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6 Oct 2008 : Column 229Wcontinued
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals his Department will put forward at the 2009 Preparatory Committee Meeting of the 2010 Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 17 September 2008]: The UK will work intensively with international partners before, at and after the 2009 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee to identify areas of convergence that can form the basis of a successful outcome to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. In particular we will submit proposals to strengthen the NPT in all its aspects, promoting zero tolerance of proliferation, upholding the rights of all States party to the NPT to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and reinvigorating the commitment of NPT Nuclear Weapons States to nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the effects of the recent decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to support a nuclear agreement between the USA and India on the operation of article II of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 17 September 2008]: We assess that the decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to allow an exemption for India to the NSG guidelines will not have any effect on the operation of article II of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Article II prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; the NSG exemption for India does not allow for such transfers.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department has taken to encourage India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 17 September 2008]: Universalisation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a long-standing UK objective. The UK regularly calls on India to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. This is a message we convey both publicly and privately.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the policy of the Government is on receipt of wild animals as diplomatic gifts. 
David Miliband [holding answer 17 September 2008]: The rules governing the acceptance of diplomatic gifts do not specifically cover wild animals. We are not aware of any previous instances where wild animals have been given to Diplomatic officers. Each case would be dealt with on its merits. The rules governing gifts are:
Except in very limited circumstances, Diplomatic officers must always refuse a gift. If it is appropriate to accept a gift, they must consider the propriety in doing so and in particular, whether acceptance would give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest. It must be made clear to the donor that the gift is accepted on behalf of the Government rather than in a personal capacity, which makes it clear that no personal advantage is gained from the gift.
All staff are aware of the regulations concerning the import into the UK of endangered species of animals and Deputy Heads of Mission are asked to ensure that if they are consulted by host governments about gifts for officials, they should explain the difficulties over importing animals into the UK.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to voice concerns with the Government of Pakistan on recent reports of the abduction of two Christian girls in southern Punjab on 26 June; and if he will make representations to seek their release and safety. 
Dr. Howells: Our High Commission in Islamabad followed the judicial process of the case of the two Christian sisters Anila and Saba closely through local human rights organisations. Following a hearing at the Lahore High Court on 9 September, Anila was returned to the custody of her parents since she is a minor. However, on the evidence of a medical board, Saba was found to be aged between and 15 and 17 and therefore considered by the court to be able to take her own decision. Saba chose to join her alleged abductors during the course of legal proceedings but we have been unable to interfere in the judicial process of this case. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and from our High Commission in Islamabad will remain in contact with human rights organisations who are considering taking this case forward through the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Since Saba chose to join her alleged abductor, we understand that she would need to challenge the findings of the medical board or testify that her decision was made under duress to establish grounds for appeal.
Whilst this case is recognised as being unique in so far as the parents were granted custody of one child whilst the other was given the right to choose for herself, wewith our European partnerswill continue to raise our concerns with the Government of Pakistan over human rights issues and encourage the delivery of pledges that the Government of Pakistan has made as part of its membership of the UN Human Rights Council. These include the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child which Pakistan has ratified. Article 35 of this convention calls on States to take action to prevent the abduction of, sale of or traffic in children for any purpose.
Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the state of relations between the United Nations and Paraguay; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 10 September 2008]: The UK has a good relationship with Paraguay; we conduct our affairs via our embassy in Buenos Aires and through our honorary consul in Asuncion. Our officials make regular visits to Paraguay to ensure that this relationship is maintained. The last visit was in August 2008 by our accredited ambassador to Paraguay for President Lugo's inauguration. In addition, the UK also funds project work in Paraguay. For example, this year we are funding projects on climate change and organised crime.
James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham of 30 June 2008, Official Report, column 595W, on the Heads of Government summit, if he will break down the costs incurred on (a) branding and (b) promotional items; and if what types of promotional material were purchased. 
Meg Munn: The breakdown of costs for the Progressive Governance Summit is as follows:
Printing of wall prints, pillar wraps, entrance panels, foamex panels, backdrop and frames for Amber Suite, ivory entrance and marquee
The promotional items listed were for use by delegates attending the summit with the exception of the golf umbrellas. These were used by officials when accompanying very important personalities on arrival at the Grove Hotel, and to and from the media centre marquee within the hotel grounds.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham of 30 June 2008, Official Report, column 595W, on the Heads of Government Summit, if he will break down by category of expenditure the cost of (a) the press marquee and (b) audio-visual and public address services. 
Meg Munn: The cost breakdown of the press marquee used for the Progressive Governance summit is shown in the following table.
The cost breakdown of the audio-visual public address system used for the Progressive Governance summit was:
Rigging, lighting, set and sound equipment for Amber Suite (Main Plenary)
Rigging, light, sound, power, set and staging equipment for press marquee
Live streaming and relay between Amber Suite and press marquee
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Fareham of 30 June 2008, Official Report, column 595W, on the Heads of Government summit, for how much his Department invoiced Policy Network in respect of the Progressive Governance Conference that preceded the Heads of Government summit. 
Meg Munn: No invoice was issued by the Government as they had no responsibility for the costs of the Progressive Governance Conference. This was the responsibility of Policy Network.
A clear distinction was maintained between costs falling to the summit on 5 April and those which fell to Policy Network, who organised the Progressive Governance Conference on the-preceding day.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken following the attack on a staff member of the British High Commission in Sri Lanka on 30 June; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: I refer the hon. Member to the letter my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown wrote to him on 29 August concerning this matter. A copy of that letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements his Department has in place to assist officials to overcome the effects of stress experienced in the workplace. 
Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is committed to the well-being of its employees. It has a number of procedures in place to reduce stress at work. A stress management framework, based on the Health and Safety Executives management standards, is available to all employees and gives easy-to-use advice on the successful prevention, recognition and management of stress at work.
James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Horsham of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1658W, what premium channels his Department's (a) press office and (b) private and ministerial offices subscribe to; and at what annual cost. 
David Miliband: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office press office, private office and ministerial offices receive the parliamentary television service. The channels included in this service are provided to Parliament, hon. Members of Parliament, Ministers, noble Lords and bona fide users of the system at no cost.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the UK-France helicopter initiative since its announcement; and if he will make a statement. 
Since the launch of the helicopter initiative at the UK-France Summit in March 2008, work to increase European helicopter capability has
been taken forward in two key work streams: pilot and crew training; and helicopter and equipment upgrades. This work involves experts from the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) institutions, as well as from EU and NATO Member states and partners.
On pilot and crew training, training requirements and providers across Europe have been matched together as an interim measure to provide the necessary pre-operational training. Work has also begun to design common training programmes for helicopter crews to prepare them for multinational operations, in broadly the same way that has happened for fast jet pilots for many years.
On helicopter and equipment upgrades, business cases have been submitted by the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria for upgrade of their helicopters and their subsequent deployment on multinational operations. We expect further offers to be made in due course. These business cases are being considered by the UK in consultation with other pledged and potential financial contributors. We expect some of these to be approved and receive funding before the end of the year from the Helicopter Fund established by the UK and to which several partners have contributed or pledged funding, including so far Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Lithuania, Australia and France.
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