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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 December 2003



Mr. Gardiner: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission by what means the House's policy on purchasing timber and timber products ensures that they are obtained from legal and sustainable sources. [141339]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The General Specification used for Parliamentary works includes the following clause:


Cote d'Ivoire

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to prevent conflict reoccurring in Cote D'Ivoire. [141368]

Mr. Mullin: I have been asked to reply.

The UK fully supports the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement (LMA) as the basis for sustainable peace in Cote d'Ivoire. Our engagement has included £3 million to support the work of the European Community of West African States Mission in Cote d'Ivoire (ECOMICI), the West African regional peacekeeping force. We have also provided £1 million in humanitarian aid. We have been concerned at the growing fragility of the peace process since September, including attempts by armed elements to cross the ceasefire line on 29 November. We are working closely with the French and others in the international community to urge continued respect for the ceasefire; underline the importance of the government of National Reconciliation meeting again in full; and of swift progress on implementation of the LMA, including measures for disarmament and demobilisation.

EU Development Assistance

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with his counterparts in EU accession countries about an increased focus on (a) poor countries and (b) poverty reduction in future EU development assistance. [140871]

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Mr. Gareth Thomas: EU Enlargement should be an opportunity to mobilise even greater support for the Millennium Development Goals and a pro-poor development agenda.

During the informal meeting of EU Development Ministers in Trieste, where many of my accession colleagues were present, broad development policy issues were discussed. I will also be meeting a number of my counterparts from key Accession Countries after the New Year to stress the importance of securing wider agreement on poverty reduction as the central objective of EU development assistance.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is towards the proportion of European Union Development Assistance that should go to low income countries. [140872]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID has consistently pressed for the proportion of EC overseas development assistance spent in low income countries to reach the level of 70 per cent. The target date for this achievement is 2006.

According to the available provisional figures, over 50 per cent. of all EC overseas development assistance was spent in low income countries in 2002. This represents an increase in this proportion for the second year running.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with his colleagues in the European Union about the (a) nature and (b) extent of EU assistance for middle income countries. [140873]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: During the Trieste informal meeting of EU Development Ministers last October, I had an opportunity to share our current thinking on how best to allocate Community aid between countries. In this context, I reiterated the importance of allocating Community aid to countries based on needs and performance, and to seek a greater differentiation between the development instruments we use in low versus middle income countries.

In practice, this would imply a larger share of EC overseas development assistance going to low income countries, and a focus of allocations to middle income countries on those with large number of poor people which pursue reformist policies. It would also mean an increased use of instruments such as concessional lending and technical assistance in middle income countries.

I have also discussed this bilaterally with some UK members of the European Parliament during the autumn.


Projects (St. Helens)

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office which projects have been (a) wholly and (b) partly funded by his Department in St. Helens since 1997; when each project was announced; when it started or was expected to start; what funding was provided by (i) Government and (ii) a third party; what third party

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provided funding; what the target group of the project was; what the projected outcome of the project was; and what the name of the project was. [141268]

Mr. Alexander: The Cabinet Office works with all Government Departments to help deliver key public service priorities and leads the reform programme for public services.

The Cabinet Office has funded no projects in St. Helens since 1997.


Hutton Inquiry

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Law Officers have taken in the light of the ruling by Mr. Justice Tomlinson in District Council and others v. The Governor and company of the Bank of England to ensure that documents given to the Hutton Inquiry but not released on the grounds of legal advice privileged are published. [142054]

The Solicitor-General: The Law Officers have taken no steps in relation to the publication of any documents disclosed to the Hutton Inquiry.

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Solicitor-General what discussions were held between the Attorney-General's office and the Hutton Inquiry about which documents disclosed to the Hutton Inquiry should not be made public; and what reasons were given by the Government in each case. [142055]

The Solicitor-General: None.


Arun Valley Rail Upgrade

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) status, (b) start date and (c) expected completion date is of the Arun Valley rail upgrade. [140485]

Dr. Howells: The Arun Valley upgrade was proposed by GoVia as part of their plans for a 20 year franchise. The Strategic Rail Authority subsequently agreed a shorter franchise with GoVia. The development of infrastructure upgrades will be taken forward by the SRA separately from franchise replacements. The focus currently is on the major upgrade of the power supply in the Southern Region. The Strategic Rail Authority has developed a Capacity Utilisation Policy which seeks to make the most efficient use of the existing network. Work on a Route Utilisation Strategy for the Brighton Main Line has begun. This will help to inform the need for any future infrastructure upgrades.

Community/Voluntary Transport Projects

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage (a) community and (b) voluntary sectors in the transport field. [142434]

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Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport greatly values the contribution that the voluntary and community sector makes in the transport field and is committed to the Government wide Compact on working with the voluntary sector. The Department has produced a draft Strategy and Action Plan detailing how it will work with and engage the sector over the coming year and we are currently consulting on that draft.

The Department has also set up a Compact working group with membership drawn from the voluntary and community sector to progress this work and to help us ensure that we have a clear understanding of their issues and priorities.

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what support his Department is giving to voluntary organisations in the transport sector. [142435]

Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport directly supports voluntary organisations in a number of ways. For example, it funds the information and advice service provided by the Community Transport Association. The CTA provides an extensive service to community transport operators and local authorities on a range of legal and operational issues. The Department also publishes guidance on the type of services that can be run and the legal framework for them. The Department also provides funding for 12 mobility centres in England, which give information and advice to disabled and older people on driving and other aspects of personal mobility and to Mobility Choice, the charity that runs the annual Mobility Roadshow.

In addition, funding the rural and urban bus challenge enables the Department to aid schemes run by community transport groups and last year regulations were introduced to extend the Bus Service Operators Grant.

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