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Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies spent on (i) publicity and (ii) advertising in each year since 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not keep a central record of amounts spent on publicity and advertising. The information required to answer this question could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) date, (b) location and (c) purpose was of each meeting he attended with the Prime Minister in the week commencing (i) 12 November, (ii) 19 November and (iii) 26 November 2007. 
Gillian Merron: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly meets with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and other Cabinet colleagues. It is standard practice not to disclose details of internal Government meetings.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent on entertainment by his Department in 2007-08; and how much of that sum was accounted for by expenditure on (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. 
The total spent against the entertainment budget in financial year 2007-08 was £6,470,379.11. This expenditure was spent on entertainment of official contacts in furtherance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)s objectives. This expenditure would include the costs of food, drink and sundries when official
contacts were entertained at an officers home, the costs of employing extra domestic staff solely for a representational event, and the cost of entertaining official contacts at external venues (e.g. restaurants, hotels etc.). Additional expenditure on entertainment may have been put to other budgets, but it is not possible to identify this separately. Expenditure on entertainment is not broken down into the requested categories, and to obtain this information would require analysis of each individual invoice. This could be done only at disproportionate cost.
The FCO is committed to ensuring that all expenditure, including that on entertainment, is incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.
Gillian Merron: From 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008 UK Civil Servants employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and FCO Services, based in the United Kingdom claimed £1,443,221 for expenditure on overnight accommodation in the UK and overseas.
Expenditure on overnight accommodation by staff based overseas is processed locally. To provide this information would require a manual check of claims made in each post. This would incur a disproportionate cost.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people recruited by his Department in 2007-08 were aged over (a) 55 years and (b) 60 years; and what percentage this represented of the number of new recruits in each case. 
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost of overtime payments paid to staff in his Department was in each of the last 12 months, broken down by pay grade. 
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Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) uses non-consolidated, non-pensionable bonuses to encourage high performance. We pay annual bonuses to staff based on appraisal evidence of performance. High bonus awards are given only where performance has significantly exceeded challenging objectives and may have radically transformed delivery of policy and services.
Bonus payments for FCO staff in the delegated grades (all except senior managers) are based on performance not location. Staff in Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible for performance bonuses; but service in these theatres does not automatically earn a specific bonus.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants working in his Department and its agencies have pensions with a cash equivalent transfer value of over £1 million. 
Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) publishes the cash equivalent transfer value (cetv) of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme pensions of FCO Ministers and of Civil Servants, who are members of the FCO board of management, in their annual resource accounts. A copy can be found online at:
We do not routinely calculate the cetv of the pensions of other members of staff. To carry out the individual calculations in order to determine which members of staff might have pensions with a cetv of more than £1 million would incur disproportionate cost.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent on 30 October 2008 by the European Union to the Somali Transitional Government, making an offer of collaboration, which contains proposals on the exercise of jurisdiction against persons apprehended in the territorial waters of Somalia. 
The letter was sent by the European Council Secretary General Javier Solana. We have, therefore, requested permission from the European Council Secretariat
to place a copy of the letter in the Library. If that permission is forthcoming, a copy of the letter will be made available.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the 2007 intergovernmental agreement on the number of members of the European Parliament is expected to be in force for the European Parliament elections in June 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Current UK legislation provides for the European Parliament elections to go ahead under the provisions of the existing European treaties. It is unclear, following the Irish referendum, whether or not the Lisbon Treaty will be in force ahead of the elections in June 2009. The Lisbon Treaty will be discussed at the December European Council, after which the my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will make a statement to the House.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on proposed changes to the number of MEPs for each region in the UK. 
Caroline Flint: The most recent discussions on the overall composition of the European Parliament took place at the European Council in June 2007 in the context of agreeing the mandate for the Intergovernmental Conference on the Lisbon treaty. The next steps on the Lisbon treaty will be discussed again the December European Council, after which the Prime Minister will make a statement to the House.
If the Lisbon treaty is not in force in time for the June European Parliament elections, the current treaty provisions will continue to apply. Current UK legislation provides for next year's European Parliament elections to take place under the provisions of the existing treaties.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to fulfil the objectives of the 2001 Laeken Declaration to bring Europe closer to its peoples. 
Caroline Flint: The 2001 Laeken Declaration set out the need to reform the EUs institutional structure and to reconnect the EU with its citizens. This led to the establishment of the Convention on the future of Europe and ultimately the Constitutional Treaty. Following the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty by the French and Dutch voters, the constitutional concept was abandoned.
The Lisbon Treaty, which resulted from a fresh set of negotiations, takes forward objectives of making the EU more transparent and accountable, for example by giving national Parliamentsfor the first timea direct say in EU law-making, thereby helping to deliver the objective of bringing Europe closer to its peoples.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants work in offices representing the United Kingdom at the European Union; and what the total costs were of each office in which such staff were employed in the latest year for which figures are available, broken down by (a) staff, (b) office rental and (c) other costs. 
Caroline Flint: As at 7 November 2008, there were 105 UK civil servants working at the UK Permanent Representation to the EU. The total cost of the office in the financial year 2007-08 was £17,376,124. This figure is broken down by: £5,253,588 for staff; £1,024,000 for office rental and; £11,098,536 for other costs.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not have direct responsibility for any civil servants who represent Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, on 7 November 2008 the FCO was aware of 19 UK civil servants at the devolved administrations' representations. We do not hold information about the costs of these offices.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Government officials are based at the European Union institutions and not subject to the UK domestic income tax regime. 
Gillian Merron: As at 10 November 2008, there were 229 officials from the UK Government at the European Union. 105 of these were working at the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, 124 were seconded to EU institutions.
The salaries of all 229 of these officials are subject to UK domestic income tax. The secondees receive an allowance from the host institution. Those officials who have not been supported by their parent Department in moving their effects can also receive either a one-off allowance from the host institution, or receive a monthly removal allowance. These allowances are not subject to UK or Belgian income tax.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the President of the European Council to discuss the economic situation in the European Union. 
Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no recent meetings with the President of the European Council specifically on this subject. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is the Government's main interlocutor with the President of the European Council, and has travelled to Paris four times in recent weeks to meet President Sarkozy. In addition, my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary both attended the October European Council, where discussion focused on this area.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to mitigate the impact of recent exchange rate changes on the overseas activities of (a) his Department and (b) the British Council. 
The sharp fall in the value of sterling between October last year when our comprehensive spending review was agreed and the start of the new financial year this April has reduced the purchasing power of local budgets for many overseas posts. In order to give posts certainty about their budgets the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is taking the following steps to mitigate the impact of recent exchange rate changes:
A hedging strategy is being applied whereby forward purchases of foreign exchange are being made. These forward purchases (through the Bank of England) provide certainty of the volumes of currency that will be delivered on a given date for a contracted price, thereby supporting planning and budgeting.
US Dollars and Euros account for approx 90 per cent. of our foreign exchange purchases, and to date we have forward purchased 80 per cent. of our forecast net exposure in these currencies through to October 2009. Currently this cover is being extended each month by one month, to ensure there is a minimum of 12 months rolling cover. The same technique is being applied for Japanese Yen.
Recent movements in exchange rates and the late removal of the OPM mechanism have resulted in an £8 million reduction in the purchasing power of the British Council's core grant for the current financial year. To minimise the impact on programmes, the British Council has centralised the impact of exchange rate fluctuations on operations, so that exchange rate losses and gains can be offset where possible. In addition, the British Council has policies in place to ensure a minimum level of cash balances are held in foreign currency bank accounts in overseas locations.
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