Previous Section Index Home Page

8 Jan 2008 : Column 446W—continued

Gaza: Trade

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the change in the volume of goods moved in and out of the Gaza Strip in the last 12 months. [176155]

Dr. Howells: The Government do not carry out their own assessments, but rely on information from other bodies including the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). In November 2007, UNOCHA reported that there had been a 44 per cent. drop in the average number of food and animal feed trucks entering monthly into Gaza between the period January to May 2007 and the period June to October 2007.


8 Jan 2008 : Column 447W

The Government are extremely concerned by these reductions in imports and exports which are the result of the closure of Gaza's crossings. We call on all sides to assume their responsibilities in ensuring they reopen as soon as possible, and stand ready to provide appropriate assistance. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised the closure of Gaza crossings and its humanitarian impact with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities during his visit in December 2007.

Further information can be found at:

Iran: Nuclear Power

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department will produce an updated version of the January 2005 document, Iran's Nuclear Programme: A Collection of Documents, column 6443; and if he will make a statement. [174177]

David Miliband: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be looking to publish an updated version of the document in the first half of 2008.

Lebanon: Politics and Government

Roger Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Lebanon; and if he will make a statement. [175903]

Dr. Howells: The security situation in Lebanon remains unpredictable, with tensions running high over the election of a new President. Last month a bomb attack in Beirut killed General Francoise al Hajj and several others. We strongly condemn such attacks, which can only exacerbate tensions at an already difficult time. We urge all Lebanese parties to redouble their efforts to resolve the current crisis by peaceful and democratic means.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many letters his Department received from hon. Members and Peers in each session of Parliament since 1997. [174947]

Meg Munn: The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to hon. Members’/Peers’ correspondence. Information relating to 2007 will be published as soon as it has been collated. The report for 2006 was published on 28 March 2007, Official Report, columns 101-04WS. Reports for earlier years are available in the Library of the House.

Middle East: Peace Negotiations

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely long-term contribution to the Middle East peace process of the Annapolis conference;
8 Jan 2008 : Column 448W
and what progress has been made in the peace process since the conference took place. [175663]

Dr. Howells: The parties to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute confirmed in Annapolis their agreement to engage in vigorous and continuous negotiations and to make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.

We believe that Annapolis offers a genuine opportunity to make progress in the Middle East peace process.

However, there are always difficulties to overcome. But the Paris conference, on 17 December 2007 helped to raise international pledges of more than US$7 billion for the occupied Palestinian territories. As such, it represents a significant contribution to the peace process. It confirmed the unequivocal political support and commitment of international partners, including Arab countries, to support the economic development of the future Palestinian state.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2007, Official Report, columns 161-2W, on Middle East: peace negotiations, how much has been spent on the (a) salaries, (b) travel costs and (c) other costs of the four members of staff who have been seconded to Mr Blair’s team. [176080]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has seconded: one Executive Officer equivalent; one Higher Executive Officer equivalent; and one Senior Civil Servant equivalent to work in the right hon. Tony Blair’s office. The FCO is funding their salaries. The Department for International Development has seconded one Principal Officer—grade six and is funding this salary, allowances and accommodation costs. It would not be appropriate to give salary details as to do so could reveal individuals’ salaries.

Neither the FCO nor the Department for International Development is responsible for ongoing travel or incidental costs.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2007, Official Report, column 162W, on Middle East: peace negotiations, if he will request the European Union to seek the publishing by the Quartet of details of Mr Blair’s team, costs and funding. [176081]

Dr. Howells: The Government understand that the European Commission has provided €5 million to the UN Development Programme Trust Fund that inter alia supports the Quartet Representative’s mission. It will be a matter for the Quartet to determine whether to publish details of Mr. Blair’s team, costs and funding.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2007, Official Report, columns 161-2W, on Middle East: peace negotiations, how much is available in the UN Development Programme Trust Fund; and what further sums the UK will be providing to the fund in the next 12 months. [176156]


8 Jan 2008 : Column 449W

Dr. Howells: The Government understand that the European Commission has provided €5 million to the UN Development Programme Trust Fund that inter alia supports the Quartet Representative’s mission. The UK provided £400,000 to the UN Development Programme Trust Fund on 3 December 2007. The Government have no plans to provide further support at present but will keep under close review how they can best support Mr. Blair’s work.

National Identity Register

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has to make use of data on the National Identity Register when it is established; and what the estimated cost to his Department of that use is. [174037]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will be working with the Home Office, prior to the introduction of the National Identity Scheme, to establish how identity information held on the proposed National Identity Register might be used to provide easier access to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's services for our customers. It is too early in the process to establish the detailed costs and benefits.

Nigeria: Oil

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the refusal by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta to take part in peace initiatives in the Delta area of Nigeria on the safety of international oil workers. [175585]

Meg Munn: We call on all parties in the Delta to engage in dialogue towards a peaceful solution to the problems of the Delta. Nigerian President Yar'Adua has made resolution of the Delta crisis one of the main priorities for his term in office. Vice President Goodluck Jonathan has been specifically tasked with taking forward dialogue with a range of groups in the Delta and President Yar'Adua has also been personally engaged. In view of this, a Delta summit is intended to be held in early 2008, bringing together federal and state governments, militant groups and representatives from the local community. The UK has offered to support these efforts where we can add value.

Recently, the Government of Nigeria has demonstrated greater readiness to use the Joint Task Force (JTF), a combined military and civilian police force, to provide greater security in the Delta. The JTF was successful in stopping a particularly intense outbreak of gang violence in Port Harcourt in August 2007. We believe that both the increased dialogue and the use of the JTF have contributed to the fact that there has been a very significant reduction in the number of expatriate kidnappings since early October.

However, the risk of violence remains high and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice continues to advise against all travel to the Delta States of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, including Port Harcouit. It advises British nationals in these States to
8 Jan 2008 : Column 450W
leave due to the very high risk of kidnapping and other armed attacks. The FCO also advises against all travel to riverine areas of Cross River State and against all but essential travel to Akwa Ibom State for the same reasons.

The FCO remains in close contact about security with international oil companies both through UK Trade and Investment and consular officials in Lagos, and through representatives in London and Abuja.

Palestinians: Politics and Government

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in the Palestinian territories. [176092]

Dr. Howells: We are working closely with our international partners to support the US-led process that was initiated at Annapolis. As both sides have made clear, it is for them to work out a solution. But the international community has offered its support and encouragement and the UK stands ready to help them move forward.

The UK, along with the rest of the international community, has always made clear its desire to work with those who are committed to peaceful progress in the region. President Abbas is the elected President for all Palestinians. Our priority is to support President Abbas and the legitimate Palestinian government led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as they try to restore law and order in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and promote development. We have made clear that we will respond to significant movement from Hamas.

Regulation

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for which regulators and inspectorates his Department has had responsibility in each year since 1997; what the budget was of each such body in each year; and what the cost to the public purse was of any restructuring of each such body in each year. [175302]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not responsible for any Government regulator or inspectorate. The FCO conducts self-inspection through Resource Management Units attached to each geographical or functional Directorate.

Timor-Leste: Homicide

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will meet relatives of British citizens Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie to discuss the finding of the Coroner of New South Wales in November 2007 on the deaths of Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie and four others in Timor-Leste in October 1975; and if he will make a statement. [176810]

Meg Munn: I currently have no plans to meet with relatives of Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie. Following the conclusion of the New South Wales coroner's inquest, Foreign and Commonwealth Office consular officials have been in contact with the families
8 Jan 2008 : Column 451W
of both men to update them on developments in December 2007, and will continue to liaise with them on any future developments.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with the families of Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie and their representatives the information issued by his Department on the deaths of Mr. Peters and Mr. Rennie in Timor-Leste in 1975 since that date; and if he will make a statement. [176811]

Meg Munn: In 2002, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) documents relating to the incident were released exceptionally early to permit the relatives of Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters to see at first hand what the FCO knew about the deaths. The FCO holds no further pertinent information. My hon. Friend the then Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mike O'Brien) met the relatives of Mr. Rennie and Mr. Peters in September 2003 and March 2004. In December 2007, FCO consular officials wrote to the families of both men to update them on developments following the conclusion of the New South Wales coroner's inquest.

Wilton Park

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many conferences, events or away days have been held at Wilton Park on behalf of the (a) Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, (b) former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, (c) former Valuation Office Agency and (d) Department for Communities and Local Government since May 2001. [176352]

Meg Munn: Since May 2001 there have been no conferences, events or away days held at Wilton Park on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Valuation Office Agency or Department for Communities and Local Government.

Home Department

Animal Experiments

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will make it mandatory for holders of licences to use animals in scientific procedures to provide abstracts for publication on her Department's website. [176884]

Meg Hillier: The current form of application for a project licence under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 requests that applicants provide in their own words short abstracts of their research proposals to be displayed on the Home Office website. We publish the abstracts to contribute to greater openness, public understanding and debate about the use of animals in science and we actively encourage applicants to provide them. However, abstracts are provided on a voluntary basis and the applicants own the copyright. Compliance with this initiative has generally been good and abstracts have been displayed for 83 per cent. of the project licences granted since the beginning of 2006 to December
8 Jan 2008 : Column 452W
2007 and there are currently just over 1,110 published abstracts in total. I consider the current voluntary system to be both proportionate and to have achieved its objective and I have no plans to make the provision of abstracts mandatory.

Burglary: Greater London

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Metropolitan Police Service is taking to reduce the number of (a) residential and (b) non-residential burglaries in Romford. [176791]

Mr. McNulty: This is a matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Community Policing

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables applied (a) successfully and (b) unsuccessfully to become full-time police officers in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [176072]

Mr. McNulty: This information is not held centrally.

Community Policing: Humberside

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police community support officers there were in each division of Humberside police in each of the last three years. [176863]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is shown in the following table.

Police community support officer strength (FTE)( 1) in Humberside police force area by Basic Command Unit
Basic Command Unit 30 June 2005( 2) 30 June 2006( 2) 31 March 2007( 2)

A Division (North East Lincs)

5

16

29

B Division (North Lincs)

5

15

31

C Division (East Riding of Yorks)

6

20

58

D Division (Kingston-upon-Hull)

6

34

76

(1) These figures are based on full-time equivalents that have been rounded to the nearest whole number, due to rounding there may be an apparent discrepancy between totals and the sums of constituent items. Figures include those officers on career breaks or maternity/paternity leave.
(2) 2006-07 is the first year that that police community support officer strength by Basic Command Unit has been collected centrally. Figures relating to 30 June are from an ad hoc collection taken by the Home Office Police Productivity Unit. These figures may not be directly comparable to the others in the table.

Next Section Index Home Page