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19 Nov 2008 : Column 652W—continued

The Minister of State for the Middle East

19 Nov 2008 : Column 653W
Date Country


22 to 26 July

Jordan, Libya and Egypt

30 August to 7 September


11 to 19 September

Brazil, Peru and US

22 to 25 October

Nigeria and Ghana

2 to 3 November


5 to 6 November


29 November to 2 December


17 to 20 December



8 to15 January

USA and Jamaica

7 to 11 January


31 January


22 to 25 February

Saudi Arabia and Oman

6 to 14 March

Brazil and Chile

28 to 31 March

Bahrain and Qatar

6 to 9 April

South Africa

21 to 23 April


2 to 6 May


10 to 17 May

Bolivia and Peru

15 to 19 June

Ethiopia and Eritrea

23 to 24 June


26 to 28 June


3 to 9 July

Canada and USA

13 to 25 September


Date Country/city


13 to 17 October

Kuwait and Iraq

27 to 29 October


12 to 14 November


Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

Date Country/city


8 to 17 September

Mexico, Panama and Jamaica

14 to 23 October

New Zealand and Tonga

18 to 23 November


9 to15 December

Dominican Republic and Cayman Islands


2 to 7 January

Falkland Islands

27 February to 2 March


27 to 30 March


13 to 20 April

Belize, Guatemala and Barbados

30 April to 11 May

Philippines and Australia

4 to 10 June

Cambodia and Malaysia

29 June to 1 July


17 to 22 August

Singapore, New Zealand and Niue

17 to 20 September


28 September to 5 October

Mexico and Costa Rica

Date Country/city


1 to 7 November

Jamaica and Trinidad

EU Enlargement

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with his EU counterparts on the possible accession of (a) Georgia and (b) Ukraine to the EU. [235159]

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Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary maintains regular discussions with his EU counterparts on the EU's relations with Georgia and Ukraine, most recently at the General Affairs and External Relations Councils in June, September and October and at the informal Foreign Ministers' meeting in September.

The UK continues to believe that it is important to keep the door to further enlargement open to those Eastern European countries that aspire to membership. In particular we believe that Ukraine should be able to become a member of the EU when it meets the criteria. The June Council, and the Extraordinary European Council on 1 September, asked the Commission to develop proposals for stepping up the EU's engagement with our Eastern neighbours, among them Ukraine and Georgia, including through an initiative for an Eastern Partnership. We want this to be ambitious, in support of the aspirations of each of our neighbours, and provide increased practical support for closer integration with the EU. This initiative will be one of the items on the agenda for the December European Council.

EU Institutions: Wales

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which civil servants for whom he has responsibility, other than those employed by the Welsh Assembly Government, represent the interests of Wales at the EU institutions; and what their responsibilities are. [236196]

Gillian Merron: Foreign policy, including our policy towards the EU, is a reserved matter for the UK Government. But we consult the Welsh Assembly Government closely on issues relating to its areas of responsibilities. The staff of the UK Representation to the European Union in Brussels (UKRep), as in all our diplomatic posts, advance the interests of the UK as a whole, including Wales.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what structures and protocols are in place to liaise with the Welsh Assembly Government's representatives to EU institutions. [236198]

Gillian Merron: As the information requested is lengthy, it has been placed in the Library of the House.

Forced Marriage

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what criteria he uses to evaluate projects proposed for funding by the Forced Marriage Unit. [230227]

Gillian Merron: The Forced Marriage Unit domestic programme fund strategy sets out what criteria are used to evaluate projects for funding. The strategy can be found at the following Foreign and Commonwealth Office website address:

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Gulf of Aden: Piracy

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the origin and base of operations of those responsible for piracy in the Gulf of Aden region; and if he will make a statement. [233161]

David Miliband: We understand from the British Officers at the Maritime Trade Office that most piracy in the Gulf of Aden originates from the Puntland region of Somalia.

The UK Government support United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1816 and 1838 calling on parties to address the growing problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia. We have been working with our EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) partners to implement these resolutions.

In September the EU set up a team to co-ordinate naval escorts protecting world food programme deliveries to Mogadishu. The EU is now planning a larger counter-piracy operation to which the UK will provide the operation commander and operation headquarters. EU partners agree that any operation must be co-ordinated with NATO and Combined Task Force 150, themselves active to deter piracy off the Horn of Africa. The UK contributes to both.

Through the Department for International Development, the UK has allocated £25 million to support efforts to tackle the instability in Somalia which creates the conditions allowing piratical activity to flourish.

International Red Cross

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which Minister in his Department is responsible for dealing with the International Committee of the Red Cross, with particular reference to its activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. [228799]

David Miliband: My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister responsible for Afghanistan while my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East and Africa is the Minister responsible for Iraq. Both cover the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in their respective portfolios.

Iraq: Asylum

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many dependants of former Iraqi employees admitted to the UK under the Locally Employed Staff Assistance Scheme have been flown to the UK under the provisions of the Scheme. [209917]

Bill Rammell: As at 14 November 2008, 98 dependants have so far been admitted to the UK under the Iraq Locally Employed Staff Assistance Scheme. We expect a further 118 dependants to be welcomed in the UK over the coming months.

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Lighting: EU Law

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the Government's proposals to lower the rate of VAT on energy-efficient light bulbs to receive approval at EU level. [209376]

Caroline Flint: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1266W.

Mentally Ill Staff

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department has gathered on the effect of its policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of employees with mental illnesses within (a) his Department and (b) the public sector bodies for which he has responsibility; and what use has been made of that information. [228558]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) makes reasonable adjustments for recruitment, job selection and promotion. The FCO employs expert disability advisers who support officers with mental health illnesses. Support is provided through training, reasonable adjustments and advice both for the officer with the disability and for line managers. A review of policy and procedure for supporting disabled staff is under way and will report in December.

The public bodies that the FCO has responsibility for follow Commissioner for Public Appointments (CPA) policy on this issue. When making appointments to bodies within the Commissioner's remit, Departments are required to follow the CPA's ‘Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies’.

A core principle of the code is that equal opportunities should form part of the appointments process. However, the overarching principle of appointment and promotion on merit remains. The FCO is planning workshops and training for the sponsor staff of these public bodies to ensure that they follow uniform good practice in the recruitment of their employees.

Nigeria: Capital Punishment

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking in respect of the use of the death penalty in Nigeria; and what representations his Department has made to the Government of Nigeria on the number of people sentenced to death and awaiting execution in that country. [229963]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through its Strategic Programme Fund, supports two Nigerian civil society projects which aim to move Nigeria towards abolition of the death penalty. One project supports a civil society coalition that works to change legal, public and official perceptions of the death penalty. The other project supports a Nigerian non-governmental organisation that supports legal challenges to the constitutionality of certain applications of the death penalty.

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FCO officials have raised Nigeria’s continued use of the death penalty with senior members of the Nigerian Government several times in the past year. The EU has also raised the issue with the Nigerian Government, and the FCO will continue to encourage member states to engage in this area.

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