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Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) is currently committed to spending £135 million on security and access to justice programmes in 13 countries around the world. These programmes seek to improve the quality of security and justice service delivery to the populations of developing countries. Our programmes build both effectiveness and accountability by strengthening the capacity of civilian institutions to provide effective management and oversight. For example, in Sierra Leone, DFID has supported the creation of the Office of National Security, a civilian-led organisation that co-ordinated the security sectors role in Sierra Leones free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections held last year.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent steps the Government have taken to reduce levels of corruption in the security forces of poor countries. 
Mr. Thomas: Reducing corruption and improving governance and accountability for budgets in security forces forms an important part of the Department for International Developments (DFID) work to improve security and access to justice for the poor. DFID is currently committed to spending £135 million on security and justice programmes in 13 countries. Many of these programmes aim to strengthen overall management of security institutions, which helps drive out corruption. Some also include a specific component aimed directly at reducing corruption. For example, DFID is currently working with Ugandan officials to improve procurement systems and thereby reduce the potential for corruption in the defence ministry.
DFID also funds the non-governmental organisation Transparency International (UK), which works to reduce corruption by increasing openness and oversight of defence and security equipment procurement in developing countries around the world.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking with the Foreign Secretary to enhance co-ordination between the Foreign Office's Drugs and Crime programme and his Department's work to advance harm reduction. 
Mr. Thomas: The UK Government published their policy position on harm reduction in 2005 to ensure a co-ordinated, collaborative UK approach. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Home Office are working together to improve the international environment for harm reduction. This will include advocating for a stronger emphasis on harm reduction at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Narcotic Drugs in 2009.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to encourage the International Monetary Fund to establish a ministerial council. 
The Government have been formulating and building support for its agenda for the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following the successful conclusion of the Quota and Voice reform debate. The Chancellor set out the key principles of this agenda at the time of the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee in April, with the aim of building momentum towards a reformed institution that is sufficiently flexible to adapt to the global issues of the 21st century, and one that has a strengthened political process at its heart to lock in the commitment of its membership to multilateral cooperation. The Government recognise that activation of the IMF Council would represent a significant step towards a genuinely strengthened political process, and will continue to engage the IMF and other Governments to secure this objective.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department's employees, other than those engaged locally hold language qualifications in (a) Arabic, (b) Farsi, (c) Dari or Pashto, (d) Mandarin, (e) Swahili and (f) Japanese. 
Gillian Merron: Details of specific language qualifications held by staff in the Department for International Development (DFID) are not readily available. Such details could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost to the organisation.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proposals are included in the Quota and Voice reform that was agreed to by the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund. 
The recently agreed International Monetary Fund (IMF) Quota and Voice reform package included proposals for a 5.4 per cent. shift in voting shares from over-represented to under-represented countries, and led to 135 countries receiving an increase in voting share, in part reflecting the tripling of basic votes to enhance the voice of low-income countries; and for the two African constituencies to each appoint an additional Executive Director. The Government supported this reform, as it makes significant progress towards a better reflection of countries relative weights on the world stage, enhances the voice of developing countries, and contributes towards a more legitimate and effective IMF.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: On 4 June, the Government of Zimbabwe suspended the activities of all NGOs and private and voluntary organisations (PVOs). The UN can still operate but many of its programmes including much of its food aid are delivered through NGOs so distribution of relief has been seriously affected.
The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that around 1.5 million people are being affected by the Governments suspension of NGO activity in Zimbabwe. If the suspension extends into July and beyond, this number will rise. The longer the suspension goes on, the more serious the impact on relief efforts. The World Food Programmes main feeding programme is due to scale up from August and should reach around 4 million people at the height of the hungry season in early 2009. Absence of large scale feeding programmes in the second half of the year could lead to high levels of malnutrition and increased mortality.
Mr. McFadden: The Government have committed a funding package of £1.7 billion to 2011 to modernise and reshape the post office network and to put it on a more stable and sustainable footing, providing national coverage of around 11,500 post office outlets underpinned by the Government's access criteria.
Mr. McFadden: The Government have committed a funding package of £1.7 billion to 2011 to modernise and reshape the post office network and to put it on a more stable and sustainable footing, providing national coverage of around 11,500 post office outlets underpinned by Government set access criteria.
Mr. McFadden: The Government have committed a funding package of £1.7 billion to 2011 to modernise and reshape the Post Office network and to put it on a more stable and sustainable footing, providing national coverage of around 11,500 post office outlets underpinned by Government set access criteria.
11. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what plans he has for further consultations on the post office branch closure programme. 
Mr. McFadden: Up to 1 July, Post Office Ltd has published and put out to local public consultation 34 area plans. A further seven area plans are still to start local public consultations. The programme is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with Royal Mail on the application of the Governments criteria for deciding post office closures. 
Mr. McFadden: I have regular discussions with Post Office Ltd. (POL) about a range of post office network issues, including closures under the companys network change programme and the application of the Governments access criteria. To date, the company is exceeding all the national access criteria set by Government. On completion of its network change programme, POL will retain 689 post office branches in Greater London, ensuring that 99.9 per cent. of the population will either see no change to the post office they currently use or remain within one mile by road of an alternative branch.
12. Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the likely effects on levels of fuel poverty of increases in gas and electricity prices forecast to occur before the end of 2008. 
Malcolm Wicks: Any price increases will put upward pressure on the numbers of households in fuel poverty, the specific impact can not be estimated as the Department does not forecast retail energy prices.
14. Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent representations he has received on the Severn barrage tidal power feasibility study. 
Malcolm Wicks: I am in touch with a large range of stakeholders on the Severn Tidal Power feasibility studywhich looks at all tidal range technologies, including barrages and lagoons. These stakeholders include potential developers, local government, local businesses and environmental organisations. I also chair a parliamentary forum for all interested MPs, Peers and Welsh Assembly Members.
15. Adam Price:
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with Welsh Assembly
Government Ministers on the transfer to them of responsibility for power stations of capacity greater than 50 MW. 
Malcolm Wicks: The latest discussions on this issue concluded some time ago, and the Planning White Paper made it clear that the UK Government do not agree with the Welsh Assembly Government case for changing the devolution settlement in this respect. However, I look forward to working closely with Welsh Ministers on how the new planning regime, to be established by the Planning Bill, can deliver Britain's vital major energy infrastructure to meet the energy challenges of the 21st century.
16. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had on means to achieve progress in the World Trade Organisation's Doha development round. 
Mr. Thomas: The Government continue to work with the EU Trade Commissioner, other EU member states and other WTO members to achieve an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the Doha round in 2008. Pascal Lamy, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, recently announced a WTO ministerial in the week of 21 July. We will be working hard to ensure that this ministerial results in an agreement, which will make it possible to secure an overall Doha deal this year.
17. Mr. Illsley: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent assessment he has made of the effects of energy prices on UK competitiveness; and if he will make a statement. 
International price comparisons are complex, showing different pictures among different size categories of consumer. Overall, average industrial gas and electricity prices in the UK are broadly in line with average prices in the EU15.
18. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport and manufacturers of vehicle registration plates on the integration into the design of plates of features which prevent theft. 
Malcolm Wicks: There have been no discussions between my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Transport, and the manufacturers of vehicle registration plates, on the integration of anti-theft features into the design of registration plates.
In February 2006 the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agencyin consultation with number plate manufacturers, the Home Office, the police and companies that test security productsadopted a voluntary standard for theft-resistant number plates. These are more difficult to detach, and cannot be fitted to another vehicle once detached. Theft-resistant number plates and products meeting the standard are currently available through around 300 retail outlets.
The UKs refining output in 2006 was approximately 2 per cent. of world output according to statistics from the International Energy Agency. Hence, any changes in UK refining capacity are unlikely to have a major effect on global oil prices.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the (a) scheduled date and (b) title was of each conference proposed to be hosted by his Department and its agencies which was cancelled before taking place in each of the last 10 years; and what costs were incurred in respect of each. 
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