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5 Feb 2008 : Column 966W—continued


5 Feb 2008 : Column 967W

Afghanistan: Administration of Justice

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Italian counterpart in his capacity under Italy’s role as lead nation for justice reform in Afghanistan on the recent death sentence handed down to Sayed Pervez Kambaksh in Afghanistan. [184827]

Dr. Howells: Our Embassy in Kabul has regular contact with Italian counterparts with regard to justice issues, notably because they are the G8 lead partner for justice reform. In this particular case, the UK and Italy have agreed to work through EU and UN channels.

Afghanistan: Diplomatic Relations

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he was informed in advance of the decision by the Afghan Government to expel a British diplomat working for the UN and an Irish diplomat working for the EU. [183898]

Dr. Howells: Michael Semple, an Irish national working for the EU, and Mervyn Patterson, a British national working for the UN, left Afghanistan on 27 December 2007, having been asked to do so 48 hours earlier by the Government of Afghanistan. The Afghan Foreign Minister held a meeting to inform a number of European embassies, including our embassy in Kabul, of this decision on 25 December 2007.

Afghanistan: Drugs

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress the counter narcotics police of Afghanistan, the Afghan special narcotics force and the counter narcotics criminal justice task force are making in tackling the production and distribution of drugs in Afghanistan. [183588]

Dr. Howells: From January to October 2007, mobile detection teams—part of the counter narcotics police of Afghanistan—made 135 separate seizures, which totalled 1,916 kilograms of opium, 2,629 kilograms of cannabis, 67 kilograms of diamorphine and 4,068 kilograms of precursor chemicals. A recent operation at Kabul airport led to the arrest of a significant target who was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2007, the criminal justice task force secured 278 narcotics convictions.

The Afghan special narcotics Force (ASNF) continues to make progress in tackling drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan. In 2007 the ASNF undertook 42 operations, including in support of UK forces in Musa Qala. Activity in 2007 led to 15 detentions and the seizure of 11,500 kilograms of opiates and 254 kilograms of heroin. The ASNF is also able to target and destroy narcotics laboratories, having a disruptive effect on key trafficking networks. Its capability continues to grow and is capable of deployment throughout Afghanistan.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding for
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anti-narcotics activity in Afghanistan the UK is providing in 2007-08; and what progress is being made by the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund. [183589]

Dr. Howells: The Afghan drugs interdepartmental unit (ADIDU) is located in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), with officials from the FCO, the Department for International Development (DFID), the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs. ADIDU is providing £43.8 million in direct funding for its counter narcotics programme in Afghanistan in 2007-08. Separately, DFID expects to spend £34 million in 2007/08 on developing rural livelihoods.

The Counter Narcotics Trust Fund's (CNTF) focus has shifted from funding individual projects generated in Kabul to financing cohesive counter-narcotics programmes that meet provincial needs and reflect local ownership. Disbursements from the CNTF to relevant line ministries, to fund the counter narcotics components of provincial development plans, are expected to begin within the next two months. There is still a risk of low disbursement from the line ministry or at the provincial level, but our embassy in Kabul's strengthening counter-narcotics institution project is working with the CNTF and UN agencies to support skills building in relevant institutions to ensure disbursement rates improve.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many hectares of poppies were grown in Afghanistan in (a) 2005, (b) 2006 and (c) 2007; and how many (i) tonnes of opium were seized, (ii) people were arrested and (iii) facilities were destroyed in each of these years. [183590]

Dr. Howells: The figures provided in the following table are based on operations conducted by the Afghan special narcotics forces and the counter narcotics police of Afghanistan.

2005 2006 2007

Opium poppy cultivation—hectares (from United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime Annual Opium Surveys)

104,000

165,000

193,000

Opium seized (tonnes)

Opiates: 78.61 Heroin: 3.19

Opiates: 55.41 Heroin: 5.73

Opiates: 42.35 Heroin: 2.88

People arrested

317

707

967

Facilities destroyed

321

228

318


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what co-ordination of anti-narcotics policy is taking place between the Afghan Government, the US Operation Enduring Freedom military HQ Kabul, NATO Operations Plan and the British embassy drugs team in Kabul. [183592]

Dr. Howells: The Government of Afghanistan leads on coordinating and implementing counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan. The UK, as Afghanistan's G8
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partner nation on counter narcotics, works extremely closely with the Afghan Government on its counter-narcotics policy. Our embassy in Kabul's counter narcotics team conducts capacity-building work within the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and helps implement the Afghan Government's national drug control strategy nationwide. In addition, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) troops are mandated to provide support to Afghan-led counter narcotics operations. Head Quarters-International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) co-ordinates the NATO forces operations and deconflicts them from Operation Enduring Freedom activities. The Government of Afghanistan chairs counter-narcotics meetings which the UK and US embassies, and ISAF attend.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the Afghan national drugs control strategy has changed since it was launched by President Karzai in January 2006; what the UK's current role in the strategy is; and whether Her Majesty's ambassador has observer status on the Afghan Cabinet Sub-Committee on Counter Narcotics. [183593]

Dr. Howells: The UK funded a review of the Afghan Government's national drugs control strategy (NDCS) and the institutional framework supporting it in the summer of 2007. The review recommended a greater focus on implementation of the NDCS in the provinces. As a result, the Afghan Government has developed, with UK support, a new provincial strategy. It centres on giving provinces responsibility for devising their own counter-narcotics plans, in support of national counter-narcotics priorities. This provincial approach conforms to the NDCS and ensures counter narcotics will be better embedded into the full range of Afghan Government development and rule of law initiatives.

The UK's role in the strategy is to support the Afghan Government to implement its NDCS, and lobby for continued and increased international assistance. Our ambassador in Kabul has observer status on the Afghan Cabinet Sub-Committee on Counter Narcotics.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on which date he informed President Karzai or the Afghan Government that Lord Ashdown was being considered for a role by NATO. [183844]

Dr. Howells: Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon was not proposed for any North Atlantic Treaty Organization role. He was proposed by the United States of America for appointment by the UN Secretary-General as his Special Representative in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic Service: Pay

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the salary band is of a grade one locally engaged commercial officer. [184886]

Meg Munn: Salaries for local staff, including grade one commercial officers, are governed by HM Treasury
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rules. These determine that salaries are set at levels sufficient to recruit, retain and motivate, with respect to market forces in the country in which they are employed.

This information is not held centrally and would incur disproportionate cost to collate.

European Council: Government

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the order of procedure to be followed when the Heads of Government and the President of the European Council attend the same function; and if he will make a statement. [184448]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Article 1(16)(6) of the Treaty of Lisbon sets out the broad role of the President of the European Council. There have not yet been discussions on the detail.

European External Action Service

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the staff complement required by the proposed European external action service, broken down by grade; and what estimate he has made of the organisation’s likely total annual salary costs. [184449]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Lisbon Treaty provides for a European External Action Service (EEAS) which will bring together staff currently working on external issues in the European Council Secretariat and the European Commission, along with secondees from EU member states.

There have not yet been any discussions on the detailed organisation and functioning of the EEAS.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) assessment he has made of and (b) representations he has received on the duties and responsibilities of the proposed European external action service. [184450]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Lisbon Treaty provides for a European External Action Service (EEAS) which will bring together staff currently working on external issues in the European Council Secretariat and the European Commission, along with secondees from EU member states.

The function of the EEAS will be to support the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, whose responsibilities are defined in the Lisbon Treaty.

European Union: Diplomatic Service

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) UK-based and (b) locally-engaged staff were employed by the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union in each of the last 10 years. [183959]


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Meg Munn [holding answer 1 February 2008]: The number of staff working at the Office of our Permanent Representative to the European Union for the past three years is set out in the table as follows.

January UK based Locally engaged

2006(1)

118

53

2007

91

52

2008

95

55

(1) The figure for 2006 includes temporary reinforcements for the UK Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2005.
To compile data on the staffing levels at our Permanent Representation to the EU, prior to 2005-06 would incur disproportionate costs.

Falkland Islands

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of (a) UK relations with Argentina and (b) the situation in the Falkland Islands; and if he will make a statement. [184990]

Dr. Howells: The UK values its relationship with Argentina as an important international partner. We have a close and productive relationship on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including human rights, sustainable development and counter-proliferation. We are keen to establish a constructive relationship with the new Argentine Government on South Atlantic issues and believe we have much to gain from working together.

However, the Argentine sovereignty claim to the Falkland Islands casts a shadow over the bilateral relationship. The UK has no doubts about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. We support the Falkland Islanders' right of self-determination and will not discuss sovereignty unless and until they so wish. The UK has good relations with the Falkland Islands' Government, which has continued to develop and diversify its economy over recent years, particularly in the areas of fisheries, renewable energy and tourism. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, visited the Islands from 3 to 5 January and took the opportunity to assure the Falkland Islands Government of the Government's commitment to their self-determination and economic development.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what objectives he has set for the UK's participation in the Norwegian initiative on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [184404]

Dr. Howells: The United Kingdom is using its participation in the Norwegian “Seven Country Initiative”, in parallel with a wide range of other bilateral and multilateral activity, to build international consensus for strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The United Kingdom will take part in a Seminar on Nuclear Disarmament to be hosted by the Government of Norway in Oslo on 26-27 February 2008.


5 Feb 2008 : Column 972W

Pacific Islands: Diplomatic Service

Mr. Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the level of UK diplomatic representation is in each of the Pacific Island countries. [184704]

Meg Munn: The UK has full, sovereign diplomatic representation in three Pacific Island countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The other Pacific Island countries are accredited to our posts in Fiji, the Philippines and New Zealand. Our High Commissions in Canberra and Wellington support the Pacific network.

Work and Pensions

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2007, Official Report, column 1284W, on child maintenance, what plans there are for new IT systems for the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission; what steps he plans to take to monitor the effective implementation of such systems; and if he will make a statement; [173589]

(2) what plans he has to (a) involve and (b) consult staff employed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission on the commissioning and monitoring process for new IT systems. [173592]

Mr. Plaskitt: Subject to parliamentary approval, the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission will become operational in 2008. As a non-departmental public body, it will be for the Commission to determine whether to introduce new IT systems. Should it decide to introduce a new IT system, we will of course wish to keep track of progress towards its successful delivery through the arrangements we will put in place to monitor the performance of the Commission.


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