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IT Contracts

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) projected cost at the time of tender and (b) actual cost at the time of completion was for each IT contract commissioned by the Department in the last five years. [2575]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has let two major IT contracts in the past five years. Neither contract is complete and so the actual cost at the time of completion is not available. The Human Resource system being supplied by Northgate had a projected cost at tender of £1.18 million. The QUEST Electronic Document and Record Management system being supplied by LogicaCMG had a projected base cost at tender of £9.70 million with a number of additional cost options available under the same contract.

DFID has also let a number of small IT related contracts. However our central records do not distinguish IT contracts, so provision of details for these contracts would incur disproportionate costs.

Union Representation

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many trade union learning representatives there are in his Department. [3309]

Mr. Thomas: DFID currently has two accredited trade union learning representatives—one each in our London and East Kilbride offices—while two other staff in East Kilbride hope to gain accreditation shortly.

Faith Awareness Training

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many civil servants in the Department received faith awareness training in 2004. [3812]

Mr. Thomas: During 2004–05, some 400 members of staff received training which included faith awareness. There is also guidance available to staff on our intranet covering the 'policy on religious observance' including time off for religious festivals, provision of prayer and meditation rooms, special dietary requirements and dress.

Faith Communities (Consultations)

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent consultations have been carried out by his Department with representatives of faith communities; and if he will make a statement. [3225]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has consulted widely with representatives of faith communities as part of an ongoing process. This has included:

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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action he is taking to prevent further loss of forest cover in Africa. [4457]

Hilary Benn: DFID is currently helping to develop forest policy, implement reforms, and strengthen forest governance in Ghana, Cameroon, Malawi and Kenya.

DFID recently designed a new £12 million programme of work on forest governance and trade in west and central Africa. This will focus on reforms in Ghana and Cameroon, where EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) partnership agreements offer the opportunity to bring EU consumer market forces into play. DFID is also supporting civil society strengthening and dialogue between Governments, the private sector and NGOs in the Congo Basin region. DFID recently began a programme that supports links between the private sector in the four African countries of Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville and European trade federations. Our aim is to increase the awareness of African companies to new market requirements and opportunities.

DFID's work in Malawi and Kenya is helping to establish a better basis for the management of forest plantations that can supply wood for household fuel and to industry. Clearance of natural forests for small-scale agriculture is the main cause of deforestation in Africa but harvesting of forests to meet household and industrial demands are contributing factors.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the UK has spent on Iraqi reconstruction to date; and how much is planned for the remainder of the 2005–06 financial year. [4062]

Hilary Benn: DFID has disbursed £270 million for humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq since March 2003. We plan to spend £65 million in 2005–06, of which £4 million has already been disbursed. DFID also provides 19 per cent. of European Community development funding: EC assistance to Iraq totalled €318.5 million for 2003 and 2004, and €200 million has been approved for 2005.

The Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP), funded jointly by DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, disbursed £23 million on Iraq in 2003–04 and 2004–05. GCPP has so far allocated £15 million for 2005–06.

In addition, the FCO has spent £38 million on reconstruction activities in Iraq, and the MOD have so far committed £30 million to Quick Impact Projects, most of which have been disbursed.
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Race Relations (Amendment) Act

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what arrangements are in place to ensure that bodies within the responsibility of his Department comply with the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. [3556]

Hilary Benn: DFID has not identified any organisations or bodies within its area of responsibility that have an obligation to comply with the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

Sri Lanka

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of tsunami aid distribution in Sri Lanka; and what steps the Government are taking to ensure efficient distribution. [4699]

Mr. Thomas: As in all the tsunami-affected countries, in Sri Lanka, the unprecedented scale of the disaster put considerable pressure on logistics and co-ordination mechanisms. DFID gave direct support to overcome these challenges, including the secondment of an air operations co-ordinator, two shelter advisers, an adviser to the United Nations Humanitarian Information Centre and a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination team.

During the relief and recovery phase, DFID has supported the humanitarian work of Help Age, World Vision, Save the Children Fund, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Sri Lankan Red Cross, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme and the United Nations Security Co-ordinator in the areas under LTTE control in the North and East of the island. The United Nations has commented that the relief effort in Tamil areas has been impressive. Our humanitarian advisers in-country are monitoring the international response and are confident that aid is getting to those in need.

On my recent visit to the east and south of Sri Lanka, I met with many families affected by the tsunami disaster and numerous national and international non-governmental organisations, United Nations and government officials working to support them.

The Sri Lankan Government's response to the relief needs have been effective and spread evenly throughout the country. However due to the geography of many affected areas government officials have struggled to identify and acquire sufficient and appropriate land to relocate houses, schools, hospitals from the Government imposed exclusion zone. To tackle this issue the Sri Lankan Government are reconsidering the decision to exclude reconstruction in a 100 to 200 m buffer zone and attempting to fast track the acquisition of land. However more needs to be done to allow the numerous donors to start reconstruction. The sheer amount of work required to obtain land has delayed the implementation of reconstruction.

Despite this, much work has been done with the construction of over 32,000 transitional shelters; 5,000 permanent houses under construction and a further
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15,000 families receiving cash grants for self help reconstruction. I have impressed upon senior government officials that the affected people are often ill informed of the processes in place to support them and feel they have not been consulted on those processes.

There is a need for the Sri Lankan Government to lead on improving the capacity and delegated authority of the district and local level government structures to cope with the massively increased work load. This is required across all affected areas.

DFID stands ready to assist with technical support to the administrative/operational structures needed to be established or strengthened following the establishment of a Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure and a Post Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction Plan.

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