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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 15 October 2003

PRIME MINISTER

Arcturus House

Q15. Mr. Steen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Arcturus House in Totnes. [132037]

The Prime Minister: I have no current plans to do so.

Departmental Hospitality

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Prime Minister how much was spent on food by his office in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03; what proportion of that food by value was produced in the United Kingdom; what guidance he has issued to encourage the procurement of home-produced food; and if he will make a statement. [129375]

The Prime Minister: Expenditure on food in the Prime Minister's Office is limited to official entertainment. For the total cost to my office for all official entertainment at 10 Downing Street and Chequers, I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 28 February 2002, Official Report, columns 1444–48W, and the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 27 January 2003, Official Report, column 564W. Information on the total cost for 2002–03 is not yet available.

Information on the proportion of food by value produced in the UK is not held and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has provided guidance for Government Departments and their agencies on local sourcing and how to remove obstacles to tendering faced by local and UK suppliers. The Government has a policy of achieving value for money in public procurement and ensuring that under European Commission rules, public procurement is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory.

Iraq

Paul Flynn: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 18 September, Official Report, column 870W, on Iraq, whether the (a) chairman and (b) members of the (i) Intelligence and Security Committee, (ii) Defence and (iii) Foreign Affairs Select Committees were invited to comment on the content of the Iraq dossier before it was published. [131915]

The Prime Minister: As I said in my reply to my hon. Friend on 18 September, all three chairmen were briefed on the content of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction dossier by the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee on 19 September 2002, shortly before it was published.

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In addition, I invited Ann Taylor to see it in advance of the briefing to the whole Intelligence and Security Committee and to pass comment if she wished.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the advice which he received before the conflict on the impact of a military offensive against Iraq on the incidence of terrorism. [131993]

The Prime Minister: The assessment I received was that the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests came from al-Qaeda and related groups, and that this threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq. This assessment informed the Ministry of Defence's planning for military action, as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's consular planning and in the published Travel Advice.

When I took the decision that military action would be required to ensure that Iraq complied with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, I had to weigh all the factors, including the possible short term risk of increased terrorism, against the longer term risks of rogue states developing weapons of mass destruction.

Syria

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment the Government have made of whether Syria (a) possesses and (b) is developing weapons of mass destruction. [131973]

The Prime Minister: The Government are concerned by persistent reports that Syria is pursuing a programme for the development of weapons of mass destruction and believes that the best way to pursue those concerns is in a frank and critical dialogue with the Syrian Government.

We regularly urge all states to sign and ratify all the treaties and conventions covering the development of such weapons.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Patented Medicines

6. Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the implementation of the World Trade Organisation's agreement on TRIPS and public health. [132044]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The agreement reached at the WTO will enable poor countries with no, or insufficient pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity to import copies of patented medicines. The agreement is a very significant step which should help to reduce the price in poor countries of patented medicines that come onto the market after 2005.

Sierra Leone

7. Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to visit Freetown in 2003 to discuss progress on the Department's aid programmes in Sierra Leone. [132045]

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Hilary Benn: Due to commitments arising from my new responsibilities, I have, with regret, had to postpone a visit to Sierra Leone planned for November. I remain closely in touch with developments in Sierra Leone and the progress on our substantial programme there, and discussed the progress being made with President Kabbah when he visited the UK in July.

Iraq

8. Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's contribution to the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq. [132046]

Hilary Benn: In my Written Statement to the House yesterday, I announced a total UK commitment towards Iraq's reconstruction of £544 million for the three years from April 2003, including our share of proposed European Community spending. £296 million of this commitment will be for the period from now until March 2006. It will not result in any reduction in DFID's planned expenditure for low income countries.

9. Chris Grayling To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq. [132047]

Hilary Benn: In my written statement to the House yesterday, I announced a total UK commitment towards Iraq's reconstruction of £544 million for the three years from April 2003, including our share of proposed European Community spending. £296 million of this commitment will be for the period from now until March 2006. It will not result in any reduction in DFID's planned expenditure for low income countries.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's support for projects in Iraq. [132323]

Hilary Benn: I refer my hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement I made yesterday, 14 October 2003, Official Report, column 9WS and the documents I placed in the Library after my Ministerial Statement of 3 July. The latest information on DFID's work in Iraq can also be found on our website at www.dfid.gov.uk.

India

10. Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on British aid programmes in India. [132048]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID provided £161 million of bilateral development assistance to India in 2002–03. In the New Delhi Declaration of January 2002 the Prime Minister looked forward to expenditure of over £300 million. We are making progress towards this budget and expect to be able to disburse some £200 million in 2003–04.

Our programme helps government deliver pro-poor policies and services. We are working closely with four focus states committed to poverty reduction, including on their programmes of fiscal and public sector reform, increasing access to basic health, education, and urban

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services for the poor and empowerment of the marginalised. We also support the efforts of the Union Government and civil society in these areas nationwide.

Our priorities for this year are to:


Global Fund (AIDS, TB and Malaria)

12. Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent contributions his Department has made to the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. [132050]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: Since the Global Fund (GFATM) was set up in 2001 the UK has committed US$200 million. The UK has recently pledged a further US$80 million, extending our current commitment to a total of US$280 million up to 2008.


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