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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 4 December 2003


Big Conversation

Mr. Alan Duncan: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what estimate has been made of the cost of civil service time allocated to the Big Conversation consultation; [141882]

The Prime Minister: The Labour Party is consulting its members and the wider community on the Government's progress and challenges ahead. This is a party document and has been issued by the Labour Party. No civil servants have been seconded to work on the consultation process.

However Ministers and special advisers have of course participated in this process according to the rules laid out in the Ministerial Code and the Special Advisers Code.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits the United Kingdom in May 2004. [142064]

The Prime Minister: I have not received a request to meet the Dalai Lama.

Special Advisers

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to amend the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers. [142501]

The Prime Minister: In its response to the ninth report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Government proposed an amendment to the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers to clarify the relationships between special advisers and permanent civil servants. In the light of comments made, the Government have decided to delete the reference to "instructions" in the opening paragraph. A revised amendment has been placed in the Library of the House.


Olympic Games

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps he is taking to ensure that Ministers representing the United Kingdom abroad are adequately briefed on the London 2012 Olympic bid. [140508]

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Mr. Alexander: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport gave to him on 3 December 2003, Official Report, columns 64–65W.


Mr. Redwood: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what percentage of (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation sponsored by his Department in 2002–03 was introduced to implement EU requirements. [141127]

Mr. Alexander: None.



John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has made to the Government of Angola about the reintergration of demobilised soldiers. [141374]

Hilary Benn: The reintegration of demobilised soldiers is a key issue in the UK's regular discussions with the Government of Angola.

Since the end of the war in April 2002, over 88,000 ex-combatants have benefited from the Government of Angola's own disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme.

DFID is supporting the World Bank's Multi-country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme (MDRP) for the Great Lakes region of Africa with a contribution of $25 million. The specific programme for Angola (ADRP) is an integral part of the MDRP and is worth $180 million over the next two years. The programme formally starts in January 2004 and will focus mainly on providing social and economic reintegration assistance including training and employment opportunities for 138,000 former combatants from UNITA and the government's own forces. My department has actively participated in each of the World Bank missions held over the last 18 months in order to design and set up the ADRP. DFID was also one of two donor countries (together with the Netherlands) to participate in the executive committee of the ADRP Special Project that aimed to provide 50,000 ex-combatants with seeds and tools for the autumn 2003 planting season and training in basic livelihoods skills for another 3,000.

Democratic Republic of Congo

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made with supplying food to vulnerable people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [141372]

Hilary Benn: DRC is considered as one of 38 countries requiring exceptional external assistance by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, as a result of the effects of civil strife and the presence of large numbers of displaced people and refugees. However not all vulnerable people in DRC require food aid, and the UN's assessed requirement for food aid in DRC is low relative to chronically food insecure countries such as

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Sudan or Ethiopia. In these circumstances emergency help with health and nutrition can be more effective in reducing mortality than food aid.

Between 2000 and 2003 the World Food Programme delivered 259,081 metric tonnes (mt) of food for DRC. WFP began a distribution of 46,000mt of food aid in the east of the country in June this year in response to high levels of malnutrition there. This project is due to finish on 15 December. Just under 40per cent. of the requested food aid (17,237mt) has been distributed. DFID has not made a specific contribution to this, although it is supporting food aid distribution in the same area through the International Relief NGO, CESVI.

DFID has steadily increased its humanitarian programme in DRC over the past five years.

This year we will spend over 10 million on emergency humanitarian relief. Much of this is for emergency medical interventions, rather than food aid. We are also committed to supporting the new transitional national government and the political transitiongenerally in DRC. It is only with a lasting political solution that the needs of vulnerable people can be properly addressed.


Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the £60 million being held in the Treasury to be drawn down to assist humanitarian and reconstruction work in Iraq has been (a) drawn down to contribute to the Madrid pledge and (b) withdrawn. [141512]

Hilary Benn: The £60 million is included in the UK's total Madrid pledge of £544 for the three years from April 2003.£30.8 million of it has already been allocated, primarily towards meeting the costs of UK secondments to the Coalition Provisional Authority. The allocation of the remainder is under consideration.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action is being taken to prevent the assault and rape of civilians by gunmen in Liberia. [141371]

Hilary Benn: The international community has put in place a peacekeeping force under the direction of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). UNMIL has successfully created an arms free zone in Monrovia, and plans progressively to extend its influence over the entire country as it builds up to its full complement of 15,000 peacekeepers by March.

The most effective way to provide security and protection for Liberian civilians is for all factions to implement the Accra Peace Agreement, signed in 17 August, beginning with instructions to their followers to disarm and demobilise. The UK, as part of the international contact group on Liberia, is supporting the implementation of the agreement. Plans to support the process and to reform the security services, including the police, as part of the reconstruction of Liberia are being taken forward by the UN and donors.

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John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Sool Plateau in Somalia; and what assistance he has offered. [141369]

Hilary Benn : Approximately 90,000 pastoralists are at risk from the failure of the autumn rains in northern Somalia. The global malnutrition rate for the Sool plateau is just under 14 per cent., which indicates the need for close monitoring rather than immediate intervention.

The humanitarian response includes: greater use of targeted family rations by WFP alongside UNICEF's supplementary feeding programme to screened children, monitoring of the health and nutrition situation; cash assistance to allow communities meet their non-food needs especially water, transport for livestock and/or people and to some extent pay up for accumulated credit; emergency water provision; emergency health services provision and veterinary services.

A United Nations assessment found a difficult situation although not yet a humanitarian crisis. We are envisaging a contribution to a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs emergency response fund that is likely to appear as an amendment to the 2004 Consolidated Appeal for Somalia. The UN's Children Fund received £1 million from DFID for its health and nutrition work in Somalia in March 2003. We will be making some further contributions to meet humanitarian needs in Somalia very soon.

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