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Winter Fuel Payments

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to restrict the winter fuel allowance to those of pensionable age; and if he will make a statement. [33050]

Mr. McCartney: There are currently no plans to make such a change to the winter fuel payment scheme.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

European Aid

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on amendments to the nature and direction of the EU overseas aid package. [31490]

Peter Hain: My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for International Development and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs have regular discussions with EU counterparts on the nature and direction of the EU's external assistance.

The General Affairs Council will discuss the effectiveness of the EU's external action's including financial assistance, on 18 February. The Development Council on 8 November 2001, attended by the Secretary of State for International Development recommended that further work be done by the Permanent Representatives Committee to ensure that the views of Development Ministers are fed into the General Affairs Council discussion on external actions in February.

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Detainees

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what report he has received on the numbers and conditions of detention of UK citizens held by the United States (a) at the Guantanamo base in Cuba and (b) elsewhere. [29797]

Mr. Bradshaw: British officials visited Guantanamo Bay from 17–20 January and saw three British detainees. None of the detainees complained of any ill treatment.

We continue to investigate reports of individuals detained in Afghanistan who might be British. We are currently aware of two such individuals detained in Kandahar by the US authorities.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received from the International Committee of the Red Cross and other NGOs on the treatment of prisoners held by the United States at the Guantanamo base and elsewhere. [29799]

Mr. Bradshaw: None. It is standard practice for the International Committee of the Red Cross to report confidentially to the detaining power only. The ICRC have established a presence at Guantanamo Bay and their officials have access to the detainees at any time. They also have access to detainees held by the US authorities in Afghanistan.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has received from the United States Government concerning the treatment of prisoners captured in the conflict in Afghanistan. [29800]

Mr. Bradshaw: The US authorities have said that the detainees held by the US are being treated humanely and consistently with the principles of the Geneva conventions.

Diego Garcia

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason US television networks were not permitted to film a recent forces show at the US base on Diego Garcia. [29795]

Mr. Bradshaw: By treaty agreement with the US, access to Diego Garcia is restricted. Conditional permission was given for a television network to cover a US forces show planned for Diego Garcia, but the television network decided in the end not to go ahead with the event.

European Union

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on the areas of the European Union's institutions' exclusive competence in the European Union. [29764]

Peter Hain [holding answer 24 January 2002]: The Government accept that in certain fields, such as the common commercial policy and fisheries conservation, exclusive Community competence is essential and beneficial for all EU member states.

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The issue of competences will be discussed at the convention on the future of Europe, beginning on 28 February, under the heading of "A better division and delimitation of competences in the European Union".

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the areas of member states' exclusive competence in the European Union. [29841]

Peter Hain [holding answer 24 January 2002]: Unlike the member states, the European Communities have no inherent competence; they only have such competence as is accorded to them by the Community treaties. Accordingly, the competence of the member states is limited only to the extent that the communities have competence in accordance with the treaties.

Overseas Posts (Publications)

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what publications are produced by (a) the British Embassy, (b) British consulates and (c) British Council offices in (i) Poland, (ii) Estonia, (iii) Latvia and (iv) Lithuania; and in what languages they are produced. [31147]

Peter Hain: There are no British consulates in any of the three Baltic states. The British consulates in Katowice, Poznan, Gdansk, Szczecin, Wroclaw and Kradov do not have any publications.

Publications for embassies are as follows:

















There are further documents published both on the websites of individual posts. The addresses are—Poland: www.britishembassy.pl; Latvia: www.britain.lv; Lithuania: www.britain.lt; Estonia: www.britishembassy.ee.

Publications by the British Council are as follows:



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KPMG

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contracts his Department has with KPMG; and what the value is of each one. [31328]

Mr. MacShane: The FCO has two contracts with KPMG. The first relates to new financial management and human resource systems for which the value to date is £4.04 million with an additional £1.48 million forecast for 2002–03. The second relates to the implementation of an information communications technology strategy for which the value to date is £1.9 million with a further £200,000 forecast for 2002–03.


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