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Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which projects and programmes are being funded by the Conflict Prevention Pools; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Conflict Prevention Pools were established in 2001-02 to bring together defence, diplomatic and development activity aimed at long-term conflict prevention. Jointly owned and managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development, they aim to improve the Government's conflict prevention work through joint analysis, strategy planning and project programming, and better co-ordination with international partners.
The Global Conflict Prevention Pool currently funds programmes in Afghanistan (including a separate Afghanistan counter-narcotics programme), the Balkans, Caribbean, Latin America, Indonesia/East Timor, India/Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East/North Africa, Nepal, Russia/Commonwealth of Independent States and Sri Lanka. It also funds three thematic strategies aimed at building international conflict prevention capacity: security sector reform, small arms/light weapons and UN.
The Africa Conflict Prevention Pool funds bilateral assistance to a range of countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, working with African and other international bodies to reduce the incidence and effects of conflict at continental, regional and country levels in Africa. Significant achievements include strong and influential relationships being built with key continental and national actors in the emerging African peace and security architecture. High quality training and other support is being provided to strengthen African capacity for peace support operations and to encourage the professionalism of African armed forces. Country programmes are making innovative contributions to peace-building and post conflict stabilisation work.
Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of his Department's staff held an Arabic language qualification in each year since 2000. 
Dr. Howells: There are 230 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff with an Arabic language qualification at various levels recorded on the FCO management information system. This is around 6 per cent. of the total number of diplomatic service staff. The figure does not include staff employed locally. Using success in the internal FCO Arabic exam at Operational or Extensive level as a measure of fluency, 70 staff acquired fluency in Arabic between 2000 and 2006. Other staff serving in Arabic-speaking posts will have retained fluency from previous use of the language. Five staff will complete Arabic Operational training in 2007 and a further 14 in 2008. We would expect the overall number of Arabic speakers in the diplomatic service to increase as we continue to train staff and target hard language skills, including Arabic, at recruitment and inward transfer. We will also be encouraging staff to return to the region to reuse existing language skills.
In order to provide a year on year breakdown of language qualifications we would need to extract both the start and end dates of the qualification. This information was not mandatory on the previous management information system and any breakdown
would not provide a true reflection of the total number of staff that held the qualification.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people in his Department have been (a) disciplined and (b) dismissed for (i) inappropriate use of the internet while at work and (ii) using work telephones to access premium rate telephone numbers in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Since April 2006 one member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff has received an official warning for accessing the Internet for private use and for making personal overseas calls from an office extension. No FCO staff have been dismissed for either inappropriate use of the internet while at work or for using work telephones to access premium rate telephone numbers in the last year.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his staff took early retirement in the last five years; at what cost; what grades of staff took early retirement; and what percentage of each grade took early retirement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The following table sets out the number of officers in each grade who have taken early retirement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) since 2002 and the total cost per annum of their compensation.
|Total cost to FCO (£)||SMS( 1)||D7||D6||C5||C4||B3||A2/1|
|(1) SMS is the Senior Management Structure.|
It is our policy to do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies. But, following the 2004 Spending Review, we have carried out a restructuring exercise to realise efficiency savings. This early retirement programme will enable us to reduce the size of the SMS in the FCO by 18 per cent. by 31 March 2008.
All payments to early retirees have been calculated and paid in strict accordance with the terms of the standard Civil Service Compensation Schemes. The aforementioned total costs listed include both compensation and early payment of pension sums, some of which would have been payable to these staff whenever they retired.
Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many London-based departmental staff were assigned to working primarily on (a) the Middle East excluding Iraq and (b) Iraq in each year since 2000. 
Dr. Howells: The following table shows the total number of London-based departmental staff working primarily on the Middle East from the financial years 2000-01 to 2007-08. We keep staffing levels under constant review against operational requirements and available resources.
|Financial year||Middle East||Iraq|
|(1 )From financial year 2000-01 to 2002-03 Iraq fell under the wider Middle East and North Africa Directorate. Due to changes in the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices management information systems over this period, it is not possible, without incurring disproportionate cost, to distinguish staff who worked on Iraq from those working in the wider directorate|
John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were: and what tendering process was used in selecting them. 
|Number of boxes||Total value (£)|
|(1 )Two separate orders|
(2) Three separate orders
The requirements for these boxes are infrequent and are satisfied through single source procurement strategy with Barrow and Gale. There is no current long-term contract in place. During 2004 the opportunity was taken to market test the prices and those provided by Barrow and Gale were found to provide the best value on price and quality.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants within his Departments areas of responsibilities in the last 12 months. 
Meg Munn: Both in the UK and overseas, staff are paid subsistence to compensate for the additional costs of being away from home on official duty. Subsistence covers the cost of a room in a typical hotel, and the costs of meals and other incidentals. Each post has a different daily subsistence rate depending on local economic conditions There is no automatic entitlement to subsistence in the UK.
|Dates from and to||UK||Overseas|
the figures use the date the expense was incurred, rather than the submission date;
the figures shown are only those where total expenditure has been paid; and
the figures provided are only those held in the UK. Posts overseas may also have paid individually for accommodation during this period, but our systems are not able to separate out the sums spent by overseas posts on overnight accommodation from other travel expenses.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what volume of correspondence his Department sent (a) by Royal Mail and (b) by other commercial delivery services in each of the last five years; and what the reasons were for the use of other commercial delivery services. 
|April to March each year||Kilos|
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