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John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to ensure that his Department is taking steps to meet the requirements of the forthcoming duty on public bodies (a) to end unlawful discrimination and harassment and (b) to promote equality between women and men. 
Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will initiate discussions with the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China on strengthening the commercial, cultural and educational links between Wales and China; and if he will make a statement; [R] 
(2) if he will initiate discussions with the South African High Commissioner on strengthening the commercial, cultural and educational links between Wales and South Africa; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) if he will initiate discussions with the Indian High Commissioner on strengthening the commercial, cultural and educational links between Wales and India; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hain: I will continue to work in partnership with the National Assembly for Wales to promote Wales on the international stage. In recent years I have visited both India and China, and I am in close contact with the South African High Commissioner.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what representations he has made to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the potential effects of the reduction in single farm payments in Wales; 
Mr. Hain: None. The Welsh Assembly Government are fully engaged with DEFRA in shaping the UK's negotiating position in relation to the European Commission's legislative proposals for the operation of voluntary modulation, a key mechanism for delivering agri-environment schemes under the Rural Development Plan.
There is good news in south Wales. Claimant count in the Vale of Glamorgan is down 47 per cent. since 1997, and has fallen by the same percentage across south Wales as a whole. Furthermore, employment is at a record high, with 1.345 million people in work as a result of Government and Assembly Government policies.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likelihood of (a) China, (b) Russia and (c) Ukraine selling weapons to the Burmese regime. 
Mr. McCartney: We are aware of reports that the Government of Burma has purchased military equipment from a variety of countries including China, Russia and Ukraine. We have not been able to verify all these reports, but Burmese airforce planes of Russian origin are frequently seen at Rangoon airport.
Burma is subject to an EU arms embargo and we would encourage all international partners not to sell arms to Burma and to observe responsible arms trade policies to any other country whose activities may be a cause for concern.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in her Department have held in the last five years with casino operators interested in securing licences under the Gambling Act 2005; which casino operators they met; and if she will place in the Library the agenda and minutes of the meetings and details of who attended each. 
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the Republic of Koreas decision not to intercept vessels en route to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in pursuance of United Nations Security Resolution 1718 and (b) the impact of that decision on (i) the development of atomic weapons in the DPRK, (ii) the Proliferation Security Initiative, (iii) relations between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK and (iv) the Six Party Talks. 
Mr. McCartney: The Republic of Korea (RoK) has said it is committed to faithfully implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1718. The Agreement on Maritime Transportation signed between the RoK and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), which entered into force on 1 August 2005, allows for interception of vessels travelling to and from the DPRK, under certain circumstances. The RoK government has expressed its support for the purpose and principles of the Proliferation and Security Initiative.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the arrests of Madame Marie-Thérèse Nlandu and other opposition politicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: We are concerned by the continued detention of Marie Thérèse Nlandu, since her arrest on charges of illegal possession of weapons on 21 November. Our ambassador in Kinshasa has spoken to the Interior Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo and senior advisers to President Kabila, and outlined our concerns over allegations that Mme Nlandu's human rights, particularly her access to legal representation, have not been fully respected. Other EU missions have done likewise. We continue to press the Congolese government to ensure that due legal process is adhered to in this case and continue to remind the government-elect of the need to ensure space for political opposition.
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) contract with DHL Global Logistics started in October 2005. From 1 October 2005 to 31 March 2006 the FCO paid £1,911,748 for the cost of shipping diplomatic bags to posts overseas, and the clearance of incoming bags from posts. This figure also includes DHL Express costs for delivery of urgent items in the UK and overseas.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff were employed on a consultancy basis in (a) her Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest period was for which a consultant was employed in each year. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) operates a devolved budgeting system for the contracting of staff on a consultancy basis and no central records of numbers employed or length of employment are maintained. We have in excess of 200 overseas posts and a large number of directorates who may have contracted consultants at some time or another in the last five years. Each post and directorate would need to be contacted to provide details of the firms used and the number of consultants provided. This would require significant resource, far in excess of the current threshold for disproportionate cost. In addition, consultants are mainly employed through companies who have been contracted to deliver a specified output for a fixed price. In those instances we
would not keep records of the numbers of staff employed on the project by the consultant.
The FCOs use of external consultants helps to contribute to the success of projects by providing relevant new knowledge, specialist skills, experience and an independent view of key issues not available in-house. This wider experience and broader perspective, drawn from their work with other organisations, adds value to the FCOs business.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her Departments annual budget is for employing workers on a consultancy basis; and how much of this budget was used in each of the last five years for which records are available. 
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not formally set budgets for consultants. In general, budgets are set for an individual project. It is for the project manager to decide on what expertise is required. In addition, budgets for these individual projects are devolved to over 200 overseas posts and a large number of directorates and departments in the UK.
Most staff employed on a consultancy basis are employed to supply professional expertise on estates issues and information technology. The FCOs use of external consultants helps to contribute to the success of projects by providing relevant new knowledge, specialist skills, experience and an independent view of key issues not available in-house. This wider experience and broader perspective, drawn from their work with other organisations, can add value to what the FCO does.
FCO expenditure on external consultants in general is reported annually in its departmental report, copies of which are available in the Library of the House and on the FCOs website at www.fco.gov.uk Overall expenditure on external consultants since 2000 is as follows:
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which individuals who are not UK citizens were awarded honours between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2000; and what the (a) date of announcement, (b) honour concerned and (c) reason for the award was in each case. 
Mr. McCartney: I am concerned at rising tension in the Horn of Africa. The unresolved border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea continues to foster hostility. There is a risk of confrontation between Ethiopia and the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which would have serious implications for the region.
The UK's position remains clear. There should be no return to conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Boundary Commission's decision remains final and binding. We urge both parties to work with the Boundary Commission to agree demarcation of the border. We urge all states in the region to respect the UN arms embargo on Somalia and do nothing which would provoke violence there. We continue to work with our international partners to find peaceful solutions to the conflicts in the Horn of Africa.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the governments of Lebanon and Syria requesting they guarantee that the independent investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri is completed. 
Dr. Howells: Investigation into the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, by the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) continues. The Commissioner, Serge Brammertz, is due to issue his next report around 1 December.
The UN Security Council has requested the UN Secretary-General to conclude an agreement with the government of Lebanon on the statutes for establishing
a tribunal to try those suspected of involvement in the crime. On 25 November the Lebanese Cabinet approved the statutes. According to the Lebanese constitution, the statutes must now be ratified by Parliament. The statutes have now been passed to the President as the first stage in that process. The government of Lebanon has the UK's full support in taking this forward as part of their efforts to find justice for the killers of Rafik Hariri. Both the UK and the UN have made repeated calls on Syria to co-operate with the UNIIIC.
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