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Departments: Foreign Relations

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Memoranda of Understanding are in force as a result of agreements with foreign governments entered into by Ministers in her Department; and what executive actions each entails. (144475)

Records of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) are not held centrally. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has only maintained a collection of MoUs since 1997. The FCO database contains records of 352 MoUs, including both MoUs originating with the FCO and MoUs concluded by other Government Departments. However this record is not complete; although there is a widespread practice of other Departments depositing copies of MoUs with the FCO, it is not possible to confirm whether they have done so in every case. To produce a complete record of the MoUs entered into by the FCO and other Government Departments would require lengthy research and would be disproportionally costly. In some circumstances MoUs are deposited in the Library of the House, where hon. Members can consult them. This is a matter for the Department concerned.