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Implementation Group

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the Implementation Group meeting in Kabul on 10 and 11 April. [54597]

Clare Short: The first meeting of the Implementation Group for Afghanistan's Reconstruction took place in Kabul on 10 and 11 April, hosted by the Afghan Interim Administration (AIA). The Afghan Finance Minister chaired the meeting, and discussions centred on presentations of the recurrent budget of the AIA, the draft National Development Framework, and the establishment of practical aid co-ordination mechanisms between donors and the AIA. My Department was represented by senior officials.

Humanitarian Assistance (Middle East)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what plans her Department

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has for providing (a) water, (b) food and (c) medication to the Palestinian civilian population once access to the whole of the West Bank can be secured; and if she will make a statement; [55159]

Clare Short: We are working closely with our development partners to try to determine the full extent of the damage and the humanitarian consequences and priority needs arising from the current conflict. It is important that assistance is fully co-ordinated.

Our bilateral assistance programme is planned at £12 million this year. This includes support, through local NGOs for a number of emergency programmes in health, trauma counselling and special education needs which have been able to respond to the intensified crisis. We have also disbursed £12 million of our annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees' General Fund, and made a £5 million contribution to UNRWA's 2002 Emergency Appeal. We are providing direct assistance to help set up a Humanitarian Information Centre and have provided £500,000 to the World Food Programme for emergency needs. We are discussing with UNRWA further support to help clear and rebuild Jenin refugee camp. In addition we contribute substantially through our share of EC and World bank activities. We have not provided any direct support to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society since 1 April.

We are monitoring the situation closely and aim to continue to respond appropriately.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reports she has received on the status of the Save the Children Fund water and sanitation projects in (a) Dura, (b) Anabta, (c) Jabalia and (d) Rafah; what the impact of the current campaign of the Israeli Defence Force has been (i) on the operation of the projects and (ii) on the piped water supplies, sewerage pipes and drains associated with them; and if she will make a statement. [55160]

Clare Short: Save the Children Fund reports continued steady progress and expects to meet the overall objectives on time. The projects are leading to improvements in both the quality and quantity of water for household consumption, and better sanitary standards as the majority of homes are connected to new sewage networks. The continued conflict and closures has inevitably had an impact on the project communities where homes and infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed. Project equipment has also been embargoed by the Israeli authorities, but it has often been possible to circumvent this by creative means.

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Ministerial Accommodation

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what publicly owned accommodation is made available to her in her official role; how many nights she has been in residence at each of these properties in the last 12 months; and what the total cost is of maintaining each of these properties. [55096]

Clare Short: There is no publicly owned accommodation available to me in my post except when I stay at ambassadors' residences when travelling abroad.


Amy Gehring

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on actions taken by her Department as a result of the Amy Gehring case. [52542]

Mr. Timms: My Department reviewed its procedures following this case. That review shows that our procedures were not at fault. However, in order to improve safeguards for children we have laid amendments to the Education Bill in the Lords, which will strengthen still further requirements to report instances of misconduct to the Department. These will extend the existing responsibility on employers, including agencies, to schools and other education institutions using a person's services. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, whose Department regulates agencies under the Employment Agencies Act 1973, is reviewing the Conduct regulations under that Act. My Department is engaged in that process.

Teaching Assistants

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she has introduced to encourage schools to employ teaching assistants on all-year-round contracts. [54097]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 7 May 2002]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) on 8 March 2002, Official Report, column 626W.

London Weighting

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans she has to ensure that the central London weighting allowance applies to teachers living in outer London boroughs. [54596]

Mr. Timms: Decisions on London allowances for teachers in 2002–03 have now been taken in the light of advice from the independent School Teachers Review Body and consultation. The levels of the allowances were increased by 3.5 per cent. from 1 April, further to the 30 per cent. increases in 2001, and the structure of the allowances was unchanged. The level for inner London is £3,105 and the level for outer London is £2,043. London allowances will be kept under review for future years. Schools are free to make use of recruitment and retention allowances as circumstances demand.

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Early Retirement (Teachers)

Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many teachers (a) applied for and (b) were refused early retirement on the grounds of ill health in (i) 1992–93, (ii) 1993–94 and (iii) 1995–96. [54613]

Mr. Timms: The numbers of members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme who retired on the grounds of ill health in each of the years in question were:


Information about the number of applications that were rejected is available only from 1996 when an electronic handling system was introduced.

Teachers' Pension Scheme

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement about the accountability to her Department of Capita Business Services Ltd. regarding the administration of the teachers' pension scheme. [54805]

Mr. Timms: The responsibilities of Capita Business Services Ltd. for the administration of the teachers' pension scheme are set out in a detailed contract and statement of service requirements. Performance against service standards, together with compliance with legislative and other requirements, is actively managed by the Department's finance, contract and internal audit teams. The teachers' pension scheme accounts and administration are also subject to annual scrutiny by the National Audit Office.

Individual Learning Accounts

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will compensate bona fide learning providers who can demonstrate that they have been financially disadvantaged by the accelerated date of closure of the individual learning accounts scheme. [55054]

John Healey: There are no plans to pay compensation to ILA registered learning providers. The Education and Skills Select Committee report about ILAs contains no new arguments or evidence on the case for compensation; the Department's position therefore remains unchanged.

Local Education Authority Finance

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the spending is (a) per head of population and (b) per pupil in each local education authority in England for 2001–02. [55107]

Mr. Timms: The information requested is not yet available. The Department is due to collect data relating to the 2001–02 financial year from this September. I shall write to the hon. Member when the information for 2001–02 is to hand.

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