22 Jan 2002 : Column 689W
Harry Cohen: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if the portrait of Her Majesty the Queen by Lucian Freud will be procured for the House for display in Portcullis House; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Kirkwood: I understand that this striking portrait was presented by the artist to Her Majesty the Queen as a gift. It has been accepted into the Royal Collection and will be on public display when the new Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace is opened on 22 May.
Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what has been the cost to date since the opening of Portcullis House of (a) maintenance, (b) remedial action to rectify faults and (c) action to introduce improvements requested by hon. Members; if he will produce a detailed list in respect of (b) and (c) above, with itemised costs; and if he will make a statement. 
It has been necessary to enhance the capacity of the fan in the extract system from the cooking ranges, to replace three broken panels in the courtyard roof and to alter the interface with the window blinds. There is continuing work on the borehole to prevent silt entering the cooling system; to the lifts that run between the kitchens; and to the water feature. In each instance questions of liability for the costs are the subject of discussions with the contractor and/or the designer.
22 Jan 2002 : Column 690W
The majority of the changes requested by hon. Members and their staff have been for furniture additional to or different from the standard range available for the building. In the main these have been met from the furniture bought as part of the project but a further £3,800 has been spent. In some cases there have also been consequent minor changes to the power sockets. The only other change has been the conversion of cupboards to book/display cases in a limited number of rooms where none was provided and the removal of intrusive lightshelves from the fifth floor corner offices. The cost is some £20,000.
(1) House of Commons Department of Finance and Administration.
Mr. Robin Cook: Over the last five years the Department of Finance and Administration have met the Inland Revenue on a number of occasions to discuss a wide range of issues relating to the tax status of hon. Members, and will continue to do so.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she raised the bombing of civilians in southern Sudan with Government representatives on her recent visit; and if she will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State raised the issue of the bombing of civilians during her meeting with the Government of Sudan's Minister of Defence. The Secretary of State made it clear that the UK
22 Jan 2002 : Column 691W
expects parties to the conflict to live up to their obligations not to attack civilians, whether from the ground or from the air.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement about the prospects for funding health and education in Sudan following her recent visit. 
Hilary Benn: We are willing to consider funding any well designed programmes which are likely to deliver tangible benefits to ordinary Sudanese people. We shall continue to give priority to those programmes that address the most urgent needs.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the prospects for progress in promoting peace and good governance in Sudan; if she will make a statement on international efforts to resolve the conflict in that country; and what proposals she has for work to stimulate peace and reconciliation and the strengthening of civil society in Sudan. 
Hilary Benn: There is an opportunity to achieve a political settlement to the war in Sudan. During my recent visit all sides emphasised that they recognised the urgent need for peace, that it was their responsibility to engage in serious negotiation, and that there was a window of opportunity.
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is the mechanism by which the international community is assisting in the peace process. We, and others, are actively seeking new ways to invigorate this process.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she has responded to the World Food Programme appeal for assistance to Somalia; and if she will make a statement about the level of funding of that appeal. 
Hilary Benn: We have not responded to the World Food Programme (WFP) element of the United Nations 2002 Consolidated Appeal for Somalia; we have, however, funded emergency health and nutrition programmes in the worst affected areas, and this complements the WFP's efforts.
The WFP part of the UN Appeal is the continuation of a three year project "Food aid for relief and recovery in Somalia", which began in July 1999. To date the UN report that just under 60 per cent. of the project's estimated requirements have been met.
Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the impact of 11 September on poverty in Somalia following the disruption of overseas remittance income. 
22 Jan 2002 : Column 692W
linked to terrorist groups. Other companies, offering similar services across Somalia, have not been affected. Indeed, there is evidence that they have expanded their client base, offsetting some of the effect of the Al Barakat closure.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many regulatory impact assessments have been produced by her Department since August 2001; and if she will list those produced (a) following initial consultation with affected parties about the most appropriate methodology for assessing costs and other impacts and (b) which set out full commercial impacts, including profitability, employment, consumer prices and competitiveness, as recommended in "Good Policy Making". 
Clare Short: DFID does not itself undertake 'regulatory impact assessments': these are the responsibility of our partner Governments and authorities. DFID does provide technical assistance to help Governments strengthen their capacity to undertake reviews of the regulatory environment and to regulate better. Many of the precepts underlying "Good Policy Making: A Guide to Regulatory Impact Assessment" are relevant to developing countries and we endorse them.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on Britain's planned financial contribution to the reconstruction of Afghanistan (a) in this financial year and (b) over the next five financial years. 
Hilary Benn: We have set aside £20 million in this financial year to support the Interim Administration and the United Nations-led transitional recovery and rehabilitation process, while continuing to respond to humanitarian needs. This includes a contribution of £2 million already provided to the UN Afghan Interim Authority Fund to provide salaries of key public servants, equipment and supplies. As well as financial assistance, we are providing technical personnel and logistical, material and other practical support.
At the international conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan held in Tokyo from 2122 January 2002, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a significant contribution to be used for the long-term rehabilitation of Afghanistan. The UK has committed £200 million over the next five financial years for both reconstruction and humanitarian activities. The majority of this pledge will be channelled through UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.
This pledge is in addition to the significant sums that the UK has contributed to the World bank, European Union and Asian Development bank, which will also direct further funds into Afghanistan in the coming years. The UK share of the European Union pledge alone will be 20 per cent.
22 Jan 2002 : Column 693W
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|