibbs made his recommendations for the future management of House services, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the catering services provided by the Refreshment Department. Since then, the House has not only invested in its catering premises, but also in the training and development of the staff and management of the Refreshment Department. The management task has increased over this period in order to maintain and improve the standard of catering provided in a larger number of outlets, while modern business management techniques have required the employment of managers with specialist skills, such as IT, training, and procurement expertise.

The authorised staffing levels and senior management posts in the Refreshment Department since 1990 were as shown in the table.

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Financial yearAuthorised staff complement(2)Senior management posts(3)
1989–902638
1990–91266.58
1991–92305.58
1992–93309.58
1993–94318.58
1994–95318.510
1995–96317.512
1996–97316.514
1997–9831015
1998–99314.515
1999–2000313.516
2000–0130016

(2) Staff numbers are stated as full-time equivalent posts as at the end of each financial year, except for 2000–01, which is calculated as the average across the year.

(3) Senior management is defined as Band B (previously Grade 8) and above in the main House of Commons service.


In addition to the senior manager posts listed in the table, the Refreshment Department employs a team of Assistant Managers and supervisory staff (sous chefs, head waiters, cafeteria and restaurant supervisors, etc.) who undertake management responsibilities as part of their duties. As at the end of November 2001, the Department employed 36 such management staff in addition to the 16 posts reported in the table. No figures are available for previous years, as this information was not recorded.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Peter Bottomley: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, (1) what information is available to the Commission of the average standard days worked each week by the Parliamentary Commissioner; [21979]

Mr. Kirkwood: The Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges has indicated to the Commission that the Commissioner for Standards has worked on average about five days a week.

In setting an appropriate time commitment for the Commissioner, and resources to support the Commissioner's work, the long-term need must be established. The Commission has instructed the House's Internal Review Service to carry out a new assessment of the workload and resources required. The Commission will also seek the advice of the new Commissioner and the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, and has undertaken to provide what resources are judged to be required.

Peter Bottomley: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the Commission intended to make the contents of the recent letter from the Parliamentary Commissioner available to hon. Members and to the public. [21982]

Mr. Kirkwood: It is not the practice of the Commission to make public letters written to the Speaker by Officers of the House.

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TRANSPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND

THE REGIONS

Housing (London)

13. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his estimate is of the total cost of necessary capital works in public sector housing in (a) the London borough of Southwark and (b) Greater London; and how much has been allocated for expenditure in the (i) current and (ii) next financial years. [21569]

Ms Keeble: Southwark have estimated that, as at 1 April 2001, they need to spend £232 million on capital repairs and improvements on their own housing stock. The estimate for all authorities in Greater London is £5,380 million. Southwark's combined Housing Annual Capital Guideline and Major Repairs Allowance allocations for the current and next financial years are £52.636 million and £54.547 million respectively. The equivalent allocations for Greater London are £716.010 million and £723.013 million.


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