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DFID has been among the first donors to respond and we are continuing to build up our support to the relief effort as the full extent of needs becomes apparent. Last week we provided Oxfam with £370,000 for the airlift and distribution of essential supplies. This week we have agreed to provide £500,000 in
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response to a £3.4 million appeal from the International Federation of the Red Cross, to provide shelter, household items, medical supplies, clean water and latrines for up to 100,000 people over the next six months. Our assistance follows a grant of £40,000 made several weeks ago to Save the Children for disaster preparedness work. We are also making arrangements with the Government of Mozambique's National Institute of Disaster Management and the World Food Programme to provide technical help to the coordination and logistics of the response. One of our humanitarian specialists arrived in Mozambique last week and is currently in the flood-affected areas, with back up support being provided by our office in Maputo and our humanitarian team in London.

Other donors are also responding, including the European Commission which has pledged €2 million, of which the UK's share is 340,000 Euros. UN relief agencies are fully involved. The major concern now is to ensure that adequate shelter, food, medical supplies, and water and sanitation services are provided to displaced people to prevent ill health and outbreaks of disease. We will be considering further support once we have a clear picture of the overall response and the resources available, including from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund.

We are also closely monitoring floods reported elsewhere in the region, including along the banks of the Zambezi in Zambia, where we have emergency funds available should they be needed.

Trade and Industry

Energy Policy and Nuclear Power

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Alistair Darling): I would like to make a statement about the White Paper on energy policy following the court judgment on 15 February about the consultation process on nuclear energy that preceded the energy review report published on 11 July 2006 at:

The court ruled that the consultation exercise that preceded the publication of the energy review report had not been adequate. The Government accept the court’s judgment and will not appeal it.

We shall therefore conduct a new consultation endeavouring to meet the court’s requirements. It is now likely that the White Paper and the new consultation will be published in early May. However, if it can be published before Easter, I will do so.

We continue to believe, subject of course to consultation, there is a case for having new nuclear power stations as one of the options companies should consider because of their potentially significant contribution to security of supply and reducing carbon emissions. Last week’s court judgment does not undermine this view. The consultation document will bring together the evidence and analysis we have collected and published since the energy review began in November 2005, so that people can take an informed view on whether nuclear power should continue to be
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part of our energy mix. This will enable the Government to make a decision on nuclear, and on certain other issues arising from the White Paper, in the autumn. I will keep the House informed.


Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Ministerial Targets for 2007-08)

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): The Ministerial Targets for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for 2007-08 are:

Delivery Targets

1. In at least 98 per cent. of incidents, within five minutes of being alerted, take a decision on the appropriate search and rescue response and initiate action if necessary.

2a. Deliver the programme of planned ship inspections, surveys and other related activities, targeted on the basis of UK policy objectives, EU policy and risk-based factors, including death and accident statistics.

2b. Carry out 95 per cent. of both mandatory expanded and mandatory inspections as required under EU Directive 95/21/EC.

3. Work with UK ship-owners so that no more than 3 per cent. of UK ships inspected abroad under global port state control arrangements are detained, and the UK register maintains a position on the Paris MOU White List which is comparable to registers of a similar size and reputation.

4. By 31 December 2007, implement EU reporting requirements of the Vessel Traffic Monitoring Directive (VTMD) through the Consolidated European Reporting System (CERS).

5. As a category 1 responder, meet the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 on behalf of the Secretary of State, insofar as his functions include responsibilities for maritime and coastal emergencies (excluding the investigation of accidents), and demonstrate achievement through an audit process.

Development Targets

6. Carry out 10 operational standards and training audits of rescue co-ordination centres and establish a baseline of quality performance that can then be developed into a new performance measure from 2008-09.

7. Review the implementation, effectiveness and impact of maritime safety risk management, using evidence-based information to check the agency’s direction in this area, and develop specific targets to be introduced from 2008-09.

Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I have today published a consultation paper setting out the Government’s proposals for implementing the Renewable Transport
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Fuel Obligation (RTFO). Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultation closes on 17 May 2007.

The RTFO will require that 5 per cent. of all UK road transport fuel comes from a renewable source by 2010 in order to help meet our climate change objectives. The energy review and climate change programme review in 2006 committed the Government to consulting on the details of the scheme in early 2007.

Further information is available from the Departmental website at:

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Work and Pensions

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI) reports

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the BFI inspection reports on the following councils were published today. Caradon district council, Edinburgh city council, North Lanarkshire council, Preston city council, Sheffield city council and Watford borough council. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The BFI reports detail a range of strengths and weaknesses in the housing benefit services provided by councils and make recommendations to improve the security and efficiency of benefit delivery.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering the reports and may ask the councils for proposals in response to BFI’s findings.

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