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|Foreign and Commonwealth Office services recruitment: April 2004-June 2004|
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the current threat to the authority of the Afghanistan government by non-statutory and illegal armed groups in Afghanistan; and what progress has been made towards their disbandment in accordance with the Afghanistan Compact. 
Margaret Beckett: Although non-statutory and illegal armed groups present an obstacle to extending the authority of the Afghan Government, we do not assess that they pose a serious threat to stability. We assess that the recent upsurge in violence in the south of Afghanistan is in partif not whollya response to the Coalitions current vigorous activity in the area, and that overall it does not represent an increased threat to the stability of the Afghan state. However, the International Community and the Afghan Government are monitoring the situation closely.
The Afghanistan Compact sets the goal for disbandment of all illegal armed groups by the end of 2007. Since the start of the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups process in June 2005, over 24,000 weapons have been handed in.
Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made no assessment of the impact on each African states economy of Chinese migrant workers. The best way for Africa to reduce poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals is through increased trade and investment. The movement of people to Africa, where well managed, can bring benefits to African economies and new skills, technology and knowledge which support growth and development. The Government have raised common issues of interest in Africa with the Chinese Government and we will continue to encourage China to engage with Africa in a way that reinforces the principles set out in the African-led New Partnership for Africas Development agenda of democracy, transparency, promotion of peace and stability, competitiveness and sustainable growth.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who represented the UK at the European-African Migration Conference in Morocco; and what the UKs policy is on (a) African migration to Europe and (b) Africans who migrate to the Canary Isles. 
The UK continues to work closely with EU and African partners to address migratory flows from Africa across the Mediterranean. In December 2005, at
the last European Council under the UK presidency, member states agreed the Global Approach to Migration paper, a comprehensive, practical guide to managing migration in partnership with third countries in Africa and the Mediterranean. It lays out a number of priority actions, including:
following the Rabat conference on West Africa, the development of regional initiatives examining further migration routes through co-operation with source, transit and destination countries;
enhanced co-ordination and increased sharing of information within member states networks of Immigration Liaison Officers on key illegal immigration routes in Africa;
support for a Regional Protection Programme in Tanzania, designed to strengthen the capacity of Tanzanian institutions to protect refugees;
a risk analysis compiled by Frontex, the EU Border Agency, on irregular migration flows through Africa, and two feasibility studies, one exploring the possibility of a regional network to reinforce maritime controls and surveillance in the Mediterranean and a second to examine the technical feasibility of establishing a surveillance system to cover the entire southern EU maritime border.
The UK particularly supports work that seeks to strengthen the commitment of all partners, African and European, to work together to maximise the benefits of well-managed legal migration and minimise the risks of uncontrolled, illegal immigration.
In addition to this long-term approach, the UK is also working to address the impact of sudden influxes of migrants. In response to the ongoing crisis in the Canaries, the UK is deploying two immigration officials to the area to assist in conducting nationality and identity interviews with intercepted migrants. Malta also faces acute socio-economic challenges as a consequence of illegal sea-borne migration from North Africa. In response to a request from the Maltese authorities via Frontex, the UK has deployed an official to Malta to assist with nationality and identity interviewing, offered strategic advice on returns and, pending the outcome of a forthcoming planning meeting, will assess the possibility of offering further assistance through an expert in maritime intelligence and experts in de-briefing irregular migrants for the purposes of intelligence gathering.
Mr. Hoon: Our 233 diplomatic missions abroad have delegated authority to arrange contracts for security services locally. Details of these contracts are not held centrally in London and could be established only at a disproportionate cost. However, at a recent management conference to discuss administration issues for our posts in Europe, it emerged that Group Four is the largest security provider for these posts.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Chevening Scholarships were awarded to students from (a) India, (b) Malaysia, (c) China, (d) Pakistan and (e) Korea in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) USB (i) flash drives and (ii) memory sticks, (b) compact discs, (c) DVD-ROM discs, (d) laptop computers, (e) external computer hard drives, (f) internal computer hard drives and (g) desktop computers were purchased for use in her Department in each month since March 2005. 
Mr. Hoon: As my right. hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) explained to the hon. Member in his answer of 23 January 2006, Official Report, columns 1795-97W, while core IT equipment is centrally provided, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also operates a devolved system of budgeting under which Directorates and overseas posts have freedom to buy a range of IT and other equipment to support their work.
Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of her Department's employees have been (a) dismissed, (b) suspended and (c) subject to disciplinary action for criminal activity in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Hoon: We do not keep records which show specifically when criminal activity may have been a reason for disciplinary proceedings to be instigated. Members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can be dismissed for gross misconduct because they have failed to adhere to staff regulations which form part of the terms and conditions of service. The total number of UK based staff who were dismissed for reasons of misconduct, but not necessarily involving criminal activity, are as follows:
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was paid to her Department from the Access to Work Scheme for adjustments for disabled staff in the last year for which figures are available; from what budget she plans to meet the costs of reasonable adjustments for disabled staff following withdrawal of Access to Work funding for central Government departments; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The total amount received from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for Access to Work funding last year was £88,900.59. This figure does not include funding claimed by staff direct from the DWP. Staff who do claim such support are under no obligation to notify the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether her Department (a) is committed to the achievement of environmental management to ISO 14001 standard and (b) has been externally certified as in compliance with that standard; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is committed to managing its estate in a sustainable manner and has operated an ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System (EMS) at our main building in London since 2002, extended to the old Admiralty building in 2004. We are integrating this EMS with the EMS operating on our rural site at Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire and plan to extend ISO certification to Hanslope Park in the autumn.
Mr. Ian Austin:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the recent decision of the Argentine
Parliament to establish a commission which will investigate how to win control of the Falkland Islands. 
Mr. Hoon: The Argentine Congressional Observatory on the Falkland Islands was established on 29 June, with the purpose of bringing together Argentine academics and legislators to promote communication and dialogue about the Falkland Islands.
The Government and the Falkland Islands Government remain ready to explore ways of improving practical co-operation with Argentina on issues of mutual benefit. However, we have made consistently clear to the Argentine Government that there can be no negotiations on sovereignty unless and until such time as the Falkland Islanders so wish.
Mr. Hoon: No payments have been made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to this supplier in the UK in this period. Information is not held centrally on payments made by posts to suppliers and it would incur disproportionate costs to ask posts to provide this information.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which IT contracts awarded by her Department in each of the last five years have been abandoned; and what the value was in each case. 
Mr. Hoon: The only significant IT contract cancelled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the last five years was the Focus Programme, as outlined in a written statement on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 2WS. The net cost of cancelling the relevant contract was £7 million, as set out by the then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) in answer to a written question from the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) on 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 738W.
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