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32 (The Royal) Squadron

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in respect of what official duties the Minister for Europe used 32 (The Royal) Squadron for flights on (a) 29 September 2003 and (b) 30 September 2002; what the take-off and landing times were of each flight; whether the carbon emissions were offset in respect of each flight; which other transport options were considered on each occasion; why other transport options were not used; and if he will make a statement. (66159)

The then Ministers for Europe used 32 (The Royal) Squadron to fly to Brussels to attend the General Affairs and External Relations Council, on behalf of the then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Jack Straw) on both 29 September 2003—my right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane)—and 30 September 2002—my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain). The flight details on each occasion were as follows:

29 September 200330 September 2002

Departed

Time

Arrived

Time

Departed

Time

Arrived

Time

RAF Northolt

6.45 am

Brussels

7.35 am

Northolt

6.00 am

Brussels

6.55 am

Brussels

3.15 pm

Bournemouth

4.45 pm

Brussels

3.30 pm

Blackpool

4.30 pm

Bournemouth

5.5 pm

RAF Northolt

5.30 pm

Blackpool

4.45 pm

RAF Northolt

5.25 pm

Carbon dioxide emissions arising from 32 Squadron flights are included in the Government's carbon offsetting commitment. Carbon emissions arising from the use of these flights have been recorded and offset in the same way as the use of scheduled flights since April 2005.

In accordance with the guidance in “Travel by Ministers”, other transport options were considered on each occasion. On both occasions, the option of the Minister and officials travelling by 32 (The Royal) Squadron to Brussels was chosen to enable Ministers to meet their commitments in an efficient way. The rules on the use of special flights are set out in “Travel by Ministers”. The annual lists of overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500 set out when special flights are used, and the purpose of each trip. Copies are available in the Library of the House.