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9 Dec 2004 : Column 694W—continued

US Navy

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British subjects are employed by the US Navy operations in London. [202301]

Mr. Ingram: The US Navy employs 353 non-US nationals either as direct-hires or through contractors, in support of operations in London. Their regulations require only that all employees in the UK hold legal work permits therefore they are unable to confirm that all employed are British subjects.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Prime Minister what (a) oral and (b) written reports he received on the morning of 7 September 2002 from the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning Iraq's weapons capability. [202919]

The Prime Minister: I received no reports from the IAEA on the morning of 7 September 2002 concerning Iraq's weapons capability. While there was media reporting at the time of UN officials having identified new construction and other unexplained changes at several nuclear related sites in Iraq, this was subsequently denied by the IAEA.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on recent talks with the Iraqi Prime Minister concerning progress in Iraq. [202966]

The Prime Minister: I recently agreed with the Iraqi Prime Minister the importance of holding elections according to the agreed January timetable as well as ensuring the broadest possible participation by all Iraqis. We also reviewed progress in the Iraqi Interim Government's strategy for ensuring security for the elections.

I also refer my hon. Friend to the Press Conference I held with Prime Minister Allawi on 19 September 2004, which is available on the Number 10 website.
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Ministerial Committees

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister for what reason the Environment Secretary has no place on (a) the Ministerial Committees on Defence and Overseas policy and (b) the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Relations with the United States. [202108]

The Prime Minister: On 18 November 2004, Official Report, column 104WS, I announced the current list of Cabinet Committees and sub-committees, their membership and terms of reference. Other Ministers and officials can be invited to meetings of Ministerial Committees when necessary.



Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what mechanisms are in place to ensure that UK Government assistance to Colombia excludes the funding of government-sponsored agencies or groups that are known human rights abusers. [203115]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID no longer has any government-to-government bilateral projects in Colombia. Our last project, in the agricultural sector, ended in 2003 and was consistent with the United Nations (UN) human rights recommendations.

DFID's support to Colombia now takes the form of our contribution to multilateral agencies working in Colombia, in particular the European Commission's (EC) development assistance, and direct support to non-governmental organisations through the Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF). The EC has made clear its support for the UN's human rights recommendation. In designing projects it takes account of the need to avoid funds being used in a way that would not be compliant with UN human rights recommendations. The CSCF only supports UK based organisations working in partnership with local civil society organisations.

The British Government also ensure the reliability and probity of those in receipt of UK military assistance. DFID uses the best information available to assure ourselves that Colombian authorities benefiting from UK assistance are not engaged in activities that violate human rights, aid internal repression or are in collusion with paramilitary organisations. This includes personal interviews and background checks. We keep in close contact with the activities concerned to maintain this assurance throughout the duration of any project.

Departmental Advertising

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in which Muslim newspapers the Department advertises; and what kinds of advertising the Department places in Muslim newspapers. [201695]

Hilary Benn: DFID does not advertise in any religious media, although we have trialled the use of various ethnic minority publications. In the interests of fair and open competition all our external vacancies are
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advertised on our website and in media aimed at targeting the broadest readership from all parts of the community.

Departmental Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on energy costs incurred by his Department in each of the last two years. [200859]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The energy costs of the DFID UK estate over the last two years have been as follows:
Heating fuels60,22665,698

DFID energy costs have increased by 11 per cent. This is mainly due to additional consumption as a result of our East Kilbride office being refurbished during this period.

DFID has established Environmental Management Systems in it's UK offices and is not only actively monitoring energy utilisation but also considering, on an on-going basis, any opportunities to further improve energy efficiency measures.

Information on energy costs for our overseas offices is not centrally available and could not be obtained without incurring a disproportionate cost.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost of refurbishing each ministerial private office was in each of the last two years. [200862]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: No costs have been incurred in refurbishing ministerial private offices in the last two years.

Displaced Persons (Burma)

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action his Department is taking to ensure that ethnic minorities in Burma (a) are protected from violence and (b) have access to humanitarian assistance. [202863]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: Many of the most vulnerable people in Burma live in the border regions. In order to help them directly, DFID is funding work to provide assistance and protection, including giving support to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other international and national non-governmental organisations. DFID has also recently agreed to work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support the expansion of its grassroots assistance programme into more of the ethnic minority areas.

At the same time, the UK is working to ensure that human rights issues, including the protection of ethnic minority people, are raised with the Burmese authorities. The UK has been a strong supporter of the work of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Sergio Pinheiro, and the work of the United
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Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative, Razali Ismail., Along with EU partners, the UK is working hard to ensure that human rights in Burma are fully addressed at this year's United Nations General Assembly.

EU Directives

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the European Union directives and regulations relating to his Department that have been implemented in each of the last two years, specifying (a) the title and purpose of each, (b) the cost to public funds of each and (c) the cost to businesses of each. [200871]

Hilary Benn: The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only by incurring a disproportionate cost. DFID does not hold information on the costs of implementation to public funds or businesses.

Food Aid (Southern Africa)

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps (a) his Department and (b) other donors are taking to source food aid for southern Africa from local suppliers. [202854]

Hilary Benn: DFID is conscious of the adverse impact of food aid on local economies. DFID's support for World Food Programme (WFP) operations has been accompanied by pressure to programme food aid in ways that minimise disincentives for local production, and that will not disrupt local food markets. DFID, and other like-minded donors, have consistently called for better targeting and monitoring mechanisms and for increases in regional and local procurement of food.

The WFP has recognised and acted upon these concerns in southern Africa. In the last year the WFP procured more than 100,000 metric tonnes of food from Zambia for use in its operations in the region. In another example, DFID's support for food aid operations in Mozambique last year was based on locally procured supplies, ensuring that competitively priced surplus grain in the north was sourced for food aid needs in the south.

DFID is supporting the WFP's efforts to strengthen food market analysis in their emergency needs assessments. DFID is are complementing this by building on our support for national Vulnerability Assessment Committees to enable them to undertake more detailed food market assessments.

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