|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will commission research on the quality of life of pensioners in receipt of pension credit; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We are currently undertaking research on this issue. We have developed new survey questions about pensioners living standards and these are currently being asked on DWPs Family Resources Survey. These questions will provide information on the quality of life of a range of pensioners, including those in receipt of pension credit. The information will be available in spring 2010.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) whether people remaining on incapacity benefit are to be reassessed by the eligibility criteria used for those seeking to claim the employment and support allowance; 
Individuals who apply for employment and support allowance will be asked to undertake a work capability assessment which will be used in determining their eligibility for the benefit. This differs from those currently claiming incapacity benefits, who will have undertaken a personal capability assessment. The work capability assessment follows a similar format to the personal capability assessment, as a points based
assessment, but has been developed to provide a more accurate assessment of an individual's limited capability for work in the modern workplace.
The new assessment is more positive than its predecessor, focusing on what an individual can do as well as what they cannot. It includes a work focused health related assessment which helps individual's identify and consider ways to overcome their specific challenges to work. The mental function aspect of the assessment has also been expanded and developed to take better account of cognitive and intellectual function.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much funding has been allocated from the Strategic Programme Fund to assist (a) the Afghanistan counter-narcotic strategic priority and (b) other projects involving Afghanistan. 
Bill Rammell: [holding answer 12 May 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has allocated £21.9 million from the Strategic Programme Fund (SPF) in support of counter-narcotics work in Afghanistan in 2009-10. In addition to this the Counter Terrorism and Radicalisation Programme of the SPF has allocated £5.4 million for projects in Afghanistan for 2009-10.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to page 131 of the 2009 Budget Red Book, what changes will be made to the (a) activities, (b) staffing and (c) priorities of the British Council to achieve the proposed £18 million of savings. 
David Miliband: The British Council committed to £18.2 million of efficiency savings between 2007-08 and 2010-11 as part of its comprehensive spending review settlement. As agreed with the British Council, these savings will be realised by:
A 30 per cent. grant reduction in its European operations and reductions in its physical overseas network to reflect the move to web-based service provision;
Further rollout and exploitation of the global System Analysis and Programme Development finance and business system. This is widely used by companies to track their finances and organise their business systems including concentrating support services into regional or global support centres;
An extensive review and re-structuring of support services (human resources, information technology, finance and facilities management) organisation-wide. This will involve post reductions, process improvement and use of global centres/outsourcing; and
A reduction in capital works on its estates.
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) special advisers and (b) officials of his Department accompanied him to Glasgow for the Cabinet meeting on 16 April 2009. 
Gillian Merron: No Special Advisers or Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials accompanied my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. FCO officials did accompany the Foreign Secretary to stakeholder engagement events before and after the Cabinet meeting. These events had been scheduled for an earlier date but were rearranged to coincide with the Cabinet meeting in order to reduce costs.
Gillian Merron: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended a number of official engagements in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. He travelled by official car throughout the day, including to the Cabinet meeting.
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much expenditure was incurred by his Department in respect of the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. 
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what expenditure on (a) travel, (b) accommodation and (c) food (i) he and (ii) officials in his Department incurred in connection with the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. 
Gillian Merron: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials did not attend the Cabinet meeting in Glasgow on 16 April 2009. A total of £234.40 was spent on travel for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. No expenditure was incurred on accommodation or food. While in Glasgow, the Foreign Secretary attended a number of stakeholder engagement events at which he was accompanied by FCO officials. These events had been scheduled for an earlier date but were rearranged to coincide with the Cabinet meeting in order to reduce costs.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2009, Official Report, column 1311W, on conflict prevention, how much of the increase of £152.7 million in the UK's assessed peacekeeping costs for 2009-10 is to be spent (a) in each country and (b) on each mission; and what the reasons are for the increase. 
David Miliband: We have earmarked £456 million for assessed costs in 2009-10. This remains a projection as, in particular, UN peacekeeping costs are still to be negotiated by the UN General Assembly for 2009-10, and future UN peacekeeping activity remains subject to decisions by the UN Security Council. We cannot provide an accurate figure for the additional costs broken down by mission until the budgets for each of the missions are agreed and payments made.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies paid in interest to suppliers under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 in the last three years for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to page 131 of the 2009 Budget Red Book, what (a) improvement in procurement and (b) reductions in the cost of goods and services there will be to achieve the proposed £12.5 million of efficiency during the 2007 comprehensive spending review period; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The improved procurement project is generating value for money savings from reductions in the costs of goods and services purchased by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) during the Comprehensive Spending Review period. The savings are achieved through better management of our expenditure by utilising the following techniques:
Collaboration with other Government Departments (OGDs) and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Buying Solutions
Mandatory use of corporate FCO contracts to achieve better value for money
Better market analysis and a more strategic approach to procurement overseas
Benefits will be realised in the main through utilising OGD and OGC contracts and re-tendering processes for major contracts and commodities which assess value for money and efficiency as part of the process. This is based on a number of factors including unit prices and balancing quality measures to ensure that service levels are maintained or improved. In addition costs savings will be realised through improvements in the on-going contract management.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on the purchase of (a) recycled office supplies in the last 12 months and (b) printer ink cartridges in each of the last five years. 
The Mobility element is paid to all Diplomatic Service (DS) staff serving overseas at Grade C4 (HEO) and above. Home Civil Service staff at grade C4 and above receive Mobility at half the Diplomatic Service rate. It compensates staff for the additional costs incurred as a result of their obligation to serve wherever in the world and whenever required (e.g. the inability to buy/sell property when conditions are favourable, the need to sell cars before normal replacement cycles and maintaining contact with family and friends).
The Hardship element is paid to all staff at difficult, hazardous or isolated Posts to compensate them for the additional costs of maintaining a UK quality of life in those conditions (e.g. additional breaks from the country, security, the need for specialist four wheel drive vehicles and importing books/DVDs).
The Representation element is paid to all staff in representational grades for the indirect costs of entertaining/networking such as depreciation in clothing, household goods and official use of private vehicle.
Spouse Compensation is paid to Diplomatic Service staff, whose spouse/registered partner has spent at least three years accompanying them overseas. It is to compensate the spouse/partner who, if they had not been following and supporting their partner overseas, would have been working and contributing towards a state and/or private pension in the UK.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies on Eastern Europe of the outcomes of the recent Eastern Partnership summit; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the launch summit of the Eastern Partnership in Prague on 7 May 2009 where we strongly supported this EU initiative to step up our relations with our six Eastern European neighboursArmenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
enabling the EU to deepen relations with each of the partners through New Association Agreements and deep free trade agreements when partners are ready;
setting up a framework for multilateral discussion and cooperation between member states and partners on issues including democracy, economic reform, energy and people-to-people contacts.
The UK will continue to support the development of the Eastern Partnership. We believe that a strong partnership with the region is in the interests of the UK and can help us work effectively together to strengthen democracy, reduce the risk of conflict, and create the conditions for sustainable economic growth.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what occasions an interpretation of the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 by UK courts has been challenged at the European Court of Human Rights; and what the cost to the public purse was in each case. 
Caroline Flint: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not compile statistics of the kind sought. Given the requirement for applicants to exhaust their domestic remedies before taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights, many cases against the United Kingdom in that Court since the entry into force of the Human Rights Act have involved issues that have already been considered in the context of the Act. Where the application has resulted in an admissibility decision or judgment by the Court, these are available publicly on the Court's website at
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to hold discussions with the Indian Government on bilateral counter-terrorism activity. 
Bill Rammell: [holding answer 7 May 2009]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited India on 13-15 January 2009. During his visit he met with his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. They discussed the challenge which both the UK and India face from international terrorism, and the importance of strengthening bilateral counter terrorism cooperation.
We expect to further strengthen this co-operation through the second meeting of the Indo-UK Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, due at the end of 2009. This group is the result of a Prime Ministerial agreement at the UK-India Summit held in January 2008.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|