§ Mr. Todd
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list each of the functions relating to payment for goods or services supplied for which her Department is responsible indicating the management systems purchased, all subcontractors involved in the work; co-operative arrangements with other Departments; and the costs of the systems and processes in the last year for which figures are available. 
§ Mr. Foulkes
My Department has an in-house payment system which processes most payments made in the UK in respect of goods or services supplied under the aid programme. Payments are authorised by the spending departments, which are mainly overseas. After input and review by headquarters staff in the UK these payments are then recorded, checked and cleared for issue by the accounts department in our East Kilbride headquarters. The accounts department's total running costs for 1996–97 were £819,000 but not all these costs related to the processing of payments for goods and services. It would involve disproportionate expense to make a reliable estimate of spending departments' and other headquarters' costs covering only this aspect of work.
In addition, my Department employs five procurement agents: these agents include in their fee a sum to cover payment to suppliers. This fee covers all aspects of procurement agents' services and agents do not separate out that element of their fee which covers payment to suppliers.
Financial aid to partner Governments under the terms of loan or grant agreements is made by Crown Agents Financial Services which charged £589,000 for this service in 1996–97. Some payments are also made overseas by embassies and high commissions on our behalf.