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Hilary Benn: DFID has supported the Cities Alliance since its inception. We have allocated £700,000 per annum for the core budget over the three years starting in 2000. The first year's allocation has been fully utilised. To date the total amount given to Cities Alliance is £1,050,000. In addition we have made provision for some non-core technical assistance in connection with Cities Alliance.
Hilary Benn: The European Council meeting at Laeken on 1415 December 2001 was attended by the Prime Minister. The conclusions of the meeting were deposited in the House Library and the Prime Minister made a statement to the House on 17 December.
Paragraphs 5356 of the conclusions deal with development co-operation. The UK strongly supports EU work to improve the co-ordination of European and international development policies, as a contribution to the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development in March and the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development in September. We also support EU efforts to encourage progress towards the target of providing 0.7 per cent. of gross national income as official development assistance. We are prepared to examine the proposal to establish a Euro-Mediterranean Development Bank but believe that the first step in improving the effectiveness of EU financial support to countries of the Mediterranean region must be to deliver funds from the EC's MEDA programme more effectively.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action her Department has taken in response to (a) the recent outbreak of ebola in Gabon, and (b) the cases reported in Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Hilary Benn: We have supported the World Health Organisation (WHO) in building up capacity to respond effectively to ebola fever by supporting the creation of the global outbreak alert and response network under which outbreaks such as these are dealt with.
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Hilary Benn: The main UK Government support for the Great Apes Survival Project (GrASP) will be provided through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Our Department's work on poverty reduction and the promotion of sustainable forest management in range states is expected to make a positive contribution to ape conservation. To this end we will continue to liaise closely with United Nations Environment programme, DEFRA and other GrASP stakeholders.
Hilary Benn: Our procedures require that all projects are screened for their potential impact on the environment. If initial screening indicates that an activity could have significant impacts on the environment, further investigation such as Environmental Analysis or a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be undertaken. While our Department checks the need for an EIA and the adequacy of them where they are required, the assessment itself is often financed and carried out by others. Where we are funding the improvement of an existing enterprise or facility, an environmental audit would be undertaken rather than an EIA. All projects funded by our Department must comply with in-country guidelines or legislation. These may require an EIA to be carried out.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her policy is on the future delivery of United Kingdom humanitarian aid in Sierra Leone; and if she will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: We stand ready to respond quickly to new humanitarian requests from the UN and other agencies as they emerge. We have committed £12 million for humanitarian activities in Sierra Leone and neighbouring countries over the last 18 months.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her assessment is of links between Sierra Leone and Liberia and the effect of these on the delivery of United Kingdom humanitarian aid; and if she will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: Formal diplomatic links between Sierra Leone and Liberia have improved of late, and both countries remain members of the Mano River Union. The state of the relationship does not affect our ability to deliver humanitarian assistance to either county. We have committed £12 million to humanitarian activities in Sierra Leone and other countries in the region over the last 18 months.
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Hilary Benn: DFID's day-to-day representational interests in Sierra Leone are looked after by the British high commission in Freetown, which is headed by a senior-grade high commissioner drawn from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Development Section is headed by an experienced DFID officer. We consider this level of representation to be appropriate for our needs.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will respond to the request from the Army to have a senior official from her Department at the same senior decision-making level as the Army officers in the field in Sierra Leone. 
Hilary Benn: We have received no formal request. Officials discussed the proposal informally with UK military representatives in Sierra Leone last year, but concluded that there was not a strong case for having a dedicated senior grade DFID person posted to Sierra Leone.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her policy is on the need for her Department's officials in-country to have equivalent decision-making powers and be at the equivalent decision-making level as military and diplomatic counterparts. 
Hilary Benn: The heads of department for International Development offices overseas have substantial delegated authority. In some cases this may exceed that of their diplomatic and military counterparts. These posts are graded using standard job evaluation, relying on job weight analysis. It would not be possible or appropriate to apply any general policy based on equivalence of authority, the nature and comparability of which vary greatly from post to post.
Clare Short: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out every person's entitlement to social, economic, political and civil rights. Our work to support the reduction of poverty is focused on improving the human rights of the poor. Our expanding programme in Vietnam reflects the Vietnam Government's strong track record in reducing poverty from 74 per cent. of the population in 1984 to 37 per cent. in 1998. We are working to address the root causes of disadvantage, for example through rural livelihoods programmes in areas of remaining high poverty and large ethnic minority populations, and through work in primary education aimed at disadvantaged groups.
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been reported in her Department under paragraph 11 of the Civil Service Code since 13 May 1999; and how many of them related to special advisers. 
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial assistance is provided to Angola; what proportion is used to promote reconciliation in that country; and if she will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: The Department for International Development's bilateral aid budget to Angola for this financial year (200002) is £3.7 million, of which £2.5 million has been earmarked for development assistance. Support is mainly provided through international NGOs, to encourage trust, collaboration and partnerships between community organisations and local government. Such community co-operation and organisation contributes toward the strengthening of civil society, which is a prerequisite to future peace and stability in Angola.
Our major commitment to Angola is the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (£6.65 million over three years). It began in July 1999, and aims to improve the economic livelihoods and access to basic services for the urban poor. In addition, it will enhance the capacity of communities and national NGOs to work with local government to meet basic needs.
In addition to our bilateral aid programme, the Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF) is supporting civil society-strengthening programmes in Angola. In Luanda we are implementing a £250,000 project that will strengthen the capacity of local NGOs to disseminate human rights and peace-building information. The CSCF is also supporting peace-building and democratisation through raising the awareness of crucial target groups (teachers, local leaders, community workers, journalists, etc.) about human rights, the rule of law and promoting citizenship.
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