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11 Jun 2003 : Column 864W—continued

St. Helena

9. Bob Russell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, if the Secretary of State will visit St. Helena to discuss progress towards the construction of an airfield. [118385]

Hilary Benn: There are no such plans for a visit. On 7 April, the St. Helena Government issued an invitation for private sector participation in developing air access. Six parties have since expressed their intent to submit outline proposals by the deadline for bids of 25 July. A period of evaluation and negotiation is expected to follow.

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11. Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what aid the Department gives to refugees (a) in Burma and (b) near the Burmese-Thai border. [118388]

Hilary Benn : We are not currently supporting programmes focused exclusively on meeting the needs of displaced people inside Burma.

DFID assistance for refugees in camps on the Thai-Burma border has focused mainly on meeting food needs and on UNHCR's protection role. Financial assistance last year amounted to just under £2 million. Further support is planned in the current year.

DFID is also providing support to refugees through the European Commission. In 2002, the European Commission allocated 3.5million Euros (£2.5 million) for these purposes, 20 per cent. of which is attributable to the UK Government.

Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development when the Department will conduct a full survey of child malnutrition (a) in Burma and (b) in the refugee camps on the Burma-Thai border. [117992]

Hilary Benn: The Department has access to survey findings and reports on child malnutrition written by a number of non-governmental organisations and by UNICEF. Officials in the Department will draw on these in the formulation of DFID's humanitarian assistance plans for Burma.

Amazon Peoples

13. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what action the Department is taking to support the indigenous Indian communities of the Amazon. [118390]

Hilary Benn: The Department is providing direct support to strengthen the indigenous movement in the Amazon through its £2.1 million Indigenous Peoples Demonstration Project. This includes help to increase the capacity of organisations such as the Coordination of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazonia to defend and promote their interests and rights.

As part of its contribution to the G7 Pilot Programme to Conserve the Brazilian Rainforest, the Department is also supporting the demarcation of indigenous lands in the Amazon. The aim is to have demarcated and registered all indigenous lands, accounting for 45 million hectares, by 2004. To date 34 million hectares have been demarcated, with over 27 million registered.

Arms Export Controls

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what proposals on strengthening arms export controls the Government intends to make at the UN Biennial Meeting of states in July. [117753]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have been asked to reply.

The UK Government is committed to building on the useful discussions that took place at the Lancaster House Conference on strengthening Export Controls on

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Small Arms and Light Weapons held at Lancaster House on 14–15 January 2003. The format of the Biennial Meeting (New York, 7–11 July) which will focus on small arms, does not allow for states to make substantive proposals. The aim of the meeting is to gather support for a regionally based process to share understanding on national implementation of export controls of small arms, with the aim of reporting back findings at the 2005 Biennial Meeting. But it will be a useful opportunity to take this work forward with partners within the framework of the UN. The UK is planning a side meeting on 8 July 2003 to discuss working in partnership and ways of exchanging information. Our objective is to strengthen consensus on the need for regulation of small arms transfers. Continuing this work within the framework of the UN is particularly important, and the UK is committed to the process.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Adam Price: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will make a statement on events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [118019]

Hilary Benn: Progress towards a sustainable peace and poverty reduction has been made with the successful conclusion in April of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and the entering into force of the Global and Inclusive Agreement that sets out the framework for the establishment of a Transitional National Government (TNG). The establishment of the TNG will be a major step forward in the resolution of the wider Great Lakes conflict, creating the basis for reconstruction, economic development and poverty reduction in the DRC. The Congolese parties must now implement fully the commitments they have undertaken and establish without further delay the transitional institutions. The UK is an active member of the international committee supporting this process and we plan to increase our development assistance to the DRC once the TNG is in place.

On the situation in Ituri in the north-east, the fighting must stop and support to armed groups must be discontinued. The French government has agreed to the request from the UN Secretary General to lead an Interim Emergency Multinational Force (IEMF) to stabilise the situation. Given the importance of contributing to this force and of supporting the UN and the DRC peace process, the UK will be participating in the IEMF. This force will come under the direction of the European Union under the European Security and Defence Pact.

In 2002–03 DFID provided nearly £11 million in humanitarian assistance to the DRC. Out of this £1 million went through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for emergency humanitarian interventions in the DRC including Ituri. We are in regular contact with a number of international NGOs working in Ituri, and we stand ready to respond to their requests for further assistance to address urgent humanitarian needs in the region. A DFID humanitarian adviser has just visited Ituri to assess these urgent needs and we will be making a response to these requests shortly.

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G8 Africa Action Plan

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what decisions were made at the G8 summit at Evian about the G8 Africa Action Plan; whether Africa will remain on the G8 agenda in the forthcoming year; and if he will make a statement. [117756]

Hilary Benn: At the G8 summit in Evian the Africa Personal Representatives produced an Implementation Report on the G8 Africa Action Plan. The G8 and African heads of government accepted the report during a two-hour discussion on Africa at the Evian Summit. The European Union and all G8 countries (with the exception of Russia) also produced individual progress reports on their contribution towards implementation of the G8 Africa Action Plan. The G8 will report on progress in achieving the G8 Africa Action Plan again in June 2005, under the UK Presidency.

It was agreed at Evian that the Africa Personal Representatives group would be expanded into an African Partners Forum, including non-G8 OECD donors. Further criteria for participation have yet to be agreed. The African Partners Forum is likely to meet every six months, with the first meeting in November 2003. The purpose of the meetings will be to ensure that momentum for the Africa Action Plan is maintained, and to continue high-level political engagement with African governments.

The UK will continue to press for a G8 focus on Africa.

Overseas Territories

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development which reports commissioned by the Department on the overseas territories from Social Development Direct are in the public domain, broken down by territory. [118613]

Hilary Benn: The work by Social Development Direct, looking at human rights issues affecting the Overseas Territories, was commissioned and funded jointly by DFID and the FCO. Reports on the following territories are in the public domain and have been copied to the House of Commons Library.

Reports on a number of others should be published shortly.

Equal Opportunities

Angela Eagle: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what progress has been made on completing a pay audit in his Department and its non-departmental public bodies to measure any disadvantage in terms of remuneration for (a) women, (b) ethnic minorities and (c) people with disabilities; and if he will publish the results of such an audit. [117435]

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Hilary Benn: DFID has just substantially completed its equal pay audit of staff below the senior civil service, in line with the Government's commitment to review pay systems by April 2003 in response to the Equal Opportunities Commission Task Force "Just Pay" report. So far no significant pay disadvantages have been found but some further analysis is required. Once this further analysis is complete—we hope by August 2003—a copy of the audit will be placed in the Library. No pay audits have been undertaken for DFID's three NDPBs as they have no employees and their members only receive expenses.

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