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28 Jan 2009 : Column 604W—continued

Nigeria: Oil

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the situation in the Niger Delta; and what discussions he has had with the Nigerian Government on this matter. [248543]

Gillian Merron: The Government remain concerned at the continuing high level of violence and instability in the Niger Delta. The key to resolving the crisis is domestic political will within Nigeria, and a systematic approach to security, governance and development. We support the Nigerian Government on Delta issues, for example through a £2 million project to promote transparency and accountability of state and local government expenditure in the Delta and through support on maritime training. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, has discussed these issues several times with the Nigerian authorities in follow-up to discussions between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Yar’Adua in July 2008. He also discussed the Delta with the Foreign Minister Maduekwe in December 2008 and with President Yar’Adua in January 2009.


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Nigeria: Violence

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of Nigeria on action against the perpetrators of the violence which took place in Jos between 28 and 30 November 2008; and if he will make a statement. [243159]

Gillian Merron: Following the rioting in Jos on 28-30 November 2008, the Government have had discussions with the Nigerian authorities, both at local and at ministerial level, and will continue to monitor the situation carefully. The government of Nigeria has taken various measures, including a temporary curfew, to avoid further violence. The Nigerian Inter-Religious Council has held a meeting in Jos under the chairmanship of the Sultan of Sokoto and Catholic Archbishop John Onaiyekan to help prevent future violence.

Nuclear Fuels

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what timescale has been agreed for the International Atomic Energy Agency to approve the conditions and modalities for a nuclear fuel bank, as set out in the Conclusions of the 2914th meeting of the General Affairs Council on 8 December 2008. [246269]

David Miliband: The UK is continuing to work with our European partners to achieve the successful establishment of a Nuclear Fuel Bank under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) auspices. As part of our ongoing commitment to this project, the EU has pledged to provide €25 million to assist the Nuclear Threat Initiative in achieving its announced goal of $100 million. Although it is not possible to predict when modalities and conditions for such a project will be agreed, the matter will be raised at the next IAEA Board of Governors, to be held in Vienna from 2 to 6 March 2009. The matter is also the subject of ongoing discussion at the EU Working Group on Non-Proliferation.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's contribution will be to the 25 million euro the European Union is planning to contribute for the creation of an International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear fuel bank; and if he will make a statement. [246283]

David Miliband: EU Foreign Ministers agreed in December to contribute up to €25 million once the conditions and modalities for the nuclear fuel bank have been defined and approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Board of Governors. At least 80 per cent. of the EU contribution will come from the European Commission’s Instrument for Stability, a tool designed to address situations of crisis and instability in third countries. Any balance is expected to be financed by the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy Budget. Details of the UK’s contribution to the EU budget are set out at:


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Nuclear Weapons: Arms Control

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the statement by the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right hon. Member for Derby South ( Margaret Beckett), of 14 March 2007, Official Report, column 301, in response to the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mike Gapes), what subsequent discussions he has had with the governments of (a) India and (b) Pakistan on their becoming signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty; and what response he received. [244117]

Bill Rammell: Ministers and officials regularly discuss nuclear non-proliferation with the governments of India and Pakistan. We make clear our wish to see both countries sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear weapon states. Although neither country has indicated it is ready to accede to the NPT, we are working to bring both India and Pakistan closer to the international non proliferation mainstream, including through the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Rashid Rauf

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the United States Government on the suspected death of Mr. Rashid Rauf following a US air strike on the village of Ali Khel on 22 November 2008. [245663]

Bill Rammell: We do not have confirmation of the death of Rashid Rauf. Following a request from his family, we have requested official confirmation from the Government of Pakistan.

No specific representation has been made to the US Administration.

Russia: Broadcasting

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with his French counterpart the termination of Russian language broadcasts by EU member states to (a) Russia, (b) Belarus, (c) Azerbaijan and (d) Uzbekistan. [245877]

Caroline Flint: We did not discuss with the French presidency the termination of Russian language broadcasts by other EU member states to Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans at present to discuss this with the current Czech EU presidency. The UK did raise with the French the BBC World Service's Azerbaijan service (that includes Russian broadcasting) ending on 31 December 2008 by order of the Azeri National Radio and TV Broadcast Council. We will continue to monitor the situation and will raise with the Czechs as appropriate.

Sight Impaired

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidelines his Department follows in respect of making printed materials and forms accessible to people suffering red/green colour blindness. [245716]


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Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not have any specific guidelines in respect of making printed materials and forms accessible to people suffering red/green colour blindness.

Somalia: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial assistance the Government have provided for the deployment of the African Union force in Somalia in the (a) last and (b) current financial year; and if he will make a statement. [243876]

David Miliband: In financial year 2007-08, the UK committed £8.3 million support to AMISOM (the African Union force in Somalia). This included assistance with Ugandan and Burundian troop sustainment (fuel, food, rotation costs, airlift); assistance with Burundian troop allowances; and supplies to the Ugandan battalions (trucks, vehicle spares etc).

We have allocated and expect to provide around £9 million of assistance this financial year, including further support to Burundian troops. We will keep this sum under review, in the light of the situation on the ground in Somalia and of discussions in the UN Security Council on the UN role.

The UK also contributes to the EU's African peace facility, which has provided funds of €19.7 million (euros) to AMISOM between March 2007 and December 2008. A further €20 million (euros) will be provided in 2009.

St. Helena: Airports

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on access to St. Helena after the planned retirement from service in 2010 of RMS St. Helena; what the consequences for that policy are of the decision to postpone the St. Helena airport project; and if he will make a statement. [244935]

Mr. Michael Foster: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 14 January 2009, Official Report, columns 836-37W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn).

Students: Finance

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) grants and (b) loans his Department has given to student organisations in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what the purpose was of the payment in each case. [246859]

Gillian Merron: This information is not held centrally by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

FCO posts overseas may provide grants or loans to student organisations as part of programmes that contribute toward their strategic objectives. Individual student scholarships, to study in Britain as part of the Chevening
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Scholarship Programme, are administered on our behalf by the British Council and totalled £31.3 million in 2007-08.

Terrorism

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding his Department has made available for the Government's counter-radicalisation agenda for each year until 2010-11. [243031]

Bill Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has allocated approximately £80 million for counter-radicalisation over the next three years: £19 million in 2008-09, £24 million in 2009-10 and £37 million in 2010-11.

Thailand: Politics and Government

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government has made representations to the Thai government on the recent anti-government protestors’ blockade of Bangkok’s two main airports; and if he will make a statement. [240302]

Bill Rammell: I spoke to the Thai ambassador on 28 November 2008 to urge the Thai authorities to do everything in their power to restore public order and reopen Bangkok’s airports. I emphasised the urgent need to assist those British nationals affected by the blockade and underlined the damage the situation was doing to Thailand’s international reputation.

In addition, from the day protests at the airports began, our embassy in Bangkok has repeatedly passed similar messages to senior members of the Thai Government, military, major political parties and others with influence on the situation. On 4 December 2008, the British ambassador participated in a joint demarche with US, EU, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Korea colleagues and spoke to caretaker Prime Minister Chavarat Charnivirakul, emphasising that Thailand’s leaders should work to ensure future political activity was legal and not aimed at Thailand’s visitors or wider economic interests.

Treaty of Lisbon

Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government plans to restart its contingency preparatory work for implementation of the Lisbon Treaty should it come into force. [253023]

Caroline Flint: The Government will in no way pre-empt the decisions of those countries that have yet to ratify the Lisbon treaty. However, in light of the decisions at the December 2008 European Council, we will now work on all possible scenarios. This will include preparing for the possibility that the Lisbon treaty will come into force. We have a responsibility to engage in discussions to ensure that any institutional arrangements being planned for the event that the Lisbon treaty comes into force reflect our national interest. Not to do so would be irresponsible. I can, however, assure the House that
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work will remain on a contingency basis only and that no formal decisions will be taken unless and until the treaty enters into force.

Ukraine: Anti-Semitism

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he (a) has had since July 2008 and (b) plans to have with EU counterparts on levels of anti-Semitism in (i) Ukraine and (ii) Russia; and if he will make a statement. [247758]

Caroline Flint: We monitor these issues closely with our EU partners in Brussels, Kyiv, and in Moscow. We have previously expressed our concerns about xenophobia and racism at a senior level to the Ukrainian authorities. Racism was raised with Russian authorities by the EU in human rights talks in October 2008, and we had a thorough discussion of the issue in our own bilateral human rights talks with the Russians on 16 January this year. Both countries understand the seriousness with which we view these questions. We will continue to monitor this situation and raise these matters with the appropriate authorities in future, should it be necessary to do so.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Consultants

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with reference to the answer of 12 November 2008, Official Report, column 1209W, on departmental consultants, how much his Department, its agencies and executive non-departmental public bodies spent on external consultants between May 2007 and March 2008. [243395]

Mr. Woodward: Information is collated on an annual basis from April to March. In the period April 2007 to March 2008, my Department, its agencies and executive non-departmental public bodies spent £4,419,074 on external consultants.

The Northern Ireland Office formalised its approach to the employment of consultants when it introduced its “Policy on the Use of External Consultants/Professional Services” in July 2006. Staff throughout the department are now more conscious of the public interest in the subject and of the need for a strong case before considering the employment of consultants.

Departmental Working Hours

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the policy of his Department and its agencies is on granting staff time off in lieu for working (a) in lunch breaks, (b) in evenings and (c) at other times outside contracted working hours; and if he will make a statement. [252015]

Paul Goggins: Business areas may make local arrangements with staff to allow an adjustment to their flexible working hours time sheet if a requirement to work through a lunch break or in the evening is unavoidable.


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Staff who are required to work at other times outside contracted working hours i.e. Saturday or Sunday are compensated with an overtime payment appropriate to their grade band. Staff who are required to work on any public or bank holiday are compensated by time off in lieu equal to the hours of attendance plus a payment at single time rate for the hours of attendance. When time off in lieu cannot be given, payment for all of the hours is given at the rate of double time (overtime grades) or single time (non-overtime grades). Payment is subject to the appropriate overriding maxima. Staff who are required to work on any privilege holiday are compensated by time off in lieu equal to the hours of attendance. When time off in lieu cannot be given, payment for all of the hours worked is given at the rate of double time (overtime grades) or single time (non-overtime grades).

Official Cars

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what cars are (a) owned, (b) leased, (c) hired and (d) otherwise regularly used by his Department, broken down by cubic capacity of engine. [250139]

Mr. Woodward: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 10W.

In addition, my Department leases the following cars:

Make CC Number

Volvo

2500

2

Seat

1900

1

Volkswagen Golf

2000

1

Ford Mondeo

2000

1


Whilst in Northern Ireland on official business Northern Ireland Office Ministers use vehicles provided by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

No vehicles are owned or hired.


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