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Mr. Alexander: When considering magisterial appointments in Lancashire I am advised by the 17 Advisory Committees within the county. The procedures on magisterial appointments used by the Duchy Office are the same as those used for the remainder of the country.
Bob Spink: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has improved compared to the situation last year, and is no longer an emergency. This is due both to an increased crop yield (up 80 per cent. on the previous year) and to much better snow and rainfall over the winter in both the north and south of the
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country, which has eased the effects of the persistent drought. Refugees are continuing to return to the country, aided by UNHCR and the Ministry for Refugees and Repatriation, although at a slower rate than last year. Vulnerable households, such as women-headed households, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and disabled people continue to require assistance.
Insecurity in the provinces outside Kabul continues to be a concern, and is hampering the operations of NGOs and UN agencies in the southern and eastern provinces. As part of a coordinated response with the Afghan Transitional Administration and other international partners, the UK Government is considering the deployment of a Provincial Reconstruction Team to one of the provinces outside Kabul. The Ministry of Defence will make a parliamentary statement on any deployment in due course.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will list (a) the countries in which CDC Capital Partners has closed offices since July 2002, (b) the location of those offices and (c) the status of the staff assigned to each office. 
Miami, USA: two employees have been redeployed to other CDC offices and four employees have been made redundant.
Virginia, USA: one employee has been redeployed to another CDC office one has been made redundant.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment his Department has made of (a) the impact of the trade in small guns in developing countries and (b) the recommendations of the OSCE conference in Prague on 20 to 23 May 2003. 
Hilary Benn: The impact of the trade in small arms on development is of great concern both to the UK Government and other international bodies who are trying to combat the effects of this trade. The UK Government recently sponsored a 3-day workshop on integrating small arms controls into development assistance. A key finding was the need for further research and analysis of the development implications of small arms proliferation, including the impact of the trade in small guns. DFID will commission this research shortly, and aims to disseminate results by the end of 2003. The UK Government will also be playing a leading role in discussions on the links between small arms proliferation and development at the UN Biennial Meeting of States in July to review progress on implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms.
DFID did not attend the OSCE Economic Forum on Trafficking in Human Beings, Drugs, Small Arms and Light Weapons: National and International Economic Impact, held in Prague on 20 to 23 May 2003. DFID has
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however noted the recommendations of the forum with interest, and supports the OSCE's further efforts to address these issues. Many of these recommendations concur with our own assessments of the action needed to be taken to combat such trafficking.
Ms Walley: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will make a statement on the recent meeting with the Indonesian Trade Minister; and if he will make a statement in respect of action to implement a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia on illegal logging. 
Hilary Benn: I met with the Indonesia Minister of Forestry, Dr. Prakosa just over a year ago on 18 April 2002 when the bilateral "Memorandum of Understanding to Combat Illegal Logging and the Associated Trade in Illegal Timber and Wood Products" was signed between Indonesia and UK. Since then we have done a number of things.
First of all we are supporting a process to develop a working definition of legality in Indonesia. This is fundamental and it may sound straightforward. However, in Indonesia many laws govern different aspects of forests and forest industry and reaching agreement on an enforceable definition of legality is difficult. We are helping to bring a range of stakeholders together and broker an agreement that will allow us to move forward. We have started the process of piloting verification schemes that will be needed to confirm compliance with legal requirements. Allied to this we are supporting efforts to restructure forest industry and close down mills that rely on illegally sourced timber.
The UK timber trade is taking this seriously too. Just last week, on the day the Greenpeace report "Partners in Crime: a Greenpeace investigation of the links between the UK and Indonesia's timber barons" was published, UK timber traders met with Indonesian suppliers in London to discuss common supplier assessments and third party auditing.
Other countries are also beginning to play their part. China and Norway have signed MoUs with Indonesia that draw on that signed by Indonesia and UK last year. Japan and the EU are currently discussing agreements with Indonesia. Malaysia has taken action to stop the illegal import of logs and cants (roughly squared logs) from Indonesia.
However, under EU law, a ban on illegally logged timber, can only be imposed at EU level, not at UK level. We are therefore working actively within the EU. The European Commission published a Communication containing a proposed forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) action plan on 21 May 2003. The plan includes a proposal for new EU import regulations to address imports of illegally logged timber in a way that is consistent with our obligations under the World Trade Organisation.
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present a Regulation setting up the voluntary licensing scheme, in conjunction with wide stakeholder consultation; and
review options for, and consider the impact of, further measures to support the Action Plan, including, in the absence of multilateral progress, the feasibility of legislation to control imports of illegally harvested timber, and report back to the Council on this work during 2004.
The purpose of the Voluntary Partnership Agreements and associated Regulation would be to prevent timber without a valid licence (indicating legal harvesting) from participating countries entering the EU.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if the Department will ensure that plans for the distribution of food after the end of the oil for food programme in Iraq will give particular attention to the need to create an independent food distribution network free from political interference. 
Hilary Benn: The Government recognise the importance of establishing a food distribution system which addresses the needs of all those Iraqis who are dependent on food aid. DFID's long-term aim is to create an environment which will allow these Iraqis to become self-sufficient, rather than reliant on food handouts.
Hilary Benn: DFID is not aware of any overall assessment of the number of civil servants in Iraq who have not returned to work since the start of the conflict. In a number of cases civil servants have been unable to return to work because of damage done to government buildings, predominately by looting. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is providing finance for rehabilitating government buildings.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development whether the Coalition Provisional Authority has made an assessment of (a) the capacity of civil servants in Iraq to re-establish a working civil service and (b) the unmet needs of the Iraqi civil service. 
The Coalition Provisional Authority is now paying salaries and pensions to 1.35 million Iraqi civil servants throughout the country, including teachers, medical staff and police officers. Funds are also being allocated to the rehabilitation of government buildings.
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