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19 Jan 2009 : Column 1171Wcontinued
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff served in the UK Permanent Representation to the EU in each year since 1997, broken down by payband. 
Gillian Merron: The following table records the number of staff working at UK representation to the EU in financial years from 2005 to 2008. We do not hold data from before this date centrally. This information could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
|EC representation to the EU (Brussels)|
|Date||FCO grade||Civil service equivalent||Number of staff|
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of India on reported violence against Christians in Orissa; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: We are deeply concerned by the recent reports of attacks against Christians in Orissa. There can be no justification for such violent attacks against innocent people. On 1 October 2008, my noble Friend the Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown raised the matter with the Indian High Commissioner. On 17 October, he also discussed our concerns with Anand Sharma, Indian Minister of External Affairs, and Mohammed Quereshi, chairman of the Minorities Commission in New Delhi. We understand that the Indian government fully recognises the seriousness of these incidents and is engaged with the Orissa State authorities in restoring law and order to that region.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reduction has been made in his Departments funding for public diplomacy as a result of its Allocative Efficiencies programme, as referred to on page 27 of his Departments Autumn 2008 Performance Report. 
David Miliband: As a result of the Allocative Efficiencies programme the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reduced the programme funding for public diplomacy by £9.09 million in financial year 2008-09 and a further £4.91 million in financial year 2009-10.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent changes there have been to the Government's policy on Iran. 
Bill Rammell: The Government remain very concerned by Iran's actions in the region, over the nuclear issue, and on human rights. We continue to pursue the dual track strategy to encourage Iran to comply with the demands of the international community concerning its nuclear programme: sanctions to persuade it to come to the negotiating table, and the offer of engagement leading to full negotiations through the E3 +3 process.
Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will urge the Kurdistan Democratic Party to ensure the return of all Christian-owned land and houses misappropriated by the Kurds. 
Bill Rammell: There are currently internal Iraqi processes under way to resolve Iraqs disputed internal boundaries, with technical support provided by the United Nations, which we monitor closely.
As I said in the Westminster Hall Adjournment debate on the Christians of Iraq on 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 44WH, I hope to discuss how land and property disputes can best be resolved in the border areas between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rest of Iraq with ministerial interlocutors from the Government of Iraq and the KRG, at the next appropriate opportunity.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take at the United Nations on allegations of (i) the use by Hamas of human shields in Gaza and (ii) the storage of weapons by Hamas among women and children in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: We condemn all abuse of innocent civilians. UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which was proposed by the UK, was emphatic in its condemnation of all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Palestinian Authority and (b) Hamas on seeking a lasting ceasefire in Gaza. 
Bill Rammell: We are in close contact with the Palestinian Authority. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke to President Abbas on 14 January.
We share the position of the Quartet concerning contacts with Hamas: that for such contacts to be useful Hamas should reject violence, recognise Israel and accept
previous agreements. We are however in close contact with the Arab League and its members states. We support Egyptian engagement with Hamas in order to achieve an immediate and permanent ceasefire.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many former prisoners are employed by his Department; and what his Departments policy is on employing former prisoners. 
Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not hold statistics on how many former prisoners it employs.
We collect information on a candidates spent convictions as part of our security vetting process but do not use it for selection purposes.
Information on the number of former prisoners employed by the FCO could only be obtained by checking the security vetting files of all FCO members of staff which could be done only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UK has offered any assistance to the authorities of Pakistan in connection with the investigation of the killing of Major-General Faisal Alawi. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 12 January 2009]: The investigation into Major-General Alavis death is a matter for the Pakistani authorities. We do not normally interfere in another countrys judicial proceedings, unless under special circumstances that country asks for our assistance. We do not normally have any consular involvement in cases concerning dual-nationals in their other country of nationality, except in cases where we judge there is a special humanitarian reason to do so, for example, cases involving minors, forced marriage or a conviction involving the death penalty, but even then only where the state of other nationality agrees. Our Commission would, however, be able to register interest in the case with local authorities if contacted by the family of Major-General Alavi.
Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether (a) he and (b) his officials have held discussions with the authorities of Pakistan on the death of Major-General Faisal Alawi. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 12 January 2009]: Neither my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary nor UK officials have held any such discussions.
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