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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1547W—continued

South Asian Earthquake

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) tents and (b) other forms of shelter have been airlifted from the UK to aid victims of the South Asia earthquake. [50294]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not have a figure for the total number of tents and shelter materials sent from the UK in response to the earthquake in South Asia. DFID however, sent 9,000 tents, 36,000 tarpaulins, 125,000 pieces of plastic sheeting and 125,000 lengths of 16.5 metre rope. Support to shelter represents a sizeable proportion of DFID financial assistance to UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross Movement Specifically, it was included in the £1.4 million channelled through Save the Children, £700,000 through the Norwegian Refugee Council, £300,000 through the Agency for Technical Co-operation and Development (ACTED), £498,964 through Tearfund. £1,830,000 through the International Organisation of Migration and £4.57 million through the Red Cross Movement. Tents and shelter materials were also included in the 78 relief flights arranged by DFID on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

DFID further supported UN activities through its support to the NATO airlift, transporting relief items including tents from UN warehouses in Europe and the Middle East to Pakistan (airlifts provided by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), at DFID's request, with DFID paying the marginal costs of the assistance). DFID also provided funding for an 86 strong team drawn from 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers, deployed under NATO command, to undertake emergency shelter building operations in remote high-altitude areas in the Bagh region. The Royal Engineers unit are highly specialist troops who are trained to operate in winter and mountainous conditions.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of returnees to the south of Sudan, with particular reference to the (a) implications for civil society and (b) the possibility of localised conflict; and if he will make a statement; [50042]

(2) what research he has commissioned into the possible impact of returnees to southern Sudan. [50043]

Hilary Benn: To date, the large number of returns of refugees and internally displaced people predicted by the UN and others has still not taken place. There is still potential for increasing movement in the run up to the rainy season. The returns process is likely to be a gradual process, but aid agencies need to retain the flexibility to respond rapidly to any changes in this pattern or a sudden deterioration in the humanitarian situation that can be heightened by this process. DFID stands ready to provide assistance when required.

The prospects for sustainable returns to southern Sudan are undermined by a number of factors including chronic under-development and very poor economic prospects for returnees, disease outbreaks and increasing levels of HIV/AIDS associated with population movements, and insufficient protection on the way home
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and in the areas of return. To support the returns process, the UK is providing early and significant contributions to the UN 2006 Work Plan, from which the UN humanitarian co-ordinator has already allocated over $40 million to the south. The UK is also establishing a £10 million service delivery fund in the south, which will act as a bridge while the Multi-Donor Trust Fund develops projects for funding and is able to assist longer term development needs. We are continuing to fund non-governmental organisation (NGO) humanitarian programmes.

The UK and other donors are supporting various civil society groups in undertaking reconciliation and peace building activities in areas of return; these efforts will need to expand to match the scale of returns. There is the potential for localised conflict and violence following return, through inter-tribal disputes and as factions adapt to the changing political landscape.

The UK has not itself commissioned any research into the impact of returns, but has been pressing the UN to enhance its analysis of the situation and the potential impacts emerging from the returns process, so that it can prioritise its interventions. DFID is regularly monitoring the situation in the south and the UN's response.


Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the occasions on which (a) he and (b) his officials met representatives of Syngenta during (i) 2004 and (ii) 2005. [50555]

Mr. Thomas: DFID officials attended a meeting at 11 Downing Street in November 2005 for a launch of the book Going for Growth". The book was published by the Smith Institute and sponsored by the Syngenta Foundation. DFID officials also attended the following meetings where representatives from Syngenta were present: the annual general meetings of the Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research held in Mexico City in October 2004, and in Marrakech in December 2005; and the Bureau meeting of the International Assessment of Agriculture Science and Technology held in Bangkok, January 2005.


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of 25 January 2006, Official Report, columns 2119–20W, on timber, what plans he has to sign voluntary partnership agreements with (a) Brazil, (b) Indonesia and (c) China. [50873]

Mr. Thomas: The European Commission and member states have started consultations about Partnership Agreements with four counties, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia and Malaysia. Consultations with Indonesia are being led by the European Commission. The UK Government are closely involved, drawing on our experience under the Indonesia-UK Memorandum of Understanding to tackle illegal logging.
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Consultations with Brazil about a Partnership Agreement have not yet started. Discussions will take place on illegal logging with Brazil in the second quarter of 2006.

Consultations with China will take place within the framework of the agreement reached at the Eighth EU-China Summit for China and the EU to work together to tackle illegal logging. The Government have discussed this with the European Commission who will take this forward from the Delegation in Beijing.


David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the acts of vandalism which have been perpetrated (a) inside and (b) on the outside of his Department's buildings in the last 12 months. [49502]

Mr. Thomas: The only act of vandalism recorded against DFID buildings in the last 12 months was graffiti which was found on our small external storage site in East Kilbride.



Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislation requiring all banks operating in the UK to donate 1 per cent. of their UK profits to local community projects. [50559]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government's approach to responsible business practice is voluntary and business led—we aim to set an appropriate framework for responsible business and other stakeholders, encouraging business to go further, facilitating the sharing of best practice and promoting responsible operations, while meeting our better regulation objectives.

Child Trust Fund

Mr. Davey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Child Trust Fund accounts have been opened by families in London. [50768]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I refer the hon. Gentlemen to the answer given to him on 1 December 2005, Official Report, column 658W.

The next release of Child Trust Fund statistics is due at the end of February 2006.

Mr. Davey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Child Trust Fund accounts have been opened by local authorities on behalf of children in their care since the programme began (a) in total, (b) in each region and (c) in each local education authority. [50769]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Local authorities are not authorised to open Child Trust Fund accounts for the children in their care. Local authorities notify HMRC of the children in their care so that HMRC can ensure that these children do not miss out on a Child Trust Fund account.
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The total number of Child Trust Fund accounts opened by HMRC for looked after children will be published along with other annual CTF statistics later this year.

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