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Departmental Manpower

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of his Department's staff deployed in each region of Afghanistan (a) have been trained in each year since 2001 and (b) are being trained in each local Afghan language. (283551)

Since 2004, five Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff have studied Pashto before being deployed in Afghanistan. 21 staff have also been trained in Dari—often building on an existing language base of Farsi—before working in Afghanistan. Currently there are nine studying Dari, who are due to be deployed to Afghanistan later this year.

We only started to hold management information about language skills centrally in 2004. Our system records those who have passed exams on completion of language courses funded by the FCO, so may not include those who did not take an examination, those whose acquisition of the language was not the result of class-based instruction, or whose studies were not funded by the FCO.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many reception staff his Department employs at (a) its offices in King Charles Street, (b) other locations in the UK and (c) overseas posts. (286122)

Across the UK estate the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has nine full time reception positions. The staff members who fill these positions are provided as part of the UK Reception Services Contract.

Responsibility for procuring reception services overseas has been devolved to posts within the FCO overseas estate. Each post would need to be contacted to obtain the details of their reception employees. As the information relating to reception staff overseas is not held centrally, it could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.