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Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) British and (b) Afghan speakers of each Afghan language are employed in Afghanistan by his Department. 
Chris Bryant: Language training requirements for staff working in Afghanistan are kept under regular review. We work to balance cost-effectiveness of training with the need to support high-quality diplomatic engagement in country. For many jobs in-country, such as those which require little or no contact with Afghans outside the embassy, no local language skills are necessary. It is more cost effective to employ locally-recruited Afghan staff in many positions which require local language skills.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently has six UK based officers with a relevant language proficiency deployed in Afghanistan, five with Dari and one with Pashtu. We employ locally-recruited Afghan staff in many positions which require local language
skills. For example, where we need to engage in Helmand Province at high levels, we will always use one of our 10 qualified locally engaged Pashtu interpreters to ensure that both sides fully understand the issues being discussed. In Kabul there are 66 Afghan staff working alongside staff from the UK, in Lashkar Gah 18 and in Helmand's district centres a further 11 who between them all speak Dari and Pashtu.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings (a) he, (b) other Ministers and (c) officials in his Department have had with Angad Paul in each of the last three years. 
David Miliband: Ministers and officials meet a variety of individuals in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. There is no central record of all individuals met by officials. A list of organisations met by Ministers is regularly placed on the FCO website at
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in implementing the Final Declaration of the London conference on combating anti-Semitism, with particular reference to (a) establishing an international taskforce of internet specialists to measure anti-Semitism online and propose international responses and (b) exposing and isolating (i) governments and (ii) politicians engaging in anti-Semitism; and if he will make a statement. 
The recommendations of the London Declaration has informed activity both within cross-Government hate crime programmes and in our international work, particularly within the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister became the first world leader to sign the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism on 25 February 2009 and on signing the declaration he said
"So many of the principles it enshrines are already things we are doing here in Britain and while I'm proud of the bold action Britain has taken to combat anti-Semitism such as improved reporting, prosecutions for anti-Semitic internet hate and the funding of Holocaust Education in schools, there is no room for complacency."
More recently in December the OSCE Ministerial Council agreed a Decision on Combating Hate Crimes. It contains helpful UK-inspired language on addressing "the increasing use of the Internet to advocate views
constituting an incitement to bias-motivated violence including hate crimes". It also encourages OSCE participating states to seek opportunities to co-operate and tasks the OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to undertake some exploratory work.
Mr. Baron: 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. 
Chris Bryant: In the last 12 months the cost of work undertaken in the offices allocated to two Ministers has totalled £6,973. This has covered the scheduled redecoration and re-carpeting of one office last redecorated more than 10 years ago at a cost of £5,385 (£2,762 for redecoration, £2,226 for re-carpeting and £398.96 for management of the works) and the repainting of walls in a second office at a cost of £1,588. Costs were met from existing maintenance budgets.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 14 July 2009, Official Report, columns 320-324W, on departmental contracts, what the purpose was of the contracts worth (a) £103,885 and (b) £131,684, listed as Staff Replacements; when those funds were disbursed to TPS consult; what assessment was made of the benefits to his Department of that expenditure; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a framework agreement for construction consultancy services with 15 companies, one of which is TPS Consult. In 2008, Estate and Security Group of FCO Services (an executive agency of the FCO operating as a trading fund) used this framework for two security cleared technical staff from TPS Consult to fill vacant slots whilst a recruitment process was carried out to fill the vacancies permanently.
Since question 285289 on 14 July, updated figures for contract (a) show that a total of £117,675 has now been paid in fourteen separate payments for the services of an electrical engineer between May 2008 and September 2009. This contract has since been terminated and a permanent incumbent recruited. Details of individual payments are contained in the attached spreadsheet for contract (a) , a copy of which will be placed in the Library.
Updated figures for contract (b) show that a total of £138,612 has been paid in 12 separate payments for the services of an architectural technician between May 2008 and September 2009. This contract remains extant and is under constant review. Details of individual payments are contained in the attached spreadsheet for contract (b), a copy of which will be placed in the Library.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 his Department received in 2008; and how many of these received a substantive response within 20 days. 
Chris Bryant: Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice on freedom of information in central Government for 2008 show that of a total of 1,019 non-routine requests received by the Department (based on aggregated quarterly data) 80 per cent. (815) received a substantive response within 20 days. 98 per cent. (994) of requests were dealt with 'in time', that is within 20 days by meeting the deadline or other permitted extension deadline.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff of his Department were in its redeployment pool on 1 (a) January, (b) April, (c) July and (d) October 2009. 
Chris Bryant: The corporate pool is a valuable source of short-term cover for urgent operational demands, for example the recently announced Afghanistan conference, where corporate pool resources have been essential. However, it is kept under constant review to ensure that the number of people in the pool is kept at the optimum level.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the FCO-DfID Shared Services Plan of November 2006, which body is responsible for assessing in each instance whether sharing services represent value for money; and what criteria are used in making such an assessment. 
David Miliband: Under the 2006 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)-Department for International Development (DFID) Shared Services Plan the two Departments have agreed to work together to share services wherever it represents value for money.
Work to date has focused on increasing co-location of FCO and DFID operations in countries where both departments have a presence, harmonising the pay and conditions of support staff, increasing collaboration in procurement, coordinating ICT plans, and improving practical cooperation in the UK and overseas.
The two Departments meet quarterly at senior official level to review progress. They seek in these discussions to make joint assessments of whether co-operation in a given area is delivering value for money and the other practical benefits which the plan aims to achieve.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official gifts he and his predecessors have received from the President of Afghanistan and other Ministers in the Pakistani government in each year since 2001. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government have published annual lists of gifts given and received by Ministers in an official capacity valued at over £140 since 2001. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. The 2008-09 list was published on 16 July 2009.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials within his Department received training other than language training in financial year (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08 and (c) 2008-09; and how many he expects to receive such training in 2009-10. 
David Miliband: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides a wide range of developmental and skills training to staff in the UK and overseas. This includes face-to-face training in the UK and through regional training centres overseas (RTCs) and e-learning courses. In financial year 2008-09 human resources directorate offered about 1,929 face-to-face training places in the UK and 10,231 places through RTCs. More than 4,450 staff in the UK and overseas used e-learning courses.
Directorates and posts in the FCO also provide subject specific training, for example on economic reporting, counter terrorism, security, information technology, climate change. It would incur a disproportionate cost to provide details of the number of staff trained by directorates and posts as this information is not held centrally.
The number of training places we offer in financial year 2010-11 will depend on the budget available. Providing appropriate training for staff in the UK and overseas will remain an important tool in helping staff deliver the FCO's departmental strategic objectives effectively.
http ://www. cabinetoffice. gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/propriety _and_ethics/assets/ministerial_code_current.pdf
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons the Government will be holding discussions with Hezbollah; whether there are any preconditions attached to these discussions; who will be attending these discussions on behalf of the Government; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Government policy towards Hezbollah is one of limited and considered contacts with some Hezbollah politicians. We will be taking a pragmatic approach by speaking to known moderate political figures who, to the best of our knowledge, have no links with acts of violence.
There has only been one specific meeting between our ambassador in Beirut and an Hezbollah MP, Mohammad Raad, on 18 June 2009. During this meeting the ambassador discussed the formation of the new Lebanese Government, and implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. Our ambassador pressed for full implementation of 1701, especially in relation to arms.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the (a) amount and (b) technological sophistication of biological and chemical material shipped from Libya to the US for evaluation. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK and US have regular discussions about Libya's progress towards its 2003 commitment to destroy all remaining weapons of mass destruction. The US report that there have been no shipments of chemical and biological material and there are no plans to do so.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead dated 28 October 2009, on a difficulty experienced in corresponding with the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria. 
Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not receive the original letter from the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead. Following a call to the hon. Member's parliamentary office on 11 December 2009, a copy has now been received and will be dealt with as soon as possible.
Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports the Government have received in respect of (a) military activity at al-Quads hospital in Gaza on 15 January 2009, (b) the use of white phosphorous shells during the attack by Israeli forces on (i) al-Quads hospital and (ii) al-Wafa hospital and (c) the use made of the site of (A) the el-Bader flour mill and (B) the Atta Abu Jubbah cement packaging plant in the Gaza Strip prior to their targeting by Israeli forces during January 2009. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: There have been various reports conducted into the Gaza conflict, some by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. However, these specific issues are covered in the Government of Israel's July 2009 report "The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects" and the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza Report.
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