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DFID has completed a review of its support programme in Nepal. The review was prompted by political events in the early part of the year. DfID plans to continue a substantial programme in the country and the overall purpose of our country assistance plan (CAP) remains unchanged: to reduce poverty and social exclusion, establishing a basis for lasting peace.
However, the conflict and political context have made it more difficult to deliver development assistance effectively and DfID has scaled back the plans in the CAP to increase significantly our levels of assistance. Instead, we plan to keep these at about £32 millionclose to the amount spent in the previous UK financial year.
The published CAP had five objectives covering peace-building; improving rural livelihoods; expanding basic services; supporting social inclusion of women and excluded caste and ethnic groups; and improving governance. We have not radically changed these objectives, but have adjusted priorities to give more attention to: possible humanitarian operations and the protection of vulnerable groups such as internally displaced people; and working with pro-democracy groups, including the political parties, to help ensure that an eventual return to democracy is sustained.
DfID will strengthen further its risk management systems to ensure that we continue to protect staff and respond in a timely way to further changes in the context in which we are working. We will also build further our skills to manage the programme within a conflict setting.
We will continue to work closely with other Whitehall departments, helping to ensure that best use is made of the Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) and that DfID's activities make a positive contribution to the wider UK objective of a sustainable peace based on democratic government.
For the NHS Appointments Commission and the NHS Litigation Authority, their annual accounts and any accompanying Comptroller and Auditor General report have today been laid before Parliament pursuant to Section 98(1C) of the National Health Service Act 1977. Copies have been placed in the Library.
The Office for National Statistics' annual report and accounts for 200405 is being laid before Parliament today. It contains an assessment of how the Office for National Statistics performed against its key targets in 200405. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House and electronic copies are freely accessible on the National Statistics website.
The new planning policy statement 9 (PPS9) sets out the Government's planning policies for biodiversity and geological conservation in England. A joint ODPM/Defra circular accompanies PPS9 and will provide administrative guidance on the law relating to planning and nature conservation as it applies in England. Together these two documents will replace existing planning policy guidance note 9 on nature conservation (PPG9), published in October 1994.
Drafts of PPS9 and the accompanying circular were issued for public consultation in September 2004. PPS9 has a new emphasis on the need to conserve, enhance and restore biodiversity and makes it clear that geological conservation is an important part of protecting our natural heritage. Positive planning which facilitates conservation of biodiversity and geological conservation contributes to the Government's principles for sustainable development set out in the UK strategy. The policies set out in PPS9, together with the guidance in the circular will enable planning authorities, regional planning bodies and planning inspectors to play their part taking forward the UK strategy.
Copies of PPS9 and the accompanying government circular will be placed in the Library of the House following publication of the documents. They will also be made available on the website of ODPM. A summary of the responses to the consultation drafts has been published on the ODPM website and copies of the responses will be made available for inspection through the ODPM library.
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I am pleased to announce that the final annual report and accounts of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) will be laid before Parliament today. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) replaced the PCA on 1 April 2004.
Following my Written Statement to the House on 16 September 2004, and together with the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence, I wish to inform Parliament of the establishment and current capabilities of the Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit (PCRU). The PCRU is an inter-departmental unit, which has been set up by our three departments to improve the United Kingdom's capacity to contribute to the creation of a stable environment in countries emerging from conflict. The unit's work is overseen by the Defence and Overseas Policy (Conflict Prevention and Reconstruction) Committee, chaired by the Foreign Secretary.
The PCRU has been established to carry out two main tasks. First, to develop government strategy for post-conflict stabilisation. This includes linking military and civilian planning as well as working with the wider international community for the spread of best practice, capacity building and burden sharing; and, secondly, to plan and direct activities designed to create stability in post conflict environments in the period immediately following the cessation of hostilities.
The PCRU is nearly fully staffed and has reached an initial capacity to plan for, and support, stabilisation activities. The unit is building up a database of civilian experts who can be deployed. It is also developing methods to help the Government reach an understanding of, and plan responses to, individual conflicts. In addition, the unit is writing a series of guidance papers on a range of specific issues that may need to be tackled in post-conflict situations, such as security sector reform and governance. The PCRU is also developing links with international organisations
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and other governments to ensure that UK's efforts are part of a co-ordinated contribution to the international response to conflict. I expect the PCRU to be able, if necessary, to plan and organise a large-scale deployment of up to several hundred civilians, including police, as part of a post-conflict stabilisation operation by mid-2006.
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