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Aid Budget

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what is her Department's target for the proportion of GNP which overseas aid will constitute for each year to 2001; and how this target relates to the UN target. [5269]

Mr. Foulkes: For the next two years we will be working within existing departmental ceilings. But our commitment to reverse the decline in spending as a proportion of GNP remains. We are reviewing existing expenditure plans and I am confident that the strategies that are now being put in place to focus our assistance more directly on poverty eradication, will demonstrate the case for additional resources thereafter.

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if it is her policy to achieve an increase in real terms year on year in the overseas aid budget. [5274]

Mr. Foulkes: We will work within existing financial ceilings this year and next while putting in place strategies to deliver progress towards the objective of eradicating poverty. As we demonstrate progress, we expect to justify additional resources being made available in line with our Manifesto commitment.

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Departmental Advisers

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the special advisers in her Department, the minister to whom each is responsible, the subjects on which they advise and the number of advisers in her Department in the year up to 1 May. [5358]

Clare Short: The Special Advisers in the Department for International Development are Jessica Crowe and Daniel Harris; both are responsible to me. They are employed under terms and conditions based on the "Model Contract for Special Advisers", a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. Ms Crowe and Mr. Harris are advising me on the development of Government policy and its effective presentation in accordance with Schedule I (Part I) of the Model Contract.

Afghanistan

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her policy is on the provision of assistance to Afghanistan; and what steps she is taking to ensure the United Kingdom assistance to areas controlled by the Taliban benefit women as well as men.[3810]

Clare Short: Our policy in Afghanistan is to create an environment where all Afghans, men and women will realise basic human rights leading to a more secure and stable social and economic life.

The UK subscribes to the common donor position on gender and human rights issues in Afghanistan that all parties should recognise, protect and promote the equal rights and dignity of men and women, including access to education, employment outside the home, personal security and freedom from intimidation and harassment. The UK works closely with other donors for the adoption of more appropriate humanitarian policies and strategies and it is our policy to deal robustly with human rights concerns and repeated representations are made to all factions in Afghanistan to this effect.

Earth Summit 2

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the contribution of Earth Summit 2 to the elimination of third world debt. [3811]

Mr. Foulkes: I welcome any discussions which draw attention to the need for sustainable development and the need to tackle the debt problems of some developing countries. Debt relief should be part of a wider economic commitment by debtors to balanced economic reforms which encourage sustainable development. Practical solutions need to be implemented in the appropriate fora.

Bosnia

Mr. Home Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the United Kingdom's contribution towards reconstruction in Bosnia. [3870]

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Clare Short: We have provided funding for reconstruction projects to underpin the Dayton agreement of December 1995. DFID has contributed £383 million since 1991 in aid to the former Yugoslavia: £213 million bilaterally and £170 million through the European Union.

Twinning

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proposals she has to encourage local authorities to develop twinning links with towns and cities in developing countries. [5171]

Mr. Foulkes: We have been supporting local authority technical links schemes in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia through the Know How Fund since 1991. We are exploring the case for supporting similar institutional linkages in developing countries as part of our current review of the aid programme in preparation for the White Paper.

Foreign Students

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proposals she has to increase opportunities for appropriately qualified young people from developing countries to attend British universities. [5170]

Mr. Foulkes: In financial year 1995-96, the last year for which we have figures, we spent some £69.8 million on over 9,000 scholars and trainees who studied in the UK. I have no proposals to increase this expenditure at present but we welcome any suggestions from Members and others as part of the White Paper consultation.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Dundonald Training Centre

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if Dundonald Training Centre has permission to recruit new trainees; and if she will make a statement. [4244]

Mr. Worthington: Responsibility for this subject has been delegated to the Training and Employment Agency under its chief executive, Mr. Ian Walters. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given. Letter from Ian Walters to Mr. John D. Taylor, dated 24 June 1997:

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has asked me, as Chief Executive of the Training and Employment Agency, to reply to your question on the recruitment of new trainees to Dundonald Training Centre.



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Health and Social Services Staff

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons (a) are employed now and (b) were employed five years ago by the Department of Health and Social Services. [4267]

Mr. Worthington: The information is as follows:

Staff employed by the Department of Health and Social Services

19921997
DHSS (HQ)1,6311,081
Social Security Agency5,7435,617
Child Support Agency--1,205
Health Estates Agency--117
Total7,3748,020

Mr. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons (a) are employed now and (b) were employed five years ago by the Southern area health and social services board, indicating the number of these employed in administration in each case. [4270]

Mr. Worthington: The information requested is as follows:

19921997
Total staff322154
Administrative and clerical157115

I am currently considering levels of administration in the Health Service throughout Northern Ireland to ensure that the maximum level of resources goers straight into patient care.


Mr. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons (a) are employed now and (b) were employed five years ago by the Armagh and Dungannon Health and Social Services Trust, indicating the number of these employed in administration in each case. [4271]

Mr. Worthington: The information requested is as follows:

19921997
Total staff2,8003,353
Administrative and clerical290350


Fair Employment Commission

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) Roman Catholics and (b) Protestants are employed by the Fair Employment Commission. [4269]

Mr. Worthington: The latest available information on numbers and religious composition of staff employed by the Fair Employment Commission for Northern Ireland is contained in the Commission's Seventh Monitoring Report which was published in March 1997. The report shows that at 1 January 1996, the position was as follows:


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