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Departmental Training

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department has spent on IT training for its staff in each of the last five years. [274216]

Caroline Flint: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) centrally spent the following on IT training in the last two financial years (FYs):

Financial year £

2007-08

(1)228,870

2008-09

(1)256,904

(1) Without VAT.

These figures shown include training in Microsoft applications, FCO specific tools, the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) and one IT eLearning package available to all FCO staff worldwide. Detailed figures for the preceding financial years are no longer available.

The FCO is currently undergoing an IT upgrade. Figures for IT Training delivered as part of this project are not available as they are not individually broken down within the contract.

Some courses are organised, run and paid for by our posts around the world. There is no central record of training courses and costs; that information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

East Africa: Diplomatic Service

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many diplomats from his Department are based in (a) Sudan, (b) Somalia and (c) Ethiopia. [276252]

Caroline Flint: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently changing its Human Resources Management Information system. We are therefore unable to obtain the information to answer this question within the required time scale. We should be able to access the system again within two weeks and I will write to the right hon. and learned Member then.

Employment Tribunals Service

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many actions under employment law have been brought against his Department in each of the last three years; how many such actions were brought under each category of action; and how many such actions were contested by his Department at an employment tribunal. [277413]

Gillian Merron: Actions against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the last three years, under each category are as follows:

2006


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2007

2008

European Commission

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proportion of senior officials in the European Commission are UK citizens. [277086]

Caroline Flint: We do not hold this information. The relevant data are owned by the European Commission. The Government are clear that it is in the EU and UK’s interests to have successful UK candidates working at the heart of the EU’s institutions.

European Court of Human Rights

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial penalties have been imposed on the UK for non-compliance with a ruling by the (a) the European Court of Justice and (b) the European Court of Human Rights in each of the last 10 years. [274034]

Caroline Flint: No financial penalties have been imposed on the UK for non-compliance with a ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Supervision of the execution of judgments is the responsibility of the Committee of Ministers. However the Committee of Ministers does not have power to impose financial penalties for non-compliance with a judgment of the Court.

European Union

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the working groups of which international bodies the European Union sends a delegation. [277081]

Caroline Flint: We do not keep central records of all the international meetings and international working groups which the EU and the UK attends and how frequently they meet. To provide these details would involve a disproportionate cost.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at which meetings of international bodies in 2008 the European Union was formally represented; and at which of those the UK was formally represented. [277084]

Caroline Flint: We do not keep central records of all international meetings and international working groups which the EU and the UK attends and how frequently they meet. To provide these details would incur disproportionate cost.


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Iran: Armed Forces

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the stationing of Iranian forces at the port of Assab in Eritrea; and if he will make a statement. [277410]

Gillian Merron: The media have reported that Iran has stationed forces at the port of Assab in Eritrea. However, we have been unable to substantiate these reports, and the Eritrean Government has publicly denied them.

Land Mines

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the UK's progress towards meeting the Ottawa Convention's requirements on the removal of anti-personnel landmines from its territory. [276835]

Gillian Merron: Under the Ottawa convention the UK has an obligation to clear the 117 mined areas in the Falkland Islands by March 2019. The Government's decision to proceed with clearance of selected mined areas was announced at the November 2008 Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention. The procurement process to carry out this de-mining is under way. A National Mine Action Authority (NMAA), which includes representatives from the Falkland Islands Government, has been established to oversee this operation. The NMAA is currently drafting National Mine Action Standards to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the clearance operation.

The aim is to commence the de-mining operation by the end of 2009.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to reply to the letter of 9 March 2009 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton on Ms A. Dunn. [271022]

David Miliband: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 8 May 2009.

Somalia: Armed Conflict

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 14 May 2009, Official Report, columns 922-3W, on Somalia: armed conflict, what reports he has received on the countries of origin of foreign fighters entering Somalia; and if he will make a statement. [277225]

David Miliband: We are aware of media reporting of foreign fighters entering Somalia. However, because of the security situation, it is difficult to verify these reports or to assess which countries any foreign fighters may be from.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the accuracy of recent reports that
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Ethiopian troops have entered Somalia; and whether he has discussed such reports with the Ethiopian Government. [277427]

Gillian Merron: We are aware of recent media reports that Ethiopian troops have entered Somalia. Bereket Simon, head of the Government of Ethiopia’s Communications Agency, has denied these.

The Ethiopian authorities have also told our embassy in Addis Ababa that there has been no political decision to re-enter Somalia and that, unless such a decision is made, only normal military border security operations will take place.

Sri Lanka: Armed Conflict

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what legal advice he has received on whether the recent actions of the Sri Lankan Government constitute genocide. [276115]

Bill Rammell: The crime of genocide depends on certain acts, such as killing members of a group, having been committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Whether genocide has been committed would depend on a close investigation as to the facts and the motivation for the crimes alleged. Such information is not available at present.

My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka closely, and have been greatly concerned at the reports of civilians killed in the fighting. They have voiced their concern about the situation and support the EU’s call for an independent inquiry into allegations of violations of international law in the conflict.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of (a) UK-based and (b) non-UK-based journalists expelled from Sri Lanka during the recent conflict; and if he will make a statement. [277206]

David Miliband: Our high commission in Colombo gave consular assistance to four UK based journalists who had been detained and deported from Sri Lanka in two separate incidents since the beginning of 2009. The high commission does not keep records relating to non-UK based journalists.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on independent investigation of allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka. [277285]

David Miliband: As I made clear in my written ministerial statement on 19 May 2009, Official Report, column 73-74WS, we endorse the EU’s call for alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law to be investigated through an independent inquiry, and for those accountable to be brought to justice. We believe this could play an important role in the post-conflict reconciliation process.


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Sri Lanka: Internally Displaced Persons

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the capacity of UN officials to access registers containing details of the internally displaced in camps in northern Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. [277231]

David Miliband: We are aware of the continued difficulties that UN officials and aid agencies face in accessing registration lists for the people displaced by the recent conflict in Sri Lanka. In all our recent discussions with President Rajapakse and Foreign Minister Bogollagama, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have urged the Sri Lankan Government to allow full and unfettered access to internally displaced persons camps for the UN and other humanitarian agencies including access to the screening and registration process. We fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General in this regard, including his recent visit to Sri Lanka.

Sudan: Politics and Government

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 30 April 2009, Official Report, column 1414W, on Sudan: politics and government, what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in the Chad-Sudan border area. [276780]

Gillian Merron: We have received reports that on 1 May 2009 several hundred Chadian rebels from the Union of Resistance Forces crossed from Sudan into Chad, reaching the area of Am Dam and Goz Beida in Eastern Chad before being turned back by the Chadian armed forces. The Chadian response involved aerial bombardment, including within Sudanese territory. The current situation remains volatile with the possibility of further attacks.

Sweden: EC Presidency

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to meet his Swedish counterpart in advance of Sweden's presidency of the European Union to discuss Sweden's priorities for its presidency. [277327]

Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly meets the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt and will continue to do so. I met my counterpart, Cecilia Malmstrom in Stockholm on 28 April 2009.

Turkey: Natural Gas

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts
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on the Nabucco project; what his recent assessment of progress on the project is; and if he will make a statement. [276662]

Caroline Flint: The UK sees diversity of energy sources as vital for its own and the EU’s energy security. The Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in January this year underlined the importance of the EU obtaining supplies of gas from a wide range of countries. The development of a southern corridor with the aim of bringing gas from the Caspian region via Turkey to the EU is core to this.

The UK fully supports the Nabucco pipeline project as a key element in the development of a southern corridor for gas and continues to engage actively with EU partners and countries in the region to develop this project.

We welcome the Spring European Council conclusions which called for the commission to bring forward an action plan for the development of the southern corridor by the end of the year. The presidency’s Southern Corridor summit declaration of 8 May 2009 also demonstrated the EU’s strong political commitment to work to diversify sources of energy supply.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands first informed his Department of his concerns relating to allegations of corruption within the Government of those islands. [273269]

Gillian Merron: Successive Governors have reported to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) their concerns about rumours of corruption. The FCO has taken these reports seriously and monitored the situation closely. The challenge has always been to gather sufficient credible information to warrant further investigation. For example, a police investigation into allegations of corruption collapsed in March 2006 owing to a lack of evidence.

As a result of substantive allegations of corruption reported to the Governor, together with the key role played by the Foreign Affairs Committee in encouraging people in the Turks and Caicos Islands to provide further information, the Governor established a Commission of Inquiry in July 2008.


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