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Small Businesses

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department uses a database of individual small businesses for consultation purposes. [142475]

Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport is committed to good communications with all its stakeholders. Individual policy divisions consult widely with relevant stakeholders, including small businesses, as appropriate when formulating policy. The Department also uses the Small Business Service database of small businesses to seek views on policy proposals.

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Big Conversation

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what visits (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department (i) have made and (ii) plan to make using public funds in connection with the Big Conversation; how many civil servants accompanied each Minister in respect of such visits; what the cost to public funds was of visits by (A) each Minister and (B) civil servants in connection with the Big Conversation; and if he will make a statement. [143154]

Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member the Leader of the House to the answer given by my right hon. Friend on 9 December 2003, Official Report, column 355W.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of UK aid levels in Burundi following the report of the UN Economic and Social delegation indicating that peace has been restored. [141367]

Hilary Benn: There have been encouraging developments in the peace process in Burundi, but it would be premature to say that peace has been fully restored. At the regional summit on Burundi which took place in Dar es Salaam on 16 November, the Burundi transitional government and the CNDD/FDD rebel group agreed to cease hostilities and share power pending national elections at the end of the transitional period in 2004. Efforts are continuing to persuade the remaining rebel group, the FNL, to cease hostilities and enter negotiations.

The UK is providing substantial aid support to Burundi. DFID assistance is likely to amount to some £7 million during the present financial year, comprising humanitarian assistance, and support to local peacebuilding programmes, government capacity building, and to the national HIV/AIDS programme. This does not include DFID's 5-year $25 million pledge to the Multi-Donor Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme for the Great Lakes Region, which will support Burundi's national Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme once it is under way. It also does not include the UK's contributions to the EC and other multilateral programmes in Burundi.

The UK is also contributing substantially to the African Union's peacebuilding force, the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB). So far this year we have contributed £3.9 million to help meet the equipment costs of the Mozambican contingent to AMIB, and have recently agreed a further contribution of £2 million to help meet AMIB's in-country costs.

Central Africa

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when his Department will publish a joint strategy paper on the Great Lakes Region; what assessment he has made of the most recent report of the UN panel of experts on the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. [141833]

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Hilary Benn: DFID plans to publish a note shortly, agreed jointly with the FCO, which will outline its global and regional approach to conflict resolution and development in the Great Lakes.

The FCO will shortly make a statement on the final report of the UN Panel, representing its position and that of the Department for Trade and Industry and DFID.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken as part of the UK's initiative to improve primary education in (a) Rwanda and (b) Malawi. [142282]

Hilary Benn: The Government of Rwanda have made remarkable progress in providing education for all since the 1994 genocide. Primary Net Enrolment reached 81.7 per cent. this year, more than twice the figure for 1995.

DFID has committed more than £13 million to education in Rwanda since 2001, focusing on improving the access, equity and quality of primary education. This includes £3 million for the purchase of primary school textbooks, as well as support for the development of the curriculum, the decentralisation of basic education services, initiatives for out-of-school children and for girls, education on HIV/AIDS and capacity building for education officials.

In addition, DFID provides some £25 million a year and the EC some Euro17 million a year in flexible budget support to the Government of Rwanda, which supports the implementation of Rwanda's Poverty Reduction Strategy.

DFID is also supporting improvements to the quality and accessibility of primary education in Malawi. This includes support for a more relevant primary curriculum, improved in-service training of teachers and the involvement of communities in school management. We have also built 250 classrooms and plan to add another 1,250 more. The total value of our current financial commitment is £61 million. We spent £4.6 million in financial year 2002–03 on education in Malawi.

Energy Policy

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) whether he has carried out an analysis of the extent to which his Department's support for fossil fuel investment is consistent with (a) the UK's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and (b) the Government's goal to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent. from 1990 levels by 2050; [142349]

Hilary Benn: The UK Government are committed to taking a lead in meeting obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, including reductions of carbon dioxide

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emissions. At the same time, we recognise the rights of other sovereign states to fulfil their own legitimate development needs. In considering support for fossil fuel based investments, it is standard procedure for DFID to liaise with other relevant Government Departments to ensure balance and consistency between these objectives. In addition, our policy is to ensure that lending institutions take account of possible social and environmental impacts such as climate change as part of their policies and procedures in assessing fossil fuel projects, before providing loans or loan guarantees. We are particularly concerned that the management of revenues from such projects occurs transparently and with a positive developmental impact. We hope that initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative will help to achieve this.

The UK Energy White Paper, Our energy future—creating a low carbon economy, sets out four core objectives of UK Energy Policy: Tackling Climate Change, Energy Security, Cutting Fuel Poverty and Competitiveness. DFID is working closely with other Government Departments, notably FCO, DTI and DEFRA, to ensure a co-ordinated Whitehall approach to international energy issues.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total value of support from his Department is to overseas projects for (a) the extraction and transport of fossil fuels and (b) the development of renewable energy. [142350]

Hilary Benn : DFID does not fund any projects for the extraction and transport of fossil fuels. It supports six projects that develop and promote small scale renewable energy sources, especially for rural communities. Projects cover the range of energy options, including renewable/fossil fuel hybrid systems, decentralised power generation and comparison with conventional grid electrification. The total value is £1 million over three years 1 .


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he is holding with the Ethiopian Government about the border dispute with Eritrea; and if he will make a statement. [141947]

Hilary Benn: Her Majesty's Government keep in touch with the Governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea at all levels. The Prime Minister recently wrote to both the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the President of Eritrea indicating that the Boundary Commission's decisions are final and binding and that the two parties should engage in dialogue.

I met the Eritrean Foreign Minister when he visited London recently, during which we discussed the peace process. He also met my hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for Africa. In addition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister has recently met with both the Ethiopian and Eritrean Ambassadors.

We also keep in close touch with development in the peace process through our Ambassadors in Addis Ababa and Asmara.

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