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British Nationality: Detainees

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British nationals have been detained in (a) Bangladesh, (b) Syria and (c) Egypt on suspicion of terrorist offences since 2000. [224458]

Bill Rammell: Officials in my Department are reviewing our records so that we can provide an accurate answer to the hon. Member’s question. I will write to him with details as soon as possible.

Burma: Human Rights

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the Government have put forward to strengthen co-ordination in Burma between the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices, the Security Council, the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Human Rights Council, the Group of Friends and the Focus Group; and if he will make a statement. [232115]

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Bill Rammell: The Government maintain a regular dialogue with all UN bodies working in Burma, both in New York and in country, and frequently discuss Burma with partners on the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and in the two informal groupings of countries acting in support of the Secretary-General’s Good Offices Mission. Our embassy in Rangoon is relied upon by a number of international institutions as a source of advice and insights on the situation in Burma.

Through these contacts, we encourage a coherent and consistent approach to Burma aimed at improving the lives of its people, including by providing substantial humanitarian assistance and working towards a credible transition to democracy and respect for human rights.

Burma: Storms

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent to which the Burmese authorities have met their commitments to grant access to foreign aid workers to the areas affected by Cyclone Nargis; and if he will make a statement. [212042]

David Miliband: Access to the areas affected by Cyclone Nargis improved significantly after the visit of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on 23 May and the United Nations/Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in Rangoon on 25 May. The rate of delivery of aid has now been good for several months. A Tripartite Core Group (TCG) made up of the UN, ASEAN and the Burmese Government was set up after the Conference. It has played a significant role in ensuring that aid gets through and that international experts have access to the affected areas. In late July, UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator John Holmes declared the operation was now a “normal international relief operation”. However, important challenges remain over the coming months, particularly in providing clean water during the dry season in areas where traditional sources of supply are still contaminated by salt water, and in helping poor rural families restore their livelihoods.

We continue to work with the UN, ASEAN and international partners to press the regime to live up to its commitments to allow unfettered access to the worst affected areas.

Departmental Pay

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will review salary negotiations for public sector employees in organisations within his Department’s responsibility to reflect the rise in the consumer price index to a point above 3 per cent. [214549]

Gillian Merron: The Government’s pay policy is guided by the following principles. Public sector pay settlements should be consistent with maintaining the necessary levels of recruitment, retention and staff engagement needed to support service delivery; ensure that total pay bills represent value for money and are affordable within Departments’ overall expenditure plans; and be consistent with the achievement of the inflation target. Timing of pay decisions for a particular work force depends on pay-setting arrangements for that work force.

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Departmental Public Participation

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided for his Department by external organisations in financial year 2007-08, broken down by provider. [204125]

Gillian Merron: The Department does not collect centrally information on all the (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services it commissions in the format requested. To do so would incur disproportionate cost.

Heathrow Airport: Official Visits

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what facilities his Department uses at Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, to meet visiting diplomats and politicians. [234396]

Gillian Merron: The Windsor Suite at Terminal 5, which is owned and operated by BAA, is available for use by eligible diplomats and politicians. As with the other VIP suites serving terminals 1 to 4 at London Heathrow airport, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office pays only for use of the suites by those visiting the UK on state visits or as guests of the Government.

Libya: State Visits

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will facilitate a meeting between President Gaddafi of Libya on his forthcoming visit to the UK and representatives of the families of victims of IRA terrorist activity in incidents where the (a) explosives, (b) weapons and (c) preparation of terrorist acts had their provenance in Libya; and if he will make a statement. [234205]

Bill Rammell: In light of an increasingly busy summit schedule through to the end of the year, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has decided to recast the energy summit scheduled for December as a ministerial meeting. Libya is expected to be represented by its Oil Minister, Shokri Ghanem and not Colonel Gaddafi. The opportunity for a meeting will therefore not arise.

Lost Working Days

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many working days have been lost due to industrial action by employees for which his Department is responsible in each year since 1997. [218047]

Gillian Merron: Working days lost due to industrial action for the 31 January and 1 May 2007 strikes were 38 and six respectively. Prior to 2007, the FCO has not recorded these figures. To answer this question would therefore incur a disproportionate cost.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take to promote a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian people; and if he will make a statement. [234529]

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Bill Rammell: The Annapolis process has been a first step to restoring trust between Israel and the Palestinian people. We should seek to build on it to create a process which can deliver a broader peace, in which all exercise their rights and fulfil their responsibilities. This would be a true settlement between Israel and all Arab states. I hope it will be given new momentum from the beginning of the new American administration.

Nepal: Human Rights

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise with the Nepalese authorities the treatment of ethnic Tibetans involved in recent demonstrations in Nepal. [234210]

Bill Rammell: Through our embassy in Kathmandu, we have monitored the situation of Tibetan refugees in Nepal closely since protests began earlier this year. On 23 June, our ambassador to Nepal joined a démarche on the Nepalese Foreign Secretary to raise concerns of the international community about the arrest of three prominent Tibetans in Kathmandu and the use of arbitrary detention under the Public Security Act. Staff from our embassy in Kathmandu have also accompanied officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights when they observed police action against protests by Tibetan refugees. We have encouraged the Nepal police to ensure that all officers act with restraint when handling protest groups and urged that action is taken against any officers accused of using excessive force. Together with our EU and other international partners, we will continue to monitor the situation in Nepal closely.

Official Cars

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which make and model of car the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN has chosen as his Ministerial car to be provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency. [217754]

David Miliband: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 16 July 2008, Official Report, column 414W by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick).

Somalia: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the deployment of an African Union mission in Somalia on peace and security in that country; and if he will make a statement. [232685]

Gillian Merron: The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has made a significant contribution to security in Mogadishu since its deployment. AMISOM soldiers from Uganda and Burundi protect key locations, including the port, airport, presidential palace and a key road junction. The security provided in Mogadishu has enabled the Somali leaders to concentrate on the political processes that are needed to secure peace in the long term.

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AMISOM soldiers have also been actively involved in providing humanitarian assistance to the Somali population, providing medical assistance and distributing water. These activities have made a positive impact on the situation of ordinary Somalis and help to support peace and security.

Duchy of Lancaster

Social Exclusion

8. Chris McCafferty: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps the Government are taking to use early intervention as a method to tackle social exclusion. [234801]

Mr. Byrne: This Government have a strong track record of intervening early to address the root causes of social exclusion, not just the symptoms. Since 1997 we have invested over £21 billion in Sure Start children centres and extending the provision of child care.

The 2006 Social Exclusion Action Plan underlined the Government's commitment to early intervention and launched a series of new evidence based programmes such as the Family Nurse Partnership which intensify even further our focus on prevention.


9. Tony Baldry: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent discussions the Cabinet Office has had with Treasury Ministers on the Government's support for charitable organisations and on their taxation status. [234802]

Kevin Brennan: I meet with Treasury Ministers regularly to discuss a range of issues that affect the Third Sector.

Social Inclusion: Rural Areas

10. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent representations he has received on social inclusion in rural areas; and if he will make a statement. [234803]

Mr. Byrne: Ministers receive representations on social inclusion in rural areas as part of their day to day work.

The Government's Strong Rural Communities Programme supports people living in rural areas to achieve the same kinds of outcomes we want for all citizens—good health, decent homes, high quality education, and access to work.

In addition, every local authority in both rural and urban locations will report on outcomes for disadvantaged groups, as part of our public service agreement for socially excluded adults.

Public Relations

11. Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much was spent on Government advertising, marketing and public relations in (a) 1997 and (b) 2008 according to records held by the Central Office of Information. [234804]

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Mr. Byrne: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan).

Social Exclusion: Young Women

12. Ms Keeble: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he is taking to tackle social exclusion among young women; and if he will make a statement. [234805]

Kevin Brennan: Social exclusion is a priority for the Government. The Social Exclusion Task Force is leading the way through a PSA on socially excluded adults and by developing new approaches to tackling disadvantage.

These approaches include the Family Nurse Partnerships, launched in April 2007, which have helped over 1,000 young women under the age of 20, and the £6 million Adults Facing Chronic Exclusion Programme, designed to test new approaches to tackling chronic social exclusion among the most marginalised people in society—including young women at risk of exclusion and associated problems such as abuse, crime and addiction.

The Government are committed to ensuring that all young people are on the path to success—cross-cutting work which is driven primarily through PSA 14. Co-ordinated support for all young people, including women, covers initiatives such as targeted youth support, the commitment to reduce the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET), the recently announced £13 million Intensive Intervention Projects, £140 million investment in targeted parenting programmes, and the expansion of whole family support initiatives such as Family Intervention Projects though a commitment to put one in every local authority by 2011. At the same time as strengthening our efforts to help young girls have the best start in life, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy aims to ensure that young parents receive the support they need to make successful futures for themselves and their children.

This work is supported by a range of other cross-government initiatives such as positive activities and the £190 million investment in improving youth facilities, and Government strategies on Youth Alcohol, Youth Crime, Youth Volunteering and Drugs.

Show Us A Better Way Competition

13. Paul Farrelly: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the results of his Department's Show Us A Better Way competition were; and if he will make a statement. [234806]

Mr. Watson: I am delighted to inform the hon. Member that the overall winner of the Show Us A Better Way competition is Adam Temple with ‘Can I Recycle It’. A full list of winners will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Post-16 Education and Training

14. Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment he has made of the effect on social exclusion and social mobility of post-16 education and training. [234807]

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Kevin Brennan: Evidence suggests that education is an important factor in reducing the risk of social exclusion. For example, people with no qualifications are seven times more likely to be unemployed and five times more likely to be low paid than people with higher education. The Strategy Unit’s discussion paper ‘Getting on, Getting Ahead’ identified high quality post-16 education and training as a critical factor in improving people’s life chances. The discussion paper provides the analytical base for a cross-Government White Paper, to be published in December. The White Paper will set out a range of policies that aim to raise social mobility including providing more people with the capabilities and skills needed to get more and better jobs.

Government Departments: Correspondence

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 500W, on Government Departments: correspondence, what steps are in place to ensure such messages sent are potentially retrievable for responses to requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [234882]

Mr. Straw: I have been asked to reply.

Information held by a public authority will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. A code of practice, issued under section 46, gives guidance on good practice in records management to all authorities subject to the Act.

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