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25 Jan 2005 : Column 245W—continued

Travel Costs

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total travel costs to his Department have been for (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials for each year since 1997. [203783]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 9 December 2004]: Since 1999, the Government publishes on an annual basis, the total costs of all ministerial overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. Copies of the lists are available in the Library of the House. The travel costs for those special advisers who accompanied their Minister is included in the annual list on Overseas Travel by Cabinet Ministers. Details on the cost of domestic travel for Ministers and special advisers is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code.

Tsunami (Military Assistance)

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what military (a) assistance and (b) aid the UK has provided to each country following the tsunami
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disaster; what plans he has made for further military (i)assistance and (ii) aid to each country; and if he will make a statement. [209329]

Mr. Ingram: The following military assets were assigned to assist in the relief operation in the Indian ocean.

The frigate HMS Chatham (which carries two Lynx helicopters) was redirected to the area on 30 December, arriving on 3 January; and the support ship RFA Diligence, already in the region, joined Chatham off Sri Lanka on 5 January. These vessels have undertaken a number of relief tasks, including assistance to the town of Baticoloa in the east of Sri Lanka, and provision of engineers to the Maldives to assist with refurbishment of generators and desalination equipment. Chatham and Diligence have worked closely with an Observation, Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) which deployed to Colombo on 31 December, part of which also deployed to the Maldives on 6 January. Both Chatham and Diligence, as well as the OLRT, have now completed their tasking and are leaving the area.

Of the five C-130 aircraft made available to support DFID, two have been used so far: one to move aid supplies between Norway and Denmark, and one to transport equipment to Sri Lanka. The larger C-17 aircraft has been used across the affected region. The Tristar has been used to bring tents and fuel into Penang for onward transport into the affected areas.

A further OLRT deployed to Indonesia on 2 January, including to the Aceh region. MOD liaison officers have been deployed with the US, Australian and Indonesian military headquarters in the region.

Two Bell 212 helicopters from the Gurkha Garrison in Brunei are currently conducting recce, humanitarian assistance and liaison tasks with the Australian forces in the Aceh region.

Further, small, deployments of niche capabilities such as logistics planners and engineers have also taken place in response to DfID and OLRT requests.

The MOD continues to work closely with DFID to determine the requirement for military assistance over the coming period.

Wounded British Soldiers

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in which facilities wounded British soldiers are being treated in the UK. [210194]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 24 January 2005]: When casualties are aeromedically evacuated to the United Kingdom, the decision as to which hospital they should be treated is made in conjunction with the Department of Health (DoH) on the basis of clinical need and bed availability. However the majority are treated at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.

Those requiring specialist treatment will be referred to the most appropriate facility for their needs.
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Bottled Water

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission (1) how many bottles of water were purchased by Departments of the House last year for consumption other than in restaurants and cafeterias; and what the cost was; [210271]

(2) if the Commission will make it their policy to replace bottled water with tap water in (a) Westminster Hall, (b) committee rooms and (c) other meeting rooms. [210272]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: Prior to 1994, the SAA Department provided tap water for Committee and meeting rooms. A trial was conducted in that year in response to requests from Members who frequently found the tap water stale and undrinkable. It was found that the use of bottled water was significantly more convenient and required fewer staff, as well as being more hygienic and better tasting. Subsequent experience with operating this system has confirmed these benefits. They are particularly valuable given the increase in the number of committee rooms following the opening of Portcullis House and the earlier sittings of committees under the revised sitting hours. For these reasons there are no plans to return to the previous arrangements.

During financial year 2003–04 the SAA Department spent £11,530 on water for Westminster Hall, committee and other meeting rooms, equating to approximately 25,000 bottles.

Catering (Food Waste)

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission what the policy is on the
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disposal of (a) untouched food left over from receptions in the House and (b) residuary food waste from catering outlets. [210273]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The House of Commons Refreshment Department is required to take all reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to ensure that their premises and working practices comply with the provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 and associated regulations. Its food disposal policy is designed to meet these legal obligations and to take all possible precautions against the risk of causing food poisoning to any person consuming food prepared by or sold by the Refreshment Department.

The policy on the disposal of food left over from receptions is that same as the policy on the disposal of left-over foods from its catering outlets. Fresh-cooked foods that have retained a core temperature of 65oC or above while on display are chilled rapidly and are then either held chilled or frozen for re-use. Hot foods that have fallen below this safe temperature, or that have been re-heated, are disposed of with the general refuse. Chilled foods that have been maintained at a temperature of 8oC or below are retained and re-offered for sale provided that they are within any use-by" date stamp. Foods which have exceeded 8oC are also disposed of with the general waste.

Although the Department makes every effort to re-use foods that are still safe to consume, there are some occasions on which this is not possible. From time to time, the Department has contacted charities assisting the homeless to discuss the possibility of donating left-over food. Such inquiries to-date have been unsuccessful for two principal reasons: the charities (as part of their own due diligence procedures required under the food hygiene legislation) are unwilling to accept foods that have been prepared in our own kitchens; and, the charities have been unable or unwilling to make collection arrangements for any packaged foods because of the infrequency and relatively low quantity of such food being available to them.
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Coal Mines

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) whether the extinguishing of burning coal mines falls within the scope of the clean development mechanisms introduced by the Kyoto Protocol; [209841]

(2) what assistance his Department has provided to developing countries seeking to extinguish burning coal mines. [209842]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol established the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The purpose of the CDM is to enable developed countries and economies in transition (more precisely, those countries that are included in Annex I to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) to meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets (5 per cent. compared to 1990 levels by the period 2008–12) at lowest possible cost by undertaking projects in developing countries. To be eligible under the CDM, projects must also assist in the achievement of sustainable development, and contribute to the attainment of the environmental goals of the Framework Convention.

To fall within the scope of the CDM, any project proposal to extinguish burning coal mines would need to meet these three criteria. It would further need to be shown that the resulting emissions reductions were additional" (i.e. going beyond what would have happened in the absence of the project) and calculated in accordance with an approved CDM methodology. To date, the Department for International Development (DFID) has not received any requests from developing countries to provide assistance to extinguish coal mine fires. We would encourage any country seeking international support to consider using the CDM.

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