6 May 2009 : Column 165W

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Church Commissioners

Church of England: Land

Mr. Gibb: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if the Commissioners will make it their policy to increase the amount of agricultural and horticultural produce grown on land owned by the Church Commissioners. [272949]

Sir Stuart Bell: All the Church Commissioners' agricultural land is let and their tenants have freedom of cropping.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

1 Carlton Gardens

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when 1 Carlton Gardens ceased to be used as a ministerial residence. [271278]

Gillian Merron: 1 Carlton Gardens ceased being a ministerial residence on 16 October 2007.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many visits to the outer Chagos Islands by members of the Chagossian community sponsored by his Department are planned in the next 12 months; and what estimate he has made of the cost per person to the public purse of each trip. [273268]

Gillian Merron: The British Indian Ocean Territory Administration (BIOTA) hopes to arrange two visits by Chagossians to the territory in the next 12 months. It is hoped that one of these visits will be to repair Chagossian graves in BIOT. Funding has not yet been secured but based on the cost of two similar visits in 2008, which together included 14 people, BIOTA estimate that this will amount to around £60,000.

British Overseas Territories: Crime

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cases of white collar crime have been recorded on (a) Anguilla, (b) Bermuda and (c) the Cayman Islands in each of the last five years. [272622]


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Gillian Merron: The information requested by the hon. Member is not held by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but by the authorities in each overseas territory.

British Overseas Territories: Crime Prevention

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much money the Overseas Territories Regional Crime Intelligence System has cost in each year since its establishment. [272620]

Gillian Merron: Since its establishment in 1996, the total costs of the Overseas Territories Regional Crime Intelligence System were:

Total costs (£)

1996

197,517

1997

12,662

1998

12,662

1999

37,162

2000

70,687

2001

157,811

2002

28,755

2003

28,755

2004

28,755

2005

28,755

2006

28,755

2007

28,755

2008

236,273


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) paid for initial set-up costs in 1996 and for maintenance and support costs until 2003. The FCO also paid for licence upgrades and new servers in 2001 and 2008. From 2004 to 2007, the overseas territories paid for maintenance and support costs of £28,755 per annum. In 2008, they contributed £33,492. The total costs in 2008 paid for the system to be upgraded and maintained.

British Overseas Territories: Security

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken by his Department to ensure acceptable standards of maritime and aviation security in the UK Overseas Territories. [272599]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Transport is responsible for aviation security in the UK and has a Regional Aviation and Maritime Security Adviser (RAMSA) to provide a dedicated guidance and support service to Governors, Directors of Civil Aviation (DCAs) and Port Facility Security Officers on aviation and maritime security issues in the Caribbean Overseas Territories (OTs) and Bermuda. This is supported by compliance inspection undertaken by teams drawn from the OTs with oversight maintained by TRANSEC, the Department's Transport Security and Contingencies Directorate. TRANSEC's London-based staff fulfil the same role directly in the other OTs.


6 May 2009 : Column 167W

British Overseas Territories: Tax Havens

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make an assessment of the progress of UK Overseas Territories towards the signing of the tax-sharing agreements discussed at the G20 summit. [272628]

Gillian Merron: We welcome the progress made by Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar in signing or agreeing to sign in the near future Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) that count towards meeting the international standard.

Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands should reach the internationally agreed standard by the end of May 2009. The Cayman Islands have introduced domestic legislation to allow tax information to be shared with other jurisdictions and currently have 12 jurisdictions, in addition to eight bilateral agreements, included in this approach. An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development meeting in May will determine whether unilaterally listing countries with whom they are prepared to exchange tax agreements, in conjunction with appropriate information gathering powers, can count towards their TIEA number.

Gibraltar has invited a number of states to sign TIEAs and negotiations are progressing well.

We are in discussion with the smaller jurisdictions (Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands) to find the best approach to allow them to meet the agreed standard as quickly as possible.

British Overseas Territories: Tourism

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of (a) St. Helena's and (b) Bermuda's gross domestic product was generated by the tourism sector in each year since 2005. [272619]

Gillian Merron: Percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) generated from Tourism in St. Helena:

Percentage

2004-05

3

2005-06

3

2006-07

4

2007-08

2


Percentage of GDP generated by tourism (hotels and restaurants) in Bermuda:

Percentage

2005

5.5

2006

5.8

2007

5.5


Central Africa: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the proposed United Nations mission in the Central African Republic and Chad peace conference on Eastern Chad; and if he will make a statement. [271594]


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Gillian Merron: We are not aware of any current plans for the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic and Chad to hold a peace conference on Eastern Chad.

Colombia

John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what dates (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department met representatives of the Colombian Government during 2008. [270945]

Gillian Merron: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Ministers had meetings or discussions with representatives of the Colombian Government, including President Uribe, Vice President Santos, Foreign Minister Bermudez and Defence Minister Santos on the following dates in 2008:

In addition, FCO ministers are in regular contact with the Colombian ambassador to the UK.

Sir Peter Ricketts, Permanent Under Secretary of State for the FCO, visited Colombia 17-18 December 2008, during which he met several representatives of the Colombian Government including Foreign Minister Bermudez and Defence Minister Santos.

Other FCO officials, including in Bogota, London and in multilateral Posts, hold regular meetings with Colombian Government officials as part of their regular official duties. As this information is not held centrally, it would not be possible to provide a comprehensive list of such meetings without incurring disproportionate cost.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Stroud of 2 March 2009, Official Report, column 1235W, on the Democratic Republic of Congo: peacekeeping operations, what the proposed UK support to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) will consist of; and what progress has been made on the secondment of the small number of appropriately skilled individuals from the UK to fill vacant posts on the MONUC staff. [271646]

Gillian Merron: In addition to the five British personnel currently seconded to UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (MONUC), the UN Secretariat announced on 9 April 2009 that our candidate for the position of Deputy Force Commander slot had been accepted. He is scheduled to take up his post in May 2009, by which time the total number of UK personnel in the mission will be seven. The UK pays 7.8 per cent.
6 May 2009 : Column 169W
of the total cost of MONUC. In addition, the UK, through the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool, has allocated £2.5 million for conflict prevention work in DRC this financial year.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) of 11 February 2009, Official Report, column 1999W, on the Democratic Republic of Congo: peacekeeping operations; what progress has been made on securing (a) the second authorised infantry battalion, (b) two special forces companies and (c) a second formed police unit for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and what discussions he has had with potential contributors. [271667]

Gillian Merron: The UN Secretariat has secured the additional infantry and special forces capabilities from Bangladesh, Jordan and Egypt and is in discussions with potential contributors to provide the second formed police unit. These additional personnel are scheduled for deployment in July. The UK has led calls for the reinforcement of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and lobbied troop contributing countries.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many officials in his Department are suspended; how many are suspended on full pay; for how long each has been suspended; and what the reasons are for each such suspension. [270519]

Gillian Merron: There are members of staff currently suspended. We are unable to provide any details in order to protect their identities and on grounds of confidentiality.

Departmental Finance

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to page 131 of the 2009 Budget Red Book, what his Department's definition is of back office activity; and what the cost to his Department of such activity was in 2008-09. [271452]

David Miliband: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) works to the set of departmental strategic objectives (DSOs) and management and support activities. Work on DSOs one to eight is known as “front-line” activity. Management and support work is known as “back office” activity.

FCO resource accounts for the financial year 2008-09 are currently in preparation and costs are not yet available. The latest full year for which costs are available is 2007-08. At that time, the DSOs were known as strategic priorities (SPs).

Expenditure on management and support (including spend on information technology, procurement and maintenance among other items, but excluding programme spend) for 2007-08 was £360 million.


6 May 2009 : Column 170W

Some of that management and support activity was carried out for other Government Department staff, their share of which was recovered by the FCO.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to page 131 of the 2009 Budget Red Book, what the (a) UK mission, (b) current grade and (c) planned grade is of each post which will be downgraded as part of achieving the £6.6 million of savings; in which year each downgrading will take place; and what the reasons are for each downgrading. [271455]

David Miliband: The following downgrades of positions, completed or planned, will contribute to the £6.6 million of savings forecast by the Europe Zero Based Review (ZBR) efficiency programme:

Year of downgrade Post Current grade Proposed grade

2009-10

Berne

C5

C4

2010-11

Brussels

SMS1

D7

2008-09

Gibraltar

C4

B3

2008-09

Istanbul

D6

C4

2008-09

Kyiv

SMS1

D7

2007-08

Lisbon

SMS2

SMS1

2008-09

Nicosia

SMS1

D7

2007-08

Rome

LEII

LEIII

2009-10

Rome

LEII

LEIII

2009-10

Vienna

SMS1

D7

2009-10

Warsaw

LEII

LEIII


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