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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the Answer of 21 May 2008, Official Report, column 329W, on apprentices, what progress has been made on increasing the number of apprentices in his Department; and how many apprentices his Department employed at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Michael Foster: In line with the Skills StrategyNext Steps, the Department for International Development (DFID) has committed to putting in place five apprenticeships for each of the next two years. The Department currently has no apprenticeships under way.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on works and refurbishment to offices allocated to Ministers in departmental buildings in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Michael Foster: Over the last 12 months the Department for International Development (DFID) has spent £14,146 on works to the Ministers' offices and those of their private office staff. This includes the creation of a new waiting and meeting area.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to his Answer of 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 986, on departmental conditions of employment, what the (a) highest, (b) lowest, (c) mean and (d) total amount was spent on (i) travel and (ii) other expenses for those who took their (A) two week break in home country and (B) two week break outside their home country in each year since 2005. 
DFID will only cover the cost of one return flight to the UK for each breather break. If employees wish to spend a break at an alternative location they must cover any additional costs, above the equivalent of the return ticket to the UK, themselves.
These data have been extracted from readily available information and may not be comprehensive. To undertake an extensive interrogation of records over the last five years would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the answer of 5 November 2008, Official Report, column 510W, on departmental training, what personal training courses at public expense other Ministers in his Department have undertaken since 1 January 2008. 
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which external organisations his Department has engaged to provide training for fast stream civil service staff in the last three years; and how many civil servants in his Department have participated in provision of training for external organisations in that period. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) advises that fast stream staff undertake at least 15 days a year on learning and development activities. The specific training for each individual is determined between the line manager of the post and the individual. Records are not maintained centrally for each individual's learning and development, but normally some external training courses would form part of the learning and development. A wide variety of external providers are used. It regularly includes courses run by the National School of Government.
Approximately 100 sub-departments and overseas offices within DFID are responsible for identifying learning and development opportunities for each staff member, including external training courses. Information on the number of staff attending external training courses is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on digital media training courses provided by the Internet Advertising Bureau in 2008; how many such training sessions were held in 2008; and how many staff in his Department attended at least one such training course. 
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what expenditure his Department has incurred in providing transport for Ministers between Parliament and departmental premises in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Michael Foster: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport on 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 6W. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the ministerial code.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the policy of his Department and its agencies is on granting staff time off in lieu for working (a) in lunch breaks, (b) in evenings and (c) at other times outside contracted working hours; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) employs a diverse work force and so allows employees to work a wide range of flexible working patterns to fulfil their contracted hours; this may include some evening work. However, employees who opt to work flexibly must still take a minimum lunch break of at least 30 minutes. This also applies to employees that opt to work standard hours instead of flexible hours.
DFID only permits their employees to work beyond their contracted hours in the evenings or at weekends to meet essential business needs. Where employees work overtime, it is our policy to allow them to opt for either payment or time off in lieu.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proposals his Department has put forward for the reform of international financial institutions to meet international development objectives; what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Prime Minister and (b) the Chancellor of the Exchequer on these proposals; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I have consistently called for reform of the international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Government want to make these institutions more effective so that they are able to respond better to current and future global challenges. This will need to include addressing weaknesses in their legitimacy. At the October 2008 World Bank annual meetings I and other World Bank governors agreed a first package of measures to reform the Bank's governance, which included increased representation for African countries and opening up the appointment of the World Bank president. We also agreed that a second phase of reform would be taken forward to give poorer countries more say in the World Banks decision making.
At the Washington summit on 15 November G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to reforming the World Bank and the IMF to increase their legitimacy and effectiveness. My Department is working with other G20 countries to identify specific actions to take forward this agenda. I have regular discussions with the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other members of the Cabinet about these and other issues that will be discussed at the London summit.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on (a) peace education, (b) mediation, (c) conflict prevention, (d) conflict resolution, (e) interfaith dialogue and (f) other peace development initiatives since January 2002; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) does not disaggregate spend into the categories requested. DFID currently holds records against the following categories of expenditure on conflict:
|Category||Total expenditure in financial years 2002-03 to 2007-08|
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka following the recent offensive by government troops on Tamil areas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Michael Foster: The worsening humanitarian plight of some 230,000 trapped civilians following the Sri Lankan government's recent offensive causes great concern. We deplore such incidents as the recent shelling of a hospital.
We constantly monitor the situation through our high commission and other sources, supplemented by field visits by Department for International Development humanitarian staff. We have recently programmed £2.5 million humanitarian funding through the UN, Red Cross and non-government organisations. We are sending another humanitarian mission in the next few weeks and have agreed a further £2.5 million humanitarian funding.
But the problem will not be resolved by funding alone. We are resolute in pressing for better humanitarian access for aid convoys and other relief within safe humanitarian space. The Foreign Secretary repeated this to President Rajapakse on 30 January.
The humanitarian situation in Darfur remains precarious. Although violence is not on the scale of 2003-04, insecurity continues to hamper the delivery of aid. In 2008, a further 310,000 civilians entered internally displaced persons camps to bring the total to 2.7 million. 277 relief vehicles were hijacked, 192 compounds attacked and 11 humanitarian workers were killed.
Improving the humanitarian situation in Darfur remains a high priority for us. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch Brown, discussed Darfur with Djibril Bassolé, African Union (AU)/UN Chief Mediator for Darfur, in London on 15 December 2008, and we are in regular contact with his office. Our ambassador in Khartoum and her staff maintain close contact with all main political groups in Darfur, non-governmental organisations working in the region, and the AU/UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and visited all three states of Darfur in the last three months.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many days off in lieu were granted to staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies for working (i) in lunch breaks and (ii) at other times outside contracted working hours, in the last year for which figures are available. 
Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Office do not record centrally days taken off in lieu granted to staff in (a) the Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies for working (i) in lunch breaks and (ii) at other times, outside contracted working hours.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what estimate his Department has made of the administrative cost to businesses in Northern Ireland of the recent temporary reduction in the rate at which value added tax is levied prior to that reduction taking place; 
Estimated costs to business in the UK are published in the impact assessment of changes to the standard rate of VAT. This is available on the HM Treasury website. Reliable cost estimates cannot be produced on a regional basis.
Ann McKechin: I am fully supportive of the Year of Homecoming and will be taking appropriate opportunities to promote it throughout the year along with my other ministerial colleagues. I have already obtained the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in promoting the initiative.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the train access charge regime for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, with particular reference to his policy of encouraging cross-border rail/freight movements. 
Paul Clark: The future charges for use of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link have been subject to recent consultation and HS1 Limited is discussing these charges with train operators and industry representatives as part of its consideration of that consultation. Further details can be found on the HS1 website at:
The Government wishes to see charges set at a level which maximises use of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and encourages competition, while ensuring the market makes the fullest contribution towards the costs of constructing the railway.
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