Previous Section Index Home Page

5 Dec 2006 : Column 335W—continued

Iraq

18. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely consequences of a British withdrawal from Iraq on citizens who have helped build democratic institutions in that country. [107322]

Dr. Howells: The Iraqi Government will be responsible for protecting all of Iraq's citizens after the withdrawal of multi-national forces. We remain committed to our strategy of handing over responsibility for security to the Iraqis as and when their capability allows. The Iraqi Government have made it clear that it is necessary for us to stay until the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are capable of taking the lead on security responsibility.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures have been taken to prevent the movement of weapons across the Iranian border into Iraq. [103513]

Des Browne: I have been asked to reply.

We have taken diplomatic and military steps to limit the movement of weapons across the border with Iran into Iraq. I will not divulge the details of any military steps for reasons of operational effectiveness and force protection.

We have made it clear to the Iranian Government that support to those groups who undermine the will of the Iraqi Government and who attack the Iraqi security forces is unacceptable. We continue to press Iran to break links with militias and armed groups and to support the Iraqi Government by strengthening border controls and co-operating on counter-terrorism.

Nuclear Weapons

19. Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Ministry of Defence on the foreign policy consequences of renewing the UK's nuclear deterrent. [107323]


5 Dec 2006 : Column 336W

Margaret Beckett: My officials and I have had numerous discussions with the Ministry of Defence on all aspects of the UK's future nuclear deterrent. The product of these discussions is the joint White Paper released yesterday from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence.

Turkey

20. Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her Turkish counterparts on Turkey’s application for full membership of the EU. [107324]

Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and I have had regular and frequent recent discussions with our Turkish counterparts on Turkey’s EU accession process. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I met with the Turkish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at the NATO summit in Riga on 29 November. We remain firmly committed to Turkey's accession to the EU.

Afghanistan

21. Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people in the Afghan Government and Parliament are known by her Department to have had previous connections with or involvement in the drugs trade. [107325]

Dr. Howells: We know there are a number of individuals in both the Government and Parliament with links to the drugs trade. President Karzai is committed to acting against anybody with links to the trade including those in official positions. The UK is helping the Afghan Government to improve its capacity to bring those involved to justice.

Guantanamo Bay

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many UK citizens are detained at Guantanamo Bay; and if she will make a statement. [107839]

Dr. Howells: No British nationals are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Sri Lanka

22. Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions her Department has had with parties involved in hostilities in Sri Lanka. [107326]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, our High Commissioner in Colombo and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials have met with President Rajapakse of Sri Lanka.

In line with EU policy, the FCO has contact with representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
5 Dec 2006 : Column 337W
Eelam (LTTE) in pursuit of the peace process, which may facilitate a return to negotiations and an end to violence.

We continue to call on both sides to observe their ceasefire commitments.

Latin America

23. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has for the development of UK relations with Latin America. [107327]

Mr. Hoon: The UK has important interests in Latin America. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, working closely with other Government Departments, is actively engaged, politically and through our supporting programmes, in delivering against the full range of the Government’s international priorities in the region. We intend to maintain and develop this active and focused engagement.

Russia

24. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the human rights situation in Russia. [107328]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2006 Annual Report on Human Rights, released on 12 October 2006, sets out a range of our concerns about human rights, democracy and rule of law in Russia. It confirms we are under no illusions about the situation there. We continue to engage with Russia on human rights issues, critically as necessary.

Horn of Africa

25. Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the political situation in the Horn of Africa. [107329]

Mr. McCartney: We are very concerned about the increasing tension in the Horn of Africa. The Union of Islamic Courts is threatening the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. Tension continues between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their disputed border. Further conflict would have severe humanitarian consequences and could destabilise the entire region. We are working with international partners and regional Governments to achieve peaceful solutions to these disputes.

Ascension Island

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to promote good relations between her Department's representatives on Ascension Island and the island council. [106816]

Mr. Hoon: Good relations are promoted between the Administrator on Ascension Island and the Island Council through regular formal and informal meetings.
5 Dec 2006 : Column 338W

This relationship is further enhanced by meetings with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and councillors when they visit the UK, and by visits by FCO officials to Ascension Island.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what involvement Ascension Island will have in the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. [106817]

Mr. Hoon: Planning is under way to hold commemorative events for the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict on Ascension Island. A final programme has yet to be agreed.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she plans to reinstate Ascension Island’s official representation to the UK. [106818]

Mr. Hoon: There has never been an official representation for Ascension Island in the UK and we are unaware of any plans to establish one.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to encourage participation in democracy on Ascension Island. [106819]

Mr. Hoon: Ascension Island council elections are held every three years and everyone over the age of 18 has the right, and is encouraged, to vote. The elected councillors participate in formal and informal Island council meetings and council committees to advise the governor on policy and legislation. Councillors are encouraged to make presentations to the public on key political issues and are in touch with their constituents. Island council meetings are publicised in advance and the public are welcome to attend. An official record of Island council proceedings is published in the Island newspaper.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what facilities are provided for school-leavers aged 16 to 18 years old who are unable for insurance reasons to undertake apprenticeships with the companies on Ascension Island. [106820]

Mr. Hoon: The Ascension Island Government created a Further Education Scheme in 2003. This enables academically qualified students between the ages of 16 and 18 to study A-levels or vocational courses at Chichester college in the UK.

There are also opportunities, subject to funding, to enrol in the Young People in Training Scheme. Places are currently only available within government, but the Ascension Island Government are considering how this scheme might be expanded.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration has been given to (a) leasing and (b) licensing property as a method of home ownership on Ascension Island. [106821]


5 Dec 2006 : Column 339W

Mr. Hoon: The Ascension Island council and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are working together on a draft housing policy. The basis on which property is occupied, and by whom, is being considered and will be discussed during the visit by FCO officials to Ascension Island in January.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingent liabilities affect rights of abode status on Ascension Island; and if she will make a statement. [106822]

Mr. Hoon: The Government concluded earlier this year that granting right of abode would bring an unacceptable level of financial risk to the UK.

The decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the services that would be required for a settled population; services that are not currently supplied by the Ascension Island Government and could not be afforded by a small, narrowly based economy dependent on a small number of employers.

Some of the services and additional infrastructure that could be necessary are: power station replacement, electricity and water distribution, social services, pensions, employment, social security and the maintenance of access, most likely by air.

Consultants

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which 10 consultancy fees charged to her Department since May 1997 were the most expensive. [107165]

Mr. Hoon: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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 fees charged per consultant or consultancy is maintained.

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 FCO’s website at www.fco.gov.uk.

Departmental Projects

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the 20 largest procurement projects initiated by her Department since May 1997 have been; what the (a) original budget, (b) cost to date and (c) consultancy fees have been in respect of each; and what the final cost was of each project which has been completed. [106582]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) largest procurement projects are predominantly associated with our major construction and IT related programmes. Our longer term capital procurement projects are reported annually in our departmental report, copies of which are available in the Library of the House and on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk.

However, there is also significant expenditure on procurement projects that are treated as administration costs rather than capital expenditure. A composite list
5 Dec 2006 : Column 340W
of the 20 largest procurement projects since May 1997, covering both capital and administration expenditure is therefore listed as follows:

The FCO operates a devolved system of budgeting and no central records covering the original budget, cost to date, and consultancy fees in respect of each or the final costs of each project are held. To provide further detailed information covering each of these projects would incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many temporary employees were contracted to work for her Department in 2005-06; and what the total cost of such employees was in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 1997-98. [106691]

Mr. Hoon: We do not have a central record of the numbers of staff employed under contract from agencies and it would incur disproportionate cost to obtain them. We do, however, have figures for the costs for the financial years (FY) in question, which are:

We have recruited the following temporary employees during the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006:

We do not have this information for FY 1997-98.


Next Section Index Home Page