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Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding and resources his Department has (a) provided in each of the last three financial years and (b) committed in each of the next three financial years for communities living on the chars of Bangladesh; what proportion of the funding has been spent (i) bilaterally and (ii) multilaterally; and through which organisations funding has been spent. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID has provided £10.7 million of bilateral funding over the last three financial years (£1.1 million in 2004-05, £3.3 million in 2005-06 and £6.3 million in 2006-07) to support char island communities in Bangladesh under the Chars Livelihoods Programme (CLP). All funding is routed through Maxwell Stamp plc., the managing agents for the programme: about 70 per cent. is passed to 30 local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which transfer cash stipends and assets (such as cows, poultry and vegetable seeds) to poor and destitute women and, fund the raising of households above normal flood levels; the remaining 30 per cent. goes through five local government offices to provide cash for public works which create employment opportunities for poor communities on the island chars. We expect to spend a further £10 million per year on the CLP in each of the next three financial years.
Mr. Thomas: The Department, as a whole, is addressing how climate change should be integrated into our work. On policy, the director of the Policy and Research Division leads on policy, advised by the chief scientific adviser and the heads of profession. The Global and Environment Assets Team of the Sustainable Development Group is the lead team on climate change in the Policy and Research Division.
The directors that manage our country programmes and work with the multilateral development institutions lead on implementation. For example, the International Financial Institutional Department leads on DFIDs engagement with the World Bank and regional development banks on low carbon energy; DFID country offices are leading on the piloting of risk assessments; and the Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department leads on disasters associated with climate change.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many letters to his Department sent from hon. Members during Session 2005-06 remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (a) one, (b) two, (c) three, (d) four and (e) over six months old. 
The Cabinet Office publishes an annual report to Parliament on departmental performance in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The report for correspondence in 2006 is being collated and will be published as soon as it is ready.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he will reply to the letter of 7 December 2006 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms Sarah Carswell. 
Hilary Benn: There is no record in DFID of having received the letter of 7 December from my right hon. Friend for Manchester, Gorton, on behalf of his constituent Sarah Carswell. I would be happy to reply to it if the right hon. Member would send me a copy.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make representations to the UN (a) to take a stronger line on natural resource exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and (b) to deal with the activities of armed groups. 
Hilary Benn: We continue to support the UN's group of experts in its important role monitoring the UN arms embargo on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including the linkages between the funding of armed groups and the exploitation of natural resources in the DRC. However, it is action by the Congolese government that will determine progress on improving natural resource management for the benefit of the Congolese people. We continue to press the authorities for action and will provide support, with international partners, where we can.
The international community has made clear in UN Security Council resolutions that civilian protection (including humanitarian personnel, under imminent threat of physical violence) is an integral part of MONUC's (the UN Mission to the DRC) Chapter VII mandate. MONUC has undertaken military operations against the Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) and other Congolese and foreign and Congolese militias. We continue to encourage MONUC to take a robust stance against these groups, including in support of responsible Congolese army actions. But we are also clear that the solution to the problem requires other measures as well as military pressure, including political leadership by the new government.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding and resources the Government have (a) provided in each of the last three financial years and (b) committed in each of the next three financial years for the Least Developed Country Fund of the Global Environmental Facility. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID pledged £10 million over three years to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), from 2006-07 . DFID provided £3.5 million for 2006-07 and plans to provide further instalments of £3.5 million in 2007-08 and £3 million in 2008-09. DFID is currently the largest contributor to the LDCF and will review the need for further contributions at the next replenishment meeting, currently planned for mid-2007.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance is being given by his Department to the refugees from Iraq who have crossed Iraqi borders into neighbouring countries. 
Hilary Benn: We are very concerned at the increasing numbers of people fleeing the sectarian violence in Iraq. The United Nations estimate that the total number of Iraqi refugees living in neighbouring countries has risen to 1.8 million, with 492,000 displaced since the Samarra bombing in February 2006.
I have just announced a £4 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide emergency assistance, including water, medical supplies and rehabilitation of health infrastructure to vulnerable people, including IDPs inside Iraq. We are also considering UNHCRs appeal, which includes help to refugees in neighbouring countries. This brings our total humanitarian contribution for Iraq to over £120 million since 2003, including £85 million for the UNs 2003 Humanitarian Appeal and £36 million to the International Red Cross. Additionally, DFID provided £70 million to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), which provides support to internally displaced persons.
Mr. Thomas: DFID works with partners in poor countries and other donors to promote integration of the environment into country-led policies, planning and programmes. For example DFID supported the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) and its environmental integration programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and we will co-operate with a similar new joint UNDP and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) PEI. DFID is working with other OECD donors to develop and promote best practice on integrating natural resource management into country-led planning. We have also directly helped some partner countries, such as Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, Nepal and China. DFID is producing a case study of successful Tanzanian experience for use by other donors and partner countries.
Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimates he has made of the proportion of the UK overseas aid budget lost to corruption; and in which countries this occurs. 
Corruption is a cancer and no country, rich or poor, is immune ... Fraud and corruption have undoubtedly occurred in [Bank-funded] projects, but it would be nearly impossible to determine how much [Bank] money might have been lost. Corruption on a world-wide, country by country basis has not been measured by anyone, given the difficulties and enormous costs of collecting quantitative data on the subject.
However, while corruption is impossible to assess fully, DFID is working actively to combat it domestically in the UK, with partners at the country level and internationally. Where instances of fraud or corruption do come to light, our policy is one of zero tolerance and action will be taken to recover any funds that have been lost.
We have a range of preventative controls and procedures in place to minimise the risk of DFID funds being lost to corruption. With partner countries, we support them to improve national systems and reduce the risk of funds being wasted or misused. Together with other international partners, we are providing ongoing support for long term programmes to strengthen the public financial management systems of many partner governments, for example in Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda. These programmes typically address a range of public financial management issues from budget planning and design (e.g. helping to establish medium term expenditure frameworks); to improving infrastructure (computerised financial management information systems); to helping strengthen key institutions such as
the National Audit Office. We also support many initiatives with civil society, parliaments and anti-corruption bodies to increase the demand for accountability and better governance.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID does not hold information centrally on how much was paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997, and this could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
From 2005-06, information on agency costs, and the cost of other staff employed on short-term contracts, has been collated when preparing DFIDs resource accounts. The total agency costs for 2005-06 were £3.8 million. The costs of those on short-term contracts was £1.7 million. The equivalent information for previous years is not available.
In 2007, DFID will be joining an existing scheme, set up by the Prison Service, for the provision of temporary staff. Once the new arrangements come into force, information on the cost of hiring temporary staff will be available from a central source.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2006, Official Report, column 1466W, on retirement age, what tests of (a) experience and (b) evidence he will be applying to check for a negative impact on (i) performance and (ii) workforce planning as a result of removing the default retirement age; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: We have not yet established the tests we will apply should we remove the default retirement age. There are very few staff due to retire at age 65 between now and 2011. We have calculated the numbers to be less than five in each year for 2007 and 2008. We propose to look again at the removal of the default retirement age, most probably in 2009, by which time we will have experience of requests under the duty to consider procedure from employees wishing to work beyond age 65 and taken account of the experience of other organisations with this issue.
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the full title is of each research project agreed under the strategy for sustainable agricultural research announced in March 2006; which institution are carrying out each project; and what the (a) cost and (b) deadline for completion is of each project. 
|Details of projects funded under DFID's strategy for research on sustainable agriculture|
|Title of Project||Organisation||Total cost (£ million)||Completion date|
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