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Millennium Development Goals (Africa)

28. Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her assessment is of the challenges faced by Africa in reaching the millennium development goals. [62496]

Clare Short: Unlike the rest of the world, on present trends Africa will not meet the MDGs and halve poverty by 2015:

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If this continues, it will be a tragedy for Africa's people and a threat to the future safety and stability of the world.

But this fate is not inevitable. Africa faces an enormous challenge in meeting the MDGs. But that challenge is not insurmountable. First, it requires that African nations commit to fundamental reform and a process of learning from one another. Second, it needs the developed world to alter the nature of its partnership with Africa, not just by increasing and improving aid but by tackling the whole range of policy constraints which affect Africa's development. NEPAD and the G8 can play a critical role in both.

Science and Technology

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she is taking to ensure information arising from scientific breakthroughs in (a) medicine, (b) agriculture and (c) other technologies, are shared for the benefit of the developing world; and if he will make a statement. [63915]

Clare Short: DFID places great importance on improving the access to research results to poor people who could benefit. DFID ensures that appropriate dissemination strategies are an essential and integral component of all research activities we support. We also recognise the need to facilitate interaction between researchers, policy makers and other users of research, not just in respect of research funded by DFID.

DFID uses a range of mechanisms for knowledge sharing. These include all the usual mechanisms—books, journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings and technical bulletins, leaflets and manuals, posters, videos, training and exposure through workshops and research partnerships. DFID will continue to support these and innovative mechanisms for knowledge sharing, including the use of information and communication technologies. Current information and communication technologies initiatives include health communications, distance education, empowerment and conflict reduction, science for development, a policy research institute network in conjunction with the World bank and a website which disseminates highlighted summaries of research that can help reduce poverty.

Research outputs are promoted through packaging them into policies, strategies or technologies relevant to the needs of the poor. Promotion is usually managed in collaboration with target institutions, often locally based. Working with local agencies helps to foster long-term relationships for the successful transfer and adoption of research outputs that can help poor communities to prosper.

A review of DFID's dissemination practices is currently under way and will feed into future work.

Parliamentary Questions

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will place in the Library a copy of the departmental guidance for officials on answering parliamentary questions. [63808]

Clare Short: I will place a copy of the guide, which was written by officials for officials, in the Library of the House.

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Redundant Churches (Greater London)

Mr. Cox: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how many churches in the Greater London area have been made redundant in each of the last five years. [63586]

Mr. Bell: A total of 15 Greater London churches have been declared redundant in the last five years, broken down as follows:


In eight of these cases, a new church or place of worship was provided.


New Roads and Street Works Act

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, (1) pursuant to the answer of 17 October 2001, from the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, Official Report, column 1228W, on road works, what assessment has been made of the pilot schemes in the London borough of Camden and in Middlesbrough; how many daily charges have been made; what assessment has been made of the disruption to road users; and if he will make a statement; [61839]

Mr. Jamieson: Consultants—Halcrow—were appointed by the Government last year to measure the effectiveness of the powers under section 74 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 by which highway authorities are able to impose charges on utility companies, where the latter dig up the highway and these works are not completed by an agreed deadline. These powers were activated on 1 April 2001.

An interim monitoring report, covering the first few months of the new powers was produced by Halcrow in March. I am arranging for copies of this to be placed in the Libraries of the House. However, a full report, covering the first 12 months of the operation of the scheme, is due to be delivered to my Department shortly.

Pilot schemes to test further powers under which local authorities can charge utility companies "lane rental", whenever the latter dig up highways to install or maintain their apparatus, began on 4 March 2002 in Camden and Middlesbrough. We do not yet have reliable data on the effect of the pilots. However, the Government also appointed Halcrow to measure the impact of lane rental, both in terms of the effect on the disruption caused by

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utility works and the costs which it imposes on those utilities. Halcrow are due to deliver their first report to my Department, covering the first few months of the scheme, later this year.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities by 31 March, had (a) shown intent to fine and (b) fined utility companies under the powers given in section 74 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991; and if he will make a statement. [61378]

Mr. Jamieson: To date 112 local authorities have notified my Department that they are using or intend to use the section 74 powers to charge utility companies. We understand that all, or nearly all, of those have already imposed charges for overstaying.

Nuclear Material (Rail Accidents)

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the recent accident involving a train carrying nuclear material; and if he will make a statement on the performance of the emergency services in response. [62150]

Mr. Jamieson: The recent incident at Brookland crossing in Kent on 11 June involved a train carrying an empty nuclear fuel flask destined for Dungeness nuclear power station. The collision is estimated to have occurred at less than 5 mph. There was no damage to the flask, and minor damage to the front of the locomotive and the heavy goods vehicle, which it struck. Emergency services and specialist support from the nearby nuclear power station attended and information suggests that the response was adequate to deal with this incident.

The UK is currently undergoing an audit, at our request, by the International Atomic Energy Agency under the auspices of its Transport Safety Appraisal Service (TranSAS). The audit team is formed from expert participants and observers from several countries and international bodies. The audit is intended to examine the regulatory and enforcement infrastructure in the United Kingdom related to the transport of radioactive material. This incident occurred while the TranSAS audit team were examining emergency response arrangements. The team visited Dungeness nuclear power station on 18 June and investigated the effectiveness of the response to the incident. The final report of the TranSAS mission is due later this year and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Silverstone Bypass

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the (a) circumstances, (b) sum involved and (c) purpose of the expenditure for which a direction was sought, relating to when an accounting officer sought direction from the Minister for Transport, Local Government and the Regions before authorising expenditure relating to the Silverstone bypass. [62148]

Mr. Jamieson: The Silverstone Bypass was due to open in time for this year's Formula 1 British Grand Prix but progress was severely delayed due to last year's foot and mouth outbreak and exceptionally wet autumn.

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In previous years there have been serious problems with access to the Silverstone Circuit with resulting traffic congestion. The FIA, motorsport's governing body, had threatened to remove the British Grand Prix from future Formula 1 seasons and a major factor behind their agreeing to retain the British Grand Prix was the commitment by the Government that the access difficulties would not arise this year.

Authority was sought to pay for different working methods to recover lost time and to guarantee a temporary use of part of the bypass for the Grand Prix to be held this July. This was done in recognition of the wider national interest in ensuring the security of the British Grand Prix for future years.

The cost of accelerating the works is £8.064 million. This covers the cost of additional dry materials suitable for winter working; out of hours working at quarries, bituminous material production sites and the associated additional cost of transporting those materials; additional earthworks to remove the saturated material and provide accelerated drainage, and additional contractor's costs.

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