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Written Answers

Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

Written Answers toQuestions

Monday 11 December 2006

Leader of the House

IT Support

To ask the Leader of the House how much the contract for IT support for hon. Members cost in each of the last five years. (105464)

The total cash cost of Members IT (including the contract currently held by Dell and previously held by Computacenter) has been:

Members’ IT equipment and support

Amount (£)

2002-03

1,230

2003-04

792

2004-05

725

2005-06

2,094

Desk top IT equipment has a life expectancy of around four years. The spend profile will reflect major upgrade and replacement programmes; for example, the 2005 general election gave rise to the higher spend on Members’ IT equipment in 2005-06.

To ask the Leader of the House which company holds the contract to provide IT support for hon. Members. (105465)

Since the general election of 2005, Dell holds the contract for the supply and support of desktop hardware and peripherals for hon. Members. The Parliamentary ICT Service (PICT) provides support for centrally provided software packages and first line support for centrally provided hardware.

Work and Pensions

Alzheimer's Disease

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect on his Department’s expenditure on social security benefits of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s decision to withdraw eligibility of those suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease to have the drugs (a) Donepezil, (b) Rivastigmine and (c) Galantamine prescribed on the NHS. (102771)

Changes in the prescribing arrangements for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are unlikely to have any effects on the Department’s expenditure.

Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each constituency in Scotland were in receipt of (a) housing benefit, (b) disability living allowance and (c) council tax benefit in each year since 1997; and how much was claimed of each benefit in each constituency in each year. (100937)

Information about housing benefit and council tax benefit is not broken down below local authority level.

The information on disability living allowance has been placed in the Library.

Christmas Bonus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the total costs of administering the Christmas bonus for pensionersin each year since 1980-81; and if he will make a statement. (103988)

This information is not available.

The costs of administering the Christmas bonus are not separately identifiable, as it is paid in combination with pensioners’ weekly entitlement.

Database Breaches

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by his Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external sources in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. (102177)

There have been no recorded security incidents of this type from external sources within the period since January 2001. However, as the table shows, 1,142 incidences of staff using legitimate access to databases to browse data for which they had no business requirement are recorded. Neither the number of records accessed on each occasion nor the potential number of records accessible is recorded.

Number of incidents

2001

56

2002

299

2003

172

2004

242

2005

373

Total

1,142

Departmental Call Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what telephony equipment intended to protect employees from noise events and acoustic incidents has been procured by his Department's call centres. (102607)

GN Netcom2100 headsets are in use in all DWP business units. The Child Support Agency’s National Helplines and Jobcentre Plus contact centres also use Plantronics Supra mono headsets; and The Pension Service also use GN Netcom2200 duo and mono and GN Netcom cordless headsets. Staff in DCS and Pension Service centres have also been supplied with GN8210 amplifiers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many employees in his Department’s call centres have reported (a) headset noise interference and (b) acoustic incidents while at work over the last two years; and how many of those employees have had sickness absence exceeding three days as a consequence. (102609)

As incidents are handled locally only limited information is available centrally and it is not always possible to identify whether reports relate to contact centre staff. The following information is available for the past two years: Jobcentre Plus, ten reports one of which led to sick absence (duration not known); The Pension Service, two reports one of which led to a sick absence of over three days; and the Disability and Carers Service contact centres, ninety six reports one of which led to a sick absence in excess of three days.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent by his Department on television advertisements in the last year for which figures are available. (104437)

For the financial year 2005-06 the Department for Work and Pensions spent £1,987,000 on television advertising for the Targeting Benefit Fraud campaign. The Department did not run any other television advertisements.

Notes:

1. The figure refers to media spend only, excluding production, direct mail, public relations and other costs.

2. The figure has been rounded to the nearest thousand.

3. The figure is net of VAT.

Departmental Mail

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of the Department's mail is shipped using private companies; and what the cost was over 12 months. (102119)

The percentage of mail shipped using private companies is 11 per cent. This is made up of8 per cent. via a courier contract and 3 per cent. via alternative mail providers. The total expenditure over the last 12 months was £7.9 million.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department's annual budget is for employing workers on a consultancy basis; and how much of this budget was used in each of the last five years for which records are available. (103021)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) do not set annual budgets for employing workers on a consultancy basis at departmental level.

Expenditure for the last five years for employing workers on a consultancy basis is shown in the following table:

£ million

2001-02

94.46

2002-03

141.04

2003-04

306.72

2004-05

168.37

2005-06

130.29

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of staff employed in the top five grades of his Department have (a) a graduate qualification in IT and (b) previous employment as an IT specialist. (105938)

The answer is in the following table:

Percentage

DWP SCS who have graduate qualifications in IT

9

DWP SCS who have previous employment as an IT specialist

13

Financial Assistance Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have received payment from the Financial Assistance Scheme; and how many payments have been made from the scheme in each month for which figures are available. (105900)

As at 17 November 2006, the Financial Assistance Scheme had paid 557 people.44 more people will be paid as soon as they have confirmed their personal details and a further 133 have been assessed and will be paid when they reach age 65.

The following monthly figures are available up to and including 17 November 2006:

Number of payments—December 2005 to October 2006

New payments

Cumulative total

2005

December

13

13

2006

January

2

15

February

12

27

March

5

32

April

11

43

May

43

86

June

58

144

July

66

210

August

76

286

September

108

394

October

60

454

November1

103

557

Total

557

1 Up to 17th.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of Statefor Work and Pensions whether he has made an assessment of the effect of the recent Social Security Commissioners' ruling on housing benefit on registered social landlord tenants with learning difficulties. (107945)

The Social Security Commissioner's ruling concerned the rules for specialist accommodation for which the pre-1996 rent restriction scheme has been preserved. The commissioner decided that the rent restriction scheme introduced in 1996 should be used in certain cases as the accommodation did not fall intothe pre-1996 exempt categories.

The commissioner decided on the plain interpretation of the regulations as advocated by DWP, and so the housing benefit rules for registered social landlord tenants with learning difficulties have not changed.

International Pension Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how international pension officers overseas are recruited; where the positions are advertised; and what qualifications and experience are required for an overseas posting. (102001)

Overseas international pension service officers are either seconded from the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate or recruited locally by the relevant British mission.

Posts are advertised and filled using the relevant Department or mission's normal recruitment methods. There are no formal qualifications for these posts, but demonstration of a range of competencies including communication and written skills, analytical abilities and working with others is required.

Light Bulbs

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of light bulbs purchased by his Department in 2005 were of the compact fluorescent type. (102131)

As the majority of lighting on the Department’s estate is provided by functional fittings that use straight fluorescent tubes of varying lengths there is little scope to replace these with compact fluorescent.

Consequently, compact fluorescent bulbs represent 15 per cent. of those purchased.

Local Housing Allowance Pathfinders

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to implement the commitment given in the Welfare Reform Bill's Regulatory Impact Assessment that the Government will review the evaluation findings from the Local Housing Allowance Pathfinders for under 25 year olds before finalising proposals for the regulations following from the Bill. (106137)

Before finalising the secondary legislation following from the Welfare Reform Bill, the Government will take account of all relevant research, including the final Local Housing Allowance Pathfinder evaluation, as well as the debates that will have taken place in the Commons and in the Lords.

However the majority of the Pathfinder evaluation reports were available, and considered, at Commons Committee stage of the Bill, where the Government confirmed that the commitment to the principles behind the benefit rules for under 25 year olds remains.

Ministerial Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he has taken to offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused by ministerial travel in his Department. (102129)

All central Government ministerial and official air travel is being offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases Certified Emissions Reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, in developing countries.

DWP has developed data collection systems to ensure that all aviation emissions are captured, enabling the Department to offset its carbon emissions caused by official air travel using the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund, details of which can be found on the climate change pages of the DEFRA website:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/carboncost/carbon-offsetting/index.htm

Pension Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the proportion of the target group for the new personal pensions which will be entitled to pension credit in (a) 2040 and (b) 2050; and if he will make a statement. (103989)

The projections published in the White Paper “Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System” do not model the effects of personal accounts. We will be publishing a White Paper on personal accounts shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioner households in City of York constituency receive pension credit; what the average value of pension credit of those households is; and how many pensioners live in those households. (106660)

4,440 households in the City of York constituency were receiving pension credit as at August 2006, with an average weekly payment of £40.71.

Notes:

1. The figure provided is an early estimate. The preferred data source for figures supplied by DWP is the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS). However, the figure provided isthe latest available figure which is taken from the GMS scanat 1 September 2006. These are adjusted using the historical relationship between WPLS and GMS data to give an estimate of the final WPLS figure.

2. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the 2005 postcode directory.

3. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 10.

4. Average weekly payments are shown as pounds per week and rounded to the nearest penny.

5. Households are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.

Source:DWP 100 per cent. data from the Generalised Matching Service (QMS) Pension Credit scan taken as at 1 September 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households in each ward of Wantage constituency are in receipt of pension credit. (106706)

The answer is in the following table.

Households in receipt of pension credit in each ward of Wantage constituency—May 2006

Ward name

Households

Brightwell

65

Cholsey and Wallingford South

115

Didcot All Saints

160

Didcot Ladygrove

45

Didcot Northbourne

135

Didcot Park

240

Hagbourne

65

Wallingford North

250

Appleton and Cumnor

140

Blewbury and Upton

50

Craven

80

Drayton

75

Faringdon and The Coxwells

275

Greendown

60

Grove

160

Hanneys

50

Harwell

80

Hendreds

120

Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor

35

Longworth

60

Marcham and Shippon

70

Shrivenham

115

Stanford

85

Sunningwell and Wootton

130

Sutton Courtenay and Appleford

80

Wantage Charlton

215

Wantage Segsbury

100

Wantage constituency total

2,780

Notes:1. Caseloads are rounded to a multiple of five.2. Only part of Appleton and Cumnor and Sunningwell and Wooton wards are in Wantage parliamentary constituency.3. Because of 1. and 2., wards will not always sum to constituency totals.4. Wards are based on 2003 ward boundaries.5. Households recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.Source:DWP 100 per cent. data: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Pension Protection Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will amend the rules governing the Capping Regulations of the Pension Protection Fund to bring within the remit of the fund those people who took early retirement before April 2005; and if he will make a statement. (104489)

We have carefully considered the issues that have been raised by and on behalf of a number of early retirees, including whether to change the legislation which sets a cap on the compensation payable. We have taken particular account of the need for PPF compensation to balance fairness to scheme members, and remain affordable for pension schemes paying the PPF levy. We have concluded that changing the PPF compensation rules would advantage one group of scheme members compared to other groups, and could increase the cost of the PPF. We do not, therefore, propose to change PPF legislation at this time.

If a pension scheme enters the PPF, early retirees who took early retirement before April 2005 will be eligible for a 90 per cent. level of compensation, which is capped, as will the majority of people below their scheme’s normal pension age.

Pensioner Households (Bristol, East)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioner households in Bristol, East constituency are receiving (a) pension credit and (b) pension savings credit; and what the(i) highest and (ii) average amount awarded is. (104267)

The requested information is below.

Table 1: The number of households in receipt of Pension Credit by type in Bristol, East and the average weekly payments—May 2006

Type of pension credit

Number of household recipients

Average weekly payments (£)

Guarantee credit only

1,550

80.74

Savings credit only

1,020

12.05

Guarantee credit and savings credit

2,350

46.16

All

4,920

49.96

Notes:

1. The pension credit is made up of two elements, guarantee credit and savings credit. An individual can receive one or both guarantee credit and savings credit.

2. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest 10. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

3. Parliamentary constituencies are assigned by matching postcodes against the 2005 postcode directory.

4. Household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves only or on behalf of a household.

5. Average weekly payments are shown as pounds per week and rounded to the nearest penny.

Source:

DWP 100 per cent. data: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study

Table 2: The highest award amounts for pension credit in Bristol, East—May 2006

Type of pension credit

£

Guarantee credit

174.05

Savings credit

23.58

Source:

DWP Information Directorate: five per cent. sample data

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people were in receipt of the basic state pension in each quarter from the first quarter of 1990 to the third quarter of 2006; how many lived abroad in each period; and if he will make a statement. (102081)

The information requested is not available. Such information as is available is in the following table.

GB total

Overseas total

March 2006

10,429,200

973,900

September 2005

10,416,200

964,100

March 2005

10,450,300

971,900

September 2004

10,408,800

964,800

March 2004

10,313,400

948,400

September 2003

10,291,500

931,000

March 2003

10,225,800

912,400

September 2002

10,197,400

895,300

March 2002

10,149,300

872,600

September 2001

10,146,500

870,400

March 2001

10,087,200

850,800

September 2000

10,069,600

842,400

March 2000

10,034,000

826,100

September 1999

10,013,200

821,100

March 1999

9,938,800

792,200

September 1998

March 1998

9,839,400

773,600

September 1997

9,800,700

759,400

March 1997

9,700,400

747,500

September 1996

9,680,500

731,800

March 1996

9,575,400

718,900

September 1 995

9,548,200

703,200

March 1995

9,469,300

685,200

Notes:

1. Data are taken from 5 per cent. sample, therefore figures are subject to a degree of sampling variation. They are also adjusted to be consistent with the overall caseload from the WPLS.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.

3. No data for September 1998 are available.

4. Basic state pension data are not available prior to March 1995.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total pension liabilities are of his Department and the agencies for which he is responsible; and if he will make a statement. (102162)

Information on the most recent estimate of unfunded liability for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme is available in the Resource Accounts 2005-06 of Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation, a copy of which is available in the Library for the reference of Members. This contains details of the present value of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme’s liabilities at 31 March 2006 and the discount rate assumption.

Cabinet Office do not think it practicable to break down the schemes liabilities by Department.

To ask the Secretary of State forWork and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of compensation which would need to be paid to those identified in the Ombudsman’s report “Trusting in the Pensions Promise” who would experience diminutions in their pensions if Pension Protection Fund compensation rules were applied. (102172)

I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to him on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 1204-05W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the timetable is for reinstating the earnings link for uprating the basic state pension. (107447)

The White Paper “Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System” states that the earnings link will be restored to the basic state pension. The objective is that this will be done, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, in 2012 but in any event at the latest by the end of the next Parliament. We have said that we will make a statement on the precise date at the beginning of the next Parliament.

This commitment is set out in the Pensions Bill which was published on 29 November.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of people saving in the new personal pensions will face withdrawal rates on savings income of (a) over 30 per cent., (b) over 40 per cent. and (c) 100 per cent.; and if he will make a statement. (103990)

The projections published in the White Paper “Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System” do not model the effects of personal accounts. We will be publishing a White Paper on personal accounts shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the likely average annual growth rate in real terms of state pension expenditure for the period 2005-06 to 2020-21; and if he will make a statement. (101292)

It is estimated that the likely average annual growth rate in real terms of state pension expenditure for the period 2005-06 to 2020-21 will be 3.0 per cent.

Notes:

1. State pension expenditure is defined here as expenditure on both basic state pension and additional pension.

2. The figure includes the expected impact of the Pensions Bill published on 29 November.

Poverty Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which constituency has the (a) highest and (b) lowest number of pensioners living in poverty. (103396)

Winter Fuel Payment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the value of the winter fuel payment was in each year since its introduction, in (a) cash terms and (b) real terms using 2004-05 prices. (103984)

The information is in the following table.

Value of winter fuel payments

Cash terms (£)

Real terms using 2004-05 prices (£)

1997-98 (not in receipt of income-related benefit)

20

24

1997-98 (in receipt of income-related benefit)

50

59

1998-99 (not in receipt of income-related benefit)

20

23

1998-99 (in receipt of income-related benefit)

50

58

1999-2000

100

113

2000-01

200

223

2001-02

200

218

2002-03

200

212

2003-04 ( 60-79 age rate)

200

206

2003-04 (80 or over age rate)

300

308

2004-05 (60-79 age rate)

200

200

2004-05 (80 or over age rate)

300

300

2005-06 (60-79 age rate)

200

196

2005-06 (80 or over age rate)

300

294

2006-07 (60-79 age rate)

200

192

2006-07 (80 or over age rate)

300

287

Notes:

1. Figures for 1997-98 to 2005-06 obtained using GDP deflator series from ONS.

2. Figures for 2006-07 obtained using HM Treasury assumptions.

3. For the years 1997-98 and 1998-99 the winter fuel payment was 20 or 50 for people receiving a pensioner premium in the income-related benefits.

4. The extra £100 for people aged 80 or over was introduced in winter 2003-04.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people (a) between 60 and79 years and (b) aged 80 years or over qualified for(i) the lower rate and (ii) the upper rate of winter fuel payments in each year since its introduction. (103985)

Information relating to winter fuel payments for the winters of 1997-98 and 1998-99 is not available. The information from 1999-2000 is in the following table.

An age breakdown is only available from winter 2002-03. The higher rate winter fuel payment of up to an additional £100 to people aged 80 or over was introduced in winter 2003-04.

Age

Number of lower rate payments made(£200/£100)

Number of higher rate payments made (additional £100/£50)

1999-2000

60 or over

10,084,130

n/a

2000-01

60 or over

11,105,750

n/a

2001-02

60 or over

11,201,900

n/a

2002-03

60-79

9,062,370

n/a

80 or over

2,285,670

n/a

2003-04

60-79

9,132,830

0

80 or over

2,335,410

2,335,410

2004-05

60-79

9,087,940

0

80 or over

2,313,240

2,313,240

2005-06

60-79

9,188,340

0

80 or over

2,342,780

2,342,780

n/a = not applicable

Source:

Information Directorate 100 per cent. sample.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of winter fuel payments were made to recipients in (a) November, (b) December, (c) January and (d) February and after in each year since its introduction. (103987)

The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically throughout the month of November. Additional payment runs are made in December, February, March and June for customers who make a successful claim for a winter fuel payment before the cut off date of 31 March.

Information on the proportion of payments made for the years 1997-98 to 2000-01 is not available. Information on the years from 2001-02 is in the following table.

Month of payment

Proportion of payments made (per cent.)

2001-02

November

99.31

December

0

February

1.18

March

0.31

June

0.20

2002-03

November

99.20

December

0.28

February

0.29

March

0.18

June

0.05

2003-04

November

99.28

December

0.25

February

0.19

March

0.17

June

0.11

2004-05

November

99.46

December

0.15

February

0.15

March

0.12

June

0.12

2005-06

November

99.14

December

0.41

February

0.18

March

0.13

June

0.14

Notes:

1. Figures for this year’s payments are not yet available.

2. The December payment run was introduced in 2002-03.

Source:

Annual EDS payment statistics, as supplied to the winter fuel planning and Implementation Team.

House of Commons Commission

Freedom of Information Act

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many requests for information the House authorities have received under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 from (a) hon. Members and (b) others since 1 January 2005; and how many of the requests were (i) fully met, (ii) met in part and (iii) not met in each case. (107896)

The following information relates to requests logged up to the end of November 2006:

(a) Since January 2005 the House has received six requests from hon. Members. One request was fully met, two were met in part and three were not met.

(b) Overall the House has logged 367 requests. Of the 307 cases where it was deemed that the House held the information requested, 122 were fully met, 76 were met in part and 109 were not met.

Select Committees (Public Admittance)

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether consideration has been given to the introduction of a numbered ticketing system for members of the public who wish to attend select committee meetings; and if he will make a statement. (105007)

Consideration has not been given to the introduction of a numbered ticketing system for members of the public who wish to attend select committee meetings. There is currently no awareness of demand for such a system.

Theft

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many incidents of theft of the property of (a) hon. Members and (b) hon. Members’ staff have been notified to the House authorities in each of the last three years. (105016)

The following figures show the total numbers of thefts across the parliamentary estate and the number of thefts from hon. Members. Separate records of thefts from hon. Members’ staff are not kept and these are included in “other thefts”.

Thefts from hon. Members

Other thefts

Total thefts

2004

4

29

33

2005

5

15

20

2006

2

19

21

Solicitor-General

Court Cases

To ask the Solicitor-General how many cases were not proceeded with at court as a result of non-appearance of Crown Prosecution Service witnesses in (a) England and Wales and (b) Luton in the last 12 months. (105344)

The following table shows the number of defendants whose case resulted in an unsuccessful outcome because a prosecution witness failed to attend court unexpectedly in each of the last three years.

CPS England and Wales

CPS Luton

2004-05

8,473

102

2005-06

8,408

138

2006-071

5,905

78

1 1 April to 4 December 2006.

Martin Allen

To ask the Solicitor-General when a decision is expected in respect of the police report submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service in the case of Martin Allen. (107894)

An Advice file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) inSeptember 2005. As a result an extensive and complex investigation has been conducted by the Metropolitan police. As the case is on-going I am unable to go into the details of those enquiries at this stage.

In giving a charging decision, the CPS must consider whether or not there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to commence a prosecution. The CPS has asked that they be provided with further material they consider essential prior to reaching a fully informed decision in this case. I regret that it is not possible to estimate when the CPS will be in a position to make a final charging decision, although they are fully aware of the necessity to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who the members are of the England Implementation Group looking at the animal health and welfare strategy. (105466)

The membership of the England Implementation Group looking at the animal health and welfare strategy is as follows:

Helen Browning (Chair)

Richard Bennett

Tim Brigstocke

Chris Brown

Neil Cutler

Nigel Durnford

Stewart Houston

Peter Jinman

Diane McCrea

Martin Potter

Peter Scott

Dick Sibley

Sarah Wolfensohn

Further information is available on the DEFRA website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ahws/eig/member.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors were taken into account when deciding on the length of the consultation on the draft Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations and the draft Docking of Working Dogs’ Tails (England) Regulations. (105467)

The length of the consultation was influenced by the need to bring the regulations into force at the same time as the Animal Welfare Act in April 2007. As this consultation does not contain any major policy changes that have not already been made public, we consider that an eight-week period is acceptable. This complies with Cabinet Office guidance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate how many veterinary surgeons are willing to undertake tail docking. (105468)

DEFRA has made no such estimate and has no plans to do so. It is up to individual veterinary surgeons to decide whether to perform this procedure.

Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Government has put aside to help fund insulation schemes. (107024)

The Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) requires energy suppliers to meet targets for the promotion of improvements in household energy efficiency. Under the EEC, insulation work may be installed and the first phase of the EEC (2002-05) resulted in £600 million worth of investment in energy efficiency.

During the first half of the current phase of the EEC (2005-08), which is expected to deliver twice as much activity as the first phase, 88 per cent. of energy supplier activity was through insulation measures. The 2006 climate change programme announced that the EEC target will be increased by 50-100 per cent. for EEC3 (2008-11).

The Government-funded Warm Front Scheme, which is the key programme in tackling fuel poverty in England, provides for the installation of insulation measures in qualifying households, where they are recommended. Total fuel poverty funding over the 2005-08 period will be over £800 million, with the vast majority being for the Warm Front Scheme.

The Government have also introduced a reduced rate of value added tax for professionally installed insulation measures.

Flood Prevention

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether changes have been made to his Department's 2006-07 budget for flood prevention. (105537)

The Environment Agency's total flood risk management grant in aid budget from Defra for 2006-07 will be £413 million against £428 million originally allocated. The capital budget, which delivers improved flood defences, has not been charged. Equally, the budgets for capital schemes by local authorities and internal drainage boards are not affected.

Forestry Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will revise the terms of reference of the statutory consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2007 to take account of the Forestry Commission’s most recent figures on the peak value of softwood availability; and if he will make a statement. (107365)

A statutory consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2007 began on 9 October 2006. It is available in full through the following link:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/consultations/page34162.html

The Government will consider the Forestry Commission’s report “United Kingdom: New Forecast of Softwood Availability” as part of the statutory consultation on the Renewables Obligation Order 2007. The consultation closes on 15 December 2006. All responses and other relevant information will be considered together at that point.

GM Animals

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will issue further guidance on the breeding of genetically modified animals. (107530)

The Department has no plans to issue further guidance. However, the production of a genetically modified animal, with the intention of substantially altering its nature, is controlled under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. This Act is widely viewed as the most rigorous piece of legislation of its type in the world. There are also provisions in the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 and in Northern Ireland the Welfare of Farmed Animals regulations (NI) 2000 to address the welfare concerns arising from both natural and artificial breeding procedures.

Ministerial Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions he has met the (a) chair and (b) chief executive of (i) British Waterways, (ii) the Environment Agency and (iii) Natural England since July 2006; and where each meeting took place. (106915)

[holding answer 5 December 2006]: The Secretary of State has met the chair and/or chief executive of British Waterways on 25 July, 4 September and 23 November on each occasion in London. He has met the chair and/or chief executive on the Environment Agency on 25 July, 27 July, 4 September, 6 September, 17 October, 8 November, 9 November,20 November and 23 November on each occasion in London. He has met the chair and/or chief executive of Natural England on 4 September, 11 October,7 November and 23 November on each occasion in London. He has also seen other members and practical examples of the work of these organisations while on regional visits.

National Fallen Stock Company

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the future of the National Fallen Stock Company. (105008)

We intend to issue a response to the Bansback review on the future of the National Fallen Stock Company early in the new year.

Rights of Way

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure local authorities keep bridleways accessible, signposted and maintained. (105295)

The statutory best value performance management framework requires local authorities to review their functions, publish annual performance plans and be subject to an audit and inspection regime. There is currently one performance indicator measuring the ease of use of rights of way.

In addition, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, all highway authorities must prepare a rights of way improvement plan. This must set out how they intend to identify the changes to be made to improve their local rights of way network, including better provision for equestrians.

Woodland

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to promote sustainable and effective management of private owners' woodland; and if he will make a statement. (105243)

In 2002 the Forestry Commission published its response to the recommendations of the Sustaining England's Woodlands Review Steering Group. This group had been asked to review the support for sustainable management of existing woodlands and forests in accordance with the priorities of the Forestry Strategy for England and taking into account the UK Forestry Standard. The Forestry Commission agreed to implement 67 actions and in April 2006 they published a progress report. I have arranged for a copy of the progress report to be placed in the Library. It is also available on the Forestry Commission's website at:

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-sew

Underpinning our support for sustainable management and the delivery of public benefits are the six elements of the Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme. These are:

Woodland Creation Grant to support the creation of properly designed and well located new woodlands.

Woodland Assessment Grant to support the gathering of specific information to improve management decisions.

Woodland Management Planning Grant to support the preparation of plans that meet the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.

Woodland Management Grant to support the basic management activities that underpin woodland sustainability.

Woodland Regeneration Grant to support desirable changes in the delivery of public benefits from woodland after felling.

Woodland Improvement Grant to create and sustain an increase in the quality of woodlands.

In addition Defra's Higher Level Stewardship offers certain grant options for the maintenance and improvement of smaller scale farm woodland and larger woodlands that are normally grazed as part of a farming system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the cost of an acre of woodland in each year since 1988; and if he will make a statement. (105244)

Comprehensive statistics on woodland prices are not available. Unlike agricultural land price statistics, the value of woodland incorporates the changing value of the timber growing stock, as well as the underlying land value and specific factors that attract buyers. Since 1993 the Forestry Commission's annual reports and accounts have shown a total value for the Public Forest Estate, which has been independently valued every five years since then. This is best indication we have of the changing cost of woodland over time. The open market values and the area of forest are shown in the following table.

1993

1998

2003

GB area (thousand hectares)

882

834

787

Value (£ million)

1,413

1,482

819

Unit value (£ per hectare)

1,602

1,777

1,041

Note:

One hectare equals 2.471 acres

Transport

Blue Badges

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether his Department is (a) investigating and (b) taking action against local authorities for failure to ensure that blue badges for disabled parking are correctly issued; (106198)

(2) what action his Department takes against local authorities that do not ensure that blue badges for disabled parking are correctly issued;

(3) what measures his Department has in place to ensure the secure delivery of blue badges for disabled parking to local authority social services departments.

Local authorities are fully responsible for administering the Blue Badge Scheme including issuing application forms, assessing them and issuing badges to applicants who meet the eligibility criteria under the legislation governing the scheme. The Department provides guidance to local authorities on all aspects of the scheme but has no power to intervene in the process or in particular cases.

Following a review of the scheme new guidanceis being prepared by the Department which willinclude further advice on the eligibility criteria and assessments. This will help ensure that applications are dealt with effectively and efficiently by local authorities. We intend to go out to public consultations on the draft guidance in the near future.

The Stationery Office (TSO) produces and issues Blue Badges to all local authorities on behalf of the Department. The company is well-versed in highly secure publishing, printing and distribution. Blue Badge shipments are sent via DHL diamond security service. The service provides secure delivery to the address, requiring signed confirmation of receipt. In the event that a written signature is not obtained, the package is returned to TSO as undelivered.

Channel Tunnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the Government’s policy is on whether Eurotunnel should charge rail freight operators using the Channel Tunnel only the costs of running services through it and in line with the principles set out in EU Directive 2001/14. (107863)

The Government’s policy is established in The Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 2005, no. 3207, implementing a Regulation of the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission. This transposes to the Channel Tunnel the principles of EU Directive 2001/14.

Cotswold National Trail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the safety of the Cotswold National Trail route where it crosses the A417; and if he will make a statement. (105686)

The Highways Agency is responsible for the management of the A417, and is aware of difficulties for users attempting to cross the road in this area. It is considering suitable future schemes to address the problem, but there are no programmed improvements planned in the immediate future.

Crossrail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what amendments have been made to plans for Crossrail at (a) Romford depot, (b) Romford train station and (c) Gidea Park sidings; and if he will make a statement. (104988)

On 7 November, we laid amendments before the House that would (among other things):

(a) provide for an alternative depot strategy that would eliminate the need for a depot at Romford;

(b) provide for a step free access ramp on the south side of Romford Station; and

(c) provide an alternative access route to the Gidea Park sidings.

In the event that the alternative depot strategy is not accepted by Parliament, we have proposed revised worksites in connection with the Romford depot scheme. This would avoid any permanent loss of sports pitches from Westlands playing fields and reduce the temporary losses during construction.

Further information is provided by the Environmental Statement for the Additional Provisions laid before the House on 7 November.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what percentage of staff employed in his Department were registered disabled in each year since 2001. (104469)

Data on the disability status of civil servants working at the Department for Transport, for the years requested, are available on the civil service website. However, please note that the Department was not created until 2002. The latest available data are as at April 2005 and these, together with previous years' data, can be found at the following website addresses:

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/publications/xls/report_2005/table_p.xls

for data as at April 2005;

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/publications/xls/disability_apr04_4nov04.xls for data as at April 2004; and

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/archive/index.asp

for previous reporting periods.

Departmental records of disabled staff are solely based on voluntary declaration of disability under the Disability Discrimination Act and not connected in any way to a formal register of disability.

Diesel Spillages

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with oil companies on ways to stop diesel spillage in forecourts. (105664)

The Department has invited a representative of the UK Petroleum Industry Association to attend the next meeting of the Technical, Engineering and Environmental sub-group to the National Motorcycling Council. The agenda will include discussion of a proposed diesel spillage warning leaflet, the possibility of display or distribution of such a leaflet through UK petrol retail outlets, and other views and comments on the diesel spillage issue.

Exhaust Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 5 December 2006, Official Report, column 229W, on exhaust emissions: Dartford, if he will publish the latest (a) survey of air quality in toll booths and (b) comparison of the survey with the Health and Safety Executive’s Occupational Exposure Standards. (105524)

A copy of the latest survey will be made available. It currently contains personal information and the Highways Agency will arrange for a redacted copy to be placed in the House of Commons Library within the next two weeks.

The survey includes a comparison of measured air quality against Workplace Exposure Limits, which have replaced Occupational Exposure Standards, in accordance with guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive.

Flash Mobbing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what security measures have been taken at London train and underground stations in response to flash mobbing; and if he will make a statement. (105418)

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police who can be contacted at British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, E-mail general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

M6

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account he will take of his Department's New Approach to Appraisal criteria on value for money when he evaluates the M6 widening project between junctions 11A and 19, with particular reference to (a) the non-monetised impacts and (b) the carbon dioxide impacts. (106609)

In assessing the value for money of the M6 project between junctions 11A and 19 the DfT will take account of the impacts against all of the criteria considered under New Approach to Appraisal (NATA). This will include the non-monetised impacts as well as the impacts that are monetised, such as carbon dioxide impacts. The guidance that is used by officials providing advice on the value for money of schemes, is published on the DfT website at:

www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_control/documents/contentservertemplate/dft_index.hcst?n=12577&l=2.

Ministerial Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the occasions since he has held his present office when he has used (a) rail services, (b) the London Underground, (c) tram or light railway services and (d) buses in connection with his ministerial duties. (101859)

Since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was appointed to his present office he has used public transport on the occasions detailed in the table in the course of his ministerial duties.

Mode of transport

Number of journeys

Rail

19

Bus

1

London Underground

2

Public transport is also used by my right hon. Friend in his capacity both as an MP and as Secretary of State for Scotland.

Ministers use public transport wherever possibleand practical to complete their journeys taking account of security considerations. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in Travel by Ministers.

Operation Stack

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether provision exists for the payment of compensation for (a) business and (b) personal losses arising from the implementation of Operation Stack when necessitated by industrial, civil or government action in France. (107842)

[holding answer 6 December 2006]: No provision exists for the payment of compensation for losses arising specifically from the implementation of Operation Stack. The Highways Agency works closely with all relevant stakeholders to minimise the impact of any disruption of Channel traffic due to, for example, industrial action in France.

Whether any other sort of compensation is payable in the circumstances described will depend on the facts of the individual case, on which independent legal advice should be sought.

An instance when compensation was paid by the French authorities was in 1996 following the French lorry drivers' dispute which lasted 12 days. Compensation was paid to some UK hauliers in respect of damage to vehicles or loads and for loss of earnings.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has a traffic light system in place for processing parliamentary questions, where questions are categorised using a colour code. (103150)

The Department for Transportdoes not use a traffic light system in processing parliamentary questions.

However, my ministerial colleagues and I aim to ensure that hon. Members receive a substantive response to their named day question on the named day and endeavour to answer ordinary written questions within a working week of being tabled. It is not always possible but the Department for Transport makes every effort to achieve these timescales.

Reading Station

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when a decision is expected to be made on the scheme to increase railway capacity by 75 per cent. at Reading Station. (107978)

We are reviewing and discussing with Network Rail the proposals for the enlargement of Reading Station and the track around it. The schemes are linked with Network Rail‘s plans to renew the signalling in the Reading area in 2012. The possible costs are significant and Reading has to be considered against other major calls on rail funding. The Government will publish its High Level Output Specification for the railway in July 2007, setting out the capacity, reliability and safety it expects to buy up to 2014 and stating the funds it will make availablefor this.

Speeding Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many speeding offences were committed by (a) males and (b) females between the ages of 17 and 25 in Tamworth constituency in each of the last four years. (107006)

Electoral Commission Committee

Commission Chairman

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what factors affected the decision on the period of office of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission on his recent reappointment. (108482)

Such decisions are not matters for the Speaker’s Committee. The Secretary of the Speaker’s Committee has written to my hon. Friend describing the procedure that is being followed in relation to the re-appointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission. I have asked him to place a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.

Prime Minister

Civil Servants' Business Appointments

To ask the Prime Minister how many civil servants have requested permission under business appointments rules to join a consultancy firm on their departure in the 2005-06 financial year. (108387)

The independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments publishes in its annual reports statistical information about the total number of applications considered by Departments and agencies, and its recommendations on the appointments taken up by the most senior Crown servants. The Committee’s Eighth Report covering 2005-06 was published on 24 July 2006. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House, and on the Committee’s website at www.acoba.gov.uk

Gifts

To ask the Prime Minister (1) on which occasions items on the donated asset reserve held by his Office have been used; (108229)

(2) how items on the donated asset reserve held by his Office are stored; where they are stored; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what mechanism is in place in his Office for making decisions on whether to retain locally items from the donated asset reserve; and who makes those decisions.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 27 November 2006, Official Report, column 330W.

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2006, Official Report, column 330W, on gifts, (1) what provisions have been made under chapter 5 of the Ministerial Code authorising retiring Ministers to take items of the donated asset reserve with them on their departure since 1997; and if he will list the assets and Ministers involved; (107997)

(2) what provisions are made besides chapter 5 of the Ministerial Code for the (a) storage and (b) use of donated asset reserve wine held by his Office; who decided to retain it; and whether the wine which was held by his Office has been drunk.

I have nothing further to add to the answers I gave the hon. Member on 27 November 2006, Official Report, column 330W.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 897W, whether his Office grades or classifies written parliamentary questions according to their political sensitivity. (107976)

Trident

To ask the Prime Minister what changes to security considerations underlay the decision to make a 20 per cent. reduction in the operationally available nuclear warheads on Trident set out in his foreword to the White Paper on “The Future of The United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent”,Cm 6994. (105218)

UK's Strategic Priorities

To ask the Prime Minister if he will submit his Strategy Unit’s document “Strategic priorities for the UK: the policy review” to (a) consultation with hon. Members, (b) a debate in the House and (c) scrutiny by relevant select committees; and if he will make a statement. (104972)

The Strategy Unit’s presentation “Strategic priorities for the UK: the policy review” is available on the Cabinet Office website and a copyhas been placed in the Library of the House. A consultation process for the policy review is currently being developed which will closely involve Parliament. The conclusions of the policy review will be subject to proper scrutiny by Parliament and select committees in the usual way.

Deputy Prime Minister

Collective Responsibility

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking to achieve his Department's objective of supporting the principle of collective responsibility. (106893)

The Ministerial Code sets out the requirements in relation to collective responsibility.

Consultants

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which 10 consultancy fees charged to his Office since its establishment were the most expensive. (107239)

Since its establishment, my Department has not let any consultancies.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2006, Official Report, columns 275-76W, on departmental expenditure, by what percentage he expects his Department's expenditure to change between the 2006-07 and 2007-08 financial years. (104970)

My Department will apply for a parliamentary vote for financial year 2007-08 at the appropriate time.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many temporary employees were contracted to work for his Department since its establishment; and what the total cost of such employees was in each year in that period. (106702)

The Deputy Prime Minister's Office was formed on Friday 5 May 2006. One temporary member of staff was employed for a short time after that date. Given the small number of staff in my office, it would be inappropriate to give details of their salary.

Departmental Stationery

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department has given away promotional stationery since its establishment. (106891)

Kyoto Protocol

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with other states party to the Kyoto Protocol; and if he will make a statement. (103751)

The Government believe it is vital to secure continuing action at the international level to take forward the post-Kyoto agenda. Last week, I held discussions with the UN Secretary-General and his Deputy on a variety of issues, including climate change. On a recent trip to Asia on behalf of the Prime Minister I undertook a large number of engagements including meetings with senior government ministers. Among these were the Prime Ministers of Japan and South Korea, the UN Secretary-General designate and the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. These meetings covered a range of issues, including climate change, sustainability and energy security.

Procurement Projects

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the largest procurement project initiated by his Department has been since it was established; andwhat the (a) original budget, (b) cost to date and(c) consultancy fees have been. (106604)

International Development

Africa

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of which African countries will reach all Millennium Development Goals by 2015. (104974)

The official assessment of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is conducted by the UN at regional level and shows that for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, progress towards each of the MDGs is slightly or seriously off track.

Based on international MDG data, DFID assesses progress towards the international goals on a country-by-country basis. This year’s analysis suggests that many African countries will achieve some of the MDGs by 2015, or will have made substantial progress towards the goal, even though if current trends prevail, none is likely to achieve all MDGs by 2015.

For example, in Uganda, the education MDG ison track, with primary enrolment (MDG2) having increased from 62 per cent. to 86 per cent. in the decade to 2002. In Rwanda, the proportion of women in Parliamentary seats (MDGS) increased from one in six in 1990 to almost 1 in 2 in 2005. And although the child mortality remains high in that country, it is estimated to have reduced from 200 deaths per thousand children aged under five in the 1990s to about 150 per thousand in 2005.

It is important to note that while the Millennium Declaration was signed by member states and while countries have undertaken to monitor the MDG indicators, interpretation at country level may vary. Indeed, some MDGs targets are not applicable to all countries (e.g. some countries have no forest), while others may be too ambitious (e.g. a large number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have already achieved the goal of reducing extreme poverty by half with respect to 1990). On the contrary, some may not be ambitious enough. Countries make their own assessment of progress in national MDG reports, following their own customisation of the MDG framework. In total, about 40 countries in Africa have produced national MDG reports, which can be found at http://www.undp.org/mdg/tracking_countryreports2.shtml.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of corruption and poor governance upon aid effectiveness in Africa. (105040)

The UK Government’s July 2006 White Paper puts governance at the centre of development and commits us to adopt a new quality of governance assessment to monitor standards of governance, and to intensify our efforts to help improve governance and combat corruption.

The quality of governance clearly matters for development. One study found that the efficiency of governance (among other issues) was associated with better rates of investment and growth and corruption with worse rates. The World Development Report of 1997 highlighted the importance of property rights, judicial reliability and control of corruption for investment and growth. Econometric studies have shown that the benefits of public health spending on child and infant mortality rates are greater in countries with better governance and that as countries improve governance, public spending on primary education becomes more effective in increasing primary attainment. Researchers have estimated that a country which improves its governance from a relatively low level to an average level could almost triple the per capita income of its population in the long term and similarly reduce infant mortality and illiteracy.

Aid funded projects are less likely to succeed where there is corruption and poor governance. A 1997 analysis of the impact of governance on the performance of a large number World Bank projects found that rates of return were higher in nations with greater civil liberties. Work at the World Bank Institute has highlighted a relationship between country corruption ratings and World Bank project success—especially for infrastructure projects.

These general observations and findings have a particular significance for Africa, the continent with the lowest overall standards of governance, as illustrated by the World Bank Institute’s worldwide governance indicators for the period 1996 to 2005.

DFID’s allocation of bilateral aid among low-income countries takes into account the likely effectiveness of aid in reducing poverty in each country. This is assessed by reference to the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment index, which includes governance indicators. Other factors are also taken into account, including relative need.

Focusing exclusively on countries with better governance and less corruption could be a way of reducing the risks of aid being wasted or misused, but would not produce the best overall impact. Since the mid-1990s, greater donor emphasis on rewarding countries with relatively effective governments and stable macro-economic policies has led to some neglect of fragile states, which have poor governance. Many of the poorest people live in these states and meeting the Millennium Development Goals will require progress there. Therefore, despite the risks and the challenges, DFID is committed to working not only in countries which are performing well, but also in fragile states and to finding ways of working more effectively in these states.

Aid Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development to which aid organisations working in (a) Iraq, (b) Afghanistan, (c) Pakistan, (d) Yemen, (e) Somalia, (f) Ethiopia, (g) Iran, (h) the Palestinian Territories and (i) Lebanon his Department has given funding in each of the last five years. (104969)

Anti-retroviral Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to improve the availability of anti-retroviral drugs for children. (105322)

The UK is a founding member of UNITAID, a new global initiative whose purpose is to increase funding and reduce prices for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria drugs, and which is specifically targeting paediatric AIDS drugs. The UK is making a long-term commitment to UNITAID over a 20-year period, starting at €20 million in 2007 and, subject to the outcome of a joint assessment of the performance of UNITAID, rising to €60 million per year by 2010. With the help of the Clinton Foundation, UNITAID will expand significantly the children on paediatric AIDS and tuberculosis drugs.

The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has formed a public-private partnership to promote scientific and technical discussions on solutions for paediatric HIV treatment, formulations and access. The UK has been invited to join this new venture and has accepted.

Chad

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the number of people who have been internally displaced within Chad as a result of violence which has spread from Darfur. (105066)

As of 30 November, the UN reported that 91,657 people have become internally displaced within Eastern Chad as a result of both cross-border violence from Darfur and from rising levels of conflict within Chad itself. However, this number has further risen in the past week due to the deterioration in the security situation following the new rebel offensive. The UN is currently assessing the levels of newly displaced.

Clinton Foundation

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funds and assistance his Department has made available to the Clinton Foundation; and if he will make a statement. (104796)

DFID has provided £1 million to the Clinton Foundation in India for the training of physicians as part of the treatment roll out.

We have worked closely with the foundation in a number of areas; in ensuring the effective use of a grant from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in the Caribbean, and in relation to UNITAID, an international drug purchasing facility to negotiate the reduction in price of essential medicines. The UK is a founding member country of UNITAID, and has made a 20-year commitment, which starts with €20 million in 2007, and subject to performance, rises to €60 million by 2010. Last week, the Clinton Foundation negotiated lower prices for HIV/AIDS treatment with $35 million of UNITAID money.

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the use of cluster munitions on developing countries once direct conflict has ceased. (105336)

Once direct conflict has ended, cluster munitions, if they have been used in large numbers, are likely to affect humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts. Certain types of cluster munitions have unacceptably high failure rates, which vary in relation to the prevailing conditions in which they are used. If they are used in large numbers, unexploded bomblets can be left scattered densely and indiscriminately over a wide area. When these are set off, the explosion can kill anyone within 50m. They represent a threat to aid workers, peace-keepers, medical services, internally displaced persons and anyone else entering an area immediately after the cessation of hostilities. The design of cluster munitions means that often children are attracted to them. The threat to returning civilians is exacerbated when cluster munitions are used over soft terrain such as recently ploughed farmland. Unexploded bomblets can lie buried just beneath the surface making it dangerous for farmers to cultivate their land.

Casualty figures are hard to verify but reports indicate that unexploded cluster munitions killed thousands of civilians in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The UN reports around 1 million unexploded cluster bomblets in Southern Lebanon. So far,23 civilian deaths and 145 injuries have resulted from unexploded ordnance, mainly cluster munitions. It will take an estimated 12-15 months to clear this area of unexploded ordnance.

Under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) unexploded cluster munitions are classified as Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). The UK played an active role in the adoption of CCW Protocol V on ERW, which will provide increased protection for civilians from the post-conflict effects of ERW, including cluster munitions. We are taking steps to ratify Protocol V as soon as possible. UK military doctrine, operations and our use of cluster munitions are already in accordance with Protocol V.

Conflict Prevention

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the need for a stronger institutional framework at the UN to ensure that early warnings of conflict are followed by effective conflict prevention measures. (105318)

The 2004 “UN High-level Panel Report on Threats, Challenges and Change” and the 2005 “World Summit Outcome Document” clearly highlighted the need for more systematic UN early action in response to UN early warning systems. DFID’s recent White Paper “Making Governance Work for the Poor” sets out the UK’s commitment to improving the UN’s effectiveness in acting on early warnings and tackling the underlying causes of conflict.

Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, we are supporting a number of UN initiatives in this area. We provide funding to the UN Interdepartmental Framework for Co-ordination on Early Warning and Preventive Action, which draws together 23 UN bodies to jointly analyse threats to peace and adjust UN programmes to tackle them. We are also planning to support the special adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, who is mandated to draw to the attention of the Secretary-General and the Security Council potential conflict situations that present a risk to international peace and security.

DFID is also working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure that the new UN Peacebuilding Commission and the UN Peacebuilding Fund—to which we have committed £30 million over three years—help prevent countries falling back into conflict by addressing the underlying causes of conflict.

Debt Cancellation

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of conditionality upon the effectiveness of debt cancellation. (105321)

The very high levels of debt owed by some of the poorest countries has raised widespread concern. It has prevented countries from investing in basic services and building the infrastructure neededto reach the millennium development goals. It has constrained economic growth, and undermines the compact between a government and its people, with large shares of the government's resources being needed to service its debt. Tackling this problem has been a top priority for the Government.

The right conditionality is essential to ensure thatwe can have confidence that debt relief will benefit poor people. In my view, the approach taken underthe Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative is appropriate. It specifies that there should be a track record on macroeconomic management and an established commitment to reduce poverty. Macroeconomic management is important for ensuring that government resources are used effectively, and provides the basis for sustainable economic growth.

The commitment to poverty reduction has been specified in terms of a government developing and implementing a national poverty reduction strategy, and through the implementation of a number of agreed actions. These actions include measures to improve public financial management, and they may include actions on education, health, or economic growth. In my view, the choice of conditions has not always been wholly appropriate. In some cases, the number of conditions has been too high, making it hard for countries to complete the process. In others, there were conditions for which there was too little government ownership and commitment. The UK has argued for the World Bank and the IMF to take a flexible approach in assessing whether countries should qualify for the irrevocable debt relief that is granted at the end of the process, and several countries have already benefited from this.

Given the demands of the HIPC Initiative, the Government took the view that no additional conditionally should be attached to the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. We were successful in achieving this.

Both the HIPC Initiative and MDRI provide irrevocable debt cancellation. This is important to ensure that debt burden is removed and so that governments have a predictable stream of resources that they can invest. Of course, there are no guarantees that countries will remain committed to reducing poverty, but a balance needs to be struck between having confidence that debt cancellation will benefit the poor and not setting the standards unreasonably high. Debt relief remains a small proportion of overall aid provided by donors, and donors can change the form of other aid if there are setbacks, for example withdrawing budget support and providing other assistance.

At HIPC Decision Point, countries receive flow relief on their debt payments. This can be removed where there is evidence that a country is not committed to poverty reduction. A track record is therefore built up before qualifying for irrevocable debt relief at Completion Point.

Recent reports from the World Bank and IMFhave shown that countries that have qualified for debt relief have increased their spending on poverty from US$ 6 billion in 2000 to nearly US$ 15 billion in 2005. This is projected to increase further following the implementation of Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative in 2006, which is freeing up an additional US$ 38 billion. I have seen for myself the impact of some of this relief, such as schools in Ghana. Zambia is using savings (US$ 2.8 million) in 2006 to increase spending on agricultural projects on smallholder irrigation and livestock disease control, as well as eliminate user fees for healthcare in rural areas.

Analysis also shows that the performance of HIPCs has improved, as measured by the World Bank's Country Policy and Institutional Assessment. This looks at 16 different aspects of policy, within the categories of economic management, structural and social/poverty policies, and public sector management. And economic growth rates in sub-Saharan Africa are increasing. This cannot be attributed only to the HIPC process; however the top performers in 2005 amongst non-oil producing countries are HIPCs that have already benefited from debt relief.

Departmental Energy Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he plans to make his Department carbon neutral. (105752)

DFID is committed to the new sustainable operations targets as announced recently by DEFRA, which include a commitment to achieve a carbon neutral central Government office estate by 2012 and to reduce carbon emissions from offices by30 per cent. by 2020.

In the interim, we are investigating a number of means by which our carbon emissions might be reduced, such as by the installation of alternative energy sources including wind, solar, biomass and tri-generation systems. We are also looking at measures to improve our energy efficiency more generally.In addition, DFID will be contributing to the Government carbon offsetting fund, which will offset emissions from air travel.

Developing Countries: HIV Infection

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government is taking to meet the 2010 target of universal access to HIV prevention treatment and care for children; and how much the Government has provided for children affected by HIV and AIDS in developing countries in each of the last 10 years. (104618)

In June the UN General Assembly extended the G8's commitment, agreeing the goalof universal access to comprehensive prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010. Countries pledged to set, in 2006, credible, costed national plans, including targets for 2008 and 2010.

These plans need to be reviewed so that the international community, with partner governments, can fund and implement effective national plans for universal access. These plans should integrate children affected by AIDS into specific AIDS services as well as broader health, education and social protection provision.

Over three years (from 2005-06 to 2007-08) the UK government will spend at least £150 million on programmes to meet the needs of orphans and other children, particularly those in Africa, made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.

The tracking of expenditure on orphans and vulnerable children began in March 2005 therefore expenditure figures before this period are not available. DFID is currently reviewing the methodology used to calculate expenditure and figures will be announced in due course.

Displaced People: Vakarai

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to ensure that food, fuel and medical supplies organised by the United Nations reaches displaced Sri Lankans in the Vakarai area. (104805)

The UK is in regular contact with the Sri Lankan Government, the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN agencies about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.

The UK Government have expressed serious concerns over the humanitarian situation in Vakarai and other conflict affected areas of the country and the need for all parties to the conflict to ensure regular and sustained access for humanitarian deliveries. We fully support the statement by the co-chairs of the peace process (EU, Japan, Norway, US) that there should be an immediate, permanent and unconditional opening of routes for humanitarian convoys of essential supplies.

We welcome the announcement that a convoy of food stuffs and other supplies had reached the Vakarai area on 29 November. However not all the vehicles in the original convoy were allowed to enter the area and this convoy was the first for several weeks. Much more needs to be done.

Equator Principles

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Equator Principles in the developing world; and if he will make a statement. (104962)

DFID has not undertaken a specific assessment of the effectiveness of the Equator Principles in the developing world.

However, during 2004-05 the Department was actively engaged in influencing the formulation ofthe International Finance Corporation's (IFC) new sustainability policy, environmental and social performance standards and guidance notes. These policies and standards serve as the key reference for the Equator Principles. DFID ensured that representatives of the Equator Banks (the banks who had signed up to the Equator Principles) were involved in the public consultations that DFID carried out during this process.

A set of revised Equator Principles were publishedin June 2006. These broaden the application of the Equator Principles and help to strengthen the environmental and social standards they require. The revised Principles include a new commitment to reporting, thus addressing—to a certain extent—an earlier criticism that it was difficult to evaluate their effectiveness.

EU Economic Partnership Agreements

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which developing countries are part of EU Economic Partnership Agreements of which the UK is a signatory. (105203)

The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), are being negotiated between the EU and the African Caribbean and Pacific, (ACP) group of countries. There are 79 ACP countries. They have divided themselves into six regional groups in order to negotiate EPAs. These six groups are shown as follows. Two countries that are part of the ACP but are not negotiating an EPA are Somalia and Timor-Leste.

West Africa

Benin

Burkina Faso

Cape Verde

Gambia

Ghana

Guinea

Guinea Bissau

Ivory Coast

Liberia

Mali

Mauritania

Niger

Nigeria

Senegal

Sierra Leone

Togo

Central Africa

Cameroon

Centr. Africa

Chad

Congo (Brazzaville)

Congo (Dem. Rep.)

Equatorial Guinea

Gabon

Sao Tome and Principal

East and South Africa ESA

Burundi

Comoros

Djibouti

Eritrea

Ethiopia

Kenya

Malawi

Mauritius

Madagascar

Rwanda

Seychelles

Sudan

Uganda

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Southern Africa

Angola

Botswana

Lesotho

Mozambique

Namibia

Swaziland

Tanzania

Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Grenada

Guyana

Haiti

Jamaica

St. Lucia

St. Vincent

St. Ktts and Nevis

Surinam

Trinidad and Tobago

Pacific

Cook Is.

Fed. Micronisia

Fiji

Kiribati

Marshall Is.

Nauru

Niue

Palau

Papua New Guinea

Samoa

Solomon Islands

Tonga

Tuvalu

Vanuatu

HIV/AIDS

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the United States about the distribution of condoms in HIV/AIDS programmes. (105314)

The UK and US agreed at UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS in June 2006 that comprehensive HIV prevention is essential, including expanded access to male and female condoms. For the past 10 years DFID has been the fourth largest condom provider, providing over a billion condoms since 2001. USAID was the largest individual donor for contraceptives and condoms in 2004, contributing 35 per cent. of total donor support. But in Africa there are still only enough condoms to provide eight for each man each year. The UK will continue to play its part, and work closely with the US to ensure an appropriate and effective response to AIDS, including on the provision of condoms.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS policies in (a) India and (b) Thailand. (105325)

The Government of India’s National AIDS Programme (NACP) began in 1992, and the second phase of the programme (NACP 2) will run until March 2007. Key achievements under NACP2 include the establishment of 1,033 focused prevention interventions among vulnerable groups, 875 voluntary counselling and testing centres and 679 sexually transmitted disease clinics at the district level.

Currently, only half of the populations at greatest risk of infection (sex workers, men having sex with men and injecting drugs users) are currently covered by prevention interventions. Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) was introduced by the programme in 2004 but the roll out has been slow and serious issues of access, adherence, and capacity remain. By May 2006, only 32,000 people were covered by the free treatment programme.

Yet, there is emerging evidence that the strategy of concentrating on focused interventions among those at highest risk is having an impact in states in the south.A recent analysis of HIV data from 216 antenatal clinics and 132 sexually transmitted infection clinics for 2000-04 suggest that HIV prevalence among women aged 15-24 years in southern states declined from1.7 per cent. in 2000 to 1.1 per cent. in 2004. HIV infection levels also fell among men aged 20-29 years who attended sexually transmitted infection clinics in the south.

In Thailand, Government policy is to provide Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to all those in need as part of the national Health Insurance scheme. This has contributed to Thailand’s successful high treatment coverage rates. There has been concern that Thailand has failed to maintain initial HIV prevention successes. There are now worrying increases in infection prevalence rates in young people, married women and men who have sex with men. The Government recently announced that they would increase investment in this area with the aim of reducing new infections by 50 per cent. by 2010, but has not yet presented plans for this. Continued high levels of stigma and discrimination remain a major barrier to an effective response.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Government of China on tackling HIV/AIDS. (105329)

The Government of China is making a concerted effort to tackle HIV and AIDS, including more than doubling its spending since 2003.

In August DFID agreed to provide £30 million over four and a half years to help the Government of China’s national HIV and AIDS programme contain the number of people living with HIV and AIDS to1.5 million by 2010. This is part of a £92 million programme that is also supported by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Following the approval of the programme DFID officials have been continuing to hold discussions with the Government of China about its implementation.

Immunisation

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much UK aid has been spent on vaccine and immunisation programmes in developing countries in each of the last 10 years. (105202)

It is not possible to disaggregate our country programme spend on immunisation. We can however provide information on specific funding to immunisation bodies. We have provided £68 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation between 2000 and 2008 to increase access to vaccines for children under five through the introduction of new vaccines, lowering the prices of existing vaccines and improving the capacity of health systems to deliver vaccinations. We have also provided £338 million to the Polio Eradication Initiative between 1988 to 2008, and £39.8 million to the International Aids Vaccine Initiative between 2000 to 2008. We have committed a further £1.38 billion to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation, which will raise $4 billion to support GAVI over the next 10 years. We also support the work of UNICEF which provides significant assistance to country vaccine programmes.

Indian Ocean Tsunami

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid his Department has provided to Aceh since the tsunami. (104606)

The province of Aceh in Indonesia was struck by an earthquake followed by tsunami that devastated an 800km coastal strip in December 2004. The tsunami killed around 170,000 people and displaced approximately 500,000 from their homes.

In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami DFID committed £55 million to emergency relief projects in Aceh, and the neighbouring island of Nias which was also severely affected. All emergency relief projects have been successfully concluded, and relief needs were met in all projects. The evaluation of all relief projects is set out in the document “Report on DFID's response to the Indian Ocean Disaster”, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of the House and can also be found on the DFID website.

In addition, DFID has allocated £59 million to longer term reconstruction and recovery in Aceh and Nias. These funds are being channelled mainly through the following programmes:

Over £38 million committed to the Multi-Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias (MDF). The MDF pools the resources of 15 donors in support of the Government of Indonesia's own plans and priorities for reconstruction. It has become a proven and effective partner in the recovery process. The MDF currently supports 16 projects which provide needed assistance to four under-funded sectors: the recovery of communities; infrastructure and transport; capacity building and governance; and sustainable management of the environment.

£10 million for the livelihoods component of UNDP's Emergency Response and Transitional Recovery (ERTR) programme, which has provided cash for work for over 50,000 beneficiaries in the aftermath of the tsunami. The focus is now on building sustainable livelihoods. The programme has enabled over 50,000 beneficiaries to re-engage in income generation and many of these are now self-sufficient.

£6 million to the World Bank's Support for Poor and Disadvantaged Areas (SPADA) programme, to provide support to strengthen governance, promote growth and improve service delivery in Aceh and Nias. This programme is just getting under way.

£3 million through the Decentralisation Support Facility (DSF) managed by the World Bank, to support Government and implementing partners’ ability to assist tsunami-affected communities to rebuild their lives.

DFID also provided over £1 million to a number of smaller initiatives which aim to improve transparency in the way reconstruction funds are managed, build the capacity (particularly relating to procurement) of local governments and other agencies involved in the reconstruction effort, and activities to help consolidate peace in Aceh.

Both the MDF and ERTR programmes have been reviewed positively in recent independent reviews as well as by DFID's own monitoring activities. Progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go. For example, the Government of Indonesia's Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency for Aceh and Nias (BRR) (http://www.e-aceh-nias.org) estimates that 120,000 units of new housing are required, and, as of April 2006, 41,734 had been built.

International Finance Facility

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much UK aid has been channelled to developing countries through the International Finance Facility. (105201)

The UK is committed to developing innovative financing mechanisms to raise additional resources to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

The International Finance Facility (IFF) is still under development, but the pilot IFF for Immunisation (IFFIm) was launched in September 2005. It issued its first bonds on 7 November 2006, raising US$1 billion which is being channelled through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). These funds will support GAVI's vaccination and immunisation programmes in developing countries, allowing a major scaling-up of this important work.

IFFIm will raise a total of US$4 billion for immunisation over the next 10 years. The UK has committed a total of £1.38 billion to IFFIm over the next 20 years.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made by the UK in the rehabilitation and development of infrastructure in Basra Province since 2003; and if he will make a statement. (104858)

DFID has been on the ground delivering programmes in Basra Province since theend of the conflict in 2003. We have already spent£118 million on economic development and reconstruction projects in southern Iraq. Achievements to date include:

Immediate infrastructure repairs to increase water supplyby up to 30 per cent. and improve the electricity supply to1.5 million residents in Basra.

Repairs to local power stations which so far have added or secured 350 megawatts, equivalent to 24 hours electricity supply for 700,000 people.

Training for 60 agricultural directorate staff and 3,000 people in business/enterprise skills.

200 technical staff at the Basra Water Directorate employees learning how to maintain and repair their water infrastructure in the training centre constructed this March.

Created more than 400,000 days of work through our construction projects.

In addition, we have also helped the Provincial Councils to produce development plans, designed to helping the Iraqis to prioritise activity, unlock the substantial Iraqi funds available (around US$300 million in 2007) for reconstruction projects in the south and get the resources flowing to the provinces. This is a long term challenge, but progress is being made. The Basra Council is already putting this strategy into action by implementing over 220 projects to repair water and sewage infrastructure, and improve roads and electricity supplies. Together with other donors, such as the Australians, Japanese, United Nations (UN) and the World Bank, we need to continue to support the Government of Iraq, at both national and provincial levels, to turn Iraqi resources into viable projects so that local people can see real progress.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which UK companies are working on regeneration in Iraq; and in what part of the country each is working. (105615)

The redevelopment of the essential infrastructure and economy in Iraq is vital for the progress of the country and its people. British companies have already played a pivotal role in rebuilding Iraq in several sectors, including power generation and transmission, water and sanitation, and oil and gas. We are aware of more than 70 major contracts and sub-contracts awarded to UK companies. Further information can be obtained on the UK Trade and Investment website:

https://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/appmanager/ukti/countries?_nfls=false&_nfpb=true&pageLabel=CountrvType1&navigationPageld=/iraq

Kenya

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of flooding in Northern Kenya. (105067)

DFID has not made any independent assessment of the situation regarding the flooding in northern Kenya. We are however in close touch with the agencies on the ground and the government bodies that are responding to the crisis.

The UN estimates that there are 563,000 Kenyans in eight districts, and 100,000 refugees mostly from Somali origin from refugee camps near Garissa, that are directly affected by the flooding.

The main humanitarian threats are from water borne diseases such as diarrhoea (the Ministry of health has issued a cholera alert), and from the effect of diarrhoea in conjunction with the very high levels of malnutrition in these areas. There is also likely to be an increase in malaria cases, but this is likely to be mainly once flood waters begin to drop and this is not yet happening.

Access is a serious problem with many roads in the worst affected areas being impassable. Part of the funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (to which the UK is the major contributor) is being used to provide helicopters and other aircraft to reach communities in the most inaccessible areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to assist with flood relief in Northern Kenya. (105068)

The UK is providing £1.2 million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for its work in addressing the effects of the flooding in the refugee camps located near Garissa in north east Kenya. We have also provided £0.8 million to the Kenya Red Cross for flood relief work among Kenyan populations. Both of these grants are for the supply of relief materials and provision of safe water and sanitation materials. Further contributions are being considered.

The UN has announced that this fund will be contributing $11.8 million for flood relief work in Kenya from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The UK is the largest contributor to this fund and was actively involved in its establishment. The UK also provides core funding to many of the most active agencies on the ground, including UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Latin America

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the work being undertaken in Latin America by the World Bank. (106105)

We welcome the World Bank’s goals in Latin America, which are as follows:

Support higher and more stable growth and employment

Improve investment climate and competitiveness and generate jobs

Expand and improve infrastructure

Strengthen education and innovation systems

Consolidate macroeconomic stability and deepen financial systems

Support institutions for equity, inclusion, sustainability

Improve governance, participation, and service delivery

Achieve an inclusive but affordable welfare system

Promote effective natural resource use and environmental institutions

The World Bank implements these goals through lending, and also importantly through analytical work prepared to help Governments think through policy options. Our general assessment, backed up by analysis from the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group is positive. They focus on key issues to unblock constraints to growth, including investment climate and tackling inequality—two major challenges for Latin America. We have been pleased that, with DFID help, the Bank has improved its analytical work by engaging with a wider range of actors in country. The Bank faces a particular challenge in Middle Income Countries, who have access to other sources of financing; this has pushed the Bank to be innovative—such as by working with subnational Governments—and to add value, such as by working on the design of social safety net programmes.

DFID’s Latin America Regional Assistance Plan (RAP) seeks to help the World Bank enhance its impact in reducing poverty. An independent interim assessment of progress on the RAP is currently taking place, including assessment of how our contributions are helping the World Bank to work in the region.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the work being undertaken in Latin America by the Inter-American Development Bank. (107533)

Latin America is facing the twin challenges of rapid globalisation and entrenched inequality. Poor people in the poorer and middle income countries are not always benefiting from globalisation. And the countries’ needs are changing, as many can access other sources of finance for development, including private capital. The new President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Alberto Moreno, is leading efforts to transform the Bank so that it can better assist countries to meet these challenges and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

One of the main changes underway is that new programmes are being designed to target the majority of the people of the region who are poor. One umbrella programme called “Opportunities for the Majority” represents a new way of assisting the people who lose out in the changes driven by the need to compete globally. The IDB’s new initiative includes projects to help people secure and exercise their rights, for example helping poor people to establish their citizenship and get the documents they need to work in the formal economy. Other areas being looked at include housing, water and electricity for poor people. The objective is to support practical programmes which will make a difference to peoples’ lives such as creating jobs and. opportunities for poor people to start their own businesses.

Medicine Distribution

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to facilitate the charitable distribution of unused in-date medicines to developing countries. (105019)

DFID recognises that some organisations play a helpful role in seeking to improve health care in developing countries by donating medicines. However, donations do not provide a sustainable solution to the general, long-term needs for essential medicines in developing countries.

The UK Government believe that long term solutions must involve the development of sustainable markets for pharmaceutical products in developing countries. DFID provides support and finance to help developing countries purchase the drugs they need, benefit from lower prices through mechanisms such as UNITAID, increase the range of medicines available and strengthen the capacity of health services to deliver them.

Overseas Aid: Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what safeguards are in place to avoid the risk of (a) caste and (b) racial discrimination in the distribution of his Department’s aid; what measures there are to ensure that UK aid reaches the most disadvantaged Dalit communities in India; and what mechanisms prevent aid going to groups complicit in (i) religiously, (ii) caste and (iii) racially-motivated violence. (107591)

DFID promotes social inclusion in all its programmes in India.

DFID’s programme in India operates in support of Government of India’s efforts to combat caste and ethnic discrimination and social exclusion in all its forms, including by strengthening programme design and monitoring to ensure that the benefits of development reach Dalits, Adivasis and other minority populations.

For example, DFID is providing £190 million tothe Indian Government’s national programme for achieving universal primary education (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan—SSA). A key objective of SSA, launched in 2004, was to narrow the gaps that exist between the enrolment of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and other children. The proportion of Scheduled Caste children in the school population has increasedfrom 30.4 million in 2003 to 39.3 million in 2006and Scheduled Tribe children have increased from16 million in 2003 to 20.5 million in 2006. This has been achieved through a range of strategies that have helped tackle discrimination at all levels.

DFID has also provided £252 million in support of the Indian Government’s National Programme to promote reproductive and child health (RCH2). The programme aims to reduce disparities in maternal and infant mortality between Dalit, Adivasi and other women and children. The programme will improve the data available to track progress and make informed decisions to achieve better health outcomes for Dalit and Adivasi women and children.

Although most DFID funds directly support the Government of India, DFID recognises that civil society is an important partner in achieving poverty reduction in India and holding Government to account. DFID regularly reviews the civil society programmes it supports to ensure that all programmes pay due attention to the need to tackle exclusion.

Palestinian Government

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessmenthe has made of the effect on people living withinthe jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority of the cessation of EU aid to the Palestinian government. (104839)

The UK Government are extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. We are committed to helping the Palestinian people through the EU-led Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) and other projects. The causes of the deteriorating humanitarian situation include the conflict with Israel and amongst Palestinians; an economic downturn due to movement and access restrictions; and the Palestinian Authority's (PA) fiscal crisis, which has meant it has been unable to pay salaries.

The PA's fiscal crisis is mainly the result of the withholding of clearance revenues by Israel and lower tax revenues. The suspension of budgetary support by donors has played a less significant role. This is more than compensated for by an increase in aid through the TIM and other channels. European Union assistance has increased by 27 per cent. this year to £439 million. Aid for Palestinian basic needs through the TIM will reach £131.1 million this year in comparison with£65 million through budgetary aid to the PA in 2005. Without the TIM and other aid, notably from Arab donors, the situation for Palestinians would be far worse than it is now.

Philippines

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid the Government has given to help the government of the Philippines to help the families of the victims of the recent typhoon. (105304)

DFID has so far agreed to contribute £300,000 to the international appeal launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The UN has already provided £2 million from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), to which DFID also contributes. We have been monitoring the situation closely and assess that the Philippines authorities are meeting immediate relief needs. The Philippines government has not requested international assistance but welcomes supplementary support for longer term recovery. A UN assessment team is in the Philippines preparing an additional funding appeal. We will consider contributing to this when it issues in the next few days.

Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on recruitment advertising in each of the last three years. (107748)