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14 Dec 2005 : Column 2063W—continued

Early Retirement

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his Department's employees have taken early retirement in each year since 1997. [34042]

Ian Pearson: The annual number of officers who have taken early retirement for the years 1997 to 2005 are shown in the following table. Final figures for 2004 and 2005 include officers who took early retirement or severance to help the FCO meet staff savings required under the 2004 Spending Review.

(23) Approximate figure

EU Directives

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 15 June 2005, Official Report, column 474W, on EU directives, if he will make a statement on the further progress of the EU Directive on Services. [36061]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We have made significant progress on the Services Directive in technical discussions and in Council. Further delay to the European Parliament vote, now scheduled for January, means it will not be possible to reach formal agreement on the directive during our presidency. However, maximising progress on this important single market measure remains a priority for this Government.
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EU Presidency

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the UK's presidency of the European Union; and what representations he has received from foreign Governments about it. [37531]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary set out the work programme for the UK presidency in detail in White Paper Cmnd 6611 presented to this House on 30 June. We have made progress in a number of areas, including the historic decision to open accession negotiations with Turkey and Croatia on 3 October. Last month, we achieved significant reform of the EU sugar regime and we continue to work on a range of issues from the fight against terrorism to the future financing of the EU. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I are, of course, in regular contact with our EU counterparts on the whole range of European and international issues relevant to us as EU presidency.

Global Opportunities Fund

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the members of the panel of experts referred to in the Global Opportunities Fund report. [35618]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: As part of the Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance programme of the Global Opportunities Fund, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office convened expert panels to advise on policy and projects relating to all the key themes within the programme (except discrimination—for which there is no expert panel) as follows:

Freedom of Expression Panel

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Religious Freedom Forum

Torture Panel

Rule of Law Panel

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Child Rights Panel

Death Penalty Panel

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