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28 Oct 2002 : Column 541W—continued

Departmental Job Vacancies

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many job vacancies there were at (a) administrative assistant or equivalent, (b) administrative officer or equivalent, (c) administrative executive officer, (d) higher executive officer, (e) senior executive officer, (f) grade 7 principal and (g) all positions above grade 7 level in his Department for jobs located in (i) London and (ii) the South-East between 1 April 2001 and 31 March; and what is the total employment for each civil service grade. [76549]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The number of job vacancies and the total employment for each civil service grade in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is as follows:

Responsibility levelVacanciesTotal staff
Grades 6 and above2587
Grade 723596
Senior executive officer3485
Higher executive officer521,159
Executive officer771,266
Administrative officer931,037
Administrative assistant216360
Total non-industrial staff5315,490

The figure given for total staff is as at April 2001. We are unable to separate the data into regions for this time period without incurring disproportionate costs. The vacancy figures are for the time period of 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002.

The above figures include FCO Services.

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Departmental Websites

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the website links associated with his Department, including sites now dormant or closed, and indicating whether they are live, dormant or closed; what the start up costs were for each site listed; what the operating costs were in each year since start up for each site; which company hosted each site; what assessment takes place for each site; which company does the assessment; if he will place the assessment reports in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [75591]

Mr. MacShane: The FCO has recently implemented a major web infrastructure project to enhance our global web presence. This has been achieved using funds from the Treasury Capital Modernisation Fund for e-Government initiatives. The objectives of the project are: to promote the UK more effectively to an overseas audience; to save running costs for UK missions' websites; to avoid duplication of effort; to provide a more customer-focused approach and improve service delivery of visas, passports and consular services; to join up on-line information offered by our public diplomacy partners (British Council, Trade Partners UK, Invest UK, British Tourist Authority and BBC World Service).

In January 2001 Logica plc won a competitive tender to provide a new web platform for hosting and running UK missions' websites world-wide and allowing future electronic submission of passports and visa applications. The following are on the platform already: Main FCO site Joint FCO-Home Office site for visas 'Britain Abroad' portal site (to launch 28 October 2002)

In addition over 100 UK missions world-wide currently run their own websites. These are linked from the FCO main site.

The total cost of developing and implementing the infrastructure and the first year of support has cost 6.6 million. We estimate substantial future staff and business efficiency savings from this new infrastructure. The web platform is hosted in-house and uses our global telephony network. Operating costs for e-Media Unit in the FCO are 269,000 pa, excluding staff.

The above sites were built following extensive market research and consumer surveys. A 'balanced scorecard' approach is taken to site assessment and benefits measurement. A company called 'Flow Interactive' has recently undertaken usability testing of the FCO main site with members of the public.

EU-SADC Meeting

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) whether representatives of his Department will attend the meeting on 7 and 8 November between Foreign Ministers of the European Union and the Southern African Development Community in Maputo, Mozambique; and if he will make a statement; [77302]

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Mr. Straw: The biennial EU-SADC ministerial meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Copenhagen on 7 to 8 November. In recent months, EU partners have regularly discussed the timing and location of this meeting in order to ensure there it remains coherent with wider EU policy, including targeted sanctions against named individuals in the ZANU (PF) regime.

The EU presidency—on behalf of the EU—expressed EU concerns in a series of meetings with Governments in the SADC region in August. In September, recognising that a meeting could no longer go ahead in Copenhagen as originally planned, Mozambique offered to host the meeting in Maputo on behalf of SADC. The EU decided on 17 October to accept the offer. The UK fully supported this decision.

The EU's relationship with SADC is important and wide-ranging. The Government have always made clear that a meeting should take place, but that the integrity of the EU's targeted sanctions on named Zimbabweans should be maintained. The Government will use the meeting to engage SADC countries on a range of issues. As a member of SADC, Zimbabwe is likely to attend the meeting. There are no plans for British Ministers to meet

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their Zimbabwean counterparts at Maputo. We are not aware of other international meetings having been relocated in 2002.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Palestinian authorities, with specific reference to Jenin. [76988]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We regularly discuss the situation in Palestinian towns, including Jenin, with the Palestinian authority. We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Israeli Government about the need to lift curfews and closures and to allow access to humanitarian organisations. At the time of Israel's Shield we made clear at highest levels our concerns over Israeli action in Jenin and across the West Bank and Gaza.

Job Advertisements

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many posts were advertised in the press in each year since June 1999; and what percentage of them were advertised in the Scottish press. [76857]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 24 October 2002]: Since March 2000, all Diplomatic Service Generalist jobs, at all grades are advertised in The Scotsman and The Herald. Prior to this, we did not advertise in the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish press.

Malagasy Republic

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in the Malagasy Republic. [76986]

Mr. Straw: On 24 September, Marc Ravalomanana, the President of Madagascar, announced that he would be dissolving the National Assembly and holding legislative elections before the end of the year. He sought international assistance to ensure that the elections would be held in a free and transparent manner.

UK election observers will form part of a 62 strong EU Election Observer team that will monitor the legislative elections. A contingent of 14 observers will arrive four weeks in advance of the elections to monitor the campaign, the investitures and official registration of candidates. The remainder of the team will arrive a week before the election date.

Our embassy, along with EU colleagues, the US and major donors in Madagascar, will continue to work constructively with the Government of Madagascar to promote democratic governance and transparency.

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