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Human Rights

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many copies of her Department’s Human Rights Annual Report 2006 were produced; at what cost; how many copies were supplied gratis; to whom; at what cost; how much of the cost was attributable to (a) postage, (b) time of staff and (c) the cost of producing copies; how many officials were responsible for researching the information contained in the report; what criteria she uses to (i) include and (ii) exclude information from the report; who implements these criteria; and if she will make a statement. (97874)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) produced 3,000 copies of the 2006 Annual Report on Human Rights. 3,000 CD-ROM versions are also being produced.

The overall budget for the Report was £135,000. Final invoices have yet to be received, but the final cost will be very close to this figure.

500 copies of the report have been given to The Stationery Office. 30 copies of the report have so far been distributed free of charge to hon. Members and noble Peers, including the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC). Copies have been laid in the Libraries of both Houses, and sent to foreign embassies in London (175), human rights-related non-governmental organisations (203) and educational institutions (65). Copies have also been distributed to various Departments in the FCO (approximately 200 to date) and to all FCO overseas posts (approximately 450 to date), who pass them on to host Governments. Approximately 200 copies were distributed at the report’s launch.

The overall cost of postage is not yet available. A contracted, temporary member of staff arranged distribution of the initial batch of copies to the recipients listed above. The portion of his fee attributed to this (included in the overall budget figure, mentioned above) was £590.

Requests for extra copies were still being received from posts, Departments and other contacts. Experience shows that posts and Departments request further copies for specific events throughout the year. The final number of gratis copies issued will not be known for some time.

Officials in FCO Departments responsible for each country and subject area contributed the information in the report, in addition to the editorial team in the FCO’s Human Rights, Democracy and Governance Group (HRDGG), which is responsible for publication. It would incur disproportionate cost to assess the total number of staff who contributed.

There is no specific criteria for excluding information from the report, except that which falls outside the time scale it is intended to cover. The basic shape of the annual report has been in place for five years and is now well established. Contributors take on board recommendations from the FAC when compiling the report.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary agreed the outline and general content of the report at the beginning of the process, some six months prior to the intended launch date. HRDGG co-ordinated the publication of the report and, as such, has editorial control of the process. Contributors determine the exact content. These contributors are the FCO policy leads for each country or topic, with input from posts. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary approved the final version of the report.