|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Gillian Merron: There is no central guidance on whether Executive agencies should run separate press offices from their parent Departments. This is a matter for individual Departments and agencies. The guidance issued across the Government Communication Network on issues like propriety is the same for press officers in all Government bodies.
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received on conditions for children in care in Bulgaria; and whether he plans to make representations on the matter to the Bulgarian authorities. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Since the documentary on the Mogilino Childrens Care Home was first screened by the BBC, we have received over 150 emails and letters about childcare in Bulgaria. Our Embassy in Sofia has raised the issue with the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Justice Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Policy and remains in close touch with the authorities, as well as with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and others active in this field such as the UN Childrens Fund. Embassy officials are encouraging NGOs to work together and alongside the Bulgarian authorities, to help implement the necessary reforms. The Bulgarians have announced that they will direct around €5 million of EU structural funds for 2008 to develop alternative care arrangements.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is his Departments policy to use (a) incandescent light bulbs and (b) LED lights for festive decorations on departmental premises. 
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Departments policy is on the selection of (a) real and (b) artificial Christmas trees for his Departments festive decorations; and how real trees are disposed of. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: All Christmas trees for use in common areas of Foreign and Commonwealth Office buildings in the UK are real. They are procured in full compliance with Government procurement rules, including environmental aspects. Once removed, trees are disposed of by chipping, to create soil-improving mulch and compost. Decorations provided with the trees remain the property of the supplier and are recovered for subsequent re-use. Our overseas missions apply the same guidelines, although practice may vary according to local circumstances.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason British military assistance has been provided to the High Mountain Battalions of the Colombian Army. 
Dr. Howells: Our bilateral defence co-operation programme in Colombia has very specific objectives: to improve the Colombian Army and National Polices adherence to human rights norms and values, including international humanitarian law, humanitarian demining and counter narcotics. All our assistance has respect for human rights at its core. It comes with conditions and safeguards attached, and we monitor this closely. All reasonable precautions, subject to resource constraints, are undertaken to avoid any UK assistance being implicated in any human rights abuses.
We do not publish details of all the support we provide, nor to whom we provide it, as to disclose such information could endanger not only the effectiveness of the support, but also the lives of the British and Colombian personnel involved.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the observance of human rights in Colombia; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We are concerned about the human rights situation in Colombia and the continued threats against human rights defenders, including trade unionists, community leaders and teachers. However, we are encouraged by the positive steps the Government of Colombia have been taking to address the human rights situation. For example, a new unit of specialised prosecutors with greater resources has been established to deal with cases of human rights abuses involving trade unionists - a point specifically welcomed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in his report on Colombia, published on 15 March 2007.
The UK provides assistance to Colombia in the area of human rights so that the serious, continuing challenges facing the country can be addressed and further improvements can be made to the lives of the Colombian people. Further detail can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website:
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many unique visitors there were to each departmental blog in the last month; how many full-time equivalent staff work on each blog; and what the costs of each were for 2007-08. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The statistics available to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the Blogging Platform are for the site as a whole and show the number of sessions. For November 2007, there were 52,322 individual sessions on the platform. The statistics are not broken down by individual blog, nor can we say how many unique visitors there were.
Between two and three full-time equivalent members of staff work on the Blogging Platform dealing with all of the blogs, of which there are currently eight. This includes the bloggers themselves, those involved in filming and uploading content and those responsible for updating and maintaining the platform.
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Governments policy towards the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute is based on three principles: to avoid any return to war, which would be unacceptable; for the border to be demarcated; and for the Parties to find a way to normalise relations. Ethiopia and Eritrea should agree a way forward to allow demarcation to proceed and for a normalisation process to begin.
We have set out this policy to both Ethiopia and Eritrea, including when my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfm and when my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Vadera, and our ambassador in Addis Ababa met Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in November. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, also made these points to Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh in November.
We support the efforts of the UN with the Parties and will continue to pursue this policy with our international partners, including through the UN Security Council (UNSC). In this regard, we fully support the UNSCs Presidential Statement of 13 November, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the UK has advanced for internationally agreed procedures to prevent breakdowns of states and societies, as referred to in the Prime Ministers Mansion House speech of 12 November. 
David Miliband: The UK is already playing a leading role alongside international partners in ensuring that the international community can become more effective in preventing the breakdown of states and societies. Effective measures will require international consensus on the challenges and the backing of the international community. That is why the UK is pressing the UN and other bodies to deliver the 2005 World Summit commitment to the creation of a single Early Warning System and to operationalise the concept of Responsibility to Protect also endorsed at that World Summit. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out the clear challenge to the international community to deliver its commitments by improving procedures to prevent conflict. Specifically, the UN Security Council needs to act earlier, and there needs to be more use of targeted sanctions and international criminal court actions. The UK will continue to work with international partners on specific mechanisms to deliver existing international commitments.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what decisions were taken at the meeting of E3+3 Political Directors in Paris on 1 December about the next stage in discussions with Iran over its nuclear programme; and when the next meeting between Javier Solana and Saeed Jalili is expected. 
David Miliband: E3+3 Political Directors agreed in Paris on 1 December that neither the report of Mohammed El Baradei nor that of Javier Solana could be described as a positive outcome, the test set in the statement issued by E3+3 Foreign Ministers on 28 September in New York. Accordingly, they agreed that we should seek a new UN Security Council sanctions resolution. Dr. Solana made clear to Said Jalili that they should remain in touch as necessary, but there is no date fixed for a further meeting at present.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether Iran is meeting its commitments under the IAEA-Iran work plan of August 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Mohammed El Baradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported on 15 November the level of co-operation Iran was giving the agency following the agreement of the IAEA-Iran work plan. In his report, he stated that Iran had provided sufficient access to individuals and had responded in a timely manner to the IAEAs questions. However, he also noted that co-operation had been reactive rather than proactive and that active co-operation and full transparency were
indispensable for full and prompt implementation of the work plan. Even more concerning, he noted that the IAEAs knowledge about Irans current nuclear programme is diminishing.
We share Dr. El Baradeis concerns. After many years of concealing its nuclear programme, Iran has still not disclosed in full its past nuclear activities, and the IAEA is still unable to state its confidence in the answers Iran has given. To do this, the IAEA has made clear that Iran needs to give proactive co-operation and implement the Additional Protocol. Unless Iran does this, the IAEA has said it is unable to provide assurances about the exclusively peaceful nature of the programme. If Iran is serious about building international trust, it should implement the Additional Protocol and suspend all enrichment-related activities without delay.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the most recent United States intelligence agencies National Intelligence Estimate Report, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. 
Dr. Howells: It is not the practice of this or previous Governments to comment on intelligence matters. However, nothing in the National Intelligence Estimate changes the fundamental problem that we face which is Irans pursuit of a uranium enrichment programme that has, as far as we can see, no civilian application. This is despite the unanimous demand from the UN Security Council and from the International Atomic Energy Agency that it stops doing so. Accordingly, we will continue to act in the UN, the EU and bilaterally to persuade Iran to change its approach and comply with its international responsibilities.
Dr. Howells: There has been one UK based member of staff posted to our embassy in Kuwait in support of Operation Telic in each year since 2003. However, before the set up of the Iraq support unit in February/March 2004, embassy staff already posted in Kuwait helped with the logistics of officials travelling to Iraq.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution the UK made to UN peacekeeping operations in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
|Military personnel, military observers, police, civilians||UK assessed contributions to UN peacekeeping (£)|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|