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Gillian Merron: As Minister for Overseas Territories, I met overseas territories heads of delegations, including the Chief Minister of Montserrat, hon. Lowell Lewis, during the 10th meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council on 28-29 October.
My hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Department of International Development, and I also held bilateral discussions with Chief Minister hon. Lowell Lewis and Minister hon. Reuben Meade on Thursday 30 October.
Gillian Merron: Tourist statistics are collated by the government of Montserrat. We understand that from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2007, 1,899 British citizens visited Montserrat. For the current calendar year up to 12 November 2008, 1,643 British citizens have visited Montserrat. These figures refer to people who have visited Montserrat on a UK passport, and whose normal place of residence is the UK.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK has taken in the last 12 months to conclude an international agreement on a mechanism for reliable access to nuclear fuel under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. 
David Miliband: The UK, Germany and the Netherlands co-hosted an international conference on 17-18 April to bring together supplier and customer states to discuss this issue. The UK will host a further conference next year. The UK is currently working with the presidency of the EU to agree the conditions for an EU contribution to a nuclear fuel bank administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Steps are also being taken to finalise the UK's Enrichment Bond proposal and we expect to take this to the IAEA early next year.
Bill Rammell: The UN Peacebuilding Commissions (PBC) membership is a collection of UN member states, not individuals. Selection of those member states is made on the grounds of post-conflict experience, equitable geographic representation and gathering expertise from among key troop and police contributing countries and donors. As such, member states do not nominate individual candidates to be on the PBC, although they do provide representatives to speak for them in meetings. Representatives therefore could be of either gender and attendance may differ from meeting to meeting.
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the budget is for the UK National Action Plan to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325; whether he plans to increase it; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: There is no specific budget for the UK National Action Plan to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 as the issues are largely mainstreamed into our work on conflict. However, through the tri-departmental (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence) Conflict Prevention Pool the UK provides direct funding support to a range of projects aimed at tackling gender-based violence and building capacity for female participation in conflict resolution. We will continue to identify projects that promote the recommendations of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and ensure that all HMG funded projects take into account gender issues. UK training to troop contributing countries prior to deployment in UN missions includes guidance on the protection of women and children.
In the last three years we have given the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) around £9 million in core funding, including £3.4 million for its project on Women's engagement in Peacebuilding and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Project. Other projects include funding research into the problem of violence against women in Afghanistan, and £2 million of funding for Pakistans Gender Justice and Protection Fund which supports national approaches to combat violence against women. In South Africa we provide support to NGOs aimed at empowering women, men and youth to demand
and protect womens rights, reducing the vulnerability of women and girls to gender based violence and HTV/AIDs.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department left under (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in each year since 2005-06; how many of them in each case were paid (i) up to £25,000, (ii) £25,001 to £50,000, (iii) £50,001 to £75,000, (iv) £75,001 to £100,000 and (v) over £100,000 in the year before they left; and how much (A) was spent in each of those years and (B) is planned to be spent on such schemes in (1) 2008-09 and (2) 2009-10 by (Y) his Department and (Z) each of his Department's agencies. 
The following table shows the number of staff who left the FCO voluntarily under early retirement or early severance schemes in each year since 2005 grouped according to their annual salary at the time of their departure:
|Up to £25,000||£25,001 to £50,000||£50,001 to £75,000||£75,001 to £100,000||Over £100,000||Total|
Compensation for early departure is paid in strict accordance with the standard Civil Service Compensation Scheme. The FCO meets the cost of early departures. This includes the cost of lump sum severance payments and the additional costs of benefits beyond the normal Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) benefits in respect of employees who retire early.
FCO Services began operating as a Trading Fund in April 2008. The following table shows expenditure on early departures by FCO Services in each year since 2007-08 (the first year for which separate figures are available):
It is our policy to do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies. Since 2004 we have carried out a number of restructuring exercises to realise efficiency savings. This early retirement programme enabled us to reduce the size of the Senior Management Structure (SMS) in the FCO by 20 per cent. by 31 March 2008.
Figures given for 2008-09 are provisional estimates. The FCO has no plans for wide-scale restructuring exercises in 2009-10, but will be ready to offer departure on early retirement terms to a limited number of staff who meet strict criteria, if work force planning requirements make it necessary.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his Department's staff who left under (a) an involuntary and (b) a voluntary exit scheme in each year since 2005-06 received a severance package of (i) up to £25,000, (ii) £25,001 to £50,000, (iii) £50,001 to £75,000, (iv) £75,001 to £100,000 and (v) over £100,000; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: The following table shows the number of staff who voluntarily left the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under early retirement or early severance schemes in each year, grouped by the level of total cost to the Department of funding each retirement package:
|Number of staff|
|Up to £25,000||£25,001 to £50,000||£50,001 to £75,000||£75,001 to £100,000||Over £100,000||Total|
All payments to staff leaving on early exit schemes are calculated and paid in strict accordance with the terms of the standard Civil Service Compensation Schemes. The total costs shown in the table include compensation payments up to pension age (60), early payment of pension sums, some of which would have been payable to these staff whenever they retired, and administrative costs.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes to the BBC World Service's Russian Service there have been in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: In October the BBC World Service announced changes to the BBC Russia Service in the face of a decline in short wave audiences and the loss of all its FM agreements over the past few years. There is an overall refocusing of the BBC's radio programming, stronger news coverage and an increased online offering. It is for the BBC to decide how best to use its resources to maximise impact.
BBC Russia will now offer a more focused peak-time news service on radio, both on medium wave and short wave. Their new strategy is to offer a fresher, more relevant service for audiences and to ensure that resources are focused where they will have the most impact.
(a) launching a new online rolling news service;
(b) increasing the number of high quality video reports;
(c) strengthening resources for BBCRussian.com during the morning peak periods;
(d) increasing the resources for interactivity;
(e) boosting the Learn English part of BBCRussian.com.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the EU-Russia talks on a partnership and co-operation agreement with respect to the territorial integrity of Russia's neighbouring states; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: We welcome the resumption of negotiations on the new EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. This will ensure that we can engage Russia on all the issues that are important to us including regional security and stability, trade, climate and energy security. We are clear however that this does not mean a return to business as usual in the EU's relationship with Russia. We will continue to demand full Russian compliance with the ceasefire agreements. And as the EU presidency statement following the November General Affairs and External Relations Council made clear, we will remain vigilant, in particular on common neighbourhood issues that are covered by the Union's negotiating mandate. This includes the conflicts in Georgia and Moldova.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government has made of the situation of ethnic Georgians displaced from their homes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since 7 August 2008; what representations the Government has made concerning their situation to the Russian Government; and if he will make a statement. 
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has assessed that refugees suffer from food insecurity, deplorable living conditions, lack of access to social services and low school attendance rates for children. While improved law enforcement has provided better security, feuds between families remain an issue for refugees and locals. The UNHCR Global Needs Assessment has identified outstanding challenges including: expanding access to national health, education and social protection programmes; enhancing livelihood opportunities for refugee and host communities; improving awareness among refugees of civil obligations and rights, and procedures to pursue naturalisation.
Since the crisis broke in August the UK has provided £4 million of humanitarian aid through UNHCR, International Red Cross, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Hazardous Areas Life-Support Organisation (HALO).
Together with our EU partners we continue to urge the Russian Government and the de facto authority in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to participate in the Geneva talks to find a peaceful lasting settlement, including enabling IDPs to return to their homes.
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