|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 20 December 2005, Official Report, column 2846W, on the EU Presidency, if she will list the small gifts commissioned. 
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) administrative and (b) financial changes were required to make FCO Services an executive agency, with particular reference to (i) use of consultants in the process as part of this change and (ii) increases in pay grades of key personnel. 
Margaret Beckett: My right. hon. Friend, the then Foreign Secretary issued a Written Ministerial Statement on 20 March 2006 Official Report, columns 5-6WS, announcing that Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services would become an Executive Agency (EA) of the FCO on 1 April 2006. FCO Services move to EA status is aimed at achieving best value for money both for the FCO and ultimately for the taxpayer.
In order to take forward the administrative and financial changes which were necessary, a project team of FCO and FCO Services staff was set up, supported by a small team of three professional consultants.
The administrative changes have been set out in the Framework Document, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House and I will send a copy to the hon. Member. The financial changes have involved strengthening the FCO Services Finance team and modifying the FCO's financial management system to enable a proper separation of the Agency's accounts. There have been no increases to the pay grades of key personnel.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Canadian embassy regarding the treatment by the Canadian authorities of a Parkinson's disease sufferer from Omagh accused of being a drug addict and returned home following his arrival in Canada from Northern Ireland. 
Mr. McCartney [holding answer 15 May 2006]: With the limited information provided, we are unable to make representations at this stage. If the hon. Member wishes to provide further details of the incident in writing, we will consider taking appropriate action.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) the Prime Minister and (b) colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry on a strategy for progress on the International Arms Trade Treaty. 
Mr. McCartney: There are ongoing discussions on the initiative for an international treaty on the trade in all conventional arms including with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, all interested Government Departments, Industry and civil society. The commitment to work to secure such a treaty was a pledge in the Labour Party's 2005 General Election manifesto.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discounts are available in relation to hotel accommodation used by (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in her Department. 
Margaret Beckett: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) posts overseas often are able to negotiate special rates with hotels for visitors on official business. Full details of the rates available are set out in the FCO document Worldwide Subsistence Rates, a copy of which will be sent to the hon. Member and also placed in the Library of the House.
In the UK, Officers undertaking pre-posting training in London can take advantage of corporate rates at a number of central London hotels. A list of these hotels will be sent to the hon. Member and a copy placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with his EU counterparts on the forthcoming referendum on Montenegrin independence; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: On 27 February the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) discussed the referendum on Montenegrin independence and issued conclusions. The EU has made clear that the referendum, scheduled for 21 May, must be held according to the terms of the Constitutional Charter of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and subsequent legislation, and that the whole process needs to be transparent, consensual and democratic. The conclusions of the 27 February GAERC can be found at: www.consilium.europa.eu.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her policy is on Pakistan's application to join the UN Human Rights Council; and if she will take steps to ensure that Pakistan shows clear progress in implementing international human rights standards, especially in relation to the treatment of women and religious minorities, before its membership is approved. 
Mr. McCartney: Pakistan was elected to the UN Human Rights Council on 9 May, by 149 votes cast in secret ballot, for a term of two years. All members of
the Council are expected to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, to co-operate fully with the Council, and to be reviewed under the universal periodic review mechanism during their term of membership. We expect all members to take seriously the important responsibility they have for the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, as the UK has committed to do itself. The UK has, and will continue to have, a regular dialogue with Pakistan on its human rights obligations.
Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure that human rights abuses of Tibetan people are raised by the newly-elected UN Human Rights Council. 
Mr. McCartney: The Government are very concerned about human rights in Tibet. We regularly raise these concerns with the Chinese Government, through the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, ministerial contact and EU mechanisms. With uncertainty over the format of the first meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in June, we do not yet know what issues will be raised. Given the election of China to the HRC on 9 May, China is likely to resist any moves to raise Tibet at the HRC. We will continue to look for appropriate opportunities to raise our concerns with the Chinese authorities.
Mr. McCartney: The Government regularly raises human rights in Tibet with the Chinese Government, including through the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, ministerial contacts and EU mechanisms. My hon. Friend, the then Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, the Member for Dudley, South (Ian Pearson) raised human rights in Tibet with Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on 7 April. Tibetan individual cases of concern will be raised with the Chinese Government at the next rounds of the UK- and EU-China Human Rights Dialogues later this year. We will continue to raise human rights in Tibet at every appropriate opportunity.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what the average time was that an applicant for a visa to the UK waited for a reply at (a) Amman, Jordan and (b) other UK embassies in the Middle East in the latest period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) how many visas to the UK have been issued in Amman, Jordan (a) within (i) 24 hours and (ii) seven days of application and (b) more than seven days after
application in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: UKvisas does not hold statistics on average time scale for reply to visa applications. Visa sections such as that in Amman operate to public service agreement (PSA) targets, which indicate the length of time within which a visa section should aim to resolve an application (issue, refuse, defer or refer for further information). We do not hold these statistics for only those applications which led to a visa being issued. Statistics are compiled and are made publicly available on the UKvisas website to illustrate the performance of individual visa sections against these targets. They may be found at www.ukvisas.gov.ukEntry Clearance: facts and figures.
PSA 190 per cent. of straightforward non-settlement visa applications to be processed and available for return to the applicant within 24 hours from the date of receipt by a visa section of the application and all supporting documents including the fee.
PSA 290 per cent. of non-settlement applications requiring further inquiries or interview to be decided within 15 working days from the date of receipt by a visa section of the application and all supporting documents including the fee.
PSA 390 per cent. of applicants for settlement visas to be interviewed within target times. For all visa sections in the Middle East this is 12 weeks.
At our embassies and consulates in the Middle East, all visa sections met their targets in the last period for which figures are available (financial year April 2004 to March 2005) except for those in Damascus, Jerusalem and Riyadh where some, but not all of the targets, were achieved.
PSA Tier 1 and 290 per cent. of straightforward non-settlement applications to be resolved within 24 hours.
PSA Tier 3Average waiting time for first interview should be not more than 10 working days.
PSA Tier 4Average waiting time for settlement interview should not be more than three months.
|PSA targets (financial year 2004-05)|
|Total applications received||Total visas issued||PSA Tier 1 and 2 (percentage)||PSA Tier 3 (average wait in days)||PSA 3 (average wait in months)|
|(1 )This apparent statistical anomaly is most likely to be a result of applications being carried forward from one year to the next) (2) Statistics unavailable|
|PSA targets (prior to 2005-06)|
|Total applications received||Total visas issued||PSA Tiers 1 and 2 (percentage)||PSA Tier 3 (average waiting time in days)||PSA Tier 4 (Average waiting time in months)|
|(1) Prior to 2001-02, statistics were published by calendar year|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|