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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2473W—continued

British Embassies (Overnight Visitors)

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what system is in place to log (a) day and (b) overnight visitors to the British embassies in (i) France, (ii) Germany, (iii) Iran, (iv) Italy, (v) Russia, (vi) Saudi Arabia, (vii) North Korea, (viii) Zimbabwe and (ix) the US. [32742]

Ian Pearson [pursuant to the reply, 2 December 2005, Official Report, c. 871W]: I regret that an inaccurate answer was given to part of the hon. Member's question,
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regarding the system for logging in visitors to the embassy in Saudi Arabia. The correct answer should read as follows:

The embassy in Saudi Arabia: The embassy and residence are in the same compound. The names of guests at official events in the residence and overnight guests staying at the residence are recorded electronically. A log is not kept of other visitors to the embassy.

Building/Refurbishment Projects

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) building and (b) refurbishment projects are planned by his Department in (i) 2005–06 and (ii) 2006–07; and what the expected costs are of each project. [37416]

Dr. Howells: Building and refurbishment projects planned/being undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2005–06 and 2006–07, and the expected costs of these projects in those years are:

Building projectsFY 2005–06FY 2006–07
AlgiersNew offices7008,866
AlmatyNew offices1003,100
AmmanNew visa offices820400
AstanaNew offices1003,661
BaghdadNew offices and staff accommodation11,452
BangkokStaff accommodation1,1003,869
BangkokSecurity work600
BasraNew offices and staff accommodation9,263
ChennaiNew visa offices1,17010
ColomboNew offices5005,600
DohaNew offices and residence1,1054,410
DurbanOffice fit-out159
DushanbeNew offices and residence7645
Hanslope Park, BucksInformation and Communication Technology (ICT) Building3,14817,637
Hanslope Park, BucksChildcare Nursery250500
Hanslope Park, BucksSecurity work500500
HarareNew offices7004,050
Islamabad/KarachiStaff accommodation3,2112,289
IstanbulNew visa offices1002,900
JakartaNew offices1002,151
KabulOffice fit-out200273
KabulResidence and staff housing2,700
KampalaNew offices1,500
ManilaNew offices3304,637
MumbaiNew offices2501,332
MunichOffice fit-out1,500
PyongyangOffice fit-out500
RabatNew offices4,0002,164
Sana'aNew offices4,0002,773
SarajevoNew offices200600
ShanghaiOffice fit-out40
SkopjeOffice fit-out3,500
TbilisiNew offices202,000
TehranStaff accommodation2,000
WarsawNew offices5009,500


Refurbishment projectsFY 2005–06FY 2006–07
BelgradeHealth and Safety works36
Buenos AiresSecurity work6001,100
Buenos AiresHealth and Safety works2,700163
DamascusSecurity works775
DublinSecurity works1,800
King Charles StFourth floor conversion to open plan5,6303,162
KingstonHealth and Safety works1,350120
ManilaHealth and Safety works468400
TokyoHealth and Safety works2901,150

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Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations as the UK representative on the UN Security Council for that body to impose sanctions against Burma. [36729]

Ian Pearson: We encourage all the appropriate bodies of the United Nations (UN) to help bring about national reconciliation and respect for human rights and democracy in Burma. There is currently no agreement for imposing UN Security Council sanctions, but we continue to support any action in the UN Security Council which would help to promote reform and positive change in Burma.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the social and political situation in China. [37890]

Ian Pearson: China is undergoing a period of rapid economic and social development. There have been improvements in recent years in the quality of life for most people living in China. But the Government remains concerned about the human rights situation in China. Through regular dialogue with the Chinese authorities, we encourage China to engage constructively with the international community on social issues and human rights and to institute political reforms to match economic growth.

Convergence Funds

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) counterparts in EU member states and (b) the European Commission regarding the future of convergence funds. [38028]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We have discussed the financial perspectives, including the convergence objective, at Ministerial and/or official level with each and every EU member state, the two Accession states (Bulgaria and Romania), the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Correspondence/Parliamentary Questions

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Brent East, dated 28 April, regarding Mr.Andrew Papworth. [37743]

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Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has no record of receiving a letter dated 28 April from the hon. Member. Officials have asked the hon. Member's office for a copy of the letter but no copy was held. A letter dated 14 December about the issues raised by the hon. Member's constituent, Mr. Papworth, was received in the FCO's Ministerial Support Unit that day. The hon. Member should expect a reply within 20 working days.

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when UK Visas will reply to the letter of 10 May from the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood regarding an application by Shahnaz Begum (B-C Islamabad reference 864696, date of birth 01/01/1971). [38118]

Dr. Howells: UK Visas replied to my right hon. Friend's letter on 15 December. We are sorry for the delay, which was due to a filing error.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) letters from hon. Members, (b) letters from members of the public and (c) parliamentary questions from (i) hon. Members and (ii) Lords were dealt with by his Department in each year since 1995 in respect of the percentage his Department took (A) more than one month and (B)more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and if he will make a statement. [37417]

Dr. Howells: The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The report for 2004 was published on 6 April 2005, Official Report, columns 139–40WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.

Information on letters from members of the public and on parliamentary questions in the form requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Cotton (Subsidies)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts to co-ordinate pressure on the United States to cut subsidies to the cotton sector. [35760]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We recognise the importance of cotton production for a number of developing countries, particularly Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali. World Trade Organisation (WTO) members in July 2004 agreed to deal with the issue of cotton

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Progress on cotton subsidies is an important litmus test of developed countries' development credentials within the WTO Round, including those of the EU. Failure to reach agreement on cotton will seriously damage prospects for the ambitious, pro-development outcome to the WTO Round that we are all seeking. We need an ambitious outcome on agriculture and this should include early implementation of the agreement on cotton.

The United States (US) has clearly had the greatest influence on the world price for cotton, distorting the market both through domestic support and export subsidies, which together amount to around $3.9 billion a year. We have encouraged the US to implement rapidly the findings of the WTO Appeals Panel report, and will continue to do so.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade raised the issue of cotton subsidies during his statement on the WTO Round at the European Parliament's Plenary Session on 30 November. The EU has already agreed major reforms to the EU cotton sector in 2004. We are encouraging EU producers to decouple payments to the maximum extent possible.

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