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23 Jan 2007 : Column 1643W—continued

Commercial Whaling

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to curtail commercial whaling. [110461]

Mr. McCartney: An international moratorium on commercial whaling has been in force since 1986.

One country, Norway, has never been a party to the moratorium and has never ceased its commercial whaling operations.

Two other countries, Japan and Iceland, have continued to kill whales but claim that this is in aid of scientific research. In October 2006 Iceland broke with the moratorium and resumed commercial whaling.

The UK’s opposition to Norway’s commercial whaling programme has been consistent and strong. In April 2006, the UK led a démarche against Norway’s announcement of a record increase in the number of North Atlantic minke whales they planned to catch last year. As it transpired, Norway only caught 546 of its planned catch of 1,052.

UK officials at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in June 2006 were in the forefront of the opposition to Japan’s unsuccessful attempts to overturn the moratorium. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs engage in international lobbying to encourage other countries to join the IWC and oppose commercial whaling and lethal scientific whaling. In December 2006 the UK joined a démarche of 27 countries requesting Japan to reconsider its planned whaling programme for the next year.

The UK led the international condemnation of Iceland’s decision to resume commercial whaling. On 1 November 2006, our ambassador in Reykjavik led a multinational démarche of 25 countries plus the European Commission, making clear the extreme disappointment felt by those parties at Iceland’s decision, and urging Iceland to abandon its current operations. My hon. Friend the Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare summoned the Icelandic ambassador on 17 October 2006 to protest in the strongest possible terms against Iceland’s activities.

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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Government of Indonesia regarding the burning of rainforests for agricultural purposes; and if she will make a statement. [110637]

Mr. McCartney: With our EU colleagues, we have expressed concern to the Indonesian Government about the widespread forest fires, and offered further technical assistance to prevent illegal logging and promote forest conservation.

The Department of International Development has a long-running multi-stakeholder Forestry Programme in Indonesia which aims to address deforestation, illegal logging and forest governance, through a comprehensive programme of support to civil society and Government organisations. The programme has influenced local forest policy processes and is making a real impact on the lives of forest-based communities.

Information Technology

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent on information technology by Government Communications Headquarters in each financial year since 1997-98. [116914]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 January 2007]: The Government Communications Headquarters funding and expenditure are part of the Single Intelligence Account, details of which are not made public in the interest of national security. The National Audit Office and the Intelligence and Security Committee have proper oversight of the accounts of the Security and Intelligence Agencies.


Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Prime Minister has made to the Iraqi authorities on (a) the fairness of the trial of Saddam Hussein and (b) the use of the death sentence. [116917]

Dr. Howells: At the direct request of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, our ambassador in Baghdad conveyed the Prime Minister's serious concern about the unacceptable behaviour at Saddam Hussein's execution, and reiterated the Government's opposition to the use of the death penalty, to the Iraqi Prime Minister shortly after the execution.

Since the Iraqi interim government reintroduced the death penalty with effect from 7 August 2004, the United Kingdom, together with the European Union, has regularly raised our policy of opposition to the death penalty at the highest level, including with the Iraqi President and Prime Minister. Officials from our embassy in Baghdad repeated this view to the Iraqi government at the highest level on a number of occasions immediately before and after Saddam Hussein's execution.

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The Iraqi judicial authorities are responsible for ensuring that trials at the Iraqi Higher Tribunal are conducted in accordance with procedures prescribed by Iraqi law. We have stressed repeatedly to the Iraqi authorities the importance of independence of the judiciary. Saddam Hussein's trial was open and held in the presence of independent monitors and the media.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the Prime Minister was first informed that (a) Saddam Hussein's execution would be by hanging and (b) Iraqi television would be covering the execution. [116918]

Dr. Howells: Iraqi criminal procedure law stipulates that death sentences be carried out by hanging. It was clear when the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly approved the Iraqi Higher Tribunal's statute and rules of procedure on 11 August 2005, that if Saddam Hussein or any other defendant was convicted and sentenced to death by the tribunal execution would be by hanging.

Official coverage of the execution was a matter for the Iraqi authorities to determine. The Government of Iraq immediately investigated and condemned unofficial coverage.


Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans (a) she and (b) and Ministers and officials from her Department have to attend the Paris 3 Conference on the Lebanon on 25 January. [110706]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be attending the Paris 3 Conference on Lebanon with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Portland Trust

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what payments her Department has made to the Portland Trust since 2003. [110722]

Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 17 January 2007, Official Report, columns 1212-13W.

UN Budgets

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the marketing and advertising budget of each of the UN agencies is for 2006-07. [117095]

Dr. Howells: The UN Specialised Agencies do not have specific budgets for marketing and advertising. Expenditure on activity such as producing information material, advertising publications and maintaining websites is generally included under administrative budgets or under the programme headings to which the material produced relates. The figures provided by each agency do not always cover the same areas of activity or include the same costs (e.g. staffing). They are therefore not directly comparable.

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The following table provides the amount each agency (listed) has spent in UN financial (calendar) year 2006 on activity which it deems to fall under the general area of marketing and advertising. A broad description of activity covered by the figures is included in the table. In most cases, the amounts are given in the local currency of the country where the agency headquarters are based. Where an agency has been unable to provide figures, this is shown in the table.

UN agency Amount spent in 2006 Description of activity

Food and Agriculture Organisation


Recruitment advertising. Public service announcements are contracted on a pro bono basis.

International Civil Aviation Organisation


International Fund for Agricultural Development


Recruitment advertising and exhibition materials.

International Labour Organisation (ILO)


Marketing new ILO publications. The ILO's Communications Department conducts activity that incorporates marketing and advertising but it is not possible to isolate these costs from their budget records.

International Maritime Organisation (IMO)


Promotional materials (not including the corporate newsletter), catalogues, advertising publications.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

CHF3.1 million

Issuing media advisory notices, publishing the ITU journal and promoting ITU products and services. Includes staffing costs.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

US$6.8 million

Annual budget for the Bureau of Public Information, including media relations, publications and events management. Includes staffing costs.

UN Industrial Development Organisation


Production of video and media material. Promotional printing costs.

World Tourism Organisation


Participation in tourism fairs. Producing fliers, brochures and publications.

Universal Postal Union


Publications, posters and audiovisual material.

World Health Organisation


World Intellectual Property Organisation

CHF2.4 million

Creation, design, marketing and distribution of printed material. Film, multimedia material and website maintenance. Does not include staff costs.

World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)


Annual budget for the WMO's Information and Public Affairs Department. It does not include the cost of the WMO Bulletin or the website.

(1) Figures not available. (2) Approximate. (3) This figure reflects budget allocation rather than actual expenditure.

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UN Security Council

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries the Government support for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. [110743]

Dr. Howells: We support expansion of both permanent and non-permanent membership of the Security Council, to make it more representative of today's world. We support the candidatures of Germany, Japan, India and Brazil for permanent seats on an enlarged Council, as well as permanent African representation.

Education and Skills

Absence from School

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many Essex pupils had unauthorised absences from school in each of the past five years. [115901]

Jim Knight: The information requested is in the following table.

Pupils who took at least one unauthorised absence from maintained mainstream schools in Essex local authority
Primary( 1) schools Secondary( 1) schools
















(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.

Unauthorised absence is absence without leave from a teacher or other authorised representative of the school. This includes all unexplained or unjustified absences, such as lateness, holidays during term time not authorised by the school, absence where reason is not yet established and truancy.

Cadet Forces

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the expansion of cadet forces in schools; and if he will make a statement; [103357]

(2) when he will answer the question tabled by the hon. Member for Forest of Dean on 22 November 2006, on cadet forces in schools. [110224]

Jim Knight: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is running a pilot project with a small number of state schools to establish new combined cadet forces (CCF) in these schools. In order to do this the MOD has drawn on an existing list of schools that had already indicated interest. The Department has discussed this list with the MOD early this year.

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Funding for this is being provided directly by the Treasury. The Department has therefore not had any discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer around this project.

Child Asylum Seekers

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has plans to modify the unaccompanied asylum seeking children leaving care costs grant determination for local authorities who have above average numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeker children in care. [110841]

Jim Knight: From its inception in 2004-05 the former unaccompanied asylum seeking children care leavers grant has been focused on supporting those authorities which support the largest numbers of such young people. Recently, local authorities were advised by means of my Department’s regular bulletin that the qualifying threshold (25 full-time equivalent young people) and the weekly rate (£100) that applied during the 2005-06 grant year will be continued in 2006-07. The effect of this will be to ensure that local authorities with above average numbers are able to access the grant on the same terms as last year.

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what consultation took place with local authorities in advance of the issue of his Department’s circular 2005-15 on 17 October 2005 and circular 2006-1 on 11 January 2006 on the reform of unaccompanied asylum seeking children leaving care costs grant. [110843]

Jim Knight: Following the issue of Local Authority Circular (2004)6 in February 2004, representations were received both from individual local authorities and local government representative bodies. In response to these, it was decided to give further consideration to the terms of the 2004-05 former unaccompanied asylum seeking children care leavers contingency grant, including through the carrying out of a survey of local authorities. As a result, the terms of the 2004-05 contingency grant were altered, with the changes being confirmed in Local Authority Circular (2005)15. In addition, representations were also made by local authorities and their representative bodies about the basis on which a 2005-06 grant might be made. These informed the determination of that grant, which was notified to local authorities through Local Authority Circular (2006)1.

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