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Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action he has taken since his letter of 24 August to the hon. Member for Linlithgow to help restoration of the marshes of southern Iraq. 
Hilary Benn: DFID maintains close contact with the United Nations Environment Programme on a range of environmental issues in Iraq. United Nations agencies are providing support for environmental management in the Iraqi marshlands and for Iraqi refugees returning to marshland areas. Other bilateral donors are also offering assistance for marshland restoration. DFID's own programme in southern Iraq focuses on employment generation, infrastructure rehabilitation and support for local government.
Hilary Benn: DFID spent £80,000 to fund a Culture and Tourism adviser to work with the Coalition Provisional Authority in southern Iraq from January to May 2004. The adviser took forward projects to protect archaeological sites and re-establish traditional festivals in the southern governorates of Iraq. He also produced a sector report on tourism and culture which has now been adopted by the Iraqi Interim Ministers for Tourism and for Culture.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is working with the Iraqi National Museum and the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities on projects to protect Iraqi cultural heritage amounting to over $2 million. UNESCO is conducting training courses for Iraqi officials on archaeological protection and Iraqi cultural heritage preservation.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the plans are for the replacement of food rationing in Iraq by cash subsidy; what the reasons are for the proposed change; what measures are proposed to protect the vulnerable from the potential adverse effects of such a change; what assessment has been made of the possibility of changes in the crime rate resulting from the proposed change; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government of Iraq has said that it is committed over the medium term, to enhancing the effectiveness of social safety nets in Iraq by moving from a food ration system, which handed out virtually free food to the entire population of Iraq, to a cash distribution system targeted at the poor and unemployed. The aim will be to help domestic
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agriculture, encourage private trade and remove price distortions, at the same time as ensuring that families in need are properly safeguarded. The details have yet to be determined, and are expected to be followed up by the Iraqi Transitional Government after the forthcoming elections. We support the reform in principle. DFID staff and advisers will continue to maintain contact with the Iraqi authorities, and with interested international organisations including the IMF, the World Bank and the World Food Programme, to ensure that the interests of poor and vulnerable families in Iraq are protected. A well-managed reform process should not have any adverse impact on levels of crime in Iraq.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Tooting (Tom Cox) of 13 December 2004, Official Report, columns 81920W, on Iraq, where the interim Iraqi Government and United States forces stockpiled the supplies of water, food and medicine prior to the military operation. 
Hilary Benn: The Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and United States Marines report that they had stockpiled essential supplies in the city of Fallujah prior to military action. The Marines also kept supplies at a nearby base which were brought into the city as necessary. The IIG ministries also report that extra supplies were available in Baghdad, for transfer to Fallujah in trucks by the Iraqi Ministry of Health; they also positioned essential supplies in the area surrounding Fallujah.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the joint proposal of the Iraqi Interim Authority and the International Monetary Fund to replace the food ration to Iraqi families with a conditional cash payment; 
(2) what discussions he has had with (a) the Iraqi Interim Government and (b) the International Monetary Fund on their joint proposal to replace the food ration to Iraqi families with a conditional cash payment. 
Hilary Benn: The current European Development Fund programme in Namibia is worth a total of £91 million over the six year period 200207. A country strategy, focussing on rural development and human resource development, was agreed between the European Commission and the Government of Namibia in June 2002.
A review of the programme, carried out last year, concluded that the size and focal areas of the programme remained appropriate. The review was approved by the European Development Fund Committee in October 2004.
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40. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the cost is of storing the paintings and works of art held by the House. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood: Items from the House collection not on display are kept in two basement storerooms, at no additional cash cost to the House. When works are displaced during the summer works programme, larger paintings are occasionally stored with specialist companies for which the House pays a fee.
41. Dr. Whitehead: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what plans he has to support the expansion of the Parliamentary Education Unit to cope with demand for educational visits. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Commission agreed in November to fund an additional staff post within the Education Unit to focus on outreach to young people, with a principal focus of the job being on building links with local education authorities, as recommended by the Modernisation Committee. The Commission looks forward to considering well founded proposals for the expansion of the Unit's work. It has also asked for further exploration of the possibility of extension of the current autumn visits programme run by the Unit to run all year round.
42. Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what plans he has to support the expansion of the Parliamentary Education Unit to cope with demand for educational visits. 
Mr. Steen: To ask the honourable Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to his Answer of 16 December 2004, Official Report, column 1225W, on kettles, whether a comparative assessment was made of the health and safety risks posed by kettles and cisterns of boiling water; and if he will arrange for the issue of rubber gloves to all kitchens in the Parliamentary Estate to protect against the danger of scalding. 
Sir Archy Kirkwood:
An assessment has been made of the comparative health and safety risks posed by kettles and hot water boilers. Boilers are considered to be safer. It is not considered practical to issue rubber gloves in all kitchens, but the option of new cool touch taps is being investigated.
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Sue Doughty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his Department's policy is in relation to the storage of documents and the use of shredders; and whether this policy has been reviewed in the past 12 months. 
Yvette Cooper: Documents are stored either close to where they are used or by an off-site storage contractor. Material of no value as a record is disposed of, preferably by recycling, as soon as it is no longer required. Documents that form part of the official record are stored until they reach the end of their retention periods or they are selected for permanent preservation and transferred to The National Archives. When they are no longer required, official records are disposed of by shredding or other appropriate means and paper is recycled where practicable. Retention periods are determined on the basis of business need and guidance issued by The National Archives. Further details can be found at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's policy on the storage and disposal of records has not changed in the past 12 months.
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