Previous Section Index Home Page


Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment was made of precedents for the EU's conditional offer to the citizens of Gibraltar agreed to at Barcelona. [44977]

Peter Hain [holding answer 21 March. 2002]: At Barcelona EU Heads of State and Government welcomed the relaunch of the Brussels Process, underlined their support for the efforts of the British and Spanish Governments to conclude a comprehensive agreement before the summer; and invited the European Commission to explore ways in which the EU could underpin any agreement reached. It is for the Commission to consider how best to carry this remit forward.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the implications for Gibraltar of the Barcelona Summit. [45577]

Peter Hain: I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Nigel Dodds) on 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 389W.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to visit Gibraltar. [46224]

25 Mar 2002 : Column 613W

Peter Hain: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) on 14 January 2002, Official Report, column 29.


Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to present the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European communities and FYR Macedonia to Parliament. [45241]

Peter Hain: A Command Paper and an explanatory memorandum for the Macedonian Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union was deposited in Parliament on 1 March.

United States

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings were arranged for the Department to meet the US Assistant Secretary for Defence during his recent visit to London this week; and if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meetings. [45695]

Mr. Straw: On 18 March the Assistant Secretary of Defence attended two separate meetings with senior officials from the FCO. These were part of a series of discussions in Whitehall.


Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration has been given to the offer of the Iraqi Government to allow British weapon inspectors into Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [43912]

Mr. Straw: The UK Government have received no direct approach from the Government of Iraq, although we are aware that an Iraqi spokesman announced such an offer through the state-controlled Iraqi media. The demand of the international community is for UN weapons inspectors to be allowed into Iraq. They have built up a vast amount of knowledge about Iraq's weapons and know where to look. United Nations Security Council resolutions also require Iraq to allow the weapons inspectors full, unconditional access at any time. If Iraq truly has nothing to hide it will let them in on this basis. I note from the Iraqi spokesman's announcement that the British team would be allowed to visit only sites named in advance. We are looking for Iraqi disarmament, not yet more propaganda stunts.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to obtain (a) UN and (b) NATO authorisation to allow a United Kingdom military attack on Iraq. [45159]

Mr. Bradshaw: No decision has been taken to launch military action against Iraq, and so the question of whether authorisation is needed does not arise.

25 Mar 2002 : Column 614W


Press Releases

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many press releases were issued by his Department (a) between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive. [40041]

Mr. Paul Murphy: A monthly breakdown of Welsh Office press releases in 1997 is no longer available. In that year as a whole, the Welsh Office issued 650 press releases. The Welsh Office issued 774 press releases in 1998 and 776 in 1999. Since its creation in July 1999, the Wales Office has issued 30 press releases in 1999, 100 press releases in 2000 and 86 press releases in 2001.

Coalfields Regeneration Trust

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales on the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust with particular reference to (a) the Cynon Valley and (b) Wales. [44790]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I have regular discussions with the First Secretary on a range of issues affecting Wales.

The National Assembly funds the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and it has established itself as a leading funder and partner in coalfield regeneration in Wales. All of the £3.46 million available for Wales during the first three years has been committed to nearly 60 projects.

I understand that in the Cynon Valley the Trust has funded many projects, including assistance with the refurbishment of the Cwmaman Public Hall and building alterations to Hirwaun YMCA.

Ministerial Visit (Czech Republic)

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what modes of transport he used to travel to the Czech Republic in the week beginning 11 March; what the total cost was of his travel expenditure; how many officials accompanied him; what the total cost of the visit was; and how long he took to travel there and to return. [45280]

Mr. Touhig: None: my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made no official visit to the Czech Republic.

However, I undertook a visit to the Czech Republic from 11 to 13 March. The main objective of my visit was to meet and to support a trade mission organised by Wales Trade International. The trade mission comprised seven Welsh companies, drawn from throughout Wales, each of which was establishing first contacts in the Czech Republic. In supporting the trade mission, I highlighted the benefits—for individuals and for firms—of a wider Europe, both for the applicant countries and for the UK as a whole, and for Wales in particular.

The further objectives of my visit included confirming the United Kingdom's support for the enlargement of the EU and the sharing of experience of regenerating a former coal-mining and steel-making region.

I travelled to the Czech Republic by train at a cost of £816.60. I was accompanied by my private secretary and by one senior policy official. The total cost of the visit

25 Mar 2002 : Column 615W

was £3,174.99. The outward journey took 18 and a half hours and the return journey took 19 and a half hours. My outward journey was made on a Sunday; both journeys entailed travelling overnight.


Flexible Working

Mr. Bercow: To ask the President of the Council how many and what proportion of the staff of his Department are (a) job sharing, (b) term working and (c) engaged in another form of flexible working. [42420]

Mr. Robin Cook: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Twickenham on 14 February 2002, Official Report, column 631W, about job sharing in my Department. Currently three members of my staff are engaged in flexible working although none are term working.

Staff in my Department regularly work from home subject to operational requirements and based on individual circumstances.


Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the President of the Council if, in his proposals for modernisation of the House, he will consider (a) the House providing information about the work of the Scottish Parliament and devolved assemblies within the UK and (b) requesting the same bodies to provide information about the work of the House on a reciprocal basis in their own information centres. [46273]

Mr. Robin Cook: These are valuable suggestions which will be kept in mind as work on improving the facilities for visitors progresses.

Parental Leave Directive

Mr. Bercow: To ask the President of the Council what estimate he has made of the (a) financial costs and (b) benefits to his Department of the Parental Leave Directive. [42479]

Mr. Robin Cook: Thus far, no member of staff in my Department has sought parental leave. No estimate of the financial costs has been made as these would differ according to individual circumstances.

The potential benefits to the Privy Council Office of the Parental Leave Directive are considered to be: experienced staff can be retained by offering extra time away from work to care for their children; improved staff morale and performance through a better work and life balance; and improved planning of staff absences.

Next Section Index Home Page