Previous Section Index Home Page


Plan Colombia

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings his Department has held with NGO's in Colombia to discuss the operation of Plan Colombia. [142315]

Mr. Battle: We hold frequent meetings with NGOs and human rights organisations to discuss Plan Colombia and the peace process more widely. I met a number of NGOs and peace organisations during my visit to Colombia in September, including representatives from Christian Aid, CODHES, Mandato Ciudadano por la Paz, Indepaz, Redepaz, No Mas, and also Padre Francisco de Roux and Monsignor Pedro Rubiano. NGOs participated in the London meeting on Colombia on 19 June, at our

14 Dec 2000 : Column: 226W

invitation, and the Madrid and Bogota Conferences on 7 July and 24 October respectively. We value all these contracts and will continue this substantial dialogue.

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the representations he has received concerning Plan Colombia; and if he will make a statement. [142314]

Mr. Battle: The UK Government have received a number of representations, both verbal and by correspondence, about Plan Colombia. These have been from MPs, NGOs and members of the public, but we also have a substantial and on-going dialogue with other Governments.

Plan Colombia sets out the Colombian Government's proposals for tackling the violence, social and economic inequalities, abuse of human rights, and drugs cultivation and trafficking. We have encouraged the Colombian Government to consult NGOs and civil society about the implementation of Plan Colombia. There are some welcome signs that this is happening. Economic Development Minister Ramirez Ocampo has held a series of meetings with NGOs and civil society groups about Plan Colombia and the peace process more widely, and we were pleased that the Colombian Government participated in the NGO sponsored Costa Rica meeting on 17 October. We hope this dialogue continues to strengthen.

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total UK Government financial involvement in Plan Colombia is, broken down into EU funding and bilateral arrangements. [142313]

Mr. Battle: There is no UK Government financial involvement in Plan Colombia either bilaterally or through the EU. Assistance through the EU of 105 million euro will support human rights, long-term economic and social development, and an end to violence.

Recruitment (Northern Ireland)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the Northern Ireland Office and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland on the inclusion of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under the provisions of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. [142304]

Mr. Vaz: There are no plans to designate the FCO for the purpose of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what measures his Department has put in place to ensure that its recruitment practices in Northern Ireland appeal to both Protestants and Catholics; [142305]

14 Dec 2000 : Column: 227W

Mr. Hain: In 2000 the Department adapted its previous policy of advertising in UK national media. It now additionally advertises in leading publications in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the light of advice from the Fair Employment Commission at the Northern Ireland Office, all jobs in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (except those at clerical grade A1, which are advertised in London only) are advertised in the Belfast Telegraph. Care is taken to ensure that advertisements appeal to a wide cross-section of the UK population.

In line with its diversity policy, the Department does not require applicants to provide information on religious affiliation during (or after) the recruitment process. Nor does it have information that would enable it to say how many staff are from Northern Ireland or any other part of the United Kingdom. The Department is therefore unable to provide information on the percentage of staff employed in any capacity from either community in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is included in the Department's recruitment initiatives. For example, in November 2000 the Department visited Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster to discuss careers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Europe with young people from eleven schools, encompassing both Catholic and Protestant students. The Department does not retain records of university visits and other recruitment initiatives for more than the current year.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's recruitment and advancement strategy and accompanying targets for recruiting (a) Catholics from Northern Ireland, (b) ethnic minorities, (c) women and (d) people with disabilities. [142310]

Mr. Hain: A copy of the FCO's strategy for improving minority ethnic representation ("Bridges into the Future") is available in the Library of the House. The Department is currently developing a broader diversity strategy. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Departmental Report, to be published in the spring, will give further details. The Department does not have specific targets for the employment of Catholics from Northern Ireland or from any other part of the UK. The Department's objective is that 10 per cent. of recruits to the Diplomatic Service each year should be of minority ethnic origin,

14 Dec 2000 : Column: 228W

that 50 per cent. should be women and that by 2005 disabled staff should account for 3 per cent. of its Senior Management Structure.

Tibet

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what has been the outcome of Her Majesty's Government's request to the Chinese Government to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama about the Tibetan situation. [142155]

Mr. Battle: The Government believe that a long term peaceful and political solution in Tibet can be found only through dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Tibetans, in particular the Dalai Lama. During the last round of the UK/China human rights dialogue, held in London between 16-18 October, the Chinese side briefed us on recent talks that had taken place between the Chinese authorities and Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama's brother, in Beijing. We welcomed these preliminary discussions, and expressed the hope that both sides would work promptly towards high level talks.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

National Lottery

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he is taking to ensure that the work of the Camelot Foundation continues regardless of decisions about the future of the National Lottery. [141699]

Kate Hoey [holding answer 11 December 2000]: I recognise the value of the Camelot Foundation's work. However, the future of the Foundation is a matter for Camelot Group plc.

Advisory Panel on Illicit Trade

Mr. Woolas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he will publish the report of the Advisory Panel on Illicit Trade. [143279]

Mr. Alan Howarth: The Advisory Panel's report will be published on Monday 18 December, when copies will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Official Publications

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his Department's spending on official publications was for (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99, (d) 1999-2000 and (e) 2000-01; and what the planned expenditure was for 2001-02. [141444]

Mr. Mandelson: The account code structure of the Northern Ireland Office does not allow for production costs of official publications to be separated from the normal costs of office expenditure, such as general printing and the purchasing of non-departmental publications.

This information could be provided only by a manual exercise at disproportionate cost.

14 Dec 2000 : Column: 229W


Next Section Index Home Page