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3 Feb 2003 : Column 4W—continued


Delivery Unit

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) how many people have been employed by the Delivery Unit in each year since its inception; [94328]

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Mr. Alexander: The Delivery Unit remains part of the Cabinet Office. There were 19 full-time equivalent staff on 1 January 2002 and 34 on 1 January 2003. It will be relocating to the Treasury building in Horse Guards Road.

Gateway Review

Mr. Allan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many information technology projects have been through the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review process. [94311]

Mr. Boateng: I have been asked to reply.

The gateway process categorises projects as "IT-enabled business change" where the business benefits are dependant upon IT. More significantly, such a categorisation requires projects to demonstrate real changes to the way the client organisation works, its skills, organisation structure and its business process re-engineering. 179 such procurement projects have been reviewed by the Gateway process teams.

Local Councillors (Ethical Framework)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many town, parish and community councillors have resigned or retired citing the effect of the new ethical framework; how many have refused to sign their code of conduct; and if he will make a statement. [94872]

Mr. Leslie: There is no requirement for local authority members to inform us of resignations, for whatever reason, or refusals to sign the code of conduct. However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Standards Board for England together have been informed of 95 resignations by Parish Councillors who were unwilling to accept the code of conduct, out of an estimated total of some 70,000 parish and town councillors across England.

Ombudsmen Staff

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many (a) full time and (b) part time staff have (i) left and (ii) been recruited to the (A) Office of the Health Service Ombudsman, (B) Office of the Legal Service Ombudsman and (C) Office of the Financial Ombudsman Service in each year since 1990. [92787]

Mr. Alexander: The Health Service Ombudsman, the Legal Services Ombudsman, and the Financial Ombudsman Service all operate independently of Government under powers set out in their respective governing statutes, including powers to appoint staff. Aggregate information about staffing is published in the annual reports of the Ombudsman concerned. Copies of annual reports are available in the Libraries of the House. Information about staffing at the level of detail requested should be obtained directly from the relevant Ombudsman's office.

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Alcoholic Beverages

Mr. Laws : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the estimated value is of central Government's stock of alcoholic beverages; how many bottles of (a) wine, (b) beer, (c) spirits and (d) other alcoholic beverages are held in the Government reserves for entertainment and other purposes; and if he will make a statement. [92222]

Mr. Rammell: The Government Wine Cellar is administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and managed by Government Hospitality on behalf of all Government Departments. The cellar contains a mixture of fine wines, beverage wines and spirits and liqueurs. Stock levels vary but generally the cellar contains approximately 37,000 bottles, the majority of which are wine. The value of the stock is subjective and bears no relation to the purchase cost. Fine wines are bought young and then stored until ready for use, enabling wines of good age and excellent value to be used by the Government for its hospitality needs. The current value of the stock is estimated to be in the region of £1.5 million.


Mr. Spring : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government has had in the past three months with (a) the European Commission and (b) European partners on Croatia's progress towards membership of the European Union. [95342]

Mr. MacShane: The UK reviews regularly at working level, with both the European Commission and our EU partners, the progress with EU integration of all Western Balkan countries, including Croatia. There has been no specific discussion at Ministerial level of Croatia's progress towards EU membership. Although the issue of Croatia's EU application and the need to comply fully with ICTY obligations have been raised in bi-lateral discussions with EU officials and partner nations.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Croatia's readiness for EU membership, with particular reference to Croatia's co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. [95343]

Mr. MacShane: The Feira European Council in June 2000 gave Croatia, along with the other countries of the Western Balkans, the firm prospect of eventual EU membership if they meet the accession criteria. We understand that Croatia intends to submit an application for membership in the coming weeks. When it does so, the Council will ask the Commission to prepare an Opinion on Croatia's readiness to open accession negotiations. Particular attention will be given to the extent to which Croatia meets the Copenhagen political criteria. These relate to the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. Co-operation with ICTY will be an important issue that the Commission will examine in

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this context. The UK, like other member states, will wait for the Commission to issue its Opinion before reaching a judgment.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received further information from the UN Security Council with respect to the allegations set out in the Panel of Experts Report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement. [95089]

Mr. Rammell: We asked for further information from the UN Expert Panel in November 2002. The Panel was unable to re-start work until it had been granted a new mandate. This was given by UN Security Council Resolution 1457, agreed on 24 January. We will continue to press for an early response.

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the skinning alive of cats to make fur toys. [93579]

Mr. Rammell: The FCO is unaware of the background to this question and has not raised this issue with the Government of the DRC.

Equatorial Guinea

Mr. Hammond : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the opportunities for British business in Equatorial Guinea; and what steps are being taken to ensure that British diplomatic representation reflects that level of opportunity. [92623]

Mr. Rammell: The British Government is aware of the increased opportunities for British business in Equatorial Guinea, in particular in the oil and gas sector. Trade Partners UK has recently appointed a consultant in Equatorial Guinea for six months, to identify opportunities and inform UK industry. We will consider the case for permanent representation depending on the outcome of the consultancy and resources available. The UK is officially represented in Equatorial Guinea through its diplomatic mission in Yaounde, Cameroon.

EU Enlargement

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if those countries due to accede to the EU in 2004 will have the same rights as the current member states at the next IGC; and if he will make a statement. [95341]

Mr. MacShane : In Declaration 23 on the Future of the Union attached to the Treaty of Nice, European leaders agreed that,

We strongly believe that the EU should not agree a new Treaty at the next IGC without the full involvement of those countries due to accede in 2004.

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Health and Safety Strategy

Mrs. Helen Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department and its agencies have met the commitment arising from Action Point 13 of the June 2000 strategy statement on Revitalising Health and Safety to summarise health and safety performance and plans in annual reports from the year 2000–01 onwards. [89493]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The FCO's Departmental Report for 2002–03 summarises where the FCO currently stands regarding health and safety in its UK offices and outlines targets for implementing a standard health and safety management system in its overseas posts.

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