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21 Feb 2005 : Column 365W—continued

Cuba

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) representatives of the UK Government have had with members and representatives of the Government of (i) the United States of America and (ii) Cuba regarding Cuba's humanitarian assistance to South and Central American countries; and if he will make a statement. [216403]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID has had no recent discussions with either the Cuban or US Government concerning Cuban humanitarian assistance to South and Central American countries. Representatives of HMG have had wide-ranging discussions with the Cuban authorities, including on their relations with these countries. Cuba provides technical assistance to a number of countries in the region, most notably Venezuela, but no assessment of its effectiveness has been shared by the Cuban Government or been made independently.

Debt Relief

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answers of 3 February 2005, Official Report, columns 1044–45W, on debt relief and 1049–50W on Tanzania, what additional debt relief is being provided by the UK under the Chancellor of the Exchequer's recently announced debt initiative; and if he will list (a) each recipient country and (b) the sum each is due to receive in each year up to 2015. [215934]

Hilary Benn: Under the new multilateral debt relief initiative, the UK will pay 10 per cent. of the debt service owed to the International Development Association (IDA) and African Development Fund (AfDF) on behalf the world's poorest countries. This initiative will be funded through the additional resources allocated to DFID in the recent Spending Review, and is additional to the UK's commitments to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

All low-income countries with a demonstrated commitment to poverty reduction are potentially eligible. These countries are those that have reached Completion Point under the HIPC Initiative, and all other IDA-only (i.e. eligible to borrow only from the most concessional lending arm of the World Bank) low-income countries (LICs) that have a Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC) approved by the World Bank. Sri Lanka has also been added in light of the impact of the South East Asian tsunami.

The list of currently eligible countries comprises 15 post-Completion Point HIPCs, 4 IDA-only LICs with PRSCs, and Sri Lanka. The cost to the UK for these countries through to 2015 is estimated at up to around US $870 million. As more countries progress through the HIPC Initiative, or have PRSCs approved, the list of eligible countries will expand. The cost to the UK through to 2015 for all countries that could potentially qualify for this initiative is estimated at around US $1,931 million. A table listing the UK's share of (estimated) annual debt service to IDA and AfDF for
 
21 Feb 2005 : Column 366W
 
each country in each year up to 2015 has been placed in the Library under the title UK's Annual Debt Service to IDA and AfDF to 2015".

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the availability of (a) medical supplies and (b) adequately trained medical staff in the Manguredjipa area in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement. [216711]

Hilary Benn: A joint DFID/OCHA (Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) visit to Eastern DRC in October 2004 considered the humanitarian situation in Manguredjipa, although no particular assessment was made of the availability of medical supplies and the number of trained medical staff.

The mission reported concern about the capacity of NGOs to respond to humanitarian needs throughout North Kivu exacerbated by the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and high level of sexual violence.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the (a) security and (b) humanitarian situation in the Manguredjipa area in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo since September 2004; and if he will make a statement. [216712]

Hilary Benn: The main concern in the Manguredjipa area of North Kivu over the past few months has been the high level of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to fighting between different armed groups. A joint DFID/OCHA (Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) mission to the region in October 2004 reported that most of Manguredjipa population (more than 6,000 households) had been displaced. Fighting in the Kanyabayonga area, south of Manguredjipa, triggered further movement of populations.

Following the cessation of fighting, many displaced people are returning to their homes. 60 per cent. of the Manguredjipa population are now back home, according to an OCHA monitoring report in late January.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) financial, (b) logistical and (c) material assistance his Department (i) has provided since November 2004 and (ii) plans to provide to Merlin for its work in the Manguredjipa area in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and if he will make a statement. [216713]

Hilary Benn: We are aware that Merlin is supporting health centres in the Manguredjipa area of North Kivu. During 2003 and 2004, DFID provided £450,000 over 13 months to a Merlin Emergency Health Assistance project for conflict affected populations in Ituri and North Kivu. DFID has committed £17 million of humanitarian assistance to the DRC in this current financial year, including £2 million for a UNICEF
 
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Rapid Reaction Fund in Eastern DRC. Future funding will be made available for those interventions that are directed at meeting the most urgent needs and according to established international standards.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [217391]

Hilary Benn: The latest UN consolidated appeal for DRC reports that the humanitarian situation has not improved significantly over the past year. Up to 3 million Congolese remain displaced from their homes, internally and within the Great Lakes region. Less than 30 per cent. of the population has access to clean drinking water and basic health services.

The humanitarian situation in the east is of particular concern. Although fighting in north Kivu has largely died down since January, and many of the tens of thousands of displaced Congolese have been able to return to their homes, the province remains tense.

Ituri district suffered further serious outbreaks of violence in January. UN agencies report that up to 80,000 civilians have been displaced. Where possible, UNICEF and some NGOs are providing humanitarian support. DFID is providing £2 million of support for a UNICEF Rapid Reaction Fund in eastern DRC, within an overall humanitarian package of £17 million for the country in this current financial year.

Departmental Costs

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development 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. [213618]

Hilary Benn: The Department For International Development has two main headquarters offices and each has a canteen. The following table shows the cost of staffing and supplying the canteens; utilities are not separately metered and cannot therefore be identified. The increase in costs in recent years followed the competitive tendering of the catering contracts to provide an improved quality and range of food to staff compared to the previous very limited service.
£
1997–9854,485
1998–9956,022
1999–0063,656
2000–0181,537
2001–0273,949
2002–0392,840
2003–04181,237
2004–05 (to date)161,937

There are also two bars, but DFID makes no contribution to the staffing or supply costs for either of these.
 
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Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent on (a) entertainment lunches involving civil servants and guests and (b) working lunches, in each year since 1997. [215049]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: It is not possible to disaggregate specific costs relating to entertainment lunches and working lunches involving civil servants and guests from overall entertainment expenditure without incurring disproportionate cost. The following table shows recorded expenditure by my Department on entertainment for the years in question, to the nearest £000.
£
1996–9710,000
1997–9824,000
1998–9943,000
1999–200062,000
2000–0148,000
2001–0255,000
2002–0382,000
2003–04(182)219.000


(182)In 2003–04 DFID introduced new procedures to draw together administration costs, including those entertainment costs which had previously been recorded on country programme budgets. These changes have improved transparency and management of administration costs, but mean that figures from 2003–04 now include entertainment costs that were previously funded by country programmes and as a result are not comparable with earlier years.


All expenditure on official entertainment is made in accordance with published Departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the costs of cleaning the Department were in each year since 1997. [213784]

Hilary Benn: The Department For International Development (DFID) has spent the following sums on cleaning its offices since 1997:
£

CostCost per square foot
1997–98185,9710.65
1998–99169,1700.68
1999–2000185,0550.74
2000–01193,8880.78
2001–02165,8070.82
2002–03286,9330.96
2003–04351,3311.17
2004–05 (to date)267,380n/a

The increase in overall costs from 2002–03 financial year is largely attributable to the Department's expansion in the amount of space occupied, as can be seen from the much smaller increase in cost per square foot.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost of staff mobile phone bills was in each year since 1997. [214890]


 
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Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID has spent the following amounts on staff mobile phone bills:

Mobile phones were not managed under a central contract prior to June 2004, and therefore information for earlier years (and information on mobile phones in overseas offices) is not readily available and cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent on (a) provision of parking spaces for civil servants and (b) parking tickets and penalties incurred by civil servants in the Department in each year since 1997. [213807]

Hilary Benn: The only sum spent in relation to car parking facilities for DFID staff in the UK during the period in question was approximately £1,000 on relining the car park at our East Kilbride office in 2001. Since the relocation of our London headquarters to our current location at 1 Palace street, with the exception of one disabled space we do not have car parking for our staff in either of our London offices.

DFID does not pay for parking tickets or penalties incurred by civil servants. Individuals are personally responsible for meeting the cost of any such fines.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent on postage by the Department in each year since 1997. [215019]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID has spent the following amounts on postage since 1997:
£
1997–98164,417
1998–99161,627
1999–2000216,120
2000–01154,737
2001–02128,424
2002–03105,748
2003–04102,125
2004–05 to date55,860

In addition over the same periods the following has been spent on pre-paid postage:
£
1997–9829,944
1998–9943,612
1999–200021,105
2000–0134,588
2001–0237,794
2002–0340,876
2003–0434,195
2004–05 to date26,272

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent on official ministerial (a) business cards, (b) headed paper and (c) compliment slips in each year since 1997. [214943]


 
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Hilary Benn: Expenditure on business cards was as follows:
£
1999–200014,779.49
2000–0124,283.85
2001–0223,112.34
2002–0318,161.58
2003–0424,802.65
2004–05(183)15,871.00


(183) To date


Corresponding information for the two earlier years is not readily available as it was not separately identified, and cannot be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost. DFID does not purchase headed notepaper as this is produced using an electronic template, and compliment slips are printed internally rather than purchased.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the Department spent on (a) stationery and (b) office supplies in each year since 1997. [213844]

Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development has spent the following on stationery and office supplies since 1997:
Financial year£
1997–98112,920.88
1998–9997,315.35
1999–200099,704.63
2000–01139,896.64
2001–02100,488.02
2002–03136,592.65
2003–04158.603.15
2004–05 to date96,286.70

Our records do not allow us to differentiate between stationery and office supplies.


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