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23 Jan 2006 : Column 1793W—continued



Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the change in the level of opium production in Afghanistan was in 2002 to 2004. [44121]

Dr. Howells: Opium production in Afghanistan increased in the years 2002 to 2004. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. Full details can be found on their website

According to the survey, opium production in the years 2001–04 was estimated as follows:
Production (Tonnes)

The production figures were lower in 2001 as the Taliban had imposed a ban on opium poppy cultivation in July 2000 in order to manipulate the world price for the illegal product. By July 2001, the tactics they employed had led to a 91 per cent. reduction. This ban was enforced with a combination of fear and bribery and drove up the price of opium so that those with opium stockpiles profited, many of whom colluded with the Taliban Government.

The lack of viable central state and war-damaged infrastructure in Afghanistan created conditions in which opium cultivation could thrive once again. President Karzai, with support from the international community, is working hard to change this and has made clear that eliminating opium is vital for Afghanistan's future and is key to stability.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely change in the level of the production of opium and its derivatives in Afghanistan in the next 12 months. [44122]

Dr. Howells: In November 2005, the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODC) confirmed the poppy cultivation and production figures for the 2004–05 season from their annual survey. They estimated that opium production was around 4,100 metric tonnes, a decrease of only 100 tonnes (2.4 per cent.) compared to 2004, despite a significant 21 per cent. reduction in poppy cultivation from 131,000 hectares (ha) in 2003–04 to 104,000 ha in 2004–05. Good weather and an absence of crop disease were responsible for a significant increase in yield in 2004–05. UNODC will provide an early indication of this season's (2005–06) production figures in their Rapid Assessment Survey, which is due to be published in the next couple of weeks.

While the UNODC figures were encouraging last year, we need to be cautious about the future. There is a risk that cultivation and production may increase again in the next 12 months—initial reports suggest that
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farmers in some provinces are threatening to return to cultivation. Our goal is to ensure that the downward trend in cultivation and production is maintained in the long term. We are working hard with the Government of Afghanistan and other international partners to ensure the Government of Afghanistan is able to deliver on this goal.

Arms Exports

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the use of UK arms equipment by the Indonesian military in relation to the EU code of conduct on Arms Exports. [43392]

Ian Pearson: We have had no confirmed reports that British-supplied military equipment has been used in Indonesia in contravention of the EU code of conduct.

All export licence applications for Indonesia are rigorously assessed on a case by case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria taking account of the circumstances prevailing at the time.


Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letters of 1 December and 20 December 2005 from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire about the US Congress. [44064]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 20 January 2006]: Officials are consulting the British embassy in Washington about the hon. Member's proposal to hold a reception in connection with the Congressional-Parliamentary Tennis Challenge. I will reply to his letters on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary as soon as possible.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date Henri Nswana was accredited to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo (a) as charge" d'affaires and (b) as ambassador; and when his accreditation ended. [41307]

Ian Pearson: Mr Henri Nswana began his posting as Minister Counsellor at the Democratic Republic of the Congo embassy in the UK in 1998. He was accredited as charge" d'affaires in early 2000, and became ambassador for the Democratic Republic of Congo on 6 July 2003. His accreditation ended on 20 October 2005.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring of the recent referendum in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was undertaken by his officials or representatives; and what advice he was given on its (a) administration and (b) outcome. [44468]

Ian Pearson: The EU sent an official Electoral Observation mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to monitor the referendum. UK representatives
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from the British embassy in Kinshasa also observed the referendum. Despite the logistical challenges of organising a referendum in such a vast country, it took place in a largely peaceful and positive atmosphere, and the turnout was good. International observers agreed that it had largely been properly and freely conducted, with few incidents of violence.

The UK welcomes the outcome of the referendum: the strong endorsement of the draft constitution underlines the desire of the Congolese people for completion of the transition to full democratic government as soon as possible. We continue to urge the Congolese Government and National Assembly to maintain the momentum of the political process and ensure that the envisaged timetable for elections before 30 June 2006 can be met.

Departmental Equipment

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) personal computers, (b) laptops, (c) servers, (d) printers, (e) scanners, (f) photocopiers and (g) fax machines (i)his Department and (ii) each (A) non-departmental public body, (B) executive agency and (C) other public body for which his Department is responsible in each English region owned in (1) 2003–04 and (2)2004–05. [40083]

Mr. Straw: While core IT equipment is centrally provided, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also operates a devolved system of budgeting under which directorates have freedom to buy a range of IT and other equipment to support their work. Fax machines, in particular, are paid for from such devolved budgets and no central figures exist for the numbers used within the FCO. Some other equipment is refreshed regularly under existing contracts. The following figures are available, but not necessarily complete, for IT equipment in use in the English regions, at sites in London and in the south east, particularly Hanslope Park, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire:
CurrentAcquired 2003–04Acquired 2004–05
(a) Personal computers4,857359580
(b) Laptops29053134
(c) Servers3432888
(d) Printers491125130
(e) Scanners801420

(f) Photocopiers (NB photocopiers used by the FCO in the UK are leased and not actually owned by the Department)335355

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Non-departmental public bodies (NDPB):

British Council

The British Council, which has offices throughout the country, has no central data on photocopiers or fax machines. For the other equipment in question it has outsourced its infrastructure support to Logica CMG which owns all the relevant assets.

Details of equipment held for other NDPBs for which the FCO is responsible, all of which are based in London, are as follows:
The Great Britain-China Centre

(a) personal computers66
(b) laptops22
(c) servers11
(d) printers22
(e) scanners11
(f) photocopiers11
(g) fax machines11

The British Association for Central and Eastern Europe

(a) personal computers33
(b) laptops22
(c) servers11
(d) printers55
(e) scanners11
(f) photocopiers11
(g) fax machines11

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy

(a) personal computers1417
(b) laptops44
(c) servers22
(d) printers99
(e) scanners11
(f) photocopiers22
(g) fax machines11

The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission (MACC)

The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission owns no IT equipment, and did not do so during 2003–05. The Association of Commonwealth Universities, which provides the secretariat to the MACC, does have some of the IT listed, but buys and maintains this from its own budget.

Equipment used for FCO's advisory NDPB's is included within the totals given elsewhere in this answer.

Executive Agencies
Wilton Park (Near Steyning, West Sussex)

(a) Personal computers 5257
(b) Laptops 1213
(c) Servers 56
(d) Printers 2829
(e) Scanners 44
(f) Photocopiers 88
(g) Fax machines 55

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Some of the categories include multi-function machines. Three photocopiers also act as combined scanners. The other photocopiers also act as fax machines.

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