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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what target his Department sets for the maximum acceptable time to respond in full to a parliamentary question; and what percentage of answers given by his Department failed to meet this target in each parliamentary session from 199798 to 200304. 
Hilary Benn: DFID aims to ensure that Members receive a substantive response to their Named Day question on the named day and endeavour to answer Ordinary Written questions within a working week of being tabled. Unfortunately, this is not always possible but DFID makes every effort to achieve these timescales.
We are unable to give accurate figures on how many Parliamentary Questions did not meet the deadline for the years asked without incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if he will list the attributable interviews that his Department's special advisers gave to (a) newspapers, (b) journals, (c) books and (d) other media in their official capacity between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004; 
(2) if he will list the attributable (a) articles and (b) contributions that his Department's special advisers made to (i) newspapers, (ii) journals, (iii) books and (iv) other media in their official capacity between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004. 
Hilary Benn: All special advisers' contacts with the media are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Special Advisers.
DFID special advisers have not given any attributable articles or contributions to newspapers, journals, books or any other media between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Sudan. 
Hilary Benn: After 23 years of conflict the UN social indicators in Sudan continue to be among the lowest in the world. With four million displaced people, large areas of the country continue to need life-saving and life-sustaining assistance. Continuing conflict has accounted for persistently high levels of poverty, as agricultural production is disrupted and people are displaced. The UN has appealed for $1.48 billion to meet needs in Sudan in 2005.
In Darfur the humanitarian situation remains precarious, Over 1.8 million have been displaced and on-going insecurity hampers delivery of humanitarian assistance. Since September 2004 the UK allocated £62.5 million to Darfur.
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Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on humanitarian aid being provided in the Darfur region of Sudan. 
Hilary Benn: The 2004 UN appeal for Darfur is $368 million. The UK is the second biggest bilateral donor to this. Since September 2003 we have allocated £62.5 million in response to the crisis. We are channelling funds through the UN, Red Cross and NGOs. We also provide 19 per cent. of the EC's assistanceof which the total for Darfur so far is €125 million.
We will sustain our commitment to meeting humanitarian needs across Sudan through the allocation of £100 million next year. Our aim is to consolidate the humanitarian response by improving the quality of service delivery and expanding operations into remote areas.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what (a) polling, (b) focus group research and (c) other measures of public opinion were undertaken by the Electoral Commission since June 2003 in relation to (i) the regional referendum in the North East and (ii) preparation for the referendums in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. 
Mr. Viggers: I am advised by the Electoral Commission that it has used polling, focus groups and other public opinion research in fulfilling a number of its statutory duties in relation to regional referendums.
To assist the Commission in fulfilling its statutory duty to comment on the proposed local government referendum questions, interviews were conducted with members of the public across the three regions to gauge public reaction to the local government referendum questions and the draft ballot pack.
As part of the Commission's statutory role in encouraging voting at the referendums, the Commission organised focus groups across the three regions to help design its public information campaign. This work was carried out before the postponement of the referendums in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. For the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of the Commission's advertising campaign, an initial public opinion survey was undertaken across the three regions in June. The second and third waves of interviews in conjunction with this evaluation, held in September and November, took place in the North East only.
To inform its statutory report on the North East referendum, now expected to be published by the autumn of 2005, the Commission is currently working in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Council on a public opinion survey in that region; it is also arranging focus groups and other interviews.
To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what the total cost was of the activities
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performed by the Electoral Commission in connection with (a) the regional referendum in the North East and (b) preparation for the referendums in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. 
Mr. Viggers: I am advised by the Electoral Commission that it is difficult to make a definitive assessment of the cost of activities performed in preparation for the postponed referendums in the North West and in Yorkshire and the Humber separately from those in preparation for the referendum in the North East.
Total Commission expenditure in relation to these referendums is expected to be £4.07 million. Of this, approximately £470,000 was incurred before the referendums in the North West and in Yorkshire and the Humber were postponed at the end of July.
The Electoral Commission plans to include a full breakdown and analysis of expenditure in preparation for the three regional referendums, and in fulfilling its responsibilities in relation to the referendum in the North East, in its statutory report on that referendum. The Commission now expects to publish this report by the autumn of 2005.
Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will introduce separate bins in offices and communal areas across the parliamentary estate for the disposal of (a) plastic waste and (b) compostable waste. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood: At present the recycling of plastic waste is not a viable option for the parliamentary estate. Plastic waste is not produced in sufficient amounts to be attractive to waste contractors and recyclers, although this may change in the future. Other than garden waste, waste is not currently composted. Any waste containing a meat product requires rendering and this does not make composting a viable option for the parliamentary estate.
Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what targets have been set for sourcing energy from renewable sources on the parliamentary estate; and if he will make a statement. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood: The target is to obtain at least 10 per cent. of the electricity for the parliamentary estate from renewable sources. At present 11 per cent. is so supplied.
Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what measures have been taken to ensure that honourable Members and staff do not leave computers and other electrical office equipment on the parliamentary estate on or on stand-by mode overnight and during weekends and other non-working days. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood: Publicity issued by the Energy Savers Group encourages computer users to switch off equipment out of working hours. Agreement has been reached with the Parliamentary Communications Directorate for new computers to be set to go into hibernate mode during any long periods out of use.
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