|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
We have regular meetings with the Colombian government and civil society, plus international non-governmental organisations working on human rights issues in Colombia. This engagement happens in both Colombia and the UK, through our
embassy in Bogota, ministerial visits and meetings between Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials and people and groups concerned about the issue. Human rights form the main strand of our policy towards the country. We want to see an improvement in human rights in Colombia and have offered our help and project support to the Colombian government and civil society to achieve this goal.
My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, raised human rights with Colombian ministers and civil society during his visit to the country in September. He followed up on the subject when he met the Vice-President of Colombia in London in November. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells) also raised human rights with Colombian ministers in his visit to Colombia in October. British embassy and FCO officials have also had meetings with a range of people drawn from the categories described above in November and December. This engagement will continue as we look for ways of trying to help improve the situation.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost was of her Department's Band C Assessment and Development Centres (ADC) in each of the last four years; and how much was paid to consultants involved in ADCs in each year. 
Mr. Hoon: Assessment and Development Centres (ADC) were introduced to improve leadership and management skills at middle and senior level. Research has shown that ADCs are the most reliable predictor of future performance and they ensure a diverse workforce at each level, with promotion being gained through objective assessment of performance by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and external assessors. ADCs are open to all staff who have been in their substantive grade for at least two years, which ensures that high-performing staff can gain promotion more speedily than previously.
The FCO can provide the breakdown of information requested for the last financial year, but not for preceding years, due to a change in the corporate management information system. To extract the data from the management information system used at that time in the way requested would incur disproportionate cost.
|Cost ADCs in financial years 2005-06|
|Total cost||Cost of consultants|
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which consultants received funding from the total indicated in the pie chart on page 75 of her Department's annual report. 
Mr. Hoon: The pie chart (Estate Running Costs) shows a total of £6.9 million in payments to consultants out of a total of £201 million for the financial year 2004-05. Of this £6.9 million, £4.6 million arose from our private finance initiative contract for our embassy in Berlin. The remaining £2.3 million was paid to approximately 100 separate consultants, of whom the largest three payments were to UCT Ltd. (£91,000), Halcrow Group Ltd., (£83,000), and TPS Consult Ltd. (£69,000).
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the UN Human Rights Council's decision to hold an emergency session on the on-going conflict in Darfur; what representations she will be making to the session; and what reports she has had from the UK ambassador at the United Nations on this issue. 
Dr. Howells: The UK supported the UN Human Rights Council's decision to hold an emergency session on the on-going conflict in Darfur on 12 and 13 December. The UK worked to achieve consensus in the session on the need effectively to tackle violations in Darfur, and for an expert human rights mission to Darfur. The UK also used its formal intervention to condemn gender based violence in Darfur.
Mr. Hoon: Readiness for promotion to Band D is established through written assessment of appraisal evidence. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) do not currently run an assessment and development centre (ADC) at this level.
ADCs were introduced to improve leadership and management skills at middle and senior level. Research has shown that ADCs are the most reliable predictor of future performance and they ensure a diverse workforce at each level, with promotion being gained via objective assessment of performance by FCO and external assessors. ADCs are open to all staff who have been in their substantive grade for at least two years.
We currently run ADCs to judge readiness for promotion to Band C and the senior management structure (SMS). Costs for Band C for financial year 2005-06 have been given in the response I gave to the hon. Member today (UIN 108896). Costs for the SMS ADC are as follows:
|Total cost||Cost of consultants|
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many candidates in her Department have gone through the Band C assessment and development centres whilst on temporary promotion to Band C in the last four years; and how many (a) passed and (b) failed, broken down by sex. 
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not collected information on the number of candidates who have gone through the Band C assessment and development centre (ADC) whilst on temporary promotion for the period February 2001 to January 2005. It would incur a disproportionate cost to collect all the data requested.
However, the FCO can supply the data requested for the period February 2005 to November 2006 as it recently compiled this information for internal monitoring purposes. Of the 93 candidates on temporary promotion, 20 male candidates and 15 female candidates passed the ADC, while 33 male candidates and 25 female candidates failed the ADC.
Data on the number of male and female candidates who have passed/failed the ADC since it was introduced is collected and the figures for the period February 2001 to November 2006 are as follows: Of the 352 candidates who passed the ADC, 193 were male and 159 were female. Of the 533 candidates who failed the ADC, 328 were male and 205 were female.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which (a) independent and (b) maintained educational institutions accommodate pupils and students receiving the boarding school allowance granted to employees of her Department; how many pupils at each institution received the allowance and in each of the last three years for which figures are available and at what cost; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: It is a condition of employment that members of the diplomatic service must be prepared to serve anywhere in the world at any time during their career, sometimes at very short notice. Those with children also have the legal obligation as parents to ensure that their children receive a full-time education from the age of five years. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) provisions for children's education are intended to help staff meet these potentially conflicting obligations.
We expect children who accompany their parents on postings overseas to use free state schooling if it is available locally and suitable. If suitable schooling is not available free of charge locally, but is available at fee-charging schools, we refund fees to enable children to receive the education they would be entitled to in the UK.
With staff and their families having to move at regular intervals, sometimes at short notice and at times which may disrupt schooling for their children, and education facilities at posts overseas varying, continuity of education can be problematic particularly during the important exam years. The FCO's continuity of education allowance addresses this
problem by enabling children to board at schools in the UK while their parents remain subject to the world-wide mobility obligation.
As it is lengthy, I am arranging for a copy of the schedule showing the independent and maintained schools attended by children of members of the diplomatic service to be placed in the Library of the House. The schedule also shows the numbers of children currently attending those schools.
Figures are not available to provide a breakdown of payments to each of the 180 schools listed. But the overall expenditure in respect of children attending independent and maintained schools over the last three years are as follows:
|Financial year||£ million|
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 7 December 2006, Official Report, column 661W, on departmental studies, at what (a) staff grade and (b) cost threshold external studies can be commissioned independently by officials within her Department; and how many members of staff there are at that grade. 
Dr. Howells: The UK and other partners, including the European Union, continue to monitor closely the human rights situation in Ethiopia. Where appropriate we raise our concerns with the Ethiopian Government at both ministerial and official level. My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development have raised these issues at the highest level.
We have recently added a new political officer to our embassy staff in Addis Ababa with a remit to deal solely with human rights issues. In the past year, we have supported a number of non-governmental organisation's working on human rights issues. We have also assisted with capacity building of the recently established Human Rights Commission.
Dr. Howells: The election in May 2005 marked a step change in the democratisation process in Ethiopia. The degree of political freedom and debate in the run up to the election was unprecedented. We were disturbed that subsequent disputes over the election results led to civil unrest and violence which resulted in the tragic death of many people. There were also widespread arrests and allegations of human rights abuses. The main Opposition leaders and some civil society representatives remain in detention facing serious charges including genocide and treason. Since the election there has been a closing down of political space for the Opposition, the independent media and civil society.
We continue to encourage both the Government of Ethiopia and the Opposition to move forward with the democratisation process and to work towards political reconciliation. We have a regular dialogue with the Government on governance and human rights issues and the Government are now beginning to take steps to create space for opposition parties to contribute and participate in the House of Peoples' Representatives. We continue to urge the Government to open up political space and encourage open debate with all parts of society.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) budget, (b) agenda and (c) mission statement is of the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection; and if she will make a statement. 
The European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) is being funded under the Financial FrameworkPrevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of terrorism. This framework has been allocated a budget of 12.7 million (euros) for 2007, by the European Union. Although not all this funding will necessarily be allocated to EPCIP, the European Commission currently expects that most of it will.
The Commission is currently drawing up proposals for how EPCIP should proceed, for discussion and agreement with the Member States. Therefore, no agenda or mission statement has been agreed. The stated aim of EPCIP is to improve the protection of critical infrastructure in the European Union.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her policy is on the proposed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala; and whether the UK plans to offer any support to this body. 
Mr. Hoon: The situation in Guatemala has improved since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, following 36 years of conflict. However, we continue to be concerned by the growth of organised crime, the activities of gangs and the widespread impunity which threatens the rule of law in Guatemala. We therefore very much support the creation of an International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala and are working closely with EU partners and the international community to help ensure its effectiveness.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what investigations or inquiries the Government have initiated during the last three years into the dealings of Mr. David Mills in connection with the sale of aviation spare parts and equipment to Iran in contravention of United Nations and European Trade Union trade sanctions; and what the results were. 
Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the governments of Syria and Iran about their alleged involvement in efforts to destabilise the democratically elected government of Lebanon. 
Dr. Howells: Officials from my right hon. Friend the Prime Ministers Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continue to raise our concerns with Syria about its alleged involvement in efforts to destabilise the democratically elected Government of Lebanon. We hope Syria will choose to play a constructive role in the region and support UN Security Council Resolution 1701s aim of supporting the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognised borders.
The United Kingdom continues to be deeply concerned by Irans interference in Lebanon and takes every opportunity to raise this issue with the Iranian government, most recently on 8 December when senior officials at the FCO met officials from the Iranian embassy.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British nationals have reported being refused an entry visa for the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli authorities since April. 
The Government of Israel does not provide figures for the number of British Nationals who are denied entry into Israel and the Occupied Territories. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and Consulate-
General in Jerusalem are made aware of British Nationals being denied entry only if the British National concerned reports the incident to them. British Nationals do not need a visa to enter Israel and the Occupied Territories. Those refused entry at the international border are therefore refused entry to both Israel and the Occupied Territories.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|