Previous Section Index Home Page

19 Dec 2005 : Column 2503W—continued

Child Soldiers

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department provided to charities for the rehabilitation of child soldiers in Sierra Leone and other African countries in the last five years. [37453]

Hilary Benn: DFID has funded a range of charities and UN agencies supporting the rehabilitation of child soldiers in Africa over the last five years. In Sierra Leone all child combatants were disarmed as part of the extensive Disarmament Demobilisation and Re-integration (DDR) process undertaken at the end of the war. DFID provided £12.4 million in support of this programme. DFID recognises the problems faced by former child combatants in re-integrating back into their communities and we have previously provided funding to support skills training and other activities for child ex-combatants. DFID has in the past, provided core funding to the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG/CAAC) whose programme has included advocacy work using ex-child combatants. More broadly across Africa as a whole we have funded the following organisations:


19 Dec 2005 : Column 2504W


The Democratic Republic of Congo (PRO

Central Africa



Commission for Africa

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he will implement the findings of the Commission for Africa, published in March with particular reference to trade justice rather than liberalisation; and if he will make a statement. [36877]

Hilary Benn: The Commission for Africa (CfA) was established in February 2004 and provided an opportunity to take a fresh look at Africa's past and present and the international community's role, and agree recommendations on the future. When the Prime Minister launched the CfA report on 11 March 2005, he committed to reflecting its recommendations in policy, and since then many of the recommendations have been reflected in commitments made by the G8 at Gleneagles and by the UN at the Millennium Review summit.

The G8 recognised the importance of a successful outcome to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Development Agenda (DDA) to generate growth and create the conditions for development. The WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong represents an important opportunity to deliver real gains for developing countries. The UK Government are working to ensure that there is appropriate flexibility in the DDA negotiations to allow poor countries to decide, plan and sequence their economic reforms in line with their national programmes and priorities for development.

Developing countries should not be forced to open up their markets, either through trade negotiations, whether bilateral, multilateral or otherwise, or through aid conditionality, but should be allowed to choose the best policies for poor people and the environment.
19 Dec 2005 : Column 2505W

Trade justice also requires a stronger link between trade and development. Many developing countries cannot take advantage of new trade opportunities resulting from more open markets because of significant human, institutional and infrastructural constraints. The UK is supporting a number of initiatives recommended by the CfA report which will help countries to overcome these constraints. The Department for International Development has committed to increase Aid For Trade to £100 million by 2010; has pledged $20 million to the Africa Infrastructure Consortium, to facilitate more effective infrastructure investments to promote economic growth and trade; and has committed $30 million over three years to the Investment Climate Facility, of which one area of focus will be to improve the efficiency of customs administrations across Africa.

The G8 endorsed commitments to increase funding for trade related capacity building. The UK continues to support this, providing assistance to African Governments and sub-regional institutions to develop and negotiate trade policy, for example with regards to WTO or EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).


Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what mechanisms are in place to assess the effectiveness of consultant-led projects in his Department; what sanctions are available to penalise consultants who run unsuccessful projects; how many projects conducted by consultants were assessed as unsuccessful in each year since 2000; and what sanctions were imposed. [29063]

Hilary Benn: All DFID's contracts contain clear and explicit terms of reference drawn-up and agreed with our partners. The consultants performance is monitored, to ensure contracted services make their intended contribution to project outcomes.

No payments to consultants are made until DFID is satisfied with their output. If problems arise, the consultants are given the opportunity to take corrective action. If DFID remains dissatisfied, payment of received invoices is withheld and if necessary the contract would be terminated. Over the last three years, approximately five payments have been withheld. DFID has sole rights of termination which we have exercised on two occasions due to poor performance since 2000. DFID may also require the replacement, at no extra cost, of non-performing team members. If problems occur remedial action is usually satisfactory.

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department takes to ensure that consultancies do not claim excessive expenses while working for the Department and its agencies. [29064]

Hilary Benn: A financial costing is agreed for each consultancy contract. Invoices are paid in arrears and are monitored to ensure costs comply with the contract. Random audit checks are also carried out.
19 Dec 2005 : Column 2506W


Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he last discussed the situation in Darfur with his Sudanese counterpart; and if he will make a statement. [37451]

Hilary Benn: I remain very concerned about the situation in Darfur,, When I visited Sudan in June 2005 I held detailed discussions with members of the Sudanese Government, including Vice President Taha and the then Minister for Humanitarian Affairs as well as representatives from the African Union and NGOs. Most recently, I discussed Darfur with the presidential adviser, Bona Malwal, in London on 30 November.

In his latest report, the UN Secretary General notes that while there have been fewer attacks between the parties, the security situation remains very poor. Banditry and lawlessness are rife, and continue to hamper the delivery of humanitarian supplies, particularly in South and West Darfur. We have made clear that this violence, and particularly attacks on humanitarian workers, are entirely unacceptable. We are encouraging anyone with information on the perpetrators to pass it to the relevant bodies for consideration under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1591 and 1593.

We continue to press the parties to rein in their fighters and to reach a political agreement. The seventh round of Darfur peace talks began in Abuja on 29 November. The UK fully supports the AU-led mediation team and has provided financial and technical assistance to the talks. We also plan to maintain our observer presence throughout the talks.

Next Section Index Home Page