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17 Jun 2010 : Column 516Wcontinued
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the use by Ministers in his Department of cars allocated from (a) his Department's pool and (b) the Government car pool which are manufactured in the UK; whether Ministers in his Department are entitled to request the use of a car manufactured in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Bellingham: FCO Services, a Trading Fund of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office operates a small pool of vehicles and security cleared drivers used mainly for transportation of diplomatic bags and other classified material.
No Ministers currently use this pool of vehicles.
Ministerial use of such cars would be governed by the relevant guidelines set out in the ministerial code and would be based strictly on operational need. The make and model of car used and its country of manufacture would be dependent upon availability within the pool.
In relation to the use of vehicles from the Government car pool, I refer the hon. Member to the answers of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), answer of 14 June 2010, Official Report, column 291W.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what receptions have been hosted by his Department since he came to office; and what the cost was of each. 
Mr Bellingham: Government Hospitality has arranged one reception for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since the new Government were appointed. The Diplomatic Reception in honour of the Official Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen is traditionally held in early June, hosted by the Secretary of State, for members of the London Diplomatic Corps and key departmental contacts. This year the reception took place on 8 June, at a cost of approximately £22,968, compared with a cost of £28,000 in 2009. Any expenditure on business hospitality is kept under rigorous scrutiny to ensure value for money and effectiveness and that it is incurred in accordance with HM Treasury guidelines.
No central records are held of other receptions hosted across the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or at missions overseas, and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many bottles of wine in the Government wine cellar were personal gifts from a serving French President to a serving Prime Minister; and what the estimated monetary value is of each. 
Mr Bellingham: Government Hospitality currently holds 15 bottles of wine that were given as gifts to former Prime Ministers by the President of the French Republic or the French Prime Minister. Government Hospitality does not record the value of gifts received by the Prime Minister's Office. The wines will be used on appropriate occasions in the future.
Mr Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the entries in the Government wine cellar database. 
Mr Bellingham: The Government Hospitality (GH) wine database is an electronic management tool used by GH to record the use of stock in the Government wine cellar. It also records details of usage, pricing, charging prices, market values and comments by the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine on individual products. The database is not released into the public domain because of the likely impact on GH's commercial interests and those of its suppliers and future ability to obtain value for money.
Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will support proposals to establish a human rights monitoring mechanism in relation to Iran, with particular reference to people of the Ba'hai faith; and if he will make a statement. 
Alistair Burt: The Human Rights situation in Iran is deplorable and has deteriorated markedly since the disputed election result in June 2009. We are also deeply concerned by the situation of the Baha'i in Iran, including the trial of the seven Baha'i leaders. We continue to consider with international partners the most effective means of holding the Iranian authorities to account on their human rights record. This includes calling for visits by the UN special rapporteurs and seeking early implementation of the recommendations of Iran's Universal Periodic Review agreed in June.
Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps at the United Nations he (a) has taken since his appointment and (b) plans to take in the next six months in response to allegations of (i) arming and (ii) funding by Iran of Hamas; and if he will make a statement. 
Alistair Burt: Iranian support in the form of arming and funding of Hamas, and other Palestinian Rejectionist Groups, is unacceptable. It undermines international confidence in the Iranian regime's intentions, and is at odds with the regime's claim to the international community that it supports stability in the Middle East.
Hamas continue to pursue an ideology of violence and directly undermine prospects for peace in the region. We call on them to take immediate and concrete steps towards the Quartet principles.
A number of issues related to the Middle East are discussed on a monthly basis at the UN. The UK will continue to push for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860 which aims to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms into Gaza. We will continue giving our full support to the UN Sanctions Committee in pursuing and investigating sanctions violations.
Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran by the United Nations Security Council. 
We assess that sanctions so far have slowed down Iran's progress on the nuclear programme, including by increasing the difficulty of procurement of
sensitive items that could be used in the nuclear programme. The latest sanctions resolution makes the choice between the benefits of re-engaging on the nuclear portfolio and the cost of ignoring international opinion starker, and will strengthen the voices of those in Iran who recognise the bleakness of Iran's future if it does not change its policy.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss with the Government of Mexico plans to amend laws governing drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no current plans to discuss with the Mexican Government the amendment of laws governing drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
Our embassy in Mexico City has been in contact with the Mexican Government regarding possible future joint projects with Mexico's state-owned petroleum company PEMEX in the Gulf of Mexico. The embassy will continue to liaise with the Mexican Government on those plans and to identify possible opportunities for UK companies.
Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which British embassies operate a bursary scheme for foreign students to study in the UK. 
Mr Jeremy Browne: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers Chevening scholarships to most countries except the EU and the US; Marshall scholarships to the US; and Chevening fellowships globally, including the EU and the US. In 2009-10 Chevening scholarships were offered through 112 British embassies or high commissions and through the governor's offices in three Overseas Territories.
Mr Bain: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans to bring forward proposals for the adoption of a written constitution for the United Kingdom. 
Mr Harper: The British constitution is not, as it is in many countries, codified in a single document, although much of it is already written. It is made up of a complex web of statutes, conventions, and a corpus of common and other law. It is also informed by an interweaving of history and more modern democratic principles. There are no current plans to bring forward proposals for the adoption of a codified constitution for the United Kingdom.
Mr Watson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he next expects the Cabinet Committee on Nuclear Deterrence and Security to meet. 
Mr Letwin: I have been asked to reply.
The National Security Council has agreed the formation of a sub-committee to consider issues relating to nuclear deterrence and security. The date of the first meeting has not yet been finalised, but it is anticipated it will take place shortly.
Tom Brake: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was paid in bonuses to civil servants in his Department in (a) 2008-09 and (b) 2009-10. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 15 June 2010, Official Report, column 416W.
Mr Bain: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the scope will be of his proposed review of the law on parliamentary privilege; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Harper: The Queen's Speech outlined the Government's intention to publish a draft Bill on reforming parliamentary privilege. The draft Bill will set out reforms to the law on parliamentary privilege to clarify its extent and application.
Mr Bain: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans to review the operation of the executive prerogative powers of the Crown. 
Mr Harper: There are no current plans to review the executive prerogative powers of the Crown.
Rachel Reeves: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to introduce rights to vote at elections for prisoners. 
Mr Harper: The Government are considering afresh the best way forward on the issue of prisoner voting rights.
Mr Watson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what budget has been established for the proposed Coalition Press Office. 
Mr Maude: The Cabinet Office Board and Ministers are reviewing budgets in line with Government priorities.
Mr Watson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the URL is of each website managed by (a) his Department and (b) each non-departmental public body and agency for which his Department is responsible. 
Mr Maude: The information is as follows:
List of URLs for the websites managed by:
(b) Non-departmental public bodies and agencies for which Cabinet Office is responsible
It is our aim to reduce radically the number of websites.
Mr Watson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 3 June 2010, Official Report, column 52W, on purchasing of PR Week, for how many staff members Chartered Institute of Public Relations membership fees are paid by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Maude: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 3 June 2010, Official Report, column 52W.
Mr Watson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps are taken to protect the security of the (a) mobile telephone, (b) personal digital assistant and (c) computer equipment issued to staff in No. 10 Downing Street. 
Mr Maude: There is a range of technical, procedural and people-related measures put in place to protect the security of mobile telephone, personal digital assistant and computer equipment issued to staff in No. 10 Downing Street in line with Government security policy and standards.
Mr Watson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office pursuant to the answer of 3 June 2010, Official Report, column 50W, on departmental travel, if he will publish the disaggregated figures which are available; and when he expects the budget profiling exercise to be completed. 
Mr Maude: The budget profiling exercise will be completed after the Cabinet Office Board and Ministers have reviewed the options for revised budgets, in line with the new priorities for the Government.
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