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26 Oct 2005 : Column 460W—continued


British Council

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the countries with a British Council presence; and in which countries such a presence has been (a) created and (b) withdrawn since 1997. [20549]

Mr. Straw: The countries and territories with a British Council presence are:

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Countries or territories in which the British Council has established a presence since 1997:

The British Council also has a presence in Kosovo, which is not a country or territory but is in UN Administration.

Countries or territories from which the British Council has withdrawn its presence since 1997:

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the Government are putting forward to EU (a) partners and EU (b) institutions for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; and if he will make a statement. [21190]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK Presidency has not put forward any detailed proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). What we have asked for is a proper debate on the future of the EU budget, including the CAP, and we have seen public contributions from politicians, political commentators, economists and fanners across Europe. As Presidency, we have also held formal consultations with each of the member states, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, in order to ensure that we understand their views and concerns on the EU budget for 2007–13, including the fundamental review of Community spending that we
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have proposed. The purpose of such a review would be to ensure that EU expenditure is focused on areas where the EU can add the most value in comparison with spending at the national or regional level, taking into account the global economic and political challenges faced by the EU. The UK Presidency believes agreement on the 2007–13 budget can and should be reached in December, and we will have to reflect, in the light of member states' views and the proposals published by the European Commission on 20 October, how best to do this. We have also made good progress towards an agreement to reform the CAP sugar regime. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will update Parliament on these negotiations in due course.


Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether the Chinese Government has cancelled the passport of students from Tibet granted Chevening scholarships by his Department; [20325]

(2) pursuant to the Answer of 12 October 2005, Official Report, column 732W, on Tibetan Students (China), whether the British Ambassador in Bejing has reported any Chevening scholars having their passport withdrawn by the Chinese Government; and if he will make a statement. [20463]

Ian Pearson: The British Embassy in China has approved two Chevening scholarships for Tibetan students in the last three years. Unfortunately, one of these students was unable to take up a place at a UK university due to various reasons, only one of which was related to the applicant not having a passport. Issuing passports to Chinese nationals remains a matter for the Chinese Government.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who the Director of Human Resources is of his Department; what relevant specialist qualifications he or she holds; and what the details are of his or her career to date. [20266]

Mr. Straw: The Human Resources Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is Mr. David Warren. He has no specialist qualifications. There are a number of professionally qualified staff in the Directorate, and we employ outside experts with appropriate professional qualifications where necessary.

He is a career diplomat who joined the FCO in 1975 and has served in a number of positions in London, including Personnel Policy Department where he was also an interviewer for the Civil Service Selection Board, and overseas in Tokyo (twice) and Nairobi. From 2000–04 he was a Director and member of the Senior Management Team of UK Trade and Investment, the joint FCO/Department of Trade and Industry organisation.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the rates of employee absence in his Department have been in each year since 1997. [21023]

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Mr. Straw: Recorded sickness absence for staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was as follows:
Total number of sickness daysRate (days/officer)

(30) Estimate, based on available data.

Figures for years before 2000 are not available. Data collection over this period has been complicated by the introduction of new pay and management information systems. It is therefore possible that the figures given do not reflect consistent recording methods. The FCO is currently working to improve both accuracy and detail in this area.

Per capita sickness absence in the FCO has been consistently below the public sector average. In 2003 it was recorded at 5.6 days per person. The data showed a slight rise in 2004 to six days per person. This is likely to be the result of better management control/reporting and the introduction of new IT systems.

The FCO is fully committed to implementing the recommendations in the report on Managing Sickness in the Public Sector". A new FCO health care contract which started in April 2005 includes a comprehensive occupational health service aimed at better and more proactive management of long and short-term sickness absence.

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