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Departmental Staff

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate total annual staff costs for his Department and its agencies by nation and region of the UK; and if he will make a statement. [6817]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not have a national or regional distribution of staff. Almost all Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff within the UK are located in our offices in London or Hanslope Park. A very small number may at any time be on secondment to other Government Departments, Government agencies or private institutions around the UK.

London Weighting

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the total annual value of London weightings and London living allowances for his Department; and if he will make a statement. [6818]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not pay any separate London weighting or London living allowance.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what was, for each year since 1995, the total number of (a) letters from hon. Members, (b) letters from members of the public and (c) parliamentary questions from (i) hon. Members and (ii) Lords dealt with by his Department; what percentage took (A) more than one month and (B) more than three months to provide a substantive answer; and if he will make a statement; [7035]

Mr. Straw: The effective handling of correspondence and PQs is a issue to which I, and ministerial colleagues, attach great importance.

General information on the volumes of correspondence received across Whitehall and on overall performance is published by the Cabinet Office. Figures for 2000 were published on 6 April 2001, Official Report, columns 324–28W and on 19 July 2001, Official Report, columns 454–56W.

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On Parliamentary Questions, I refer to the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by the then Foreign Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) on 29 March 2001, Official Report, column 743W.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) EU member states and (b) the accession countries about reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; and if he will make a statement. [7987]

Peter Hain: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is in regular dialogue with her counterparts in the European Union and candidate countries on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. I frequently raise the importance of reform of the Common Agricultural Policy with European Union and other Governments, as do other members of the Government including the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Our goals are reduction of the costs of the Common Agricultural Policy and better delivery of policy outcomes. We want to reduce the overall burden of the Common Agricultural Policy, align European Union and world prices more closely, and target support measures on the rural economy and the environment. These are also important for our ambitions for a new World Trade Organisation round for enlargement of the European Union.

There has been progress. In the 1980s spending on the Common Agricultural Policy was over 60 per cent. of European Community budget. In 2001 it will be around 45 per cent.

As a result of the Agenda 2000 package agreed by Heads of State at the 1999 Berlin European Council, spending on the Common Agricultural Policy will decline in real terms for 2002. Mid-term reviews of the Common Agricultural Policy are scheduled for 2002–03. The Government's objective is to secure changes that benefit consumers, taxpayers, the rural economy, the farming community and the environment. There is increasing recognition within the European Union of the need for reform.


David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the application for an export licence for the supply of one Bedford refuelling tanker to Blue Bird Aviation Ltd. (Sudan). [8045]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government recently approved an application for a licence to export one Bedford refuelling tanker for Blue Bird Aviation Ltd. (Sudan). Although the tanker is on the Military List, it will be used to refuel light civilian aircraft at Khartoum airport, including those operated by UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the ICRC, all of which are working to alleviate the suffering in Sudan. This decision does not affect the Government's continued support for the EU common position on arms exports to Sudan.

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European Governance White Paper

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the publication of the European Commission's White Paper on European Governance. [8044]

Peter Hain: I welcome the publication of the White Paper. It is an important initiative in the effort to make the EU's institutions more efficient, effective, transparent and accountable. I particularly welcome the emphasis of the White Paper on practical ideas which can be implemented without the need for Treaty change. A copy of the White Paper has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Lord Ashcroft

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what date his Department received a letter from Lord Ashcroft and Carlisle Holdings regarding alleged remarks made by the Secretary of State for International Development at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle in 1999; on what date his Department responded to the letter; if he will place in the Library copies of this correspondence; and if he will make a statement. [6582]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. member to the answer I gave him on 20 July 2001, Official Report, column 484W.

European Union

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he expects a draft constitution for the European Union produced by one of the Union's institutions to be brought to the attention of Her Majesty's Government before the next IGC. [7426]

Peter Hain: The Prime Minister said in his speech in Warsaw last year that

The Government have suggested that there could be a clear political statement of principals. Others will no doubt make their own contributions to this debate, and we will look at each proposal on its merits.

Departmental Properties

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) building and (b) refurbishment projects are planned by his Department in (i) the current year and (ii) the next financial year; and what the costs will be of each project. [6584]

Mr. MacShane: I list the projects, some contractually committed, and others planned to start (budget permitting), during financial years 2001–02 and 2002–03.

I must caution however, that it is almost certain that due to changing priorities and budget availability, the timing of some of the planned projects may slip and that some may even have to be postponed indefinitely.

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A baseline capital budget of £32 million is available in each of these two financial years to fund the listed projects. In addition to this figure, and in accordance with an asset recycling agreement with the Treasury, the funding of many of the listed projects is dependent on the capital realised through the sale of existing properties.

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The list includes only projects valued at over £1 million. To include the smaller projects at our posts overseas would involve disproportionate cost. Budgeted expenditure has been included on the list only for those projects that are contractually committed. We have not provided budgeted expenditure for the remaining projects, as its disclosure could prejudice the outcome of competitive tendering.

Estate strategy unit: contractually committed projects over £1 million

Post Project BackgroundCurrent total estimated cost £K
AccraBuild new visa officeVisa demand increase3,330
BeirutFit out new leased officePresent office unsatisfactory; relocation required1,780
Buenos AiresResidence—services renewal and consequential repairsNeed3,140
Dar es SalaamNew officesPresent office unsatisfactory—security7,200
LimaNew offices ingoing worksPresent office unsafe in earthquake zone1,400
Los AngelesFit out new officeMoving to smaller, more efficient offices1,080
MoscowResidence conversion of two wings to provide staff accommodationSpend to save2,390
SofiaFit out leased officeFormer office unsatisfactory. Expansion—EU/NATO applicant1,860
TiranaExtension of officeExpansion of mission1,890
WashingtonOffice replacement windowsExisting windows now 40+ years old and worn out2,820
YerevanNew officesExisting leased offices inadequate for permanent occupation2,940

Estate strategy unit: contractually committed projects over £1 million—planned

PostProjectBackgroundPlanned start
BakuNew leased office and residence ingoing workExpansion of the postFY 2001–02
BucharestNew residence ingoing worksReplacement of unsatisfactory leased residenceFY 2001–02
CairoNew visa officeReplacement of structurally unsound and unsuitable buildingFY 2001–02
CaracasFitting out new office suiteExisting building no longer suitableFY 2002–02
DohaNew compound—move to diplomatic enclaveReplacement of three existing unsatisfactory offices and residenceFY 2002–03
DubaiBuild six staff houses in compoundSpend to saveFY 2001–02
DublinConversion and fitting out new residenceEnabled sale of existing residence and valuable groundsFY 2001–02
DublinBuild senior staff housesSpend to saveFY 2002–03
IslamabadNew visa officeNeeded to handle large increase in visa demandFY 2002–03
IstanbulPera House major repairsFire damageFY 2001–02
KampalaBuild new officeReplacement of insecure 1960s buildingFY 2002–03
KievReconfigure officeTo accommodate expansionFY 2002–03
LagosJunior staff housingSpend to saveFY 2002–03
MadrasProvide new offices in compoundVisa demand increasing and replacement of unsound buildingFY 2002–03
NairobiBuild new visa office including site purchaseVisa demand increaseFY 2002–03
RabatPurchase site and build new officeReplacement of undersized 1970s leased buildingFY 2002–03
St. PetersburgConvert top floor of office to residenceUtilising surplus office space to enable all other staff to be housed in existing residential blockFY 2002–03
TbilisiFit out new officeTo replace unsatisfactory office in an hotel buildingFY 2002–03
TunisResidence refurbishmentEssential renewal of building servicesFY 2002–03
VilniusResidence ingoingsExpansion—EU/NATO applicant. New residence releases space for office expansionFY 2001–02

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