HC Deb 13 February 1991 vol 185 cc519-20W
Mr. Watson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Morocco on the question of independence for western Sahara.

Target Progress
(i) Consular Work
(a)To deal with the greater demand for consular services arising from the 6 per cent, increase in the number of British nationals travelling overseas within existing resources. The greater volume of travellers to 31 December 1990 was dealt with within overall existing resources.
(b)To increase interest in, and usage of, public education television and radio fillers; to achieve free broadcast at airtime value of £1 million; and in 1990–91 to target our public information campaign more closely towards those travellers identified as being the major cause of the avoidable consular workload. Efforts to achieve the £1 million figure by year end continue. The targetting of the information campaign has been achieved through issuing a leaflet with all British visitors' passports since October 1990, and is ongoing for 1991.
(c)To complete, by the end of 1990–91, a phased programme for the issue at overseas posts of passports in the European Community common format without any overall increase in existing staffing levels, while at the same time coping with a forecast increase in the number of passport applications. Under the above programme, the nine largest passport issuing posts overseas are to be equipped for the computerised issue of passports in the European Community common format. By 31 December 1990, five of these posts were operating the new system. Two more will be equipped before the end of the current financial year: the remaining two posts will be converted to the new system during financial year 1991–92. On the basis of information currently available, it is expected that the programme will be completed within existing staffing levels.
(ii) Information Work
(a)To improve the speed of delivery of ministerial statements and other verbatim material to overseas posts, while reducing annual costs by £135,000. Project scheduled for completion on 1 July 1991.
(b)To improve the effectiveness of other information services (eg through better targetting on foreign policy objectives) without increasing costs. Improved systems established for the management of publications, including tighter ordering procedures, more consistency of presentation and better quality control.
Savings on television production and exhibitions have been achieved by recruiting specialists and contracting out less work, eg a 40 per cent, saving on the cost of a new film about the workings of Parliament.
Efficiency savings achieved to date—£126,500.
(iii) Cultural Work
(a)To increase the number of FCOSAS awards jointly funded with United Kingdom institutions, private trusts, private sector and other partners from 156 in 1988–89 to 275 in 1990–91. Evidence at 31 December 1990 suggested that 475 such awards would be made in 1990–91.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

We have remained strictly impartial in this dispute. However, as one of the permanent members of the Security Council, we have consistently supported the United Nations Secretary General's efforts to arrange a free and fair referendum to determine the territory's future.