Previous Section Index Home Page

2 Feb 2009 : Column 882W—continued

Departmental Buildings

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on works and refurbishment to offices allocated to Ministers in his Department's buildings in the last 12 months. [252373]

Gillian Merron: No works or refurbishment has been undertaken on rooms allocated to Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, over the last 12 months.

Departmental Equality

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on the (a) sex, (b) ethnicity, (c) age, (d) disability, (e) sexual orientation and (f) religion or belief of its staff; and what assessment he has made of his Department's performance against its targets relating to diversity in its workforce. [246018]


2 Feb 2009 : Column 883W

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently hold information on gender, ethnicity, age and disability. The following tables contain diversity information from 1 January 2009.

Age ranges Number of staff

16-19

14

20-24

205

25-29

742

30-34

25

35-39

959

40-44

1,122

45-49

799

50-54

609

55-59

441

60-64

183

65 and over

13

Total

5,912


Gender

Number

Male

3,485

Female

2,427


British minority ethnic

Total number

529

Percentage of total

8.9


Disability

Total number

205

Percentage of total

3.5


The figures for ethnicity and disability rely on declarations by staff, so will not include staff who have not yet entered diversity data or who have chosen not to. We do not seek information or keep data on sexual orientation or religious persuasion.

The FCO has recently formulated a new diversity and inclusion strategy, as required by the Cabinet Office. As part of this strategy, we will analyse our performance against targets for women, British minority ethnic staff and for staff with a declared disability. This information will be publicly available once the Cabinet Office has agreed the strategies for all Government Departments.

The figures above include staff serving in FCO Services, a trading fund of the FCO.

Embassies

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which British embassies have closed permanently in the last 10 years. [250841]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has permanently closed seven embassies since 1999. Details are as follows:


2 Feb 2009 : Column 884W
Financial year of closure Country Post name

2003-04

Mali

Bamako

2003-04

El Salvador

San Salvador

2003-04

Honduras

Tegucigalpa

2003-04

Nicaragua

Managua

2005-06

Madagascar

Antananarivo

2005-06

Paraguay

Asuncion

2006-07

East Timor

Dili


Operations were also suspended in our embassy in Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) in April 2005 due to the security situation, although we maintain one diplomatic representative there.

The FCO continuously reviews the deployment of its resources and aligns them flexibly in line with UK interests to the benefit of the British taxpayer.

Falkland Islands Dependencies

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government operates any scientific research stations in South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. [250252]

Gillian Merron: The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) operates two year-round research stations at South Georgia. The station at King Edward Point is operated on behalf of the FCO and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the station at Bird Island is operated to carry out core science for BAS.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing around South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands is controlled and that fish stocks remain at sustainable levels in that area. [250283]

Gillian Merron: Fishery protection and management are the responsibility of the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands which uses a range of measures including a strict licensing regime, fisheries protection vessels, at sea inspections, satellite-based vessel monitoring systems and the deployment of observers.

The Foreign Commonwealth Office represents UK interests at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). A key UK objective at CCAMLR is to defend the integrity and economic viability of the South Georgia fishery. This is achieved by obtaining consensus on total allowable catch (TAC) limits which are agreed on the basis of robust scientific evidence. The UK strives to ensure that CCAMLR adopts effective conservation measures to curb illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing across the Southern Ocean as a whole.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the populations of (a) southern fur seals, (b) elephant seals, (c) albatrosses and (d) petrels are being protected in and around South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. [250284]

Gillian Merron: The government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Antarctic
2 Feb 2009 : Column 885W
Survey work collaboratively to protect wildlife on South Georgia. The Government works closely with the Commission of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels to conserve most of South Georgia's breeding populations. In addition the GSGSSI has a number of polices in place to protect life in both the marine and terrestrial environment, these include the designation of specially protected areas, specially protected species as well as prohibitions on disturbing, killing, capturing or exporting native fauna. These are set out in South Georgia's Plan for Progress—Managing the Environment 2006-2010.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department plans to provide funding to South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands to dismantle the former whaling stations in (a) Prince Olav Harbour, (b) Leith Harbour, (c) Stromness and (d) Husvik. [250285]

Gillian Merron: The FCO has no plans to provide funding to South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands to dismantle the former whaling stations. In 1991 the leases of the former whaling stations reverted to the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI), therefore the responsibility to fund the dismantlement of the former whaling stations rests with the GSGSSI. The GSGSSI spent approximately £5 million to make the Grytviken whaling station safe for visitors. It is beyond the means of the GSGSSI to fund any further projects of this nature in the remaining stations. Visitors are prohibited from entering within 200 m of these stations for safety reasons.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's plans are for future provision of (a) medical care and (b) search and rescue facilities in South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. [250286]

Gillian Merron: The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) funds the provision of a doctor at King Edward Point to support the local community and fishing industry. There are no search and rescue facilities or other emergency services on the Islands, nor are there any plans to develop such facilities.

In the event of a Search and Rescue incident the Commander of the British Forces in the South Atlantic Islands (CBFSAI) will coordinate any response using any appropriate assets that are available in the area at the time.

The GSGSSI has introduced measures to reduce the risk of major incidents by insisting visitors are supported by a dedicated vessel and by introducing restrictions on the passenger capacity of visiting vessels.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department is sponsoring schemes in South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands to promote biodiversity and conservation of endangered species in the area. [250287]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (FCO) the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and
2 Feb 2009 : Column 886W
the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) work collaboratively to investigate and protect biodiversity and ensure the conservation of endangered species at South Georgia. The BAS have a long-term monitoring and survey programme which monitors seabird and seal population dynamics, feeding ecology and reproductive performance. The GSGSSI has strict procedures in place to prevent the introduction or transfer of alien species and in support of this the FCO is part-funding the development of a biosecurity store to be built at South Georgia to safeguard native species and control invasive species.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much revenue was generated in the South Georgia and Sandwich Islands from (a) sale of fishing licences, (b) harbour administration charges and (c) stamp sales in the year 2008. [250289]

Gillian Merron: The audited accounts for 2008 are not yet available. The provisional figure for revenue generated by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in 2008 from the sale of fishing licences was £4,410,384 (over 80 per cent. of which is spent on managing the fishery). The provisional figure for revenue generated by harbour administration charges and stamp sales was £153,159 and £108,019 respectively.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will bring forward proposals to improve transport facilities in South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands to encourage tourism to the islands. [250290]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no plans to improve transport facilities in South Georgia. The principle objective of tourism management for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is to ensure the continued protection of the island's unique environment, including its flora, fauna and cultural heritage. While the numbers of tourists visiting South Georgia has increased in recent years, visitor landings are managed by the government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands so that authorised visitors may continue to have access to approved landing sites in a safe and regulated manner, whilst minimising any potential impacts on the island's unique heritage.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the objective is of the research which is being conducted by the British Antarctic Survey's scientific and support team in South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. [250291]

Gillian Merron: British Antarctic Survey (B AS) scientists are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands to carry out a programme of applied fisheries research at the facility at King Edward Point in support of the sustainable management of fisheries around the island. The BAS scientific research at Bird Island is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and focuses on seabird and seal population dynamics, feeding ecology and reproductive performance. This programme is aimed at providing robust scientific
2 Feb 2009 : Column 887W
advice to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources for the management of Southern Ocean fisheries.

Holidays Abroad: Death

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens died whilst on holiday abroad in each of the last five years. [248391]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 19 January 2009]: Records held by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office do not distinguish whether a British National, who has died overseas, was on holiday or resident in country. For information relating to the number of British citizens who have died while abroad, I refer the hon. Member to the written answer I gave on 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 1176W.

Ireland: Official Visits

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions in 2008 the President of the Irish Republic visited Great Britain; and which official UK representative met her on each visit. [248928]

Caroline Flint: President McAleese visited Great Britain on two occasions in 2008.

The first occasion was a visit to Liverpool in June to participate in the celebration of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. In the course of the visit, the President was met by Dame Lorna Muirhead, Lord Lieutenant for Merseyside.

The second occasion was a visit to London in November, during which the President spoke at the London School of Economics and was guest of honour at the annual Queen’s University Association dinner.


Next Section Index Home Page