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Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff it is proposed to make redundant at the UK embassy to the Republic of Ireland; how many of these will be compulsory redundancies; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Three compulsory redundancies were made recently at our embassy in Dublin, as a result of UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) wider restructuring of their global network in line with their strategic priorities.
Our embassy and Unite, acting on behalf of the embassy's Local Staff Association, reached a mutually satisfactory agreement on the consequences for staff of the restructuring of the UKTI Section on 21 February.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many years each member of locally-engaged staff proposed for redundancy at the UK embassy in Dublin has served; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what regard was paid to (a) length of service, (b) sex, (c) opportunities for retraining and (d) other factors when considering which locally-engaged staff at the UK embassy in Dublin should be proposed for redundancy. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Three compulsory redundancies were made recently at our embassy in Dublin, as a result of UK Trade and Investment's wider restructuring of their global network in line with their strategic priorities.
The redundancy package offered reflected the different lengths of service involved. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is an equal opportunities employer: gender was not a factor. The embassy looked at the opportunities for redeployment, which might have involved retraining, but there were none.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date and by whom the decision to make locally-engaged staff at the UK Embassy in Dublin redundant was taken; on what date this decision was first communicated to the Unite trade union; on what date consultations with the Unite trade union commenced; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The decision of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) management in London to restructure the UKTI Section at our Embassy in Dublin was confirmed to the staff involved by the Ambassador on 11 January. Staff contacted the Unite trade union the same day and consultations began on 22 January.
Our Embassy and Unite, the union acting on behalf of the Embassy's Local Staff Association, reached a mutually satisfactory agreement on the consequences for staff of the restructuring of the UKTI Section on 21 February.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance he has issued to visa sections on queue management of visa applicants and the prevention of unauthorised and unofficial queue managers, brokers and agents. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 26 February 2008]: The Operating Standards and Instructions issued by UKvisas to our posts abroad do not contain specific guidance on queue management, but instead offer suggestions on how procedures can be implemented and how problems should be addressed depending upon conditions and circumstances. Several ideas are mentioned to help alleviate the problems associated with queues, such as use of ticketing machines. UKvisas has recently expanded its commercial partnerships overseas. Most applications are now submitted at Visa Application Centres, in many cases by appointment. The need for applicants to arrive early to queue has been significantly reduced and, in some cases, removed.
Additionally, entry clearance managers are advised to monitor public reception areas regularly to ensure the best possible standards of customer service and conduct are maintained and to identify sudden surges in the volume of visa applications so that prompt action can be taken to avoid a build up of queues. All staff are required to sign the code of conduct which states that staff must
behave in a manner that demonstrates their complete impartiality and professionalism in dealing with visa applications
A copy of these instructions is available on the UKvisas website, www.ukvisas.gov.uk
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how often it is planned that Simon Manns welfare in Black Beach prison will be monitored by visits from UK representatives. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 22 February 2008]: Our deputy high commission in Lagos provides consular assistance to British nationals in Equatorial Guinea. In line with our consular policy, consular officials from Lagos will aim to visit Mr. Mann regularly and we are ready to provide further consular assistance to Mr. Mann including with regard to his treatment and welfare.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the treatment of religious minorities in Eritrea; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 26 February 2008]: We monitor events in Eritrea closely and remain deeply concerned by reports of detentions of members of minority churches. While Orthodox Christians, Catholics and the major Protestant Churches (who make up an estimated 40-50 per cent. of the population of Eritrea) are usually able to worship openly, some church activities can be restricted and members of smaller churches are not free to pursue their faith.
This is unacceptable and contravenes international human rights agreements to which Eritrea is a party. Eritrea should allow all its citizens to worship as they wish, as set out in Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our ambassador in Asmara raises these issues with the Eritrean government at every suitable opportunity. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials do likewise with the Eritrean embassy in the UK. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, personally raised the issue of human rights abuses in Eritrea with the Eritrean ambassador on 18 February.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what preparatory work has been undertaken by his Department on the European External Action Service since 1 June 2005; 
(3) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Castle Point of 5 February 2008, Official Report, column 968W, on the European External Action Service, whether any meetings on the organisation and funding of the European External Action Service have taken place; 
David Miliband: There have been no discussions at ministerial or working level on the detailed organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The functioning and organisation of the EEAS will be the subject of negotiation among the member states before a final, unanimous decision to launch the service, after the Lisbon treaty enters force.
Meg Munn: Income from third parties is a relatively small proportion of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services business. It is considered unlikely that FCO Services will not attract sufficient third party income; however, if projected growth is not achieved, FCO Services has well conceived contingency plans for cost reduction and can scale down investment plans if necessary to meet down turns in third party opportunities.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he has put in place to ensure that personal data held by the FCO Services Trading Fund are kept securely. 
Meg Munn: Data security in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services receives the closest attention and care. The FCO and FCO Services have implemented the latest Cabinet Office guidance on storing personal data. FCO Services makes a unique selling point of its secure services, so security is at the heart of everything it does.
The organisation holds and processes personal data for a number of reasons and strong measures are in place to protect all data. Systems are only deployed after Government security accreditation has been completed.
All sensitive data are held in secure conditions.
Systems are managed according to Government protective data marking.
Data transmission is minimised to essential levels and takes place across encrypted and protected networks.
In limited circumstances, data are transported by disk, but only when passwords or data encryption techniques are applied. Carriage is consistent with FCO policy.
Legitimate access to systems is restricted to authorised users by electronic and physical assurance processes.
Audit processes are in place to oversee the effectiveness of the information security policy and data access is monitored by an independent security function.
Laptops and hand held devices used for confidential data are installed with especially accredited and encrypted disks and secure communications facilities. Other laptops with unencrypted discs are used only for less sensitive material.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to work with other governments to reduce levels of human trafficking. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: We remain concerned about all forms of human trafficking globally and are committed to tackling it wherever possible. The issue is raised regularly at EU Councils and is discussed at both ministerial and official level between EU partners. The Government's ratification of Albania's EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which will help reduce human trafficking and smuggling in the Balkans region, is a good example of our commitment to working with other governments. In addition, UK law enforcement agencies work closely with foreign counterparts in many source and transit countries, helping them to build enforcement capacity and to facilitate information exchanges; an initiative is currently taking place in a number of EU countries, led by the UK and Poland, under the auspices of the G6. The Government also part-funded the secondment of two Romanian police officers into a Metropolitan Police joint unit to exchange experience, skills and knowledge in the fight against the criminal exploitation and trafficking of Romanian children to the UK.
The Government raise human trafficking issues more widely at bilateral and international meetings beyond the EU. At the recent UN-Office on Drugs and Crime's Global Initiative on Fighting Trafficking forum held in Vienna, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Coaker) represented the Government, along with participants from the UK Human Trafficking Centre and HM Revenue and Customs.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the government of Iran in respect of human rights arising from specific instance of capital punishment carried out in Iran in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Government remain deeply concerned by the increasing use of capital punishment in Iran. We regularly make representations to the Government of Iran, in our bilateral contacts and through the EU, to express general concern about the use of the death penalty in Iran and to raise individual execution cases. In 2007, the EU presidency did this on more than 20 occasions in both meetings and public statements. The EU has issued two further declarations on the death penalty in Iran already this year. We also discuss human rights issues bilaterally with Iranian officials in London and Tehran. In the last 12 months we have raised serious concerns about the use of death penalty on seven separate occasions. This has included specific instances when capital punishment has been carried out in Iran, for example the executions of Mohammad Moussavi, Jafar Kiani, Makwan Moloudzadeh and Mohammad Reza Tork.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the circumstances surrounding executions conducted in Iran in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We are extremely worried by the growing numbers of executions taking place in Iran. We understand that approximately 300 executions were carried out in 2007, compared with 177 in 2006 and 94 in 2005. This has included growing numbers of public and collective executions (eg the execution of two men in central Tehran in August 2007), and the first confirmed execution by stoning for five years in July 2007. Iran continues to execute juvenile offendersat least four were put to death in 2007. We have concerns that not all death sentences are the result of a fair trial and that capital punishment continues to be applied for charges such as adultery, rape and drug related offences. The Government will continue to raise concerns with the Iranian authorities about executions and the use of the death penalty in Iran. We will continue to press Iran to uphold its international human rights obligations including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that
in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes
no-one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the safety of UK citizens living and working in Kenya following recent events in that country. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 25 February 2008]: While calm has returned to most areas in Kenya, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) assesses that the security situation in the country remains highly volatile. The unpredictable nature of the current situation could lead to further outbreaks of violence. The FCO travel advice for Kenya remains under constant review. A full copy of the latest FCO travel advice is available at:
We are advising British nationals in Kenya to exercise extreme caution and avoid all public gatherings and meetings. British nationals intending to travel to Kenya should regularly check the travel advice. An easy way to do this is to subscribe at:
to receive free travel advice updates via email alerts. To ensure we can effectively communicate any changes in travel advice and other relevant information, British nationals in Kenya are urged to register with our high commission in Nairobi. The FCO has been in regular contact with British tour operators about the situation in Kenya and our travel advice.
Like many other British diplomatic missions, our high commission in Nairobi holds a civil contingency plan. In compiling civil contingency plans, the FCO's objective is to protect British nationals in a situation that poses a serious threat to their safety and, in a
worst case scenario, to assist their departure to a place of safety. As part of this process, FCO missions continually assess the risk to British nationals and plan accordingly. Our high commission in Nairobi's civil contingency plan was reviewed and updated in February 2008.
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