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Mr. Stunell: To ask the President of the Council how many (a) clauses there were in Government Bills as introduced and (b) Government amendments were tabled, in Sessions (i) 1996-97 and (ii) 1999-2000; and if she will give a ratio between both figures for both sessions. 
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(9) The figures exclude Scottish, Consolidated Fund and Appropriation Bills.
(10) House of Commons sat for 86 days and the House of Lords for 79 days.
(11) House of Commons sat for 170 days and the House of Lords for 177 days.
Mrs. Beckett: I understand that the Appointments Commission has not asked applicants for non-political peerages for information about their occupation or employment status as it did not wish to discourage people with outstanding achievements in areas unconnected with how they might earn their living. However, the Commission wishes to encourage nominations from people in all walks of life and from all parts of the country and will look at the information it has received in this light. I understand that any information that the Commission decides to publish will be in its annual report and on its website.
Mr. Vaz: The new economic reform programme agreed with the IMF, which is based on fighting inflation, achieving sustainable public finances and enhancing structural reform, will, if vigorously implemented, put Turkey firmly back on the road to realising its full economic potential.
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Mr. Rooney: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the explanatory statements relating to (a) Islamabad reference C4694 and (b) Dhaka reference 64550 will be dispatched. 
Mr. Vaz [holding answer 19 March 2001]: In respect of Islamabad reference C4694, the entry clearance officer wrote to the sponsor's solicitor on 5 March 2001 deferring the application for three months to allow the sponsor to commence UK divorce proceedings to dissolve his first marriage. If evidence of the commencement of such proceedings is provided, the entry clearance officer will review the refusal, with a view to the possible authorisation of a fiancee entry clearance. If such evidence is not received, the entry clearance officer will draft the explanatory statement and the case will proceed to appeal.
Ms Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in maintaining the achievement of clearing the backlog of outstanding correspondence on visa matters. 
Mr. Vaz: As Minister responsible for entry clearance matters, I have been asked to reply on my right hon. Friend's behalf. I am very pleased to be able to inform the House that since my reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for Warrington, South (Ms Southworth) on 9 January 2001, Official Report, column 508W, the level of outstanding correspondence on visa matters remains at zero.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many contacts the Minister for Europe and his office have had with the entry clearance unit regarding objections to refusals of visa applications in (a) New Delhi, (b) Calcutta, (c) Bombay, (d) Nairobi, (e) Auckland and (f) Sydney in the last 18 months; 
(3) on what grounds the Minister for Europe overruled objections to and refusals of visa applications in the last 18 months; if he will list the names of the applicants; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Vaz: Figures on ministerial overturns on visa cases were not kept centrally until I became Minister responsible for entry clearance in October 1999. Statistics were then kept at my request. I have overturned 49 decisions to date. In this period there have been over 2 million visa applications of which approximately 140,000 have been refused. I have therefore overturned decisions in 0.0025 per cent. of cases. I have done so on the basis that I am satisfied that the applicants qualified for entry clearance under the immigration rules. It would be inappropriate for me to divulge the names of applicants or details on individual cases on confidentiality grounds.
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This is in accordance with the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. I can say however that the cases in which I intervened covered a wide range of nationalities. As well as cases from the sub-continent, I have overturned decisions made in a range of countries, from south America, to south-east Asia to north Africa.
Ms Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those diplomatic posts that have been opened over the last four years; and what plans he has to open new diplomatic posts overseas. 
Nagoya (Japan) (1999)--Consulate
Monterrey (Mexico) (2000)--Consulate.
Pyongyang (Democratic People's Republic of Korea).
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Upgrading the post in Asmara will be a cost-effective means of engaging more effectively with the Eritrean Government, promoting growing trade opportunities for British business and providing consular and visa services.
In December I announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK. Opening an embassy in Pyongyang will allow HMG to engage fully with the DPRK, improving our capacity to analyse political, economic and social developments and to help support recent positive developments in inter-Korean relations.
These new post openings mean that, net of closures, we shall since 1997 have expanded our diplomatic network of posts with resident UK-based staff by 12, in addition to having new locally staffed offices in a further 10 cities (net of closures seven). This strengthening of our global network will enable us better to promote UK interests and a strong world community.
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