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9 Feb 2005 : Column 1509W—continued



Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in the reconstruction of schools in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [214661]

Hilary Benn: A number of donors are assisting in school reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in Iraq. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is undertaking a countrywide programme which has so far rehabilitated over 2,400 schools. United Nations agencies are also carrying out school rehabilitation projects in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The World Bank has agreed an emergency school construction and rehabilitation project to finance the rehabilitation of about 140 schools and the construction of new buildings for about 110 schools which currently have unsafe or overcrowded facilities. The UN and World Bank projects are being financed through the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, to which DFID has contributed £70 million. The UN and the World Bank are also assisting with the provision of essential educational supplies, including textbooks and furniture.



Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Prime Minister when he last met President Putin; and what matters were discussed. [214663]

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The Prime Minister: I last met President Putin at the G8 Summit in Georgia on 10 June 2004. We discussed a wide range of international and bilateral issues, including Iraq, the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan and the Kyoto Protocol.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Prime Minister of Ukraine and (b) other EU members regarding EU membership of Ukraine. [214662]

The Prime Minister: I have had no discussions with the Prime Minister of Ukraine on EU membership.

The UK is working with EU partners to develop a programme of enhanced co-operation with Ukraine, responding to the priorities set out by President Yushchenko. The General Affairs and External Relations Council on 31 January welcomed President Yushchenko's intentions, stating that commitment to reform opens the way to a strengthening of relations between the EU and Ukraine".


China Arms Embargo

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the implications of ending the EU-China Arms embargo for (a) future UK defence technological capabilities and (b) interoperability with US forces. [211394]

Mr. Ingram: The Government have discussed with the United States Administration the background to the EU's deliberations on the embargo on arms exports to China.

We have emphasised that any decision to lift the embargo would be made only in the context of a continuing commitment by member states strictly to control the export of defence-related items to China. This is consistent with the view of the European Council meeting in December 2004 that the result of any decision to lift the embargo should not be an increase in arms exports to China in either quantitative or qualitative terms.

Cut and Sew Contract

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of his Department's visit to China in connection with the cut and sew contract. [214548]

Mr. Ingram: Ministry of Defence personnel visited sub-contractors in China at the request of and accompanying the prime contractor. This was to assure the Ministry of Defence that finished garments will be supplied to specification and on time.

The visit team also confirmed that there was no cause for concern about the standards that sub-contractors employed. The prime contractor understands its responsibility to manage sub-contractors and ensures a
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minimum age of employees. The prime contractor also showed that it monitors ethical standards, and environmental considerations.

Under the terms of the contract I cannot comment on sub-contractor details specifically, but I can inform my hon. Friend that evidence was shown that employees were paid more than the minimum wage stipulated by Chinese government legislation. There was also evidence that sub-contractors were maintaining a good and loyal staff, and enjoyed a low labour turnover.

Future Carrier Programme

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what involvement the Royal Navy has in defining the requirements for the CVFs; and what arrangements are in place to ensure a continuing Royal Navy input into the programme. [214222]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Navy is engaged at all levels of the future carrier (CVF) programme. The programme is overseen at senior level by the Carrier Strike Programme Board, on which the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff sits.

Defence Clothing and Textile Agency

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on current suppliers of clothing at the Defence Clothing and Textile Agency, Bicester. [214013]

Mr. Ingram: The Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency (DCTA) was disestablished in October 2000. Its clothing procurement function was subsumed into the Defence Clothing Integrated Project Team (DC IPT) which was established on 1 April 2001 and is based at Caversfield, near Bicester.

The DC IPT has a wide range of suppliers from small companies to larger Prime Contractors who supply operational clothing, personal protection equipment, parade and ceremonial wear and physical and adventurous training equipment.

As part of the Defence Logistics Organisation's procurement reform strategy, DC IPT has been moving towards letting larger term contracts with Prime Contractors for inventory items that have been grouped together in Product Groups, a process known as supplier base optimisation. Contracts for the supply of Tape Seam Garments, Footwear, and Cut and Sewn Products have been let, together with a number of smaller contracts for Ceremonial Headwear and Physical and Adventurous Training equipment which have followed the same principles.

Such methods of contracting are delivering increasing value for money and also enable the more efficient use of resources, while maintaining the quality standards demanded by the Ministry of Defence.

Defence Service Agencies (Scotland)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of its personnel budget for financial years (a) 2002–03 and (b) 2003–04 the Warship
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Support Agency spent in Scotland (i) in monetary terms and (ii) as a percentage of the total personnel budget; and if he will make a statement. [215430]

Mr. Ingram: The Warship Support Agency (WSA) incurred expenditure on personnel as follows:

Financial year
WSA total personnel spend297,249,000280,796,000
WSA personnel spend for Scotland80,042,00063,798,000
Percentage of total WSA personnel spend2723

The personnel spend in Scotland reduced in 2003–04 primarily as a result of the transfer of staff from HMNB Clyde to Babcock Naval Services in September 2002, when partnering arrangements were introduced by the WSA under the Warship Support Modernisation Initiative.

Departmental Costs

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many departmental (a) canteens and (b) bars there are; and how much has been spent on the (i) running, (ii) staffing and (iii) supply costs of each in each year since 1997. [213620]

Mr. Caplin: The information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Diego Garcia

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what time, using Greenwich Mean Time, and on what date the United States Navy authorities on Diego Garcia informed (a) British military personnel based on Diego Garcia and (b) his Department that the hydro-acoustic monitoring stations based on Diego Garcia had picked up the movement and direction of the tsunami tidal wave on 26 December 2004; and what action was taken following the receipt of this information. [208790]

Mr. Ingram: United Kingdom military personnel were not warned of the earthquake or tsunami by the Naval Support Facility on Diego Garcia, but became aware of both from reports on the Internet at about 13:00 local time (07:00 GMT)—around five hours after the earthquake struck. The Commanding Officer contacted the Ministry of Defence to confirm that Diego Garcia was broadly untouched by the tsunami. MOD duty staffs in the UK also became aware of the tsunami via the broadcast media and began discussions with DflD staff about scoping the scale of the disaster at around midday on Boxing day.

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