Previous Section Index Home Page

10 Mar 2008 : Column 104W—continued

Japan: Foreign Relations

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of Japanese relations with the UK; and if he will make a statement. [192208]


10 Mar 2008 : Column 105W

Meg Munn: Relations between Japan and the UK are excellent. We co-operate closely on a range of key global issues including climate change, development, international security and science and technology, as outlined in the 2007 UK-Japan Joint Statement. Our two countries also enjoy thriving economic and trade links, and Japanese investment continues to be very important for the UK economy. In addition to these areas of shared interest, our close and collaborative relationship allows us to raise frankly with our Japanese colleagues those issues where we disagree, such as whaling and the death penalty.

Both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary recently held telephone conversations with their Japanese counterparts. They also look forward to visiting Japan in the next few months for the G8 Summit and related meetings. I hope we will be able to explore new ways in which we can strengthen our ties ahead of and during these visits.

Japan: Overseas Trade

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the value of trade between the UK and Japan was in 2007. [192207]

Meg Munn: According to UK Trade and Investment figures, exports of goods to Japan in 2007 were £3,762 million and imports of goods from Japan were £7,982 million. Data for services trade with Japan for 2007 are not yet available, but in 2006 UK exports of services to Japan were worth £4,140 million.

Middle East: Armed Conflict

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department have had with Arab states about suicide bombings in Israel; what the outcome of those discussions has been; and if he will make a statement. [189005]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly discusses the Israeli-Palestinian issue with his Arab interlocutors. On 13 February, he met his Jordanian counterpart, Salah Bashir, and discussed the Middle East Peace Process. On 19 February, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Aboul Gheit, about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. On 4 February, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement condemning the suicide attack in Dimona that day.

The Government continue to make clear that 2008 is a key year for progress on the Middle East Peace Process. The situation on the ground—security and humanitarian—can help or hinder this process. We support the efforts of our EU and UN colleagues to promote an effective Palestinian security force and the reopening of the Gaza crossings. The Reform and Development Plan of the Palestinian Authority is the best hope of sustainable economic and social improvement for Palestinians. The UK has announced a contribution of up to £243 million, linked to political progress and Palestinian reform efforts.


10 Mar 2008 : Column 106W

Rendition

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are for (a) Ministers and (b) officials from his Department to meet the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to discuss issues related to rendition; and if he will make a statement. [192913]

Meg Munn: On 5 March my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, spoke to Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, in the margins of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Minister encouraged Mr. Nowak to provide the Government with any evidence he may have regarding allegations that detainees may have been held on Diego Garcia between 2002 and 2003.

South America: British Nationality

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to assist UK citizens in (a) Venezuela, ( b) Colombia and (c) Ecuador should circumstances require it; when these plans were last revised; in what circumstances he would implement them; and if he will make a statement. [192658]

Meg Munn: Like all our Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Missions overseas, our embassies in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador have robust contingency planning processes, which are reviewed and updated regularly. If there is a risk in a host country (e.g. from civil disorder or a natural disaster) that could lead to an evacuation of British nationals, the FCO mission there will hold a civil contingency plan. Missions continually assess the risk level they face and plan accordingly. In compiling civil contingency plans, the FCO's objective is to protect British nationals from a situation that poses a serious threat to their safety and, in a worst case scenario, to assist their departure to a place of safety. We encourage our Missions overseas to ensure their plans are compatible with other European partners and to identify areas where cooperation would enhance our planning.

The FCO travel advice for all three countries remains under constant review and has been amended to include factual information about recent developments. We have advised against all but essential travel to certain areas along the Colombian/Venezuelan border. A full copy of the latest FCO travel advice can be read at:

To ensure we are better placed to communicate with them at times of crisis, British nationals living overseas are also encouraged to register online with LOCATE, the FCO's consular registration system, at the same website address.

Sudan: Armed Conflict

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on clashes in Abyei, Sudan between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Misseriya tribes people; and if he will make a statement. [192608]


10 Mar 2008 : Column 107W

Meg Munn: We are aware of clashes between units of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and armed elements of the Misseriya tribes in Abyei and that the UN-Mission in Sudan personnel are mediating to end the fighting. We continue to press both the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to establish an interim civil administration in Abyei to deal with the root causes of these clashes and deliver basic services.

Sudan: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in agreeing a cessation of hostilities in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. [192076]

Meg Munn [holding answer 6 March 2008]: The Government of Sudan announced a cessation of hostilities at the beginning of the African Union (AU) and UN-led peace talks on 27 October 2007 in Sirte, Libya. Few of the key rebel movements attended the talks and none have yet committed to a cessation of hostilities. We have urged all parties to fully commit to a cessation of hostilities and honour that commitment. We continue to work with the AU, UN, key allies and troop contributing countries to ensure that the UN-AU Mission in Darfur is an effective peacekeeping force and to ensure that any new agreement on a cessation of hostilities can be effectively monitored.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any new pledges for helicopters for the UNAMID force in Darfur were received in February; and if he will make a statement. [192078]

Meg Munn [holding answer 6 March 2008]: We understand Ethiopia has offered to contribute a number of light tactical helicopters to the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and that other potential contributors have been in talks with the UN. Following meetings convened in New York in January at the UK's initiative to discuss UNAMID helicopter provision, we continue to work closely in support of the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations' efforts to fill the remaining shortfall, including by urging potential helicopter providers to step forward and contribute to this mission.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) police officers and (b) formed police units are deployed with UNAMID in Darfur; and if he will make a statement on progress made towards full deployment. [192080]

Meg Munn [holding answer 6 March 2008]: Our latest information is that one Formed Police Unit (FPU) of 140 police officers from Bangladesh and approximately 1,600 individual police officers have now deployed with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). At full deployment the UNAMID police element will consist of 3,772 individual police officers and 19 FPUs, but shortfalls remain in the number of police pledged for the mission. We are supporting the UN Department
10 Mar 2008 : Column 108W
for Peacekeeping Operations in pressing for rapid progress towards full deployment, and we are investigating how best the UK can directly contribute to this critical mission capability.

United Nations: Sanctions

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people resident in the UK were subject to sanctions by the UN Security Council in 2003; what the average duration of those individuals’ appearance on the sanctions list was; and (a) how many and (b) for what reasons individuals were removed from the list in the same period. [191969]

Meg Munn [holding answer 6 March 2008]: There were six individuals resident in the UK subject to UN sanctions in 2003. By the end of 2003 the average length of time spent by these individuals on the sanctions list was just under 18 months. No individuals resident in the UK were removed from the sanctions list during 2003.

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 20 February 2008, Official Report, column 713W, on United Nations: sanctions, what representations on cross-border travel he has received from persons who have been blacklisted by the UN under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. [192071]

Meg Munn [holding answer 6 March 2008]: The Government are unaware of any representations on cross-border travel from persons resident in the UK subject to sanctions by the UN Security Council.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Apprenticeships

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what percentage of Government-sponsored apprenticeships were completed in the last year for which figures are available. [189087]

Bill Rammell: The most recent apprenticeship success rate figure available on the Learning and Skills Council website:

(which is updated on a quarterly basis) is 63 per cent. in 2006/07. The percentage of apprentices who complete their full apprenticeship framework has grown dramatically from only 24 per cent. in 2001/02 to 63 per cent. in 2006/07 and is still rising. This shows the ongoing improving status and quality of apprenticeships.

Communication

Bill Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to increase the availability of language services professionals including (a) qualified British Sign Language interpreters, (b) cued speech transliterators, (c) speech to text reporters and (d) electronic/manual notetakers. [183722]


10 Mar 2008 : Column 109W

Bill Rammell: The Department recognises the need to ensure the workforce supporting learners is sufficient and capable to support learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The Government are not the employer of language services professionals and therefore the department is not involved in the recruitment or deployment of such staff. We do expect our learning providers to recruit and organise their workforce to meet local circumstances and learner and business needs.

Our delivery partner the Learning and Skills Council, has stated in its strategy for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, “Learning for Living and Work” (2006) that it is of prime importance to address workforce development. The strategy has identified where gaps in specialist support occur and is working with the sector skills council covering teachers and support staff, Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) to address these issues. Detailed plans are still under consideration.

Departmental Absenteeism

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the absence rate among his Department’s staff was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [190236]

Bill Rammell: DIUS was created by Machinery elements of the then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

There are records of average working days lost per employee due to illness for the period from July to December 2007. DIUS continues to rely for this information on the computer systems of the departments from which it transferred staff at its inception. These show average working days lost per employee in the six month period of 2.7 for ex-DTI employees and 4.1 for ex-DfES employees.

Departmental ICT

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many (a) mobile telephones, (b) personal digital assistants and (c) laptop computers issued to staff in his Department or its predecessor were reported (i) lost, (ii) missing and (iii) stolen in each year since 2001. [184347]

Bill Rammell: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) was created by the Prime Minister on 28 June 2007;

Departmental Manpower

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many reports have been made to his Department’s nominated officers under paragraph 16 of the revised Civil Service Code since its publication on 6 June 2006. [162456]


10 Mar 2008 : Column 110W

Mr. Lammy: Since the publication of the revised civil service code on 6 June 2006 my Department’s nominated officers have received no reports made under paragraph 16.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been reported to his Department by departmental staff since 6 June 2006. [162457]

Bill Rammell: Since the publication of the revised civil service code on 6 June 2006, my Department’s nominated officers have received no reports of allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff under 18 years are employed by his Department. [189078]

Bill Rammell: The response assumes that part (a) refers to staff of all ages.

Ex - DTI (BERR):

Ex-DfES (DCSF):

Departmental Older Workers

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many people over the age of 55 years have been recruited by his Department and its predecessors in each of the last three years. [191513]

Bill Rammell: DIUS was created by Machinery of Government changes in July 2007 from elements of the previous Department of Trade and Industry and Department for Education and Skills. DIUS does not have a record of recruitment by its predecessor departments but the detail of recruitment since its formation can be reported. Recruitment by DIUS since it was established has been very limited and of these recruits just one is aged over 55 years.


Next Section Index Home Page