|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister currently has 10 members of staff on secondment to local authorities and 26 local authority staff working in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on secondment in areas including Housing, Homelessness, Social Exclusion, Local Government Legislation, Urban Policy Unit, and Local Government Strategy Unit. Such opportunities provide useful development and training opportunities for individuals to develop new skills and new ways of working and for organisations to benefit from the exchange of new ideas and ways of working. An evaluation process is in place to assess the benefits of each secondment.
It is however for the local authorities to develop their own interchange policy and make decisions on the number of their staff they can release on secondments. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no input into these policies.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many vehicles there are in the ministerial fleet, broken down by type; how many have a chauffeur; what greener fuel alternatives have been studied; and what the running costs of the fleet were in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Murphy: The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to the Government Car Despatch Agency. I have asked its Chief Executive Mr. Roy Burke to write to the hon. Member. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Library.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letters from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to (a) Mehwish Saeed, dated 7 March, (b) Mrs Z. Kanum, dated 3 March and (c) Mr. M R Sufi, dated 7 February. 
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton dated 3 March with regard to the Manchester Muslim Funeral Committee. 
We have no record of having received this letter. UKvisas has requested a copy from the office of my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will reply to him as soon as possible, once a copy of the letter is received.
24 May 2005 : Column 70W
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letters from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to (a) Mrs. K. Akhtar, dated 30 March, (b) Hina Khalid, dated 20 January and (c) Mr. T. Iqbal, dated 18 January. 
Dr. Howells: We fully support the development of democratic elections in Egypt and welcome President Mubarak's proposal on 28 February to change the Egyptian constitution, with the stated aim of enabling direct election of the President from multiple candidates. On 12 May, the People's Assembly voted in favour of the amendment.
The UK, through our Embassy in Cairo, works closely with Egypt to promote political reform including, for example, through training on election reporting in the media. We are also encouraging the European Union to focus more on supporting democracy, governance and human rights in Egypt.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the US authorities in relation to (a) prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay having access to people and texts appropriate to their faith and (b) the appropriate treatment of religious representatives and texts at Guantanamo Bay. 
Ian Pearson: We have expressed our concern to the US authorities about the conditions of detention at Guantanamo Bay on many occasions. British officials conducting welfare visits to the British detainees made inquiries about the detainees' freedom to practise their religion.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring the UK
24 May 2005 : Column 71W
has undertaken (a) directly and (b) through the UN of the impact of the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the Lebanon. 
The UK has supported the decision of the United Nations Secretary General to deploy a UN mission made up of military experts to verify whether there has been a full and complete withdrawal of all Syrian troops and military assets and intelligence apparatus from Lebanon. We are pleased to have seconded a British Army Colonel to act as second-in-command of this mission. We understand that the mission will be producing its report later this month.
Dr. Howells: We are aware of a number of exchanges of fire on the Blue Line earlier this month. We understand that during these exchanges of fire, some Israeli artillery landed on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line, although Lebanese villages were not hit. On 13 May the Israeli Defence Force attacked Hizballah positions in southern Lebanon following a missile attack from Lebanon on the northern Israeli town of Shlomi and mortar and missile attacks on the area of Har Dov/Sheba'a Farms. We understand that the missile and mortar attacks were in response to Israeli overflights of Lebanese territory.
We are concerned about these infringements of the Blue Line and welcome the statements by the United Nations Secretary General on 10, 13 and 16 May expressing his own concern and calling for all parties to show restraint. We reiterate those sentiments and call on all parties to abide by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1310 and other relevant UN resolutions. In this sensitive political time in Lebanon it is irresponsible for any party to heighten tension along the Blue Line.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what circumstances MI6 may decide that major decisions it takes need not be communicated to him; and what mechanism exists to ensure such decisions are in the public interest. 
Mr. Straw: The Intelligence Services Act 1994 requires the explicit authority of the Secretary of State in respect of a wide range of major operations of the Secret Intelligence Service. There are therefore no circumstances in which major decisions by the Secret Intelligence Service would not be submitted to me or one of my Cabinet colleagues for approval, or of which I, or they, are not otherwise informed.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|