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21 Feb 2005 : Column 35W—continued


Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many targets have been set in each year since 1997 by the Department; and, of these, which have been (a) met, (b) nearly met, (c) not met, (d) changed and (e) dropped. [215795]

Mr. Rammell: The Department's targets and performance against them are set out in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Annual Departmental Reports, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

European Union (Court Cases)

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those organisations in receipt of European Communities funds that have brought actions against the European Commission relating to interpretation of treaty articles at the European Court of Justice since 1997. [215208]

Mr. MacShane: The number of such bodies who could potentially bring actions against the Commission is very large, including public or private bodies (such as industrial co-operatives and farmers) in any or all of the member states. The Government do not hold records of such actions taken against the Commission, which could be referred to the European Court of Justice by national courts in any member state as well as brought directly by the organisation.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2005, Official Report, column 38W, on whistleblowers, what monitoring of whistleblowing cases in the European Communities his Department undertakes. [215290]

Mr. MacShane: The Government naturally take a close interest in any public comment on the financial or personnel management of the EU institutions. We are in frequent dialogue with the European Commission on a wide range of administrative matters.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) investigates all allegations of fraud involving EU institutions which come to its attention, including cases where whistleblowing is involved. In its most recent activities report, relating to the period between 1 July 2003 and 30 June 2004, OLAF for the first time provided information on the different sources of information it receives which lead to investigations. OLAF stated that in June 2004 it had five active cases (out of 511 active cases in total) where the primary source of information was a whistleblower. No new enquiry based on whistleblowing has been opened in the meantime.

Further information about OLAF and its reporting can be found on the following website: http://europa.
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As I stated in my answer to the hon. Member of 10 January 2005, Official Report, column 37W, the Government took an active part in formulating the European Communities Staff Regulations, of May 2004, which offer whistleblowers what we consider to be a comparable measure of protection to that enjoyed by UK officials in Crown Service. The Regulations provide a complaint mechanism for EU officials: to date, no complaint has been lodged concerning the whistleblowing procedures.

The Government will continue to follow closely this aspect of the EU institutions' efforts to protect their budgets against fraud.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on expenditure planned under Council Decision 2005/12/EC of OJ L6 volume 48 of 8 January. [211365]

Mr. Miliband: I have been asked to reply.

The expenditure was reduced by member states in consultation with the European Commission and now stands at €2 million in each of the two years 2005–06. This is a reduction of €0.4 million per annum on the original request cited in explanatory memorandum COM(2004) 512 of the 6 October 2004. The proposal was introduced by the Commission to allow improved and more adequate cover for centrally financed civil protection activity in an enlarged European Union.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) the announcement of elections in Zimbabwe and (b) the prospect of opposition participation in the elections; and if he will make a statement. [215668]

Mr. Mullin: The opposition movement for democratic change has announced that it will contest the 31 March Zimbabwean parliamentary elections. With our EU partners we have lobbied the Zimbabwean Government and its neighbours on the need for Zimbabwe to comply with the South African Development Community guidelines on democratic elections to which the Zimbabwean Government itself has signed up.


Aircraft Charters

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much money his office has spent on chartering aircraft in each of the past five years. [213710]

Mr. Milburn: The Duchy of Lancaster office has not spent any money on chartering aircraft.

Travel by Ministers makes clear that special flights may be authorised when a scheduled service is not available, or when it is essential to travel by air, but the requirements of official or parliamentary business or security considerations or urgency preclude the journey being made by a scheduled service. In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each
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financial year. The list published in 1999 covers the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 1999. Where RAF/Private Charter aircraft are used this is shown in the list. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2004–05 will be published in due course.

All Ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers".

Freedom of Information

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what his policy is in respect of the publication (a) on the departmental website and (b) by placing copies in the Library of (i) all or (ii) only a selection of the information disclosed in response to Freedom of Information requests since January. [215191]

Mr. Miliband [holding answer 10 February 2005]: Guidance on Publication Schemes, issued by the Department for Constitutional Affairs in July 2002, recommended that where information is disclosed to an individual in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Departments should consider whether the information disclosed is of general interest and include released information in the Publication Scheme where appropriate.

Where the information covered under the Act is of broader and more general interest and importance, it will be placed on the Cabinet Office website. Copies of significant documents may also be placed in the Library. It would not be appropriate to place all the information released on the website or in the Library some of which has relevance or significance only to those that have requested it.

The Cabinet Office will ensure that where appropriate the House is informed of significant publications through a written ministerial statement.

Housing Policy

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) if he will make a statement on his role in the development of Government policy on illegal Traveller encampments; [214829]

(2) if he will make a statement on his role in the development of housing policy. [214830]

Mr. Milburn: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) on 20 October 2004, Official Report, column 720W.

Overseas Trips

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many overseas trips, and at what total cost, have been made by his Department in each year since 1997; and what the costs of (a) flights, (b) internal travel, (c) hotel accommodation and (d) subsistence were of each trip. [206663]

Mr. Miliband: The total cost of all overseas travel and overseas air travel for the Cabinet Office from 1997–98 to the financial year 2001–02 is shown in the following table.
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Total cost of overseas travel

Of which:
Total cost of overseas air travel

It is not possible to provide a further breakdown of costs as the information is not collected in the format requested, and to do so would incur disproportionate costs.

Due to a change in the way that travel costs are recorded, it is not possible to extract the overseas travel costs from the total cost of travel for 2002–03 without incurring disproportionate costs.

The way in which the data on overseas journeys is recorded does not enable us to extract the number relating to each year without incurring disproportionate costs.

All official travel in the Department is undertaken strictly in accordance with the rules contained in the Cabinet Office Management Code. All ministerial travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers", copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

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