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Regional Planning and Development

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations each regional Minister has received on (a) regional spatial strategies and (b) other Government policies relating to the regions for which they have responsibility;
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what steps each regional Minister has taken as a result of those representations; and if she will make a statement. [187836]

Mr. Dhanda: Regional Ministers exercise no decision making powers in relation to the revision of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS). While they may receive representations on them when, for example, the Secretary of State publishes their Proposed Changes for consultation, Regional Ministers would re-direct these to the relevant Government Office dealing with the specific RSS on behalf of the Secretary of State.

Regional Ministers receive representations on a variety of policies affecting the region from a range of stakeholders. Generally they refer representations received to the Government Office on behalf of the relevant Secretary of State, or directly to the relevant Department of State. Details of these representations could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Television Screens

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many plasma television screens have been purchased by her Department and its agencies, and at what cost, in the last 24 months. [191026]

Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government purchased two 63 in plasma screen TVs in December 2006 for AV provision in conference rooms at a total cost of £16,167.34. In relation to CLG agencies, the Fire Service College purchased one 42 in plasma screen TV in January 2008 for AV provision in the video suite costing £800.00.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Police

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of EU work to train Afghan police; what arrangements there are to co-ordinate the work of the EU and (a) individual EU member states and (b) the US on such training; what the (i) short, (ii) medium and (iii) long-term objectives of the EU’s work are; and what the (A) criteria and (B) timescale are for ending the work in the future. [191069]

Dr. Howells: EU support for training the Afghan police is co-ordinated through the EU Police Mission to Afghanistan (EUPOL). EUPOL brings together contributions from EU member states, various non-EU states, and the EU Secretariat and Commission. The aim of this co-ordinated support is to establish an effective and self-sustaining civilian police force in Afghanistan. As EUPOL works to reach full strength, progress has been made on planning its programme and in developing an international consensus on a policing strategy for Afghanistan.

EUPOL co-ordinates its work with the Combined Security and Transition Command—Afghanistan, which is responsible for delivering the US programme of police training, through the International Police Co-ordination Board.


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The objectives of the EUPOL mission are set out in its Concept of Operations (CONOPS), dated 30 October 2007:

Detailed milestones are contained in the mission’s internal action plan.

The head of the EUPOL mission reports formally every six months to the EU Political and Security Committee on the mission’s progress.

The CONOPS states that EUPOL’s mission will conclude:

The EUPOL mission has a mandate until June 2010.

British Council

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role his Department plays in (a) scrutinising and (b) approving the activities of the British Council. [191037]

Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is accountable to Parliament for the activities and the performance of the British Council. As such, he approves the British Council's strategic objectives and agrees the amount of grant-in-aid the British Council receives.

The Permanent Under-Secretary (PUS) of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), as the principal accounting officer, is accountable to Parliament for the British Council's grant-in-aid. The PUS designates the chief executive of the British Council as the British Council's accounting officer.

The British Council Board and the FCO determine the British Council's performance framework in the light of the FCO's wider strategic aims. In carrying out its objectives the British Council sets its own professional standards and devises its own programmes.

British Overseas Territories: Remembrance Day

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking on the representation of UK overseas territories at the wreath laying ceremony on Remembrance Sunday 2008. [192270]

Meg Munn: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 148. I will however meet my hon. Friend to discuss his proposal.

Caribbean

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Parliamentary
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Under-Secretary of State's responsibilities are regarding the Caribbean and Central America; when he last visited (a) the Caribbean and (b) Central America; what the purpose was of each visit; and what plans there are for such visits in the future. [192269]

Meg Munn: I am responsible for promoting and protecting British interests in the Caribbean and Central America through our network of overseas posts and through our interaction with stakeholders.

My last two visits covered the Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands in December 2007; and Panama, Jamaica and Mexico in September 2007. The purpose of the visits was to meet my counterparts in the region (including members of Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly in the Cayman Islands) and to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Foreign engagements, for Government Ministers, are kept under constant review. Because of the unpredictable nature of world events, final decisions on overseas visits are often not taken until shortly before travel. It is not our normal practice to announce visits until they are firm.

Departmental Impact Assessments

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many regulatory impact assessments his Department has conducted in the last 12 months. [191267]

Meg Munn: Information on the final regulatory impact assessments published between 1 January and 30 June 2007 can be found in Command Paper 7297, available at:

For the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, one regulatory impact assessment has been listed.

Departments are in the process of identifying the final regulatory impact assessments published between 1 July and 31 December 2007.

From April 2008, all final impact assessment will be published on a central website.

Departmental Travel

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on travel (a) within the UK and (b) overseas for officials in the last year for which figures are available. [191170]

Meg Munn: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe gave to him on 27 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1700-01W.

Departmental travel arrangements are made in the most efficient and cost effective way, and all official travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the 'Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.'

Diego Garcia: Rendition

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the recent
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discovery that facilities on Diego Garcia had been used for the rendition of two individuals was preceded by a specific request by the UK to the US authorities to review their records in this respect. [189527]

David Miliband: As set out in my statement to the House on 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 547-48, new information was passed to UK officials by the US regarding rendition flights through Diego Garcia on 15 February. This was not preceded by a specific UK request to the US authorities to review their records in this respect. However, it follows regular dialogue on these issues, including assurances provided by the US in September 2007 at annual political-military talks in relation to the US Naval Support Facility at Diego Garcia.

EC Defence Policy

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the EU's policy is on responding to a threat of an attack against Europe using missiles and weapons of mass destruction. [191054]

Dr. Howells: We consider the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation the forum to develop a collective defence policy on how to respond to the threat of attack against Europe using missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The EU Lisbon Treaty states

European Union: Intelligence Services

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on whether the EU should (a) establish a European intelligence agency and (b) fund an EU intelligence-gathering capability. [191063]

David Miliband: The Government do not believe there is any need for a European intelligence agency. It is our belief that the interests of the UK are best served by the national intelligence agencies, sharing information on threats and capabilities on a bilateral or multilateral basis with our European partners as appropriate. British intelligence agencies are a major contributor to this process and continue to help build our partners' capabilities.

Immigration: Forced Marriage

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the guidance given to staff in UK overseas posts on handling immigration cases involving suspected forced marriage. [191183]

Meg Munn: It would not be appropriate to publish detailed guidance on handling immigration cases involving suspected forced marriage, as it would serve the agenda of those perpetrating forced marriage, not help the victims. However I will gladly send copies of the current guidance to the hon. Member in confidence.


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However, general guidance on Forced Marriage is treated in the Entry Clearance Guidance, which is accessible on the UKvisas website at:

Islamabad, which handles 75 per cent. of the recorded reluctant sponsor cases, has a dedicated ‘Consular-Immigration Link’ team to handle these cases, with their own internal guidelines.

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cases of suspected forced marriage were identified by British officials in each UK overseas post in immigration cases in each of the last five years. [191184]

Meg Munn: The Forced Marriage Unit has been treating immigration cases separately to general consular assistance cases since 2006. Since 2006 we have handled the following numbers of forced-marriage-related immigration cases:

It is not possible to access statistics for cases handled prior to 2005.

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department takes to inform the Home Office when suspected cases of forced marriage in immigration cases are identified by British officials in overseas posts. [191185]

Meg Munn: The Forced Marriage Unit is the central contact point for overseas posts that identify immigration cases involving forced marriage. The Forced Marriage Unit is a joint Home Office-Foreign and Commonwealth Office unit and is staffed by officials from both departments.

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people in immigration cases who had been identified by officials in UK overseas posts as taking part in activities surrounding potential forced marriage were reported to the authorities in the country concerned in each of the last five years. [191186]

Meg Munn: The vast majority of forced marriage cases, dealt with by our overseas posts involve the victim wanting to extract themselves from the situation without risking further repercussions, either in the UK or in the country of their marriage. We would not report forced marriage incidents that come to our attention to local authorities as a matter of course as this could often place the victim, and parties sympathetic to the victim, at greater risk.

Iraq: Asylum

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 175W, on Iraq: asylum, how many former locally-engaged Iraqi staff (a) have applied for (i) resettlement in the UK
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and (ii) independent leave to enter, (b) have moved to third countries in order to register for resettlement and (c) have been assessed as eligible but have not yet declared a preference. [189438]

David Miliband: We have received over 970 applications for assistance from Iraqi locally-engaged staff under the scheme I announced in written ministerial statements on 9 and 30 October 2007 respectively.

Almost 400 of those have been assessed as eligible for assistance under the scheme. 447 applications have not met the eligibility criteria. Of those assessed as eligible, over 130 applicants have chosen resettlement in the UK under the Gateway programme and ten have chosen indefinite leave to enter.

We have ten applicants who have already moved to third countries and would like resettlement in the UK under the Gateway programme.

76 staff have been assessed as eligible under the scheme but have yet to declare a preference of which type of assistance they would like.


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