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Mr. Hurd: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which non-departmental public bodies are sponsored by her Department; what the function is of each body; and what the budget was of each body in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Vera Baird: Details of the remit, Government funding and gross expenditure of public bodies sponsored by the Department for Constitutional Affairs can be found in the Cabinet Office publication Public Bodies 2006, copies of which are in the Library and which is also available online at:
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what advice her Department has given to post offices on employment of local and national election candidates working in its establishments and their contact with postal ballots. 
Bridget Prentice: My Department does not issue guidance to post offices on the employment of individuals who choose to stand as candidates at local or national elections. The Electoral Commission produces a code of conduct which sets out guidance on how candidates and their agents should behave during an election campaign. This includes guidance on the handling of postal vote applications and ballot papers.
Mr. Thomas: I can tell the House that we have just agreed a £4 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross to continue to provide protection and emergency assistance, including water and medical supplies. This brings our total humanitarian contribution to over £120 million since 2003.
Hilary Benn: Between 2001 and March 2006 DFID spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development. DFIDs programme focuses on building effective state institutions; improving economic management and supporting rural livelihoods. The best way to do this is by helping the Afghans help themselveswhich is why over 70 per cent. of our aid goes directly to the Government of Afghanistan.
9. Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on combating corruption in developing countries. 
For example, last year I had extensive discussions with the President of the World Bank on combating corruption. I also talked to the Chief Ministers of the Overseas Territories at their Consultative Council meeting in November. I also discuss the issue with Ministers in our partner countries.
Hilary Benn: Ministers approved the UK anti-corruption action plan in July 2006. The plan aims to improve the UKs capacity to investigate foreign bribery, stop money laundering and recover stolen assets, promote responsible business conduct in developing countries and support international efforts to fight corruption. I shall report on progress to the Prime Minister in February.
Mr. Thomas: DFID provides considerable support for the purchase and distribution of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) through, for example, direct support for country-level ITN programmes and through our support to multilateral organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the Roll Back Malaria partnership, UNICEF and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which all help finance the purchase and distribution of ITNs in developing countries.
11. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the potential role for the formation of a community of South American nations in the economic development of the poorest countries of that continent. 
Mr. Thomas: The formation of a community of South American nations is still at an early stage. We support moves towards regional integration on the basis that it provides important opportunities for economic development, including for poorer nations. The exact path to regional integration, including how the Community of South American Nations will evolve, is a matter for South Americans themselves to determine.
Hilary Benn: I welcome Germanys plan to focus on Africa and development during its G8 and EU presidencies. We fully support the priority given to governance, economic growth, peace and security and HIV/AIDS, and will be working closely with our German colleagues to make progress on these issues. We will also continue to push for progress in other crucial areas such as education, trade and aid volumes.
Hilary Benn: Sub-Sahara Africa is the region where the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on water and sanitation are most off-track. In March 2005 I committed to double DFIDs support to water and sanitation in Africa to £95 million a year by 2007-08 and more than double funding again to £200 million a year by 2010-11.
We are making good progress towards achieving this target. We have significantly increased our water and sanitation programmes, focusing on countries where current access levels are particularly low. DFID is providing £6 million to the African Development Banks Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, with a target of achieving 80 per cent. rural access to water supply and sanitation by 2015. In Ethiopia we are developing a new £100 million programme to provide water and sanitation to 4 million people. Programmes in DRC, Sudan, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Rwanda are expanding.
15. Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid his Department provided to Burma in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: The most recent period for which figures are available is financial year 2005-06, in which DFID spent £6,437,793 on reducing poverty in Burma. The largest disbursements were to (i) the Fund for HIV/AIDS in Myanmar for provision of HIV/AIDS treatment, (ii) the BBC World Service Trust project to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, (iii) the Thai-Burma Border Consortium for assistance to Burmese refugees in Thailand, (iv) the UNs Human Development Initiative which provides small-scale improvements in rural technologies and infrastructure, and (v) to the International Committee of the Red Cross for humanitarian and protection work in prisons and in eastern Burma.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when his Department began to measure its carbon emissions; what the volume of those emissions was in the last period for which figures are available; when his Department started to offset those emissions; what the cost is expected to be of offsetting his Departments emissions; and if he will make a statement. 
|Tonnes of CO 2|
DFID is committed to the new sustainable operations targets which include a commitment for a carbon neutral central Government office estate by 2012. All Government air travel has been captured under the Government Carbon Offsetting Scheme since April 2006.
DFID proposes to achieve carbon neutrality through a package of measures including renewable energy on site (we are currently working with the Carbon Trust to agree the best technology for our UK estate); implementing further energy saving measures into both buildings, and further upgrading of our award winning video-conferencing facilities to make further savings on air/rail travel. DFID will only offset unavoidable carbon emissions that result after all economically viable carbon savings have been made, so it is not currently possible to estimate what the cost of offsetting will be.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what recent discussions he has had with the Government of Congo Brazzaville on (a) good governance and (b) corruption; 
(2) what discussions he has had with the Government of Congo Brazzaville on (a) oil exploration, (b) environmental protection, (c) oil sector management and (d) the use of oil revenues to fund development; 
Hilary Benn: Corruption remains a serious problem in the Republic of Congo. Transparency Internationals survey last year rated the country 142 of 163 states. A particular area of concern, despite the Congo-Brazzaville Government having made a statement of support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), is the management of natural resource revenues, which lacks transparency and attracts widespread NGO criticism. Campaigners against corruption in the country have faced harassment from state officials. The British embassy has raised concerns on several occasions with the Congo-Brazzaville Government, and requested more information about the brief detention last year of two members of the Publish What You Pay Coalition who have been effective advocates of EITI locally.
The UK also discusses governance issues with the Congolese Government on a regular basis in conjunction with European partners and through the World Bank and IMF. The UK has made clear that the windfall received in increased oil revenues should be spent on poverty reduction. Economic issues and social development form part of the European Unions regular article 8 dialogue. EU missions frequently raise the need for increased transparency in the oil sector, particularly in the management of revenues.
When the country qualified for assistance under the heavily indebted poor country (HIPC) initiative in February 2006, the UK, with the international community, insisted that interim debt relief be accompanied byand conditional upona strict programme of governance reform. Congos debt relief savings are maintained in a special account. Expenditures from this account are limited to agreed poverty-reducing categories and monitored by a committee comprising representatives in observer status from international donors and Congolese civil society. Under the HIPC agreement, interim debt relief could be withdrawn if Congo fails to maintain satisfactory performance.
Furthermore, Congo agreed to implement a number of tough governance and anti-corruption reforms before it receives irrevocable debt stock cancellation under HIPC. These include the establishment of a national anti-corruption committee; the completion of a corruption diagnostic study by international experts; sustained, satisfactory performance under World Bank and IMF supervised programs; and successive annual audit opinions to confirm that the state oil companys accounts are in line with international best practice. There will be an annual review of progress, the first due
to begin later this year, by the World Banks Executive Board. Delivered in the right way, we hope that debt relief will help Republic of Congo, one of the worlds most indebted and poorest countries, spend more on health, education and infrastructure.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that aid is available to those affected by the conflict in Darfur; and what representations he plans to make to the Sudanese authorities on safeguarding aid workers in Darfur. 
Hilary Benn: As the UN statement of 17 January made clear, humanitarian agencies are struggling in exceptionally and increasingly difficult circumstances to deliver vital aid to those in need in Darfur. DFID funding is providing training for humanitarian agencies to prevent, mitigate and mange security risks to their staff. Through our contributions to the Common Humanitarian Fund, the UN also receives funding to help co-ordinate and respond to security incidents. Our overall level of funding remains high (we are the second largest bilateral donor to Darfur) and we have taken steps to ensure that our funding is as flexible as possible so our partners can better manage restrictions and relocations of their activities on the ground.
At political level, we are working with all sides to the conflict to ensure the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate freely, securely and without constraint. We are calling on all sides to cease the violence immediately; renew the ceasefire and political process and accept the AU/UN peacekeeping force for Darfur.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many humanitarian workers and teams have withdrawn from Darfur; and what impact such withdrawal is having on his Departments operations in the area. 
Hilary Benn: During the last six months, well over 400 humanitarian workers have been temporarily relocated or evacuated in 31 operations across Darfur. Only one agency has withdrawn completely from Darfur in the last two years, and that was done at the insistence of the Government of Sudan. Humanitarian agencies have found it increasingly difficult to maintain access to areas in need given the pervasive insecurity and attacks on their compounds and staff. Basic relief operations in large areas are being maintained by locally-hired staff. The strong efforts made by agencies have limited the impact of withdrawals to date, but without the specialist support and protection-by-presence of international staff, there are concerns that the quality of the work done may decline and the humanitarian conditions begin to deteriorate.
DFID is providing funding to assist humanitarian agencies to prevent, mitigate and manage security risks to their staff. Through our contributions to the Common Humanitarian Fund, the UN also receives funding to help co-ordinate and respond to security
incidents. In addition to this support, our partners receive flexible funding that enables them to manage restrictions and relocations of their activities on the ground.
Hilary Benn: DFID closed its main bilateral programme in Egypt in 2005 in line with its commitment to prioritise aid to the poorest countries in the world and has no plans to provide aid to Egypt in 2006-07. The UK will continue to support poverty reduction efforts in Egypt through our contributions to international institutions such as the European Commission (EC) by contributing €100.44 million as part of EC funding to Egypt over the next four years.
Hilary Benn: During 2006 the UK contributed £6.5 million to the World Food Programmes (WFP) Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation in Somalia, approximately 8.0 per cent. of total donor contributions since January 2003.
The UK is also the largest single contributor to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), having contributed $82 million of the total of $343 million or 24 per cent. of total donor funding. The CERF has contributed $9.15 million for WFP humanitarian operations in Somalia since the beginning of 2006.
The UK is also a major supporter of other aspects of humanitarian relief operations in Somalia. For example our support to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) assists in negotiating humanitarian access for other members of the international relief community including WFP.
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