|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
(i) identification checks in the lairage;
(ii) traceability and retention checks on linking the brain stem to the carcase and other body parts of the tested animal;
(iii) health-marking carcases;
(iv) sealing of chillers;
(v) supervision of the release of carcases and by-products (including hides);
(vi) supervision of the despatch and receipt of vertebral column;
(vii) and the completion of the necessary paperwork to support all of these duties.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost has been of contracting meat hygiene inspectors to work with the meat hygiene service to supervise brain stem sampling and spinal column removal before the sale of over thirty month meat in each year since 2001. 
DEFRA is not invoiced by the meat hygiene service (MHS) on the basis of a specific grade of staff (for example, meat hygiene inspectors), but for the total MHS service provision. With the exception of very small numbers of cattle aged 30 to 42 months produced under the Beef Assurance scheme, cattle aged over 30 months were excluded from the food chain until 7 November 2005 when the over thirty months (OTM) rule was replaced by a robust system of bovine spongiform encephalopathy testing for OTM cattle born or reared in the UK after 31 July 1996. Some costs were incurred and MHS staff were recruited
before the OTM rule was changed. Total MHS costs relating to the rule change to date are set out in the following table.
|Cost (£ million)|
Estimated MHS costs for the supervision of brain stem sampling for cattle purchased for destruction under the Over Thirty Months scheme, which was replaced on 23 January 2006 for cattle born or reared in the UK before 1 August 1996 by the Older Cattle Disposal scheme, are set out in the following table. Under EU legislation, the UK has tested an increasing proportion of cattle slaughtered under these schemes.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many meat hygiene inspectors have been contracted by his Department to work for the Meat Hygiene Service to supervise brain stem sampling spinal column removal before the sale of over thirty month bovine meat. 
Barry Gardiner: DEFRA is invoiced by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on the basis of time recorded under a series of activity codes. The MHS does not record time worked on just supervision of brain stem sampling and vertebral column removal. However, as at 31 August 2006, the total meat hygiene inspector time input into the full range of controls in approved over-30-months slaughterhouses relating to the testing of cattle for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and the removal of vertebral column, is equivalent to 83 full-time posts.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that contract conditions for Government procurement of timber adequately cover plywood used in Government refurbishment contracts; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: The UKs Timber Procurement Policy (TPP) contains a model contract clause that clearly states that all timber, including that which is used for temporary site works, is covered under the contract conditions:
The standard contract condition at Annex A requires contractors to ensure that any timber or timber products supplied to the Government, whether as solid wood (e.g. planks, plywood) or as part of a product (paper, furniture, printed materials), were derived from legally harvested trees.
The condition applies to all virgin timber and wood derived products used by contractors to perform contracts on Government premises, including temporary site works, and material supplied by subcontractors.
The Government are not content to rely only on model contract conditions to obtain timber from legal and sustainable sources. Further measures to strengthen the Governments commitment to the prevention of illegal logging, working with our EU colleagues, and to the improvement of forest management are being developed. The Government will be writing to the Environmental Audit Committee about these measures in due course.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information her Department collects on the operation of UK-based private security companies (a) abroad and (b) in Colombia. 
Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not actively collect information on the operation of UK-based private security companies either in Colombia or elsewhere abroad. Contacts that private military and security companies (PMSCs) make with FCO officials are recorded in line with the guidance on contacts with PMSCs referred to in the Written Ministerial Statement to the House by the then Foreign Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), of 12 July 2004 ( Official Report, columns 53-54WS).
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 3 July 2006 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mrs. F. Ahmed. 
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice her Department received on the visit of Delmar Hossein Syeeshi to the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. 
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons in each year since 2001-02. 
Mr. Hoon: All official travel is conducted under the terms of the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Code of Management. When travelling on official business Ministers are expected to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements. Information relating to overseas travel by Ministers is published on an annual basis. Information for the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 2006 is available in the Library of the House. Information for the financial year 2006-07 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the current financial year. The information requested on expenditure for staff and other persons is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by her Department on food and alcohol for its staff working out of office in each year since 2001-02. 
All expenditure by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting, and staff are not permitted to include the cost of alcoholic drinks in claims for subsistence while working out of office.
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Offices (FCO) gender strategy is set out in our response to the Cabinet Offices 10 Point Plan on diversity, which was agreed by the Permanent Secretary in January 2006. I will arrange for officials to place a copy of the FCO response in the Library of the House and to also send a copy to my hon. Friend. The plan focuses on improving the diversity of our work force in senior and middle management. The percentage of women in the Senior Management Structure (SMS) in April 2005 was 14.9 per cent. (69 officers). This percentage has been rising steadily but is still very low. This reflects historical practices and started from a very low base. The 2008 target of 25 per cent. would represent an additional 26 officers out of a reduced SMS of 382 in 2008. This is an ambitious and stretching target but one the FCO is committed to meeting.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information she has received regarding the whereabouts of Dr. Amir al-Saadi; and when and where definitive sightings of him were reported to her. 
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of Sheikh Mukhtar Robow's recent statement regarding incursions into Somalian territory by Ethiopian military vehicles; and if she will make a statement. 
I am aware of statements by members of the Union of Islamic Courts that they would attack any foreign forces inside Somalia. The UK fully supports the UN Security Council's Presidential Statement of 13 July (S/PRST/2006/31) which requested all parties inside and outside Somalia to refrain from action that could provoke violence.The full text of the Presidential Statement is available on the UN website at: http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_pres_statements06.htm. We also stand by the International Contact Group on Somalia's statement of 17 July, which requested all parties to comply with the ceasefire agreed on 22 June and to engage in constructive and broad-based consultations to resolve their differences peacefully. We continue to urge restraint on all parties. There can be no military solution to Somalia's problems.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she has, (b) members of her Department have and (c) UK representatives in Addis Ababa have had with members and representatives of the government of Ethiopia regarding reports of an Ethiopian military build-up on the border with Somalia; and if she will make a statement. 
My noble Friend, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State discussed Somalia with Prime Minister Meles on two occasions during August. Officials have also raised Somalia in contacts with the Government of Ethiopia. They emphasised the UKs support both for the UN Security Councils Presidential Statement of 13 July (S/PRST/
2006/31), which requested all parties inside and outside Somalia to refrain from action that could provoke violence, and for the International Contact Group on Somalias statement of 17 July, which emphasised the need for all countries to comply with the UN arms embargo on Somalia. The full text of the UN Presidential Statement is available on the UN website at: http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_pres_ statements06.htm.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 May 2006, Official Report, column 1989W, on Iraq, whether the eligibility criteria for the second Iraq medal have been decided; and when the medal will be instituted. 
Margaret Beckett: The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals has now considered the eligibility criteria, together with other details of the Iraq Reconstruction Service Medal. Their recommendations will be submitted for Her Majesty the Queens consideration before production of the medal. We hope to institute the medal as early as possible next year.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when members of her Department or officials overseas last had contact with members of Hezbollah in Lebanon; with whom such contact took place; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: In December 2001 our embassy in Beirut initiated contacts with Hezbollah. The last such contact with Hezbollah was in February 2005 with a mid-level official. In discussions with Hezbollah, British officials made clear the Government's opposition to terrorism and the importance of Hezbollah ending attacks on Israel and reducing tension along the Blue Line.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the number of civilians displaced by the recent fighting in Lebanon; and if she will make a statement. 
The UN has declared the immediate humanitarian crisis in southern Lebanon to be over. Following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 on 11 August, one of our immediate priorities has been to begin reconstruction and address the humanitarian needs of those returning home. Food and other essentials are now available, but life in Lebanon remains difficult for many. The UK will contribute a
total of over £40 million to Lebanon, including £22.3 million for humanitarian assistance and early recovery projects. UK funding has so far helped to provide healthcare, food, water and sanitation. We have committed over £1.5 million to clear spent and unexploded munitions. The Department for International Development has flown and shipped material for six prefabricated bridges to help improve access for humanitarian convoys. One has been erected and plans for the remainder are under discussion with the Government of Lebanon.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence she has received of (a) Iran and (b) Syria providing weapons to (i) Hezbollah and (ii) illegal armed groups operating in southern Iraq. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 25 July 2006]: Iran supplies Hezbollah with financing and weapons and has personnel in Lebanon assisting Hezbollah. As well as supplying arms to Hezbollah, Syria also facilitates the supply of arms and finance from Iran to Hezbollah. For reasons of operational sensitivity, it would be inappropriate to comment in more detail.
The nature of some explosive devices used in southern Iraq, including against British troops, leads us either to suspect action by Iranian elements or to suspect Lebanese Hezbollah, which is very closely linked to, and supported by, elements of the Iranian regime. To provide further details could prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of the armed forces.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of what type of weapons that have been provided to Hezbollah by (a) Iran and (b) Syria; and what estimate she has made of the quantities of weapons which have been provided by each country. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 25 July 2006]: We are very concerned about the role of Syria and Iran. Iran supplies Hezbollah with financing and weapons and has personnel in Lebanon assisting Hezbollah. As well as supplying arms to Hezbollah, Syria also facilitates the supply of arms and finance from Iran to Hezbollah. For reasons of operational sensitivity it would be inappropriate to comment in more detail.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when her Department first received information indicating that weapons were being provided by (a) Iran and (b) Syria to Hezbollah. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|