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30 Apr 2008 : Column 544Wcontinued
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government is taking to encourage the development of democratic government in China. 
Meg Munn: We continue to encourage China's leaders to make the transition to more representative and accountable governance. We welcome the greater democracy at village level in China and encourage China to look positively for ways to extend this sooner rather than later. The UK will continue to support and help shape moves toward greater institutional transparency, access to and respect for the rule of law, and increased participatory governance. We firmly believe democratic reform in China must go hand in hand with economic reform.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether (a) his Department and (b) his Department's non-departmental public bodies provide (i) tax-free benefits and (ii) other allowances for their staff to purchase bicycles under the Cycle to Work Scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not currently offer a cycle to work scheme to its employees.
Nor does the FCO offer any other tax free benefits in kind to encourage green commuting. The same tax rules apply to benefits in kind provided to employees of Government Departments as to any other employee.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to reduce its energy consumption in the last 12 months; and what his Departments expenditure on energy was in (a) the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available and (b) the immediately preceding 12 months. 
Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is working to reduce its energy consumption in line with the new Government targets on sustainable operations on the Government estate announced in June 2006. In the last 12 months, the FCO has:
started to replace its global Information Technology infrastructure with a new system that makes full use of advanced power saving settings and the latest methods for distribution of software updates. Computer base units will no longer need to be fully powered at all times and fewer, and more efficient, printers are being installed;
incorporated energy saving measures into the new Information and Communication Technology building at the Hanslope Park site, including solar panels; solar shading on facades to reduce heat gain; high efficiency ammonia refrigeration for the air-conditioning; heat recovery from servers;
continued to work towards improving the energy efficiency of light fittings in the FCOs Main building and Old Admiralty building;
begun to replace hand dryers with a more energy efficient model;
run campaigns to encourage staff to follow good practice in using energy efficiently and effectively;
extended environmental management practices to 20 overseas posts and is preparing to roll these out to a further 50 posts in the next month;
agreed and started to implement a framework specifically designed for the FCO, based on the Building Research Establishments Environmental Assessment Method into new office and residence builds overseas; and
opened new office buildings in Doha and Geneva that incorporate energy efficient measures.
The FCOs expenditure on energy since 2006, including value added tax where applicable, totalled:
|UK estate||Overseas estate||Total|
Expenditure on the overseas estate for 2007-08 is provisional.
This represents an overall decrease of £149,685, a reduction in expenditure of 11 per cent. in the UK and just over 1 per cent. overall.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided by polling companies for his Department in financial year 2007-08, broken down by company. 
Meg Munn: This information is not held centrally. Foreign and Commonwealth Office departments and overseas posts hold their own budgets for public consultations, surveys or questionnaires. A more detailed answer would require a survey of all of our Embassies, High Commissions and subordinate posts, which could only be achieved at disproportionate cost.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many days it took on average to answer written parliamentary questions tabled by each hon. Member for answer by him in the last six months. 
Meg Munn: Most written parliamentary questions tabled by hon. Members to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs have been answered within five parliamentary sitting days, as shown by the data provided in the table:
|November 2007 to date (22 April 2008)|
Number of written parliamentary questions for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of China on the arrests and treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in Guandong province. 
Meg Munn: We remain concerned by reports of the mistreatment of Falun Gong adherents in various provinces of China, particularly those detained in Re-education Through Labour (RTL) camps. We raise our concerns over individual practitioners, and for the need to reform RTL, with the Chinese government at every appropriate opportunity. We did this most recently at the 16(th) round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing on 28-31 January.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions his Department's Forced Marriage Unit has prevented a British national being forced into marriage overseas in the last 12 months; what work his Department has undertaken with foreign governments
on the matter, in particular to provide support for hard to reach victims; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn: In 2007 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided overseas consular assistance in 168 cases of suspected forced marriage. The exact nature of this assistance varied on a case-by-case basis. We could not have done this without the support of central Governments and local authorities in the countries concerned, particularly in South Asia. We have worked in partnership at a national, regional and local level to raise awareness of the issue and to build practical co-operation to facilitate our assistance work.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice his Department provides for firms and financial institutions seeking guidance on the risks of investing in Sudan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: I have been asked to reply.
UK Trade and Investment provides UK companies with information and guidance on doing business and investing in Sudan via the website at www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk. The UKTI team in the British embassy in Khartoum is able to provide advice and specific guidance on request.
There is currently an EU arms embargo on Sudan. Otherwise normal export control regulations apply to UK companies. The USA has imposed sanctions on Sudan, including a trade embargo, and UK companies need to be aware of this if exported goods or parts of goods are of US origin. Exemptions to US sanctions
were made last year for specified regions of Sudan. The UN has imposed sanctions on a small number of Sudanese individuals (travel bans and freezing of assets).
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Head of BBC World Service on the effects of the recent reduction in the number of hours of Vietnamese language programmes. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: There has been no reduction in broadcasting hours of the BBC Vietnamese Service recently. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary therefore has no plans to raise this issue with the Head of the BBC World Service.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what payments the Big Lottery Fund made to (a) Stategem and (b) Morgan Allen Moore in each of the last five years; and on what dates and for what purpose the payment was made in each case. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Big Lottery Fund has provided the following information about the dates, amounts and purpose of payments made by them to Strategem and Morgan Allen Moore during the last five years:
|Company||Service||Date||£ (including VAT)||Information provided weekly|
Morgan Allen Moore is contracted by the Big Lottery Funds Wales office as a monitoring service, highlighting issues relating to the work of National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government that is relevant to BIGs programmes in Wales. The Morgan Allen Moore Monitoring service provides BIG in Wales with Relevant background to WAG and NAFW enabling BIG to be more responsive and informs us on strategic policy decisions.
Questions and issues raised by Assembly Members in relation to the work of the Big Lottery Fund.
New policies and strategies relevant to the Big lottery Funds work;
Up-coming Consultations and reviews that the Big Lottery Fund may wish to contribute to;
Funding announcements to ensure that Big Lottery Fund complements other funding streams.
Morgan Allen Moore also provides ad-hoc briefings for BIG for events and meetings.
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