|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many nursery and creche places are provided for people working in her Department; what charges are made for the provision of such services; and what other facilities are provided for children of employees of her Department. 
The London nursery, managed by Bright Horizons, has 36 places for children from six months to five years. Fees are subsidised and are charged according to grades, ranging from £23 to £34 per day. The Hanslope Park nursery is run by a management committee comprising of volunteer FCO staff and has a capacity of 31 places for children from three months to five years. Fees are £115 per week for children under two and £104 for children two and over. The fees are used to pay staff wages. Services such as water, heat, power etc. are subsidised by the FCO at a cost of £115 per week.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking to encourage China to improve its human rights record following its election to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 
Mr. McCartney: We continue to raise human rights concerns regularly with the Chinese Government, through ministerial contact, the UK-China Human
Rights Dialogue and EU mechanisms. We will expect every member of the Human Rights Council, including China, to co-operate fully with the council and take very seriously the responsibility that they will have for the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the US Administration on its lease of Diego Garcia; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary of State has not had recent discussions with the US Administration on the international agreement entered into by the UK and the US in 1966. There is no lease.
The 1966 Exchange of Notes between the Government and the Government of the United States provides that the islands of the British Indian Ocean Territories, including Diego Garcia, shall be available to meet the defence needs of both Governments for an initial period of 50 years, i.e. until 2016, and continuing thereafter for a further period of 20 years unless terminated by either Government at the end of the initial period.
Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she is making to the European Court of Human Rights for the removal of the language barriers highlighted in the recent Woolf Report on the working practices of that institution. 
Mr. Hoon: The noble and learned Lord Woolfs report was a UK initiative, funded and supported by the Government. UK officials regularly raise the importance of implementing the recommendations in Lord Woolfs report, including those on language barriers, with the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.
My right hon. Friend the former Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) did not make representations on the report. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, represented the UK at the Council of Europe Ministerial on 19 May. She raised Lord Woolfs Report during her intervention, stressing that the UK supported its recommendations.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) land and (b) property her Department (i) leases and (ii) leased in (A) 1979, (B) 1983, (C) 1987, (D) 1992 and (E) 1997 in (1) the Southend West constituency, (2) Essex, (3) Hertfordshire and (4) the Metropolitan Police area of London. 
Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not leasing nor has leased in the years requested any land or property in the hon. Members Southend West constituency, Essex or Hertfordshire.
The FCO is not leasing nor has leased in the years requested any sites or undeveloped land in the Metropolitan Police area of London, but currently leases property in that area as follows: 1 Carlton Gardens, 89 Albert Embankment (one floor of 15,000 square feet) and Lancaster House.
The FCO assumed, from the former Department of the Environment, responsibility for acquiring and holding its own premises in the UK only from 1 April 1996. In 1997 we leased in, the Metropolitan Police area of London, 1 Carlton Gardens and Lancaster House, and also office space at Cromwell House, Dean Stanley Street, 20 Victoria Street, 24 Whitehall, 10 Carlton House Terrace, 4 Central Buildings, Matthew Parker Street, 8 Cleveland Row, St James and 1 Palace Street.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) cost-effectiveness of the Ministerial Support Unit and (b) its impact on the morale of staff in her Department; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 22 May 2006]: The Ministerial Support Unit (MSU) was reviewed earlier this year. We concluded that further small changes were needed to its structure and responsibilitiesin particular in the area of ministerial travel. These changes are now being implemented and we will review the overall impact of the MSU, including its cost-effectiveness, at the end of the financial year. Creating the MSU has caused some short-term disruption to the staff directly affected. But there is no evidence of a wider impact on morale in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) her Department and (b) its agencies spent on recruitment, search and selection agencies in each of the last five years. 
The FCO uses the services of recruitment agencies for volume, specialist and senior appointments. Volume recruitment is handled under contract by Capita Resourcing. For specialist slots, we use the Cabinet Offices call-off contract to select agencies to handle positions which require specific skills. This contract is also used for senior appointments.
Mr. McCartney: DTI currently has no plans to develop or introduce a consumer advice handbook. However the introduction of Consumer Direct, a national telephone and online consumer advice service, has considerably raised the profile of consumer advice. By the end of June 2006, with the launch of the last three contact centres, Consumer Direct will be a fully national service providing a single national phone number that makes it easier than ever for consumers to get the advice and information they need.
The service is very popular and currently receives around 25,000 calls per week across England, Scotland and Wales. A recent customer satisfaction survey reported that 87 per cent. of callers were satisfied and eight out of 10 callers feel that they now have the confidence to deal with similar problems should they occur in future.
We are also funding a £45 million, two-year programme to provide face-to-face debut advice. About £16 million will go to citizens advice projects,£7 million to other voluntary sector advice agencies and the remaining £22 million to partnership projects involving both Citizens Advice and other advice agencies. The funds will pay for 500 new advisers who will help tens of thousands of families to tackle debt.
John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent guidance his Department has issued to (a) internet service providers, (b) telecommunication companies and (c) electronic hardware companies on discouraging the illegal use of (i) music and (ii) other creative content online; 
(2) what measures the Government are takingto encourage (a) internet service providers, (b) telecommunications companies and (c) electronic hardware companies to promote responsible copyright awareness programmes to consumers. 
Mr. McCartney: Although the IT and telecommunications sectors are not specifically being targeted, the Patent Office, as the DTI agency responsible for IP, is continuing to work with a range of partners to deliver a programme of IP awareness raising among all sectors of business. This builds on the success last year of the What is the key? initiative, and includes responsible use of other people's intellectual property, as embodied by the CREATE principles. These principles were developed and endorsed by the Creative Industries IP Forum, which was chaired by Lord Sainsbury and the then Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cross-council meetings have been organised by the East Midlands Development Agency in 2005; and how many such meetings have been attended by (a) Bassetlaw and (b) Mansfield council. 
Margaret Hodge: East Midlands Development Agency (emda) does not organise specific cross-council meetings, but does work closely with a wide range of local authorities (counties, unitaries and districts) within the region on specific issues. Meetings are set up as and when they are needed and many involve wider partnerships, often including more than one local authority, emda also works through existing groupings such as local government association where appropriate. During 2005 these meetings covered all aspects of the agencys agenda, including formal groups to consider issues such as Urban Policy and Rural Action Zones and ad-hoc meetings to cover specific issues (for example planning issues associated with major projects), emda also consulted all local authorities on their strategy development, in particular related to the current revision of the Regional Economic Strategy, and invited councils to events such as their annual public meeting. Bassetlaw district council has attended two such events and Mansfield district council four events.
Mr. Darling: There is no written first cut of the Energy Review. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was briefed by Ministers on 15 May onthe findings thus far and the analysis of the scale of the energy challenge. Information highlighting some of the key findings are available on the No. 10 website at http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/page9469.asp The review will be published in the summer.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether there are plans to introduce EU legislation which would prevent the use of certain imperial measures in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: Current legislation permits the continued use of imperial units in certain contexts, including the use of imperial units as supplementary indications accompanying indications given in authorised (metric) units. The Government have no present plans for new legislation in this area. The permission for the use of imperial units as supplementary indications at present expires on 31 December 2009. However, the European Commission is, as provided for in directive 80/18 I/EC as amended, examining the working of that directive with particular reference to supplementary indications. The Government expects that the Commission will propose at least an extension of the permission for use of supplementary indications. The Government will consult widely on whatever proposals may be made by the Commission.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what studies he has commissioned to investigate the link between over-indebtedness and (a) income level, (b) unemployment and (c) educational achievement levels; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: In 2004 the DTI commissioned MORI to complete a survey on over-indebtedness and its link to income levels, unemployment and social group (Over-indebtedness in Britain: a DTI report on the MORI Financial Services survey 2004 http://www.cst.gov.uk/ccp/topics1/pdfl/debtdtionmori.pdf).
This followed a similar piece of work commissioned by the DTI in 2002 when Elaine Kempson of Bristol university carried out research into the links between over-indebtedness and income and unemployment.
In terms of a link between income and the likelihood of over-indebtedness, the survey concluded that those earning less than £9,500 a year were more likely to be over-indebted. On the issue of a link between unemployment and over-indebtedness the results were less clear, although it was noted that unemployed individuals are more likely to find keeping up with bills and credit commitments a heavy burden, as well as being more likely to have been in arrears on credit commitments for more than three months.
The Wealth and Assets Survey that is due to enter the field in summer 2006 will provide a much more detailed assessment of over-indebtedness and its links to income, assets such as houses and savings, employment and the educational background of survey participants. The survey is to be carried out over a substantial time period, taking multiple assessments of the participants over the period in order to map changes between areas such as employment, income and assets.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many appeals against insolvency declarations under the Insolvency Act 1996 there were in each of the last 10 years. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 22 May 2006]: The table shows the number of bankruptcy orders made against individuals that have been annulled in the last 10 years on the ground that the order ought not to have been made, and the number of winding-up orders made against companies that have been rescinded over the same period:
|Annulment order||Rescission order|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|