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Written Statements

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 5 May 2011

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 5 May 2011

Defence

Written Parliamentary Question (Correction)

I regret to inform the House that, unfortunately, an error has been identified in the written answer given to the hon. Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle), Official Report, 26 April 2011, columns 71-72W. I apologise for the error, which was not identified at the time.

The full answer given was as follows:

Departmental Travel

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on ministerial travel by (a) ministerial car, (b) train, (c) bus, (d) commercial aircraft and (e) private aircraft since May 2010. [50223]

Mr Robathan: In order to keep costs as low as possible our Department uses an electronic booking system together with Hogg Robinson Group that search for and provide the cheapest and competitive prices available through their travel search engines.

Our data currently only extend to January 2011 and are provided in the following table:

Form of transport

Amount spent from May 2010 to January 2011 (£)

Car

29,935.59

Rail

3,043.53

Bus

0

Commercial aircraft

84,133.49

Private aircraft

0

The correct answer should have been:

Mr Robathan: In order to keep costs as low as possible, the Ministry of Defence uses an electronic booking system in conjunction with Hogg Robinson Group that provides the cheapest and most competitive prices available through their travel search engines.

The following table contains some ministerial travel undertaken by the previous Government; it also includes air travel related to operational visits. The available data are for six Ministers and extend only to January 2011.

Form of transport

Amount spent from May 2010 to January 2011 (£)

Car

29,642.37

Rail

2,025.85

Bus

Nil

Commercial aircraft

42,649.54

Private aircraft

Nil

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Libya

On 4 May I ordered the expulsion of two diplomats from the Libyan embassy in London on the basis that their activities were contrary to the interests of the UK. They and their dependants now have until 11 May to leave the country. We keep the status of the Libyan embassy and its staff under constant review. I judged that the behaviour of these individuals had become unacceptable, and that they should therefore be declared persona non grata.

Public Records: Colonial Documents

As a result of searches in connection with a legal case brought by Kenyan Mau Mau veterans, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in January became aware of the significance of a large collection of files sent to the United Kingdom from various former British territories generally at the time of their independence.

I commissioned an internal review to establish why the files had not already been dealt with in accordance with the Public Records Act 1958. That review was undertaken by the former British High Commissioner to Canada, Mr Anthony Cary. I have today deposited in the Libraries of both Houses the findings of that investigation. The report is critical of past management practices but pays tribute to the professionalism and commitment of current FCO staff, who have done much to bring the material to light. I fully endorse that tribute. The report makes a number of recommendations regarding information management at the FCO and I am committed to ensuring their full implementation.

I believe that it is the right thing to do for the information in these files now to be properly examined and recorded and made available to the public through the National Archives. This will be taken forward rapidly. Given the size of the archive the process may take some time to complete in full. It will be overseen by a senior and independent figure I shall appoint. I will inform the House further once details of the appointment and terms of reference are decided. It is my intention to release every part of every paper of interest subject only to legal exemptions.

Foreign Office officials have briefed the Governments of those former British territories who may have an interest.