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Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with President Karzai on the appointment of a UN Secretary General Special Representative in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the matter with President Karzai during his visit to Afghanistan with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, on 8 February 2008. On 25 January 2008, in the margins of the World Economic Forum at Davos, the matter was also discussed at a meeting between President Karzai, my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development.
Britain continues to push for the next step in this process: the appointment of a strong, UN envoy to bring greater coherence across the international effort in security, governance and developmentand in relations with the Afghan government.
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he anticipates that a Provincial Reconstruction Team will be established in (a) Dai Kundi and (b) Nimroz provinces in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 22 February 2008]: The establishment of provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led process. The NATO Statement of Requirements identifies a need for PRTs in both Dai Kundi and Nimroz Provinces. There are no concrete plans at present to establish such PRTs.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his UN Security Council counterparts on the referendum on the constitution in Burma in May 2008; and what role the UN is likely to play in monitoring the conduct of the referendum. 
Dr. Howells: The UN Security Council has not yet discussed the constitutional referendum announced by the Burmese regime for May 2008. The UN Secretary-General hosted a meeting of the Group of Friends of Burma on 13 February which discussed the announcement. During the meeting, the UK and other members of the Security Council expressed concern that the proposed referendum would not be inclusive or genuine. The Group of Friends pressed for the early return of the UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy to Burma, Professor Gambari, to help facilitate national reconciliation and a genuine democratic process.
We will continue to work with our partners in the region, and in the Security Council, to bring about genuine progress towards democracy, national reconciliation and respect for human rights in Burma.
Dr. Howells: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Meg Munn) met EU Special Envoy for Burma, Piero Fassino, at the margins of the EU/Association of South East Asian Nations summit on 22 November 2007 and hopes to be meeting him again in the near future, to discuss all aspects of the current situation in Burma, including the EUs role in supporting UN efforts to bring about a genuine process of national reconciliation which includes all Burmas opposition and ethnic groups.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK has maintained the pressure for political change through active UN engagement and ensured that Burma remains on the Security Councils agenda. The UK is also a member of the UN Secretary-Generals Group of Friends on Burma, which last met on 13 February. The group discussed the regimes recent call for a referendum in May 2008 and elections in 2010. We stressed the need for the regime to demonstrate fundamental change before there could be international support for the process. The Group of Friends pressed for the early return of the UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy to Burma, Professor Gambari, to help facilitate national reconciliation and a genuine democratic process.
In the EU, we have played a leading role in securing firm language on the newly announced referendum and election process at the February General Affairs and External Relations Council. The conclusions stated that only a process that involves the full participation of the opposition and ethnic groups will lead to national reconciliation and stability in Burma. The EU reiterated its call for the release of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
We keep in close contact with partners in the region, including the Association of South East Asian Nations, to build up constructive pressure on the Burmese government and their continued engagement on the Burma related issues. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has raised Burma with the Chinese and Indians on his recent visits to both countries. My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Meg Munn, also reiterated our concerns to the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 18 February.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Government of Burma on the banning of the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from standing in the 2010 election. 
Dr. Howells: We have consistently made clear that only an inclusive process of national reconciliation can bring stability and prosperity to the country. The regimes attempts to exclude Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the political process are alarming and will exacerbate tension and instability in Burma. In our contacts with the military government, and those who have influence over them, we are stressing the need for all political actors, including Aung San Suu Kyi, to be allowed to play their full part in shaping the countrys future.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the introduction of financial sanctions against companies associated with Burmas military regime. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of Singapore on the freezing of the financial assets of Burmese leaders held in accounts in that country; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Meg Munn, spoke to the Singaporean Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2(nd) Permanent Private Secretary Bilahari Kausikan, on 18 February to discuss recent developments in Burma.
Singapore, both nationally and in its current role as Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) chair, has made clear its concerns about the violent repression carried out by the Burmese authorities last year, its wish to see the regime engaging in genuine dialogue with Burmas opposition parties, and its support for the UN Secretary-Generals goodwill mission. But Singapore and its ASEAN partners do not support the application of sanctions at this time. We continue to discuss this and other aspects of the Burma situation with the Singaporean government on a regular basis.
The main objective of the European Union in its relations with Cuba is to encourage a process of peaceful transition to a pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people
the EU will intensify the present dialogue with the Cuban authorities and with all sectors of Cuban society.
Dr. Howells: We do not envisage the resignation of Fidel Castro leading to major change in Cuba. UK policy remains unchanged and has been based on the EU Common Position since 1996. This policy aims to encourage a peaceful transition to pluralist democracy, greater respect for human rights and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
Dr. Howells: The UK does not support US economic sanctions on Cuba and makes its opposition to them clear through its Annual vote at the United Nations General Assembly. The last vote took place on 30 October 2007. The sanctions have had little positive impact on the regime. The UK and the US share the same goal over Cuba, transition to democracy, but differ on how to achieve it. The UK, through the framework of the EU Common Position, engages in dialogue with the Cuban Government and aims to encourage a peaceful transition to pluralist democracy, greater respect for human rights and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
Dr. Howells: The UK and the US discuss developments in Cuba regularly. The UK makes its opposition to the US embargo on Cuba clear through our vote every year at the United Nations General Assembly. The last vote took place on 30 October 2007. We also frequently reiterate our position through diplomatic channels with senior US representatives and will continue to do so.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 1609W, on Departmental internet, what measures are in place to monitor and record the location of computers with access to his Department's intranet. 
Mr. Jim Murphy:
Full access to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office intranet (FCONet) is only possible using the FCO's secure IT infrastructure. This is regularly monitored, but it would be inappropriate to disclose these arrangements in detail. Staff working outside FCO buildings may also access a limited form of FCONet through the internet. Staff may use any external computer to do this and the FCO therefore
does not monitor the location of these terminals. Control of this limited access is by user authentication (password) and, where necessary, checking transaction records.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of working days lost by his Departments staff was attributed to stress-related conditions in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
The FCO recognises the importance of identifying and reducing sources of stress in the workplace. Our occupational stress policy, which aims to protect staff health and welfare, gives detailed guidance for staff and managers. The FCO also offers welfare support for staff and families, who may be suffering from stress, including access to a 24/7 counselling service.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidelines are issued to consular and embassy staff in relation to the handling of suspected cases of (a) forced and (b) arranged marriages; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no role in relation to arranged marriages, where the families take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the spouses. But forced marriage, where one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved, is wholly unacceptable. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes forced marriage very seriously. If necessary, we will assist and repatriate British nationals forced into marriage overseas.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) Ukraine, (b) Belarus and (c) Moldova on the combating of illegal migration and human trafficking. 
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had recent discussions with his counterparts in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova on these issues. However, we remain concerned about all forms of human trafficking globally and are committed to tackling it wherever possible. The issue is raised regularly at EU Councils and is discussed at both ministerial and official level between EU partners. In addition, UK law enforcement agencies work closely with foreign counterparts in many
source and transit countries, helping them to build enforcement capacity and to facilitate information exchanges. At the recent UN-Office on Drugs and Crime's Global Initiative on Fighting Trafficking forum held in Vienna, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Coaker) represented the Government, along with participants from the UK Human Trafficking Centre and HM Revenue and Customs.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the effect of the dispute concerning compulsory redundancies among the locally-engaged staff at the UK Embassy in Dublin on the UKs reputation in Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Irish media coverage has reflected the fact that these redundancies were driven by UK Trade and Investments wider restructuring of their global network in line with new strategic priorities; that our embassy in Dublin has acted in accordance with Irish Labour Law throughout; and that the redundancy package the embassy has offered reflects good employer practice.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason HM Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland declined to attend talks at the Labour Relations Commission in connection with the proposed compulsory redundancy of locally-engaged staff at the UK Embassy in Dublin; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The Labour Relations Commission had offered its conciliation services to discuss proposed redundancies at our embassy in Dublin. Since the redundancies had already been effected, our ambassador declined the offer.
Our embassy and Unite, acting on behalf of the embassys Local Staff Association, reached a mutually satisfactory agreement on the consequences for staff of the restructuring of the UK Trade and Investment section on 21 February.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for how long the UK Embassy in Dublin has recognised the Unite trade union for industrial relations purposes in connection with the employment of locally-engaged staff; and if he will make a statement. [R] 
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of (a) the agreed negotiations procedures and (b) the recognition agreement between the UK ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and the Unite trade union in relation to the employment of and industrial relations relating to locally-engaged staff at the UK embassy in Dublin. 
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