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Forced Marriage

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many full-time permanent members of staff work for his Department's Forced Marriage Unit. (241220)

Seven full-time staff work in the joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Home Office Forced Marriage Unit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the operational budget of the Forced Marriage Unit is for 2008-09. (241221)

In addition to staffing costs, the Forced Marriage Unit has a budget of £273,000 for 2008-09. This budget is used to support work with non-governmental organisations in the UK and overseas, to fund outreach activities, to produce awareness raising materials, and other publications, such as the recent statutory guidance for agencies dealing with forced marriage.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cases of suspected forced marriage were reported to the Forced Marriage Unit in (a) 2008 and (b) 2007. (241222)

In the first three quarters of 2008 the Forced Marriage Unit provided advice or support in a total of 1,308 incidences of suspected forced marriage. This included advice to individuals, non-governmental organisations and other agencies on specific cases. Of these 388 required direct support from the Unit, 192 needing consular assistance, and 196 requiring support as reluctant visa sponsors. Prior to 2007 figures were only recorded for cases where assistance was provided. In 2007 the Unit handled 168 cases requiring consular assistance, and 94 reluctant sponsor cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what training is provided to embassy staff who negotiate with suspected victims of forced marriage and their families. (241223)

All consular staff overseas receive training which includes handling of forced marriage cases. Consular staff being deployed to countries where we commonly see forced marriage cases receive additional briefing and information from the Forced Marriage Unit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what legal guidance his Department provides for staff in agencies working outside the UK who deal with suspected cases of forced marriage. (241224)

Consular staff overseas can draw on legal guidance from honorary legal advisers in country and from the Foreign and Commonwealth legal advisers in London. Advice can be general or case specific.