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Dr. Howells: The Government have long held that the circumstances in which detainees are held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay are unacceptable and that Guantanamo Bay should be closed. The US Government are fully aware of our position. We will continue to discuss detainee-related issues with the US Government and will raise humanitarian and human rights concerns about detentions at Guantanamo Bay where necessary.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the use that the Army and Air Force in Burma will make of military material and training recently provided by India; 
Meg Munn: We have made no such detailed assessment, but we raise Burma with the Indian authorities as part of our regular dialogue with the Indians on regional security and they are aware of our concern. We ask the Indian authorities to use their influence with the Government of Burma to encourage them to respect human rights and to restore democratic rule. We are concerned that the Government of Burma continues to spend scarce resources on weaponry for its 400,000-strong army, while expenditure on health and education is at minimal levels.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department paid to Common Purpose in each of the last five years; for what purpose; and what the outcome of the expenditure was. 
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) management consultants and (b) other external consultants and advisers in each year since 2000; and which of these consultants undertook work for the Department with a total contractual value in excess of £10 million over this period. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) annual expenditure on external consultants is published in the Departments annual reports, copies of which are in the Library of the House. The two most recent annual reports also contain details of expenditure on the top five consultancy suppliers. The FCO spent in excess of £10 million over the seven financial years from April 2000 to March 2007 with each of the following consultancy companies:
Cap Gemini Ernst and Young
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in her Department are (a) involved in assisting European Council negotiations, (b) involved in assisting and advising the European Commission, (c) seconded to the European Commission, (d) involved in monitoring EU decisions, communications, regulations and directives, (e) involved in enforcing compliance with EU decisions, communications, regulations and directives and (f) involved in other work related to the European Council, Commission or Court of Justice. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: There are approximately 95 officials working on EU matters in the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices (FCO) Europe Directorate in London. In addition, a number of officials, including from other Government Departments, work on EU matters in the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the EU and elsewhere in the overseas network. Providing a detailed breakdown as requested by the hon. Member would incur disproportionate cost. The FCO also has one official seconded to the European Commission and one in the Council Secretariat.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many non-pensionable bonuses were awarded to members of staff in his Department in the last three years; and at what total cost. 
|(Pay Round)||Number of recipients||Annual performance related bonus awards||Devolved bonus scheme||Total bonus payments|
The processes for determining annual pay and bonus awards for FCO staff follow a timetable which reaches a conclusion in late July. We will not therefore be in a position to supply figures for annual bonuses paid during the 2007 pay round until August. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as this information is available and will place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
The FCO uses non-consolidated, non-pensionable, performance-related bonuses to encourage high performance. Since 2002, we have paid annual bonuses to staff in the delegated grades based on appraisal evidence of annual performance. The highest bonus for staff in these grades will be £1,850 in 2007. Managers may also nominate staff in the delegated grades to receive small awards, devolved bonuses, for particular exceptional achievements in year.
Bonus arrangements for staff in the senior management structure (SMS) have followed a framework set for Whitehall Departments by the Cabinet Office since 2004. We use SMS bonuses to reward excellent performance during the year. They are based on a judgment by pay committees of how well an individual has performed relative to their peers. Those who have delivered the best results, and shown real leadership in doing so, receive the biggest bonuses. Those who have delivered least receive nothing. In accordance with the Cabinet Office guidelines, Departments may spend a sum equivalent to 7.6 per cent. of their SMS pay budget on non-consolidated bonuses for SMS staff in 2007.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what percentage of staff in his Department are making additional voluntary contributions to their pensions; and what steps he has taken in the last 12 months to encourage more people to make such contributions. 
Pension scheme members receive an annual benefit statement showing the pension entitlements they have accumulated to date together with a projection of pension on retirement if the member continues in service up to the scheme pension age. The benefit statement provides details of the Civil Service Pensions website where staff can obtain further information, including options for making additional voluntary contributions to boost their pension. We also provide information about these options to new recruits and to other staff who seek advice.
Mr. Jim Murphy: Under the Departments performance improvement procedures, unacceptable performance has to be addressed as soon as it occurs rather than waiting for the appraisal cycle to be completed. In the period 2006-07, 22 staff were subject to these procedures. Annual report markings, which only record cases of poor performance current at the end of the appraisal year, for the period 2006-07 are not yet available.
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has 2,620 staff based in our two Whitehall buildings and 1,200 staff at Hanslope Park, Buckinghamshire. The majority of our London staff commute by public transport, whereas the majority of those at Hanslope Park come by private car, because public transport is not available. The travel plan we are introducing for Hanslope Park encourages car sharing. About 200 staff cycle to the London buildings and 20 to Hanslope Park.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department have taken (a) five or more, (b) four, (c) three and (d) two periods of sick leave of less than five days in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The numbers of Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff taking two, three, four and five or more periods of recorded sick absence of less than five days during the 12 months to 31 May 2007 are set out in the following table.
|2 periods||3 periods||4 periods||5+ periods|
We have recently revised our sickness absence policy in order to tighten the procedures for handling short-term sickness absences. Subject to agreement from our trades unions, we plan to implement the new policy from September.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by the Government on the progress of the treason trials in Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We continue to make representations to the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that the trial of opposition political leaders, civil society representatives and journalists is swift, transparent and fair, and that their individual human rights are respected.
On 11 June, judges in the trial ruled that those individuals who chose not to defend themselves were all guilty of one or more charges brought against them by the prosecution. Sentencing is scheduled for 9 July. Cases of those who have chosen to defend themselves started on 18 June.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministers took part in discussions of the Amending Treaty agreed at the June European Council in the two months prior to the agreement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friends the former Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair), the former Foreign Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett) and the former Minister for Europe now the Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon) had discussions with EU partners on the subject of EU institutional reform in the period leading up to the June European Council.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions Ministers in his Department held with African leaders during the recent G8 meeting in Germany. 
Meg Munn: Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers did not attend the G8 summit in Heiligendamm on 6-8 June. In an outreach session involving G8 members and African countries, my right hon. Friend the former Prime Minister (Mr Tony Blair) held discussions with African Heads of State from Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and also the Chairman of the Commission of the African Union. The leaders discussed a number of issues with specific reference to Africa, including peace and security, aid for trade, debt relief, good governance, investment, support for the healthcare sector and the effects of climate change in Africa. A summary of their discussions can be found in Chapter II of the Chairs Summary at:
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will consider further the merits of releasing into the public domain the draft of the September 2002 dossier on Iraq written by John Williams. 
This issue is the subject of an ongoing appeal to the Information Tribunal following a recent
decision by the Information Commissioner. However, as I recently made clear in the House on 13 June 2007, Official Report, column 296WH, the Government believe it is vital to provide thinking space for officials and others involved in drafting policy documents. They should not feel constrained in presenting their ideas because they fear these will be made public. This principle is specifically recognised in the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects Ms Vanessa Ann Marie Brown, date of birth 17 May 1979, of Jamaica to receive student entry clearance arising from her successful appeal in February (Appeal No. OA/36531/2006); what the reasons are for the delay; and what procedure is used to inform posts abroad when an appeal has been upheld. 
Dr. Howells: To conform with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998, the details of any ongoing visa application are always treated as confidential to the applicant and his/her authorised representatives.
A backlog of appeals cases at our High Commission in Kingston was identified in January; a programme was immediately put into place to reduce the backlog, with assistance from other visa posts. Significant progress has been made, however there may still be a delay between receipt of the appeal determination and the issue of the visa.
When an appeal is allowed, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) will forward the Tribunals determination to the applicant, the applicant's representative and the Respondent (the Home Office). The AIT aims to do this within 12 working days of the hearing.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Governments policy is on governmental relations with Hamas if its policy towards Israel does not change; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We have repeatedly made clear that we are ready to engage with Hamas if they follow the Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) principles: renunciation of violence; recognition of Israel; and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. Hamas has a role to play in the peace process. As I told the House on 3 July 2007, Official Report, column 812
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