Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which consultant organisations are undertaking work for his Department; what the title of each project is; what the cost is of each project; and on what date each tender was awarded. 
Mr. Rammell [holding answer 13 January 2005]: Due to the large number of consultants involved and because the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not hold centrally details on all of the consultant organisations that it employs to undertake work on its behalf, information could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, I have placed in the Library of the House details of the consultant organisations currently working on FCO administration work and capital projects. I also refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 13 December 2004 (Official Report, column 895W).
Mr. Alexander: First class travel costs are not readily identifiable from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) accounting system and the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The FCO's general policy is as follows:
Air travel (staff of the rank of permanent secretary are entitled to first class travel on flights over three hours. Certain other members of staff may also qualify where there are operational reasons.
We are working in a variety of ways to improve the diversity of the FCO's staff, including increasing the number of officers with declared disabilities. These include a positive action workshop for disabled staff, guidance for all staff on disability and reasonable adjustments, monitoring of our promotion procedures, a Board disability champion, a disability advisory group and staff network, and the requirement for all staff to have diversity training and objectives.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the significance, in the protocol on the Euro Group in the EU Constitution, of the expression pending the Euro becoming the currency of all member states of the Union; and what representations the Government made on this matter during the negotiations. 
This protocol does not apply to the UK unless it decides to join the euro. The separate status of the United Kingdom is dealt with in Protocol 13 of the Constitution. This carries forward the existing terms of the UK's opt-out from the euro and economic and monetary union, set out in the protocol annexed to the treaty establishing the European Community by the Maastricht treaty on European Union.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the legal status of reference to the development of ever-closer co-ordination of economic policies within the euro area in the protocol on the Euro Group of the EU Constitution. 
This reference forms part of the preamble to the protocol on the Euro Group: it therefore has no substantive legal effect, but contributes to the context for interpretation of the protocol. This protocol does not apply to the UK unless it decides to join the euro.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the (a) role, (b) office and (c) duties, of the Presidency of the Euro Zone countries, under the Protocol on the Euro Group in the draft EU Constitution. 
The internal management of the Euro Group, including defining the role, office and duties of its President, will be a matter for the members of the Euro Group to determine. Under the draft EU Constitution, decisions would continue to be taken by all member states within ECOFIN where an issue affects the economic interests of all member states.
Mr. MacShane: Formal amendments to the Convention's draft during the Intergovernmental Conference were proposed by the Italian and Irish Presidencies rather than individual member states. I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) on 7 July 2004, Official Report, column 767W, setting out the Government's position regarding these amendments.
John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to publish the regulatory impact assessment for the bill to give effect to the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union subject to a referendum. 
John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how much the Government plans to spend on information regarding the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union prior to the proposed referendum; 
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the United Kingdom's territorial cohesion with other EU member states, referred to in article 13(3) of the proposed EU Constitution. 
Mr. MacShane: The reference to territorial cohesion in Article 13(3) of the Constitutional Treaty should be understood in the context of Articles III-220 to III-224 of the treaty. These Articles envisage Union action for the strengthening of its economic, social and territorial cohesion in particular aimed at reducing disparities between the levels of development of various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions. They are in substance the same as Title XVII of the treaty establishing the European Communities, which deals with economic and social cohesion and derive from the 1993 Maastricht Treaty on European Union.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will define the principle of sincere co-operation referred to in article 15(2) of the proposed EU Constitution. 
Mr. MacShane: The principle of sincere co-operation is a general principle of EU law which has been reflected in the treaties since the creation of the Communities (see for example Article 5 EC Treaty). Its general meaning is that member states must in good faith facilitate and not undermine the tasks that they have agreed for the EU.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what circumstances discrimination on the grounds of nationality would be permissible under the proposed EU Constitution. 
Mr. MacShane: Article 14(2) of the Constitutional Treaty (which is in substance identical to Article 12(1) of the treaty establishing the European Community) provides that within the scope of the Constitution, and without prejudice to any of its specific provisions, any discrimination on ground of nationality shall be prohibited. It is not possible to set out in the abstract the circumstances in which discrimination on grounds of nationality might fall within the exceptions permitted by EU law (whether under existing law or under the Constitutional Treaty). That would depend entirely on the facts of the case.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what internal frontiers impede the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice as required by article 13 of the proposed EU Constitution. 
Mr. MacShane: The creation of an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers (as set out in Article 13 of the proposed EU Constitution) is one of the objectives of the European Union under existing treaties. It reflects articles in the treaty establishing the European Community (articles 14, 61 and 62).
The majority of member states participate in the full provisions of the Schengen 'acquis' which include the removal of internal frontier controls. The UK participates in the police and judicial co-operation provisions of the Schengen acquis but not those relating to borders, visas or the lifting of internal controls, and it has retained its frontier controls with other EU member states. The UK has been a key player in the field of justice and home affairs and, not withstanding its maintenance of border controls, contributes fully to the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice.
17 Jan 2005 : Column 701W
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the categories of persons belonging to minorities are, referred to in Article 12 of the proposed EU Constitution. 
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's understanding is of the term, open to all European states, in Article 11 of the proposed EU Constitution; and which states are included in this definition. 
There is no exact definition of a European State. The four countries in the European Free Trade Area (ie Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) are clearly European. The Feira European Council in 2000 agreed that as well as the then candidates (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey), Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and the Union of Serbia and Montenegro are considered potential candidates. No decisions have been taken on the eligibility of other countries.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether (a) the Welsh Assembly, (b) the Northern Ireland Executive and (c) the Scottish Parliament constitute regional parliaments for the purposes of Article 6 of the second protocol to the proposed EU constitution. 
In the Government's view, this suggests, in the United Kingdom, the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly (not the Executive). However, Article 6 makes clear that the nature and extent of consultation on the principle of subsidiarity is for national Parliaments to decide. The House of Lords European Union Committee and the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons are currently examining how the subsidiarity early warning mechanism should operate.