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19 Nov 2007 : Column 554Wcontinued
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has a procedure for recording and collating incidents and complaints made by British citizens who have taken part in overseas trips organised by gap year companies. 
Meg Munn: Our official complaints procedure is for complaints about consular services provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We do not record or collate incidents and complaints from British citizens relating to gap year companies. We do not have a regulatory role in this industry, but we do have links to it. The Year Out Group is one of the many travel industry companies who are members of our Consular Stakeholder Panel. As part of our wider Know Before You Go campaign, which promotes safer travel to British citizens, we have produced a website specifically aimed at gap year travellers;
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the numbers of those detained by the Burmese government following recent protests (a) who have been released and (b) who remain in detention. 
Meg Munn: Official Burmese figures indicate close to 3,000 arrests during and after the recent protests, with 91 individuals still in detention. We believe, however, that these numbers are underestimated. The number of arrests is likely to be around 3,500. We believe the number still detained to be near to 1,000, although without independent access to prisons, it is impossible to give a firm figure.
We remain in close touch with organisations and individuals who, over time, hope to build a clearer picture of the numbers involved. Given the regimes tight control and manipulation of information however, it may never be possible to establish verified and independent evidence.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has made in the Council of Europe on revision by international instrument of Article 3 of the European Charter of Human Rights as it applies in deportation cases. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary set out when she wrote to the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on 3 August, the Government are not seeking to amend the text of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. No such representations have therefore been made.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who chairs the China Task Force; on what dates it met in 2007; and what was discussed at each meeting. 
Dr. Howells: The China Task Force is now chaired by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having previously been chaired by my right hon. Friend the former Deputy Prime Minister the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott). The last two meetings were on 22 February 2007 and 13 September 2007. On 22 February the Task Force discussed the role of the China Britain Business Council, Shanghai Expo 2010, possible UK-China co-operation in building sustainable cities and reviewed progress in UK-China relations as a whole. On 13 September the Task Force discussed preparations for the next UK-China summit and how the Task Force could best focus its future efforts in support of UK-China bilateral engagement.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps the China Task Force has taken to further its stated goals in the areas of (a) science and technology, (b) trade and investment, (c) education and (d) sustainable environment/development. 
Key achievements arising from China Task Force recommendations have included greater co-operation across five key trade areas (information and communications technology, water, financial services, energy, health); an increased number of exchanges between UK and Chinese universities following the introduction of a scholarships scheme; the introduction of annual
UK-China Education summits; the signing of a Sustainable Development Dialogue between the UK and China; and the development of a UK-China Working Group on Climate Change. During 2007 the Task Force produced a paper on Sustainable Cities as a basis for further co-operation in this area, which was presented to the Chinese in April. The Task Force is currently playing an active role in advising Government on preparations for the next UK-China summit, which will focus on the themes of trade and investment; education and research; climate change and sustainable development; and international development.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the merits of lifting the ban on UK defence exports to China. 
Meg Munn: UK defence exports to China are governed by the EU China arms embargo and the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. The European Council in December 2003 agreed to launch a review of the embargo, which is still underway.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made in the refurbishment of Ledra Palace Hotel, Nicosia; what the estimated cost is; who is paying for it; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I have been asked to reply.
Refurbishment of the Ledra Palace Hotel is currently under way. Work on the first floor of the building is complete, and refurbishment will start shortly on the second floor and the roof. The United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) have said they are content with the work to date. The work is being carried out by the Republic of Cyprus in an arrangement with the United Nations; we do not have visibility of the associated costs, but there is no direct cost to the UK for this work.
Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received on the trial of Congolese army soldiers and employees of the company Anvil Mining accused of complicity in the massacre of civilians in the town of Kilwa; what representations he has made to the Democratic Republic of Congo Government on the matter; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: We have received reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government, the UN, Anvil Mining and civil society on the tragic events which took place in Kilwa in 2004. We have remained in contact with non-governmental organisations and UN staff monitoring the subsequent trial.
In conjunction with our international partners, we expressed our concern to the Congolese Government after the events in Kilwa. We have urged the Congolese authorities to ensure a transparent and independent investigation and a fair trial for those accused of involvement in the killing of civilians, as part of our regular dialogue encouraging an end to impunity in DRC.
Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to encourage the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Meg Munn: In conjunction with EU partners, the UK is active in supporting the EU guidelines. We have condemned threats and attacks against human rights defenders, made representations to the Congolese Government, including at presidential level, and issued public statements where human rights defenders are at risk. The UK provides financial and visible public support to Congolese non-governmental organisations (NGO) and has contributed to an NGO-administered scheme which helps provide immediate protection for human rights defenders at risk.
On 31 July the Presidency of the EU issued a declaration calling on the Congolese authorities to fulfil their obligations on human rights. It urged justice for the murderers of the human rights defenders Pascal Kabungulu and Serge Maheshe, and for the trial concerning Mr. Kabungulu's murder to resume.
Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the work of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government's commission reviewing natural resource contracts in that country. 
Meg Munn: Reviewing contracts on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was necessary to ensure that agreements, signed under previous administrations, allow the Congolese state to receive appropriate revenue from the resources on its territory. We supported the creation of the commission, and have urged the DRC Government to allow it to work independently, and give its recommendations thorough consideration.
There have been some allegations from civil society that the commission's work has not been sufficiently transparent. We have encouraged the commission and the government to be as transparent as possible and await the commission's final report with interest.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff (a) have applied to work flexible hours and (b) work flexible hours (i) in his Department and (ii) the executive agencies for which his Department is responsible. 
Meg Munn: All Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff are entitled to apply to work flexibly. The Department is committed to promoting flexible working both at home and overseas. The FCO board of management has recently appointed one of its members as its first champion for flexible working. A growing number of staff at all levels, including senior managers, are working flexibly, whether part-time, job-sharing, working compressed hours or working from home. We are introducing new technology to enable staff to work remotely; and we have established a flexible working network to offer support and guidance to staff working flexibly and their managers. The FCO is a member of the Working Families organisation.
The Department does not hold central records of flexible working arrangements. These are negotiated separately with individual line managers. At 1 October 2006 according to the annual civil service employment survey, we had 202 staff working part-time (including staff in FCO Services and Wilton Park), the FCOs Executive agencies.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants in his Department (a) transferred to other Government Departments and (b) left the civil service in each of the last five years. 
Meg Munn: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Angela Eagle) gave to her on 13 November 2007, Official Report, columns 203-207W.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any of his Department's special advisers have declared a conflict of interest; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: Special advisers are appointed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers. Copies of the Model Contract are available in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what opinion polls his Department has conducted of (a) the public and (b) staff since 27 June 2007; and what the (i) name of the firm employed to conduct the poll, (ii) purpose and (iii) cost to the public purse was in each case. 
Meg Munn: Information on public opinion polls conducted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) including at its overseas posts is not held centrally. To collate this information would incur disproportionate cost. No staff opinion poll involving an external organisation has been conducted since 27 June 2007. The FCO occasionally surveys a small proportion of its staff about internal issues. These are conducted through in-house methods. The next all-staff survey involving an external consultant will take place in late November/December. An Investors in People health check survey will also be conducted later in November.
Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Mr. Dudley Ankerson is employed within his Department. 
Dr. Howells: It is not our policy to release the names or personal details of Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff except to confirm details already published in official documents.
Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people, including their dependants, from outside the EEA were given permission to (a) enter and (b) stay on in the UK in a visa category which could lead to them being granted the right to settle in each of the last five years; and how many of these permissions were in work-related categories. 
Dr. Howells: Although the information is not available in the format requested, the relevant statistics on immigration control are published in the Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom, 2006 Command Paper. Copies are available in the Library of the House and on the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at:
The following sections provide information on the reason for entry/stay in the UK for non-European Economic Area nationals and their dependents.
Section 2 Passengers given leave to enter;
Section 4 Decisions on applications for leave to remain; and
Section 5 Grants of settlement.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the method of approval of the European Reform Treaty referred to in the Gracious Speech will be done by way of a specific clause being included on the face of the Bill that gives effect in UK law to the provisions of the Treaty. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 14 November 2007]: As with previous amending Treaties, such as the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice Treaties, the Government will publish a Bill seeking Parliaments approval for the Reform Treaty to be given effect in UK law. If Parliament passes this Bill, that approval will enable the Government to ratify the Reform Treaty.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations his Department has received on the location of the new offices in London for the European Parliament and European Commission. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: There have been no discussions between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the European Parliament and European Commission regarding the location of new offices in London.
The European Commission and the European Parliament currently have separate office premises in London. The leases on both buildings are set to end within 12-18 months. Therefore, the Commission and Parliament are currently considering whether to move into a suitable building together.
The practice of sharing office premises exists in most member states.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what items of EU branded material were purchased by his Department in the last 12 months; and at what cost. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not purchased any EU branded material within the last 12 months.
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