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Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many days sickness absence were taken by staff in his Department in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what the cost to his Department was of such absence. 
Chris Bryant: For the 12 month period from December 2008 to November 2009, a total of 21,628 sick days were taken by UK-based civil servants employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The estimated cost of this absence is £1,881,809.59.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons the decision was made to change the corporate services programme from a five to a three-year programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: The corporate services programme has a key role to play in driving cost savings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's back office. It was directed to deliver those savings within a three year timescale in light of the tight fiscal climate.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many consultants are employed by his Department's corporate services programme; and what the cost to date of employing consultants within the programme has been. 
Chris Bryant: The corporate services programme currently employs 36 staff, of which nine are consultants or specialist contractors. The programme also has a number of contracts in place to obtain specialist technical, legal and commercial advice and support.
Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contracts his Department has with private hire taxi companies; and what expenditure his Department has incurred against each such contract in each of the last three years. 
Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently uses two contracts with private hire taxi companies: Addison Lee, covering the London area; and Raffles Taxis, covering the Milton Keynes area. Both contracts are used for both FCO departmental usage, and FCO Services. As FCO Services has been an independent Trading Fund since 1 April 2008, their expenditure is recorded and shown separately since that date.
The FCO uses a contracted out service to ensure the best value for money, and taxi use is verified by directorates. We are working collaboratively with other Government departments to keep future costs down by the use of a single service provider. Following an in-house review earlier in 2009 the FCO has taken positive action to reduce its taxi costs as demonstrated by the figures for the first seven months of this year. We are continuing to bear down on future costs.
FCO guidance underlines that all staff should travel by the most appropriate means according to the demands of their job and to ensure maximum efficiency and value for money. Public transport must be used whenever possible. Taxis may be used when there is no other suitable methods of public transport available-e.g. when staff are working late into the night during crises, or travelling to airports at unsociable hours-or where staff are carrying classified material for meetings.
|Raffles Taxis||Addison Lee|
Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many telephone lines with the prefix (a) 0870, (b) 0845 and (c) 0800 his Department (i) operates and (ii) sponsors; how many calls were received to each number in the last 12 months; and whether alternative numbers charged at the BT local rate are available in each case. 
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies spent on away days in the last 12 months; and what the (i) subject and (ii) location of each away day was. 
Chris Bryant: This information is not held centrally as spending on away days is devolved to individual Departments and posts. Providing a breakdown for each one including subject and location for the period requested could be done only at disproportionate cost.
John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many questions tabled for answer on a named day his Department received in each of the last 12 months; and to how many such questions his Department provided a substantive answer on the day named. 
Chris Bryant: In recent months, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has significantly improved its performance in answering named day parliamentary questions (PQs) on time. The numbers of such PQs received and answered on time from January 2009 to Prorogation in November 2009 were as follows. Reliable statistics are not available for December 2008.
|PQs received||PQs answered on time|
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the status in international law of the extent of Gibraltar territorial waters; and if he will make a statement. 
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the merits of the government of Gibraltar's application to the European Court of First Instance against Commission Decision 2009/95/EC updating a list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions his Department had with (a) the Gibraltarian Government, (b) the Spanish Government and (c) the European Commission prior to Commission Decision 2009/95/EC updating a list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what representations he has made to (a) the Gibraltarian Government, (b) the Spanish Government and (c) the European Commission on Commission Decision 2009/95/EC updating a list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region since the decision was made; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what his Department's policy is on the government of Gibraltar's application for the annulment of the Spanish site of Community importance known as Estrecho Oriental; and if he will make it his policy to challenge any new decision by the European Commission adopting an updated list of such sites which does not recognise the sovereignty of Gibraltar over its territorial waters. 
The UK has sought and received permission from the European General Court to intervene in support of the Government of Gibraltar's application for annulment of Commission Decision 2009/95/EC updating a list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region insofar as it relates to the Estrecho Oriental site. The court has indicated that it will hear admissibility arguments first. Our written intervention on admissibility issues will be submitted to the court in January 2010 and we cannot comment further on the contents of that intervention at this stage.
We fully support the Government of Gibraltar on this issue and remain in close contact with them. We have made representations to both the European Commission and Spain in order to object to their actions on this matter and have placed on record that the UK does not recognise the validity of the Estrecho Oriental listing. We object that Spain should have sought to have an area of BGTW listed and that this listing should have been approved. The UK is the only state competent to propose a Site of Community Importance within BGTW. During the recent negotiations on the latest proposed Decision updating the list of sites in the Mediterranean, the UK voted against the proposal because of the inclusion of the Spanish designation of Estrecho Oriental. We are considering our options in the event of a new Commission Decision including this site on its list.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the estimated total value of alcoholic beverages in the Government wine cellar is; what it was in 2008-09; how many bottles of (a) wine, (b) beer, (c) spirits and (d) other alcoholic beverages are held in the cellar; and how many alcoholic beverages from the cellar were consumed in the last year. 
Chris Bryant: The Government Hospitality wine cellar provides for all Government Departments. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron) to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on 28 April 2009, Official Report, column 1204W. Since then the size of cellar has grown by about 500 bottles, and in value by about £85,000. In the 2008-09 financial year, Government Hospitality used about 14 per cent. of its stock, which is in line with previous years.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 5 November 2009, Official Report, columns 1112-13W, on Hakluyt, if he will publish the submission made to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State setting out (a) the (i) reasons and (ii) justifications for not providing the information requested in Question 296748 and (b) the estimated cost of providing the information requested, required in accordance with section 7.28 of the Cabinet Office's Guide to Parliamentary Work. 
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State agreed that as the requested information was not held centrally, collating the information
would incur disproportionate costs for the Department. In order to provide an accurate answer to the question, all Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff in Departments in London and our 242 posts across the world would need to be contacted and their replies collated, the costs of which would exceed the disproportionate costs threshold as stated in the Cabinet Office's Guide to Parliamentary Work.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much his Department spent on hotel accommodation for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in each of the last five years. 
Chris Bryant: Spend on hotel accommodation is devolved to individual departments and posts and to provide a breakdown spanning a period covering five years could be done only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Israel on the continued building of illegal settlements. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 14 December 2009]: Settlements, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace. We want Israel's 25 November 2009 announcement on a settlement moratorium to become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to call for a full settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including so-called 'natural growth', in accordance with the responsibilities in the 2003 road-map.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has reiterated the UK position to the Israeli Government on several occasions, most recently in his telephone conversation with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 25 November 2009.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of (a) the number of (i) rockets and (ii) arms held by Hezbollah in Lebanon and (b) the number of militia being trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The latest report from the UN Secretary General on UN Security Council Resolution 1701 highlighted that Hezbollah continues to maintain a substantial military capacity distinct from that of the Lebanese state, in direct contravention of Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. It also makes clear that Hezbollah have not challenged allegations regarding its armament and increased military capability.
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