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8 Oct 2007 : Column 249W—continued

Departments: Contracts

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what circumstances his Department awards contracts to outside organisations without undertaking a tendering process. [154034]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Occasionally and exceptionally competitive tendering is not possible due to the nature of the goods and services being purchased. Such circumstances might arise as a result of the following:

All proposals of this nature to contract with a single source (i.e. without undertaking a tendering exercise) with an estimated value in excess of 1,000 need careful consideration and specific approval. The supporting case should at a minimum cover the following factors:

Where single source tendering is proposed for purchases which exceed £1,000, a single source justification form must be completed and include an assurance that value for money will be achieved and background information covering as a minimum the points above to support that assertion. Decisions on single source purchasing where the value of the requirement is between £1,000 and £5,000 may be made by the internal sponsor department although advice should be sought from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's procurement centre of excellence, Procurement Strategy Unit, as required.

Single source proposals in excess of £5,000 must be submitted for approval to the Procurement Strategy
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Unit. They must be considered by an official with specific delegated authority for single source action. Because of the risks, officers who are authorised to approve single source tenders are instructed to probe and challenge where necessary the justification for such action and record the reasons for their decision.

Departments: Disabled

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of people employed by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are disabled. [153600]

Meg Munn: 250 staff serving in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at 30 September 2006 had declared a disability. This represents 4 per cent. of our total UK-based workforce. These figures include staff at Wilton Park Conference Centre and in FCO Services, both executive agencies of the FCO.

The latest published data records the disability status of civil servants in departments and agencies at 30 September 2006. It appears in “Civil Service Statistics 2006” at Table P. This document is produced by the Office for National Statistics and can be accessed from the following web-site addresses:

Declaration of a disability is voluntary.

Departments: Legislation

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 July 2007, Official Report, column 1054W, on departments: legislation, which (a) sections and (b) schedules of the specified acts have been (i) repealed and (ii) not brought into force. [154202]

Mr. Jim Murphy: No section or schedule of the two specified Acts has been brought into force.

Departments: Tribunals

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by his Department on industrial tribunals in the last 12 months. [153048]

Meg Munn: Between June 2006 and May 2007 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid £112,128.97 in legal costs in relation to employment tribunal claims.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution the UK has made to initiatives to destroy drug-related crops by chemical spraying in foreign countries; and if he will make a survey. [156221]

Dr. Howells: The UK has not provided funding for the destruction of illicit drug crops by chemical spraying overseas.

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We have, however, undertaken a jointly funded project with the Organisation of American States to study the environmental and health impacts of the chemicals used in the aerial eradication programme of the Colombian Government.

EC Reform: Treaties

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes from unanimity to other forms of decision-making would be enacted by the existing text of the proposed EU Reform Treaty. [155471]

David Miliband [holding answer 17 September 2007]: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe gave to the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) on 26 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1468-69W.

Egypt: Religious Freedom

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will urge the Egyptian Government (a) to allow Christian converts from Muslim backgrounds to change their religion in their identity papers and (b) to remove completely the requirement for a person’s religion to be stated in Egyptian identity documents. [154405]

Dr. Howells: We are concerned about the problems arising from Egyptian identity cards that allow one of only three religions to be listed on them, and are aware that it is very difficult for Christian converts to change their religion on their identity cards. We have raised this regularly with the Egyptian Government both through the European Union and bilaterally, the last occasion being in September 2007. We will continue to raise this matter.

Embassies: Official Cars

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cars are owned by UK embassies overseas, broken down by (a) location and (b) make and model of car; and what the annual budget was for (i) acquisition, (ii) running and (iii) maintenance of those cars in 2006-07. [154803]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The number of vehicles owned by our missions overseas is approximately 1,200 (current to the end of August 2007) and is constantly changing.

We are, however, unable to provide the information and breakdown that the hon. Member has requested because the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold this information centrally and it would it incur disproportionate cost to collate it.

Entry Clearances

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many visa applications have been refused in each of the last five years. [156487]

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Dr. Howells: The information requested by the hon. Member can be found in the following table.

Total applications Total refusals Percentage refusals





















UKvisas Entry Clearance Statistics 2002-03; 2003-04; 2004-05; 2005-06
UKvisas Annual Report 2006-07

All UK entry clearance statistics are published on:

EU Countries: Arms Trade

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to seek changes to the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports to prevent its circumvention by the re-export of arms between third countries. [154336]

Dr. Howells: The UK has one of the most rigorous and transparent export licensing regimes in the world. All UK export licence applications are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria on a case-by-case basis and will not be approved if the export contravenes the Criteria or other international commitments. Criterion Seven refers explicitly to

If the Government believe that there is a risk, then the application will be refused.

The Government are however, open-minded about the case for further enhancing export controls. On 18 June, the Government launched a review of the export control legislation introduced in 2004 under the Export Control Act 2002. This includes a public consultation that seeks comments on the impact and effectiveness of the legislation, and whether there is a need to change or enhance the controls further.

EU Reform: NATO

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the likely effect the EU Reform Treaty will have on the NATO alliance. [154254]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) will remain the cornerstone of the UK’s security policy, a key means of delivery for the UK’s foreign and security policy objectives and the only organisation for collective defence in Europe.

The European Security and Defence Policy supports and complements NATO. The EU Reform Treaty text makes clear that NATO is

of its members and the instrument for implementing that commitment.

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Gaza: Frontiers

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations his Department has made on returning EU observers to the Rafah border crossing; [154594]

(2) what recent representations the Government has made to Israel and Egypt on re-opening the Rafah border crossing. [154595]

Dr. Howells: Officials at our embassy in Cairo raised the issue of Palestinians stranded on the Gaza/Egypt border with Tareq Maaty, Egyptian Deputy Assistant Minister for Refugee and Consular Matters on 23 August. Mr. Maaty confirmed that following discussions the Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit had in Israel in late July, the vast majority of the 6,000 Palestinians stuck in the Sinai have now returned to Gaza via the Erez crossing. While Hamas still controls the Rafah crossing, Egypt, Israel and Palestinian President Abbas are unable to guarantee the security needed to reopen it. We continue to stress to the Israelis the importance of opening the crossings into Gaza.

We believe there is an urgent need to re-open the Rafah crossing. The 23 July the EU General Affairs External Relations Council called:

Hina Jilani

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage Indonesia to allow (a) foreign journalists, (b) independent observers and (c) NGOs into West Papua. [156432]

Meg Munn: Officials at our Embassy in Jakarta visit Papua regularly and meet local officials, academics, journalists and non-governmental organisation (NGOs). We continue to encourage the Indonesian Government to allow access to Papua for media organisations. We are aware that the BBC correspondent based in Jakarta was given permission to visit Papua in September. We will continue to press the authorities to permit other journalists to visit.

Hina Jilani, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders was given permission to visit Papua in June. Access to Papua for developmental NGOs has improved significantly since the election of Governor Suebu in 2006 and a number of international NGOs and UN agencies have established representative offices in Jayapura.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he and other Ministers from his Department have to visit Indonesia. [156470]

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Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans to visit Indonesia in the immediate future. I am considering making a visit to the region as part of my ministerial duties. My hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East visited in April and Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials regularly visit Indonesia. The bilateral relationship between the UK and Indonesia is good, with strong political links. We work closely with the Indonesian Government on key areas of shared concern including counter terrorism, climate change and inter-faith.

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