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Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether his Department has provided guidance to local authorities on (1) which buildings or public services should be prioritised for maintenance of access to them by salting or gritting during adverse winter weather conditions; 
Mr. Khan: Winter service, including decisions about the relative priority of salting carriageways and footways or the relative priority of ensuring access to services and buildings, is a matter for each local highway authority.
The Highways Agency's routine and winter service is delivered by its contracted service providers. The delivery of these services, including the purchase of rock salt, is paid for within lump sum payments covering a range of defined activities. The individual amount specifically spent on the purchase of road-salt is not readily discernable from the service delivery lump sum payments and cannot therefore be provided.
Annual salt usage for the strategic road network varies greatly according to the weather faced, typically ranging 150,000 to 300,000 tonnes per annum, at an average cost from domestic salt suppliers of approximately £20 to £25 per tonne.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 2 February 2010, Official Report, column 178W, on roads: salt, how many tonnes of road salt (a) each local authority and (b) the Highways Agency held at the latest date for which information is available. 
Mr. Khan: An updated table has been placed in the Libraries of the House, which shows how many tonnes of salt local authorities estimate they have available, according to the local authority salt audit returns the Department for Transport had received at 10.00 am on 8 February.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that local authorities prevent vehicles subject to a safety recall by Toyota from being used by licensed taxi companies; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Khan: The Department for Transport has been advised that the recall has not been instigated on grounds of safety and so does not consider it appropriate to prevent these vehicles being used. The manufacturer has advised that at no time will drivers be without brakes and the vehicles remain safe in service.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, the Department for Transport agency which deals with day-to-day vehicle safety recall issues, is in regular contact with Toyota and we are doing everything we can to help them recall vehicles in the shortest possible timescale. Ministers are monitoring the situation closely.
Robert Neill: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what role the Government Offices for the Regions have in the determination of allocations of regional and local transport funding. 
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that funding allocated by his Department in respect of Afghanistan is spent as intended; and what audit trail there is in respect of such funding. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Funding in Afghanistan is delegated to our ambassador, or in his/her absence, the Charge d'Affaires, who acts as the senior responsible officer and chair of the Afghanistan Delivery Group. The role of this decision-making body is to ensure that expenditure is authorised, controlled and monitored in accordance with agreed UK priorities and outcomes.
All UK civilian funding in Afghanistan is aligned to strategic objectives and subject to a robust planning regime. A programme office, based in Kabul, oversees governance processes that monitor expenditure and reports progress to the Afghanistan Delivery Group. Expenditure, both in Afghanistan and London, is also monitored by budget holders, subjected to independent external audit by the National Audit Office, and incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury Handbook on Regularity and Propriety.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications the Polar Regions Unit has (a) received and (b) granted for British expeditions to Antarctica in the last three years. 
Chris Bryant: The Polar Regions Unit received and issued 82 permit applications during the last three years, comprising 26 applications during 2009, 27 applications during 2008 and 29 applications during 2007.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 November 2009, Official Report, columns 300-1W, on Belarus: capital punishment, what information he has received on the plight of Vasily Yuzepchuk and Andrei Zhuk; and what representations he has made on their behalf to the government of Belarus. 
The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. Together with EU partners, we promote the abolition of capital punishment around the world. We have continued to raise these cases with the Belarusian authorities, and to support a process of public dialogue on the death penalty. We worked closely with the Council of Europe who organised an information campaign in Belarus. Our ambassador explained our views in an interview with the Belarusian media in January 2010. We are pleased that the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus has set up a task force to study the issue, and continue to urge the Belarusian Government to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Mauritius on the creation of a marine protected area around the Chagos archipelago. 
Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials discussed environmental protection and the possible creation of a marine protected area with Mauritian officials in bilateral talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory on 14 January 2009 and on 21 July 2009. My
right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also discussed the proposal with the Mauritian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in November 2009.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the remit is of the PEW Environment Group in providing services under his Department's contract for public consultation on the proposed marine protected area around the Chagos Archipelago; what the cost to his Department was of that contract; when he expects that group to report; to whom that group will report; and when he plans to publish the outcome of that consultation. 
Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not have a contract with the PEW Environment Group. The Group, which is an independent non-profit organisation, is part of the Chagos Environment Network which has advocated the possible creation of a marine protected area in the British Indian Ocean Territory.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration his Department has given to pursuing the proposed Marine Protected Area project as a joint initiative with the government of Mauritius. 
Chris Bryant: Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials discussed environmental protection and the possible creation of a marine protected area with Mauritian officials in bilateral talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory on 14 January 2009 and on 21 July 2009. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also discussed the proposal with the Mauritian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in November 2009.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government remain deeply concerned about the lack of progress towards democracy and respect for human rights in Burma. Planned elections will have no international legitimacy while over 2,100 political prisoners remain in detention. Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal has reached its final stage. We call on the military government to release her, along with all other political prisoners, and begin a dialogue with the opposition and ethnic groups that would lay the foundations for a genuine and inclusive transition to democracy.
As elections approach, the democratic opposition and Burma's ethnic groups face a difficult dilemma. If they participate in the elections they risk legitimising a process they know to be flawed. Boycott the elections and they risk further marginalisation and exclusion from the political process. This is not a decision we can or should presume to make for them.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take in response to Burma's announcement that plans are underway to hold elections in a systematic way in 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK position on planned elections in Burma is well known. Unless Aung San Suu Kyi, and all other political prisoners are released, and the regime initiates an inclusive dialogue with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups, the elections will have no credibility or international legitimacy. As the elections approach, the UK will work to maintain tough EU sanctions targeted at the regime's economic interests, and press Burma's neighbours, including China, India and ASEAN countries to use their influence to secure real progress. We will also work in the UN's human rights bodies to highlight the ongoing and systematic human rights abuses in the country.
The planned elections should be an historic opportunity to reverse Burma's steady decline into poverty, stagnation and international isolation. It is difficult to be optimistic that the military regime will seize this opportunity, but the UK will continue to use all diplomatic channels to press them to do so.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received requesting him to propose to the United Nations Security Council the establishment of a commission of inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Burmese regime; and what steps he has taken in consequence. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since early December 2009, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received more than 70 letters from MPs and members of the public calling for the UK to support a UN Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity in Burma. We have also taken note of the Early Day Motion on this issue, and I have met campaign groups, NGOs and representatives of ethnic groups based on the Thai/Burma border, to hear their views.
In consequence of these representations and discussions, the Government have given further careful thought to the question of a UN Commission of Inquiry. We regularly test the level of consensus for action on Burma at the UN through our efforts to secure Security Council discussion. We secured tough resolutions in the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council and will continue to raise abuse of human rights in the year ahead. Our assessment remains that an attempt to establish a Commission of Inquiry would not receive the requisite support from a significant number of countries and in particular veto holding members of the Security Council. We are concerned that if we tried and failed to secure agreement this would be interpreted by the Burmese regime as a diplomatic victory and approval of its conduct. The Government will nonetheless continue to do all they can to highlight the appalling and systematic abuse of human rights in Burma, and work to secure as robust an international response as possible.
Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the arrest and transfer to the International Criminal Court of General Bosco Ntaganda. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We, along with our European counterparts, continue to press for Bosco Ntaganda to be handed over for trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The UK strongly supports the ICC and we welcome the Court's investigations into events in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Conflict in the region has been marked by atrocities, and those responsible for them should be held to account.
Our ambassador in Kinshasa discussed the arrest warrant with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for the DRC, Alan Doss. He received assurances that the UN mission would support the DRC Government in carrying out the warrant. He has also raised the question of Bosco Ntaganda's position in meetings with the Foreign Minister. He has sought reassurances that Bosco Ntaganda will be handed over to the ICC at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, columns 54-58WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, how the planned foreign exchange adjustment account will operate; and in what ways it will (a) resemble and (b) differ from the Overseas Price Mechanism. 
Chris Bryant: The foreign exchange adjustment account will be a departmental unallocated provision (DUP) which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will draw on as necessary to manage the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations. It is not a return to the Overseas Price Movements Mechanism under which the FCO budget was adjusted from the Treasury Reserve to reflect foreign exchange rate movements.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, columns 54-58WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, which assets he expects to sell in order to raise the sum intended in the statement; and what the (a) current book value and (b) estimated market value is of each such asset. 
Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes details of disposals quarterly in a letter to the Foreign Affairs Committee. For commercial reasons and in order to realise maximum value from disposals, we do not publish details of planned disposals in advance.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, columns 54-58WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, what the (a) original agreed budget for 2010-11 and (b) budget reduction agreed in consequence of the effect of changes in the value of sterling is for (i) the British Council, (ii) the BBC World Service, (iii) Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services and (iv) each other agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible. 
Chris Bryant: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) grant in aid to the BBC World Service for 2010-11 is £267 million in resources and capital. The FCO grant in aid to the British Council for the same period is £194 million in resources and capital. The BBC World Service will make available £7.7 million to the FCO including an underspend of £4 million in 2009-10. The British Council will make available £5 million to the FCO. These contributions will not result in permanent reductions in their baseline, but are for 2010-11 only.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, columns 54-58WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, how much his Department expects to save in 2010-11 as a result of each of the measures set out in the statement. 
Chris Bryant: The value of the contributions from the British Council and the BBC World Service to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) budget for 2010-11 are expected to be £7.7 million and £5 million respectively, while FCO Services Trading Fund will make a special dividend payment of £3 million to the FCO. Details of the FCO programme of streamlining have yet to be finalised.
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