Security remains challenging, particularly in the South and East. Since June 2007, the number of direct attacks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-led International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan National Security Force has reduced by half, although the number of asymmetric attacks has increased, for example by improvised explosive devices. The town of Musa Qala, a symbolic Taleban stronghold only three years ago, is now under government control following an Afghan-led operation last December. A kandak (battalion) in the Afghan National Army covering Helmand has achieved
Capability Milestone Onemeaning that it is judged (by internationally set standards) to be capable of planning and running operations independently. Improved security has increased commercial traffic across province lines and several private bus operators are now running regular passenger services between Helmand and Kandahar. We are working very closely with Governor Mangal to continue progress on security as well as reconstruction across the province.
All of this visible reconstruction work combined with a strengthened local governance structure serves to improve public confidence. Across Afghanistan recent polls show the majority of Afghans continue to feel that their country is headed in the right direction. Support in Afghanistan also remains high for the presence of international forces, with national approval ratings in November 2007 of between 60 per cent. (Environics Research Group) and 67 per cent (BBC).
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 June 2008, Official Report, column 82W, on crimes against humanity, whether Rose Kabuye, the Rwandan Director-General of State Protocol, was a member of the delegation accompanying President Kagame on his visit to the UK in May 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 30 June 2008]: The Government can confirm that Rose Kabuye, the Rwandan Chief of State Protocol, was a member of the delegation accompanying President Kagame on his visit to the UK in May 2008.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the conferences hosted by his Department in each of the last two years; and what the cost was of each conference. 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of staff in his Department received bonus payments in each of the last five years; what the largest single payment was in each year; and if he will make a statement. 
|Number of recipients of bonuses
|Percentage of staff who received a bonus
The FCO uses non-consolidated, non-pensionable, performance-related bonuses to encourage high performance. We pay annual bonuses to staff in the delegated grades (all except senior managers) based on appraisal evidence of annual performance. The highest individual bonus for these grades in 2007 was £1,850.
Variable pay (bonus) arrangements for staff in the senior management structure/senior civil service (SMS/SCS) follow a framework set for Whitehall Departments by the Cabinet Office. We use variable pay for SMS/SCS staff to reward excellent individual performance and achievement during the year. Variable pay decisions are based on a judgment by pay committees of what an individual has achieved in comparison with peers. Those who have delivered the best results, and shown real leadership in doing so, receive the biggest bonuses. Those who have delivered least receive nothing. Whitehall Departments were authorised to spend a sum equivalent to 7.6 per cent. of their SMS pay budget on non-consolidated bonuses for senior staff in 2007. 25 per cent. of senior staff will not receive a bonus in 2008.
Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures his Department has adopted to support the Governments strategy on reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS in other countries. 
Meg Munn: Following the launch of the UK AIDS strategy on 2 June, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has asked its overseas missions to promote the aims of the strategy and help its implementation by building international political support for its objectives through their respective host governments. This can be achieved, for example, by advocating leadership on comprehensive HIV prevention.
The FCOs core skills of negotiation, lobbying and advocacy are providing an important contribution to the Governments HIV/AIDS strategy globally. In countries where the Department for International Development (DFID) is present, FCO posts can lobby and influence within the broader context of our bilateral relationship. Where DFID has little or no presence, our missions constitute the main access point to decision-makers and opinion-formers. This access is particularly important in advance of major international negotiations and meetings.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Governments of (a) Iran, (b) Libya and (c) Qatar on measures to prevent the financial support they provide to the Eritrean Government being used in conflicts on the Eritrean/Ethiopian border. 
Meg Munn: We are working hard with the UN and other international partners to resolve the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute and bring peace and stability to the region. We take every opportunity to raise the situation with countries that have an interest there.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what conditions must be satisfied by appointees to the European Commission; and what assessment he has made of the compliance of Jacques Barrot's appointment with those conditions. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 1 July 2008]: Conditions for the appointment of Commissioners are set out in Article 213 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. This provides that the Commissioners shall consist of 27 Members, who shall be chosen on the grounds of their general competence and whose independence is beyond doubt.
The issue of Mr Barrot's appointment was fully discussed in the European Parliament in 2004 at the time of him being appointed Commissioner for Transport. The European Parliament Legal Service concluded at the time, in their opinion of 25 November 2004, that there were no grounds to oppose Mr. Barrot's appointment.
We are confident that Mr. Barrot will make a valuable contribution in his new role as Commissioner for Justice,
Freedom and Security and we look forward to working with him over the coming months.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which individuals who are not UK citizens were awarded honours in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008; and what the (a) date of announcement, (b) honour in question and (c) reason for the award was in each case. 
Meg Munn: As the information requested is lengthy, I will arrange for it to be placed in the Library of the House and for a copy to be sent directly to the hon. Member. Honorary awards to citizens of countries where Her Majesty The Queen is not Head of State are not formally announced. The date of Her Majesty The Queen's formal approval therefore has been included, rather than any date of announcement.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) was spent in the most recent period for which figures are available and (b) is planned to be spent through the British Councils grant-in-aid in support of the promotion of the Irish language outside the UK; and what recent discussions there have been between the Council and the Northern Ireland Executive on such promotion. 
There is limited demand outside the UK for Irish language teaching. Where the opportunity does arise within our programmes for the teaching and development of the Irish language, the British Council has responded. This can be seen in the provision of Irish Language Assistants to schools in Northern Ireland and the support of the Primary Languages Strategy on behalf of the Department of Education Northern Ireland as well as the facilitation of teachers of Irish to attend professional development opportunities in the Republic of Ireland.
The British Council has discussed its priorities for 2008-11 with officials in the Department of Education and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland but has not specifically discussed the promotion of the Irish language with the Northern Ireland Executive.
Dr. Howells [holding answer 1 July 2008]: The UK supports the creation of nuclear weapon-free zones in accordance with the Principles and Guidelines in annex I of the report of the 54th session of the UN Disarmament Commission (http://disarmament.un.org/undiscom.htm). These principles and guidelines state, for example, that the nuclear-weapon states should be consulted during the negotiations of each treaty and its relevant protocol/protocols.
Dr. Howells [holding answer 1 July 2008]: The UK has signed and ratified the protocols to the treaties of Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean) and Raratonga (South Pacific) as well as the relevant protocols of the treaty of Pelindaba (Africa), collectively giving treaty-based negative security assurances to over 100 countries.
Dr. Howells [holding answer 1 July 2008]: The UK supports the principle of both the South-East Asia and Central Asia nuclear weapon-free zones. The UK continues to seek ways to overcome the difficulties that pertain to the treaties of Bangkok and Semipalatinsk so that we can ratify protocols to these treaties. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials continue to have discussions with representatives of members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations and the Central Asian States (the C5) to resolve these difficulties.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost has been of (a) accommodation and (b) flights for the employment of overseas security officers as a consequence of staff turnover of personnel employed under the control risk contract in each year since the contract was let; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to encourage democratic developments in Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: To support a sustained democratic transition in Pakistan, we are talking to leaders from across the political spectrum. The recent visits by my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary, have emphasised to Pakistans leaders the UKs commitment to promoting good governance, strengthening democratic institutions, electoral reform and combating violent extremism and terrorism. We are encouraging Pakistans political leaders to work together and take a comprehensive approach to development, governance and security so that a more prosperous and stable society based on parliamentary democracy and the rule of law can be established.
We are also supporting the institutional capacity needed for a stable democracy to take root in Pakistan. The Department for International Development provided £3.5 million to support the recent electoral process in Pakistan. This programme supported the administrative capacity of the Election Commission of Pakistan and civil society work to increase turnout and educate voters. The UK supported and participated in the EU Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) in February 2008 and will support the electoral reforms recommended in the EUEOM final report. UK development assistance to Pakistan will double to £480 million over the next three years. This assistance includes work to strengthen civil society and the capability of government and help to improve government accountability and responsiveness.
We are also working with EU partners to enhance the EUs commitment to Pakistan to provide assistance and cooperation on economic development and trade, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, human rights, migration and education.