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23 Feb 2004 : Column 107W—continued

Ministerial Travel

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he last used a train in connection with his ministerial duties. [155167]

Hilary Benn: I regularly travel to Brussels by Eurostar. The last time was 3 February. When undertaking ministerial duties in the UK, depending on time constraints, I travel by train.

All my ministerial travel on official business is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in "Travel by Ministers".


Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the implications for UK aid assistance to Nigeria are of the Nigerian Government's attempts to procure ballistic missiles and associated weapons technology; and what representations he has made to Nigerian representatives on the issue. [155489]

Hilary Benn: Speculation that Nigeria has attempted to procure military equipment from North Korea has not been substantiated and Nigerian Government spokesmen claim to have been misreported. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has nonetheless made representations to the Nigerian authorities about Britain's policy and position. DFID's criterion for allocating development assistance is where we can make the greatest impact on reducing poverty—as expressed by the UN Millennium Development Goals. The Nigerian Government has embarked on an ambitious programme of reform that provides the best opportunity for substantial and lasting poverty reduction in a generation. DFID is committed to supporting this.

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the situation in Plateau State, Nigeria; and what action the Government are taking to support peace and conflict resolution initiatives there. [155566]

Hilary Benn: Violent outbreaks throughout Nigeria are a matter of great concern to the Nigerian Government. The roots of conflicts can be hard to establish: groups tend to divide on religious and ethnic grounds but the underlying causes are often more complex.

DFID, the FCO and the MOD have developed a joint conflict prevention strategy for Nigeria, in partnership with the Nigerian Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution. As part of this strategy, the British Government are supporting the International Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, who has been supporting reconciliation and conflict transformation work in Plateau State, at the invitation of the Governor.

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The British High Commission maintains close contact with the Nigerian authorities, and regularly visits afflicted areas.

Opium Production (Afghanistan)

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the estimated volume of opium production in Afghanistan is for the current year; and what the estimated volume was in each of the last five years. [154884]

Mr. Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. The UNODC is in the process of preparing the 2004 report on behalf of the Afghan government, which will be published in the autumn. According to the UNODC annual survey, the estimated volume of opium production and cultivation in each of the last five years is as follows:


The low level of cultivation and low production figure in 2001 reflect the Taliban ban on opium cultivation; the ban did not however address the underlying causes of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, and was enforced with a mix of threat and bribery.

Recovery Infrastructure Group

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development into which bank account the assistance for the Recovery Infrastructure Group is paid; who controls the account; and if he will make a statement. [155335]

Hilary Benn: The Recovery and Infrastructure Group project rehabilitates and refurbishes Government and other public buildings. Project funds are paid into an account managed by Crown Agents Financial Services Ltd. Halcrow Group Ltd. design and supervise the implementation of projects by local firms. Progress is reviewed by DFID staff.

Serbia and Montenegro

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of Serbian co-operation with (a) international institutions and (b) the War Crimes Tribunal on development assistance to Serbia; and what representations he has made to (i) EU partners and (ii) the Serbian government about this. [155669]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: For the three-year period to the end of 2003, positive dialogue between Serbia and the International Community, including the IMF, World Bank, and European Commission led to a programme of reform backed up by substantial assistance programmes from key donors. In 2003, The European

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Commission allocated some £160 million (UK share of which was about £30 million) and the World Bank had committed nearly £210 million of a three-year allocation of £286 million approved in 2001.

Although Serbia and Montenegro (SaM) made some progress in co-operating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in early 2003, co-operation has since stalled. We and our partners in the International Community take every opportunity to remind Belgrade that in order to realise her Euro-Atlantic aspirations, SaM must fulfil the international obligation of full and complete co-operation with the ICTY. Through both bilateral and EU initiatives, we continue to put pressure on SaM to arrest and transfer all remaining ICTY indictees, including Serb leaders Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic and to allow ICTY full access to documents and witnesses.

We and our European Partners regularly discuss the situation in Serbia. It is unclear how Serbia's relations with international institutions and ICTY will now develop since Serbia has yet to form a government following last December's parliamentary elections. We will continue to liaise closely with EU and other International Community partners, to identify the most effective ways to support and promote both reform and co-operation with ICTY.

Small Arms Global Pool

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the Small Arms Global Pool. [155673]

Hilary Benn: The Global and Africa Conflict Prevention Pools (GCPP) as a whole are currently undergoing a full and independent evaluation after the first three years of operation. A report will be published shortly.

The GCPP's Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Strategy is that it has achieved a number of notable outcomes in a short period of time.

The strategy has helped to ensure that recent UN and regional agreements could be implemented in many arms-affected regions. We have supported practical measures to combat the supply, demand and availability of weapons at local, national and regional levels in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe; notably the establishment in Tanzania of the first ever government-endorsed national action plan, which tackles in a comprehensive way the problem of small arms proliferation. New legislation in Brazil banning the carrying of weapons by civilians is another initiative supported by the strategy that has resulted in lasting change.

However, more needs to be done to raise awareness and to integrate small arms control and reduction measure into wider defence relations, foreign policy, conflict, security and development programmes. A new SALW strategy (2004–07) is currently being developed and this will seek to address this.

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Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the weapons destroyed so far as a result of the Small Arms Global Pool, broken down by type. [155674]

Hilary Benn: A key element of the UK Government's Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Strategy is to reduce the availability of SALW through support for weapons stockpile management, collection and destruction programmes.

Within the framework of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (2001), the UK supports a number of governments including those of developing countries to dispose of small arms stocks, preferably by destruction, that are surplus to national requirements.

The UK is supporting the development of five-year National Action Plans in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Namibia. These plans will provide a comprehensive approach to weapons controls in these countries and include elements for the disarmament, management and destruction of weapons.

Since 2001, the GCPP-funded Small Arms and Demobilisation Unit of UNDP have supported the destruction of over 360,000 weapons and in excess of 24 million items of ammunition (i.e. small arms cartridges) and 1,090 tonnes of ammunition as part of their global weapons collection management and destruction programme.

The UK has also funded a Brazilian NGO, Viva Rio, which has, as part of its awareness raising campaign, worked with the police and military in organising ceremonial public destructions of firearms. In excess of 114,000 have been destroyed since UK support for the project started in 2001. Destruction of weapons is done in partnership with the Rio State Government.

The UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Lima, Peru, which is supported by the GCPP, has a programme for capacity building and training of law enforcement officials in Latin America. As a component of this work the Regional Centre has been involved in supporting local military and police with weapons destruction exercises.

The UK is also one of a number of countries contributing to an ammunition destruction programme carried out in Albania by the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA), which aims to destroy 11,600 tonnes of small arms and light weapons ammunition over a four-year period.

Further statistics on the type of weapons and ammunitions destroyed are not readily available.

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the countries in which activities are taking place under the Small Arms Global Pool; and what the (a) targets and (b) achievements of those initiatives were in each case. [155675]

Hilary Benn: Under the UK Government's Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP), the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Strategy (£19.5 million,

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2001–04) seeks to control and reduce the supply, demand and availability of weapons. It does this by supporting policy development and programmes that assist a wide range of international organisations, regional organisations, Governments and NGOs to combat the proliferation and misuse of small arms.

The four key areas that the strategy seeks to promote are:

For example, the UK has supported regional and sub regional efforts to combat SALW proliferation, and the development of long-term national programmes. The strategy has also supported work to build regional and international consensus on the need for an international agreement on small arms transfers and trade. This is done within the framework provided by the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (2001).

The UK has contributed to the UN Development Programme's Small Arms and Demobilisation Unit global programme of weapons collection, stockpile management, capacity building and destruction within the context of disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration of ex-combatants and community development. UNDP is active in 45 countries in many parts of Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America.

The GCPP has also supported a number of other initiatives including the work of:

I have placed in the Library a table providing details of the work funded under the GCPP SALW strategy during the period 2001–04.

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