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City of Durham
Newcastle Upon Tyne North
Newcastle East and Wallsend
Houghton and Washington East
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what grounds she is reviewing her earlier decision not to call in the Moorsyde wind farm application in Northumberland; and if she will place in the Library copies of any new information which she is considering in this review. 
John Healey [holding answer 25 March 2008]: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, is reviewing her decision on 12 December 2006 not to intervene in the planning application by Moorsyde Wind Farm Ltd for a wind farm at Felkington, because new information has become available and because the scale of the application has also changed materially since the decision. The Secretary of State wishes to satisfy herself that her decision remains soundly based in the light of this information.
I have deposited a copy of the Climate Change Supplement to the Governments Planning Policy Statement 1 (PPS1), a report called: Wind Farm Development and Landscape Capacity Studies: South and West Berwick-upon-Tweed, commissioned for the North East Assembly, Northumberland county council and Berwick-upon-Tweed borough council, and the borough council officers report to elected members on the application.
The UK remains committed to the long term reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. Good progress has been made. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, visited Afghanistan on 7 February
2008. This long-planned visit reaffirmed the strong relationship both the UK and US have with Afghanistan.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many candidatures for the role of UN Secretary Generals Special Representative in Afghanistan his officials have discussed with the UN. 
Dr. Howells: The UK is committed to supporting the UNs role in Afghanistan, led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The appointment of the Special Representative is a matter for the UN Secretary-General. We were aware that various candidates had been suggested for the post and offered our views on these when asked by the UN. We warmly welcome the appointment of Kai Eide and look forward to working closely with him as he undertakes the vital role of co-ordinating the efforts of the international community in Afghanistan.
Meg Munn: The EU Common Position on Burma dates back to 1996 and imposes restrictive measures on members of the military regime, the military and security forces, the military regimes economic interests and other individuals, groups, undertakings or entities associated with the military regime who formulate, implement or benefit from policies that impede Burmas transition to democracy, and their families and associates.
In November 2007, the EU strengthened the Common Position to add further state economic enterprises to the investment ban extant on Burmese state owned enterprises. Further restrictive measures include a ban on trade and investment in the timber, gemstones and other extractive industries, which provide a source of revenue for the military regime, including companies trading in these commodities.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government plan to take if there is political violence in China when the 2008 Olympics take place. 
Meg Munn: Our embassy in Beijing has a country contingency plan which will be implemented in the event of a crisis which endangers British nationals, and those we have consular responsibility for in China, during the 2008 Olympics.
Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with the (a) Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and (b) others before deciding to end his Department's funding for new awards with effect from 2009-10. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The 2006 review of Chevening scholarships was based on broad consultations with a range of stakeholders, including other Government Departments and outside organisations. Officials have been in regular, close contact with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had no discussions himself with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.
Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) UK universities and (b) universities in Commonwealth countries on the effect that the withdrawal of his Department's support for Commonwealth scholarships will have on the ability of Commonwealth students to attend UK universities. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no such discussions, but officials have regular contact with UK universities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is withdrawing funding for Commonwealth scholarships only for developed Commonwealth countries. Overall, Government funding for Commonwealth scholarships will be higher in each of the next three years than it is in the current academic year. Students from developed Commonwealth countries are still eligible for Chevening scholarships: and a large number of students from developed Commonwealth countries study in the UK funded from other sources.
Meg Munn: There is no change in UK policy following the resignation of Fidel Castro. UK policy continues to be based on the EU Common Position, as it has been since 1996, and aims to encourage a peaceful transition to pluralist democracy, greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and release of all political prisoners.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the budget for his Department's grievances and counter-narrative team was in each year since it was established; how much the team spent on external consultants in each year; how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time staff work in the team; and when the team was established. 
[holding answer 20 March 2008]: The grievances and counter-narrative team was established
in December 2007 following the restructuring of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Counter Terrorism Department.
The team has not completed its first year so no figures for annual expenditure yet exist. The number of people working in the team varies, but has not dropped below six full-time staff. It has not hired any external consultants.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants, (b) special advisers and (c) Ministers in his Department staying overnight in (i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in the last 12 months. 
Meg Munn: Both in the UK and overseas, staff are paid subsistence to compensate for the additional costs of being away from home on official duty. Subsistence covers the cost of a room in a typical hotel and the costs of meals and other incidentals. Each post has a different daily subsistence rate depending on different economic conditions. Depending on local circumstances, Posts will normally book and pay for any hotel rooms direct, charging this back to the departmental cost centre for the member of staff involved. Our policy is to use standard hotels in the city concerned, typically non-luxury business hotels reasonably close to the Post.
In the UK, there is no automatic entitlement to subsistence. Where this does apply, staff can claim actual costs for bed and breakfast in inner London up to a maximum of £120 per night, elsewhere in the UK £80 per night.
the figures shown are only those where total expenditure has been paid; and
the figures provided are only those held electronically in the UK. Posts overseas may also have paid individually for accommodation during this period, but our systems are not able to separate out the sums spent by overseas posts on overnight accommodation from other travel expenses.
There is no centrally held record of the cost of overnight accommodation for Ministers or special advisers over the last 12 months. To collate this information would therefore incur disproportionate cost.
David Miliband: The key points of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) new strategic framework were set out in my written ministerial statement of 23 January 2008, Official Report, columns 52-53WS. Additionally, I wrote to all hon. Members and Peers, enclosing a leaflet titled Better World, Better Britain, with further information about the strategic framework. Further details will be available on the FCO website at
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Iran on its decision to prevent reformist candidates from standing in the recent elections. 
Dr. Howells: The UK strongly supports the EU presidency statement of 15 March 2008 which said that the recent parliamentary elections in Iran were neither free nor fair and that the Iranian people deserve a genuine democratic choice about their country's future. We were deeply disappointed that Irans Interior Ministry and Guardian Council disqualified over a third of all prospective candidates who registered to stand, including a large proportion of reformist candidates. This denied the Iranian electorate their right to choose from candidates representing the full range of political views in their country and make a genuine democratic choice about how they are governed. We do not wish to take sides in Irans internal debates, but together with the EU we will continue to stand up for the internationally recognised principles to which many Iranians aspire including freedom of speech and transparent, genuinely democratic and accountable government.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 March 2008, Official Report, columns 865-6W, on Simon Mann, whether an explanation has now been given by the Equatorial Guinean authorities; and what action he intends to take. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 25 March 2008]: The Equatorial Guinean authorities have told us that Simon Mann is shackled because they deem him to be a terrorist suspect and therefore a high security risk.
We do not believe this is a reasonable position for the authorities to take and we have been taking a number of welfare points forward with the authorities, including the fact that Mr. Mann is shackled and handcuffed. We will continue to follow these up.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1822W, on Simon Mann, what action has been taken in following up the specific consular and welfare concerns referred to; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 25 March 2008]: We have raised specific consular and welfare concerns regarding Simon Mann with the Equatorial Guinean authorities. Our ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, resident in Abuja, met President Obiang on 6 March and raised Mr. Mann's welfare. We will continue to follow these issues up with the Equatorial Guinea authorities.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he intends to take in the week beginning 24 March to monitor the (a) treatment and (b) risk of torture of Mr. Simon Mann in Black Beach Prison, Equatorial Guinea; and what procedures are in place to ensure that any inhumane treatment of this prisoner is brought to his attention. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 25 March 2008]: Our consul from the British deputy high commission in Lagos was refused consular access to Simon Mann during his last visit to Equatorial Guinea in March. We have expressed our concern to the Equatorial Guinea authorities and are urgently seeking another consular visit. The authorities have offered assurances that Mr. Mann will be treated well while in detention, but we have made our concerns clear regarding his shackling. His welfare remains our primary concern.
Meg Munn: We have expressed our concern to the Chinese authorities both in Beijing and London about events in Tibet and the surrounding region. We continue to urge them to respect fully the human rights of those detained; to avoid use of excessive force in dealing with riots; and to respect freedom of expression and religion in Tibet. We also call on the protesters, in Lhasa and elsewhere, to desist from further violence. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke to Chinese Premier Wen on 19 March urging the Chinese government to address the underlying issues by re-engaging in dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives.
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