HC Deb 20 November 2003 vol 413 c1316W
Mr. Pickles

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the security(a) advice and (b) protection offered to employees of the British Council working in Saudi Arabia. [139753]

Mr. Rammell

The safety of staff and visitors is of paramount importance to the British Council. Their Security Committee in London meets regularly, and reviewed security arrangements for British Council operations in Saudi Arabia on 13 November.

The British Council's Security Adviser visited Saudi Arabia immediately following the 12 May terrorist attacks in Riyadh and reviewed security measures at British Council offices and staff accommodation throughout the country. His recommendations were fully implemented. A further security review is currently taking place.

The Director of the British Council in Riyadh is Cultural Attaché at the British embassy. The Embassy maintains close and regular contact with him and with his staff throughout the country, including through the Consulate General in Jedda and the British Trade Office in Al Khobar. In addition, the Embassy and its officers in Saudi Arabia raise security-related issues with the Saudi authorities on behalf of the British Council.

The Director of the British Council communicates to his staff the conclusions of security reviews and other advice related to security. All employees of the British Council in Saudi Arabia have access to the same advice as the FCO gives to all other British nationals, communicated through the FCO website and notes to or meetings with the community In our advice, we make clear that after the attack against the Muhayya residential compound in Riyadh on 9 November, we continue to believe terrorists are planning further attacks. We advise British nationals to take all necessary steps to protect their safety and make sure they have confidence in their individual security arrangements. We further advise British nationals to maintain a high level of vigilance, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. They are advised to follow news reports and be alert to regional developments. We keep this advice under close review and up-date it regularly. The advice is available in full on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

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