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Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to ensure the transparency and accountability of World Bank funds channelled through the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Hilary Benn: The World Bank's financial support to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is provided in accordance with the Bank's fiduciary standards. Funds given to the Government of the DRC as budget support are clearly registered as such in the budget and will have a specific budget line if they are for a particular programme or activity. Tracking and monitoring of the funds is done through the DRC's Public Expenditure Management Reform programme, which includes the requirement to publish monthly execution reports. There is specific reporting on the use of external contributions to the budget (e.g. World Bank budget support and Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) funds) and on areas such as health and education components to particularly track expenditures in these priority sectors.
The World Bank is working with the Government of the DRC to improve overall public financial management, for example through promoting the implementation of a fully computerised public accounting system complying with international standards, strengthening the role and capacity of government financial control institutions and reforming the public financial management education programme.
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The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are also working with the Government to improve the composition and efficiency of spending, in particular on health, education and rural development services that benefit the poor, to ensure that the authorities are able to spend increased resources (including from debt relief) efficiently and effectively.
DFID's office in Kinshasa works closely with the World Bank in promoting development and poverty reduction in the DRC. We monitor the reports from the World Bank on expenditure tracking and we also monitor progress on improvements in public expenditure management through discussions with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We also use the UK's seat on the World Bank board in Washington to stay actively involved with the composition and performance of the World Bank's portfolio in the DRC.
Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to ensure that World Bank programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo do not have a negative impact on the (a) rights and (b) livelihoods of those who depend on the integrity of the forest ecosystem. 
Hilary Benn: The exploitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s forests has the potential to generate significant benefits for the country's people. But forestry resources need to be managed in a transparent and environmentally sustainable way, which both generates revenues and promotes the rights and livelihoods of forest dwellers. The UK is advocating this balanced approach to forest management in its engagement with all partners working on the issue in the DRC.
The World Bank provided support for development of the new DRC forestry code. The code is based on a forest classification system, which will delineate areas for commercial exploitation and community forestry. The code also provides for rights of access for traditional users, the transparent auctioning of forest concessions and the decentralised allocation of revenues.
Donors (led by the World Bank and the EC) are now discussing how best to support the implementation of the code. A multi-donor trust fund is planned. At the same time, and in recognition of the lack of implementation capacity on the ground, the World Bank is stressing the need to curb illegal and unsustainable exploitation. Two conditions; the continuation of the moratorium on the granting of new forestry concessions and a legal review of existing concessions, were attached to the most recent tranche of World Bank budget support. DFID supports this approach.
Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures have been taken to ensure funds allocated by his Department are not diverted to pay the salaries of members of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Hilary Benn: Salaries for soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC's) armed forces come from the DRC's national budget, not from donor funds. The UK has been active, however, in urging the Government of the DRC to ensure that its soldiers receive their salaries. A properly integrated, paid and trained national army is essential for consolidating peace and security in the DRC and the whole Great Lakes region. At present, soldiers rarely receive their salaries, creating insecurity for all as they prey on civilians to make ends meet.
While in the in DRC in November, I advised President Kabila that the UK (through the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool) would support the basic needs (sanitation and accommodation) of soldiers in newly integrated brigades. However, this support is conditional on the DRC Government ensuring that soldiers are properly paid, including through implementing the recommendations of the EU's advisory mission on Security Sector Reform (SSR). One of the key strands of this work is a project to reform the army pay system. It will see advisers seconded to each integrated brigade to oversee payment of the soldiers' salaries and to help ensure that the DRC's own money reaches the people it was destined for and is not diverted by corrupt senior officers. We expect the Government of the DRC to approve the report's recommendations shortly.
Hilary Benn: The UK is concerned by the limited progress made by the demobilisation process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Progress is slow because too few soldiers associated with the different composants" of the transitional government are being encouraged and facilitated to enter the process. The UK, with the rest of the International Community, continues to press the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to accelerate its efforts in the implementation of the demobilisation and re-integration process. I personally urged President Kabila and other members of the transitional government to step up army integration and demobilisation of soldiers during my recent visit to Democratic Republic of Congo.
The International Committee Accompanying the Transition process in the DRC (CIAT)in which theUK is a very active member) has repeatedly pushed the Congolese transitional government for more progress in this area. The CIAT released a very strong statement in early December urging the Government of the DRC to speed up both the integration of the army and demobilisation of ex-combatants. The international community, including the UK, are providing substantial direct support to the demobilisation process. The UK is putting $25 million over 5 years into the World Bank's Multi-Country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme (MDRP), covering nine countries including the DRC.
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which buildings and sites
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used by his Department and related agencies (a) have ceased to be used in the last year and (b) will be closed under current plans for relocation. 
Mr. Thomas: No buildings have yet been closed under DFID's relocation plans. However, it is our intention to close our second London office at 20 Victoria street, SW1, at the conclusion of the current lease in December 2006.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is with regard to (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department giving evidence to the (i) Scottish Parliament, (ii) National Assembly for Wales and (iii)Northern Ireland Assembly committees; and to what categories of document he gives (A) full access, (B)restricted access and (C) no access to (1) Scottish Parliament, (2) National Assembly for Wales, (3) Northern Ireland Assembly and (4) House of Commons Select Committees. 
Hilary Benn: Requests for the attendance of Ministers or officials to give evidence to the devolved legislatures, and for the provision of information to the assemblies, will be considered on a case by case basis. The consideration will reflect: the principles set out in the Cabinet Office guidance Departmental Evidence and Response to Select Committees" (July 2005); the policy outlined in the Department for Constitutional Affairs' Devolution Guidance Note No. 12 Attendance of UK Ministers and Officials at Committees of the devolved legislatures"; and the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. The principles underlying the provision of information to House of Commons Select Committees are set out in Departmental Evidence and Response to Select Committees", particularly sections 4B and 4C.
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