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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 1 November 2004



Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps have been taken to encourage Afghan farmers to move from growing poppies to other food crops. [193437]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID is supporting organisations that are working in a number of poppy growing provinces across Afghanistan, including Badakhshan, Kandahar and Helmand. These organisations, including the Aga Khan Foundation and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, are working with farmers to help them identify and try a range of legal crops, providing seeds, fertilizer and tools. However, crops alone are not the only way to help those involved in opium poppy farming to earn a legal income. These projects also work to identify and help with non-crop and off-farm opportunities, including help with animal rearing, improving animal welfare, and training in crafts such as tailoring.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan on the possibility of helping with their funding. [195279]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: None.


Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid his Department has (a) pledged and (b) distributed to China since 1999. [194073]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID does not make specific pledges of expenditure for country programmes. Since the Financial Year of 1999–2000, DFID has distributed £162,948,000 for development assistance in China. Further information and a breakdown by financial years is available in DFID's Statistics for International Development 2004 (Table 7.3). This is available on-line on the DFID website: http://www.dfid.gov.uk and will soon be available in the Library of the House.

Commission for Africa

Mr Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the budget is of the Government's Africa Commission; which Department oversees the budget; and what the criteria are governing expenditure. [195135]

Hilary Benn: The budget for the Commission for Africa is £5.9 million. This is met and overseen by the Department for International Development (DFID). It covers the cost of the Commissioners' travel on
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Commission business; the cost of Commission meetings; the cost of consultation and of analytical work in preparation of the Commission's report; and the cost of the Commission's Secretariat. All expenditures are made in line with the objectives and priorities of the Commission.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many consultancy firms or companies have been retained by the Department since June 2001; what the projects are for which each has been retained; and what the total is of the fees paid or incurred in each case. [193421]

Hilary Benn: The following table gives the number of consultancy companies and of individual consultants awarded DFID contracts in each of the last three years, together with the value of contracts awarded. The purposes of contracts are set out in the list of 'Contracts Issued 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2004', which has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Number of consultancy companies awarded contractsNumber of individual consultants awarded contractsTotal value of contracts awarded
(£ million)

These figures do not include lower value contracts issued by DFID's overseas offices, details of which cannot be provided without incurring a disproportionate cost.

Mobile Phones

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many mobile phones were used by (a) Ministers and special advisers and (b) officials in his Department in each year since 1997; how many were (i) lost and (ii) stolen; and what their cost was. [191433]

Hilary Benn: Over the last two years, the number of mobile phones in use in the UK, and their costs (including equipment, call charges and access charges) are as follows:
2004–05 to date:43492,800

These figures include the two mobile phones for Ministers and two for the Special Advisers.

Mobile phones were not managed under a central contract prior to this period, and therefore information for earlier years (and information on mobile phones in overseas offices) is not readily available and could not be provided without incurring a disproportionate cost.

The total number of mobile phones lost or stolen since 1997 is 28.
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New Deal

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many personnel the Department has recruited under the New Deal in each of the past five years. [194855]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 25 October 2004. Official Report column 1052W.

Press Releases

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many press releases have been issued by his Department in each month of 2004; and if he will make a statement. [195364]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The number of press releases issued each month by DFID Press Office in London in 2004 is as follows:

Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many unpaid special advisers the Department has; what their names are; and which Government (a) bodies, (b) committees and (c) strategy groups each unpaid adviser (i) belongs to, (ii) advises and (iii) works alongside. [194081]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 28 October 2004, Official Report, columns 1380–470W.


European Travel Allowance

Mr. Allen: To ask the Leader of the House what use hon. and right hon. Members have made of their facility to visit European institutions in each of the years for which figures are available; and what his policy is on encouraging hon. and right hon. Members to make fuller use of the provision. [193598]

Mr. Woolas: During 2003–04 200 hon. Members claimed against the European travel allowance for a total of 272 journeys to European institutions and agencies and the Parliaments of EFTA countries, EU member countries, candidate and applicant countries. 50 Members made two visits each and 11 made three visits each. For information about earlier years I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my right hon.
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Friend the Leader of the House on 15 July 2003, Official Report, column 189W, and on 1 September 2003, Official Report, column 709W.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has invited the Modernisation Committee to consider the operation of this scheme, as part of its inquiry into the Scrutiny of European Business, and in particular whether it would be practicable within the existing budget to enable those Members who have regular and valuable contact through approved visits to do so more than three times.


Domestic Violence

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General what guidance has been given on the level of evidence needed to bring a successful prosecution for offences of domestic violence. [193877]

The Solicitor-General: The Code for Crown Prosecutors requires prosecutors in all cases to be satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to prosecute. There is also CPS Policy and Guidance on prosecuting cases of domestic violence. Both documents make reference to the standard of evidence needed for successful prosecutions. The Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Policy and Guidance on Domestic Violence are currently being revised to reflect recent legislative and procedural changes and are due to be published soon.

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