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Asylum Seekers

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with other EU states bordering the Mediterranean on additional steps to take to control the illegal entry of asylum seekers into the EU. [56912]

Peter Hain: The Government take very seriously the need to control the illegal entry of asylum seekers into the EU. At the request of Italy, the General Affairs Council of 15 April discussed the issue of illegal immigration, and adopted conclusions which have been placed in the Library of the House. In particular, Foreign Ministers

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considered how to deal more effectively with problems arising from illegal immigration particularly at sea borders, including by using all the instruments available in the framework of the Union's external relations to encourage countries of origin and transit to take action. Foreign Ministers also called for rapid implementation of the comprehensive action plan to combat illegal immigration and trafficking of human beings adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28 February.

Pakistan

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 3 April 2002, Official Report, columns 649–50W, what response has been received from the Pakistan authorities. [57443]

Mr. Bradshaw: We have not received a substantive response to our requests for information from the Pakistani authorities. Senior officials at the British high commission are continuing to pursue this with their Pakistani counterparts.

EU Unemployment

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress made since the European Council's meeting at Lisbon towards the target to halve unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds by 2010 throughout the European Union; and if he will make a statement. [57258]

Peter Hain: The Lisbon European Council set the objective of halving the number of 18 to 24-year-olds not in further education and training by 2010. In March 2000 the figure was 18.7 per cent., in March 2002 it was 17.7 per cent.

Law Enforcement Agencies

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities designated with legislation there are within the responsibility of his Department; and what complaints procedure is available for each. [57126]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 16 May 2002]: None.

Anglo-Italian Meetings

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions in the last six months (a) he and (b) his officials have met their Italian counterparts; and what subjects were discussed. [56888]

Peter Hain [holding answer 16 May 2002]: FCO Ministers are regularly in touch with the Italian Government bilaterally and in EU and other multilateral fora on a range of issues. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I meet our Italian counterparts at EU European Councils every six months and at General Affairs councils (GAC) on average once a month. We last met Prime (and Foreign) Minister Berlusconi at the Brussels GAC on Monday 13 May. In addition, the Prime Minister and I attended a bilateral summit on 15 February in Rome with Prime Minister Berlusconi and my Italian counterpart,

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Minister Antonione. Officials are frequently in touch with their Italian counterparts at all levels on a wide range of subjects.

Overseas Hotels

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many overseas hotel rooms have been booked on behalf of other Government Departments in the last two years; what the total cost was; and how many were not occupied. [57832]

Mr. MacShane: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office book a large number of overseas hotel rooms on behalf of other Government Departments, who also make large numbers of overseas hotel bookings directly. In some cases the Foreign and Commonwealth Office meets the costs and then passes the charges onto the Department concerned. In other cases, other Government Departments meet their own costs directly. No central records are held of bookings made, costs or occupancy rates. The answer to this question can therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Work-related Illness

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many employees of his Department retired through work-related ill health in the last year for which records are available; and what the cost to the Department was. [56073]

Mr. Bradshaw: There were five ill-health retirements from the FCO in 2001. None of them were through work-related ill health.

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many claims for work-related illness were settled by his Department in the last year for which records are available; and what the cost in compensation was. [56072]

Mr. Bradshaw: In the period April 2001 to April 2002, six claims for work-related injuries were settled and £44,777.00 paid out in compensation by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes the issue of health and safety seriously; its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of its staff goes beyond simply complying with legislative requirements. We aim to embed our approach to managing health and safety in all we do. We continue to work towards targets for reducing the number of working days lost to work-related illness and injury set by the revitalising health and safety strategy of June 2000 and, in 2001, exceeded agreed targets for general sickness.

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many days of sick leave were taken by employees in his Department in the last year for which records are available; what proportion of those were due to work-related illness or injury; and what the cost to the Department was. [56074]

Mr. Bradshaw: An average of 5.9 days of sickness absence was taken by members of staff in this Department in 2001. Information on the proportion that were due to work-related illness or injury and the cost to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could be supplied only at disproportionate cost. The Foreign and Commonwealth

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Office is committed to reducing sickness absence, as set out in our service delivery agreement. We have recently streamlined procedures for recording and monitoring sickness absence and pursued more active case management.

Lockerbie

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise the matter of Professor Hans Koechler's report on the appeal proceedings at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands in the United Nations General Assembly. [57130]

Mr. Bradshaw: No.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 14 May 2002, Official Report, column 547W, on Lockerbie, whether the UN Secretary General sent (a) Professor Hans Koechler and (b) other representatives of the Internal Progress Organisation to observe the Scottish Court in the Netherlands. [57497]

Mr. Bradshaw: No. The United Nations Secretary General advised a number of non-governmental organisations of the opportunity to observe the appeal hearings. The International Progress Organisation took advantage of this opportunity. But its participation was neither requested nor funded by the United Nations. The United Nations did not ask Professor Koechler or any other members of the International Progress Organisation to report back.

Bangladesh Murder

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Government of Bangladesh regarding the case of Surat Miah, a former constituent, beaten to death in Dhaka's international airport after refusing to pay a bribe; and if he will ask them (a) when and (b) why those arrested in connection with the murder were released. [57277]

Mr. Bradshaw: Our High Commission in Dhaka have raised the case of Surat Miah with the Bangladeshi authorities many times, most recently on 23 April 2002. The four suspects arrested in connection with the murder were released on 23 October 2001. We understand they were acquitted because of a lack of evidence. As Surat Miah was not a British national we are unable to make consular representations to the Bangladesh Government. However, our High Commission have continued to make known the widespread concern in Britain over the case.

Europe Day

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list Europe Day activities that were arranged by his Department; and what the objective was of each. [57911]

Peter Hain: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office held an open day on 9 May to mark Europe Day.

The Europe Day event was a part of the Government's EU information campaign, aiming to raise awareness of the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British membership of the EU, current and future

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countries of the EU, and to provide an opportunity for the public to view the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's historic buildings.


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