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1 Sept 2004 : Column 731W—continued

Press Officers

Mr. Alan Duncan: To ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much his Department spent on press officers in (a) 1996–97 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available, broken down by grade. [185823]

Mr. Leslie: The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) was created in June 2003. Figures are available for the period June 2003 to March 2004 only.

GradeNumbersTotal salaries(19)
Span 9 (G6)135,994
Span 8 (G7)264,325
Span 7 (S10)4134,418
Span 6 (10)8190,966

(19) June 2003 to March 2004

These figures do not include the Director and Deputy Director of Communications, who speak to the media but on a far more infrequent basis than press officers.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department has completed its review of the feasibility of funding aid for internally displaced persons in Burma; what consultations he has undertaken with ethnic relief teams which operate within the conflict zones of Burma in order to obtain their input into the review; and what assistance he will be providing for organisations whose levels of accountability are not yet to the standards required by his Department so that they can improve their accountability in order to be eligible for UK funding. [185564]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: A review of DFID's role in meeting the needs of poor Burmese people on the Thai-Burma border is underway. Re-examining DFID's policy on providing cross-border assistance from Thailand to Burma was one part of the Mission's scope. A team recently visited the border as part of this work. During this Mission, the team met a large number of international agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations working on the border including some that provide programmes across the borders in Burma. I shall write to you with more information once the overall review has been completed.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the state of supplies in refugee camps in Chad; when this assessment was last revised; and if he will make a statement. [186233]

Hilary Benn: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimate that there are currently 180,000 refugees in Chad. This figure comprises 140,000 in nine displaced persons camps in Chad and 40,000 near the border. UNHCR are co-ordinating the aid efforts of UN agencies and non-governmental organisations on the ground in Chad and supplies are being delivered by the World Food Programme (WFP) and NGOs. In the month of July, the WFP estimates that 1,889 tonnes of food was distributed to 134,000 refugees. The WFP report that they have one tonne of dehydrated milk and nine tonnes of High Energy Biscuits in reserve. The UN published an update on current funding for Chad on 27 July. This report states that, since September 2003, the international community has allocated £47 million to Chad, of which the UK has contributed £3 million (£2 million to UNHCR, £1 million to WFP). However, it also estimates that an additional £22 million is required.

With the onset of the rains food, shelter and sanitation are the primary concerns. A UK assessment mission last visited Chad in April 2004. A further DFID/FCO Sudan Unit mission to Chad is planned for next week (w/c 2 August). They will liaise with the UNHCR to assess the current needs of the displaced persons in Chad and to review the relief operations so far. This mission will also consider further allocations of UK humanitarian assistance.
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Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent by (a) the Overseas Development Administration in 1996–97 and (b) the Department in the last year for which figures are available on (i) head-hunters and recruitment consultants and (ii) management consultants. [185565]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: In 2003–04 the Department spent £53,840 on a recruitment consultant to assist with our recruitment procedures. There was no similar expenditure in 1996–97 and no expenditure on head-hunters in either year.

DFID's departmental expenditure on overall consultancy services is made available in "Statistics on International Development", Table 12. A copy of this publication is available in the Library of the House. We do not keep a central record of management consultants in particular and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent (a) by the Overseas Development Administration in 1996–97 and (b) by the Department in the latest accounting period for which figures are available on (i) mobile phones, (ii) hospitality, (iii) taxis and (iv) international travel. [185566]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: (a) Data for expenditure by the Overseas Development Administration by budget category for 1996–97 is not readily available and could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

(b) Data for the latest accounting period of 2002–03 as set out by budget category is as follows:
Domestic and overseas travel inc. taxis2,645

All expenditure on official entertainment is made in accordance with published Departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting.

Figures for travel reflect all domestic and overseas travel, including expenditure on taxis. All official travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules contained in DFID's staff handbook, which reflects the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code.

Recorded expenditure on mobile phones for 2002–03 is not readily available and could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Staff (Upper Age Limits)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether (a) his Department and (b) agencies for which it is responsible (i) have a set retirement age which applies to all or most personnel and (ii) have a maximum age beyond which applications for employment will not be considered; and what the age is in each case. [186081]

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Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID staff below the Senior Civil Service can retire at age 60. However, they can also choose to work on until age 65 subject to their continued capability and satisfactory service. The normal retirement age for Senior Civil Servants is 60. But, DFID has the flexibility to retain members of the Senior Civil Service beyond age 60 if it is judged to be in the public interest and are satisfied about the fitness and efficiency of the individual to carry out his or her duties. Members of the Senior Appointments Selection Committee (SASC) Group retire at age 60 and DFID must obtain approval from the Cabinet Office before retaining staff in the SASC Group beyond this age.

DFID welcomes job applications from people of all ages. However, applicants are expected to be able to give DFID several years' service, or complete a substantial amount of any fixed term appointment, before retirement. There is no upper age limit for consultants. Consultants have to be suitably qualified, experienced and in a suitable physical condition to ensure that they can comply with all of their obligations under the contract.

Green Minister

Mr. Horam: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the activities of the Green Minister in the Department in financial year 2003–04. [185124]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: In the past year, in my capacity as Green Minister, I have carried out the following:

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