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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 24 March 2009


Departmental Flowers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much was spent by his Department on flowers in the last 12 months. [266289]

Mr. Paul Murphy: In the last 12 months, my Department has spent £40 on flowers.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) capital and (b) resource funds his Department has brought forward from its (i) 2009-10 and (ii) 2010-11 budgets for use in (A) 2008-09 and (B) 2009-10; and what schemes this funding is being used to support. [265105]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Wales Office is a small Department with no executive functions, and no responsibility for spending programmes, either capital or resource. Our resource allocation is purely to cover our own running costs, and our capital allocation only to provide cover for proper management of Gwydyr House. Accordingly, we are not in a position to participate in the bringing forward of spending plans.

Opinion Leader Research

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department has paid Opinion Leader Research in each financial year since 2007-08. [265976]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My Department has not made any payments to Opinion Leader Research since 2007-08.

House of Commons Commission

Management and Services of the House of Commons Review

Mr. Amess: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much was spent by the Commission on the Tebbit Review of Management and Services of the House; how much has been spent to date on implementation of the review’s findings; and if he will make a statement. [264618]

Nick Harvey: The cost of the Tebbit Review was £112,000. It is difficult to distinguish the costs of implementing the Tebbit Review from the costs of improved service delivery and organisational change, some of which was already under way before the Tebbit Review
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but to which the Review gave additional impetus. A preliminary analysis suggests that the additional direct costs of implementing the Tebbit recommendations, to the end of the current financial year, have been £395,000, which have been met out of existing budgets from efficiency savings. This figure does not include the cost of service improvements since the Tebbit Review (for example, improvements to the parliamentary website and to internal communications).

It is planned to review the extent to which the intended business benefits of the Tebbit Review have been realised in 2010.

Leader of the House


Grant Shapps: To ask the Leader of the House which training courses were (a) available to and (b) taken up by (i) civil servants and (ii) Ministers in her Office in the last 12 months. [265303]

Chris Bryant: Training courses are just one aspect of the development opportunities open to civil servants in the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons, and every member of staff discusses their personal development as part of their appraisal process.

Information on courses attended is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, during the last 12 months members of staff participated in training provided by external training organisations and internal training courses which are provided by the Cabinet Office free of charge.

During the past 12 months Ministers in the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons have taken up training courses provided by the National School of Government.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions the Government has had with the Taliban on securing peace in Afghanistan. [264763]

Bill Rammell: The Government have not engaged in talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, our embassy in Kabul and the UK-led Civil-Military Mission Helmand in Lashkar Gah have made a wide range of contacts within the Afghanistan government and people in public life, some of whom will have held positions under the former Taliban regime.

The UK’s position on reconciliation remains unchanged. It is not for the UK to reconcile with those elements fighting in opposition to the Afghan government. We support President Karzai’s efforts to bring disaffected Afghans into society’s mainstream, providing they renounce violence and accept Afghanistan’s constitution.

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Binyam Mohamed

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to paragraph 9 (ix) of the High Court judgement in the case of R (Binyam Mohamed) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of 21 August 2008 on what date officials of his Department were first informed that an officer of the Secret Intelligence Service had made observations about the treatment of persons detained by or on behalf of the United States in Afghanistan. [259032]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 26 February 2009]: It is the long-standing policy of the Government not to comment on intelligence matters. The Intelligence and Security Committee’s 2005 Report into the Handling of Detainees by UK Intelligence Personnel in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq records that,

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment of Binyam Mohamed's welfare was made by the UK officials who visited him in July 2008; and if he will make a statement. [262707]

Bill Rammell: We made clear repeatedly our concern about Mr Mohamed's welfare and medical condition during his detention at Guantanamo Bay. Following US agreement, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials conducted a welfare visit to him on 23 July 2008. No immediate concerns were raised and it would be inappropriate to reveal personal details passed to our officials. Issues raised by Mr Mohamed were followed up with US at the time. The findings of the visit were communicated to Mr Mohamed's family and legal representatives.

Burma: China

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of China on reports of illegal export of logs and timber from Burma. [265883]

Bill Rammell: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not raised this issue in his contacts with the Chinese government. However, the ongoing UK-China Sustainable Development Dialogue includes a strand of work on natural resource management, under which the UK Forestry Commission and the Chinese State Forestry Administration co-operate on ‘Forest Law Enforcement and Governance’, including to combat illegal logging. Discussions between officials have covered sustainability and legality of timber exports, and are due to cover timber tracking systems. These discussions are relevant to all timber exporting countries, including Burma.

Burma: EC Common Foreign and Security Policy

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the implementation of the EU Common Position on Burma; and if he will make a statement. [265359]

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Bill Rammell: The Government are determined that the common position should be implemented such that it targets those individuals and entities that benefit directly from the regime’s misrule, while allowing vital humanitarian work within Burma to continue.

Burma: Politics and Government

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to discuss the political situation in Burma with his colleagues in the United Nations Security Council. [265358]

Bill Rammell: We regularly discuss Burma with members of the UN Security Council, as well as those countries participating in the UN Secretary-General’s Group of Friends. We use this frequent dialogue to reinforce our deep concern at the political and human rights situation in Burma, and urge those with influence on the military government to help the UN Good Offices Mission deliver tangible progress on the ground. The UN Security Council will continue to seek a briefing from the Secretary-General and his representatives on the outcome of their interaction with Burma.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the efficacy of the Supplementary Understanding reached by the government of Myanmar with the International Labour Organisation in assisting people forced into labour. [265360]

Bill Rammell: Our embassy in Rangoon has discussed the effectiveness of the supplementary understanding on forced labour with the office of the executive director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Our assessment is that the mechanism is continuing to produce results. Of 80 complaints referred to the Burmese authorities over the last year, all but eight have been seen some action to resolve them.

The military government has shown signs of genuine co-operation with the ILO. However, the problem of forced labour remains widespread and we are particularly concerned by the failure of the authorities to publicly condemn the practice and address its use by the military.

We will continue to support the work of the ILO in Burma.

Departmental Art Works

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which works of art the Government Art Collection has loaned for display in the (a) private offices and (b) official residences of Ministers in his Department. [262897]

Gillian Merron: The information is as follows:

(a) Private offices

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(b) Official Residences

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