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24 Jan 2008 : Column 2198Wcontinued
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost was of redundancies in his Department in the 12 months preceding (a) 30 June 2004, (b) 30 June 2005 and (c) 30 June 2006. 
Meg Munn: It is the policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies. But, following the 2004 spending review, we have carried out a restructuring exercise to realise efficiency savings. This early retirement programme will enable us to reduce the size of the senior management structure in the FCO by 18 per cent. by 31 March 2008. The following totals also include compensatory early retirement packages for staff in the delegated grades involved in restructuring exercises:
The amounts quoted include FCO costs to the Cabinet Office to cover the additional years included in compensatory packages, compensatory lump sums under the Principle Civil Service Pension Scheme and annual pension payments until the officer reaches 60.
All payments to early retirees have been calculated and paid in strict accordance with the terms of the standard Civil Service Compensation Schemes.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2007, Official Report, column 158W, on embassies, if he will list the (a) (i) name, (ii) location and (iii) function of the (A) seven embassies, (B) four embassy offices, (C) one office and (D) six consulates opened since 1997 and (b) three consulates upgraded to embassies. 
David Miliband: The missions referred to in my answer to the right hon. Member on 10 December 2007, Official Report, column 158W are as follows:
|(1) Posts opened and closed during this period.|
(2) Office left in place after embassy relocation to Astana.
YearApril to March
The size and role of British embassies and high commissions differ from post to post, but most are comprised of the following Sections: Consular, Visa, Commercial, Political/Press and Public Affairs, and Management. A British embassy office is a subsidiary of the embassy.
Consulates and Consulate Generals are subordinate posts which carry out a range of functions mainly comprising of Consular, Commercial and Visa work.
The British Office in Pristina is responsible for managing the UKs relationships with the UN Mission in Kosovo, the Provisional Institutions of Self-government and other local actors.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to manage our overseas network to reflect changing demands and challenges, ensuring that our resources are aligned with our priorities, and that the UK has a cost-effective and flexible network of overseas representation. We will continue to adjust our estate assets in individual countries to meet our operational needs.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has held with the government of Israel on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. 
Dr. Howells: Our ambassador in Tel Aviv regularly raises our concerns with the Israeli government about the security and humanitarian situation in Gaza. My right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development issued statements about the situation in Gaza on 30 October 2007, 11 January 2008 and 21 January 2008.
Most recently, I raised these concerns with the Israeli ambassador on 17 January 2008. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is due to speak to Foreign Minister Livni today, and will again make clear our concerns.
John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made, together with European Union member states foreign ministers, to Israel on the situation in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be discussing the situation with his European colleagues at the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on 28 January.
The Government continues to believe that Israeli security and Palestinian suffering and hardship need to be addressed together, and they can only be addressed through mutual recognition, which will be vital to long-term stability in the area.
As my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for International Development said on 21 January:
The recent escalation of violence between Gazans and Israelis is extremely grave.
Our ambassador in Tel Aviv regularly raises our concerns with the Israeli government about the security and humanitarian situation in Gaza.
My right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for International Development also issued statements about the situation in Gaza on 30 October 2007, 11 January 2008 and 21 January 2008.
Most recently, I raised the situation in Gaza with the Israeli ambassador on 17 January 2008.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to his Sunday Times article of 6 January 2008, what his estimate is of the cost of transferring staff from Europe to the Middle East and South Asia. 
Meg Munn: I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's written ministerial statement of 23 January 2008, Official Report, columns 52-3WS.
Detailed plans for the transfer of staff resources from Europe to the Middle East and South Asia are still at an early stage. We will not be in a position to estimate costs until we have finalised timings and confirmed all the specific changes that we will need to make.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has received on the detention of Thomas Dandois, a joint British-French national in Niger; 
(2) if he will discuss the case of Thomas Dandois, currently detained in Niger, with the Foreign Minister of France; 
(3) if he will make representations to the Government of Niger requesting the release of Thomas Dandois. 
Meg Munn: Mr. Dandois and his French colleague were released from prison on bail on 18 January. There were no travel restrictions placed upon them as a condition of their bail and they have returned to France. The judgment on their case will take place at a later date.
Mr. Dandois is a dual French-British national who entered Niger on his French passport. He and his colleague were given consular assistance by the French embassy in Niger. The Government worked with the French embassy, through their representatives in Niamey, and with the French Foreign Ministry to clarify the status of the charges against Mr. Dandois. We will continue to liaise with the French Government and monitor the case.
We have received one previous parliamentary question, fourteen representations from hon. Members and a Peer and a number of letters from members of the public on this case.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the policy of British jobs for British workers will affect his Departments recruitment policy. 
Bridget Prentice: The Ministry of Justice will continue to apply the civil service nationality rules in respect of eligibility for employment in their recruitment and appointment procedures.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated research on the effectiveness in preventing electoral fraud of requiring electors in polling stations to sign for their ballot paper. 
Bridget Prentice: Seven local authorities undertook electoral pilot schemes that required electors to provide their signature before being issued with their ballot papers in polling stations at the May 2006 local elections. Four local authorities did so at the May 2007 local elections.
The Government have not commissioned research on this issue. However, in its statutory evaluation of the pilot schemes the Electoral Commission noted that public opinion research carried out in the pilot scheme areas suggested that requiring voters to provide a signature may provide a deterrent effect in relation to personation.
The Government continues to believe that requiring electors to sign for their ballot paper will help to deter opportunists from defrauding the system and improve levels of public confidence.
Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) investigations and (b) prosecutions there were under the Harassment Act 1997 in each year since the Act came into force. 
Maria Eagle: Information covering defendants proceeded against under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 since the act came into force on 16 July 1997 has been provided in the table. Data are provided on the principal offence basis and cover the period from 1997 to 2006 in England and Wales.
|Number proceeded against|
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