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Colombia: Political Prisoners

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contact his Department has had with staff of the Colombian embassy in relation to prisoners held for political reasons by the Colombian authorities in the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [317799]

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Chris Bryant: I raised this issue with the Colombian ambassador last week. We wholly condemn any Government who target or imprison individuals for their political orientation. We are aware of allegations that Colombian individuals are being imprisoned or charged with offences as a result of their political views or activities, and have pointed out to the Colombian authorities that those charged with crimes should have their legal rights fully respected, including the right to a fair trial. However, it is for the Colombian judicial system to assess any such cases, including exercise of the right of habeas corpus.

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the Government of Colombia on the fate of (a) human rights defender Carmelo Agamez Berrio and (b) trade unionist Liliany Obando. [317882]

Chris Bryant: We have not made any representations on the case of Carmelo Agamez Berrio.

As for Liliany Obando, we wrote in April 2009 to the Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme and to the Director of International Affairs at the Prosecutor General's office requesting details about her case. We never received a response from the Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme. On 25 June 2009, the Prosecutor General's office informed us that Ms Obando's case was going through the last stages of the legal accusatory process. She has been charged with

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Minister raised her case personally with Colombian Foreign Minister Bermudez in London last month, and we subsequently received a letter from the Colombian ambassador updating us with the news that there have been three public hearings of her case between August and December 2009, and that two more public hearings were scheduled to happen this week. I am writing to the Colombian Deputy Foreign Minister to further register our continued interest in the case.

Cuba: Politics and Government

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on meeting representatives of the democratic opposition in Cuba. [317110]

Chris Bryant: Our policy towards Cuba remains based on the EU Common Position, which was agreed in 1996 and is reviewed annually at the June European Council. The Common Position sets out inter alia that the EU will

Following the last review of the EU's Cuba policy in June 2009, all EU member states agreed Council Conclusions which reaffirmed their commitment to the Common Position and the policy of dual track engagement with the Cuban Government and Cuban civil society. On the issue of meeting members of opposition groups in Cuba the Conclusions state:

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In line with this policy, our embassy in Havana maintains contacts across the full spectrum of political opinion within Cuba, including the Government and members of civil society and opposition groups; we see it as important in support of this goal to include meetings with opposition figures in high level political visits where appropriate. The last Ministerial visit to Cuba was by my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Bill Rammell) then Foreign Office Minister in 2005. He met a range of Cuban Government contacts, opposition figures and civil society. Since then, the Cuban Government have made official programmes conditional on Ministers and senior officials not meeting any opposition figures during visits. This has made it difficult to agree programmes
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for a further visit. We stand ready to organise a high level visit as soon as this precondition is dropped.

Departmental Energy

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the estimated (a) amount and (b) cost was of energy used in his Department and its agencies in each year since 1997; what proportion of the energy used was generated from renewable sources in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. [317202]

Chris Bryant: The breakdown of amount and cost of energy for the last five years is summarised in the following table. To provide additional data could only be done at disproportionate cost. The proportion of energy generated from renewable sources is based on "Green" tariffs. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no directly renewable sources of energy.

Electricity (kWh) Gas (kWh) Oil (kWh) Heat (kWh) Total energy (kWh) KCS green tariff (kWh) Percentage of total energy that is green Cost of all energy (£)






















































All data are for financial year-April to March

Departmental Travel

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the travel guidelines issued to staff of each of his Department's agencies and non-departmental public bodies. [315145]

Chris Bryant: The British Council publishes its own travel guidelines which are available at:

The other agencies and non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the Department have not published their own travel guidelines. However, the guidelines they use are based on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's own travel guidelines. I have placed a summary of these guidelines in the Library of the House.

Diplomatic Service Appeal Board

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the membership is of the Diplomatic Service Appeal Board. [317797]

Chris Bryant: The six former Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) employee members of the Diplomatic Service Appeal Board are as follows:

The two independent members are:

Embassies: Fees and Charges

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will consider the merits of removing charges for the use of the premises of overseas posts by UK entrepreneurs holding receptions to promote products and services offered by their companies. [317991]

Chris Bryant: Making the most of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's assets, including the effective use of our overseas estate, is kept under close review. Diplomatic staff routinely host entertainment in their official residences and other premises overseas to further the Government's strategic priorities, of which support for the UK economy and British businesses is key. In addition to this normal use of our estate, Heads of Post may offer, subject to a number of considerations including security, the use of their official residences for particular events requested by organisations who are willing to pay for the privilege, on the basis that the revenue earned is re-invested in furthering our strategic objectives. We believe this remains a sensible approach and continues to give value to the British taxpayer.

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Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission's scholarship programme. [317758]

Chris Bryant [holding answer 22 February 2010]: We are content that the Marshall scholarship programme is being run effectively.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on allegations of human rights abuses committed during Operation Cast Lead. [315913]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: From the outset we have called for the very serious allegations around the Gaza conflict to be properly and independently investigated by both sides, including individual incidents and wider operational choices. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made this clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu ahead of the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza. Most recently, I raised it in my meeting, on 9 February 2010, with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the merits of entering the Trident system into multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations prior to the start of the nuclear non- proliferation treaty review conference in May 2010. [317577]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK firmly believes that sustainable global nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through a multilateral process, and stands ready to engage in a future broader multilateral process when the conditions are right. The UK is actively working to create these conditions and is playing a leading role globally in the nuclear disarmament debate. These conditions include watertight measures to prevent further proliferation, further cuts to the world's two largest nuclear arsenals, and solutions to the technical, political and institutional challenges posed by nuclear disarmament.

We look forward to an agreement between the US and Russia to achieve significant cuts in their nuclear arsenals by agreeing a successor to the strategic arms reduction treaty. This will be a major contribution to our shared endeavour towards a world without nuclear weapons, and will help to build trust and pave the way in due course for greater reductions. The nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference in May 2010 will be an important opportunity to agree actions for the future on non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy as well as on nuclear disarmament, but setting target dates for a multilateral disarmament process at this stage would not make headway given current political realities.

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Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to publish a statement of the Government's approval to the nuclear non-proliferation review conference to be held in May 2010. [317849]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/61/70 of 6 December 2006 authorised the 2010 review conference of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The vote was 175 (for); 0 (abstentions); 3 (against). All 175 States party to the treaty present, including the United Kingdom, voted for the resolution. The three non-States party to the treaty (India, Israel and Pakistan) voted against. A copy of the Resolution, which was published on 3 January 2007 is available at:


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all official visits to Gaza made by (a) Ministers, (b) embassy officials based in Tel Aviv, (c) consular officials based in Jerusalem and (d) embassy officials based in Cairo in each of the last three years. [318021]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We do not hold records of every visit made by officials to Gaza. However, our officials based in Jerusalem and, to a lesser extent, Tel Aviv, have visited Gaza on more than 20 occasions since January 2009. Our consulate general in Jerusalem also has two members of local staff permanently based in Gaza.

There have been no visits made, in the last three years, by our officials based in Cairo.

The Secretary of State for Development visited Gaza in March 2009.


Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with which UK private security companies representatives of the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation have met in each of the last five years; and in which countries these meetings took place. [316724]

Ian Lucas: I have been asked to reply.

UK Trade and Investment, Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) was formed on 1 April 2008, when responsibility for defence export promotion was transferred from the Ministry of Defence.

There is no accepted definition of private security or private military companies, and no clear line between the two categories. Since forming, UKTI DSO has had meetings with a number of companies who are members of either the British Association of Private Security Companies or the Private Security Company Association of Iraq, including: Armour Group, Control Risks Group, Edinburgh Risk, Janusian Security Risk Management, Aegis Defence Services Ltd, Group 4 Security Risk Management, Maritime Asset and Security Training, Olive Group, Britam Defence Ltd, Team Savant Ltd, Salamanca Risk Management, Pilgrims Group Ltd, Peters and May Global Logistics and Prometheus Medical.

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