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25 Nov 2002 : Column 77W—continued

Waste (Trust Ports)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent guidance has been issued by his Department regarding the disposal of human waste from house boats moored in trust port waters. [83266]

Mr. Jamieson: None.

Waterloo Station

Mr. John Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains per hour enter Waterloo; and what his plans are for capacity there. [81248]

Mr. Spellar: There are approximately 45 trains per hour entering London Waterloo station at peak periods. The Strategic Rail Authority has invited comments on a consultation paper on its Capacity Utilisation Policy.

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West Anglia Rail Route Modernisation

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he expects the Strategic Rail Authority's indicative timescale for West Anglia Route Modernisation, as set out on page 53 of 'The Strategic Plan', including additional capacity at Cambridge Station, to be maintained. [82414]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 21 November 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on 21 November 2002, Official Report, column 269W. The time and cost of any project at this stage cannot be guaranteed, as it is always possible for underlying problems with existing infrastructure to be revealed when work commences.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH

Plan Puebla Panama

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has to conduct a social and environmental impact assessment of the Plan Puebla Panama in Mexico. [82231]

Mr. Rammell: None. There is currently no British Government involvement in Plan Puebla Panama nor plans for any. The Mexican authorities continue to develop the Plan with their Central American neighbours.

Bahrain

Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Bahraini authorities regarding British nationals facing pre-trial interviews in Bahrain. [81782]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The British Embassy in Bahrain has had discussions with the Bahraini authorities about a British national facing a pre-trial interview. My noble Friend Baroness Amos will write to the hon. Member with more details about the case.

British Embassy (Yemen)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the staffing is at the British embassy in Yemen. [82357]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: There are nine UK-based staff and 45 locally engaged staff in the embassy in Sana'a.

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Central African Republic

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the military situation in the Central African Republic. [82665]

Mr. Rammell: HMG is concerned at the recent coup attempt in the Central African Republic and welcomes the current cessation of hostilities. We welcome the arrival of a contingent of troops from CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community) to undertake a peace-keeping role. We support the UN's efforts to bring relief to the civilian population.

Consular General's House, San Francisco

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has to sell the Consular General's house in San Francisco; what the Estates Department's conclusion was on the sale of the Consular General's house in San Francisco following their visit there in February; and how much the visit of the Estates Department to San Francisco cost the Department. [82530]

Mr. Rammell: We have yet to identify an alternative house for the Consul General in San Francisco. An FCO survey team visited the Post in March and viewed 12 possible properties for purchase. None was suitable. The present house will only be sold when an alternative is found which meets the operational requirements of the Post and gives value for money to the taxpayer.

The survey team also reviewed the suitability of the present offices and looked at a possible alternative property. The associated travel costs of the visit were approximately 17,000.

Democratic Republic of Congo

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made towards the setting up of a peace commission in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. [82757]

Mr. Rammell: Negotiations continue between Uganda and the DRC on setting up the Joint Commission provided for in the Luanda Agreement, which the two sides signed on 6 September. The Commission will make a significant contribution to securing peace in the Ituri district of the DRC and we attach importance to an early agreement. We are also working with the UN and other interested partners for a successful outcome to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, which will lead to the creation of an all-inclusive transitional Congolese Government. This Government will have authority throughout the DRC, including Ituri.

Departmental Telecommunications

Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at how many missions his Department's telecommunications network has installed both telephone systems and network connections; and if he will make a statement. [82035]

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Mr. Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Telecommunications Network (FTN) connects our overseas missions to a telecommunications network and to a telephone system (PBX). The related hardware is installed by the FCO's PFI partner, Global Crossing. There are separate, but interlinked, timetables for the two types of installation. The number of missions that have already received network connections and new telephone systems is 150 and 177 respectively.

Not all missions are receiving both. To date, the number of missions with both network connection and new telephone system is 141.

Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the maximum period of time that his Department's communications would be disrupted in the event of the failure of Global Crossing to continue in operation; and if he will make a statement. [82036]

Mr. Rammell: Contingency arrangements are in place to allow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to continue to operate without disruption should Global Crossing, for any reason, withdraw their service. We are concluding work connected with service to North America and Western Europe, and for service within the United Kingdom, which will further enhance existing contingency arrangements and ensure no loss of service.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what interruptions of service his Department's telecommunication network has had in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [82037]

Mr. Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Telecommunications Network (FTN) connects our diplomatic missions overseas to a telecommunications network; and to a telephone system (PBX). Both services are provided through service level agreements (SLAs) under the contract with our PFI partner, Global Crossing. While there have been some circuit interruptions, as is to be expected from a world-wide network, the overall performance has exceeded contractual requirements and has served the FCO very well.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will incur financial penalties in the event of Global Crossing becoming bankrupt; and if he will make a statement. [82038]

Mr. Rammell: The FCO would incur no financial or contractual penalties in the event of Global Crossing being declared bankrupt but would assume financial commitments in either appointing a new prime contractor or in taking on the role of prime contractor to ensure continuation of service. The FCO is monitoring Global Crossing's progress towards a successful exit from Chapter 11 protection.

EU Enlargement

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of enlargement of the European Union for UK relations with Russia. [82455]

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Mr. MacShane: We and our EU partners are working to ensure that the effect of enlargement on the EU's relations with Russia—and therefore on the UK's relationship with Russia—will be positive. The EU wants to help Russia maximise the considerable opportunities enlargement offers. EU work with Russia on WTO accession, the EU/Russia energy dialogue, the concept of a common economic space, and increased political and JHA co-operation are all contributing to this end. In addition, the EU is working closely with Russia to ensure that Kaliningrad, its Baltic sea enclave, remains a fully integrated part of the Russian Federation after enlargement.


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