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22 Jan 2003 : Column 351W—continued

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Convention on the Future of Europe

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the recommendation of Working Group " of the Convention on the Future of Europe that qualified majority vote should apply to minimum rules for cross-border crimes and crimes against a common policy of the EU. [92122]

Mr. MacShane: The Government support extending QMV where we believe it is in the national interest to do so. We are considering this proposal in that light. In doing so, we shall also take into account the scope of the competence to be given to the EU in this area when draft Treaty provisions are tabled as part of the Convention process.

Capita Group

Mr. Burstow : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the contracts that have been awarded to the Capita Group by his Department. [89968]

Mr. Rammell: The FCO has two current contracts with Capita both covering staff recruitment services. Over their lifetime the total value of these contracts will be in the region of £1.87 million.

Civil Servants

Mr. Laws : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many civil servants have been employed by (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies and non-departmental bodies in each year from 1994–95 to 2002–03; and if he will make a statement. [92373]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of civil servants employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its agency from 1994 to 2003 is listed below. No civil servants are employed by non-departmental bodies. Board members of non-departmental bodies are paid expenses only.

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Number of civil servants employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its agency from 1994 to 2003

All staff in post figures correct on 1 AprilFCOWilton Park
1994(7)N/A(8)N/A
1995(7)5,98430
1996(7)5,78728
1997(7)5,53935
19985,41237
19995,48548
20005,48050
20015,49060
20025,68060

(7) Excluding ODA.

(8) The master data file for 1994 is corrupted and is being rebuilt.


Cricket World Cup

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when (a) he and (b) Ministers and officials in his Department first told the England Cricket Board that in the Government's view it would be better if the England cricket team should not go to Zimbabwe; [92681]

Mr. Straw: FCO officials told representatives of the England and Wales Cricket Board in July 2002 that Ministers might find it difficult to accept that England should play in Zimbabwe, while stressing that this was a decision for the cricket authorities.

On 16 December 2002, the International Cricket Council's security mission to Zimbabwe recommended that the matches scheduled for Zimbabwe should go ahead. In a Westminster Hall debate the following day, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mike O'Brien, said that in his personal opinion it would be better if the England team did not go to Zimbabwe.

A statement issued by the FCO on 29 December 2002 reaffirmed that while it was not for the Government to tell the cricket authorities what to do, it was the Foreign Secretary's personal view that it would be better if England did not go. Ministers have repeatedly underlined this message since then.

Democracy (Arab States)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to promote democracy in the Arab world. [91867]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We promote democracy and good governance in the Arab world through dialogue with government and civil society, based on equality and respect, in particular for the Islamic principle of consultation (shura). Together with EU partners, we have supported initiatives designed to promote dialogue with Arab countries on human rights and civil society issues.

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Entente Cordiale

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the French Government concerning appropriate celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale; and if he will make a statement. [92591]

Mr. MacShane: There is close bilateral co-operation at official level about the Entente Cordiale centenary celebrations in 2004. Both countries are committed to ensuring that the centenary is a success.

Fair Trade

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what fair trade criteria he sets when deciding upon what suppliers to use. [89912]

Mr. Rammell: FCO purchasing policy is in accordance with the Government's Public Purchasing Consolidated Guidelines, which require the procurement of goods and services to be based on value for money and acquired by competition unless there are convincing reasons to the contrary.

Fair trade products are widely available in our offices. For example almost all tea and coffee provided for official meetings is fair trade and our canteens and restaurants sell fair trade products including coffee, tea, chocolate and muesli bars.

Human Rights

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United States administration on the guidance given in the publication, "A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management—Handbook for Prison Staff", in respect of United Kingdom citizens held by the United States in the prison at Guantanamo Bay. [90232]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not specifically discussed the publication "A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management—Handbook for Prison Staff" in the context of Guantanamo with the United States Administration. We have however discussed the welfare and treatment of British detainees held at Guantanamo Bay with the US authorities.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United Kingdom representatives at the United Nations regarding human rights surveillance by the United Nations in Colombia. [92628]

Mr. Rammell: During my visit to New York from 2–3 December I had detailed discussions with UK and UN officials about the work of the UN Human Rights Office in Bogota.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Colombia regarding (a) abuses of human rights and (b) persecution of human rights workers. [92632]

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Mr. Rammell: My hon. Friend the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office raised these concerns at the highest level during his visit to Colombia in October. We maintain a regular dialogue with the Colombian Government and make our concerns on these issues clear.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with the United States regarding abuse of human rights in Colombia; [92633]

Mr. Rammell: We have regular discussions with the US Administration about developments in Colombia, including the peace process, the human rights situation, and the EU aid package. The EU also has a dialogue with the US on these issues. Neither the EU nor the UK are involved in Plan Colombia.

Iraq

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which of the sites listed in the Government's dossier on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction published on 24 September 2002 have been visited by inspectors from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission; and whether anything of significance was found at such locations. [90179]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We understand from published information from UNMOVIC and the IAEA inspectors have visited all of the sites identified in the UK dossier. They have not reported uncovering any signs of weapons of mass destruction, or programmes for their production at the sites. Given that there had been considerable advance publicity about these sites, it is not entirely surprising that the inspectors failed to uncover any evidence of WMD programme at the sites. Compliance with the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 must be more than simply allowing access to UN weapons inspectors. There must be full co-operation with the inspectors and complete openness about activities at all sites visited, as the Resolution requires.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the UN weapons inspectors have visited (a) the Castor Oil Production plant at Fallujah in Iraq, (b) the al-Dawrah Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Institute and (c) the Amariyah Sera and Vaccine Plant at Abu Ghraib in the pursuit of their duties under UN Resolution 1441. [91343]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 16 January 2003]: Information as published by UNMOVIC and the IAEA indicates that all three sites have been visited by the UN weapons inspectors. Further information is available from their internet websites www.un.org/depts/unmovic and www.iaea.org/worldatom.

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of the Northern Iraqi Kurdish people on the situation in Iraq. [91685]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Ministers and officials regularly meet representatives of the northern Iraq Kurdish administration as well as other Iraqi oppositionists. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan respectively, in December 2002.

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Syria on relations with Iraq. [91686]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Iraq was one of the issues covered in a meeting the Secretary of State and I had with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk Al-Shara'a, in London on 16 December. Earlier that day the Prime Minister also discussed the issue with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Mr. Laws : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries in the Middle East have made requests to the United Kingdom Government to take military action against Iraq on their behalf or with their support; and if he will make a statement. [91734]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: As the Government have repeatedly made clear, no decision to launch military action against Iraq has been taken, and military action is not inevitable. Our policy is to ensure that Iraq complies with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.


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