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Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what (a) aid and (b) advice is provided to British citizens who are called upon to act as witnesses in foreign courts; and when such support was last reviewed; 
(3) what information his Department holds on the average level of expenses faced by British citizens who act as witnesses in court cases abroad; and what advice his Department gives such people. 
Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) plays no direct role in arrangements for British nationals acting as witnesses in court cases abroad and therefore does not hold information on the level of expenses involved. For the same reason, I am unable to make an estimate of the number of British nationals involved in court cases abroad in each of the last five years.
When requested, the FCO and consular staff overseas will provide consular assistance in line with the practice
set out in our publication Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide, including general information on legal and police procedures in the country concerned and lists of local English-speaking lawyers and interpreters. Copies of Support for British Nationals Abroad: A Guide are available in the Library of the House. Guidance for consular officials was fully reviewed in May 2007.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken by (a) the UK Government and (b) the EU to engage with the Association of South East Asian Nations Governments on the situation in Burma. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have been in regular contact with Ministers from Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states to explain our position and urge them to remain firm in their support for regional and international action on Burma. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised Burma with his counterparts from Singapore and Thailand in New York on 26 September. I have raised the issue with Ministers and senior officials from Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, raised Burma with the Indonesian Foreign Minister in New York at the UN General Assembly and I held further talks with the Singapore Foreign Minister in Singapore on 22 October.
EU Heads of Mission have carried out demarches in ASEAN member states, calling on them to use their diplomatic influence to encourage the Burmese regime to end the repression of demonstrators and free all political prisoners.
Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the recent death under interrogation of a pro-democracy activist in Burma; and what representations he has made to the Burmese authorities. 
On 15 October, the Council of the European Union released a statement which called for a thorough and impartial investigation of the deaths of demonstrators and other human rights violations in Burma. We, and partners, are urging the Burmese authorities to admit the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Burma forthwith and co-operate fully with him.
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a written ministerial statement on 8 October 2007, Official Report, columns 12-15WS, on the situation in Burma. We placed an updated compilation of reports on the situation in Burma on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website on 15 October.
On 2 October, the Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution sponsored by the EU, with the strong support of the UK, which expressed deep concern about the situation in Burma. In our statement to the HRC, we drew attention to the regimes violations, including restrictions on the freedom of speech and association, and the suffering of Burmas ethnic communities.
The UK co-sponsored the presidential statement unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 11 October. This was the first formal action ever taken by the Security Council on Burma. The statement called upon the Government of Burma to take all necessary measures to address the human rights that are the concern of its people.
On 15 October, the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, at which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary represented the UK, called for a thorough and impartial investigation of the deaths of demonstrators and other continuing violations of human rights. It also called upon the Burmese regime to co-operate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. In response to the Burmese Governments failure to exercise restraint in their treatment of the demonstrators, the Council of the EU agreed to implement stronger restrictive measures against the regime. The strengthened measures include a ban on the import of metals, minerals, timber and semi-precious stones and a ban on investment in these sectors. These measures are designed to target the interests of the Generals, rather than to harm the people of Burma.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether a deadline has been set for reconciliation talks between the Burmese regime and opposition party politicians; and what the status is of these talks. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 22 October 2007]: The UN Secretary-Generals envoy to Burma, Professor Gambari, is promoting a process of national reconciliation in Burma which should include the civil opposition, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the minority ethnic groups and the military junta.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on a UN arms embargo against Burma; and when this subject will next be raised at the UN Security Council. 
Meg Munn: In his statement of 15 October, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said we will begin discussions with our partners about proposals for a UN arms embargo. We are taking this forward at official level.
No date has yet been agreed for further discussions in the UN Security Council, but we expect the Security Council to discuss Burma again when Professor Gambari, the UN Secretary-Generals envoy, returns from the region.
An EU arms embargo is already in place. In response to the Burmese Governments failure to exercise restraint in their treatment of the demonstrations, on 15 October EU Foreign Ministers agreed to implement stronger restrictive measures against that regime. The EU is prepared to review, amend or reinforce these measures in the light of developments on the ground.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the effectiveness of the new package of EU sanctions announced in the EU Council Conclusions on Burma/Myanmar on 15 October will be (a) monitored, (b) assessed and (c) reviewed; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 22 October 2007]: The EU monitors and evaluates sanctions through its range of geographical and thematic working groups. For Burma, the relevant working group is the Committee for Asia (known as COASI). Formal legal reviews of EU sanctions are also undertaken by the Foreign Relations Counsellors Working Party (known as RELEX).
We will be working closely with all our European partners to ensure that this new package of EU sanctions will be properly monitored, assessed and reviewed, which includes addressing any risk that goods might be diverted or re-exported to Burma. The EU is prepared to review, amend or reinforce measures in the light of developments on the ground.
We are discussing a range of broader measures with our EU colleagues that target sources of revenue for the regime, but do not hurt the civilian population. We do not exclude introducing a total ban on future investment if the regime does not make concessions on dialogue.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the EU plans to take to promote UN engagement with Burma; what form such engagement is likely to take; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 22 October 2007]: EU Foreign Ministers meeting at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 15 October condemned the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Burma and strongly supported the actions by the UN, in particular the good offices mission of UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari. The Foreign Ministers also announced the imposition of additional measures and sanctions targeting the regime.
The EU will continue to support UN engagement with Burma. The EU has regular and close contacts at all levels with the Association of South East Asian Nations and other partners through which it will underline the importance of lending full regional support to the UN and to Mr. Gambari. The EU also stands ready to review, amend or reinforce these measures, in the light of developments on the ground and the results of the good offices mission of the UN, thereby increasing Mr. Gambaris leverage with the Burmese regime. The EU will also continue to provide support for humanitarian assistance inside Burma.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions has he had with the Governments of (a) the Democratic Republic of the Congo and (b) Rwanda on how to deal with the militia under the control of General Nkundu. 
Meg Munn: My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, met a delegation of advisers to President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in London on 13 September and spoke with President Kabila at the UN on 26 September. On both occasions he urged the Congolese Government to continue to look for a political solution to the problems affecting the east of the country and not to take a military approach against General Nkunda.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, together with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development, met President Kagame of Rwanda on 3 October. President Kagame had another meeting with my noble Friend the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown and my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Vadera, on the same day. President Kagame agreed that integrating General Nkundas troops into the Congolese armed forces was a necessary step towards peace. At both meetings the Government of Rwanda were urged to deliver on the commitments made in an agreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 3 September.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people were employed by his Department on 1 January in each of the last five years; and how many of these staff were (a) permanent employees, (b) temporary staff and (c) contractors. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Figures for Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff numbers are published in the Civil Service Annual Statistics reports from the Cabinet Office according to a central counting convention. The figure for the full-time equivalent staff numbers for 2007 is not yet available. The numbers of full time equivalent, UK based staff (ie excluding staff employed locally at posts) for each of the previous five years and including the FCOs agencies, Wilton Park and FCO Services, were as follows:
The figure provided for 2006 is as at 30 September that year. Earlier figures are for 1 April in the relevant year. The numbers for contract and temporary staff employed are not held centrally and it would incur disproportionate cost to collate this information. The growth in staff numbers in 2006 was primarily due to increases in visa and consular work. Funding for staff in these areas is derived from the fees charged for these services.
Meg Munn: Foreign policy is fast-moving and constantly evolving. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has implemented a number of new and changed policies since 27 June 2007 and we have kept Parliament fully informed.
These policy initiatives cover a wide range of issues and countries including Burma, Zimbabwe, Russia, Darfur/Chad, Iraq and Afghanistan among others. Details, including statements, speeches, announcements and blogs can be found on the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk and its associated links.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the appointment of a European envoy for Zimbabwe to be agreed by the EU; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The situation in Zimbabwe is of concern to all EU countries. At the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on 15 October, Foreign Ministers discussed the role of an EU envoy. The Presidency, in consultation with the Secretary-General of the Council of the EU, is charged with responsibility for taking the issue forward.
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