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28 Mar 2003 : Column 479Wcontinued
Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what grades in the civil service in her Department are allowed to travel by air (a) first class and (b) business class at public expense when on official duties. 
Clare Short: Within the constraint that all staff are required to use the most efficient and economic means of travel commensurate with meeting operational needs, civil servants working in the Department for International Development (DFID) are, when travelling on official duty, entitled to the class of air travel set out in the following table.
|Members of theSASC(18) group||Other grades|
|Up to 2½ hours||Over 2½ hours||Up to 2½ hours(19)||Over 2½ hours|
(18) Senior Appointments Selection Committee.
(19) Staff who are not members of the SASC Group can fly Business Class between Glasgow and London This makes use of a special airline deal under which a Business Class fare is obtainable more cheaply than the standard Economy fare.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total cost of her Department's website was in the last 12 months; and how many hits it received in the same period. 
Clare Short: The cost of the DFID website (www.dfid.gov.uk) for the period March 2002 to February 2003 was £74,999, excluding staffing and other centralised costs. The total number of hits received for the same period was 26,070,460.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether her Department will liaise with the Iraqi Reconstruction Group of professional Iraqis in this country in advancing her work in the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq. 
Clare Short: It is too soon to begin detailed consultations on the reconstruction of Iraq. Our first priority is to secure a UN mandate which will be required to provide legal authority for the reconstruction effort, and to make possible the engagement of the International Financial Institutions and the wider international community. The Government are holding ongoing discussions with key partners to ensure such a mandate is put in place.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department has had with the Governments of (a) Syria, (b) Kuwait and (c) Jordan regarding their provision for refugees from war in Iraq; and if she will make a statement. 
Clare Short: The UK Government have been in close contact with Governments in the region on a range of issues. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been in contact with countries in the region to remind them of their obligations, with regard to refugees, under the Geneva conventions.
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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with which humanitarian agencies her Department has discussed the humanitarian consequences of a possible war in Iraq; and if she will make a statement. 
Clare Short: My Department has been having discussions on Iraq humanitarian issues with UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and NGOs for several months. We are continuing to liase closely.
Clare Short: The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is responsible for Internally Displaced People (IDP) in the centre and south of Iraq while the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is responsible for IDPs in the north of Iraq.
Clare Short: The immediate priority post-conflict must be to get the Oil-For-Food (OFF) programme back up and running, not to replace it. Preparations are in hand for a new Security Council Resolution to allow the UN Secretary General to take charge of the programme. We expect a draft resolution to be tabled very soon.
The UK has meanwhile been in discussion with the UN humanitarian agencies, Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and international NGOs to determine what resources they require to procure food to cover any temporary gap in the OFF programme. The UN is currently planning on a medium case scenario under which up to 10 million people may require food assistance during and immediately after conflict. We have committed £50 million to support the preparations of these partners (covering food and other relief). This includes £8 million for the World Food Programme. We have set aside a further £160 million for the immediate humanitarian response and are considering further assistance in line with emerging humanitarian needs.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what actions her Department is taking to facilitate increased co-operation between UK aid agencies and the US for delivering humanitarian relief to Iraq. 
Clare Short : Officials from DFID are co-operating with a number of partners over humanitarian relief to Iraq: UN agencies; NGOs; the Red Cross/ Red Crescent movement; and donors, including the US. We are encouraging co-operation between the UN Office for the
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Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Kuwait-based Humanitarian Operations Centre to facilitate information sharing. We have seconded two people to UNOCHA and have committed 150,000 of funds to them.
Clare Short: The UN office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Coalition's Humanitarian Operations Centre in Kuwait are providing advice to humanitarian aid agencies in the region. Allied forces are currently discharging their humanitarian obligations in accordance with Geneva/Hague conventions. Once a permissive environment has been established, responsibility will pass to the relevant humanitarian agencies.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with (a) the United States and (b) the United Nations on the future of the Kurdish people within a post-conflict Iraq. 
Clare Short: We have on-going discussions with the US and the UN about the plight of all groups in Iraq, including the Kurds. We are committed to maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq. It will be important to ensure a stable and representative Government are established in a post-conflict Iraq which respect and protect the people of Iraq.
Clare Short: The authorities in northern Iraq have prepared a number of camps for internally displaced people in the North. Sites have provisionally been selected in other parts of the country. Refugee camps are being prepared in surrounding countries. The situation is changing daily; the latest information can be found in DFID's Iraq updated which are available in the House of Commons Library.
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